Newspapers are declaring a victory for the same-sex marriage efforts. In November of 2008, California voters had added Proposition 8 to the Constitution, declaring that, “Only marriage between a man and a woman as valid or recognized in California.” A judge recently declared this law invalid on the grounds that it violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. To say this is a radical decision is an understatement. The idea that marriage was a particular kind of relationship between a man and a woman was held by all civilizations, and accepted everywhere in the United States up to a few decades ago. This, by the way, is not an issue of equality or civil rights. Those who have been challenging Proposition 8 have exactly the same civil rights as everyone else in the United States, the right to marry a person of the opposite sex who is not currently married. This right is extended to everyone in California without discrimination. Under the banner of equality, what people are seeking a NEW RIGHT, to have a different relationship recognized as marriage.
That being said, the debate really goes deeper than marriage, because it touches on whether or not we accept the world as it is. If we step back and take a look honestly at the world, it is very, very obvious that there is something absolutely unique about the relationship between a husband and a wife. The gift that a husband gives to his wife is not a gift that a man can give to a man. The gift that a wife gives to her husband is not a gift that a woman can give to another woman. Our Church challenges us to accept this truth and to live by it.
The difficulty is that people do experience same-sex attraction. How do we understand that? Our faith teaches that we are all wounded, we all carry the very deep wound of original sin, together with the loneliness and suffering that it brings. Some people experience that wound in one way, some people experience that wound in a different way, but we all carry wounds. Admitting we are wounded and accepting that only God can heal that wound are the first and second steps to faith. In other word, those with same sex attraction are no more troubled than anyone else, because we are all troubled and in need of healing. Notice, also, that this is not a question of love, because Jesus insists, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Loving both people of the same sex and those of the opposite sex is an absolutely essential duty for every Christian. It is the physical intimacy that can only exist between husband and wife, because other forms of physical intimacy do not respect the integrity of the human person.
American society, for the past thirty or forty years, has been trying to insist that there is no wound. “You are fine, you are normal, there is no wound,” the message says. Therapists, pharmacists, and society in general has been working diligently to eliminate all traces of the wound, blot out all forms of depression, bolster self-esteem, and fill our lives with entertainment. We believe this story because we want to believe it; we don’t want to be wounded. How often I have heard people say, “My father drank a lot, but everyone did back then,” trying to convince themselves there is no wound to be healed because the pain was “normal.” Yet the more we try to convince ourselves we are normal, the harder it is to see our suffering.
The lie that there is no wound is especially difficult for those with same-sex attraction because their wound is obvious to them. So society has been expanding the blanket of “normal” until it covers them as well, saying “There is no wound, you are fine, you are normal too.” How far are we willing to go to continue the lie? Pretty far, apparently. We are trying to reinvent marriage so same-sex relationships will be officially normal, the same as everyone else. We are trying to reinvent family, so two fathers and zero mothers is officially normal, as good as any other family.
Here, we see where this debate is not a debate about law or insurance policies but a debate about the world itself. We face two very important and very fundamental choices. Do we accept the fact that we are wounded, that being human is a life of quiet suffering, and that only God can truly heal us? Or, do we insist there is no problem, that we can fix ourselves, and try to stretch the fabric of society to cover every wound and make it “normal”? The more we stretch marriage and family the more we tear it, and create deeper wounds. The more we try to reinvent ourselves, the farther we run from what God intended, and the harder and harder it is for us to accept salvation.
There is a reason that our traditional image of Jesus Christ is hanging on the cross, bleeding from many wounds. It is a painful image exactly because life is painful and we are all suffering from deep wounds. Jesus proclaims a simple message, “God knows we suffer, God knows we don’t fit in, God knows we hurt, but hang in there, don’t try to run from the suffering, and God will bring His healing and His peace.”
A great resources for those with same-sex attraction is the Courage Apostolate.