by FrSteven Beatty on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 11:26pm ·
This week, President Barack Obama made history by being pretty much the last adult in the nation to recognize that President Barack Obama supports same-sex marriage. North Carolina voted not to recognize same-sex marriage, as has every state which has taken up the question democratically. So it's in the news. And it's all over my newsfeed.
Americans oppose same-sex marriage by a narrow but collapsing majority. Looking at the state of the question among younger people, it seems heavily probable that thirty years from now same-sex marriage will be the law of all 50 states. Less clear is how much tolerance will be extended to those who obstinately hold an older idea about marriage.
I'm writing this primarily for anyone who supports same-sex marriage and believes that we who disagree with you are hateful, prejudiced, homophobic bullies ('bully' seems to be the epithet du jour). I wouldn't have thought that audience existed in significant numbers, but my newsfeed this week convinces me otherwise. I'm making an extremely modest effort to elevate this discussion. The human psyche can only withstand so many stupid memes; this is me breaking under the strain. So for all 3 people who are bored enough to read this:
1) Let's begin by all acknowledging the possibility that those who disagree with us may not therefore be stupid or evil. The world is not divided between 'people who agree with me' and 'ignorant bigots,' no matter how many Facebook posts assume this distinction. So: if you support same-sex marriage, I solemnly declare my respect for your premises, the soundness of your mind, and whatever intellectual process has led you to your conclusion. If you grant me the privilege of engaging in dialogue on this or any other topic, I hope we can both learn from each other.
2) There are people who find it acceptable to look down on anyone who is attracted to his/her own sex, who feel justified in discriminating against them in any way, who feel justified in using the most hurtful language against them, and who in extreme cases even endorse physical violence. I know these people exist. I am not personally acquainted with any of them. I'm sorry if you are. Positions such as I've described can be accurately called bigoted and hateful.
3) To oppose same-sex marriage is not to endorse everything about the current state of marriage. Many same-sex marriage supporters (can I just start using "SSM?") have observed that the so-called "sanctity" of marriage is threatened more by 72-hour celebrity marriages and serial divorce than it is by two men who might stay committed for life. I agree. So do most of the people who oppose SSM. If that surprises you, consider that you may have failed spectacularly to understand the position of your opponents. I readily admit that marriage in the status quo is a total wreck. Legal marriage in our nation is nearly meaningless. So when I say that two men can not be married to each other, it does not follow that I am totally on board with the status quo. So you think Rush Limbaugh's four marriages are more socially destructive than Elton John's one? I tend to agree. This is a red herring.
4) As a Catholic Christian, I believe it is God's divine will for every human person to be happy and fulfilled. I believe that homoerotic relationships are contrary to this goal. I accept that many people find this position wrongheaded, but I object to it being misrepresented. I'm not saying that "gay people can't be happy." We have a legitimate disagreement about where and how happiness is to be found. Call my position stupid, and we can have a great discussion and remain friends. Call it hateful, though, and you are being disingenuous to the point where further discussion is hardly possible.
5) If we can dispense with name-calling and straw-man bashing, our point of disagreement is more fundamental than the question of legally recognizing SSM. We will never agree about SSM as long as we disagree about this more fundamental question. Our real point of divergence is about the very nature and purpose of human sexuality. Our secondary divergence is about the purpose of marriage. Only tertiary is our divergence about the role of the State, its laws, and the res publica generally in acknowledging and regulating this institution.
I guess I won't get into that discussion here in my Facebook echo chamber unless someone shows up here wanting to have it. I would like that very much, because I like understanding people, and because this is an important question.
It deserves better than a parade of mindless memes and supercilious self-congratulatory grandstanding by those who think everyone who doesn't agree with them is obviously either stupid or evil.
...........if you can't tell, I am smiling as I read this..............
HT - Catholic Parents Online