Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Actually "Guest Blogger" is not a being exactly honest.  In actuality I am reprinting Cardinal George's words about the whole Chick-fil-A controversy.  Before that, however, I must say that I was listening to NPR yesterday and heard them handle this issue.  They covered it well taking both sides of the issue (though everyone interviewed was for SS marriage) and asking hard questions of those on both sides of the debate.  I was astounded.  So since I point out their foibles so often I thought to give them a nod today.

It is a difficult topic to talk about.  How do you uphold your faith in the Catholic Church and not sound like a bigot?  One way on this topic is to not get side tracked about SS marriage.  This is about government decreeing favors or hinderances depending on your (currently anyway) perfectly legal point of view.

It is not adequate to debate Jesus here.  One of the persons being interviewed yesterday (and I am quoting loosely but not far off) that "Don't get me wrong.  The Bible is an important document in our history.  But it is outdated.  It is nearly 3,000 years old.  We have moved beyond it.  After all it condoned stoning wives and keeping slaves."  (I know, I know, it didn't.  That the problem with bumper sticker debating.)

Anyway, Cardinal George had some intelligent things to say on this so I thought to share it with you today.

Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago. I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it? I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”
The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.” Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus. Are Americans so exceptional that we are free to define “marriage” (or other institutions we did not invent) at will? What are we re-defining?
It might be good to put aside any religious teaching and any state laws and start from scratch, from nature itself, when talking about marriage. Marriage existed before Christ called together his first disciples two thousand years ago and well before the United States of America was formed two hundred and thirty six years ago. Neither Church nor state invented marriage, and neither can change its nature.
Marriage exists because human nature comes in two complementary sexes: male and female. The sexual union of a man and woman is called the marital act because the two become physically one in a way that is impossible between two men or two women. Whatever a homosexual union might be or represent, it is not physically marital. Gender is inextricably bound up with physical sexual identity; and “gender-free marriage” is a contradiction in terms, like a square circle.
Both Church and state do, however, have an interest in regulating marriage. It is not that religious marriage is private and civil marriage public; rather, marriage is a public institution in both Church and state. The state regulates marriage to assure stability in society and for the proper protection and raising of the next generation of citizens. The state has a vested interest in knowing who is married and who is not and in fostering good marriages and strong families for the sake of society.
The Church, because Jesus raised the marital union to the level of symbolizing his own union with his Body the Church, has an interest in determining which marital unions are sacramental and which are not. The Church sees married life as a path to sanctity and as the means for raising children in the faith, as citizens of the universal kingdom of God. These are all legitimate interests of both Church and state, but they assume and do not create the nature of marriage.

People who are not Christian or religious at all take for granted that marriage is the union of a man and a woman for the sake of family and, of its nature, for life. The laws of civilizations much older than ours assume this understanding of marriage. This is also what religious leaders of almost all faiths have taught throughout the ages. Jesus affirmed this understanding of marriage when he spoke of “two becoming one flesh” (Mt. 19: 4-6). Was Jesus a bigot? Could Jesus be accepted as a Chicagoan? Would Jesus be more “enlightened” if he had the privilege of living in our society? One is welcome to believe that, of course; but it should not become the official state religion, at least not in a land that still fancies itself free.

Surely there must be a way to properly respect people who are gay or lesbian without using civil law to undermine the nature of marriage. Surely we can find a way not to play off newly invented individual rights to “marriage” against constitutionally protected freedom of religious belief and religious practice. The State’s attempting to redefine marriage has become a defining moment not for marriage, which is what it is, but for our increasingly fragile “civil union” as citizens.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI


Pat said...

Thanks, Father. Cardinal George's explanation of marriage is worth memorizing.

How ironic that as heterosexuals seem to be abandoning marriage (living together and bearing children outside of wedlock), homosexual people want to be "married." Unfortunately, they don't seem to understand this ancient institution any better than many heterosexuals.

Mary Wagner said...

Thanks for sharing this, Fr. V. You're right, NPR's coverage was commendable, although I wish they had interviewed someone articulate who is not in favor of same-sex marriage, perhaps Princeton law professor, Robert George?

What resonated the most with me was Jack Marshall's observation: "There are people now in this highly polarized society that won't be friends with someone who holds a political opinion [that is different from theirs]... we should be able to discuss, live with, respect people who hold even opinions we find reprehensible as long as they hold them in an honorable or respectable way."

It is a scandal, unambiguously unChristian, and incredibly counterproductive when so-called Christians enter the discussion with vile personal attacks as Philadelphia councilman James Kenney experienced from those who tweeted him about his position. Do these attackers really think that Mr. Kenney's position will be altered by their venom?

The "weapons" of a Christian and of Christ himself are truth and love, never one without the other.

Thanks be to God for people like Cardinal George who is able to speak civilly speak the truth in love, even if many on the other side of the discussion will throw stones and spit at him for it.

Anonymous said...

I think that Chick Fil A's mistake was that their president sought to inject his personal religious views into a commercial context. While Bill Marriot is personally against same sex marriage, he made sure that his Marriot chain stayed out of it, even though he personally campaigned against the issue in California.

Having said that, I don't have to patronize Chick Fil A if I disagree with this. I also don't patronize anybody who advertises on WNIR because they are supporting a great deal of hate, including anti-Catholic hate.

Finally, if same sex marriage was made legal tomorrow, no church will be forced to recognize it or perform the marriage.

Mark said...

@anon: "Finally, if same sex marriage was made legal tomorrow, no church will be forced to recognize it or perform the marriage"

You've got to be kidding! That's what all of this is about. Most homosexuals don't want to be married. This is being brought about by activists who want to get this codified into law so that the government's stamp of approval will be upon it and then the full power of the government to enforce compliance. Look at the societial pressure just from those in the entertainment, academic, and political communities.

And I don't think "Chick Fil A's mistake" was a mistake, they just had one of their best days ever. The mistake was made by those who want the rest of us to pretend that practicing homosexuals are "married" have seen there's a good deal of push back by those who disagree. And thank God for that! I hope to see them all in November!

Bear Paw said...

I find the whole "Chick Fil-A" controversy absurd and ridiculous. Who cares what the owner of a junk food chain thinks, one way or the other? Dan Cathy should keep his big mouth shut, and stick to pushing his garbage chicken. His comments on the gay marriage issue are unecessary.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court will e eventually uphold gay marriage nationwide, as they did with abortion, so the issue will be with us always. I just happen to think that business people should stick to business, and keep quiet about things in the public sphere that don't apply to them.

Pat said...

Regarding Chick-Fil-A, several years ago, they supplied food for a conference in PA on traditional marriage. By that act, they brought upon themselves the full force of the "gay rights movement."

They were NOT speaking about "marriage" at all--until providing food for that conference created a firestorm.

Thereafter, the owner was asked about and expressed his views. What was he supposed to do? Lie about his faith?

Chick-Fil-A did NOT start the controversy. The gay rights movement did.

Anyone who supports traditional marriage, even by their actions, is now liable for bad things to happen to them.

Bear Paw said...

Pat, my point is that gay marriage is going to be around as an issue for a long, long time, and needs more serious discussion and attention than the media fueled hysteria surrounding a fast food franchise. The two really have nothing to do with each other. Yes, we have freedom of speech, but sometimes it's best to simply not make use of it.