Kim Davis is a Mess. So What?

A lot of people are putting out a lot of spin trying to explain away, contextualize, minimize and otherwise  dismiss Pope Francis’ meeting with Kim Davis.  And guess what?  It is all irrelevant. In fact, it’s downright shameful.

It really doesn’t matter how the meeting came about or what was said between them. It also doesn’t matter that her life is a hot mess, or that she has done plenty of damage in her own life against the sanctity of marriage. The real point is that, when asked on the flight home, Pope Francis publicly affirmed civil disobedience as a “basic human right.”

A person doesn’t have to be perfect, or even decent, to have the right to exercise his or her basic human rights.  One doesn’t have to agree with Kim Davis to affirm her right to object to what she believes is an unjust law.  As I argued previously, regardless of what you think of her, Kim Davis has a basic human right to refuse to resign and, instead, engage in civil disobedience if she is being asked to do things she finds to be morally objectionable.

Furthermore, all Christians, and indeed, all persons of good will,  have a moral obligation to support her and anyone else who acts in accordance with their conscience, especially when that puts them in conflict with the law. That doesn’t mean that conscientious objectors can act consequence-free, but it does mean that they should be able to act without encountering the derision of others–especially people-of-faith.

Shame on anyone who would attempt to dismiss or minimize another person’s basic human rights because those rights were not to their political liking.  Without an inconvenient right to conscientious objection, true religious liberty does not exist in any meaningful way.  Religious people, of all people, ought to know better.

BE NOT AFRAID! Raising Faithful, Moral Kids in a World Gone Mad.

Image Shutterstock.

Image Shutterstock.

I’ve been hearing from a lot of parents who, especially in the wake of SCOTUS decision on gay marriage have serious concerns about raising faithful, moral kids in the present culture.  It’s never been easy, but recent events take the challenge to parents to a whole new level.  How do we convey the Catholic vision of love and marriage to our kids in a world that defines these terms in completely different ways than we do?  How can we hope to compete?  In our weaker moments, I think it is possible for parents to fall prey to nightmare fantasies in which we are trying to raise our kids in some kind of post-apocalyptic, morally bereft,  Hunger Games world.

I have three words for you.  BE NOT AFRAID!!!

Be Not Afraid!!!

I don’t think it does any good at all to approach the culture with a spirit of fear. I regularly counsel parents–and we adopt this approach with our own kids–that “freaking out” about media, peer-pressure, social media, or the latest cultural trend is actually the best way to set our kids up to fall prey to the glamour of evil.  The more panicked we get, the more we send the message that our faith is weak, and unable to engage the world, much less stand up to it.  The more we live in fear, the more we set our kids up to become fascinated by the power of the thing we fear the most.

Reality Check

At worst, recent events compel Catholic parents to be willing to have more conversations we might rather not have with our kids–and to have those conversations earlier than we might otherwise prefer to. But with good information and a spirit of prayer neither we, nor our children, have anything to fear no matter what our background is or what challenges we face.   “Jenn-Henn” is a perfect example of what I am writing about.  At Only a Mere Woman Blog  Jenn writes bravely about her difficult upbringing and her struggles to make peace with her body, her femininity, and her sexuality.  Recently, she posted a review of Beyond the Birds and the Bees in which she spoke of how it not only helped her learn how to teach her kids to have a healthy sexuality, but it also is helping her heal her own woundedness.   She wrote…

For our second Book Club review, I have Beyond The Birds And The Bees: Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids by Greg and Lisa Popcak. I found it to be eye opening and a bit healing for me, due to my issues in regards to my own femininity, which will be the subject of my next post, if not more. The most striking thing for me is the idea that sexuality is more than one’s sexual orientation, who one is sexually attracted to; that it involves the whole being of a person as a representation of who they are at the core and informs their interactions with the world around them. The idea that sexuality has more to do with femininity and masculinity than what one does with one’s genitals is revolutionary to me. The idea that a person who follows all of the prescribed rules regarding chastity and modesty yet is ashamed of, say, their femininity actually has an unhealthy sexuality is mind boggling to me. Turns out I’ve been doing it very wrong. 

