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Same-Sex Ruling

Clergy Corner by Fr. David A. Runnion for July 26, 2015

Clergy Corner by Fr. David A. Runnion for July 26, 2015, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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God created us to be holy, as followers of Jesus Christ. He placed us in this time, to witness to divine truth and give glory to God.

On June 26, the US Supreme Court issued an egregious 5-4 decision asserting that the federal constitution requires the States to change their definition of marriage and license two homosexuals to marry as if they were a man and a woman.[i] The four dissenting justices said this usurps the States' Constitutional rights and the will of the people inscribed in State laws and constitutions. In his dissent, the Chief Justice said: "The majority's decision… has no basis in the Constitution or this Court's precedent"; "[f]ive lawyers have… enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people"; "[j]ust who do we think we are?" [ii]

While extant, what is the effect for God's-faithful of this tragic decision, ignoring biology and human history?

1. By its recognition, the decision does not change the civil law regarding religious beliefs. The Court stated: "[I]t must be emphasized that religions… may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex… [unions] should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they … teach the principles that are so fulfilling and … central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex… [unions] for other reasons."[iii] And, "The First Amendment guarantees… the freedom to 'exercise' religion."[iv]

2. The decision cannot change divine law, natural law, or Church law. Because God instituted it, we know that marriage is only between one man and one woman.[v] Every government and court in the world can call a pig a "swan," but it does not make it so. Marriage in the Catholic Church will continue to be only between a man and a woman.

3. The decision does not change the moral law. As Christians, we love every human being and we respect their free will (within boundaries of the common good and others' rights). Precisely because God wants all to be saved, and none to end up in perdition, he reveals the path to life, which avoids mortal sins, such as unrepented fornication, that kill the soul. Because we truly love others, we share God's truth with them, so they may know the path to life and, through their informed decisions, determine their eternal destiny.

Thus, as the Supreme Court acknowledged, those of religious faith, such as the Catholic Church, may and will continue to share God's saving revelation, like that found in Scripture and the Catechism, which states: "'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law…. Under no circumstances can they be approved."[vi] At the same time, persons with homosexual tendencies "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity…. [and, looking to Christ's Cross,] [t]hese persons are called to … chastity."[vii]

We are all called to virtue, to self-control, chastity, and holiness, and to charity and kindness in sharing God's call, commandments, and precepts, and together seeking God's grace to honor them. As St. Paul says, "we… aspire to please [the Lord]… For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil."[viii]

Finally, not every civil law is morally right. While we want to be good earthly citizens, our ultimate goal is to be good citizens of Heaven; hence, we follow God before Caesar. Thus, the Catechism says: "A human law has the character of law… [if] it accords with… and… derives from the eternal law. Insofar as it falls short of… [this,] it is… an unjust law."[ix] "If rulers… enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience."[x]

Going forward, we should each first evaluate our own chastity, and, then pray for and do our part for protection of the family as God ordained it.


[i] Obergefell v. Hodges, Slip Op. (U.S. Supr. Ct., June 26, 2015).

[ii] Slip Op., Roberts Dissent. Op., pp. 2-3.

[iii] Slip Op., Maj. Op., p. 27.

[iv] Slip Op., Roberts Dissent. Op., p. 28.

[v] See, e.g., Gen 2:18-24; Mt 19:4-6; CCC 1625.

[vi] CCC 2357.

[vii] CCC 2358-59.

[viii] 2 Cor 5:9-10.

[ix] CCC 1902.

[x] CCC 1903.

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