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Reactions to gay marriage at the Grammys

As expected, the article "Gay marriage at Grammys neither gay (happy) nor marriage" stirred up some interesting comments. While some comments were supportive of the main position of the article, others were (to put it charitably) confused about the article and the Catholic Church as a whole.

The gist of the article was not just about gay marriage in the secular culture. It was about the intrusion of gay marriage into the religious realm. Hence, the examples of homosexuals forcing their lifestyle into the Catholic sacraments.

The Catholic Church says you may only receive the Eucharist so long as you are not conscious of an unforgiven (i.e., unconfessed) grave sin (see Canon 915 in the Code of Canon Law). Being a homosexual (just like being a heterosexual) is not a sin - but the homosexual act is. Therefore, if you have engaged in sodomy and not confessed it with a contrite heart and an intention to amend your life (i.e., not do it again), you should not present yourself to receive the Eucharist. Furthermore, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops has said that who publicly advocate homosexual activity as normal and not sinful (in direct, obstinate opposition to Catholic moral teaching) should not present themselves to receive the Eucharist - the same as for those who publicly advocate abortion as a right.

The Catholic Church also says that the purpose of godparents is not just for a photo-op as part of a mere formality or useless, feel-good ritual of the Church. Baptism is a sacrament of initiation - the beginning of membership in the Body of Christ. Godparents, therefore, must be willing and able to step in to help instruct the one they are sponsoring into the Church. This is why the Church's conditions on godparents/sponsors at Baptism is that there be at least one of them and that they be practicing Catholics. A lesbian with her live-in "life partner" is not practicing the faith, but rather is practicing a personal belief that picks and chooses what to believe. Unfortunately for that poor soul, Christ is not divided (as we just heard at Mass this past weekend) - you take Him (and His Bride, the Church) as a whole or not at all.

So it is fine, as an American, to want to change America through the culture (de facto) and law (de jure). And this is fine for both those for or against gay marriage - both groups are allowed to voice their opinions to try to influence public opinion. Just because one group is religious does not mean they lose their right to free speech (both are 1st Amendment rights) anymore than being gay means you are not entitled to express your opinion on the same matter. That's the essence of the system of government called a democratic republic: majority rules, minority has the right to criticize.

But when it comes to the Church and her doctrines, it must be understood first and foremost that it is NOT a democracy - it is a kingdom, an absolute monarchy. That monarch is Christ the King, and the Pope is his Prime Minister. As Prime Minister, he cannot change Church teaching anymore than he can change God. Rather, he is entrusted with the responsibility of explaining (sometimes seen as "expanding on") the message that Christ entrusted to His Church. That message is a message of love - but it is not a message of carnal or emotional love. It is a message of parental love that loves us how we are... but also loves us enough not to leave us like that.

Sometimes, it is a message of loving requests or "disciplines" of those who are obedient, like an older brother being asked to set a good example for his younger siblings. This is where guidance like "don't eat meat on Fridays" may seem like odd things for the Church to tell you to do (ostensibly under the penalty of sin). Upon further reflection, these disciplines are minor sacrifices (penances and abstinences) to help Catholics unite themselves more closely to The Sacrifice on Calvary, so that those obedient Catholics may have a share in Christ's work of the salvation of the world, while at the same time helping the soul grow and mature, just as the older brother in the example above helps his parents in the work of raising the younger kids, even though it sometimes means "giving up some fun" (i.e., acting like a grown-up by delaying gratification and self-interest).

At other times, the gospel of Christ is a message of tough love that tells you "what you're doing is wrong, and it is going to hurt you if it hasn't already - I want you to change before you get hurt." Sometimes, a father has to tell his daughter or son that the person they're dating is bad for them, even though they are [claiming to be] "in love".

This is where Church teaching comes in, regarding homosexuality. It recognizes that homosexuality is disordered (even though some members of the clergy suffer from these disordered desires), and as such homosexual acts and relationships are harmful not just to the body, but to the eternal soul. This is the same as someone having a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend - it is living in the occasion of sin with round-the-clock temptation that clouds the thought process with emotions and blocks God's message from touching your heart, mind, and actions. Since one cannot honestly pray "lead us not into temptation" while living and sleeping with someone who is not your spouse, how can they pray "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done"?

These issues fall under the 6th Commandment. "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (i.e., having any kind of sex outside of heterosexual marriage) is something Catholics believe is an immutable law of God and therefore not up for a vote. Although you may not like it, what the Catholic Church teaches is (and isn't) a sin is not up for grabs, even if a vast majority of Catholics disagree with it.

We are all prone to the same disorder of concupiscence: a tendency toward sin. Just because we have this disorder, does that excuse us from having to follow God's laws for us? God loves us as we are - disordered in all our various forms - but He also loves us enough to try to make us better and less disordered.

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