Anyway, for someone who doesn’t remember any sort of sex talk, and has been ashamed of herself and her body for so long, the advice was much welcome and needed. Giving examples of how parents can speak of the body and sex in respectful, matter of fact ways is extremely helpful. Showing how chastity and modesty are positives and not negative mandates is brilliant. But it really all boils down to teaching parents how to help their children grow up as well integrated people, people who know their worth and the worth of others, and are willing and able to do what it takes to preserve their dignity and that of other.  READ THE REST 


The Healing Truth

I’m grateful to Jenn for her willingness to share her own journey.  Her comments highlight the fact that wherever we come from, whatever our own struggles, and whatever obstacles the prevailing culture might want to through at us, we can heal and we can find the ways to give our children the things we wish we had been given.  We don’ t have to be afraid of anything the world can throw at us because we have the answers the world is seeking.  It simply up to us to discover and use the tools that will help us live what we teach and be a witness to the world of the positive, powerful Catholic difference at work! Now is not the time to hide from the culture. Now is the time to engage it with charity, courage and with our facts in order and to teach our children to do the same.

For more information on how you can raise faithful, moral kids in a world gone mad, check out Beyond the Birds and the Bees: The Catholic Guide to Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids.  And don’t forget to pre-order your copy of our upcoming book, Discovering God Together:  The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids which looks at the latest research of what it takes to raise children who can live and celebrate their faith!

Children Have a Right To a Mother and a Father? What Does That Even MEAN?!?


Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

A colleague sent me the following question today.

“I’ve heard Pope Francis and others say that children have a right to a mom and dad, but I don’t know what that means in the concrete. I wouldn’t say, for example, that single parents have a responsibility to search for a spouse, or that the mom in Secondhand Lions was necessarily wrong to have her uncles raise her son. If SSM were ever banned again, should the state be empowered to take children from those households and place them with a mom and dad? I can’t see that. Any thoughts on what this right actually entails? What’s its limit and what accounts for that limit?”

I don’t suggest that the following is the ideal answer, but I hope that my comments can at least shed a little light on what the Church means by this idea.

Single parent households, adoptive and foster households (of which I am part), and even the uncles in Secondhand Lions (whose household, let’s face it, really could have used a woman’s touch) are all doing heroic and wonderful things. But,  we recognize that all these households face certain challenges; namely, the challenge of making up for what the children in those environments lost–their connection to their natural mother and father. These household’s ability to succeed at raising a child who can reach his or her full potential is directly dependent upon their ability to approximate what an intact family is, more naturally, capable of doing.

Gay parents, single parents, foster and adoptive households can do a wonderful job raising children–functionally speaking. Their capacity to be loving environments if not the issue.  The problem is that the best of these households will always have to work harder to give their children what they need compared to the best intact natural family household. 

The natural family represents the norm for what a child needs to potentially function at his or her absolute best and, in every other context EXCEPT gay marriage (where it is actually discriminatory to say so) we recognize that a child who’s relationship with his natural mother and father is impeded or eliminated is suffering from an injustice.

In gay marriage, we are forced to deny the child the right to grieve what, in every other context, the child is actually expected to grieve–the impairment or loss of his or her connection to his natural mother and/or father.

When the Church says the child has a right to a mother and father, that does not mean the Church is ignorant of all the ways natural parents screw up their kids. It also does not mean that other types of households can’t raise good kids.  It certainly doesn’t mean that anyone should swoop in and take kids from those households.  That would be horrible!

What it DOES mean is that we should never say it is just to do anything to anyone–especially a child–that would be unjust to do in any other context.

There is certainly much more that can be said about this, but I hope these comments help clarify things at least a little. 

What Did YOUR Pastor Say About Gay Marriage in Church Today?

I’m interested in the experience of Catholic across the country.  Did you pastor address the SCOTUS decision in favor of gay marriage? If so, what did he say?   If not, how do you feel about your pastor’s silence?

In my parish, in Steubenville, Ohio neither my pastor, nor my deacon–who preached the homily and is a faithful theology professor–said anything about marriage.  There were no comments in the homily.  There were no petitions about it during the prayers of the faithful. There was no brief discussion after communion. There was no letter from our bishop.   Nothing.  It was like it never happened.

How is the Church responding to this historic crisis in your neck of the woods?

