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Monday, August 14, 2006

Perplexed

I saw a news article online recently that troubled me ... Catholics perplexed by actions of San Francisco Catholic Charities. The story says, in part ...

Catholics in San Francisco and throughout the United States continue to be confused by the decision of San Francisco Catholic Charities to persist in facilitating adoptions to homosexual couples, an action which the Church has spoken out against. In announcement made two weeks ago, San Francisco Catholic Charities decided that while it will close its own adoption services, it will continue to outsource personnel to an agency that facilitates adoptions in the area, including adoptions to homosexual couples ....

I must admit, I'm also perplexed, but for different reasons ... I don't understand why homosexual couples should not be allowed to adopt children.

There is no real evidence that any harm is caused children who are raised by same-sex couples. Below is what the American Psychological Association has to say on the subject - it supports adoption by same-sex couples in its policy statement of July 28 & 30, 2004 ...

... There is no scientific basis for concluding that lesbian mothers or gay fathers are unfit parents on the basis of their sexual orientation (Armesto, 2002; Patterson, 2000; Tasker & Golombok, 1997). On the contrary, results of research suggest that lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children .... Research suggests that sexual identities (including gender identity, gender-role behavior, and sexual orientation) develop in much the same ways among children of lesbian mothers as they do among children of heterosexual parents (Patterson, 2004a) .... Evidence also suggests that children of lesbian and gay parents have normal social relationships with peers and adults (Patterson, 2000, 2004a; Perrin, 2002; Stacey & Biblarz, 2001; Tasker, 1999; Tasker & Golombok, 1997). The picture that emerges from research is one of general engagement in social life with peers, parents, family members, and friends. Fears about children of lesbian or gay parents being sexually abused by adults, ostracized by peers, or isolated in single-sex lesbian or gay communities have received no scientific support. Overall, results of research suggest that the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents ...
- link

I might add that I was raised by four heterosexual parents - a mother, a father, and two stepfathers - and I'm a living proof that having straight parents does not guarantee a safe, healthy or happy childhood.

Of course, the Church's stance is not based on sociology but theology ... the Church's position can be read here - CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION TO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS - CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH

My feelings on the subject are well expressed by an old article in Commonweal - To Welcome a Child - Gay Couples & Adoption by Jo McGowan

... gay couples, having staked everything on love in a world that is often hostile toward them, let alone tolerant, are better suited than most to the challenges of caring for children who need unconditional acceptance. If, having risked being ostracized and rejected by the community they-like anyone else-desire to be a part of, they are still willing to offer their lives and their hearts as a haven for children in the most desperate need of protection and unconditional acceptance, who on earth are we to say they are unworthy?


33 Comments:

Blogger david said...

Amen sister. Maybe we'll make a Quake of you yet.

Well maybe not. I don't think you're quite passive-aggressive enough to be a Friend.

7:10 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi David. hey, don't sell me short ... I can be just as twisted as a Quaker :-)

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Victor said...

No one can say that any of God's Children are unworthy of His Love no matter what family they come from but I can say that two wrongs won't make one right.

I agree that there are probably many homosexual couples who could help provide supportive and healthy environments for
some children who are starving but does that make it right in the long run?

I could state my honest opinion of why I disagree with same sex marriages and whether we want to accept it or not homosexual couples will eventually expect these rights also and end up believing that it is also sanctioned by God.

For more than thirty years I've been praying and asking what Jesus Christ wants me to do as far as homosexual couples are concerned and this is what He seems to have said to my heart.

