Friday, July 15, 2005

Weighing in on the Gay Marriage Debate

Not that I haven't done so already numerous times in various places, but one place, my buddy Jake's MySpace blog, recently addressed the issue, and after that went on for quite some time, Jake wanted it to end there. I, however, thought one participant, called "Bradeana" had some valid questions, and I said I would answer them here. His words will be in black, and mine will be in the default blue colour. I'll be interspersing my replies throughout in a Dave Armstrong ( style, because I find it personally to be effective. Unlike a certain other person that I've ranted about here, Bradeana, despite our stark disagreements, is civil and actually a good thinker. It's rather enjoyable! (His post is completely copy/pasted from Jake's blog, so excuse me if I neither edit it or put [sic] after the errors. Just understand they aren't my words or phrasings :D

Hello Everybody,
Let me begin by saying that I am very sorry for including Gregoriah's name in the list of three people. I meant to insert Zachary's name for the hateful comments he made NOT Gregoriah, I am extremly sorry that you were placed in the same list as Jake and Erik, very sorry.

Apology accepted. Honestly, the invective being thrown around was rather much for me, especially coming from Christians (assuming Erik is one. From his language, I find that staggering!) Thank you for clarifying your position.

That being said you made some very good points in your response that made alot of sense, and it is obvious that you are more of an authority on the subject than I am, afterall I am just someone with a Grade 11 history under my belt, and no further historical education. So I am not as knowledgable as you. But I still have a few points that I need to address, perhaps you could help me with them, we will have to see.

I'm a 25 year old Bible College graduate with a Diploma in Biblical Studies, who recently converted to Catholicism, and spent 3 years studying it in depth before I converted. Just a glimpse of my qualifications and background :) Studying history was one of the primary reasons for converting to Catholicism from Protestantism.

Firstly, the point were discuss religion not being able to change its moral stance to reflect society confuses me has in the past, why must religion become stagnate now? Does anyone remember "God-Given" roles for men and women, boy religion sure changed its moral stance to reflect society then, but it can't now? There seems to be fault in this logic.

I'm not sure where you would say religion has changed in the past to suit society. Looking primarily at Catholicism (Protestantism has changed, many many times on many issues--but that's another debate) while surface issues of practice have changed, its doctrines and teachings in areas related to Faith and Morals have not for 2000 years, and will not, because this is the guarantee of infallibility, promised by the Holy Spirit leading the Magesterium (teaching authority) of the Church.

Where change has taken place in Western Civilisation, the Church has either led the way, or resisted it. When it comes to the status of women, the Church was the one who said they should be considered equal, and it took society a long time to catch up. When it came to slavery, the Church was the one that said it should be abolished, and it took the world a long time to catch up. When it came to racism, the Church said race isn't an issue, and the world is still trying to catch up!

When it comes to the roles of men and women, the Church still says that men are better suited for some and not others, and in a complementary way, women are better suited for the others, and not for the some. But this is not an issue of equality, because they are both equal. In the same way, I'm an excellent artist, but my brother is not. Contrarily, he could kick my butt in any sport we played, because that's where his strength lies. What we see on a specific level with he and I, we see on a more general level with the differences between men and women. There are differences, and that should be obvious. But being different is obviously not the same as being inferior, and the Church has always taught that!

To sum up, when it comes to minor things like practices, and what language to have Mass in, etc, there have been changes (though not as many as you might think!), but when it comes to the big things, issues pertaining to our Faith (what we believe about God, ourselves, and our salvation) and morals (God's expected behaviours from us), there is no changing, no compromising, and--we believe--no error. This is what Jesus meant when He said that The Gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church (Matthew 16:18), that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth (John 16:13), and calls the Church "The pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).

This isn't stagnation, but a sign of a vibrant, living faith. As the late Bishop Fulton Sheen once remarked, "Any dead body can float downstream." Changing with the times, and compromising our distinctives to do so doesn't show life and adaptability. It shows death and limpness. Being able to adequately respond and reach out to the needs of the changing culture without compromise--that is what our faith is all about.

Secondly, your response to my declaration of human rights point is misguided, it was merly to offer another possible way to look at this argument.

