Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

We Pray Always for Your Good

Perhaps many will soon find themselves in the position that my family was in recently, on the announcement of a relative's impending homosexual union, recognized in that state as marriage. The announcement could not go unanswered, and yet what could we say? This person is very aware of my family's observant Catholicism and knew that we would not endorse this behavior. However, we love our relative very much and didn't want to cause an irreparable breach in our relationship.

Some combatants in the cultural wars think that it is an ironclad defense to assert, "Well, you may be dogmatic about issue X, but if it became personal, if it was your family member who [comes out as a homosexual, gets pregnant out of wedlock, has an unhappy marriage], you'd change your views pretty quickly." Not so. Our faith is built upon a rock and does not sway with the shifting tides of circumstance or personal tragedy. The question was, not should we embrace this event, but how best to give an answer rooted in God's own love, without implying our consent to this event.

In great agitation, I went down to sit in adoration, only to find that the church was closed. So from the parking lot, which was the closest I could get to the Eucharist, I sat and tapped out this reply in the name of the family:
Dear [Name] 
We all love you very much and acknowledge what a happy time this must be for you and [partner]. Even though you know that we all believe that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, I hope you also know that we pray always for your good and that you will always know God's will for your life. Keep us in your prayers as you are in ours.
Our relative was thoughtful enough not to invite us to the ceremony, knowing we would not attend.

This matter has been a cause for intense grief and heartache for us, and though we seem to have maintained this relationship, hateful words have been hurled at my family from other quarters. Again, what can we do? We can only meet hate with love and ignorance with understanding, and pray that God's will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.


Barb said...

I'm sorry that this is happening to your family. We are facing a similar situation in that my niece is in such a relationship but hasn't gone as far as getting "married". However, she has had a baby through artificial insemination, and though I don't approve of her method, I have tried to let her know that we still love her and her baby. Very difficult situation to be in indeed.

bearing said...

In the attempt to focus on trying to prevent widespread acceptance that a same-sex relationship can be called "marriage," I feel that our pastors have neglected to provide much pastoral guidance about how to live in a world where it is already happening.

Anonymous said...

So far no homosexual unions in our family, but divorce and another marriage, and sometimes another and another. The hardest thing has been dealing with fallen away Catholics marrying outside the church. On the one hand, their catechesis was pitiful. On the other hand, we do know what the church teaches even if they do not. This led to one respectfully declined wedding invitation, and one where my husband declined to be best man at his brothers wedding. We eventually went to the wedding, but we emphasized that it was to show our love for them, not because of agreement with marrying out of the church. We still struggle with it because the invalid marriage makes the brother's legal wife an aunt to our children in their eyes. It is not fun dealing with such things with small children. I think that they may be doing the best they can with the knowledge that they have, and so are we. What do you do when you have irreconcilable differences with a relative who you must interact with frequently? The only solution I have come up with is to pray for them and for us.

Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

a relative's impending homosexual union


Would he or his father have been some Cecil Darwin? I mean, when I read Enid Blyton's Five Go off to Camp I felt that Cecil Dearlove really must have been a Darwin (for linguistic reasons, Dar-win = Dear-friend)?


Seriously, it reminds me that Darwinism is not quite Christian, and thus some idolatry punishment might be involved (cfr Romans).

Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

A little tip for your relative's (hope "Cecil Darwin" was just a bad guess, I don't want to destroy his anonymate either) good, whenever he feels like it:

Conversion of Beabourg

bearing said...

Hm, my comment got eaten. I will try again...

I think there's more than a little difference between the set of permissible responses that a Catholic may make to an impending civil marriage between two members of the same sex, and the set of permissible responses to an impending civil marriage between a man and a woman that the Catholic has good reason to believe will not be a valid marriage. (e.g., one party is Catholic and the wedding is outside the Church; or one party was previously married and it is known that the tribunal was not consulted)

(a) There's usually some hope that a conversion of heart could lead, eventually, to the union becoming a valid marriage

(b) The Catholic who is deliberating over the response is not usually aware of the degree to which the "guilty" parties are indeed incurring the guilt of sin regarding the irregularities of the union. We all know how bad catechesis has been; and even a well-catechized Catholic who "knows better" can experience a crisis of faith or a conversion to a different philosophy in which there is an honest belief that the Church is wrong and some other philosophy is right; and there may be extenuating circumstances in which there is a great deal of pressure to act contrary to Church teachings.