Victor, if you believe in Adam and Eve and if you believe that you were created in God's Image then how can physical love between a man and a man and/or a woman and a woman be right. Have I not made it clear how powerful lust can be and all that I expect of My Children?
Have any of My Angels, Martyrs, Saints and or Prophets condoned any of these behaviors? Victor, let My Complete Words and The Words of My True Followers be your guide.
I've told my children that I will always be with them and I will continue to give them free will until my next coming. Victor don't let your heart be troubled, just keep praying and let the chips fall where they may. Remember that when you were Baptized, you received a Spiritual child seed from My Father "Your Soul" and when you were Confirmed, you received a Spiritual seed from The Holy Spirit "Your Spirit"
and they are now both My Little Brothers. I've done the same for every other human being but so many of them have gone astray and have gathered together as so called gods and it might take an eternity to gather them all UP again but never forget that nothing is impossible for Our Heavenly Father. Trust me Victor when I say that it won't help for you to get all UPSET. Just keep praying for your Soul and Spirit and without you knowing it, they'll take care of your pass, your future and wrap it UP as one big Present. Just like I am ONE with MY Father and His Spirit, you and My other Faithful will also become One with their Soul and their Spirit as ONE Happy Family where it will be All For One and One for All in Christ.
Because The Angel of Truth told me that you now truly believe that The Judgement Day actual started before I was crucified when I said,
"The times are accomplished, The Reign of God is very near. Convert yourself and believe in The Good News!" I would like you to closed this writing for now and as usual there are some who will think that you are just mean spirited, hateful and or even self-righteous.

As usual Crystal, I'll thank you for your kindness of agreeing to disagree on this issue.

All we can do is keep an open mind and hope that God leads us in the right direction and pray and hope that His Will be done and not ours.

Thank you again and God Bless

10:02 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Victor,

I respect your religious experience. I think, though, that some saints may have been homosexual ... have to check on that. But anyway, have you ever read any of the writings of catholic theologian/priest James Alison? He has some interesting thoughts on same sex orientation. His writings can be found - here

10:28 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I'm with crystal.

Relevant Link.

5:42 AM  
Anonymous Victor said...

Dear Crystal,

I've listened to the audio clip featuring The Rev'd Susan Russell giving a sermon on June 23, 2006 and I must say that she is a great speaker and has an angel's voice.

If I was to accept most of what she says then in all honesty, I would need to say that Jesus Christ is nothing more than a phony and He got trapped in His own trap. Jesus Christ claimed to have come from His Holy Father and He was not even smart enough to have made it clear that women should be given a chance to become priest. As a matter of fact, He didn't even have the dignity and respect to have a woman apostle by his side other than His Mother who conceived Him with the help of The Holy Spirit. I know that God will forgive my blasphemy just like He'll also forgive all other woman who think that it's very important to become priest and bishop in order to do God's Will.
Even after my cruel words about Him I’m sure that Jesus Christ will continue to have mercy on my soul and my spirit otherwise, I am doomed.

My heart tells me that the real problem is still with Adam who loves Eve so much as if she was part of Himself and so He's decided to give her a crack at the can and instead of letting the new Adam who is Jesus Christ take over, instead she turns to a jealous angel and he again convinces her to do his biding.

Well that's the way I see it today but who knows what God will place into my heart tomorrow and none of this has yet been sanctioned by God because when and if it ever is then I believe that it might be too late for humanity but truly what do I really know other than what I think has been revealed to me.

Thank you again for allowing me a say on your blog and may God continued to guide His Children in His Truth.

I'm going to drop it for now and let God talk to my heart of heart because my wife is yelling at me saying that I'll be late for my doctor's appointment.

In the mean time life goes on! (lol)

6:05 AM  
Anonymous Mike L said...

Personally I think the Catholic Church is a bit off base here. Making such statements based on theology rahter than on the observation of reality has a high risk factor. On the other hand, I am not sure that I trust sociologists to make accurate judgements as to what is really good and what is bad when it comes to raising kids.

I have know one or two marriages (between man and woman) where one of the partners eventually turned out to be gay. The results were not particularly pretty, and the children suffered greatly. In such a situation it would seem that if the non-gay spouse dies, then the Church would have to support the removal of the child from the remaining (gay) parent.

I guess one could argue that it is the partnering of two gay people that is the problem that leads the child to accept homosexuality, but I don't see how a single gay parent could keep from influencing his/her child and still raise the child in a loving and honest way.

Another problem I see is that of gender itself. Doing some investigation of hermorphadites I was surprised to find that there has never been a test devised that works in all cases to determine the sex of a child. In many cases a surgeon effectively flips a coin and takes out his knife to make as near an image to male or female as he can. Not always really successfully.
This problem also hits a lot of "female" athletes, that although seem female as far as form goes, find that they have male DNA. Apparently one can find individuals with xx genes (normally considered female if I don't have my x's and y's confused), xy (normally considered male), but also other combinations included xyxx (both male and female) xyy (sometimes refered to as super male) and several other combinations. These observations are in conflict with our definition of gender being limited to only male and female. But then religions have never been much for accepting reality if it opposes their belief system.