I understood the hypothetical nature of the argument. But it was a non sequitur, and really had no relevance to the post. It's one thing to spout your opinion on a blog, as a twenty-something with literally no clout. It's another thing entirely, a whole other realm of influence, to actually lead a country by your opinions.

And besides it was a hypothetical argument, you need not describe the specifics international law to me, when the argument was a hypothetical observation. I am well aware that I can't charge Jake with crimes againt humanity, although like I said if he were leader of a country, and made the same comments he made here, he would be a very eligible candidate.

My main counterpoint was that you were committing the same or similar crimes by your assertions about religion and its adherence. Again, it was hypothetical, but I did want to point out the double-standard.

That being said rather then continue this back and forth argument I will again try to offer some evidence as to support my beliefs about the subject.

I will do my best to answer them all, but it might be a work in progress. I'm really tired, so I might only get partway into it before I go to bed. If you want to respond to what I have finished tonight, be my guest. But I won't interact with your replies until the main body of this post is finished. Otherwise it will get totally lost. 10+ arguments is a lot to digest!

As Andrew mentioned a civil union of sorts is an excellent idea for the government to pursue since the state will remain seperate from church.

In theory. However, there is still no protection from religious persons in secular positions being forced to perform marriages against their beliefs. Where is freedom of religion, then? See the case of the justice in Alberta, for example. And I really do believe it will be only so long before the Church starts being threatened with political sanctions such as denial of charitable status, and such. This happened already during the last election because the Churches that spoke out against abortion during the election time were viewed as making political statements!

And besides, you said yourself that you consider the "Same-sex union but not called marriage" idea "specious". It amounts to a distinction without a difference, and a game of semantics. Personally, I don't go for it.

However I will examine now whether a same sex marriage is possible or not, and if religion should adapt to suit these needs. So without further hesitation I submit the top ten reasons why christians should support same sex marriages:

1. Because Christians support equal rights for all Canadians (indeed, all humans). The “special rights” argument is patently false - this is obviously a clear case of all citizens being treated exactly equally with respect to all of the societal approbations that are associated with marriage: inheritance, taxation, hospital visitation rights etc.

The problem with this line of reasoning (by far the most common, and the one that won the day) is that gay couples already enjoy all these rights under commonlaw status. They won that right nearly a decade ago! This whole argument is moot, because the rights issue is a non-issue. The only inequality is the improper labelling of "marriage" to their union--but this is an inequality bestowed to all other unions that up until now did not meet the definition of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. So now "one man and one woman" is changed. How long until "To the exclusion of all others" goes, too? The Mormons and Muslims will be chomping at the bit for that one, I'm sure!

What is special about gays and lesbians being granted the same rights as heterosexual couples already have?

Again, it's really not a rights issue. But where the rights differed for heterosexual couples, it was mainly with the reasoning of family needs, and not just the couple.

2. Because Christians have long benefited from the freedom of religion in this country, and would want to continue to respect that in the future. Even if you personally don’t approve of same-sex marriage, you might at least recognize that there are several other denominations who are in favour of same-sex marriage: the Society of Friends, Metropolitan Community Church, Lambda Christian Church, and the United Church of Canada are only four Edmonton examples. To deny any religious groups’ belief to practice same-sex marriage in Canada violates a belief in the freedom of religion for all.

This is almost a good argument, but at the same time, religions that enjoy the same freedom of religion here do not enjoy the same latitude in other areas. So the Quakers, United Church, etc. are okay with gay marriage. The Mormons and the Muslims are okay with polygamous marriage, as are many pagan religions. Certain practices are also outlawed here (like extremist terrorist "Jihad", which is spelled out and commanded in the Qur'an--I've read it! Surely we shouldn't say that freedom of religion extends to allowing someone to kill in the name of their religion!). So unless you're suggesting unlimited platitudes be extended to all members of every religion (which, ironically, would also allow Conservative Christians to sit in on abortion procedures, and numerous other things that they have been arrested for), your argument for the denial of freedom of some religious groups is moot!

