On the contrary

HILARY
This whole idea of gay marriage  is dangerous nonsense. After all we’ve given them all the rights they want and need – why should they muscle in on marriage? Everyone one knows that marriage involves a man and a woman – and has done so from time immemorial

LESLIE
On the contrary. Homosexuals clearly recognise the superiority of marriage as an element in society. Why shouldn’t they celebrate that too?

HILARY
You’re missing the point. Gay marriage is threatening the whole institution of marriage. And we all know how important that it is – as the fundamental unit of society. That’s how society reproduces itself.

LESLIE
O come on, Hilary. You’ve spent many years emphasising the importance of relationship in marriage. You keep pointing out the tiny proportion of sex in marriage that results in conception. And you’ve certainly defended the idea of people who are too old to have children getting married. It’s simply a good thing for society to have units which are not just legally committed but have celebrated their emotional and public commitment to each other.

HILARY
Well, why not have units of three or four or more people in a marriage? And include the dog. too. On your argument anything goes?

LESLIE
I’m not sure that that would be so wrong in principle. And I don’t mean the dog! But the practical problems would make that impossible.

HILARY
So you’re really saying that there just aren’t any moral rules surrounding sexuality?

LESLIE
Well of course there are. There’s love, and commitment – and all that sort of thing. But if you’re asking about the morality of specific sexual actions then you’re right. Provided everybody involved is a volunteer I don’t think there are any absolute rules.

HILARY
How can you say that? Everyone can work out what the sexual organs are actually for. It’s clear that they’re not for the sorts of things gay people do. It’s against nature.

LESLIE
Well, it’s not against a homosexual’s nature. I think most people agree that a tendency towards homosexuality is not something that you choose. Whatever its source, gay behaviour is right and natural for the gay person. They certainly shouldn’t attempt marriage with a straight partner, so, otherwise, they’re condemned to a life of celibacy. And, as for unnatural, just give me one form of sexual act which doesn’t occur frequently in marriage between people who are completely heterosexual. Look at that 2010 study in the USA.

HILARY
You mean the National Survey of Sexual Behavior.? What did it say?

LESLIE
It said that masturbation was common, and that about 50% had participated in oral sex.

HILARY
OK, that’s not a great surprise. But none of that is anal sex.

LESLIE
Well, about one in five reported having participated in anal sex in the previous year. So it’s not so common, but scarcely unnatural.

HILARY
But you’re defining natural simply as what people do. That doesn’t make it right. The Church is absolutely clear about that – and so was society as a whole until quite recently. You have to respect our natures in the way that God created them – whether you are talking about homosexuals or heterosexuals.

LESLIE
Even if I granted your point, and I don’t, I can’t see any reason why the law of the UK should be written to please Catholic beliefs. After all, there don’t seem to be many petitions around to have artificial contraception made illegal.

HILARY
That’s scarcely the same thing. Gay marriage will really damage society by down valuing true marriage.

LESLIE
And you think that contraception doesn’t damage society?

Exit BOTH muttering fiercely.

[In discussing this, remember that the Public Order Act 1986 (qv on Wikipedia) extended hate crime to cover intent to stir up “hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to sexual orientation. However the Act also reads that the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.

So your normal charitable and rational approach to those with whose behaviour you disagree will be in order.]

Scientific Note

A recently published study has indicated that a homosexual temperament, while not genetic, is epigenetic. Epigenetic marks constitute an extra layer of information attached to our genes’ backbones that regulates their expression. While genes hold the instructions, epi-marks direct how those instructions are carried out – when, where and how much a gene is expressed during development. While these marks are not normally passed on to the next generation, this can sometimes happen. The result may be that a male foetus can get hormones related to the female, and vice versa.
A summary of this study is at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-12/nifm-sfe120612.php

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Church and Society, Moral judgment, Quentin queries and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

97 Responses to On the contrary

  1. John Nolan says:

    Quite subtle in that you deliberately chose Christian names which are androgynous!

  2. tim says:

    I’m not sure that I want to comment, under threat of legal action if I go too far. The law against hate speech is perfectly reasonable, if reasonably interpreted. But it is uncertain. The prudent person will avoid infringing it by mistake – and the easiest way to do that is to be silent. This is particularly true for those impatient souls who regard this whole idea as total nonsense.

  3. Peter D. Wilson says:

    Leslie has a point. However, I am more concerned with the practicalities. I fear that where “gay marriage” is concerned, permission for churches to celebrate it is almost certain to develop into compulsion. However watertight the provisions against such a development may be in the proposed legislation, they are essentially worthless since (a) no Parliament can bind its successors, and (b) they seem more than likely to be struck down by a European court. I cannot believe that David Cameron is unaware of the position, and in my view he is not to be trusted; we need only think of his casually dismissing the bulk of opposition to his scheme.

    It has been suggested that we have no need to worry since no homosexual couple would apply for “marriage” in a church known to be against it. The precedents are however unfavourable: such applications are only too likely as a provocation, or as a route to getting the issue raised outside domestic jurisdiction.

    • tim says:

      Leslie, why do they have to celebrate by calling it ‘marriage’? I think it’s the gross distortion of language for political purposes that is so profoundly depressing.

  4. Iona says:

    In UK law as it stands at present, a marriage can be annulled if it has not been consummated; and “consummation” is described in such terms that it could not cover anything that might be done by two men together, or by two women together. So presumably any partner to a “gay” marriage who wants to end the relationship has only to request an annulment on the grounds of non-consummation. Much quicker and easier than divorce, can’t be any dispute about it, if they’re both the same sex it can’t have been consummated. Where’s the stability in that sort of marriage?

