“Above and Woman: Questions and Answers About Marriage

“Above
all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1
Peter 4:8).  The Lord told his people to
love each other with their whole being when entering the bonds of marriage
because love forgives a multitude of sins. 
If true love forgives so many sins, why is the commitment between man
and man or woman and woman invalid in the Catholic Church?  In the Catholic Church, the controversial
topic of gay marriage increasingly circulates today.  As a Church that considers itself a universal
place for all to find the everlasting love of the Father, the Catholic Church
contradicts its own teaching as it turns its back on individuals who may need
the most love.  People of the LGBTQ
community face daily ridicule and judgement, often finding themselves yearning for
care and love, but a place that should open its doors to those struggling the
most, pushes them farther away.  As
described by the Committee on
Marriage and Family Life of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
(USCCB), in Between Man and Woman:
Questions and Answers About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions, the Catholic
Church, who is more focused on tradition, their definition of a “natural”
marriage, and their misconception of the ideal family for children and overall
good of society, excludes gay couples from partaking in the beautiful sacrament
of marriage.  However, scientific
research and the Catholic Church’s call to love all supports the validity of
the marriage of a homosexual couple.

            The
Catholic Church very openly opposes gay marriage.  Although Pope Francis has become the first
Catholic advocate in high standing to hold a more accepting view of gay
individuals, the Church is firm in their definition of a marriage.  In Between Man
and Woman: Questions and Answers About Marriage and Same-Sex Union, a USSCB
article, the Catholic Church defines a marriage as “a
faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate
community of life and love” (n.p.).  This
traditional definition that has been preached in the Catholic Church for as
long as homosexuality has been prevalent, is extremely outdated and evidently
does not support our ever-evolving world. 
Although the union of two men or two women is not valid in the Catholic
Church, this union is defined as a marriage regarding civil law.  During a civil marriage wedding, gay couples
too commit themselves to each other and to a life of intimate love and
partnership “until death do them apart”. 
Heterosexual and homosexual couples seem to wish for the same things in
a marriage.  Both couples get married to
show their love and dedication to their partners.  If gay couples simply want the same things in
a marriage as a straight couple, why are same-sex couples turned away from the
Sacrament of Marriage?

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            The
Catholic Church was created as a place for people who are lost and battered to
find refuge.  It is a temple of God’s
everlasting love for all those who feel alone. 
The Church advocates for the acceptance of all people, even those who
identify with the LGBTQ community. 
However, these individuals oftentimes feel mistreated and wronged, so
they tend to withdraw from the Church and its practices because they are not
given full participation in the sacraments or the Catholic faith.  The Catholic faith puts a great value and
importance on the seven sacraments of Baptism, Penance, Eucharist,
Confirmation, Holy Orders, Anointing of the Sick, and Matrimony.  For Catholics, these sacraments bring a “true
divinity, spiritual presence and pure dedication to God” (Miller).  Nevertheless, members who identify as both
part of the Catholic faith and part of the LGBTQ community are unable to fully
participate in the seven sacraments and develop their faith at a deeper level.  By pushing these individuals away, the
Catholic Church loses practicing members, as gay individuals do not feel it
necessary to attend mass or practice a faith that does not allow them to fully
participate anyways.  The Church wants
more practicing and active members, yet they ostracize those who otherwise
would be.

            As
stated by the USCCB, the Catholic Church describes marriage as a “natural
institution” between man and woman.  Regarding
this belief, the Catholic Church argues that God created man and woman in His
image and constructed them to be compatible with one another.  In the Gospel of Mark, the Lord describes
marriage as a time in which “the two shall become one flesh” (Mk 10:8).  The Catholic faith believes that differences
between genders create a strong compatibility. 
However, this is not scientifically supported.  Gender does not establish how compatible a
couple is because it cannot determine similar values, lifestyle choices, and
the willingness to work and compromise (Marano and Flora).  Because gender does not determine
compatibility, gay couples are just as compatible as heterosexual couples.  The Catholic Church, so focused on their
traditional view of what makes a relationship “natural”, does not see that the
compatibility they argue is what makes a relationship successful, is the same
regardless of the gender of partners.

            Another
issue regarding marriage is that of children. 
According to the USCCB, the primary purpose of marriage is companionship
and procreating (n.p.).  The Catholic
Church argues that because a gay couple cannot create life naturally, they
should not be allowed to marry.  When
preaching about marriage, the Church calls a couple to consummate their
marriage through their shared love to one another and God.  Because any form of birth control is strictly
prohibited, this consummation and the act of a married couple making love has
the potential to create offspring, a serious instruction the Church instills
within its people.  Because two men or
two women do not have the natural biological means to have a child, they are
held at a lesser status than a heterosexual couple and are given granted
permission to enter the bonds of marriage within the Catholic Church.  This argument in short means that in order to
make a marriage valid in the Church, a couple must have a child.  However, what about couples who do not wish
to have children or are incapable of naturally creating life?  These marriages are determined invalid and
couples are therefore able to have their marriage annulled, would they later
wish to.  Because the Church does not
believe in divorce, this reason for an annulment is severely important.

