Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Proposition 8 and Homosexuality

I received the following email from a mom in California on Prop. 8 and it's effect on her family. I haven't seen very much in the Catholic blogosphere on this, so I hope that what follows will be a worthwhile contribution to the debate on this subject. It's a miracle that Prop. 8 passed and we should certainly praise God for that. But, there is still much work left to be done. Pray for California!

Pax Christi,
- - - - - - - - - -
By way of background, I am a Catholic California mom of four, and my daughter is gay. I have gently counseled her on the Church's teachings on being gay: that if she is attracted to the same sex, she is respected and loved; but she should not sin by having sex outside of marriage.
These are all good points that you raised. Don't forget though that homosexual activity is wrong, no matter what context it is in. In other words, it's not just that it's outside of marriage that makes it wrong. It's also the fact that it is sexual activity with someone of the same sex, which is contrary to God's design.

Her response is that God made her the way she is, and wants her to be happy. She is in a relationship with a young woman. I welcome them in my home. Does that make me a hypocrite?
Well, for one, there is no proof that homosexuality is a genetic disorder, or that God "makes" people that way. There have been several professional studies which show that this is actually not the case. Secondly, it is true that God wants her to be happy, but happiness can only come by living according to God's Will. The sources for discerning God's Will -- the Bible and the teaching of the Catholic Church -- all say that homosexual activity is not condoned by God.

As for welcoming your daughter and her girlfriend into your home, I don't think this necessarily makes you a hypocrite. It depends on how you handle it. If you come down too heavy-handed and forbid them to come over or to ever be in your presence, then they will probably just rebel and end up living together by the end of the year. But, you also don't want to ever appear to condone their lifestyle. So, I think you have to walk a thin line.

I would just lay some ground rules. Both feet on the floor at all times. Open door at all times. No kissing, holding hands, or any other public displays of affection. No crude talk. It's your roof so you call the shots. I don't think those rules are too much to ask either. Once they can be in your home in a controlled atmosphere, then you can begin the slow and grueling process of being a good witness to them and planting the seeds that will hopefully bring about their conversion.

Basically, you have to be like Jesus (no pressure! haha). Hate the sin, but love the sinner. Calmly and charitably explain your position whenever it comes up. Invite them to good Catholic events, like Bible studies, women's groups, conferences, and things like that where they can be evangelized. Place different books around the house on true feminism, homosexuality, and JPII's theology of the body. Pray like there's no tomorrow!! You can save your daughter -- but only with God's help.

In California, we just had Proposition 8 on the ballot - defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I voted for it. She is very upset, saying I voted for something that has nothing to do with my faith - and that I have voted for civil discrimination. She says there is no connection between what the state says and what the Church says, and has asked me to stand up and "fight" for her right to marry her girlfriend!
Prop 8 was an amazing victory for our society, and I applaud your courage in voting for it despite how close you are to the issue. In response to your daughter, I would first say that voting has everything to do with your faith. Our faith is not supposed to be something that we just bring to Church with us on Sunday. Our faith is supposed to inform everything that we say and do. God has revealed to us what is beautiful, good, and true -- and what is not. We are called to choose what is good and to avoid evil.

The idea that faith should be separate from politics is also false because, whether you like it or not, laws are based on moral principles. When you make a law that says that one action is right and another one is wrong, you make a moral judgment of that action. Our laws against stealing are based on the moral judgment that stealing is wrong. Our laws against rape and incest are based on the moral judgment that rape and incest is wrong. You get the idea. To separate law from morality is to create a false dichotomy.

I also disagree with your daughter when she says that Prop 8 amounts to "civil discrimination." This accusation rests on the presupposition that two people of the same sex have the "right" to get married. But, homosexual marriage isn't a right. Human rights are based on the dignity of the human person and what we should and should not afford a human being in light of that dignity. BUT, homosexual relationships are against our dignity as human persons. We were not made for such relations.

