Tuesday, July 5, 2011

When Disagreement Equals Phobia

In light of same sex marriage being enacted into law in New York recently, I fear it is time for my first really controversial blog post.  I'm sure many of you will not agree with me; I truly hope that any comments posted on this subject can be discussed civilly (please do feel free to post comments - I am interested in your thoughts on what I've written).  Try to hear me out, try to stay with my writing and read it to the end.  But I AM one of THOSE Catholics who believes that marriage should not be redefined to include same sex partners.  True marriage is between a male and a female. 

To be honest, I never thought I'd have much to say on this issue.  It wasn't all that long ago that I found myself sitting in Church wondering why people thought that God, in his love and mercy, would possibly condemn homosexual persons for acting on something that God himself placed there.  Who are we to judge?  But I've come to realize that it isn't about judging homosexual persons, rather, that we are called to speak the truth with love.

Regardless of what our society says, there is truth, objective truth, a reality that we cannot change or decide for ourselves.  Most people fail to believe in this; moral relativism rules the day.  We say to ourselves, MY conscience tells me this is ok.  This is what works FOR ME.  What we fail to see, is that God has a plan.  Just because we want to be "free" to do what we want, does not make it right.  We cannot create our own moral code.  God created us to CHOOSE between good and evil, not to DETERMINE what they are.

Part of our truth is that our world is fallen.  God gave us free will.  He wanted us to choose him FREELY.  However, most of the time, myself included when I sin, we choose to disregard God, to NOT choose Him and His way.  We think that we know better than God, what would make us happy.   How well does that work out for you?  I know that when I was doing things "my" way, I was not happy at all.  I was actually quite miserable.

So, back to how I came to see God's plan for us.  A few years back, my husband and I went to a four part lecture at our church on Theology of the Body.  Some pretty amazing and complicated stuff, but some of the basics made so much sense.   I think we all take for granted what love is, but for what it's worth, love is desiring the good for the other, above desiring the good for ourselves.  We are all created to love and live in communion with others.  We were not created to be in isolation, rather, we are all created in the very image God as a triune God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  So, specifically in marriage as a mirror of the Trinity, a man and a woman join together as one flesh, creating a whole new being from this union.  (Read my post on the Trinity here).

If we are to image God, the Holy Trinity, we need to know how he loves.  So, how does God love us?  He gives His love FREELY to us.  His love is TOTAL, complete and He gives all of Himself to us, withholding nothing.  God is FAITHFUL; he never abandons us and never stops loving us.  God's love is FRUITFUL and brings us life - Jesus died for us so that we could have new life.  God actually gave us the desire for love, ie. happiness and union with him!  God created us for love!  Why are we are all so interested in the "marital" union, sexual intercourse?  Sexual intercourse actually points us to God!!!  No wonder it's so wonderful, right?!  Marriage here on earth is a foreshadowing of our union with God.  And no, we won't be in heaven as one big sexual orgy - that's just the closest comparison we have to envision just how wonderful our communion with God will be.  He made us desire sex, stamped the language of love into our very bodies as male and female, then commanded us "Be fruitful and multiply."  So, then what marriage is truly meant to be: a FREE, TOTAL, FAITHFUL and FRUITFUL exchange of love between one man and one woman.  

What does this mean for same sex couples?  Or why just between one man and one woman?  To draw on the Free, Total, Faithful and Fruitfulness of the marriage covenant is simply not possible for the same sex couple.  They do not give of themselves to each other totally, no gift of fertility can ever happen and hence there is no way for their union in the sexual act to produce that new little human being, not fruitful.  Let's say you don't buy into this Free, Total, Faithful, Fruitful thing.  Let's say you don't believe in God.  If you want to go with the law of nature, two same sex animals cannot produce offspring.  Two beings with separate genders need to come together to propagate the species.  I will grant you, marriage is not all about propagation of the species, but it is what keeps babies coming into the world, well, ok minus IVF.  Maybe I'll post on that topic another day.

I have to admit that homosexual persons have a pretty difficult cross to bear in this, God's plan for sexuality.  Can we really expect people to go their whole lives chastely?  I mean, they have needs, right?!?  Our society equates love with sexual activity and no one wants to deny others love.  However, true love is giving of yourself to another in service.  There is no requirement for a bodily exchange.  Yes, we all desire that exchange as it points us to God.  But any exchange outside of a true marriage does not mirror the Holy Trinity and does nothing to point us towards God.

