Common-sense against same-sex unions


In the past, I’ve written on this issue a number of times. We’ve discussed it in terms of the civil law, the preservation of language, the intolerance of belief, and the theology of the body. All of them had, at the center, an appeal to the Natural Law.

As any of my regular readers are aware, I get frustrated when Christian beliefs supported by reason are entirely reduced to blind (seemingly unreasonable) religious dogma – whether by an opposing point of view or, unfortunately, by Christians themselves.  It does a disservice to the Truth.

In terms of the Catholic view of Marriage vs. same-sex unions, it is largely one that springs from the Natural Law – not some scripture passage or divine revelation, per se.  To reduce it to such is to not only miss the point, but to miss an opportunity for common understanding on these divisive issues.

Dr. Janet Smith recently had a great article in Our Sunday Visitor that lays out a concise, easy-to-read explanation of The common-sense case against same-sex unions.  It’s a good read for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  I recommend checking it out!

19 comments Add comment

Dan June 19, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Reason….come on…there’s no reason..just faith and hate…and us and them…what does what someone does in their private moments have to do with you. Love and sex are not only about procreation, contrary to the dogmatic teachings of the catholic church…let people be free..let all of us be equal…so un-american…like woman’s suffrage..your view point will vanish into history just like the hatred of slavery which church’s supported…let it go..there is no reason when it comes to god….is there any reason when it comes to mother goose….both are fairy tales.

Recovering Catholic

enness July 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Wow. This would make an excellent pastiche of pro-SSM/anti-Catholic/anti-religion-in-general missed marks, were it not serious.

I wonder what drives such ‘tolerant’ minds like Dan the Recovering Catholic (is that not the saddest thing to read?) to harangue the writers of random blogs who, after all, are so soon to be irrelevant. ;)

Just Another Opinion June 20, 2009 at 6:47 pm

These comments are left in blogs so often, without much “reason” justifying the similarities here to slavery or womans’ suffrage … frankly, given the complexities of each of these issues, for example, I doubt you know about the history of the church and slavery, it’s far from simple – I don’t see the connections … and certainly not the accusation of hatred. After a while this begins sounding like just yadda yadda yadda – especially when the points of the article are not addressed.

We don’t want things getting to the point where people think, “oh just some more gay yadda yadda yadda.”

Let us be free & equal, Dan, yes – let’s be careful about labeling viewpoints as “hate,” especially when you suggest that the appropriate attitude toward this viewpoint is “hatred.”

You are most welcome to come to the plate with something well-argued. These things do need to be discussed, and reasoned out. I’m sure there are things in the article which are debatable and subject to reasoned criticism. Try that tack next time. You will do yourself a favor as well as prevent the pro-gay-marriage camp from looking less than reasonable and inclined toward uncharitable opinions.

Artie June 22, 2009 at 7:59 am

Dan suggests Jesus Christ and his Church teach faith, hope, and…. hate?

Truth without love is blind, love without truth is a clanging cymbal.

What we are seeing in our culture is secular unions vs. valid marriages.

I also find it interesting that Dan only mentions the sexual aspect of marriage and not the other most important things in marriage.

Also there is a difference between license and true freedom. The culture of death is handing out licenses not the freedom as it was intended.

Danielle June 22, 2009 at 10:08 pm

I have a few points of contention with Dr. Smith’s article about “Natural Law.” She claims that homosexual relationships are inherently harmful, based on several premises that I believe are flawed.
She first cites the high rate of depression and suicide for those “living the homosexual lifestyle.” I would like to suggest that the correlation here does not equal causation. If you are told that a key part of your identity is wrong and unnatural, then I’d say there’s a good chance that could lead to depression. I think it is societal rejection and relegation to second-class citizenship that causes the higher instance of depression and suicide, rather than inherent mental unfitness.
Then there is the one-two punch of the homosexual male’s average lifespan and tendency towards infideilty. Did she consider the other half of the gay population? I do not know the statistics on lesbians’ lifespans, so I cannot speak from an informed perspective on this particular point, but I strongly doubt you’d find a similar number. I do know, however, that the rate of fidelity among lesbian women is around 73%–not at all a far cry from the 75% boasted by homosexual males in the survey.
Third, I take issue with her statement that the witnesses of children of same sex parents say that those parents do not provide a healthy environment. Studies show that children with two same-sex parents are on par, in terms of emotional, psychological and intellectual well-being, with kids of traditional parents.

Andreas July 6, 2009 at 10:29 am

Hi Matthew…

I read the article and found it mediocre. I think any argument from “natural law” must fall flat in the end.