There is a complementarity between male and female (in temperament, psychological development, natural ability, physical makeup, etc.) that make them natural partners. When God saw that Adam needed a help mate, God made a woman, not another man. The complementarity of the sexes, the natural law that is imprinted onto our very bodies, is denied in homosexual relationships. The purposes of sexual intercourse -- unity and procreation -- are denied as well. For these and many more reasons, homosexual activity is contrary to the Will of God.

Now, in virtue of the free will that we all possess, I guess you could say that we all have the "right" to choose evil over good. God has given your daughter the free will to choose homosexual activity, if she so desires. But, homosexual marriage is not her "right" in the sense of something that she deserves in light of her human dignity, or something that society should legitimize.

Is there separation of Church and state on this issue as she claims? How can I respond without alienating her? I feel as thought I have to choose between my God and my child.
On the contrary, by choosing God you choose your child. You only want what is best for her, and, whether she knows it or not, it would not be good for her for society to legitimize her homosexual inclination. This inclination shouldn't be encouraged, by society or anyone else. Instead, it is something that must be -- and can be -- overcome, with God's help.

There are several books on homosexuality, theology of the body, and true feminism that may be helpful to you. Here are a few that I would recommend:
I hope this helps. Good luck to you!

Also see Part 2.


  1. two things.

    1. are there not also professional studies that show homosexuality is a genetic disorder? i could be mistaken - and likely am - but i just thought i'd check.

    2. regarding the ground rules, i could see some hostility coming from her daughter on the rules you've suggested. if these rules are aimed only at her daughter and girlfriend, it would be wrong, i think. personally, i like these rules for all couples until marriage - and after, when not in their own homes. people are far too open with their physical displays outside of marriage. i am guilty of not keeping my feet on the floor... and i was feeling temptation that could otherwise have been avoided, at least to a greater degree.

  2. From what I understand, a "gay gene" has yet to be found, and any study that would attempt to show otherwise has something very wrong with it, either in the method of the research or in how the results are understood. I think that if they had proven this conclusively, we would certainly know about it already.

    As for the ground rules, I would probably allow a little more leeway for a normal couple. For example, I don't think there's anything wrong with a boy and a girl holding hands, or snuggling up next to each other while they watch TV, or a kiss on the forehead. But, of course, I would still protect them from anything that could be an occasion of sin.

  3. well I guess that's where we differ. snuggling up next to each other while they watch TV very well could be an occasion of sin for just about anyone, heterosexual or homosexual. the way i see it, some things should just be saved.

    and i think my point with the first part of my comment was simply that it could or could not be a genetic thing. no one knows at this point.

  4. I don't think we differ actually. I was having trouble finding the right word to describe what I was envisioning. "Snuggling" probably wasn't the best word for it. At any rate, I think that if you teach your children to avoid situations that will be an occasion for sin and if you lay certain general ground rules to help them do this, then they will do the right thing. At least, as a parent, I would hope that they would. You have to show your children that you trust them too. If you legislate every single action then I think this gives them the message that you don't think they are capable of choosing the right things for themselves.

    Certain innocent expressions of affection between a young man and a young woman are okay, and I think are healthy. It's when you are dealing with a homosexual couple that you have to be more strict.

  5. My Jesus makes the definition of sin (and so sinners) easy. He bases and defines ALL sin on lack of love (Matthew 22:36-40). Such obvious sins as theft, murder and adultery are unloving because each has a victim, someone not receiving love. Can a Gay person be sinful by themselves, with only the attraction to their own gender? So the attraction is sinful? And so, if that Gay person has a lover (as I prefer to call my mate), which is the unloved victim in that homosexual relationship? Neither, of course. Neither is unloved, neither is hurt? Who could bring suit against the “sinner”? I guess you alread have noticed that no Gospel writer nor prophet proclaimed homosexuality as sinful? Jesus didn't, of course. My questions are not rhetorical; they usually remain unanswered by those who refuse God's grace and live by working the law.