            Because
having children makes a marriage valid, a couple who struggles with infertility
then also should not be permitted to enter the bonds of marriage because their
union is too invalid.  The Church counter-argues
this point by professing that if infertility is the reason for lack of
children, the intent to start a family is what is important when regarding
marriage in the Church.  This main intent
to have children (even when it is biologically impossible) makes a marriage valid,
so the question arises: why are gay couples who wish to adopt, or take other
measures to start a family, still not allowed to be married?  If the intent is what matters, gay couples
should be able to be married.  Through
new advances in technology, foster care, and adoptive services, gay couples are
given countless ways to create a family. 
In 2013, a study was conducted to determine how many gay couples had
children.  It was estimated that 37
percent of the LGBTQ individuals of eighteen years or older have a child
(Gates).  However, this number has been
steadily increasing over the past four years.  Even with this new evidence that gay couples
many times do intend to create families, the Church still disputes that God
calls His people to naturally procreate and begin a familial lineage. 

            Millions
of children around the world live in inhumane, unstable, dangerous
environments, hoping to one day be adopted or taken in by a loving, supportive
family.  Heterosexual and homosexual
couples are able to take these children from these awful living conditions and
provide these children with a better life. 
By adopting children, gay couples are able to create a familial lineage
and begin a family, like the Church calls couple to do.  Nevertheless, the Catholic Church pushes gay
couples away and in turn, close its doors to children of gay parents.  In 2013, the state of Illinois ordered their
branch of Catholic Charities to no longer discriminate against gay and lesbian
couples.  The state withheld federal
funding until their demands were met. 
Instead of abiding by the state’s demands, Catholic Charities terminated
all services that were instituted to place children in good homes
(Pappas).  The actions of Catholic
Charities exemplify how unwilling the Catholic Church is to change their
views.  Instead of simply tolerating gay
couples, Catholic Charities took away all possibility to place those children
with a family who would love them.  Both
heterosexual and homosexual couples wish to have families and provide their
children with a loving life.  If the
Catholic Church could just open their eyes enough to see that gay couples want
the same things in a marriage as a straight couple, perhaps they would see how
wrong they were to ban gay couples in their Church.

            With
regards to gay couples having children, the Catholic Church is apprehensive to
believe that children will be provided with a developmentally-positive
environment (n.p.).  Some people believe having
same-sex parents affects the development and even the sexual identity of a
child.  However, through many scientific
studies, this has been proven wrong. 
Children raised by gay parents have no significant developmental or
behavioral differences than those raised by straight parents.  A journal entry by Charlotte J. Patterson
describes the research results of a study conducted at the Bay Area Family
Study.  She discovered that “children of
lesbian and heterosexual parents showed similar, relatively high levels of
social competence, as well as similar, relatively low levels of behavior
problems” (Patterson 242).  Children of
both groups of parents showed similarities in various categories such as
self-esteem and anxiety, school outcomes, behavioral trouble, family
relationships, and warmth of family and friends (Patterson 242).  This study is just one of many to confirm
that the same-sex parents do not provide any greater risk than opposite-sex
parents.  Abbie Goldberg, a psychologist
who specializes in gay and lesbian parenting at Clark University of
Massachusetts, contends that children of gay parents are actually raised in
more devoted and motivated home because the gay couple chose to become parents
(Pappas).  Goldberg estimates that fifty
percent of pregnancies in heterosexual couples are unplanned.  Unplanned pregnancies are never a concern for
gay couples because it is not biologically possible, so they are given the
choice of becoming parents.  This gives
them time to fully prepare and fully commit to having children.  Goldberg argues that gay parents are more
committed and involved in their children’s lives because so much time,
planning, effort, and resources are necessary when trying to adopt, foster, or
use other methods to have children.  The
Catholic Church should not be any more concerned about gay couples raising
children than straight couples.  Goldberg
argues that more children of gay parents are raised to be open-minded and
tolerant to all people than children of straight parents (Pappas).  All parents should instill these important
qualities into their teaching, and all parents should be committed and involved
in their child’s life, regardless of the way in which their children came to be
theirs.

            Through
its somewhat harsh and seemingly insensitive teachings, the Catholic Church
ultimately advocates for what they believe is genuinely the best and most
successful form of marriage and family. 
Yet, because it is so focused on tradition, the Church ignorantly
excludes people who do not identify as heterosexual because they wish to
protect their moral truth”.  Some gay
couples truly wish to commit themselves to one another in a Catholic service,
but sadly, the Church believes “It would be wrong to redefine marriage for the
sake of providing benefits to those who cannot rightfully enter into marriage.”
(n.p.).  The Catholic Church does not try
to “offend the dignity of homosexual persons” but it is doing what they believe
is necessary to protect the good of society. 
The Church does allow gay individuals to have a “friendship with one’s
neighbor”.  These “friendships” between
gay individuals are supposed to make up for their lack of marriage.  The Catholic Church should recognize that love
is a basic right all humans are given at birth. 
People should all have the right to marry, regardless of their sexual
identity.

            Undoubtedly,
both supporters and opponents of gay marriage can agree upon the fact that
marriage is a special gift and love is an unfathomable and natural feeling all
individuals share.  Most people,
regardless of their sexual identity, value family and children.  If people just set aside their personal views
on homosexuality, commonalities can be identified regarding the union of
marriage.  The Catholic Church, one
unified body of Christ’s followers, should allow all its people, no matter
their sexual identity, to participate in the eternal and marvelous gift of
marriage God has given His people.