Comment, as  always, are on moderation.  It can take up to 24 hours for me to get time to go through them so be patient.  EVERY respectful comment about the topic–regardless of the side you are on–WILL be posted as soon as I get to it.

Gay Marriage: Getting the Conversation Right is More Important than Ever


Today, SCOTUS ruled 5-4 in favor of Gay marriage.  It is a devastating blow, not only to the Marriage Reality Movement but to the Christian understanding of reality itself.  For the secular culture, physical reality no longer matters.  The only thing that counts is a person’s feelings about him or herself and the world he lives in.   Facts don’t matter.  Matter doesn’t matter.  Only opinion and emotion.

In light of this historic decision, it is more important than ever to understand–and be able to articulate–why Roman Catholic do not, and cannot ever support gay marriage.

The discussion about gay marriage is a terrifically sensitive topic and for the faithful Catholic, it’s incredibly easy to discuss it poorly.  It is simply too easy to be cast in the role of angry, finger-waving, “hater” whose moral sensitivity meter is wound too tight and whose sole mission in life is to be an obstacle to the erstwhile happiness of people who supposedly love each other.  Now, with SCOTUS on the side of gay marriage, the situation is even worse.  Those who oppose gay marriage are officially bigots as far as the world is concerned.  Faithful Roman Catholics are now as righteous as the KKK in the eyes of secular culture.

It would be easy for us to console ourselves when we lose these conversations by reminding ourselves that we are blessed when persecuted for holiness sake (c.f., Matt 5:10) but we must do more.  Despite this decision, we must be prepared to evangelize and to proclaim the truth regardless of the cost.  The consequences of not making our case well are just too great to society, the Catholic vision of love and sex, and the protection of the family as the basic unit of society in any meaningful way.


Arguments that are rooted in religious/moral language (i.e., “God disapproves of this”), or the language of disgust (“gay marriage is unnatural” or “homosexual acts are distasteful”), even though they can be compelling for those who are already convinced of the rightness of the traditional view of things,  are easily overcome by the opposition.  For instance, how many of you have been shut up with simplistic responses like; “Your God might disapprove, but the God I know is a God of love and HE would NEVER stand in the way of our happiness.”  or “How DARE you say our love is disgusting.  You’re just a bumpkin, or worse, a bigot.  Why should we listen to you much less let you lead the way?  We’ve let ignorance lead for too long….”    Had you led with a better argument, you wouldn’t have been so easy to dispatch.

The thing is,  traditional Christians have much better arguments on our side than these; arguments that stand up to both logic and emotion.  To NOT use these argument to advance the cause of traditional marriage is to do our side a real disservice and to hand the victory to the opposition.  The marriage debate is not ours to win.  It’s our to lose.


To begin, I really encourage friends of traditional marriage to arm themselves with Bill May’s little, but powerful, booklet, Getting the Marriage Conversation Right.   It offers what I really have seen are the best, can’t-lose strategies for defending the nature of marriage.

His point (and although it’s too much to get into in a a blog post, his argument is  absolutely correct from the point of both history and social science) is that marriage is the only institution in existence that guarantees the rights of children to to be united with their mother and father.  Period.  For the 4000 years marriage has existed as a social and legal institution (beginning with Hammurabi) marriage has been understood as the institution that unites a man and a woman to each other and any children born from their union.  No other social structure does that.

Additionally, the reason heterosexual marriage has enjoyed pride-of-place in society for 4000 years is not because of the bigotry or prejudice of the ancient pagan society that first gave marriage legal and social status.  If anything, ancient Babylon was even MORE tolerant of alternative arrangements than our contemporary society is.

Instead, heterosexual marriage was given priority over other relationship types common to the time (hook-ups with temple prostitutes, cohabiting, same-sex unions) because it, much more than any other relationship type, yielded several observable benefits that were necessary for the creation of an orderly society.   Let’s look at five.

1. Marriage unites children to their mother and father.    This is the most important benefit.  Even compared to cohabiting couples, marriage comes out ahead.  About 30% of cohabiting couples give up their children.  It is virtually unheard of for married couples to give up their children.   Further, only children born in a marriage have a legal right to know who their mother and father are and to be raised by that mother and father.  Any social movement that undermines this fact does violence to the dignity of children (and I’ll explain in a minute how gay marriage undermines this right).