I'm sure that I've probably not done very much to change your mind if you are, in fact, in favor of same sex marriage.  Hopefully I've given you something to mull over, at any rate.  But here's what I fail to understand: how does my disagreement with this new "definition" of marriage, which in my eyes can never be redefined even if new law says it is something different, make me homophobic.  There is never a reason to fear, condemn, belittle or look down upon homosexual persons.  They simply have different struggles than I do. They are God's children and have my love and respect.  I just do not understand how disagreement equals phobia.  I am not afraid of homosexual persons, truly I have empathy for these individuals whom I feel are seeking out God in our Godless society.  They may not realize that is what they are doing - searching for God; I certainly didn't when I was mired in all my sexual sin.   I just know that only when I was truly keeping my heart open to God did I see how my life back then was so far from His plan for me.  Keeping an open heart to truly try to understand why the Church teaches what she does on sexuality was a key turning point.  I hope that you, as a reader, have at least tried to read through this to see why I now hold true marriage to only be between one man and one woman.


  1. Well, I have always believed in "one man, one woman". I mean, if you look at the way God made us it is obvious to me...we fit together like pieces of a puzzle. However, I like your take on the issue...that this just happens to be the stuggle that these people are burdened with, vs. the idea that they chose this lifestyle and are defying God. Although this is not my struggle, there are many things I struggle with that God might frown upon...we just have to keep carrying our individual crosses and keep trying to be better people in every sense of the word, no matter who we are or what our struggle is.

  2. Kim,

    While I think that your blog was VERY well written and clearly thought out, I have to take issue with some of your points.

    First, I have a problem with using the Bible as a means to support or denounce what somebody feels is "right" at any given moment in our society. If we were to hold true to every word in the Bible, then the Old Testament would still have us supporting slavery, concubines, and many other things that we now consider taboo, but that were quite normal when the Bible was written. Indeed, Popes used these scriptures to support slavery until the late 1800's. Now, certainly, we would never consider slavery to be acceptable on any level, regardless of how many times somebody would read quotes from the Bible attempting to support it. Why is it acceptable to realize that we needed to make our own decision about what was right and just in these situations, but not homosexuality?
    Secondly, I feel that people that want to use religion to condemn homomsexuality need to make a decision. We often hear that God is perfect and makes no mistakes...everything is part of the "plan". If we follow that logic, wouldn't homosexuality be part of that plan as well? Homosexual relationships clearly happen with two people that are both "made" the same, so therefore neither person would be entering willingly into a male/female relationship which means that we are not taking away from a potential coupling that could result in conception. On the same vein, I think it is difficult to use marraige=multiplying arguement. In order to "be fruitful and multiply", it would make sense for one man to multiply with MANY women, especially as he got older and was still able to reproduce while his wife is not. And, of course, what about couples that can not reproduce? Is their marriage less valid in the eyes of the church? Would a true believer need to leave their spouse in order to find somebody with which they can procreate so that they can follow the "intention" of the Bible? However, that leads us into an entirely different argument! ;) My point is, the end result is not always the answer...

  3. (Sorry- I guess I'm too long-winded...I had to cut this into 2 posts so this is a continuation from above!)

    Lastly, I would just like to make a quick comment on the main point of your blog, which is "Why do people think disagreement= phobia?"... I think the problem is when disagreement leads to affecting other peoples lives and rights. This is where it starts to feel like a switch from disagreeing to a phobia. I, personally, don't feel that it is right to eat meat, but I respect people that love to chomp into a juicy hamburger. I disagree with it, but I think it would be phobic if I tried to start creating legislation deeming all meat products to be outlawed. You are welcome to your beliefs and how you choose to carry them out in your life. Why not allow other consenting adults the same right? And, actually, I even hate using the word "allow", because I don't think that it it's even ours to give... While I have witnessed many wonderful "traditional" marriages, I have also seen so many "traditional" marriages that do not exemplify love, respect, and unity. The same can be said for same-sex couples. I know so many of these relationships that are an example to live by. So, I wonder, why should anybody get involved with another person's choice of who they choose to go down life's path with. I, for one, do not see it as a "burden" they have to bear except for the fact that we as a society put a burden on them when we choose to shun them and take rights away from them because we think there can only be one "right" way to have a partnership. It was not far back in our history that the same could be said for inter-racial marriages ~ so many people thought (and sadly, some still do)that this was against nature and God.