(c) Many times the question of "do I express approval of this event that marks a transition in the lives of these people?" is really a question of "ought I encourage someone to pass from a condition of greater evil to a condition of lesser evil?" The "greater evil" is often that the parties were living in open fornication without even offering to each other and to any children who might be born of their union the minimal legal and social protection represented by civil marriage; the "lesser evil," a condition of having extended those protections to each other and to any children that may be born of their union. The willingness of a male and female who are fornicating to enter civil marriage is a step in the direction of charity and self-gift, evidence that the concern for the other which is a prerequisite for a valid marriage is beginning to be present.

The question of whether we may ever encourage a lesser evil in order to prevent a greater one is *not* a cut-and-dried one; if I recall correctly, for example, St. Thomas Aquinas did not come out firmly against it and acknowledged it was a difficult moral question.

I have been in the situation of being invited to a probably-invalid wedding outside the Church, um, three times if I recall correctly; twice for relatives of my spouse and once for a good friend, a non-Catholic who was marrying a man that I was aware was raised Catholic. All three times we chose to attend. In the case of my husband's relatives, I deferred to my husband to make the call. In the case of my friend, I can plead some ignorance; at the time I wasn't really clear on the fact that a person who has left the Church still counts as "Catholic" for canonical purposes, and I didn't bother to investigate; but I'm still not sure I would have made a different decision.

mrsdarwin said...

Bearing, I'm sorry. I don't know why the first comment went into the spam filter (I see everything through my email, so it always looks to me like comments go through). I've released it from the cage o' spam.

bearing said...

Aw, man, now I have two. You can delete whichever one is less brilliant.

Art Deco said...

Well, best of luck. You've got your own gang, which can occupy your attention with scant limits. If your collaterals wish to pick fights with you (by being brazen or by hurling invective), you might just turn the page. Some things you cannot fix.

Jenny said...

We had a somewhat similar situation a few years ago. My younger cousin, who was raised Methodist to Catholic to nothing, had four different weddings to three different guys over the course of about three years.

The first (2006) wedding was a destination vacation. Easy pass. The second (2007) was justice of the peace. Not invited. The third (2008) was a Methodist church wedding a year later to the justice-of-the-peace guy. We attended this one. Fourth (2009) was in a barn, maybe? We declined to attend, but didn't really give a reason. Too bad, I guess, because this marriage appears to be sticking.

At each one of these events, the highest good seemed to be, "Whatever makes you happy, sweetheart." I'm not sure how to handle it all appropriately so I mostly take the cowards way.

Art Deco said...

My younger cousin, who was raised Methodist to Catholic to nothing, had four different weddings to three different guys over the course of about three years.

The last of whom has an IQ below room temperature, no?

Jenny said...

Believe it or not, Number three is the best of the bunch. What possessed him to get involved, I'll never understand, but it seems to be working out.

Same Anonymous said...

The situation between an invalid marriage of a same-sex couple and an invalid marriage of an opposite sex couple is different for the reason you state. However, in both cases a wedding takes place but no marriage occurs. I can't see how going and saying nothing shows anything other than support and approval. Hardest for me was the idea that I would be showing presumptive approval in front of my children. If one day they left the church and wanted to marry outside of it, they could easily say "It didn't matter to you when relatives a, b, c, etc. left the church and got married outside of it, why would it matter if I did?"
I agree about probable culpability, but I can't see how we can support someone in doing something wrong if we think that they think they're doing the right thing.

bearing said...

I agree with you that to attend any ceremony shows support and approval.

What I am arguing that it is not automatically unreasonable to support and approve a move from a situation of greater evil to a situation of lesser evil. This is a question that is certainly fraught with difficulty and the risk of being misinterpreted, but I am fairly sure that there is no official Church pronouncement that says we may not encourage such a move under any circumstances.

Nancy said...

For what it's worth (a comment from a complete stranger), I think you handled this brilliantly! Thank you for this honest post!