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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News
Women from a poor demographic have become an increasing interest in the multi-billion dollar surrogate industry, with most mothers being forced or coerced into volunteering as a surrogate. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - "Surrogacy depends in many cases on the ... continue reading
By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Children never fail to bring hope in the purest form. A Mississippi man died peacefully a night after he received a heartfelt note from his young granddaughter. The 7-year-old girl said, through the note, that God is waiting for him and He is ready. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading
By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Sixty-six chimpanzees were left in the deep jungles of Liberia after being used for medical experiments. Animal charities are seeking desperate help to save these animals. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The animals were used on the controversial virus ... continue reading
By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Americans teenagers are less sexually active. Through a new survey, the research team found out that the decline is greater among teenage boys, compared to data from 1988. Young adults who opted to become ... continue reading
By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
When a man and woman decide to tie the knot, they both have expectations for the relationship. These eventually become needs to be fulfilled by each other in order to live with the sanctified union in peace and harmony. Men have certain needs from their wives, which ... continue reading
By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Although many expect Jessica Lynch to be perfectly fine now, she explains that she still battles with the emotional and physical trauma from her captivity during the Iraqi War twelve years ago. Lynch was just 19 when she was abducted by Iraqi troops and assaulted after ... continue reading
By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
A gay man filed a $70 million lawsuit against Bible publishers claiming their alleged translations of the Bible brought him "emotional distress." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Bradley LaShawn Fowler, the man fighting with Bible publishers, the ... continue reading
By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
In 2012, more black babies were killed by abortion in New York City than were born and the black children killed formed 42.2 percent of the total number of abortions in New York City, according to a report by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. ... continue reading
By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Christian bakers who refuse to make same-sex wedding cakes have been hit with harsh criticism from many people, especially those in the LGBT community. A gay baker and chef has come forward to back up the Christian bakers, explaining that those forcing them to make ... continue reading
By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
ISIS militants blew up a Christian church, leaving it in ruins, but the spirit of Christianity and love among the people within its community continued to prevail. A young couple wed in the rubble and the celebration of the sacred union was full of brightness and ... continue reading