    I do wonder what David Cameron is going to do about that. Re-define “consummation”? – The mind boggles.

    • Quentin says:

      I understand the current position to be that non-consummation will not be a ground for nullity in gay marriage, nor will adultery be a ground for divorce. Some are already complaining that this is discrimination. However it is hard to understand what these two concepts would mean in this context.

      • Iona says:

        What about incest? – the reason for the incest taboo is probably related to the undesirability of close family members producing a child together. But if they are of the same sex, they can’t produce a child together so no reason for the taboo. Will two closely-related men (or women) be able to “marry”?

  5. 1lincluden says:

    Dear quentin,
    Get back into the marriage bed at night,go to confession soon and say a few Hail Marys properly.what a load of old nonsense you occupy your mind with week in week out

    • Quentin says:

      I do hope that you will now join us for some serious discussion, and tell us what you feel, and why, about this issue.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Maybe Christians ought to think of a new name for marriage world wide.Then everyone would know the difference between ‘husband and wife’. ‘male and female’
        Can any body think of one?
        We are not the only country who are changing it.

  6. Geordie says:

    We should define a church marriage as a “Christian Marriage” and this would have certain conditions which make it different from a secular marriage. There is a good letter from “Tony Bond” in the CH of 14th Nov. which is worth reading

  7. St.Joseph says:

    Geordie.
    I don’t get the CH,only when a friend gives me back ones-and then I just glance through them.
    She brought them the other day and up to 30 th Nov.I found the 16th Nov but could not find Tony Bonds letter.
    What I did read and it pleased me no end was a letter from Dominie Mary Stemp ‘The Church is starting a wealth of its teaching on fertility’ ‘Goodness gracious me.’ as the saying goes- That is wonderful. I should probably buy the Catholic papers.
    Thank you for that. Maybe you meant Dec 14 th from Tony Bond which I haven’t got yet.

  8. John Nolan says:

    The word ‘marriage’ is often used metaphorically. We talk of the political marriage of Cameron and Clegg, for instance. Recently a lesbian couple in a well-known soap opera were contemplating a civil partnership; not only did they talk about a ‘wedding’ and ‘marrying’ each other, but all their friends and neighbours used the same terminology. Given time and media manipulation I suspect that civil partnerships would have become vernacularized as marriages without the need for legislation.

    And it is the legislative side of things that has tripped Cameron up. The laws concerning civil marriage do not apply to the Established Church, which can conduct marriages on its own terms, without reference to the civil authorities. All other denominations and faith groups need to satisfy the requirements of a civil marriage, so in theory can be allowed to ‘opt in’. To extend civil marriage laws to the CofE would require a more fundamental change in the marriage laws and would call into question its status as the Established Church. Moreover, the Anglican definition of marriage (or more properly, Holy Matrimony – is that the word you’re looking for, St Joseph? ) is in the 1662 Prayer Book, and cannot simply be set aside. So he has to exempt the CofE.

    Catholics may be offended by attempts to redefine marriage, but conditions for the sacrament of Matrimony are laid down in the Canon Law of the Roman Church, which Parliament has no auhority whatsoever to alter.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan, thanks for that.
      Just the word I was looking for ‘Holy Matrimony’.
      The only reason then we may be accused of not calling homosexuality holy!!
      Do they know what it means!! If you know what I mean!!!!

    • Rahner says:

      “a well-known soap opera”
      You actually watch this sort of trash?

      • Quentin says:

        In fact although the lives of the cast of East Enders are a little more mouvementé than their models the whole programme forms a series of illustrations of the disasters which follow on from breaking the natural law. Their inability to tell the truth unless it is clearly in their interests, their lack of respect for meum et tuum, their sexual morals drawn straight from the lower sort of farmyard, their tendency to calumny and detraction, their ready recourse to threats and violence, their proneness to take the deceitful route as often as possible, all lead in the most moral fashion to inevitable disaster.

        Those who think that traditional moral values are old hat might well benefit from watching an episode or two. I now have to abstain lest I catch any of their habits.

      • John Nolan says:

        A lot of people do, and it is a way of subtly conditioning social attitudes. The soap I was referring to is Coronation Street, which has had Prince Charles in one of its episodes. Interestingly, the issue of surrogacy did cause many of the characters to question the morality of the procedure, whereas anything to do with homosexuality is accepted even by those characters who are devout church-goers. Propaganda has come a long way since Dr Goebbels’s time.

  9. St.Joseph says:

    Rahner.
    That remark is what I call someone ‘Holier than thou!!!!!

  10. St.Joseph says:

    Quentin, don’t believe you are likely to do that.
    I like having the opportunity to write to the soaps and question them on inappropriate things they say On a few instances in some of them ,they keep calling the Incarnation The Immaculate Conception! Also once on Corrie the homosexual was wearing a sweat shirt in the Rovers with a logo of Our Lady of Guadelupe. nothing wrong with that maybe, but I wrote 3 times to ask what the logo was and got no reply I still have it on the recording.All sort of other things,just asking questions, no good complaining. Also a lot on fertility they get wrong,so I write.

  11. Rahner says:

    Quentin, The works of, for example, George Eliot, Dickens and Henry James would, I think, provide a far richer and more powerful grasp of the disasters which follow on from breaking the natural law than any squalid soap opera…….

  12. johnbunting says:

    If, as Peter Wilson suggests, the permission to conduct “gay marriage”, is likely to give rise to a legal compulsion to do so, then would it not be advisable for the Church to make it clear, here and now, that any such event would have no sacramental significance whatsoever?
    It seems inconceivable that the Church could be obliged by law even to make its buildings available for the purpose, but even if it were, no priest could take part, and no liturgical words or actions could be used, so the event would merely be a matter of ‘going through the motions’; in some manner decided by the partners themselves. i suppose some people might consider that a victory of sorts.