2. Children raised by married mothers and fathers fare significantly better.   Children born to a married mother and father do better on all academic, social, psychological, spiritual, and interpersonal measures.  All the data supports this.  Again, any social movement that undermines this fact does violence to the dignity of children (and, again,  I’ll explain in a minute how gay marriage undermines this right).

3.  No other relationship-type protects the financial and social security of women like marriage.  Marriage is the best poverty-prevention program we know.  The middle-class does not exist without marriage.   Married women are more financially and socially secure than women in any other relationship type (including lesbian relationships).  This is true even of college-educated women (Although this group is most likely to be secure without marriage, only 37% of women have a college degree).

4.  Marriage socializes men.  In addition to the fact that married men are exponentially more willing to claim and raise their own children, married men are significantly less likely to commit violent crime than unmarried men.  For example, according to the DOJ,  65% of crimes against women are committed by unmarried men.  Only 9% of married men have commited a violent crime against a woman.  This ratio holds up across the board for crime statistics.

5.  Marriage secures sustainable fertility rates. Even though the gap has narrowed somewhat, married couples still have more children than unmarried couples.  De-population is the most serious social problem facing the West.  As marriage rates have decreased, societies are not producing enough children to support their social infrastructure.    Marriage sees to the success of future generations.

So what does any of this have to do with gay marriage?

Remember, the only reason heterosexual marriage has enjoyed special legal and social status for 4000 years is the benefits it gives to society which are not limited to the above.  Gay marriage does not grant any benefits to society and in fact, undermines several of these social benefits  For example:

~Gay marriage makes it discriminatory to say that ANY child has a right to a mother and father.  This is the most serious problem.  Homosexual couples may have children through adoption or assisted reproduction, but they can not provide both parents.  But if gay marriage is about getting society to recognize that homosexual families are “just as good as” heterosexual families, this requires denying that any children–not just children of gay parents–have a right to a mother and father or need a mother and father.  This flies in the face of all available data. Every child who is denied a mother and/or a father feels the lack.  Gay marriage would require society, and mental health professionals, to tell all children that their natural longing for two, opposite-sex parents is disordered.

~Same-Sex marriage does not provide the same level of security for the partners or children raised in those households.  Homosexual relationships do not appear to be as stable as heterosexual relationships even where gay marriage is legal. Therefore, children raised in homosexual households are, statistically, at great financial and social risk. This is not the most important concern, but it is legitimate.

~Same-Sex marriage does not socialize partners to the same degree. The incidence of intimate partner violence is higher for both lesbian and gay couples than it is for married, heterosexual couples. This increases the risk of instability for children in gay and lesbian households.  This is also not the most important concern, but it is legitimate.


1. The push for homosexual marriage asks society to give benefits to a relationship-type that does not grant any benefits to society in return and, in fact, undermines many of the benefits society might otherwise count on from marriage.  This makes it harder to not justify extending similar benefits to cohabiting couples or any other household arrangement.

2. Likewise, homosexual marriage also undermines marriage rates for heterosexuals.  Marriage is “more expensive” (in terms of the effort and commitment it requires) than other relationship types.  Because of this, the more society promotes other marriage-like relationships as equivalent to marriage, the less attractive marriage becomes especially among the poor and those without a college degree (the very people who benefit from marriage the most).  We’re already seeing this.  As cohabitation becomes more socially acceptable, marriage rates have decreased for these most vulnerable groups.  Since it is extremely difficult to be in the middle class without being married, the lower marriage rates among the poor or lesser-educated means that these groups are becoming trapped in the under-class.

In short, the best case against same-sex marriage has nothing to do with religion, morality, bigotry, or disgust.  It has everything to do with protecting the rights of children to have a mother and father and to be united to their mother and father and the need to insist that it is unjust to extend benefits to a relationship-type that convey no benefits to society in return.

Homosexual persons do not deserve to be treated with scorn, disrespect, or bigotry.  They are persons deserving of our love and respect just like anyone else.  But extending love and respect to our homosexual brothers and sisters does not extend to redefining marriage so that it socially and practically meaningless.