    Again, I completely respect your right to disagree with homosexuality should you choose. What I have a problem with is trying to stop same-sex marriage just because YOU have this belief. Two consenting adults should have the right to make their own path in this life. Perhaps you don't feel this is a spiritually correct path, but perhaps that is for a higher being to decide in the end, not us?

    My hope is that my children grow up in a world where they can feel loved and accepted for how they were made, not chastised.

    Kim, thank you for opening up a frank and polite discussion on a very relavent topic!

  4. I'd like to say that I'll be polite and adult but honestly don't think that is going to happen.

    Let's begin....

    1. Am I to assume that since the bible says to, that you beat your children? I sure hope not. These days it's illegal. However the bible says its the right thing to do to ensure you don't have spoiled children.

    2. Ditto Charlotte's comment...you must want us to bring slavery back as well because the bible says that's right and approved by God.

    3. I assume that you NEVER look at something someone else has and think "wow...wish I had that" because clearly you are violating one the 10 commandments. And sure ok...the Catholic church says if you go and tell a priest and say your sorry well then God will forgive you. But generally speaking, making a mistake and apologizing for it usually means you wont do it again. Right?

    4. I'll also assume that you do everything and anything your husband tells you to and that you do not have any thoughts or opinions of your own that you express...because that is clearly written in the bible as well.

    Bottom line...the bible is a STORY. A BOOK. A NOVEL. A make believe series of events that were written hundreds of years AFTER Christ died. And just like the Mayans, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans had their gods to explain things they didn't understand...so did the Christians who created the STORIES in the bible. It is a work of FICTION and not a road map for how to live your life.

    Marriage is a legal institution not a religious one. At least, not anymore. If it were a religious institution Atheists wouldn't be allowed to get married...neither would Wiccans or any other non Christian. If it were a religious institution you wouldn't go to court to end a marriage. Marriage has moved to a legal contract between two CONSENTING adults. Christianity is not the hall monitor.

    I find it appalling and horribly sad that in this day and age there are still people who hide behind religion as an excuse for their intolerance and ignorance.

    But I wonder...would you still feel the same way if your daughters came to you one day and said "hey mom, I'm a lesbian." For their sake I hope your antiquated religious views don't make an appearance.

    I feel sad for you. Truly sad. You hide behind a story book as a defence for your intolerance and somehow believe that simply because you are a christian that gives you the right to pass judgement on a group of people. It amazes me how entitled Catholics feel. As a group Catholics are the most intolerant, self absorbed, bigoted group of people there are.

    You are entitled to your opinion...yes....but I am also entitled to mine. And just like I don't get to makes laws against things in your life or your religion that I don't like...you, the collective "you" dont have the right to interfer in the lives of others. That is the whole reason for the seperation of church and state.

  5. Charlotte, Thank you for stepping out there and commenting. I am glad that you did. I appreciate your keeping the conversation civil. Dawn, I guess I figured someone would go there. This opinion that I hold is definitely not a popular one. Definitely not "PC."

    The Bible is right on some things, like stealing and murder, correct? Are we to assume that some day those will be overwritten as well? There are some things that contribute to an orderly society. Slavery and beating children - those do not contribute to an orderly society. I found it odd that “unjust” forms of slavery in general, were not spoken out against in the Catholic Church until the beginning of 1435. Thank you for pointing this out. I love to learn about my faith so I'll look more into that. As for the book of Proverbs and "beating with a rod", I know I was spanked, don't think I am the worse off for it. But yes, child abuse is wrong - they were talking about discipline.

    God made us male and female was for a reason. I don't think there's much we can do to twist that meaning in the bible. I do not think it is something that God did as a "mistake." He does have a plan and it is a beautiful plan. God doesn't create people with homosexual desires any more than he creates people with lust in their heart for the oppoosite sex. We live in a fallen world and they are the result of this.

    The union of an infertile couple in the sexual act is still a uniting that God would have intended for procreation. They are open to life and probably struggle with desiring their own family. The point here is, there is very little moral difference in the intentional sterilization of a sexual act - including contraception (surprise surprise I believe the church's teaching there too!) - or any sexual act that is not intended by God to generate life.

    It is never wrong to love and share one's life and journey with another. What is problematic is when we project our understanding of love onto God. God is love hence the description of how He loves us above. You are both very right that we are not to stand in judgment of others. God is the final judge. I do not think it is "loving" if we do not speak the truth. I wish someone had spoken "truth" to me when I was going through a rough patch in regards to my own sexuality. Perhaps this is why I see things differently. Maybe not.

