Topic of this article: Holy Marriage. See the previous to this series by clicking HERE.
This is a complex topic, but these resources below should help clarify the Church’s position, and why the Church holds this position. Note that none of this will make any sense unless you are already familiar with the truth that “that which is not specifically chosen” and “that which is specifically chosen” are indeed two distinct items. If not, please refer to this page HERE
Part 1: Holy Marriage
Many people think the Catholic Church hates persons who experience same-sex attractions and who choose to self-identify as gay or lesbian because the Catholic Church does not “let” them become married. Here is the reality: the Catholic Church affirms neither “gay marriage”, nor “straight marriage”. Marriage in both cases contains the underpinning of sexually-centered-identities being embraced by the people involved, if they are indeed approaching their marriage as “gay” or “straight” persons in their way of self-identifying or defining themselves.
Now in this way, the Catholic Church could be perceived to be “homophobic”, because they are not affirming persons into being married as “gay persons”. But if so, that means the Church also needs to be considered “heterophobic” because just as the church does not affirm persons into becoming further invested in the identity of “being gay”, the Church does not affirm persons into becoming further invested in the identity of “being straight”.
The reality is that the Catholic Church affirms only one type of marriage – not “gay” or “homosexual” marriage, not “straight” or “heterosexual” marriage, but rather Holy Marriage; Holy Marriage, in which Christ is at the Center of the marriage, above all else. That situation however is precluded by Christ being at the center of each of the spouses’ lives and embraced identities – and therefore above each of their own sexualities in how they choose to wholeheartedly self-identify as persons.
Part 2: Identifying a Holy Marriage
For the possibility of a Holy Marriage, a specific choice needs to be made by each of the spouses to invite Christ to be the center, the pinnacle, and the anchor of their union. Thus, a Holy Marriage will exhibit the virtue of chastity, because our desire for chastity increases the more and more we actually look to Christ first and foremost for our fulfillment. That is, the more we choose to elevate Christ above ourselves (and above our sexualities), in how we see ourselves and with regards to how we might find fulfillment, the more we will grow in the virtue of chastity.
That is the type of marriage the Catholic Church affirms. That is, one that is intrinsically open to the possibility of babies and bonding, and reflects the fullness of created humanity – like the XX and the XY (without duplication), and in one where Christ is at the center, which is evident by the increased desire of both spouses to grow in chaste relationship with one another.
Part 3: Is the Church Homophobic?
So, when people decry the Church to be homophobic because the Church does not affirm persons into becoming further invested in the gay identity by way of affirming “gay marriages”, we must invite the person making the accusation to understand that by the same logic the Church must also be heterophobic as well, because the Church does not affirm persons into becoming further invested in the straight identity either, by affirming “straight” marriages. But the Church elevates our awareness above the cycle of defining persons and relationships in terms of our sexualities, and thus invites us to elevate our awareness to the point of recognizing that the Church is does not hate “gay people” because it won’t affirm gay marriage, and nor does the Church hate “straight people” because it won’t affirm straight marriage. Rather, the Church simply invites us to elevate the conversation on this topic by inviting us to strive towards understanding what is and what is not Holy Marriage, with Christ at the center, above all else.
Part 4: The Catholic Church Does Not Invent Truth but Rather Upholds It
Because the Catholic Church affirms only Holy Marriage, if there is any couple who chooses to self-identify according to their sexualities – “gay” or “straight” (or anywhere in between), as a means of defining “who they are” – instead of just recognizing their sexualities to be one very important and fully-integrated facet of who they are, the Church – with that knowledge of how that persons choose to self-identify, will not be able to affirm that union as a marriage. That union will have within it, carried within by one or both of the members, the attachment to an embraced identity that elevates their sexuality to be greater than their relationship with God.
When the commitment to a sexually-centered embraced identity is outward, which is easily evidenced by any persons who are pursuing same-sex marriage (because that pursuit is precluded by the persons embracing the idea that “this [being gay] is who I am”), it is not even a matter of debate as to whether or not that union today, or in the future will be potentially able to, reflect that which is existent in a Holy Marriage. That is, the further investment of one into a sexually-centered identity via the pursuit of “marriage”, which is contingent on both persons maintaining that identity of “being gay”, is an outward yet indirect commitment to that embraced identity., and is thus an outward yet indirect commitment to not elevating one’s relationship with God to be greater than one’s sexuality, within the identities specifically chosen to be embraced by those persons.
Part 5: The Church Invites Us to Honest
The reality is that the Church wants us all to be more completely honest with ourselves by first being honest with ourselves about the existence of our sexual attractions, but also by being honest with ourselves about the types of identities that we specifically choose to embrace, and how any identity that is centered on merely one facet of our beings (in this case sexuality) is simply incapable of reflecting the fullness of truth of who we are as persons.
Part 6: The Catholic Church Invites Us to Love
The Catholic Church wants us to love ourselves enough to choose to self-identify in a way that reflects a greater degree of truth and self-honesty of who we are, than choosing to instead embrace any form of identity on just one facet of our beings. That is why the Catholic Church invites us to love ourselves enough to wholeheartedly embrace not the identity of being “gays”, “lesbians”, “straights” and so forth, but rather to embrace the identity of being “persons” – persons who are lovingly created by God, who are fully honest with themselves about their non-specifically chosen attractions, whatever they might be.
Part 7: Your Embraced Identity: It Matters!
When we choose to wholeheartedly embrace the identity of being persons, who are lovingly created by God, or in other words, when we choose to wholeheartedly embrace the identity of being “beloved children of God” first and foremost (while still being honest with ourselves about the existence of our attractions), not only are we choosing to embrace an identity that reflects a greater degree of truth of who we are as persons, but we are also choosing to embrace an identity in which we will come to a greater understanding of and appreciation for chastity (and will be more likely to want to pursue it). As we continue to grow as persons while wholeheartedly embracing this identity which is centered on our relationship with God, and while striving to come to fruition within this embraced identity, our desire to live chastely will increases over time, and our strength to be successful in this endeavor will increase as well. What is revealed by that after-effect of ordering God to be greater than our sexuality in how we choose to wholeheartedly self-identify, is whether or not our current relationships are ones that will glorify God, where chaste living is welcome and encouraged, or are ones that will glorify self (and our sexualities), where chaste living is neither welcome nor encouraged.
Part 8: An Invitation
The next time someone says “gay marriage” and “Catholic” in the same breath, we as Catholics are invited to consider the difference between “gay marriage”, “straight marriage”, and “holy marriage”, which has Christ at the center. We are also invited to invite others to consider this same concept, for in doing so we will be contributing to greater understanding of Church teaching. The intent is not to “convert” people, but rather to gently invite them to challenge their ways of thinking on the matter.
In essence, you will be inviting them to grow beyond the paradigm of reality which they have already become accustomed. If they accept the invitation, then they will enter a new journey of greater awareness. However, if they refuse the invitation, with a resolve to not be open to that invitation in the foreseeable future, then they will be choosing to remain ignorant about the Catholic position. This is a dilemma of sorts, because even in today’s secular world, to specifically choose to remain ignorant is still seen to be an unjust course of inaction. Regardless, your invitation may assist in helping other persons see that only one type of union will draw persons into a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and that is the one that the Catholic Church affirms, and invites all who are called to marriage to pursue.