3. Because modern Christians realize that marriage has nothing to do with procreation.Often a primary objection to same-sex marriages is that they cannot bear children. Not only is this narrow-minded and untrue (many creative solutions are available to the same-sex couple that desires to raise children), it’s a double-standard. No one tests heterosexuals for their fertility or desire to raise children before determining their suitability for marriage - on the contrary, churches today regularly marry couples known to be infertile (post-menopausal women being only one example) Inasmuch as any heterosexual couple that has remained childless has been recognized as married by the church, it is hypocritical to resort to this fallacious logic in the same-sex marriage debate.

Again, speaking only for the Catholic Church, its official teachings are that marriage is designed for the producing of a family. Catholics who ignore this injunction, using artificial forms of contraception or whatnot, are committing grave sin. We should be open to the family God chooses to bless us with. When, in the case of barren women or infertile men, God chooses not to gift them with biological children, they often view this with disappointment, knowing that something is incomplete--or they choose to adopt, as my parents did. But in these situations, while it is impossible for the couple to conceive, the point is that ideally, they could, and are open to that.

On the other hand, in no ways or circumstances could two men or two women ever produce a child on their own. The very genetic makeup of their relationship precludes that reality, and thus defeats the very goal of the marriage relationship--despite what "modern" people, "Christian" or otherwise, believe.

As for creative solutions to the problem of homosexual infertility, the point that solutions need to be described as "creative" demonstrates that they are not natural. Moreover, operating under the assumption that these relationships are sinful and wrong, the money the government spends funding such research is as scandalous and wasteful as the recent Liberal Ad-Scam.

Just a brief comment on the post-menopausal argument--we believe in a miracle-working God, who has on many occasions caused barren women to conceive (at least 7 I can think of in the Bible--notably, Sarah, Abraham's wife gave birth to Isaac from a barren womb long after menopause--she was 99; Rachel, Jacob's wife, gave birth twice from a barren womb; the Hebrew midwives in Egypt, who saved the Hebrew babies from partial- or full-birth abortions were blessed with their own families; Samson's parents, who were barren; Samuel's mother who was barren; an elderly, post-menopausal lady who prepared an apartment in her home for the prophet Elisha, was given a son; Zachariah and Elizabeth gave birth to St. John the Baptist in their old age--and certainly, let us not forget the Blessed Virgin Mary, who gave birth to Our Lord!). Who is to say that a woman and a man cannot conceive because they are too old, or barren, or whatnot. But, on the other hand of this more religious form of the argument, God Himself has called homosexuality a sin, and would not, in that light, bless it with miraculous children in order to somehow vindicate their position over and against His own.

4. Because Christians should support marriage in all of its forms. Some claim that same-sex marriage is an attack on family values, but this is incorrect. On the contrary, it is an attempt by GLBT people to be legally recognized as having families in the first place.

Studies have shown that single parent families are deficient in rearing balanced children, unless in special cases a surrogate father or mother is in the picture. Two fathers and two mothers, it can be inferred, would have a similarly unbalanced result in the life of a child. Who is going to teach the son of two lesbians what it means to be a man? Who is going to teach the daughter of two gays what it means to be a princess?

It is a non sequitur to claim that only the “traditional” nuclear family model is legitimate when less than half of Canadian families conform to this model currently anyways.

I would contend that it is not a non-sequitur at all, and that rather, it really goes to show why the traditional nuclear family is so important. We can readily see the problems in our society resulting from divorce, single teenage parents, and otherwise dysfunctional families. But the very fact that these families are considered dysfunctional demonstrates that a functional and ideal family can be conceived. Adding yet another level of dysfunction to the mix will not help thing!

Same-sex marriage can be seen as enhancing and strengthening marriage instead of the opposite.

I honestly do not see how. I can see it putting more strain on adoption agencies, and families already trying to adopt. In a generation, I can see children with warped senses of their identity and individuality emerging, not understanding themselves and their gender--or the opposite gender. I can see a host of other problems as well. And do you think that homosexual couples will bring down the divorce statistic? When it became legal in Ontario, just in the last year or two, within a month of that ruling, Ontario celebrated its first Lesbian Divorce! Way to strengthen marriage!