  13. ionzone says:

    “Gay marriage is threatening the whole institution of marriage. And we all know how important that it is – as the fundamental unit of society. That’s how society reproduces itself.”

    This is something I have always found very silly, why is it that people think that as soon as gay marriage is allowed most men will want to marry other men? Only a tiny proportion of men are gay or bi. The reason gay couples want marriage is because they want to be married in a church instead of in front of some stiff in the registry office! You might not want them to, but here is the thing: The more we tell gays they aren’t wanted the more of them think that the Church is out to get them and the more turn to other religions, abandon it, or become hard-line atheists.

    I’m not kidding, the majority of gays identify as ‘no religion’ simply because they think we are out to get them. I have even come across ‘support groups’ online that prey on young gay teens in an attempt to convert them away from Christianity or convince them the reason Christians reject them is because they are evil monsters.

    Like it or not, you can’t make a gay guy straight any more than you can make a straight guy like men, There are decades of research saying it simply can’t be done. But, really, why would you want to? Gays are a tiny minority, they don’t hurt anyone, and it *Isn’t* against Biblical Christian morality. The only real reference to it is in Leviticus, and we don’t follow most of those rules – I don’t see Christians rallying to ban shrimp. It is *Not* one of the ten commandments and you would look in vein for a more obscure doctrine that Christians take seriously.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      ionzone – You’ll find a fairly plain condemnation of homosexual conduct in Romans 1: 26-27 – or is that not to be taken seriously?

      • Rahner says:

        The idea that you can simply base moral judgements on Biblical texts is absurd. Do you take Leviticus 20:13 seriously?

      • Vincent says:

        If Leviticus 20:13 is to be taken as settling the question, it follows that the other dicta in this chapter must equally continue in force. In my fidelity to it I am now championing capital punishment for adulterers, and exile for any intercourse with a woman having her period. Who is with me?

    • John Nolan says:

      Ionzone, you obviously have not read St Paul:

      Similiter autem et masculi, relicto naturali usu feminae, exarserunt in desideriis suis in invicem, masculi in masculos turpitudinem operantes, et mercedem, quam oportuit, erroris sui in semetipsis recipientes. [Romans 1:27]

      Lesbianism wasn’t even criminalized in English statute law but St Paul was aware of it:

      Nam feminae eorum immutaverunt naturalem usum in eum usum qui est contra naturem. [Romans 1:26]

  14. John Nolan says:

    I can’t even protest by not voting Conservative since I am in the Speaker’s constituency and he is by tradition returned unopposed.

  15. tim says:

    I think you will find this put
    Far better than I can ever hope to express it
    In the words of..

    .. Pope Benedict XVI (in his recent address to the Curia. I quote, rather than merely giving you the link [ http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2012/12/21/full-text-of-popes-address-to-the-curia/ ], because it’s only part of a long address, and I don’t want to put people to the trouble of wading through it. Quentin, if you feel that this is not best practice, please cut what follows: (Emphasis added!)

    “The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.”

    • John Nolan says:

      This address was presumably given in Italian, not the Pope’s native language, and full marks to whoever was responsible for the English translation. Benedict XVI is a superb communicator.

    • Rahner says:

      “when God is denied, human dignity also disappears.” So an atheist can have no sense of human dignity and value??

    • Quentin says:

      Thanks for putting me on warning about this. Yes, it is a little over the wordage I normally allow – but perhaps justified by the relevance.

      However I have to say that I find some difficulty about the basis of the opinion expressed. “People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being.” This strikes me as being simply inadequate. People don’t choose whether to be homosexual or heterosexual: they are what they are. As it happens, in a homosexual there is an apparent divergence between the gender of the body, as identified by the sexual organs and secondary characteristics, and the gender of sexual desire and capacity for performance, as identified by the sexual orientation of the brain. Both are in fact bodily characteristics and therefore on the principle proposed bring about two contradictory defining elements. One is externally visible: the other is reflected in patterns of neurons in the relevant parts of the brain.

      We might want this to describe this contradiction as a ‘disorder’, which arguably it is, in a technical sense. But I am not about to describe a homosexual as a disordered person. He (or she) is what he (or she) is – as God made him (or her).

      • Rahner says:

        As ever, a very sensible comment, Quentin.

      • John Nolan says:

        “He (or she) is what he (or she) is – As God made him (or her)”. Does this also apply to paedophiles and psychopaths?

      • tim says:

        Quentin: I say that being homosexual is like being blind, at least in this: it is relatively unusual; and it entails considerable disadvantages. Society has obligations to mitigate the disadvantages, not to ignore them. Homosexual orientation, like blindness, is a disability. A person may be born blind, or become so through illness or accident: obviously neither makes him a person of less ultimate value. But it does not help to pretend that blind people can see – so that they must have the right to drive cars, or operate heavy machinery. Nor should we encourage them to believe that their state is in all respects as desirable as the more usual condition – a few blind couples apparently want their children to be born blind, so as to be like them.

  16. tim says:

    Once again, St Joseph has the right idea. We are going to have to find a new name for what has up to the present been known as ‘marriage’. If the new law goes through, in formal situations at least (I hope that’s as far as it would go, but you can’t be sure) we are going to have to stop using the word ‘marriage’ to refer to Catholic (or indeed Christian) weddings. Doubleplusungood!

