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PART I: INTRODUCTION
Do Catholics oppose same-sex marriage because they think sex is dirty? Do they not want others to have fun?The Catholic Church takes a very high view of marriage and human sexuality. As the account of Genesis shows, marriage and sexuality were created by God and given to mankind as gifts for our benefit. Scripture records God's statement that "it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him" (Gen. 2:18). As a result, "a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). Some may forego the good of marriage to serve a higher calling (cf. Matt. 19:10-12), but it is a good nevertheless.Marriage is a conduit through which God's grace flows to the couple and their children.1 The Catholic Church understands marriage between a baptized man and woman to be a sacrament, a visible sign of the grace that God gives them to help them live their lives here and now so as to be able to join him in eternity.2 For Catholics, marriage is social as well as religious, but its religious aspects are very important. The Bible repeatedly compares the relationship between man and wife to that between God and Israel (cf. Hos. 9:1) or between Christ and his Church (cf. Eph. 5:21-32).
For Catholics, marriage is a holy vocation.Since the Church sees marriage as holy, it believes it must be treated with reverence. It also recognizes that marriage is basic to the health of society and therefore a public institution that must be defended against harm.Marriage is a public institution. Consequently, proposals that could harm the institution of marriage must be subjected to the same sort of objective analysis that we give any public policy question. Marriage is not just a private matter of emotion between two people. On the contrary, its success or failure has measurable impact on all of society. Rational analysis yields solid, objective reasons for limiting marriage to one man and one woman-reasons anyone can agree with on purely secular grounds.Our analysis will show that prohibition of homosexual marriage is not just a "fairness" issue, nor does it require anyone to "force religious dogma" down anyone else's throat. Nor is it a manifestation of hatred, as proponents sometimes suggest.
How do you answer the charge that the Catholic Church or opposition to same-sex marriage is "homophobic"?The term homophobic refers to fear of homosexuality. This term often is used by homosexual activists to end rational discussion of the issue by accusing their opponents of having an irrational fear. This is unjust. One can disagree with and be critical of a behavior without having a fear of it. When the charge of "homophobia" is made, it signifies that those making the accusation do not have reasoned responses to their critics, so they switch to portraying their critics as irrational rather than responding to their arguments.While the Church does recognize homosexuality as disordered, this does not mean that the Church is uncompassionate to those who suffer from the disorder. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies . . . must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."3We have to remember that all people are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated as such, no matter what their behavior. We make a distinction between person and behavior, sometimes expressed as "hate the sin, love the sinner." The Catechism describes homosexual acts as "intrinsically disordered": "They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life.
They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."4So we deplore acts of discrimination or unkindness against homosexual persons, but we insist on speaking the truth about the nature of homosexual acts. This is not a phobia. It is compassion together with frank recognition of the nature of a disordered condition.The Catholic Church opposes homosexual activity because it is intrinsically disordered, an abuse of our human nature. But legalizing same-sex marriage would also have harmful effects on society, as we will see in the remainder of this special report.