5. Because Christians realize that the Church has been discriminatory in the past and would seek amends for that. Formerly the Church denigrated “homosexual promiscuity” without making available any other option (a recognized covenanted relationship).

The Church denigrated homosexual promiscuity because it's two sins together, not because if homosexuals would be monogamous, we'd all get along! If sleeping around is a sin, it's a sin whether gays sleep around, or straight people sleep around!

The Christian support of same-sex marriage thus can end a hypocritical position of the Church and give the Church more relevance to contemporary society.

What is hypocritical here? And what is the lack of relevance? The Church isn't a relevant institution because it marries people in pretty buildings! The Church is a relevant institution because it leads people to the God who made them and loves them, and died to save them from their sins--which, without turning from them in repentance will damn them to hell! Notice, I said the sins will damn them, not God. God desires that no one will perish. The problem is, the only way for that is to turn to Him in obedience. People don't tend to be too big on the catch, and tell God to bugger off. They they wonder how such a "loving, forgiving God" could condemn them for it. If you've told God by your actions and lack of obedience to Him that He has no part of your life, and Heaven is eternity with Him, face to face, and Hell is the exact opposite--no God!--then where do you think someone who wanted nothing to do with Him here and now is gonna end up? Exactly where they wanted to be!

Many agree that Christians should be opposed to discrimination in any form. The “have-your-relationships-but-don’t-call-it-marriage” argument is specious as it promotes a South African-type apartheid: the “same water coming from different fountains” is not equal. As the American Supreme Court has decided “separate but equal” is not.

Being opposed to discrimination of any form brings in a host of problems that you have not even begun to consider! Why discriminate between colours? Because red means stop and green means go! We discriminate when we pick our clothes for the day--and if we don't, we should! Discrimination is not the devil that our society thinks it is. As the Book of Proverbs says, "A woman without discretion is like a gold ring in a pig's snout" (11:22). It's a quality of wisdom to discriminate, to choose the good and reject the bad. In our present scenario and topic, should we not discriminate against child-molestors? It's their choice, isn't it? You'll say that it isn't the child's, but then you're discriminating between two types of relationships: consentual and non-consentual. Without discriminating, does "no" even really mean no?

The difference between the homosexual argument and the racist argument is that blacks are equal to whites, or asians, or Native Americans, or whathaveyou. But for the reasons delineated above, the whole family, procreative argument, a homosexual relationship is not equal to a heterosexual one. That doesn't mean that the homosexual is any less of a person, any more than a celibate priest is less of a person. But holy orders is different than marriage, and the two things are not equal.

And again, something that is sinful is not equal to something that is not.

6. Because Christians realize that marriage has never been a static institution, and therefore there is no reason that it should be now. From its early origin as a property exchange, to a method of ensuring peace between nations, to being recognized as a church function only in the thirteenth century, to the recent questioning of the “God-given” roles for men and women, the institution of marriage has always been in a state of flux. Things once illegal, such as miscegenation and the marriage of the mentally handicapped, are now permitted. To arbitrarily decide that now marriage has evolved as far as it should according to an 1960’s definition is to deny any possible subsequent influence of the Holy Spirit in our world.

You are mistaken in your assumptions about the Christian understanding of marriage. Marriage is a Sacrament, meaning that it was instituted by Christ to convey grace. Now, obviously, technically, Christ didn't institute marriage (except insofar as He is God and created Man and Woman). But in the New Testament, Jesus states very clearly His intent for Marriage, and in so doing, elevates it to a sacramental level. You try below to draw parallels between marriage and the Sabbath, and they are there to an extent, but I will address that. However, more directly, there are parallels to Jesus' teaching on divorce, and the current debate over homosexuality:

Some Pharisees approached Him, and to put Him to the test they said, 'Is it against the Law for a man to divorce his wife on any pretext whatever?' He answered, 'Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning made them male and female and that He said: This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and the two become one flesh[Gn 1:17;2:24]? They are no longer two, therefore, but one flesh. So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide.'
They said to Him, 'Then why did Moses command that a writ of dismissal should be given in cases of divorce?' He said to them, 'It was because you were so hard-hearted, that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but it was not like this from the beginning. Now I say this to you: anyone who divorces his wife--I am not speaking of an illicit marriage--and marries another, is guilty of adultery.' --Matthew 19:3-9

Crucial to the quotation is Jesus' phrase, "It was not like this from the beginning" (v.8). In the beginning, God created man and woman, in order that those two would be married and build society. After the fall of mankind into sin, corruptions and perversions of pretty much every aspect of life and society ensued. But God calls us continually upwards to His Standard, the standard that was in place before the Fall. In the beginning, this is how it was. Variations are a result of sinfulness on some level or another.