    In philosophy, there are two concepts, ‘grue’ and ‘bleen’, which have been used to explore meanings and limits of meaning (I think that’s what they’re for, but I submit to correction by those who may know better – Rahner?). ‘Grue’ (I think) means ‘green’, but only up to the year 2000. From 2000 on it means ‘blue’. Correspondingly, ‘bleen’ means ‘blue’ up to the year 2000, after which it means ‘green’. (I may not have got this right, and I certainly haven’t understood it – try the Wikipedia article for better information). Fascinating that such bizarre speculations should turn out to have an imminent practical application!

  17. Singalong says:

    “You are a slow learner, Winston.”
    “How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”
    “Sometimes, “You are a slow learner, Winston.”
    “How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”
    “Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

  18. Rahner says:

    I’m not sure it is relevant:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grue_and_bleen
    Gay marriage has been permitted in Spain since 2005. Currently around 3% of marriages are gay. Can anyone seriously claim that this is going to bring about the collapse of civilisation???

  19. Rahner says:

    Non sequitur. Rahner, you’re trolling again.
    Rubbish.
    Perhaps you can then explain what the Pope did mean?

    • John Nolan says:

      ‘Rubbish’. A heckler once used this against Harold Wilson and the riposte was “I’ll deal with your subject later”‘. Can I ask you to engage your brain for a change, rather than indulging in sixth-form debating tactics, and yes, we’ve all been there but most of us have grown up.

  20. Geordie says:

    Sorry St Joseph and everyone else. The date should have read 14th Dec

    • johnbunting says:

      Quite right, Geordie. Best to keep God and Caesar apart in this matter, as Tony Bond says. If a marriage in church has no significance other than as a sacrament of the church, then it is irrational for it to be demanded by anyone who cannot accept the church’s understanding of what marriage actually is. If you don’t like the rules, don’t join the club.

      If and when the necessary law is passed, civil marriage will be available to anyone, straight or gay. The idea that the church should change its view of marriage to prove to gay people that we don’t ‘hate’ them and are not ‘out to get them’, is quite ludicrous.

      • St.Joseph says:

        As Christians we know what marriage between a male and female is.
        What is it that homosexuals don’t understand?.Surely although they as Quentin says are born Gay- where is their common sense to not understand the difference between same sex and male and female.
        Why are they not satisfied with a civil union-surely that meets all their requirements as the law states.
        If they want to have a private blessing i am sure they will not have any trouble finding a homosexual priest to give them one in private.
        Its seems to me they just wish to make a point. They will never be a Mr & Mrs.
        We don’t hear much about the homosexuals who are living their life in their own conscience and involved in Encourage making a fuss-all this for 3%
        Not going off the subject-but twins born as shown on the News last night or night before 5 months early and now doing fine. One 1lb 4oz and the other at 2.lb 4oz-now home at 7lb and 12lb. What a miracle born 20 weeks early or less.

  21. 1lincluden says:

    Hilary seems to have forgotten children reared in such unions.she/he might care to read the “gay”maligned Regnerus study.
    Ionzone’s comments that the majority of gays identify as”no religion” .what a pity it is not 100 per cent and we would have been spared some american and english archbishops

    • St.Joseph says:

      I am probably naive here on the sexual relationship of homosexuality but however,reading the Hilary and Leslie conversation nothing has been mentioned of the ‘giving’ of the pleasure to each other in the sexual act. It seems to me that the sexual pleasure is what they give themselves through their act of intimacy .
      It seems that their is nothing in a communicative nature physically-if one understands what I am saying. Similar to masturbation!
      I hope I am not too crude in my definition!

      • Vincent says:

        That is an interesting question. Clearly the giving of pleasure is part of the gift of intercourse. But behind that is the notion of knowledge: “Adam knew his wife, Eve, etc.” So the sexual act between Adam and Eve was by its nature one of such great intimacy that they were united at the deepest level: two in one flesh, in fact. How might this be achieved in a homosexual act? Nothing similar can be achieved between two women, and the act commonly used by two men could never be more than a poor facsimile of the marriage act. Indeed, consummation of a marriage requires a “conjugal act in itself apt for the generation of offspring: to this act marriage is by its nature ordered and by it the spouses become one flesh” Canon 1061. Thus a couple, in the Church’s view, who have invariably used a condom have not become two in one flesh.
        One may suppose that at some level physical sexual connection between homosexuals can be experienced as an expression of unity, and the shared intimacy and pleasure may draw the couple more closely together.

    • ionzone says:

      I am deeply saddened by what 1lincluden says, surely if man cannot help his sexuality it follows that persecuting someone for it is as bad as attacking them for their skin-colour? Bishops aren’t allowed to have sex, so I don’t really see the difference, unless you are subtly hinting that they are to blame for the abuse scandal? Since most paedophiles are straight this doesn’t really follow.

      “when God is denied, human dignity also disappears.” So an atheist can have no sense of human dignity and value??”

      Sadly this is true, when places like Russia and China became atheist they lost all appreciation for human life. Closer to home, prominent atheists have recently called for us to ‘reconsider’ eugenics and have campaigned to ban free speech with regard to religion. Simply put, atheists have no morality or code to call their own and can only exist in a society where one is firmly in place. We’ve seen what happens when they take over and remove the Christian morality from play numerous times. It isn’t pretty.

      “and the act commonly used by two men could never be more than a poor facsimile of the marriage act.”

      I have seen first-hand that they do love each-other as strongly as if they were a man and woman. It may be a poor imitation, but it is really all they have. They aren’t hurting anyone and the population really isn’t going to crash because 3-4% don’t reproduce. Hell, I’m betting the proportion of infertile couples is higher than gay ones.