Homosexuality is not natural? How about polyester? Glasses? Antibiotics?

But more annoyingly Mrs. Smith repeatedly mixes non-consensual wrongs with consensual behaviour. Yes, of course it is wrong for an adult to have sex with a child. It is not consensual, and it cannot be because a child cannot make an informed decision.

And when it comes to statistics: well, according to my statistic 79% of all Christians are very unhappy with their relationship, while only 7% of all homosexuals feel that way. My source? The same as Mrs. Smith’s – I pulled it out of thin air.

And when it comes to marriage: with marriages failing 50% of the time (for religious and secular people alike), I think you should be happy for everyone who shows interest in the institution.

Painting homosexuals as mentally unstable people, often abused in their childhood, who will be more likely to get sick and die 20 years earlier… well… I call that hateful propaganda. It shows a skewed view of homosexuals as somehow “deficient” people.

And I despise the “slippery slope” argument. In the US you are allowed to have weapons. But you can’t have a nuclear warhead or a rocket launcher. I think we are pretty good at finding a middle ground as a society.

I found it disappointing and intellectually dishonest. Sadly, there are better anti-gay writers out there.

Artie July 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Andreas you think Matthew is against homosexuals or against homosexual marriage?

I think it is intellectual dishonest to claim Matthew to be a homophobe or anti-gay.

Even if Matthew were anti-gay that does not diminish his arguments against their behavior.

The Church acknowledges that homosexuality’s psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s cross the difficulties that they may encounter from their condition.

I am very happy for anybody who is interested in the institution in its proper understanding and meaning.

BTW What does polyester, Glasses, and Antibiotics have to do with a human’s natural order in the confounds of marriage?

Even if you disagree with the argument of natural law, it is more plausible then the 3 mentioned above, because natural law reasoning is the basis for almost all standard moral intuitions.

Andreas July 13, 2009 at 2:10 pm


You make a lot of good arguments. I never called Matt intellectually dishonest or a homophobe – but the writer of the article.

I think the point is this: if you argue that there is a “natural order” of things and that by being homosexual you somehow violate that natural order then I would argue: since sickness and death is a natural part of our existence and obviously the way God created us, why do we spurn God’s will with “unnatural” remedies like antibiotics?

Such arguments are superficially effective because they try to harness the power of apparently neutral and objective categories like “nature” and “natural” in support of one’s position. In this manner a person can try to slough off accusations of bigotry and intolerance

Ultimately, the “homosexuality is unnatural” argument fails to support the case against same-sex marriage because there is no clear and convincing content to the concept of “unnatural” in the first place. Everything that is claimed to be “unnatural’ is either arguably very natural, arguably irrelevant to what the laws should be, or is simply immaterial to what should be treated as moral and immoral. It’s no coincidence that what is “unnatural” also happens to be condemned by the speaker’s religious or cultural traditions. Just because some trait or activity isn’t the norm among humans doesn’t make it “unnatural” and therefore wrong.

enness July 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Sickness and death according to Christian theology were NOT what God intended for us at all, Andreas. They are the result of sin and the fallen state of man and thus are no more ‘natural’ than violence and poverty. We were created with free will but certainly were not created to die.

Artie July 15, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Hey Andreas I apologize for making an assumption, but I concluded that if Matt agrees with the writer of the article you may group him in the same manner.

Your argument is that of natural order, the argument presented was natural law. There is a a difference between the two in its application.

Natural Order is the moral source from which natural law seeks to derive its authority.

From a Catholic perspective we don’t adhere to natural order as the moral source… It is actually a both/and with divine law.

This is not to say that we cannot objectively figure out right from law from natural law in numerous if not all circumstances as God is the creator of natural law.

Natural law is a sense of good and evil that is written on the heart of every person. It tells us which acts are good and rational and which are evil and irrational. Natural law tells us that not every kind of behavior is a right. The act of murder is not a right, nor is incest. These go against human nature. We inherently know that these are wrong.

When we call good evil and evil good our vision of humanity becomes clouded. Living in a pluralistic society is unique, but I don’t believe relativism and being tolerant of everything is necessarily a good thing.

Pope John Paul II in his theology of the body is a good place to start in regards to Catholic vision of the human person – body, soul, and spirit.

Even if you are agnostic, I think you may find this very respectful and it just makes logical sense.

Matthew Warner July 16, 2009 at 12:52 am


Thanks for the comments. But, as Artie is already pointing out, you are misunderstanding our use of natural law…and even what it means to be natural.

Just because something is found or occurs in nature does not mean it is “natural” in this sense.