With all that I then ask if we are spiritual creatures, what does gender have to do with all of this. And of course I find that there are those that there are those that believe that there are female and male souls. I then ask, is the sex of the spiritual soul determined by physical genes? Or could a male body have a female sould and vica-versa? And if such is possible what about transgender operations? Is this not simply setting things aright? And which would be most important in raising a child? That the parents have the prober spiritual souls, or the proper genetics?

Crystal, I think that proper position in this whole thing is that of confusion, because it is confusing. And I think that I need my morning coffee now so that I can start thinking in a proper manner :-).

Lots of hugs,

Mike L

Hugs, Crystal

8:30 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Victor,

I've never heard The Rev'd Susan Russell. I don't really have a strong opinion aboit women being priests or not, but Jesus did have one female disciple who was the first to see him after resurrection - Mary Magdalen.


Mike,

I think parents are the biggest influence on their children, but I don't think studies show gay/lesbian parents influence children into being gay/lesbian, anymore than heterosexual parents influence all their children to be straight ... that seems to be (from the latest science?) a physical /brain thing decided at birth.

Yes, it is really a confusing subject. Isn't there a place, after the sermon on the mount, where Jesus says that after death, people won't marry anymore? I wonder if that means we won't be male or female either.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Mike L said...

Crystal

Not sure where Christ says that there will be no marriage in heaven, but he does say that. I believe Paul says that we are all one in the Spirit, neither male nor female in one of his letters, buy I don't think that Paul was refering to the afterlife. Of course the Church views this statement a little different from the way I do.

I do wonder why the Church is so focused on sex if it is not part of the spiritual life.

I really think that we know a lot less about God than we think we do, and a lot of theology is more or less speculation used to "prove" what we already believe. Humans are good at that :-). So on much of this I am simply adopting a wait and see attitude. I will probably get my answer sooner than I realy want.

Hugs,

Mike L

2:18 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Wow. This one is a real minefield, and I'm sure I'll step on one. I'd start off with the caveat that I don't pretend to understand the causes of homosexuality (I don't know if anyone really does yet), and one should always be careful when talking about subjects one doesn't understand very well. All I do know is that it is intuitively obvious that truly loving family members continue to accept and love their children, regardless of what their sexual orientation turns out to be.

Having said that, I often hear statements like, "What harm does gay marriage do to you? What effect could it possibly have on you?" Here, with this whole adoption issue, and for Catholic Charities having to give up handling them, we see where gay marriage has made an impact and where harm is being done. As I heard Rev J. Bryan Hehir explain this (and he was the first one, as head of Catholic Charities in Massachusetts, to feel as if he had no choice but to stop doing adoptions to gay couples), it is not a matter of federal or state funding. It is about being licensed by the state to handle adoptions. I think this is a gross abuse of government power, and a violation of the principle of the seperation of Church and State. If the issue isn't about funding, there should be an exception made, particularly since Catholic Charities specializes in adoptions for older children who have usually been in foster care for years. Children who because of their age and associated problems are very difficult to place with any couple.

Everyone of good will can decide whether or not they agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church on this or that particular matter and weigh in on it credibly. The Catholic Church, however, will not be pressured to shift its doctrines because of the political and legal decisions of a secular state. In my state in particular, the gay marriage question didn't even come from the legislature. It was decided by judicial fiat. Furthermore, I think a lot of this criticism of the Church is unfair. Just twenty-five years ago, the whole idea of gay marriage would have been off of the radar screen for almost all Christian denominations. Yes, the Catholic Church moves slowly. This reminds me of Lambeth in 1930. For four hundred years, almost all of the Protestant churches had a monolithic stand against contraception. The Anglican Communion makes a "concession" for married couples in 1930, and by the end of the century, as with this issue, it is the big, bad, retrograde, sexist, homophobic Catholic Church that stands in the way of progress.

As I also heard Rev Hehir explain it (and Catholic Charities in Massachusetts in the past, had done some placement with gay couples), the issue is not whether or not gay couples have an inherent defect or trait that makes them unsuitable as parents. The whole issue really is about the issue of gay marriage, and the adoption policy is a victim of that.

