Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

6/26/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

As the Church has clearly taught, the common good demands that marriage be recognized in law as fundamentally and by nature limited to a life-long relationship between one man and one woman. It is only within this institution that sexual relations are a good.

The first step for a Catholic to recognize his obligation to oppose same-sex "marriage," if he does not see it or comprehend it, is to rid himself of the flawed moral heuristic (a moral rule of thumb or short cut) some ideologue has chosen and which may be blinding him to what is an obvious moral and political truth.

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/26/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: same-sex relationships, marriage, homosexuality


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) -  For many of us confronting the issue of same-sex "marriage," our thinking about it is deeply marred by the conventional heuristic.  A heuristic is a simple rule used by people to make decisions, including moral or political ones.  A heuristic is a mental shortcut, a rule of thumb, a quick and dirty application of common sense.

A heuristic can be a valuable tool in decision-making.  But a heuristic can be catastrophic if it is flawed.  A heuristic may be flawed because it is the wrong heuristic to be applied to a particular moral or political problem.  A wrong heuristic applied to a moral or political problem can wreak havoc in moral or political decision-making.  It can lead to systematic and institutional errors, even so-called "institutions of sin."

As an example taken from St. Thomas Aquinas, it is generally true that we are under an obligation in justice to deliver property placed under our care to its owner when the owner asks for it.  This is a good heuristic in almost all ordinary circumstances.  However, the heuristic is flawed if the owner that is requesting the sword has in the interim become mad, and returning the sword to him would result in harm to him or to others.  See S.T. Ia-IIae q. 62 a. 5 ad 1.

Sometimes the wrong heuristic is advanced as part of an ideological agenda, or for the purpose of obtaining a certain result or hiding the moral truth.  This is true for the moral and political debate involving same-sex "marriage."  The wrong heuristic is being advanced by the advocates of same-sex "marriage. " It creates horrible confusion, and results in wrong decision-making.

The heuristic that we are asked to use as a short-cut to thinking about same-sex "marriage" is framed in terms of love and equality.  We might call it the "love and equality" heuristic.  The "love and equality" heuristic goes something like this: Two persons who are in "love" should have an "equal" opportunity at marriage.

The "love and equality" heuristic works great in most areas.  For example, it is a perfect heuristic to be used against a miscegenist who advocates that marriage between two different races ought to be barred by law and public policy.  Applying the "love and equality" heuristic one can say, as a short-cut, that a black man and a white woman who are in love should have the same opportunity at marriage as a black man and a black woman or a white man and a black woman.  Any law that prevents this opportunity is therefore wrong.

However, the "love and equality" heuristic is flawed when applied to same-sex marriages.  The flaw comes from treating as morally equivalent the conjugal acts between a man and a woman committed to each other in a life-long, exclusive marriage (which are good independent of race) and homosexual genital activity.

If--as the natural moral law, Scripture, and the Church's moral teachings all hold--homosexual acts are gravely sinful, then the "love and equality" heuristic is flawed when applied to same-sex "marriage" questions.

As the Church has taught in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons:  "There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law."

It would be wrong, therefore, for a Catholic to adopt the "love and equality" heuristic into the context of same-sex "marriage," because it directly contradicts the natural moral law, the teachings of Scripture, and the teachings of the Church.  Invariably, this thinking short-cut will lead him to the wrong conclusion.

The Catholic must rid himself of this flawed heuristic if he has adopted it.  And he should find one that more properly fits the moral and political issue that confronts him.  In fact, he has a moral obligation to apply a proper heuristic.  You cannot avoid moral obligations by the mere expedient of using a false moral heuristic.

As a proper heuristic in the context of same-sex "marriage," I would suggest turning to Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisted.  In that novel, Waugh places these words in the mouth of Julia as she explains to her illicit lover Charles the Catholic notion of sin versus "living in sin."

"Living in sin, with sin, by sin, for sin, every hour, every day, year in, year out.  Waking up with sin in the morning, seeing the curtains drawn on sin, bathing it, dressing it, clipping diamonds to it, feeding it, showing it round, giving it a good time, putting it to sleep at night with a tablet of Dial [a barbiturate, a sleeping pill] if it's fretful."

To legitimize same sex "marriage" is to legitimize "living in sin, with sin, by sin, for sin, every hour, every day, year in, year out.  Waking up with sin in the morning, seeing the curtains drawn on sin, bathing it, dressing it, clipping diamonds to it, feeding it, showing it round, giving it a good time, putting it to sleep at night with a tablet of Dial if it's fretful."