    Certainly if God didn't want men to have sex with other men, He would have said “Man shall not lie with man PERIOD (Leviticus 18:22, 21:13). God wanted Moses to eradicate rampant idolatry in the Jewish nation. That whole “ . . . as with a woman” thing condemns straight men pretending to make it with a woman, such as during idol worship. Paul explains it further when putting down the straight Romans (1:26-28 ) for “leaving their natural relations” (i.e.... as with a woman) and having idolatrous sex with men. Gay men are attracted to other men by definition and by God. They can only imagine what sex
    “ . . . as with a woman” would be like.

    “Homosexual” was coined about 1865, so any Bible translation since then that uses a form of that word is a lie that needs to be emended. My King James version is honest and homosexual-free. That word premiered in a 1946 English Bible and continues to condemn loving Gays.

    It is noteworthy that Gay people employ themselves in loving professions like medicine, education and the ministry. However, some Christians evidently work in the Biblical judicial system.

    We Christians want to avoid sin that offends God. We do not unilaterally harm God but we do wreck our love relationship with Him by sinning. Created in His loving image, we fail to live up to expectations. Without Jesus and His deal to make it all right, we would be planning our new residence in Hell. But we have taken Jesus as Savior and Lord and He keeps us in His Father's loving will.

    What is the most love one can show another sinner? Offer them an eternity with God through the redemptive cross of Jesus. Instead of judging them, shouldn’t Christians be telling those “sinful” homosexuals that Jesus died for their sins? The stumbling block is that Gays do not want to affiliate with unloving and judgmental Christians. Know Jesus, know love. No Jesus, no love.

  6. mexjewel .... I responded to you here:

  7. Hey, I was just browsing and came across this article and decided to comment. I'm not technically religious myself, I'm just a young person searching for the religion that I truly belong to... though that is slightly off topic.

    I was wondering if some of my questions could be answered, if that's okay.

    Personally, I believe that there is nothing wrong with Homosexuals or Same-Sex marriage. I believe that if God made everyone exactly the way they are - I believe Jesus once said 'You created my innermost self; you knitted me together in my Mother's womb' - then God made people Gay. And if God made people Gay, then why do other people have problems with it?

    Homosexuality is evident in animals such as Dolphins, Domestic Cats and Brown bears (a full list can be found here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animals_displaying_homosexual_behavior#Mammals). So if Homosexuality is documented in animals and humans, then doesn't that mean God wants it to be

    I know that there are some Bible books that are Anti-Homosexuality, such as Leviticus, but doesn't Leviticus also condemn wearing clothes made of mixed fibre, mixing seeds when planting your crops, and believe that bats are just unclean birds?

    I hope my views do not come across as offensive. I really don't mean to offend anyone by disagreeing with some of their views. I'm just curious.

  8. Harriet,

    Thank you for your comment. Your words will be italicized.

    Personally, I believe that there is nothing wrong with Homosexuals or Same-Sex marriage. I believe that if God made everyone exactly the way they are - I believe Jesus once said 'You created my innermost self; you knitted me together in my Mother's womb' - then God made people Gay. And if God made people Gay, then why do other people have problems with it?

    Well, first of all, there's no conclusive proof yet that God "makes people gay." In other words, there's no "gay gene" that has been discovered. There's no genetic predisposition that has been definitively proven.

    Secondly, even if it could be said that God makes people gay, this does not mean that he approves of gay sex acts. God makes some people with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, but that doesn't mean that He approves of such people abusing alcohol.

    God also made us with free will. This means that someone with alcoholism in his family actually has the power to refuse becoming an alcoholic. Someone with a "gay gene" actually has the power to refuse acting on his sexual orientation.

    I know, I know, this seems so unfair, right? Why create someone with a gay gene and then tell him he can't act on it? The fact is, disorder, and chaos, and genetic abnormalities, and suffering and pain are not God's doing. They are the result of sin. Yet, we also know that God's grace is powerful enough to bring good out of any situation, no matter how hopeless it may seem.

