Made for the Common Good:
Marriage safeguards justice
Are you a bigot if you support preserving the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman in the law? It is no exaggeration to say that the most common criticism leveled against those who hold to the classic and time-honored definition of marriage is that they are being “discriminatory.” “Marriage,” goes the argument, “is a human right. It’s unfair to exclude people from marriage simply because they want to marry someone of the same sex.” However, this begs the prior question of marriage. Rights, equality, fairness, and non-discrimination are all important principles and values for the good of society. But an honest consideration of these principles requires an honest consideration of the natural facts of marriage.
The third installment of Marriage: Unique for a Reason engages the false claim of discrimination and explores the universal significance of the unique good of marriage in service to society and to the inviolable dignity of every human person. Contrary to what is often heard in media and pop-culture venues, and even in some courts and legislatures, protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a matter of justice. Far from being discriminatory, the Church’s teaching on marriage upholds and enhances the dignity of men, women, and children.
There is nothing like marriage, the union of husband and wife. It serves a unique and irreplaceable social role, deserving the protection and privileges of the state. The rights of children to a mother and a father, the rights and responsibilities of husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, to each other and to the children they bring into the world – all of these are safeguarded by promoting and protecting the unique meaning of marriage. The video dealing with the topics of marriage, human dignity, and the common good is currently in production. It is scheduled to be released in 2014. Until then, you can learn more about why preserving marriage between a man and a woman is good for all people and all of society by reading the FAQs on marriage, the common good, and human dignity.
How does the Church’s teaching on marriage relate to people who experience same-sex attraction?
Jesus was very confident in speaking the truth. He was not confined by the traditions of His time. He did and spoke what He knew was the truth. He Himself is the Truth. Jesus did not discriminate, yet he clearly taught that marriage is only between one man and one woman. He also clearly disagreed with sexual behavior outside of marriage. As Jesus did, the Church teaches that marriage between one man and one woman is the only proper context for sexual relations.
The Church’s teaching on marriage recognizes that every human person is made in the image of God and has inviolable dignity. Every human person is a gift, deserving respect and love. It is important to acknowledge that persons with homosexual inclinations have suffered and can suffer a great deal. Historically, they have been treated as second class citizens in many instances. Often, the early years of persons who experience same-sex attraction can be very painful, and can include long periods of loneliness, confusion about their own feelings, the pain of self-hatred, and most sadly, even thoughts of suicide. Unfortunately, some have gone so far as to act on these thoughts.
The Church cares for and accepts persons who experience homosexual inclinations. She refuses to label anyone. Many with a homosexual inclination attend Mass regularly, are active in parish life, and seek to receive the sacraments. The Church invites and welcomes everyone to pray and worship, and is eager to listen to everyone’s story. The Church has long worked in ministry to those suffering from HIV/AIDS, and she continues her pastoral outreach and invites all people to follow the way of Jesus. The Church does not want the teaching and beauty of marriage, which is a sacrament at the service of union (communion and mission), to be an occasion for deeper division.
Sexuality is a good part of our human nature. The Church, the Body of Christ, encourages all of us to seek forgiveness for human weakness and poor judgment in areas of human sexuality, which often results in human tragedy of the highest proportions.
The Church knows well that sexual sins are not the only sins in the world. Greed, anger, violence, and envy cause untold pain to millions. Yet the Church also understands that sexual lifestyles that disregard marriage as the union of one man and one woman are particularly destructive to lives, to marriage, and to families.
In our culture today, it’s common to hear the words “choice,” “rights,” “tolerance,” and “equality,” particularly among young people, and often in connection with issues such as marriage or sexual expression. But what do these words really mean? Growing up as they do in a world filled with brokenness and rejection, young people are hungry for something more, for something substantial, for the truth. One of the greatest assets of youth is their hunger and enthusiasm. All too often today this hunger is ill fed. The Church invites all of us to proclaim the truth in love as we also live in the light of truth.
For more information, see:
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (Oct. 1, 1986) – En Español
- USCCB, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care (2006) – En Español
- The apostolates Courage and Encourage are ministries whose principles are in accord with Church teaching (see USCCB, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination, footnote 44).