I’d like to invite your personal discernment of God’s will in an area of immanent concern. Come late this month of June or early July of this year, 2015, the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme court may change the traditional definition of marriage, as they rule on Obergefell vs. Hodges, the case that could give same-sex couples across America the freedom to marry (some court-watchers predict this is almost certain). Should this happen, it will be one of the most momentous rulings in U.S. history, tantamount to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
Catholics are divided on the issue. How can we move past rhetoric and fear and discuss the discernment of God’s will? I’m going to push the Gospel aside for a moment and invite the opinion put forth by someone who completely disagrees with the Church’s teachings regarding homosexuality, does not consider homosexual acts in any way a sin, and is a life-long, pro-gay, progressive liberal named David Blankenhorn.
In his book, The Future of Marriage , he states, “Across history and cultures . . . marriage’s single most fundamental idea is that every child needs a mother and a father. Changing marriage to accommodate same-sex couples would nullify this principle in culture and in law.” Laws, for better or for worse, teach the minds of a society what they should collectively accept or reject, and changing the meaning of marriage will teach future generations that marriage is not about children, but about mutual affection and attraction between adults.
What will such a change do to society?
If this change should happen, the average citizen who has understandably swallowed what the media and much of society has told them, the citizen who says, “But two people who love each other should have a right to marry! What is the harm?”— will see the harm come into their own home. Blankenhorn asserts that fatherless children, children from single parent homes and broken homes, will become more of the norm. Oneself and one’s own friends, family, children and grandchildren will have a hard time finding a spouse to marry, or one who values marriage as it used to be—for this and the next generation will not see marriage as a necessary, lifelong commitment for the natural creation and upbringing of children, unless they are willing to be labeled a bigot, and no one wants to be a “hater.” One’s local neighborhood may erupt into chaos because “illegitimacy” (albeit, there are no illegitimate children) starts a chain of negative effects that fall like dominoes—”illegitimacy” leads to poverty, crime, substance abuse, emotional, psychological and spiritual pain. Society will be terribly hurt.
Is this a crazy assumption? Let’s look at a recent happening. In addition to issues of racism and poverty. The city of Baltimore, where riots recently broke out, has one of the highest rates of fatherlessness in the country. Most of the rioters were young men, many of them teens, and a new report released by the Family Research Council’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) stated that only 16 percent of 15- to 17-year-old teens in Baltimore have been raised in an intact, married family. Baltimore is “one of the five least intact counties of America.” One of the terrible consequences of the rioting was a $16 million nearly-constructed Southern Baptist home for low-income elderly razed to the ground.
If it seems too far-fetched to look into a future of chaos, one can look, instead, at the recent past to see that societies were worse off when same sex marriage became law. In the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, which first embraced de facto same-sex marriages in the 1990s, the institution of marriage itself began to die, with most young couples either cohabitating or choosing to remain single. In some areas of Norway, more than 80 percent of children are being born out of wedlock. Across all of Norway, illegitimacy rose from 39 percent to 50 percent in the first decade of same-sex marriage.
Anthropologist Stanley Kurtz writes, “When we look at Nordland and Nord-Troendelag — the Vermont and Massachusetts of Norway — we are peering as far as we can into the future of marriage in a world where gay marriage is almost totally accepted.” See: http://www.allaboutlove.org/same-sex-marriage-countries.htm.
We can also peer into the future by looking at Canada, where same-sex marriage was federally mandated in 2005. Dawn Stefanowicz, the daughter of a gay father who died of AIDS and the author of Out From Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting, writes about some of the consequences Canada has experienced in the last ten years, and for many, they are downright scary. In her article, A Warning from Canada: Same-Sex Marriage Erodes Fundamental Rights, she states: “I want to warn America to expect severe erosion of First Amendment freedoms if the U.S. Supreme Court mandates same-sex marriage. In Canada, freedoms of speech, press, religion, and association have suffered greatly due to government pressure. . . Because of legal restrictions on speech, if you say or write anything considered ‘homophobic’ (including, by definition, anything questioning same-sex marriage), you could face discipline, termination of employment, or prosecution by the government. . . Most faith communities have become ‘politically correct’ to avoid fines and loss of charitable status. . .Over and over, we are told that ‘permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not deprive anyone of any rights.’ That is a lie. . . Unbeknownst to many parents, use of gender terms to describe husband and wife, father and mother, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and ‘he’ and ‘she’ is being steadily eradicated in Canadian schools. . . . ” and so on.
The picture of the societal effects of legalizing same-sex marriage looks so different when one realizes that much more is at stake than two people of the same sex loving each other and taking a personal marital vow.
Now, let’s turn to some very deep questions, some of which may provoke very deep feelings, difficult to deal with. Others may require time for reflection. They are not meant to put anyone on the spot or to be used in ways that could imply criticism or judgment about something one has done in the past. As a society, we have all fallen short of God’s plan for marriage and human sexuality, myself especially.
Do you believe that Scripture and the Church’s teachings concerning marriage and homosexual acts are wrong?
Do you believe that traditional marriage, which gives children a mother and a father, is not the best way to raise children?
Do you think it would be good to have a public institution that specifically unites children with their moms and dads or promotes they be raised by their moms and dads together?
Do you believe that marriage should not be about children but about coupling? Do you believe that a new definition would be the truest and deepest meaning of marriage?
Do you believe it is safe to tamper with the bedrock of human societies across all nations of the globe for thousands of years, ie. the human family unit of father, mother, and child?
Do you believe that The Declaration of the Rights of the Child, drafted on November 20, 1959, in the United Nations Charter—which states that a child has a right to “wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents [biological, male and female]” and “a child of tender years should not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his [biological]mother”–is wrong?
Do you believe that two people’s desire for marriage should trump the rights of a child to be raised by and know their biological father and mother? Do you believe that children have no rights in this area?
Do you believe that sexual autonomy is more important than the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.
Do you believe human beings have a common desire to at minimum know, and ultimately to be loved and cared for by the man and woman from whom they originated?
Do you believe a person has the right to create a child with the result of depriving him or her of knowing and being cared for by the child’s biological mother or father or both—as in the case of persons conceived by sperm or egg donors, or through the use of surrogates?
Do you believe that every nation in the world for thousands of years was wrong for supporting heterosexual unions over same-sex unions and that the 18 countries that have legally supported same-sex marriage, out of the 178 that don’t, have finally gotten it right?
Do you believe it is okay for children of this and future generations to grow up in increasingly fatherless households?
Do you believe that the self-perceived rights of 2.3 percent of the U.S. population (1.6 self-identify as homosexual and .7 as bisexual ) should determine the fate of a nation?
Do you feel called to support same-sex marriage by remaining quiet and watching it happen?
Do you feel called to be public in the support of traditional marriage in the United States?
Do you feel ashamed of the Gospel teachings regarding marriage?
Thank you for taking the time to ponder these questions in your heart.
If you feel so called, would you join me in praying a novena to Mary Undoer of Knots in an appeal to Almighty God that his will for marriage in our nation be done?