St. Paul, echoing this passage, says in Ephesians 5:21-33:

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, since, as Christ is head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife; and as the Church is subject to Christ, so should wives be to their husbands, in everything. Husbands should love their wives, just as Christ loved the Church and sacrficed Himself for her to make her holy by washing her in cleansing water with a form of words, so that when He took the Church to Himself she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless. In the same way, husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies; for a man to love his wife is to love himself. A man never hates his own body, but he feeds it and looks after it; and that is the way Christ treats the Church, because we are parts of His Body. This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and the two become one flesh [Gn 2:24-again]. This mystery has great significance, but I am applying it to Christ and the Church. To sum up: you also, each one of you, must love his wife as he loves himself; and let every wife respect her husband.

The thing you seem to not understand is that the theology and doctrine within Scripture is a map of a progression of revelation. God continued to reveal Himself and His plan to His creation through millenia of interaction. It really wasn't until Jesus came along that the afterlife was revealed as eternal happiness with God and eternal separation from God. It had been only hinted at in the Old Testament, but now, in the New Testament, through Christ and His Apostles, doctrines of Heaven and Hell became more fully revealed.

This is similar with other doctrines as well, and many doctrines continued to develop after the Bible was written. The Canon of Scripture itself is one such example. The full understanding of the nature of Christ, as God and Man, was also much later. The Doctrine of what exactly the Church is was still later. And on and on. But there comes a point when the Holy Spirit leads the Church to say, this is the Truth, the fullness is revealed, you must believe it (John 16:13). Whether that cementing comes within the covers of Sacred Scripture (God created the World. God sent His Son to save us from our sins), or outside of Scripture (God is a Trinity, Jesus is both completely God and Man, the Bible contains these 73 books, no more and no less), is irrelevant, because, as you point out on Jake's blog, the Bible Alone is not sufficient for determining the fullness of truth. However, your conclusion from that statement goes completely askew, because you dive into a complete relativism which Christianity has always condemned, because God is a God of Truth and Order, who promised that His Church would be the foundation of that Truth, and be led into that Truth by Himself, the Holy Spirit. Thus, God's absolute Truth is knowable and is revealed to us, in Scripture, in the Living, Apostolic Tradition of the Church, and in the Teaching Authority, the Magesterium, of the Church itself.

It is that Tradition and Magesterium who have conclusively interpreted Scripture, defining that homosexuality is indeed a sin (despite the word-wrangling of liberal scholars who deny the Church's authority in this regard), and declaring that Marriage is indeed limited for Christians to one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. This is dogmatically declared by the Catholic Church, and will not change, because the constant leading and guiding of the Spirit of Truth will prevent that, as Jesus promised.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

2357 ...Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity [Cf. Gen 19:1-29; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10], tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered [CDF, Persona Humana 8]." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

I'd quote the Catechism on Marriage, but it's a really long section. Instead, you can read it here:

7. Because Christians support the separation of Church and State. Hardly anyone believes these days that the Church should define the law in this country - this position is ignorant of the centuries of problems that that historical situation created. In accordance with the freedom of religion in Canada, modern Christians realize that the insertion of the Christian God into government only spells trouble for those who (everyone agrees) have the right NOT to believe in that God. Christians do not want their denomination to dictate law for the rest of the country.