It is true that most couples are completely ignorant of the social and public dimension of marriage.  Most couples just think of marriage as  a public recognition of a private, emotional commitment, but most couples’ ignorance of the facts doesn’t negate the facts.  Society cannot afford to extend benefits to anyone or anything that does not work for the good of society.  People must be free to make their own choices about who they live with, but society can only afford to encourage those relationships and institutions that  demonstrably work for it’s good.

“Dear Gay Community, Your Kids are Hurting”

This is a power letter from a young woman, raised by two women, who was a former gay marriage activist and is now a children’s rights advocate and mom of 4.

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

“….Kids of divorced parents are allowed to say, “Hey, mom and dad, I love you, but the divorce crushed me and has been so hard. It shattered my trust and made me feel like it was my fault. It is so hard living in two different houses.” Kids of adoption are allowed to say, “Hey, adoptive parents, I love you. But this is really hard for me. I suffer because my relationship with my first parents was broken. I’m confused and I miss them even though I’ve never met them.”

But children of same-sex parents haven’t been given the same voice. It’s not just me. There are so many of us. Many of us are too scared to speak up and tell you about our hurt and pain, because for whatever reason it feels like you’re not listening. That you don’t want to hear. If we say we are hurting because we were raised by same-sex parents, we are either ignored or labeled a hater.”  READ The Rest Here.


Children Raised by Gay Parents WORSE OFF Than Other Kids, New Major Study Shows.

From via the British Journal of Education, Society and Behavioral Science.

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Fresh research has just tossed a grenade into the incendiary issue of same-sex parenting. Writing in the British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioural Science, a peer-reviewed journal, American sociologist Paul Sullins concludes that children’s “Emotional problems [are] over twice as prevalent for children with same-sex parents than for children with opposite-sex parents”.

He says confidently: “it is no longer accurate to claim that no study has found children in same-sex families to be disadvantaged relative to those in opposite-sex families.”

This defiant rebuttal of the “no difference” hypothesis is sure to stir up a hornet’s next as the Supreme Court prepares to trawl through arguments for and against same-sex marriage. It will be impossible for critics to ignore it, as it is based on more data than any previous study — 512 children with same-sex parents drawn from the US National Health Interview Survey. The emotional problems included misbehaviour, worrying, depression, poor relationships with peers and inability to concentrate.

After crunching the numbers, Sullins found opposite-sex parents provided a better environment. “Biological parentage uniquely and powerfully distinguishes child outcomes between children with opposite-sex parents and those with same-sex parents,” he writes.  READ MORE


Emily Litella Says, “There’s NO WAY Gay Marriage Will Lead to Polyamory/Polygamy!”

So, just last May 2012, gay advocate, Jonathan Rauch argued on NPR that the thought that same-sex marriage could possibly lead to mainstream acceptance of polyamory/polygamy was ridiculous.

Rauch:  Same sex marriage leads away from polygamy, not for it. It’s odd to argue that because children need parents, you should be against polygamy. That’s one of the arguments polygamists make – that, you know, you have more moms and a dad. Isn’t that great? In fact, the problem with polygamy is exactly what’s good about same-sex marriage, which is that everyone should have the opportunity to marry.

We are not asking, gay marriage advocates, for the right to marry everybody or anybody, just to marry somebody. We’re asking to have that opportunity. The problem with polygamy, historically, and there’s tons of literature about this, Michel – polygamy is the oldest form of marriage and the most predominant form of marriage in human society – the problem with it is that it almost invariably means one man, multiple wives, and when one man takes two wives, some other man gets no wife.

So a lot of people lose the opportunity to marry and you get societies where you’ve got a lot of unmarried young males who are very unhappy, a lot of social disruption, a lot of violence. And there’s a whole academic literature on this. Gay marriage changes none of that. In fact, gay marriage leads us away from that to a society where everyone can marry.

This weekend, CNN pulled an Emily Litella and said, “Never mind.”

It’s not just a fling or a phase for them. It’s an identity. They want to show that polyamory can be a viable alternative to monogamy, even for middle-class, suburban families with children, jobs and house notes.

“We’re not trying to say that monogamy is bad,” said Billy Holder, a 36-year-old carpenter who works at a university in Atlanta. “We’re trying to promote the fact that everyone has a right to develop a relationship structure that works for them.”