For instance, we find whales that have beached themselves in nature. But it is quite obvious, by looking at the nature of a whale(how it is made) that it is not a “natural” place for a whale to be. In other words, it was not naturally made to be on a beach and stuck out of the water.

So while it is found and occurs in nature, it is quite obvious that it goes against its nature (i.e. it’s not made to do that).

Further, Ms. Smith’s stats are not pulled out of thin air.

Andreas July 21, 2009 at 11:18 am

Hi Matthew and Artie…

Thanks for clearing things up.

The question of morality seems to be very subjective. I can’t see anything evil or immoral in homosexuality. I can see why you might disagree, and I believe that your train of thought is valid.

For me it goes back to the old question of

“Is something good or evil because God tells us so, or are there moral absolutes and God just points them out for us (e.g. through scripture)”

I see problems with both:

If something is good because it is a “law” created by God (like the commandments), would that mean that child murder would be considered moral and good if God mandated it? (He could, the OT is full of instances where God commands things that are highly questionable in today’s society).

Or does God just point us to moral absolutes that exist without him? Why would we need God then? We could discover them for ourselves or use other sources of inspiration.

And the fact that things like slavery and women’s rights have seen quite a change in how society deals with these issues (and hopefully we agree that we shouldn’t EVER have had slaves and women should of course have the same rights as men) has led me to believe two things:

1. There are no moral absolutes. A society agrees on acceptable behavior, which is subject to change. (E.g. in many countries the death penalty is considered barbaric and immoral. Not so in parts of the US. Who is right?)
2. Old religious text are not a good source for current moral questions.

Catholic debating pro-life April 27, 2010 at 4:31 pm

1. We believe that there are moral absolutes that the Church reveals to us, and that is based on natural law. Divine law is based on natural law.

2. Well, Christ didn’t set up old religious texts. He set up a Church, which he established as infallible and which reveals to us the Truth. His Church claims that these religious texts, when interpreted correctly, speak of a Truth that cannot be changed.

3. Matthew has argued against homosexuality w/o mentioning religion anyway.

Jill August 9, 2010 at 9:59 pm

I just had to jump in here because I feel that the discussion is only at a surface level. There is something deeper to the “natural law” argument. Please do read the VERY current writings of Pope John Paul II on Theology of the Body. It is extremely deep and filled with thought and theology and, well, love.

Okay. When Dr. Smith is discussing the short life span of the homosexual male I believe she is referring to the exposure to diseases that would otherwise not manifest themselves. Our bodies are designed for male-female intercourse. This is just basic fact. The anus is not meant as a sexual organ as it does not have the natural capabilities of fighting bacteria, stretching, and self-cleansing. So anal sex, whether with man or woman, is not natual and can lead to illness and a variety of complications. Secondly, the Church is very consistent in her teachings on sexuality. Masturbation, Contraception and Homosexual sex are all self-gratifying acts. None of them can produce life-giving effects; only short-lived pleasure. The marital embrace, free of contraception (which sterilizes the act) is pleasurable, but that is not the only reason for embracing it. It is a total giving of oneself to the other. It can be selfish and this is wrong; but, in accordance with our design free from sin, it is self giving to the other and always produces a chance for new life to emerge: whether in a baby or a deeper bonding between husband and wife.
The reason that gay “marriage” is offensive is because it diminishes this sacrificial love between a man and a woman and undermines the institution that allows for a secure and loving environment to raise children–again where children are born to those two people or adopted and raised as their own. I am not saying gays do not love or cannot provide a loving environment; but, it is not the optimal environment. It brings in a sense of confusion to the children and children are “rights” rather than gifts. A man-man or a woman-woman cannot gift a child to the other. An adopted child in this scenario would be slighted by not being able to know both biological parents and not receiving the benefits of the unique gifts given by father and mother. This extends to all the same issues of in-vitro fertilization and cloning. This is what is deeper than just saying “natural law.” Natural law is always consistent and is looking at it from its intended purpose without the sins and greed of our human nature. These are not easy Truths and we cannot and must not just say “this is wrong” and then walk away. Our homosexual brothers and sisters do deserve love and secure relationships. The Truth will set them free as it has me and my husband when turning away from contraception and sex for the sake of sex. I can only speak what I know to be true and wish I could show you the peace and joy in my heart from this conversion. The rules of the Church are never to enslave, but to set free. You have to have faith, obey and trust in the Lord to see the fruits and you have to do it yourself because no one can show you this peace. It only comes from within. We can and should pray and support each other along this journey.

God Bless.

Catholic pro-lifer August 14, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I prefer this article by Orson Scott Card:

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