It seems rather obvious that it is no moral or political good for a law to legitimize "living in sin, with sin, by sin, for sin, every hour, every day, year in, year out.  Waking up with sin in the morning, seeing the curtains drawn on sin, bathing it, dressing it, clipping diamonds to it, feeding it, showing it round, giving it a good time, putting it to sleep at night with a tablet of Dial if it's fretful."

It is impossible to spin the issue any other way.  Using the proper heuristic instead of a flawed one makes all the difference in the world. 

As the Church has clearly taught, the common good demands that marriage be recognized in law as fundamentally and by nature limited to a life-long relationship between one man and one woman. It is only within this institution that sexual relations are a good.  

The Church has also taught the common good demands that same-sex "marital" unions are farcical, ape real marriages, should be prohibited, and certainly never given the sanction or protection of law.  For this reason, a Catholic is morally compelled, under penalty of grave sin, to oppose same-sex "marriage" to the extent of his powers and influence, and certainly never see it or advocate it as a moral, political, or legal good.

The first step for a Catholic to recognize this obligation, if he does not see it or comprehend it currently, is to rid himself of the flawed moral heuristic some result-driven, sin-justifying ideologue has chosen which may be blinding him to what is an obvious moral and political truth.

-----
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Marriage & Family

4 out of 10 children in the US exposed to abuse and violence last year Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Although some types of violence against children appear to be on a decline, children remain the most victimized sector in the U.S. population, as found by a recent study. Through phone interviews, researchers determined the level of exposure children face on abuse and ... continue reading


Marriage is an Appetizer

Image of

By Bill Donaghy

I was asked not long ago to share what I thought might be the three most powerful thoughts from Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. These three things continually fill me with wonder and awe, and are becoming the tripod on which I stand to view God, life, and ... continue reading


SHOCKING: Woman confesses to killing her EIGHT newborns and hiding the corpses in her home Watch

Image of Dominique Cottrez faces life imprisonment for murdering eight newborn babies.

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Dominique Cottrez, a 51-year-old French nurse, has confessed to killing her eight newborn babies, fearing they were from her incestuous relationship with her father. During her trial, she revealed the stories of murder she vividly remembers, dubbed the worst ... continue reading


SUPREME COURT RULES GAY 'MARRIAGE' LEGAL IN ALL 50 STATES Watch

Image of

By (CNA/EWTN News)

In a wide-reaching decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has declared that same-sex "marriage" is a constitutional right and that states must recognize same-sex unions contracted as marriages in other states. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - By a vote of 5-4, the court ... continue reading


Family terrified to move into dream home after deadly threats made from 'The Watcher' Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A couple is now afraid to move into the house they bought for $1.3 million after receiving threatening letters signed by "The Watcher," three days after they closed the sale. Now, they are suing the previous homeowners for withholding information about the creepy house ... continue reading


'This is how God takes evil and turns it into something wonderful': How one woman's Charleston experience reinforced God's love Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Almost a week has passed since the Charleston church shooting and one mother decided to bring her three young sons to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Kayla Robinson Hall wanted to show her children that despite the terror and pain people ... continue reading


Obama to give eulogy at funeral service of Charleston church shooting victim Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama is confirmed to deliver a eulogy at the funeral of the late South Carolina state senator and pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church killed last week, according to the White House. Along with the president, Vice President Joe ... continue reading


'There's nothing but love': Charleston shooting victim's children have 'already forgiven' shooter Dylann Roof Watch

Image of Chris and Camryn [BBC]

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pictures of Dylann Storm Roof smirking at the cameras while in chains did not affect the victim's children left behind. During an interview with the children of Charleston shooting victim, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, the children said that although they still feel the ... continue reading


Controversial alleged anti-Semitic pastor encourages people to join his march on Dearborn to save Muslim souls Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Faithful World Baptist Church pastor Steve Anderson plans to bring his followers into a march he will hold in Dearborn, Detroit on June 26. Allegedly anti-Semitic, he has planned the march in this area because of the population of Arabs residing there; it is considered ... continue reading


Mysterious box of human ashes found buried in unrelated man's backyard Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

70-year-old resident and property owner, Bill Stephenson, was shocked to discover a box of a man's ashes buried in his backyard, especially as he did not know who the ashes belonged to. For 46 years, he lived on the property, so it is still a mystery that someone he ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 21:5, 8-20
5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 34:7-8, 10-11, 12-13
7 The angel of Yahweh encamps around those who fear ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 8:28-34
28 When he reached the territory of the Gadarenes on ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 1st, 2015 Image

Bl. Junipero Serra
July 1: Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca on November ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter