Last week when the Supreme Court decided to make same-sex “marriage” legal for the entire United States, the hashtag “LoveWins” was trending on the internet. The claim was that love won, because homosexuals are now free to “marry”. Those who “hate” homosexuals have lost in their desire to persecute homosexuals by not allowing them to “marry”.
Allow me to first address the claim that opposing same-sex “marriage” is somehow persecutory.
In order to persecute someone, one must be depriving another of a right. For example, not allowing someone to practice the religion of their choice is persecution, because every human being has the right to practice any religion he/she wishes (provided the practice of such does not deprive others of their rights). In fact, every human being has the right to refuse to believe in any deity. So to deprive someone of the ability to believe what they wish is persecution, since freedom of religion stems from the dignity inherent in every human being. This is a right.
The same can be said in regards to abortion, homicide, and genocide. They deprive a person of their life. Since each human being is his own person, life is properly considered a right. The right to life stems from the dignity inherent in every human being. To deprive someone of life because of race, sex, religion, etc. is properly considered persecution.
Marriage, however, is a completely different matter entirely. Marriage can not be considered a right. Thus, to prevent someone from marrying can not be considered persecution.
Every culture and civilization has had some regulation on marriage. Even those that recognized polygamy had regulations on marriage. Now days, polygamy is not widely accepted. That is a regulation. There have been regulations on what age one has to be in order to be allowed to marry. There have been regulations on the degree of relation into which someone may marry.
If marriage is a right, then there can not be regulations on marriage without the arising of some extraordinary circumstance. Thus, polygamy should be allowed. There can be no regulations against siblings marrying each other; parents marrying their children; uncles marrying their nieces; or any other regulations forbidding marriage among relatives of whatever degree. Indeed, if marriage is a right, then one can argue adults marrying minors, regardless of age, should be allowed. (Chalk up a point for the pedophiles!)
So we see that preventing homosexuals from “marrying” is not persecution. To be persecutory marriage would have to be a right. Marriage, as we have seen, however, is not a right.
Now what about the accusation that those opposing same-sex “marriage” advocate hate?
This is an equally fallacious claim. To be sure, there are those who genuinely do hate homosexuals. Most Christians, however, do not hate homosexuals as people. We hate the sin, not the person.
The idea that opposition to same-sex “marriage” promotes hate seems to stem from a couple of equally erroneous ideas. First, there is this odd belief that if one opposes another’s lifestyle (whether it’s a chosen lifestyle or not is not relevant here), he or she is judging the other person. As if not supporting another’s actions or lifestyle is somehow hateful.
One can love another without supporting everything that person does. I am a father. Do you really think I approve of everything my children do? My oldest child skipped out on a class this past school year, and served two days of ISS as a result. When I caught wind of it I had no choice but to make my disapproval known to him. Was I wrong for opposing my son’s decision? Is not his own person, equipped with the ability to make his own choices? Shouldn’t I have supported whatever decision he made? After all, it is his life we’re talking about. Anyone who would answer yes to these questions is clearly not a parent.
I felt my son made a poor decision, and I let him know that. It doesn’t mean I hate him. Actually, the contrary is true. I love him enough to let him know how I really feel about his decisions, and I wish to keep him from making what I believe are bad decisions. Especially when I feel those decisions are sinful.
To oppose another’s decisions, lifestyle, etc. is not necessarily hateful. We can still love someone whose decisions or lifestyle we oppose. To say that opposition to something like same-sex “marriage” is hateful is just plain wrong.
Second, the idea that opposition to same-sex “marriage” is hateful is sometimes defended by saying that Jesus loves everyone. Look, I have no problem with the claim that Jesus loves everyone. In fact, Scripture says as much. To say that Jesus loves everyone, however, is not the same as saying He condones same-sex “marriage”.
During His life Jesus spoke of sin. He called out the Pharisees as hypocrites. When He saw the money changers fleecing the people in the Temple, Jesus made a whip and drove them out. Jesus was clear that not everyone goes to Heaven. Jesus was anything but soft when it came to sin. Sure, He had a clear desire to forgive everyone’s sins. Yet Jesus was clear that some will not have their sins forgiven (through their own fault), and they will spend an eternity in Hell. To ignore or sugar coat this aspect of Christ’s Teaching is a disservice to both Christ, and to our fellow man.
Yes, Jesus loves everyone. To love someone, however, does not mean we must accept everything he/she does. We can oppose them, and yet still love them. That is what Jesus showed us. He opposes our sins, yet He never stops loving us.
When Jesus came He did not abrogate the moral law as it was laid out in the Old Testament. In fact, Jesus not only confirmed the moral law, He took it further. Not only must we obey the Ten Commandments, we must do even more. We must not just avoid murder, for example, we must try to avoid anger. The moral law as laid out by Jesus goes further than in the Old Testament.
In the Old Testament homosexuality is referred to as “an abomination” in the eyes of God. Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus change this. He never mentions homosexuality, but Jesus confirmed the moral law of the Old Testament. Hence, we must assume that homosexuality is still “an abomination” to God. In fact, St. Paul confirms this in 1 Corinthians 6!
Furthermore, whenever Jesus mentions sex or marriage, He does so only in the context of one man and one woman. We never even get a hint of Jesus’ thoughts on homosexuality, precisely because Jesus didn’t need to mention it. He had confirmed and advanced the moral law of the Old Testament. Hence, Jesus would have viewed homosexuality as wrong. No direct mention of this was necessary, because such would have been understood by His followers.
So let us let go of the claims of hate, persecution, and homophobia among those who oppose same-sex “marriage”. Again, there are those who truly hate homosexuals. Catholics, however, are called not to be among them. Indeed, in imitation of the Savior, we must go out of our way to show love to those struggling with the sin of homosexuality. That does not mean, however, that we must support the sin. Like Jesus, we must oppose the sin while loving the sinner.
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
Worldwide Catholic Solidarity