      Instead of being silly and blaming gays for things like abortion (really, why do Christians do this?) we should be embracing their potential as adopters of children who don’t have families. We are Christians, and that is supposed to mean something. It is supposed to mean we look out for people, particularly those who have what amounts to a minor disability. Gays are a known suicide risk for two simple reasons – They don’t fit in with a society that expects heterosexuality and find it very hard to find people interested in a relationship with them (because there are so few of them). I am disabled, so I can understand what it is like to be a pariah. We seriously need to get the pro-life movement back on track because picking on gays isn’t going to save one damn life.

      • ionzone says:

        By the way, the Romans thing is just an observation by Paul, not a condemnation by Jesus. Paul may not have approved of homosexuality, but that doesn’t mean God agrees with him – think about how many times Jesus told the disciples off for following “man’s way, not God’s”,

      • 1lincluden says:

        Ionzone may care to consider the 1961 directive of john XX111:”ordination should be barred to those afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality and pederasty”.benedict xv1 in the Light of the World states that homosexuality and the priesthood are completely incompatible.
        American and english bishops have blatantly ignored such”advice ”
        If ionzone glances at the findings of the regenerus study,he may change his mind as to “embracing their potential as adopters of children”
        I believe that all chaste homosexuals and heterosexuals are equally following the footsteps of christ.

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        Ionzone – The absence of a specific recorded condemnation by Jesus doesn’t mean that he approved of a practice. There would have been no point in his condemning homosexual coupling to an audience that already knew it was wrong. Presumably, had the issue been raised, he would have urged mercy towards those with the serious disorder of a misdirected sexual drive, but as in the case of the woman taken in adultery that would not have been equivalent to condoning its indulgence.

      • tim says:

        Ionzone – your last sentence. I completely agree with the last few words, but am really surprised by and don’t understand the rest of it. The ProLIfe movement doesn’t pick on gays – why would it? Rahner might call this a lazy generalisation, but if I’m wrong you can easily put me straight, by giving examples.

  22. John L says:

    As always, I have come late to the discussion, so please forgive me if I have missed something important in an earlier note.
    When we are discussing love, sexuality is never far behind. Are we talking “eros” or “philia” or “agape”?
    I don’t see at all why deep and enduring love cannot exist between members of the same sex – my own friendships have included such. As a Christian, I would class this as “agape”. It is only when this blurs into eros (which I find distasteful in this context) that disagreements arise.
    I have always held that if a person is born with a homosexual tendency, then he or she should not be unequally treated. However, the physical practice of homosexuality must raise moral issues.
    We eat in order to live. We find it pleasant, otherwise we wouldn’t bother to do it. We condemn gluttony because it abuses the pleasure in isolation.
    The same logic applies to sex. The objective is preservation of the race. A couple have a child through the intense pleasure of expressing their mutual love. Any indulgence in “out of context” sexual pleasure then becomes questionable in moral terms.
    This, I think, underlines the essential difference between what we see as Christian marriage and a homosexual partnership.
    Homosexual people obviously experience genuine love for each other, and a Christian cannot condemn love. Heterosexuals must beware planks in their own eyes, since eros is a minefield to both.
    The final issue, for me, has to be theChristian concept of marriage between a man and a woman, and surely only this can be sacramental.
    Sooner or later the Church will be attacked through a homosexual agenda which creates an individual case to force an issue (as has been mooted by an earlier correspondent). This has already been demonstrated through the couple who refused to allow homosexual practice in their own home, and were penalised in court for taking a stand which I would maintain as their right.
    Likewise through the question of children in the context of homosexual partnerships, we have lost most of our adoption agencies.
    We fear prosecution as the result of the relentless secular march of government. Time was when we were ready to make a stand.
    St John Fisher and St Thomas More – pray for us.

    • tim says:

      Yes. It is illegal to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation. By refusing to marry persons of the same sex, the Church will be discriminating on such grounds. Politicians may deny this until they are blue in the face, but as long as the European Court of Human Rights has the last word on the subject, their denials are worthless.

  23. John Nolan says:

    Vincent, the language of the Western Church is Latin, not Greek, and has been so since the fourth century, when English did not even exist as a language.

    • Vincent says:

      The only reason for quoting in a language which most people cannot easily understand is that it throws light on the original text. But in this case, it doesn’t. We do better with the original language than we do with St Jerome’s later translation. I can only assume. perhaps uncharitably, that your purpose was pour épater les bourgeois.

      • John Nolan says:

        Not really. It was more to remind people that 2012 is the 50th anniversary of John XXIII’s motu proprio ‘Veterum Sapientia’ which in all the brouhaha over Vatican II seems to have been overlooked.

  24. Mike Horsnall says:

    John L:
    “…The same logic applies to sex. The objective is preservation of the race. A couple have a child through the intense pleasure of expressing their mutual love. Any indulgence in “out of context” sexual pleasure then becomes questionable in moral terms….”

    I really have problems with this statement. We have only one child and cannot have more You seem to be saying to me that my wife cannot seek the beauty of our union, for its own sake and for its multitude benefits, in order to have and hold one another, -because this is simply indulgence. Since no one in their right mind would make this assertion I assume I have misunderstood you?

    • John L says:

      Sorry, Mike – yes I didn’t make myself clear (in the interest of brevity, or at least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).
      I don’t hold that sex within marriage is SOLELY for procreation. Unless I mistake, I believe the Church teaches that a sexual relationship within marriage also has an important role in the mutual relationship – I think you put it better. That relationship must be open to procreation according to God’s will, and is exclusive to those who have made the lifetime commitment which sacramental marriage represents. “Out of context” was meant to represent all sexual relations outside of marriage, whether hetero- or homosexual.
      I am getting too pompous for words – I just hope I have clarified what I had in mind earlier.