For the Holder-Mullins triad, polyamory is three adults living in the same home about 20 miles south of Atlanta. They share bills, housework and childcare for their 9-year-old daughter. They work at the same place, sharing carpooling duties so someone can see their daughter off to school each day.  MORE

Why Doesn’t the Catholic Church Just Get with the Times?

Contraception, abortion, women’s ordination, gay marriage.  These represent just a few of the issues the Church is regularly criticized for being on the “wrong side” of.

So, why can’t the Church change?

Today’s episode of More2Life Radio was titled, “Stand Your Ground.”  We looked at the challenge of knowing when we need to draw a line in the sand and when we need to be more flexible.  Part of that discussion involved an interview with Bishop Jeffrey Montforton of Steubenville (former rector of Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary) about why the Church can’t just modernize.

The answer to both questions (when do we change and when can the Church change) is really the same.    It all comes down to knowing who you are.  As a Church or as individuals, you can change the things that don’t jeopardize the core of your mission–the heart of your identity–but you can’t change the things that do or you cease to exist in any meaningful way.

Catholics have been given a special gift.  God has shared with us, directly, his truth, his vision of what the world was intended to be and is destined to become again.  He has communicated to us what he intended the world to look like from the beginning of time and he has tasked us with the mission of doing whatever we can to make the world fall more in line with that vision.  In other words, it is not the Catholic Church’s mission to look more like the world.  It is the Catholic Church’s job to make the world look more like the Catholic Church–a community of love dedicated to using our time, treasure, talent and selves to work for the good of others and, in the process, become the best version of ourselves.

We can’t fulfill that mission if we accommodate to the culture.   True, we can change things that aren’t at the center of that blueprint for building the Kingdom that God has given us.  We can move some furniture around.  We can change some words here and there as long as we don’t tamper with the meaning behind those words.  But we can’t be a prophetic sign of what the world is supposed to be by allowing ourselves to become what the world already is!

But, of course, there are objections to this.  I can think of two huge ones off-hand.

1.  Oh, Sure!  The world should look just like the Church!?!  You mean we should all be pedophiles?

Answer:  I’m glad you brought that up.  This is a perfect example of how the Church accommodated to the world.  Seriously, what’s more worldly than committing sexual sin and covering it up?  In fact, the reason the world is so angry at the Church for the scandal is because it didn’t behave like Church.  The world WANTS there to be a sign of goodness in the world (the world hates it, but wants it all the same–like kids and rules).  The world NEEDS a sign of grace in the world and for the world to think that the Church isn’t a sign of grace is infuriating to the world.  The relationship between the world and the Church is like the relationship between an abusive husband and his wife; the more the wife tries to accommodate to her abusive husbands expectations, the more the abusive husband comes to hate the woman.  Only when she stands up to his abuse is there any hope.

2.  But Catholicism is just one brand of Christianity.  Lots of other Christians have modernized their teaching.

Answer:  Yes, well, that’s what happens to the branches that fall off the tree.  Jesus Christ created a Church (Matt 16:18) and entrusted to that Church the vision of what the world should look like.  It is the Church’s job to pass that vision–that Tradition (capital T)– from one generation to the next.  Apostolic succession is the means of transmitting that vision.  Those Churches that preserve Apostolic Succession maintain the Tradition, the vision of what the world must become.  Those Christian and Christian-flavored sects that cut themselves off of the apostolic vine lose the Tradition and end up taking their cues more from the world than from Christ’s original vision.  At best, the messages of these various latter-day Christian sects represent  the seeds sown on rocky soil.  Their work sprouts buds that quickly die if they are not transplanted into more fertile soil (Matt 13).  In fact, we see exactly this.  Sociologists of religion show that there is immense turnover in Evangelical mega-churches.  Their gospel-lite message attracts new seekers but their disconnection from the vine causes the new shoots to starve and die.    And that’s the best case scenario.   At worst, these sects sow weeds that threaten to choke out the vision, weeds that will be gathered up with the wheat but then burned on the last day (Matt 13:24-30).

Belief in the Sun-god.

In his encyclical, Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis quotes St. Justin Martyr as saying that “no one ever gave his life because of his belief in the Sun.”   That’s because worship of the sun-god was a secular religion.  It didn’t exist to challenge the culture.  It existed to give people a safe way to vent their spiritual feelings. That vision of church is what most people imagine church to be even today.    That has never been the mission of the Catholic Church. To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, if that’s all church is then to hell with it.   We exist to hold up the truth.  To be a sign for the Truth and, if necessary, to be willing to die to defend that Truth.