I don't know if enough time has gone by for any study to show that being brought up by gay parents has harmful, benign, or beneficial effects on children. I don't think there has been enough of it going on for long enough to say. Personally, I do think there are benefits to be had for good modeling behavior to be shown to children by a heterosexual couple. It is good for a child to see good modeling and parenting done by a mother. It is good for a child to see good modeling and parenting done by a father. Those deciding which couples should have the privilige to adopt should take the best cases into consideration. Plenty of heterosexuals are lousy wives and husbands and parents, but I have no reason to accept a mythology that gay couples will be better at either marriage or parenting. Marriage is about a lot more than sexual activity. In fact, it is one of the things it is least about, and those who don't realize that usually don't stay married very long. People shouldn't identify themselves first and primarily by their sexual orientation.

I don't mean to offend anyone, but I do believe that marriage, in addition to being sacramental, is a social contract between males and females, built primarily around the concept of the begetting and raising of children. It has always been such in every society. We, as a society, need to decide where to go with this, and IMO it was not the right of judges in Massachusetts to decide otherwise.

4:39 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Jeff,

I appreciate your viewpoint :-)

I don't know as much about catholicism as you so my feelings are not based so much on theology but on other things, which perhaps = a wekness in my argument.

marriage, in addition to being sacramental, is a social contract between males and females, built primarily around the concept of the begetting and raising of children.

my feeling is a little different, and we should take into account that I have in my baggage a failed marriage that lasted just a year :-) ... I think it is primarily a committed union between two people who love each other, whatever their sex. If it were based mainly on having children, then people who are barren or sterile or too old to have children would be out of luck, I guess?

It's true, there probably aren't enough studies to show the effect of growing up with a homosexual parent. The thing is, no parent is really perfect. As for modeling ... are deaf people good parents? Blind people? Poor people? Single people? Grandparents? I think all those "imperfect" models raise kids who turn out ok, if they are loved (again, spoken by the person with no kids).

I don't believe the Church cares about state funding, and I don't think the state is thinking about money either - I think the state is committed to fairness for all its citizens, given what evidence they have (like the American Psych Assoc) that no harm is caused to the children. If they gave funds to the Church and the Church excluded a group of people, the state would not be doing its job.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Mike L said...

Jeff,

You make some good points, but I think that you also made a few mistakes. As far as the Catholic Church goes, marriage is about sex, period. This is from a long tradition of arranged marriages, and if you take a look at it, there are only a couple of impediments that do not involve sex, those being you are a priest, you don't have free will. The rest of the ones I can think of involve sex, namely that you do not intend to not have kids, or that you are not capable of the sexual act.

While I agree with Crystal that it should be a committed relationship between two people that love one another, but that is not the traditional outlook of the Church.

I think that in many ways that marriage today is a social contract that brings many financial benefits to the the couple. Tax breaks are one, health insurance are another. It also allows both partners, in effect, to have power of attorny over their children, either one may pick them up at school. I have known of gay couples that faced the problem of having one go into the hospital and having their parents not allow the other partner to visit or obtain any information. I do see a problem with giving some people this advantage based on only on their sexual make up.

I do think that funding is involved in this problem. Catholic Charities is largely funded from outside of the Church. If their adoption agency was going to function as part of Catholic Charities, then the entire organization comes under regulation by the state to treat all people the same, or else loose the state funding, not just for the adoption agency part, but for the entire organization. Catholics do not seem to be willing to supply the loss of cash that would entail. And I kind of think that giving state funds to religious organizations that give preferential treatment to those following their belief is questionable at best.

And finally, here in the United States I suspect that many, if not most "marriages" are not sacramental but only "social contracts." But it would not be endearing to tell so many people that they are not really married. I think that the Church has made a grave mistake in allowing the state to define what a marriage is, and I am afraid it will come back to bite them you-know-where.

Do gay marriages have an effect on my marriage? Certainly no more so than the non-sacramental marriages that exist, and then only if I allow it. And I certainly have no intention of allowing someone else's relationship to destroy mine. I do think that the Church is giving us an excuse to blame someone else for our failures.