  25. Mike Horsnall says:

    Rahner,
    “..You have still not explained what His Holiness actually meant…..”
    I assume you are speaking of the ‘dignity’ quote you attacked. Yes it is clear that there is some innate sense of dignity but that this sense flickers as a flame and is easily extinguished by the winds of contingency so is needful of a flame that burns regardless.I doesnt seem that problematic to assume that humanity ,left to its own devices, becomes increasingly introverted-William Golding, Lord of the Flies-that kind of thing You don’t really find this difficult do you?
    .

    • Rahner says:

      The Pope has a tendency to make these rather abstract generalizations about human nature and human behaviour that do not always have a very clear meaning. (How do his remarks fit in with the idea of a natural moral law accessible to both believers and unbelievers – an idea I’m sure the Pope accepts.)
      Of course there are examples of countries, groups and individuals that have descended into terrible evil but I am sure you will agree that this can happen whether or not those concerned are believers in secular or religious societies and that many an atheists lead moral and disciplined lives. I am just opposed to lazy generalizations and given that the Pope’s remarks were always going to be made public perhaps a more nuanced form of expression would have been appropriate? And frankly does ANYONE take a crackpot like Simone de Beauvoir seriously?

      • Mike Horsnall says:

        Rahner,
        Yes I do agree and never was to keen on Simone de Beauvoir either.

      • tim says:

        “natural moral law”? I don’t see the problem. “accessible” is different from “compelling”. And I’m afraid lots of people take crackpots seriously.

  26. Singalong says:

    O dear! Something went wrong with my pasting yesterday. I was trying to use the quote from George Orwell`s 1984, to illustrate the road we are being driven along, into the nightmare world of his doublethink.

    I agree with all the understanding and accepting comments about people with a homosexual orientation, but it remains that their physical union, regardless of its morality, cannot truthfully be described as marriage. It is a partnership, which is not an offensive or cumbersome term, and can easily remain in use.

    The term is being deliberately hijacked, as part of an aggressive secular agenda.

  27. ionzone says:

    “If ionzone glances at the findings of the regenerus study,he may change his mind as to “embracing their potential as adopters of children””

    I would rather not, that study isn’t exactly unbiased and Regnerus doesn’t distinguish between people who have been brought up by gay couples in stable relationships and people who have been brought up by people who have, at some point, had a gay relationship. It’s kinda flawed.

    “The term is being deliberately hijacked, as part of an aggressive secular agenda.”

    There are people with very aggressive secular agendas and who use an gay issue to attack the church. For example there is the famous case of the psychologist who refused to give ‘sex therapy’ to a gay couple on the entirely reasonable grounds that he didn’t want to watch tapes of them having sex and take notes (which is basically what ‘sex therapy’ is) and then got in huge trouble for ‘discrimination’. However, I don’t think that Christian gay couples who want to be properly married in a real church are behind that, and they are the people who we need to address. Should they be allowed to? I think so. But should the Church be forced to conduct gay marriages. No, they really shouldn’t. Therefore we need a compromise – we need to make gay marriage legal, but we also need to set it in stone that the church can opt out. Unfortunately, this won’t please most of the gays themselves, or the church.

    One of the big problems here is that most of the campaigns on both sides really don’t get what they are asking for or refusing. I hear secularists saying that this doesn’t concern the church and I read in the Catholic Press that gay marriage will bring the entire institution of marriage crashing down on our heads and cause mass abortions…somehow. I’m not really clear on that part. In any case, this isn’t going to happen – gay marriage won’t be a victory for the church or the secularists because, ultimately, churches still have the right to refuse to carry out the ceremony and priests can’t be forced to sign anything they don’t approve of. No matter how unhappy they make the Christian gay couple they turn down, and no matter how very like the Pharisees I think this makes them.

    • John Nolan says:

      Surely it’s not a question of whether priests disapprove or not. Parliament can redefine marriage, but the Church cannot. I don’t see anything pharasaical about that.

      • Singalong says:

        John Nolan, I don`t see how Parliament can redefine marriage, except in an Orwellian sense. It is an ancient institution concerning the union of male and female, which no legal terms can abrogate.

  28. St.Joseph says:

    The Scientific Note, that Quentin mentions in his quote is very interesting.
    First there seems to be so many more homosexuals born to-day and I don’t believe it is because the law was changed so it became possible for it to be in the open.
    Secondly. Why is it that the scientists dont’ look at the cause more closely- and maybe alter the cause of its effect, as there is so much going on in research in fertility and hormonal disorders.
    Thirdly.The artificial hormones in the water has been proven by scientist to affect the male/female hormonal system.

    In the Soap Coronation St, it is interesting the subject now of the homosexual all his life, has fallen in love with a female-why are Gays not protesting against this.
    Can one be bi-sexual or is it that a male/female does not want the responsibility of a wife or husband for other reasons to do with their mentality or something they experienced as a young person.
    Someone can be in love with another without having a sexual relationship if they have a belief in God.It does not always have to end in intercourse.
    Everyone now a days it seems must have a ‘right’ to something even against another persons right-who has the right to refuse it.A bit cock eyed if one asks me!! Excuse the expression!!!!

  29. 1lincluden says:

    Ionzone,your contributions attract my interest like a low cut dress at a party.
    I did say”gay maligned”about the regnerus study and of course you re echo their caveats.try reading his peer group reviews.i did say “glance”;i do not expect you to wallow in the footnotes.the findings do confirm catholic adoption agencies fears about gays rearing children.regnerus seems a social science affirmation of common sense
    Quentin offered us a “scientific note” which indicated that a homosexual temperament”while not genetic is epigenetic”.st joseph offers a thoughtful piece on the apparent increase in homosexual numbers.could quentin tell us if it is possible that one can be corrupted into a homosexual lifestyle by abuse in formative years regardless of epigenetic marks?