    Homosexuality is evident in animals such as Dolphins, Domestic Cats and Brown bears (a full list can be found here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animals_displaying_homosexual_behavior#Mammals). So if Homosexuality is documented in animals and humans, then doesn't that mean God wants it to be

    What animals do has no bearing upon this discussion. The actions of animals have no moral quality to them. Animals don't possess a spirit that was made for union with God. They don't have an intellect or a will. BUT, human beings do. Our actions DO have a moral character. We ARE made for union with God. Thus, we must be sure that our actions are in accordance with His will and His design for our bodies and our sexual faculties.

    At any rate, do we really want to begin doing what the animals do? There are animals that also eat their own children, and have children by multiple females, and abandon their children. Just b/c animals do it, that doesn't mean it's ok for us.

    I'll respond to the rest of what you said in my next comment ...

  9. I know that there are some Bible books that are Anti-Homosexuality, such as Leviticus, but doesn't Leviticus also condemn wearing clothes made of mixed fibre, mixing seeds when planting your crops, and believe that bats are just unclean birds?

    The laws regarding the eating of certain foods and ritual purity are not of the same kind as the moral laws. The moral laws communicate universal norms for all mankind. They do not change. The other laws, however, are culturally conditioned. They can and do change. The law on gay sex acts (and any other law that is one of the Ten Commandments or a derivative of the Ten) is a universal moral norm that we are bound to follow.

    Beyond that, Leviticus isn't the only place where the Bible condemns gay sex acts. If my arguments in support of the Leviticus passage aren't persuasive, then just look at the other books. In them you don't have the confusion over what still applies and what doesn't. There you have simple, straight-forward condemnations of homosexual acts.

    For a list of these passages, see my blog post "Prop 8 and Homosexuality: Part 2"

    I hope my views do not come across as offensive. I really don't mean to offend anyone by disagreeing with some of their views. I'm just curious.

    Not a problem. I'm not offended in the least.

    Pax Christi,

  10. Thank you very much for replying.

    I know that no 'Gay Gene' has been discovered, but if there any proof that Homosexuality is genetic? I think that there is no proof in the physical being for if a person is gay or not. Personally, I think sexuality is a part of someone's soul, as well as every part of their personality. I think that a person's concience, their thoughts, their feelings and love is all in somebody's soul. There is no proof that I am aware of that there is something - a gland or something similar - in the brain that makes somebody attracted to another person. I don't believe that there is a genetic reason for why I like the person I do, and I feel the same about everyone else: love and emotions like it are something so extraordinary, so precious, that they cannot be part the human body. The emotions are so incredible, so otherworldly, that a person's soul - which is an incredible, extraordinary thing in itself - can be the only thing that has the root of all emotions.

    Secondly, do we actually know that God disapproves of gay sexual acts? Is it specifically sain by God or Jesus that He disagrees with Gay Sexual Acts?

    The thing is, I don't think that Gay people have a choice. You cannot chose who you fall in love with. I think that they are the way they are, and nothing can change that. Besides, if a gay person (lets call them Ashley - I'm choosing unisex names) does manage to fight against his very nature and marry someone of the opposite gender (let's call them Cameron), how can it be described as anything but cruel for the Cameron? They are either aware that Ashley would rather not be with them and would never be able to love them the way that Cameron deserves, or not know and Ashley would have to deal with lying to Cameron every day for the rest of his life.

    The point I was trying to make there, is that maybe God has created animals for a reason. He speaks to us in strange ways, often indirectly. What if He is showing us Homosexuality in animals to show us that there is nothing wrong with being a homosexual.

    Are any laws universal? Leviticus also said that woman are worth 50% less to God than men are, and yet woman have gained equal rights to men. There is also lots of examples in the Bible of different groups of people being seen as inferrior - interracial marriages were banned, for example,and yet interracial marriages are accepted now.

    I uses Leviticus because I know it mentioned homosexuality - Ihaven't read the Bible all the way through so I wanted tostick with the books I knew of.

    On a side note, what is the catholic view of people who actively support homosexuality?

    I'm glad I don't come across as offensive. I just have perivious experience of people taking things the wrong way so I just wanted to make sure I wasn't being offensive.

  11. Harriet ... I responded to you here:


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