Having said that, I will say that my wife and I are part of the Marriage Encounter movement and hope through that to encourage sacramental marriage, and to also receive the support that we need to live our sacramental marriage. I think that it is much healthier to support good marriages than rail against bad ones, which is what I think the Church has decided to do.

This is my experience and thoughts, and thank God that I can express them and that Jeff and Crystal can express theirs also. Someday we shall know the answers, but then I suspect the questions will not have a meaning :-).

Hugs to both of you.

Mike L

8:08 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Hi Mike,

Just a couple of points. I heard Father Hehir speak on this topic personally. Crystal is right. It really isn't about the funding. Fr. Hehir, speaking in front of a group of people who feel very much like Crystal does, said that if the issue was about funding, he would have been able to find the means to keep providing adoption services. The issue is about a state license to do adoptions. If they discriminate, they can't be licensed. Period. Catholic Charities in MA had done about 13 adoptions with same-sex couples in the past. He said that Rome had taken a very active interest in the issue (under Benedict) once the whole gay marriage issue arose. Poor Fr. Hehir. He's a good man and a fine priest. He gets hammered by both the left and the right on this issue. He is being obedient to his bishop.

I think that the state is cutting off its nose to spite its face on this issue. By refusing to allow the Church a conscience clause on this matter, they are meddling in an area in which they have no right, and they are hurting a segment of children (older ones) who haven't an advocate with the same kind of expertise in this area that Catholic Charities has. I believe that the state is overstepping its bounds in a simlar fashion with an emergency contraception law that supersedes a preexisting statute that says private hospitals cannot be forced to provide abortions or contraception.

8:49 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Mike and Jeff,

thanks for the comments :-)

One thing Jeff said ...

By refusing to allow the Church a conscience clause on this matter, they (the state) They are meddling in an area in which they have no right, and they are hurting a segment of children (older ones) who haven't an advocate with the same kind of expertise in this area that Catholic Charities has.

I guess I disagree. The state is obligated, I think, to make sure that no one is discriminated against. Would it be ok with you if a religious organization discriminated against a certain race or against disabled people? The state is representing the rights under law of gays/lesbians.

I'm not a homosexual, and I'm very glad of that, because I don't see how I could function under the weight of discrimination such people must endure ... for something over which they most likely have no control, and something which, as far as I can see, harms no one else.

Rant over :-)

1:25 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Crystal,

I'm not bashing homosexuals. I happen to agree with you that this is something that they have no control over. Whether the Church should allow homosexual adoptions, homosexual marriages, etc.. are valid points for discussion in the Church. The Church can change. In some cases it does change. On some matters, I think it is only a matter of time until it changes. These are things for Catholics to work through. One thing that I cannot accept, however, is any government or state trying to force change upon us. At what point does that stop? If the legalization of gay marriage means the Catholic Church gets labeled by the government as a discriminatory institution, then I have a reason to be fearful of the legalization of gay marriage. Will we get to the point where Catholicism will be strictured as a discriminatory religion? Will it be illegal to be Catholic? Will only a vaguely American form of progressive Catholicism be allowed? This sort of thing has happened before elsewhere, and I'm afraid that there are quite a few people who would be glad to see it happen here.

Peace

5:08 AM  
Blogger Liam said...

Crystal,

I swooped by this thread a couple of times and started to leave a comment, but chickened out because I don't have the time to address the issue with the tranquility it demands. I personally favor the possibilities for both gay and straight couples to adopt. Politically, I favor the right of gays to marry civilly, and theologically I favor the right of gays to marry in the Church. If I had several hours, I could back up my opinions to a better or worse extent, and I may do so on my blog sometime.

Jeff raises some interesting points about where we draw the line about the state meddling in the Church. I'm not sure exactly where I stand. On one hand, what if it was a question of race? What if a given church refused to arrange the adoption of babies by racially mixed couples? It's interesting that the ancient Massachusetts law that Romney invoked to keep out-of-state gay people from marrying in Massachusetts was originally designed to keep out-of-state interracial couples from marrying in Massachusetts (from what I understand--Jeff can correct me if I'm wrong).

On the other hand, I supported Bishop Mahoney's call to civil disobedience in the event of a draconian immigration law that made it illegal to care for undocumented immigrants. Are these different issues? Am I just a partisan hypocrite? I don't know.