    • Quentin says:

      We only have unproven theories about the influences which draw people to homosexuality. It does seem clear that homosexuality is more common in closed all-male environments such as prisons. And it does occur in male boarding schools. (Women in boarding schools report having ‘crushes’, and certainly there is anecdotal evidence of physical expression.) But this suggests no more than that those who are naturally heterosexual still have a potential for homosexual activity. There is also a theory that nurture can promote homosexuality, perhaps through the way a male child learns to relate to females. I do not know the strength of the evidence for this. It seems to be generally agreed that psychoanalytic and behavioural approaches to therapy are not effective. This does not preclude psychotherapeutic aid to help people come to terms with their orientation. My own experience in counselling homosexuals is too narrow for me to draw any conclusions. I wonder if Iona can help us here.

      • ionzone says:

        “In the Soap Coronation St, it is interesting the subject now of the homosexual all his life, has fallen in love with a female-why are Gays not protesting against this.”

        This would indeed put him down as a bisexual. Sexuality isn’t a clear-cut thing and there are very many shades – for example, asexuals, who do not feel any sexual attraction at all and honestly don’t understand the concept. We can’t choose who we fall in love with any more than we can choose our sexual orientation.

        “We only have unproven theories about the influences which draw people to homosexuality.”

        It’s a tough subject, but the true answer is likely to be both nature and nurture. If you took a child at random and brought them up in an environment where everyone was expected to be gay (basically the reverse of what we have now) they would be more very much more likely to enter into gay relationships. History shows that this can happen, with the most famous examples being Spartans, of course, but also many other cultures. This is for a large number of reasons, the biggest being that peer pressure and social norms are surprisingly good at overriding or redirecting our natural disposition (and if you want an example of that, I’d say there was none finer than Christianity!). Second, and fundamental, is the fact that none of us are truly 100% straight. We are all made from the same basic pattern, and that pattern includes the potential for us to desire either sex and to have a brain like either sex – this is partly why many gays adopt feminine mannerisms, they literally have slightly feminised brains (though a need to fit in with other gays and adopt their subculture is also a major factor). To put it another way, culture is the icing, but genetics is the cake. You can pile as much of the wrong icing on as you want, but that won’t stop it being a fruitcake (boom boom tish). A hell of a lot of gays find this out the hard way by pursuing girls (and often acting really macho), they can spend years or even decades doing this before they admit to themselves that they are simply fooling themselves. I’ve seen it happen several times and it really is a horrible thing to go through, stuff gets wound up inside you so tightly that it can tear you apart.

        The primary thing that has changed with the sudden upsurge in gay culture we have is related to a lot of things, most of which I have already mentioned, but one more is the media. Simply by showing homosexuality on screen they have given a lot of people the key to their own identities – they now know what they are and have peers who they can relate to. The rest is down to peer pressure – there is way less now that it has been normalised.

        If you want to see some research on the biological stuff, here is a link to a pile more links:

        http://www.newscientist.com/search?doSearch=true&query=Gay+brain+patterns

        I will give Regnerus another look, at some point, but on the parenting side I think it is worth noting that I do think children brought up by gays are as much in need of differently gendered role-models as those of single parents, but I really don’t think that it would be any more different than that if you only surveyed stable gay relationships. The snag with that one is big, however, gays are more mainstream now, but they are still driven to the edges of society and often end up suffering mental trauma because of it. Homosexuality isn’t a problem, but the way people treat them and marginalise them still is – again, I’ve seen this first-hand.

  30. St.Joseph says:

    Ionzone.
    How would define falling in love.?
    To me it is obviously different for ‘male and female’ as to those of same ‘sex attraction’!!!.
    Can you give me your definition of it.

  31. ionzone says:

    I would also add that it seems extraordinarily harsh to condemn people to a life completely without love when that love is entirely consensual. Why should we say they, specifically, can’t have sex because they are unable to produce offspring when not having sex produces the same result? Should we stop infertile couples from having sex too?

    • ionzone says:

      “Can you give me your definition of it”

      It may seem obvious to you because you feel that attraction, but for someone who is gay the attraction is simply on there own sex. I have seen gay people react more-or-less the same way as you are now to straight couples – they don’t get why you like the opposite gender any more than you get why they like the same gender. Love is what love is – it works the same way for gays as it does for us. I’m afraid that is as near an explanation as I can give you, I have been a third wheel to both straight and gay couples and spent some time around them and I can honestly say that they act pretty-much exactly the same.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Ionzone Zone.
        Is anyone stopping them from having sex as you call it!
        But it is not marriage.They do have Civil Partnerships.
        They are not in a position to alter the marriage act of pro-creation.,to be on equal terms as male and female.
        If they respected their homosexuality as different they would not be trying to be the same and equal!Surely they must understand that.They say they are different, want different Mass’s so what is their argument.They can not act the same! They will not have the mothering or father instinct of parents.,the yearning to be one flesh in unity with the Blessed Trinity which even childless couple have.with the help of the Crighton Method.
        Married couples will be open to pro-creation even if they realise they are infertile.
        Think about St Elizabeth St John the Baptist’s parents. were passed the age of child birth.Nothing is impossible for God.
        As the Nativity shows us-as to-day is the Feast Day, even though they were both parents St Joseph being a Spiritual father.
        I am explaining it to you the best I can.But you will find it difficult if you have no understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage,

  32. Mike Horsnall says:

    Ion zone,
    That was a really helpful post, thankyou …Happy christmas all by the way!