The Separation of Church and State is a moot point in this debate. Canada is, or is allegedly, a democracy, and yet, the people (you know, the "demos" part of democracy?) never had a chance to weigh in on this issue. It is not just a Christian issue, either, as I worked with Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims, as well as Protestants and fellow Catholics in Oakville to Defend Marriage. Stats say that 2/3 of Canadians are in favour of the Traditional Definition of Marriage, and even in the actual passing of the Bill, it won by a margin of 25. That's 13 votes that, had they been different, would have blocked the bill. Factor in the fact that Liberal Caucus members had to vote for the bill or be backbenched (and one noble MP chose the latter, but he was alone), and all members of the NDP had to vote for their party line for the bill, there was no real freedom of conscience in this vote.

This was not democracy, but a mockery of democracy! This isn't just a Christian issue, and it isn't limited to "Church and State" issues--even when that notion is correctly understood, which it mostly isn't. (Separation of Church and State is the ideology that the State should not have a formal religion--not that Christians shouldn't have involvement in or fight for political issues that involve moral issues!

8. Because Christians have long known that the Church should not determine legal policy.

The Church should not, perhaps, but this does not preclude Christian involvement in legal policies. Deny this, and you exclude Pope John Paul II's role in the topling of Soviet Communism, Martin Luther King, Jr's role in the Civil Rights Movement, heck, St. Patrick's role in eliminating the Irish Slave Trade! Not to mention the freedoms that our great country enjoys are based upon the Christian principles of its founders, who decided to call Canada a "Dominion" based on the text of Psalm 72:8, "He shall have Dominion from Sea to Sea." Don't believe me? You can read it engraved into our Parliament Building!

Further to the above, Christians universally believe in following one’s own conscience, even when that entails opposing the official policy of one’s church. Catholics believe that each person has a solemn moral obligation to adhere to the dictates of his or her conscience (even if that conscience is erroneous), over and above the dictates of the Church.

This is a hugely erroneous statement! In fact, the Church vehemently denies this application of conscience! The Church says that God has given us our conscience to be the voice of the Holy Spirit, guiding us in moral truth, but, the Church adamantly asserts, that conscience must be properly formed! A Catholic must learn the Dogmas of his or her Church, and train his or her conscience accordingly, so that, when he or she is in violation, that conscience will sound an alert. The only time conscience is fully free to inform a person is in an issue that the Church hasn't ruled authoritatively on. In those instances our consciences, formed by the teaching of the Church, guides us to choose the right, or the least wrong, as the case may be. Such an instance would be one's support or opposition to Bush's War in Iraq. The Church has laid out policies and teachings on when it is justifiable and not justifiable to wage war. Based on those teachings, a Catholic is free to side with or against Bush on this issue, because the Church has not definitively ruled.

But where the Church has definitively ruled, we must bring our consciences into submission to her authority. The Catechism states,
1782 Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. "He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters."[DH 3 § 2.]


1783 Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.

1784 The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.

1785 In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path [Cf. Ps 119:105.], we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.[Cf. DH 14.]

As Cardinal Ratzinger has written: “Only the absoluteness of conscience is the antithesis to tyranny.”

I would really like a citation on this, because on the surface it contradicts the Catechism, which John Paul the Great called "a sure norm for teaching the faith." Since Pope Benedict was, when John Paul the Great was alive, his right-hand man, and Defender of Orthodoxy, he would not, in context, be contradicting the sure norm for teaching the faith, when he himself was (and is, moreso, as our new Pope) charged with upholding, defending, and instructing in that very Faith! In fact, he signed the Imprimi Potest on the Catechism, guaranteeing its agreement with Church teaching!

Looking at the snag of a quotation, we can see how it would be harmonised with what the Catechism states, rather than contradicting it. Then-Ratzinger was rightly pointing out that any regime that uses force or other spurious means to violate someone's conscience is tacitly endorsing tyranny--or, as he put it, only the freedom of conscience prevents tyranny. This is completely in line with Catechism #1782, quoted above. However, the Catechism clearly states that that free conscience must be formed and informed in order for it to be effective, and that, as paragraph 1785 says, the Word, assimilated through prayer and practice, examination before the Cross, the witness and guidance of the Spirit, the gifts and advice of others, and the Authoritative teachings of the Church are the means by which we must form that conscience.