Anywa, thank you Crystal, for hosting such a deep and important conversation.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Mike L said...

Jeff,

While I dislike the state forcing changes on people, sometimes I think that it is for the best, both for the state and for the people. IMO granting an exceptio for religous reasons is a very risky action.

I am old enough to remember segregation, and many claimed that it was part of their religious belief and that they should be exempted from laws that required integration. There are some people today that believe polygamy is proper and think that they should be exempt from the law. Should they be granted exemptions?

If one grants an exemption in the case of Catholic Charities, is one not obligated to grant exemtions to those agencies that believe only Christian couples should be able to adopt, and do not consider Catholics as being Christian?

And I also agree with you, Jeff, sometimes in the name of protection, we actually harm some of those that we are trying to protect. How about those that are denied medication that might help them because it has harmed others?

And while you blame the state for its policy, I think that I tend to lay the blame at the feet of the Church for their policy of discrimination.

Peace,

Mike L

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Mike L said...

Jeff,

While I dislike the state forcing changes on people, sometimes I think that it is for the best, both for the state and for the people. IMO granting an exceptio for religous reasons is a very risky action.

I am old enough to remember segregation, and many claimed that it was part of their religious belief and that they should be exempted from laws that required integration. There are some people today that believe polygamy is proper and think that they should be exempt from the law. Should they be granted exemptions?

If one grants an exemption in the case of Catholic Charities, is one not obligated to grant exemtions to those agencies that believe only Christian couples should be able to adopt, and do not consider Catholics as being Christian?

And I also agree with you, Jeff, sometimes in the name of protection, we actually harm some of those that we are trying to protect. How about those that are denied medication that might help them because it has harmed others?

And while you blame the state for its policy, I think that I tend to lay the blame at the feet of the Church for their policy of discrimination.

Peace,

Mike L

8:05 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Jeff and Mike,

Jeff, I understand your worry that the state could impose changes on the Church - religious freedom is important. But as Mike mentions, where do we draw the line when religious freedon seems damaging to others ... polygamy, racial discrimination, the use of certain drugs in ceremonies (I like that last one :-). Thanks for bringing up the idea of religious freedom - I hadn't given that much thought.

Liam,

I look forward to seeing your post on the subject.

I didn't realize it until you mentioned it, but I seem to go back and forth ... supporting the states against the church, and the church against the state ... depending on the issue.

Maybe there's some common denominator, though, that runs through the choices? Or maybe that idea just makes me feel better :-)

12:02 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Good comments, guys.

I think there are times when the state has the right to intervene in religious matters. Fr. John Courtnay Murray, for one, wrote well on when disticntions should be made. Obviously, we can’t have cults that practice human sacrifice. With Santeria, there are issues surrounding the public sacrifice of animals and sanitary conditions. There are laws about the use of peyote in certain rituals. In the case of Christian Scientists who refuse to get medical help for their sick children, a strong case can be made for state intervention. In the case of the Mormons, the federal government may in fact have overstepped in banning polygamy. What do you guys think ot that, by the way? If you favor gay marriage, under what logic and rationale would you be opposed to polygamy? There is certainly far more precedent for it in human history than there is for marriage between same-sex couples. I’m not advocating it, but I’ve heard Mormon and Islamic women being interviewed who have no problem with it whatsoever. They are glad for the teamwork, female companionship and mutual help.

Catholic Charities is not the only agency that provides adoption services. They are not the only game in town. There are other agencies that are available for same-sex couples to use. Therefore, I believe that this law that leaves no conscience clause for Church providers is an egregious abuse of state power.

In addition, and I hate to come off sounding like a raving trad, just because you are paranoid, that doesn’t mean there aren’t people out to get you. :- The Church does have confrontational adversaries, at least here in Massachusetts. In the wake of the sexual abuse scandal, there are certain people who smell blood in the water, and they want to strike while the iron is hot. They sense that the Church is tottering on its last legs, and would like to throw it in a coffin, slam it shut and nail it tight. I do see a certain vindictiveness at play. Is the Church really guilty of guilty of discrimination here? I can understand why some might think so, and why the state should intervene, but is this fair? In 2,000 years of Christendom, you must admit that this willingness for majorities to accept the idea of gay marriage is somewhat of a novelty, confined largely to within the last 10 or 20 years. The Catholic Church is not especially known for embracing new ideas very quickly. I think the discriminatory label is unjust, especially, when in my state, the decision came down from the judge’s bench, and not from the will of the people.