The Church cannot change because if it changes it ceases to be Church and becomes an exercise in what Cardinal Ratzinger once referred to as “spiritual auto-eroticism.” God know, no one needs more of that.

The Right Question

When we encounter some teaching that offends us, annoys us, irritates us; some teaching that the Church stubbornly insists it can’t change and makes us say, “Why doesn’t the Church change that already?”  it is best to recognize that the better question is, “Why is this teaching so central to God’s vision of what the world must become and, having discovered that, how can I get on board and do my part in promoting that vision?”

We do not ask how we can change the Church.  We ask how the Church can change us.



The Marriage Debate: What NOT to Do (and What TO do instead)

There is really no way to put a smiley face on it.  Yesterday’s SCOTUS decisions dealt a serious blow to the marriage movement.  The decision was not as catastrophic as it could have been.  One scenario had SCOTUS pulling a “Roe” and, by judicial fiat, granting a federal right to gay marriage in all 50 states.  As  I noted on the air yesterday, the decisions on DOMA and Prop 8 are the equivalent of having one’s legs cut off instead of one’s head.  Yes, one’s better than the other, but neither is exactly good.  Yes, we fight on, but it’s a little hard to not feel like Monty Python’s Black Knight while we do it.

As of 6/26/13,  thanks to the Supremes, anyone who believes there is something unique about traditional marriage–about a child’s right to have both a mother and a father–has become a bigot and a hate-monger.  There is no way around it.  Gay marriage is now the ideal that people who value progress, justice, and love (or at least the popular understanding of those terms) must support.   In an ironically chilling statement, the President said that he “won’t” force churches to accept the civil redefinition of marriage.   I say it was ironically chilling, because as Deacon Greg noted yesterday, in the President’s half-hearted attempt to reassure those who disagree with the decision, he did not say that he had no power (as the Constitution–for the time being–asserts) to force churches to accept his will  at some point in the future–as he is attempting to do with contraception and the HHS mandate (and BTW, mark my words, if we lose the mandate fight,  gay unions will be the next thing the gov’t tries to force the Church to support).  All he said was that he “won’t” do what he implicitly thinks he ought to be able to do.

In light of all this, it could be difficult for anyone on the side of traditional marriage to avoid getting lost in apocalyptic visions of the coming persecution.   But we really do have to resist this temptation because if we don’t we become the caricature our opponents would like us to be.


We must be careful to NOT become what they say we are.  Yesterday, in their anguish, I saw countless people posting horrible–and frankly, inexcusable–things about homosexuals.  I saw foolish posts on Facebook from prominent, well-known Catholics that featured obscene pictures of homosexual behavior at Gay Pride parades with sarcastic captions like, “Oh, SURE.   They’re JUST like us.”    Comments like this do not help our cause.  They simply turn us into exactly what they say we are.  Haters.  Worse, comments like this obscure the true reason we value traditional marriage.


I encourage–no, I beg–everyone to immediately get Bill May’s excellent book, Getting the Marriage Conversation Right.  The book is only 82 pages long but it will open your eyes about the real reasons traditional marriage is important and help you–as the title says–get the conversation right.

The short version of the book’s thesis is that support for traditional marriage has NOTHING to do with being against homosexuals and EVERYTHING to do with defending the rights of children.   Marriage is the only institution that exists to defend the rights of children to be united to their mom and dad.  When someone confronts you about traditional marriage, the questions you should be asking them are the following…

  • Do we need an institution that unites kids with their moms and dad? Yes or no?
  • Do children have a right to know and, as far as possible, be cared for by their moms and dads?
  • Does anyone have the right to create children with the intention of depriving them of their mother or father or both?
  • Should we have laws and curricula in schools that promote men and women marrying before having children?


Children have a natural right to be united to their mom and dad.  Marriage exists to protect this right.  This means several things.

1.  A child born, for instance, to a co-habiting couple, or a child who suffers divorce of his parents, or is raised in any other context than in a traditional marriage, cannot count on either his right to know where he comes from or his right be provided for by the people who created him.  When a mother and father are married, a child knows where he comes from and who he can expect to provide for him.  Marriage unites a child to his mom and dad.

