This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Gay Marriage ruling

I have not blogged on this here as yet. The issue has come up in the Catholic media and I have been commenting, but have not posted those comments on this site. It seems the main objection I hear to Judge Walker's ruling from Catholics (from my Pastor to Michael Sean Winters of National Catholic Reporter) is his finding that moral disapproval cannot be a source of law. You can read MSW's post at

I responded to Mr. Winters that he should be glad that the common law and the consitution allows the "privacy out" on such questions, as well as the freedom of relgions to do what they want. You would not like the alternative - for a state that is empowered to rule on the wrongness of homosexuality would also be able to rule on its rightness and impose that ruling on the Churches.

By the way, the Church's teaching on this issue is not consistent with any natural law reasoning that does not seek refuge in scripture and theism. That's not my view, its the view of the author of Fagothy's Right and Reason, which is the ethics book used in Catholic minor seminary.

The teaching that homosexuality is disordered is a band-aid. Prior to that teaching, which is recent, the church was on the road to teaching that homosexuals were wonderfully made and that sexuality is a gift from God. Put the two together, and you have to concede gay marriage and the licitness of homosexual sexuality. JPII, assisted by the current Pope, attempted retrenchment - but it won't last.

Traditionally, Catholic teaching on marriage has followed the lead of the state and in some nations, marriage and its sacramental blessing are still separate acts. This presents a problem for the Church, which can be solved in understanding Torah teaching on what happens in marriage, which Christ echoed when addressing the question of divorce. When someone gets married, the leave their families and cling to their spouse and the two shall become one. That is as much about legality as sexuality and it is true regardless of the genders of the parties involved. What was disturbing was the parents of gay children excluding their life partners in times of medical crisis and the state not recognizing their rights in relation to the rights of the family. This had to be corrected and marriage corrects it. Celebrating weddings in the Catholic Church is a way for families to recognize that the familial dynamic has altered. To not celebrate gay weddings is to deny Catholic families with gay members the chance to come to grips with the transition, which comes when one person promises fidelity to another - which is the essence of sacramental marriage and does not depend upon either priest nor witness (as I was taught in both marriage prep and Catholic H.S.).

On the question of moral disapproval, it could have easily been written as moral scorn - meaning that moral scorn is no more an actionable right under the freedom of religion (demanding conformity by society, such as outlawing the marriage rights of others or their right to serve in the armed forces) than yelling fire in a theater is a legitimate application of the freedom of speech. This protects the Church in areas in the south where the prominent domination still holds to and teaches the belief that the Pope is the anti-Christ. You cannot have it both ways.

I suspect gay marriages in the Catholic Church in the not too distant future, since often the Sacrament follows the lead of civil law. As far as the Commonwealth of Virginia's marriage amendment, it is all but toast. It was unconstitutional on its face because it violated the private contract rights of gays and lesbians for now valid reason, since the Commonwealth has no interest in interfering with who has medical power of attorney, control over visitation and who inherits the property of gay people. Its only role in settling estates is as a neutral arbiter, it cannot outlaw an individual's desires for the distribution of his or her property just because that person is gay. I suspect that worries about the Richmond Circuit are why this has not been challenged before, although it could be that no one has come forward to challenge such arrangements when they do occur and are executed. Either family members have not objected or Courts have ignored the constitutional provision. Now that there is federal precident going the other way, any attempt to enforce the Virginia Amendment would be problematic, although I expect it to eventually occur.


Blogger James Young said...

"the common law and the consitution allows the 'privacy out' on such questions"

Your "argument" is, of course, nonsense. The common law barred sexual deviancy, and there is no "right of privacy" in the Constitution, except in the fevered imaginations of judges who wish to legislate their policy preferences in the guise of "interpretation."

As for the rest, kindly refrain from confusing YOUR policy preferences with sound biblical teaching. If you're going to abandon it, at least have the courage and honesty to admit it.

Dressing up your preferences as religion is the kind of arrogance generally discouraged in Christian teaching. Or are you ignoring that one, too?

8:47 AM

Blogger Michael Bindner said...

I am talking about this on Blog Talk Radio tonite at 10. You should call in.

The right of privacy has its roots in the 9th Amendment right to be left alone by the federal government, as enforced by the 14th Amendment right to have federal rights apply regarding the do-gooders at the state level.

I am not disregarding Christian teaching - since scholars who are even more steeped in Church history than I am point out that what you read had nothing to do with the kinds of relationships gays and lesbians have now. In Ancient times, men would marry and the wife would be property, while love was found with another man. Christianity was a radical departure from that model by making women equal. You can find that example of equality in how Jesus teaches about divorce. That has undertones of female equality that, if properly understood, would make N.O.W. proud of Christianity.

We now know more about sexuality than in ancient times and any natural law interpretation of sexual morality has to include that increase in understanding, as well as the power of the Church to bind and loosen - which I suspect it will be using shortly on this very issue.

4:32 PM


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