I categorically reject caesaro-papism... That is one reason why I’m loyal to the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, for all of his historical faults and flaws. Through the heirarchy and with the People of God through the Sensus Fidelium, we work these things out on our own. I bow to no secular power in these matters. No king, emperor, president, dictator, parliament, congress, senate, judges, or selectmen are going to dictate to me what I need to accept as an article of faith.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

I think that the Church is very wise in not being quick to change. We live in an age when it seams very important to rush toward anything new, without really thinking at the direction in which we make haste.

With the risk to be classified as irremediably backward and conservative :-), I say that i do agree with Church teachings on homosexuality. I have done some readings on the subject and with all due respect: this is my opinion.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

what the Church teaches:
http://www.americancatholic.org/
Newsletters/CU/ac0799.asp

Hmmm...on a lighter note for those un-happy with the changes in the Catholic Church: the Eastern-Orthodox Church is worse: it changes nothing. Never.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Liam said...

Jeff,

The polygamy question has often been raised by conservatives as an argument against gay marriages: "if we permit gay marriages, then we have to permit... etc."

I think in the end it has to do with what you think homosexuality is. Is it a choice, a perversion, or a state into which many people are born and over which they have no choice? Many right-wing fundamentalists (and tne Mormons) believe the former two options; the prevailing scientific, medical, and psychological view tends towards the last. If you read official Vatican documents about homosexuality, the ambiguity is painful (the catechism says that homosexuality is "objectively disordered" but it also says that people of "deep homosexual tendencies" are not in that consition by choice -- although I'm usuing quotation marks, I am quoting from memory, btw).

If homosexuality is something that one cannot choose (and my impression from a large number of close gay friends would confirm this overwhelmingly), the difference between polygamy and gay marriage is that the former is responding to a cultural choice, the second to a biological reality. In short, gays are gay because God made them that way. Should they be denied a relationship that will bring them emotional and sexual intimacy? The men in Rome (who have denied themselves, by choice, such a relationship) say yes, they should (as should divorced people). I don't agree.

I'm not sure I would agree with banning polygamy between consenting partners, though the examples in Utah are usually mixed with incest, statutory rape, and other nasty things. It is an interesting question, but I believe a different one.

I'm glad we can have this discussion among friends who don't agree on every single point. We can actually exchange ideas without feeling threatened or threatening others. Thanks to everyone here for that.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Hi Paula :-)

Now almost everyone has arrived at the party. :-)

Regarding the Orthodox Church as never changing, would you disagree with what Dave Armstrong has written here?

Hi Liam,

I agree with you about the tenor of the discussion. It’s good to have this kind of discussion among friends without the “shouting” in all-caps about one correspondent or another being bound for hell. :-)

It is true that conservatives raise the point about polygamy being the next logical step if gay marriage is permitted, but I do think they have a strong point, especially from a legal point of view.

I appreciate what you are saying regarding people who are being denied a right to happiness because of a biological reality rather than a cultural choice, but I think there is cultural conditioning here in more than one aspect. The ideal of marriage as a contract between just two people is a cultural concept as well. The idea of a marriage between just two partners is a Judeo-Christian concept; more accurately, a Christian concept. Polygamy was widespread in many cultures. I don’t know if I’m right or wrong about this, but it may have been even more normative at one time than one man/one woman. If we take apart the “traditional” definition of marriage in the terms of one man/one woman, how do we restrict it to two people? Where does the consensus come from? If the paradigm of the biblical definition of marriage as it has always been understood is shattered, I don’t see how consenting people can legally be prevented from entering polygamous relationships. I don’t know what grounds there would be to prohibit it. In court, arguments built around theism, even progressive theism, will not be considered. I don’t know if biological reality vs. cultural choice will hold water, especially when poygamy has a long and established place in human history.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

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3:36 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Jeff,

I cannot read all that material. too long.