    I thought the phobia and laws regulating meat was a little off base. Not sure I get that...

  6. As for coveting other's possessions, can't say I sruggle with this one, although there was a time a few years back this was an issue for me. Yes, even with what you know we are going through right now. And even if I did, YES there is the great mercy of God. We do not use the sacrament of confession to just go in and get a "get out of jail free" card. For those of us who care enough about our relationship with God and our neighbors, we ask for forgiveness and the grace to sin no more and avoid it in the future!

    As for being subordinate to my husband read ALL of Ephesians 5:21-33 - this is EASILY the part of the Bible that ruffles everyone's feathers the most. I know that it means my husband would lay down his life for me, like Christ has done for his Church. My husband would do anything for me. Should I not be willing to do anything for him? I have no problem with this passage in the Bible. As a wife and mother I am committed to doing everything I can for my husband and children. I don't think I need to say more.

    Marriage is a SACRAMENT, a COVENANT not a legal institution. It isn't our fault that the state recognizes it as a contract. A contract implies what you get out of it, but a COVENANT implies what you are willing to put into it. I don't go to court to end a marriage, because ending one simply isn't something I see as an option. The only way a marriage could be ended is if it never was a valid marriage in the first place. That is what annulments are all about.

    The Bible seems to me to be a pretty good "road map" on which to base my life. There is great wisdom and I find great comfort in it. I'm sorry you do not find it so. I guess the thou shall not kill and thou shall not steal are not valid, nor is honor thy father and they mother, coveting neighbor's goods etc. But the Bible holds much more than this and is worth looking through. I have yet to read it cover to cover. I'm working my way through...

    Catholics have touched every area of life as we know it. They contribute through educational institutions, hospitals, relief efforts and more none of which base admission on the condition that they are "Catholic." All persons are welcome. This hardly seems intolerant, self absorbed, bigoted or ignorant.

    I myself am not ignorant, intolerant, self absorbed, a bigot nor entitled to anything. My daughters will be speaking with me about sexuality all along and will hear about my trials and experiences when I feel it is appropriate. I will hide nothing and hope they will be able to be open with me. If they have feelings towards same sex attraction, we will talk about them. But religion, relationship with God and our spirituality plays a big role in our lives. I'm pretty sure the conversation on sexuality won't be just a mechanics lesson and an everything goes mentality. Spirituality will be part of the discussion.

    Don't feel sad for me. I live my life humbly for God and for my family. I know how I am to live my life and feel called to speak the truth. Everyone else can voice their opinion on this subject, but only if you have the "correct" point of view. That to me seems narrow minded. I've grown tired of feeling that I have to sit on the sidelines and not comment, regardless of how bigotted or intolerant I may seem. Singing Kumbaya as we hold hands all the way to hell... not for me.

  7. From a different perspective... he says it best and uses an anology that I would have but was guessing it wouldn't be taken well. Please read this...


  8. Kim, I think that's definitely an interesting perspective and so happy that he's found a way to make his life feel fulfilled. However, nobody says that making same-sex marriage legal means that you must be married...just opens up civil rigths and choices for ALL people to do with what THEY wish. Just like the man that wrote this article, if they don't feel it to be morally true for them, then they do not have to be married. If another couple (same sex or otherwise) feels that their relationship needs to be taken to a higher level of commitment, then that choice should be open to them as well. This is where I feel strongly that church and state need to be seperated. If any particular church doesn't believe in same sex marriage, then they have the absolute right, as a private institution, not to perform these marriages. The state, however, does not have this right.

    I have a feeling we're probably going to have to agree to disagree on this subject! Until the next debate... ;)