Thus for Catholics convicted that all Canadians should be treated equally and that the Canadian freedom of religion should be respected as above, not to promote the legalisation of same-sex marriages is sinful.

The question of equality has been dealt with above. Homosexual relationships do not, strictly speaking, apply to the arena of religious freedom. And for Christians to promote sin of any form is always and necessarily also sin. Your line of reasoning here is absurd. There is in no way here a reason that Christians (especially Catholic Christians) should accept gay marriage on these grounds!

Within Protestantism the case is even easier, as the entire tradition is ultimately based upon an individual acting according to the dictates of his conscience by nailing up 95 thesis to the wall of a Wittenberg church, an act commemorated in most Protestant churches this week.

This attitude, notably, is Protestantism's fatal flaw, and the reason for the lack of cohesive unity and constant splits and schisms within its ranks. This private judgement is not a blessing, but the biggest mistake, I think, a member of the Christian Church has ever made. The New Testament repeatedly condemns rebellion, schism, sectarianism, and division. Jesus Himself prayed for the unity of His Church (John 17:11). This very "case" you attempt to make here is one of the very reasons that I left Pentecostal Protestantism and joined the Roman Catholic Church--because it is the only Church that has for 2000 years demonstrated a visible unity and cohesiveness as Scripture demands!

To stand up and challenge the dominant authority is a practice firmly rooted and celebrated in Protestant tradition.

On thing firmly entrenched in many forms of Protestantism is respect of the Government as God's appointed representatives. Those same Protestants reject God's actual represented authorities in the Church. Notably, in World War 2, Hitler used a very similar argument to the one you promulgate here in order to convince Protestants that the Holocaust was a good thing--since you seem so fond of comparing Jake to Hitler, how does it feel when the tables are turned? The Catholic Church, on the other hand, vehemently opposed the Holocaust, and worked diligently to rescue Jewish and other victims of Hitler's tyranny. This is the result of obedience to properly formed consciences!

Even those opposed to homosexuality in general can logically support same-sex marriage as a decidedly “lesser evil” than the alternative.

What exactly is the alternative? Not promoting sinful legislation in our country? Christianity, Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox, has an obligation to be counter-cultural, to stand against the world and be separate from it. It has an obligation to follow God's Law, and defy man's where man's laws are sinful and corrupt (Acts 5:29). Where the Church has failed to do that, it has not somehow been an "enlightened" Christianity, but a dead one (cf. Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22).

9. Because Christians realize that to hold up marriage as for heterosexuals only is not only discriminatory, it also borders on idolatry.

I'm not sure "idolatry" is the word you wanted...

Just as the Pharisees in Jesus’ day were maligned for counting their dill seeds while neglecting justice and mercy (Mathew 23:23), Christians today realize that marriage was created for humankind, not the opposite. Jesus’ words in Mark 2:27 are an interesting parallel to the contemporary situation.

In a sense, you're right. However, it is not the sense that you think. The Pharisees here had developed traditions that went outside the boundaries of the Sabbath requirement established by God, so that the Law became burdensome, and something that was not actually a sin was called sin. I can see how you might draw a parallel, but none actually exists. In the example, something that is not a sin is being called a sin. In this scenario, something that is plainly called a sin is called not sinful. It is, in fact, the GLBT who resemble the Pharisees--not because of legalism, but because of the corrupting of Tradition and the Law of God.

The issue is simply this: A Christian must not sin. A Christian must warn against and combat sin. A Christian who unrepentantly persists in sin at some point is no longer a Christian, because he doesn't really give a rip about what Christ is saying. Now, a Christian has no right to go up to a non-Christian homosexual and somehow force him to not be gay. That Christian, on the other hand, has every right and obligation to proclaim the message of Salvation in Jesus Christ through the repentance of sins to that non-Christian homosexual--or heck, to any non-Christian, regardless of sexual orientation. After all, everyone is equal! A patriotic Christian, who desires that his country not become so secular and anti-religious that his freedoms become threatened and others are led into sin by the government's policies, has every obligation to challenge those laws!

Marriage is a tool for developing honest, voluntary, long-lasting and mutually accountable relationships between two people, and Christians realize that that is a laudable goal for two people of any gender and seek to promote that.