I have a canonical book back in Romania which states clearly that contraception is a sin. I remember reading it some time ago.
It is such formulated that one can deduce that only NFP would be allowed.

They can talk around it, exceptions can be made (and they are made by some priests), but until they abolish the statement from the canonical book, there is no change. I still have to see a canonical book changed. :-).

As I said above: the priests can allow exceptions, the canonical books are not to be applied blindly.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:59 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Jeff,

I may be missing something, but I don't see any connection between gay marriage and polygamy.

gay marraige is a union between two consenting adults, hopefully committed and in love. No one is harmed.

About polygamy - Yes, there was more polygamy in the past ... I think that's because men and women were less equal then. I don't believe it's a coincidence that the cultures that now support polygamy are ones often where women are second class citizens.

I've heard some tv news stories about younge Mormon women being given by their fathers to other men to be one of their many wives, without their consent, much less love.

It's my honest belief that polygamy takes advantage of women, irrespective of the fact that some women may accept it.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Hi Crys,

This will be my last post on the subject.

I don't think there is a link between polygamy and gay marriage. What I was trying to convey is that if we throw away the traditional idea of what marriage is, we will open up the idea of what marriage is to all kinds of new and/or different kinds of interpretations, and who's to say that any of them are wrong? I don't admire polygamy either, but there are many women in world who live under it and don't feel exploited by it.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Jeef,

if you are still around, you may check this about the changes in the Orthodox Church:

"The Orthodox Church is unchanging and unchangeable. It would be unthinkable to change."
http://www.orthodoxengland.btinternet.
co.uk/welcome.htm

5:08 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Jeff,

thanks for your input. I atually don't know much about Mormanism, aside from reading a novel when I was a teenager - Riders of the Purple Sage - which was fairly anti-Mormon.

Sometimes I get carried away in arguing ... I appreciate your views and your friendship :-)

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Mike L said...

This has beeb a neat dicussion with some very interesting points made and some interesting theories presented.

The idea that if the traditional concept of marriage breaks down, there will be not stopping the various forms may or may not have validity. Certainly the traditional form of marriage over the centuries has been that of marriage for political or financial consolidation of two families. Sorry Crystal, it was the tradition that the father gave his daughters to another man without regard to love. Romantic love and marriage is a fairly new concept in the world. And maybe as that concept of marriage has been broken down we are on the slippery slope, but what we have today is not the traditional idea of marriage. Personally I like what we have now better than what we have before.

Monogamy is not a Judeo-Christian tradition. Judeism certainly allowed polygamy up to the time of Christ. Although they may have been called consorts or other names. One friend of mine says that when you consider that fact that most Jewish men on that age had more than one wife (if they could aford it) that Paul's teachings make a lot more sense. So the claim that marriage has consisted historicaly of one man, one woman does not hold water.

As for gay relationships, I really don't know what cultural policies were. I do know that in many Native American cultures the gay person was considered to be special in a good sort of way. And didn't Aristotle claim that homosexual relationships were superior to hetrosexual? Certainly ancient Greece did not find homosexuality to be repugnant. Whether such relationships were considered marriages or not, I have no idea. Guess we need to find a historian to settle that one.

I also remember when I was first married many years ago being given a book on NFP. At that time birth control was forbidden except in emergancies, and then only NFP was permitted. In general the use of NFP for more than a year or so was considered to be a sin of selfishness unless the health of the mother was seriously threatened by a pregnancy. I notice today that in some areas the bishops are requiring a course in NPF before allowing a couple to marry. Seems to me that indicates that the Church is beginning to enter into the contraceptive mentality.

And when all the dust settles, I would like to know just what percentage of the marriages in the United States would be considered valid marriages by the Church. If we accept that something like half of all marriages end in divorce, and probably in remarriage that makes about half of them invalid. Add in the marriages between non-baptized people and you get even fewer. I suspect that the number of gay marriages wouldn't even register in those statistics, yet we are giving it such major importance.

I very much agree with Paula, the Church needs to move very slowly to avoid being caught up purely cultural matters. But that does not mean that it has to be reactionary.

hugs to all and a very good-night.

Mike L

7:56 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Perhaps that one should take a look at what the ex-gays say.

Here:
http://www.narth.com/index.html

my last post on this.

1:40 AM  

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