Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

6/26/2014 (2 years 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 (2 years 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'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2016
Universal:
Human Solidarity: That the aged, marginalized, and those who have no one may find-even within the huge cities of the world-opportunities for encounter and solidarity.
Evangelization: Seminarians and Novices: That seminarians and men and women entering religious life may have mentors who live the joy of the Gospel and prepare them wisely for their mission.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

'Thank you Nintendo!!!': Pokemon GO helps autistic child overcome obstacles Watch

Image of Ralph Koppelman has broken the chains of Autism with help from Pokmon GO (@the_cheeky_chipmunk/Twitter).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Excited mother takes to social media after her 6-year-old son, Ralph, who suffers hyperlexia and autism, overcomes problems with help from Pokémon GO. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Hyperlexia," Ralph's father Steve Koppelman explained, "is an unusually early ... continue reading


12 powerful Bible verses you need to strengthen your marriage Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Marriage is one of the greatest loves of life. It is one of the most powerful connections a man and woman can experience. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - No matter how wonderful a marriage starts out, there are times when the couple will find it may become a ... continue reading


'Miracle Jane Doe': 9-year-old Guardian Angel saves life of abandoned newborn Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Nine-year-old Elysia Laub is being called a "guardian angel" after discovering a newborn baby lying in her backyard and ultimately saving the baby's life. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I knew it was alive and I knew we had something. I could not second guess ... continue reading


New documentary 'HUSH' talks the ugly truth about abortions Watch

Image of The documentary

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

"HUSH" was created and directed by one pro-life, one pro-abortion and one neutral filmmaker team to provide the closest thing to an honest, non-biased documentary of the effects abortion has on women. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The largest issue, aside from ... continue reading


'Our Lady has already crushed his head': Our Lady of Fatima visionary predicted marriage and family 'final battle' Watch

Image of Our Lady of Fatima 'final battle' prediction (YouTube).

By (CNA/EWTN News)

Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who witnessed the Marian apparitions at Fatima, died in 2005. But before her death, she predicted that the final battle between Christ and Satan would be over marriage and the family. Mexico City, Mexico (CNA/EWTN ... continue reading


'We are all children of God': Bishops calls for healing in Dallas Watch

Image of Prayers for Dallas, Texas (NorthEscambia).

By (CNA/EWTN News)

Amid tensions following two high profile police shootings of African-Americans and the subsequent killing of police in Dallas, Catholic bishops have called on Christians to be a force for healing and compassion in response to hatred and inhumanity. Dallas, Texas ... continue reading


'I heard screaming': WATCH terrifying moment man attempts to snatch 4-year-old girl from mother's side Watch

Image of Mother holds children close after attempted kidnapping (CCTV screenshot).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A 4-year-old girl was dragged from a Victorville cellphone store just feet from where her mother stood. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As seen in the CCTV video, the child was playing with something on the wall near the store door.Her mother stood in line with an ... continue reading


Fourth of July panic: Teen loses leg and fingers in homemade fireworks 'bomb' (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES) Watch

Image of Rowdy Radford's homemade fireworks

By Monique Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A Texas teen tied 180 sparkler fireworks together with electric tape to create a "bomb" in celebration of Independence Day. Unfortunately for the boy, things didn't go as planned. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - While other kids enjoyed the firework displays, ... continue reading


'It was just a baby': Disturbing moment mother 'felt nothing' for unborn son Watch

Image of Mother sees ultrasound of her son and was left untouched (Heather Neal).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Heather Neal described herself as a "horrible mother and human being" when she felt a clear disconnect from the child growing in her womb. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Neal, who is a sports dietitian and blogger, revealed her feelings for Kabes, her first born ... continue reading


'I love you and I am crying so hard grandma': Woman honors grandmother Watch

Image of Granddaughter cares for elderly grandmother who can niether stand nor walk (Jen Ampler/Facebook).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Jen Ampler lives in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. She took then posted images of herself and her grandmother to Facebook, touching the hearts of thousands. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Ampler went to visit her grandmother and realized the ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Daily Readings for Wednesday, July 27, 2016
  • Prayer for a Blessing on the New Year HD Video
  • PLEASE PRAY! Catholic priest savagely beheaded by ISIS terrorists ...
  • Pokemon Go player with CCW halts attempted robbery
  • St. Pantaleon: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, July 27, 2016
  • I am Ready for Love HD Video
  • Pope Francis 'implores God's peace for the world' after horrific ...

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 44:1, 10-15
1 Next let us praise illustrious men, our ancestors in their successive ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 132:11, 13-14, 17-18
11 Yahweh has sworn to David, and will always remain true to his word, 'I ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:16-17
16 'But blessed are your eyes because they see, your ears because they ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 26th, 2016 Image

Sts. Joachim and Anne
July 26: Saints Joaquin (sometimes spelled "Joachim," ... Read More