Yes, all people, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or religion should develop honest, voluntary, long-lasting and mutually accountable relationships. But the description above doesn't specifically define "marriage", though, since my best friend and I have just such a relationship. On the other hand, marriage is not the only tool to promote those ends, either. And promoting those ends does not necessitate the embracing of sinful behaviour.

10. Because Christians believe in the supremacy of God, not the supremacy of government.

This is precisely the argument I posited above. Acts 5:29: "In reply Peter and the apostles said, 'Obedience to God comes before obedience to men.'"

Even those who consider homosexual behaviour to be sinful can believe in the equality of all people under the government.

True, but this isn't what's at issue.

Christians realize that many sins are not covered by the Criminal Code, nor should they be, as they are more matters of individual conscience

True, but at the same time, many atrocities against life are also not covered under the criminal code, or else, are protected by the criminal code, like abortion--which in our great land has no restrictions whatsoever! Even babies halfway out of the womb can be killed without repercussion (partial birth abortion), in government funded facilities, no less! But that's not what's at issue here, either. The legal code is imperfect, but that does not mean that it should remain unchallenged, especially in a democratic country where injustice can be corrected. The GLBT see the former prohibition toward gay marriage as unjust. On the other hand, many others see the injustice in the undemocratic method of granting such rights to a minority without even asking the majority their rightful opinion in a referendum. Even if justice would be served by legalising gay marriage, justice is certainly not served by legalising gay marriage by unjust methodology.

Ultimately, Christians can take solace in the fact that all will be judged fairly before God, and leave it to God to do the judging. In the meantime, one can work toward the most equitable society possible on.

On this we can agree--even if our notions of equitable are quite different. But this statement of yours does not preclude the Christian's right and obligation to protest against sin when we see it. However, as I've stated, and tried to exemplify, we must "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).

This is a widely excepted top ten list in support of gay marriage.

I widely take exception to it as well! (You meant "accepted", but you put excepted, as reproduced. The pun fits, however, because it is a complete misrepresentation and an inaccurate portrayal of the orthodox Christian position on the subjects related to the gay marriage issue.)

It is the evidence that Jake so passionately requested of me and I hope that he finds it useful.

If this is the best "evidence" you have to offer, I'm sure he'll find it as useful as I did...

Well I hope people take the time to read this list and reflect on it.

Here is my reflection, and my reply, back at you!

And sorry again Gregoriah I meant to have Zachary in that list, not you.

Again, all is forgiven. No hard feelings.

Bye Bye and toodles for now. Like the evidence Jake? ;)

I don't know about Jake, but I'm sure I was underwhelmed.

You misunderstand completely the Church's teaching that while people are equal, their actions are not. Their choices are not. There is such a thing as sin, and sinful things do not warrant support from the religious groups that formally condemn those sins. We recognise the person as a sinful human being, equal to all of us sinful human beings. But the fact that I'm just as much a sinner as the next guy does not mean that the next guy has any more licence to sin as I do.

And the Church defines its orthodoxy by the fact that, led by the Holy Spirit, it does not change its doctrines based on every whim or fancy that the world throws at it.
On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in whatever way Christ allotted it. That is why it says:
He went up to the heights, took captives,
He gave gifts to humanity.
[Ps 68:18]
When it says, 'He went up', it must mean that He had gone down to the deepest levels of the earth. The one who went down is none other than the one who went up above all the heavens to fill all things. And to some, His 'gift' was that they should be apostles; to some prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; to knit God's holy people together for the work of service to build up the Body of Christ, until we all reach unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God and form the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ Himself.
Then we shall no longer be children, or tossed one way and another, and carried hither and thither by every new gust of teaching, at the mercy of all the tricks people play and their unscrupulousness in deliberate deception. If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow completely into Christ, who is the head by whom the whole Body is fitted and joined together, every joint adding its own strength, for each individual part to work according to its function. So the body grows until it has built itself up in love. --Ephesians 4:7-16, emphasis mine

Finally finished! Hope you see and reflect on this, Bradeana. God bless!


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