  9. First. I want to say I wasn't the dawn who commented above but I do say "Here! Here!" to her and to Charlotte. I have declined to comment on this post and others that are quite similar in the belief that same sex marriage is an abomination in Gods eyes. Particularly when in the same breath people declare that although they fully believe homosexuality is a horrific sin and that'll those people will go straight to hell for "being that way" they say they are not intolerant or prejudiced and that they love all people. It's total bull shit for lack of a better term. In the exact definition of intolerance or prejudice you are being such and that yes you love all Gods people only if they behave in a certain way. This belief makes me angry and hits home as I have many close and important people in my life that are wonderfully amazing and role models to me and who are homosexual. I love them and respect them as people and for the kindness they exude to those around them and are in awe of the sad struggle they still have to face in this world to be accepted like everyone else. They are stronger in so many ways than I could ever dream to be.
    As I mentioned above I do not usually stoop to comment on such rantings. Ignorance is taught and clung to like a man overboard in the the great sea of reality, then sadly passed on generation to generation. I am upset by the notion that marriages are only valid in God's church. That if you were to divorce they only are truly dissolved when annulled. This is an ignorant point. Marriage is a commitment two people make to one another in any way they choose and yes the state has made it a political and contractual venture which is crappy but religion has also sunken it's own claws into the concept of marriage as well, twisting it to fit their own believes and needs, scaring some of its more vulnerable and ignorant followers to cling to religion's own ideals. Catholicism isn't the only guilty religion of this. I find it beautiful and awe-inspiring when people choose willingly to include God or religion in their marriages to one another. I also find it wonderful for people to freely choose to have just each otherand/or other important people included in their ceremony. God does not make or break a marriage, nor does having it performed in a church. People make or break their own marriages, whether God helps them or not. And thusly choosing an annullment or not does not dissolve a marriage. You pathetically by law need to lawfully break a contract of marriage according to the state. You are really going to tell me that God will not accept the end of a marriage where one party is badly cheating on the other, fathering a child with another woman outside the marriage, and verbally and mentally abusing this wife until the wife pays a bunch of money to a bankrupt church to make it over? And then God finds her next marriage (not in a church because now she can't) a sham despite how wonderfully committed to each other they are and how loving and respectful to each other? No thanks then. I'm good. That does not sound like an all loving and respecting God. He sounds rather vindictive to me, as does his followers who believe in a bestow these dictations to those around them. I have better supporters than that. God gives us free will. He gives us the freedom to choose how we love each other and Him. If we choose to love someone of the same sex, if we choose to respect, love and commit to someone inside or outside God's house, and we respectful, loving and kind to whomever that person may be, God wouldn't be happier. This is what he wants, for us to love one another and ourselves in a healthily, happy manner. He did not intend for us to do so with so many restrictions, guidelines, and rules. Live life fully and through that love one another meaningful and respectfully.

  10. Not sure I'll comment on every point made in this last comment that was posted, but I will touch on a few. Homosexuality itself is not a sin, the tendency itself is not a sin, the "being that way" is not a sin. What is sinful is acting on those desires, just as it is a sin to have sex outside of marriage, as it is a sin to commit adultery. My love does not depend on a person's behavior. I love plenty of people who sin; we all sin. And you don't know that there aren't people in my life who have these same sex attractions.

    I don't pretend to know what God will or will not say when we get to final judgement. But using Jesus as an example, he doesn't fail to point things out that his followers were doing wrong. Yes, he hung out with the tax collectors and prostitutes, but he did ask them to change their lives and follow him. Some people changed, others didn't. Who knows if God accepted them into the Kingdom anyway. God knows what is in people's hearts and he makes that judgement, not me.

    It seems like you are saying that I am scared, ignorant or vulnerable which is why I believe these things. Having changed my mind on this topic is not a result of being scared, ignorant or vulnerable. I have opened my heart to truly understand and learn about sexuality as seen by the Catholic Church. Having lived my life very differently in my college days, I have seen how sexuality is twisted and distorted in our society firsthand. I have come to respect sexuality as a gift from God, with a definite purpose, as He planned how we were made, male and female.

    You are right that God gave us free will. Again, I will say that we cannot DETERMINE good and evil, we make choices. Good ones and bad ones. Some people think there should be no restrictions, guidelines and rules. Would we attempt to drive a car with no restrictons, guidelines and rules? This would be chaos! I'm sorry, but in areas of our sexuality, these guidelines are there for a reason, in fact these "rules", they are stamped into our physical bodies. People want to divorce the physical body from the soul. This cannot be; our bodies point to the divine.

    I would never raise my children without restrictions, guidelines or rules. For any number of things, not just sexuality. So I guess in your mind's eye I will be passing my "ignorance" on. But I know myself and how I live my life. I do live life fully and love others meaningfully and respectfully.

    People get angry about this topic and I understand that. I refuse to get to the name calling stage in this discussion. It simply isn't contructive. I have not called anyone else ignorant, prejudiced, bigoted, intolerant, or self absorbed. It seems any one of these adjectives could be used for a lack of tolerance of the Christian viewpoint. But I guess we Christians do not have the "correct" point of view.