2. Even now, almost everyone acknowledges that being deprived of either a mother or father is a bad thing.  For example; we feel sad for the child who never had the opportunity to meet his dad.  Or the child who’s mom died in childbirth.  Or the child of divorce who couldn’t count on one or both parents to be there.  Or the kid raised by his grandparents instead of his parents.  We recognize these things as sad because we all know that a child needs, not just “people” to care for him–or even any two people to care for him–but, ideally,  a mother and a father.  Preferably, his own mother and father.  Other people can do a terrific job of raising kids, but unless they are the child’s own mother and father, the child still feels a loss.  Moms and Dads make different contributions to a child’s development.  These contributions go beyond mere cultural constructs.  There is an essential difference between moms and dads that cannot be made up for by someone playing the role of mother or father.    Mothers and fathers interact with children differently.  They give different psychosocial gifts to their child.  A child raised without a mom or dad can be a good kid, a healthy kid, a well-functioning kid.  But he will never feel as whole as the child raised in an intact family with his own mother and father.

3.   Gay marriage cannot be equivalent to marriage because–if the above is true–no matter how much two men or two women  love each other, and no matter how technically skilled they may be at parenting, they cannot give a child a mother and a father.  As I pointed out above, in every other context in which a child is deprived of a mother or father, that is recognized as a tragedy.  Gay marriage is the only context where intentionally denying a child a mother or father is seen as a good thing.  This does serious violence to a child.

For instance, if a child of divorce who doesn’t know his father says he is sad about it, or goes to therapy, he would be allowed to grieve that absence.  But would a child raised by two lesbians be encouraged to tell his moms if he ached to have a dad?  Would he be allowed to grieve never having known his father or to feel frustrated about never being able to have a relationship with the sperm donor who helped his two “moms” conceive him?   Would a therapist be forced–because of so-called marriage “equality”–to tell this child that he has nothing to be sad about because his family was just as good as any other family even though his gut says differently?  In what other context is denying someone’s feelings a good thing?  Saying that gay marriage is equal to traditional marriage effectively says that children raised without a mother or a father have no right to feel the absence of the missing parent.  After all, things are equal, aren’t they?  Anyone who says otherwise is guilty of bigotry–including the child’s own feelings.  People who are shamed for the hurt they feel cannot heal the hurt they feel.  Gay marriage effectively necessitates the shaming of anyone–not just children of gay parents–who feels the absence of a mother or father.

4. If gay marriage is equivalent to marriage, then gay couples must be allowed–and even encouraged–to have access to whatever means they need to acquire the other thing that traditional married couples have; namely, children.  That means an exponential expansion of donor-conceived children, and surrogacy.  Click here to read about the research that describes the unique struggles of donor-conceived children.  Click here to read about the struggles in their own words.

5.  Yes, all of the above logic also applies to the similar abuses heterosexual couples perpetrate against children.  That said, at least with heterosexual couples, there is still a chance that these injustices can be addressed. With gay marriage, all the things that are at least arguably unjust when heterosexuals do them to children (surrogacy, donor-conception, depriving a child of a mother or father through various means) become irrevocably just when homosexuals do them.   When same-sex couples are seen as equivalent to heterosexual couples, the necessity of a father and mother for a child disappears.  There is no reason to solve the problems that come with the absence of a father or mother.  We just close our eyes to the possibility that there could possibly be any problems.


The upshot is that we are not against gay marriage.   We are for defending the institution that protects the rights of children to be united to their own mom and dad.  We recognize that this isn’t always possible, but we recognize that when it isn’t possible, that is a sad thing that must be dealt with compassionately–not denied as an inconvenient truth.

Homosexual persons have a right to be treated with dignity.  They have the right to be given whatever protections they need to live full, dignified, healthy lives free from persecution and prejudice.  But they do not have the right to pursue these goals by taking away the very few rights children have to be united to their mom and dad and, to the degree that it is possible, to be raised by their own mom and dad.  THAT is the problem with gay marriage.  Nothing else.

So, don’t become the bitter, hateful, homophobic caricature our opponents want us to be.   Get the marriage conversation right.   Please.

The future.  Our future.  Our children’s future depends on it.