As I conclude this series of posts on same-sex marriage, I want to leave our readers with some positive things they can do to defend traditional marriage.
First, we need to educate ourselves when it comes to same-sex attractions (SSA). I’ve recommended various resources, organizations, and websites throughout this series. If you need somewhere to start, I’d again recommend Dale O’Leary’s new book, One Man, One Woman: A Catholic’s Guide to Defending Marriage (Sophia, 2007), which is available through Emmaus Road Publishing.
Building our own solid knowledge base is especially important in this area, because there are so many myths and so much misinformation out there. We also need to know the Church’s teaching on this subject, which is summarized in Catechism, nos. 2357-59. In communicating this information to others, though, three especially convincing sources of information are (a) personal testimonies, (b) reputable scientists, and (c) the “other side” (but quoted fairly and not out of context).
Second, we need to get involved, because traditional marriage is on shaky ground. In 1996, Congress passed Defense of Marriage Act which defined “marriage” and “spouse” as pertaining only to male/female couples, and it provided that no state would be required to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state if that state banned it.
However, all that could change as individual states liberalize their laws and allow for same-sex marriage. Most notably, in a 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Court decision entitled Goodrich vs. Department of Public Health, the state legislature was ordered to amend state law to allow persons of the same sex to marry.
So far, 18 out of 19 states have approved amendments to their own state constitutions, which is something we should support in every state. Even more, we should not give up on an amendment to the federal constitution, as we urge our representatives to make it an issue each election cycle.
In addition, more locally we need to oppose laws that incrementally recognize homosexual activity as a basic civil right. We need to be vigilant when it comes to our local school districts, which in some places implement sex education programs which, beyond the more usual problems associated with such programs, serve to indoctrinate our children such that they will “tolerate” homosexual activity as normal and good behavior. We need to fight pornography and other blights on the sexual mores of our communities. And we need to use blogs, letters to editors, personal conversations, and whatever other influences and contacts we might have to help mold public opinion. And we should support those individuals and organizations (e.g., in the Catholic world, Courage) who are trying to help.
Third, we need to live marriage well. When we do so, not only are our families happier, but it’s then much easier to discern a “real” marriage from the counterfeits that are being thrust upon us. Let’s face it, adultery, divorce, and contraception are widespread problems. Not only do they afflict individual marriages, but they subtly affect our perception of the institution of marriage as a whole. When, conversely, our own marriages bear witness to the fidelity, permanence, and fruitfulness that are an intrinsic part of marriage, it is easier for society to recognize the value and goodness of marriage.
Fourth, above all, this is a spiritual battle. As such, fervent prayer and reception of the sacraments is the single most important thing we can do to be “part of the solution.” And this prayer should be the prayer of the tax collector, not that of the Pharisee who thinks he has it all together and looks down his nose at all the sinners “out there” (cf. Lk. 18:9-14). Rather, our own personal renewal, the removal of the planks from our own eyes, must be the starting point.
Then, in reaching out to our hurting world we need all the virtues, especially the virtue of charity. When our charity is directed toward those who are mired in serious sin, it should be expressed as mercy and compassion, and certainly not as disdain. We are always striving to lift up, not put down.
I think this last point is something I need to reflect on more and more in my own life, especially this week as we approach Divine Mercy Sunday.