  33. St.Joseph says:

    Mike Horsnall.
    Your comment to Ionzone said that his post was ‘really helpful to you’ and that made me wonder what your feelings were before he posted it. Were you confused? Also how clear is the the situation now.
    The question I ask you is ‘If a homosexual asked your opinion on sexuality’ would you answer the same a Ionzone’s post.!
    It is not too difficult to understand the difference between a Gay relationship and a hetersexual one.in reference to the Sacrament of marriage.
    I hope that is precise enough for you!

  34. Mike Horsnall says:

    No St Joseph it isn’t as there are several of ion zones posts. This shouldnt be difficult really, just think of the question you want me to answer then write it down, with a question mark at the end!
    Something like this:
    “Is gay marriage the same as straight marriage?”
    But you must ask the question.

    I’m not confused about anything so far (apart from everything, that is)

  35. St.Joseph says:

    Mike Horsnall.
    I thought that there was a certain discipline when answering on the blog.
    Maybe you ought t have placed your comment to Ionzone in the appropriate reply,not straight after my reply to him.
    Also I was in as I considered a conversation with Ionzone-so as far as I am concerned you were joining in that too.
    I made my reply to you clear,and you simply ignored it.
    I dont need to know the answer you would give-but a homosexual would if he he asked you which you seem to be avoiding.
    The ball is in your court not mine!

  36. Mike Horsnall says:

    No ball, no court, forget it.

  37. ionzone says:

    “Is anyone stopping them from having sex as you call it!”

    Well, people have and still try to, there is no denying that.Homosexuality is illegal in large parts of the world. In some places you can be killed for it.

    To understand why gays want marriage you have to understand that they want to legitimise their relationships fully by swearing an oath before God that carves it in stone for all time (“Those who you marry on Earth” and so on). That is what they want – a real marriage in a real church. Would you be happy if all you could get was a civil partnership?

    “If they respected their homosexuality as different they would not be trying to be the same and equal!”

    They are different, but that is besides the point, I hear the same argument levelled at inter-racial marriages.

    “They will not have the mothering or father instinct of parents.,the yearning to be one flesh in unity with the Blessed Trinity which even childless couple have.”

    How do you know? Why would they not have this instinct and why would they adopt children if they didn’t?

    “Married couples will be open to pro-creation even if they realise they are infertile.”

    So are gay couples and lesbian couples. Lesbians frequently have children through artificial insemination and gay couples would too if they could.

  38. ionzone says:

    From what I gather, one of the most horrible things about realising you are gay is the realisation that you will never have children.

    • johnbuntingj says:

      If that is so, either for a gay man or a lesbian woman, then what I find hard to believe is that their feeling of revulsion for any physical contact with a person of the opposit sex is so strong that they cannot face it, even to have a longed-for child. Even more strange if they are Christian, as they will surely recognise heterosexual intercourse as being ‘designed’ by God for the procreation of children.

  39. St.Joseph says:

    What a selfish way of looking at ‘God Given Life’ Most people would thank God to be ‘alive’ and be healthy and not starving as in a lot of countries where they don’t live long enough to enjoy it.

  40. Mike Horsnall says:

    Ion zone:
    To understand why gays want marriage you have to understand that they want to legitimise their relationships fully by swearing an oath before God that carves it in stone for all time (“Those who you marry on Earth” and so on). That is what they want – a real marriage in a real church. Would you be happy if all you could get was a civil partnership?

    This would appear to be the nub of the issue-the matter cannot be completely ‘legitimised’ no matter how much everyone may want it. I understand the drive but also the simple impossibility of that drive being met -in the Catholic church at least. When you leave aside personal opinion it seems to me that the church simply is not able to give full ‘legitimicy’ to gay unions if the standard applied is that which is given to heterosexual marriage. The thing I don’t really understand is why continue banging heads against walls? Why will not gay couples simply accept that the situation is as it is? I ask this purely from interest not as an indication of any positioning of my own

  41. tim says:

    “If they respected their homosexuality as different they would not be trying to be the same and equal!”

    They are different, but that is besides the point, I hear the same argument levelled at inter-racial marriages.

    Ionzone, it’s not the same argument. Against inter-racial marriages it’s just silly. Here it’s not. Male and female are equal in many ways (we can argue about which, if you wish – supposing we disagree, that is) but in certain important respects, they are complementary – physically and for reproductive purposes, for a start. Marriage is a union of complementary beings. Redefining it makes no sense. It calls to mind the story of the US town in the Mid-West who were unhappy that the ratio between a circle and its diameter should be represented by a non-recurring decimal, and passed a local ordinance that henceforward π should be equal to 3.0.

  42. Iona says:

    Quentin (24th December): My own experience in counselling homosexuals is too narrow for me to draw any conclusions. I wonder if Iona can help us here.

    I can’t, I’m afraid, – I’m the wrong sort of psychologist! Ask me about dyslexia and I could witter on for hours.

    Up near the top of this column of posts (which I have only just caught up with, having been away over Christmas) there are a number of references to the Christian view of marriage. Of course, it isn’t only Christians who consider marriage as being essentially a man-woman bond: Muslims and Jews (at least, Orthodox Jews) are going to be equally upset – and perhaps equally at risk of being challenged – if marriage is redefined. Probably Buddhists and Hindus also.

    I too like Mike’s post, above.
    One of my children (a few years back) was considering which university to apply to, and was advised by one of his teachers, “not that one, that’s a Mickey Mouse university”. It seems to me that we are now having Mickey Mouse marriage proposed to us.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Iona.
      It would be interesting to know how Buddists would react to the law of same sex marriage ,as their marriages are a civil union-obedient to civil law. We don’t hear of their objections maybe we ought too. and all voice together for male and female marriage only as a binding Civil law.Because it will go on and on until it is recognised like in some countries.

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