What a surprise. The catholic church in Scotland is opposing proposed changes in the law to allow same sex marriage, or as the church prefers to refer to it as “gay marriage”.
On 26 August, in every catholic church in Scotland, a “letter” was read out to the parishioners. The letter emanated from cardinal Keith O’Brien, the head of the catholic church in Scotland.
This is the same cardinal who, in March of this year referred to the plans to allow gay marriage as “a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.
And in an act of what can only be described at petty petulance, last week the cardinal cut off discussions with the Scottish Government over the proposed changes to the law.
So what are the church’s problems with gay marriage? What is in this 650 worded letter? The answer is pretty much nothing.
The church’s reason for opposing the proposals? Because Jesus made reference to marriage being between a man and a woman – specifically Matthew 19. 4 to 5 which reads as follows:
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
As it happens, in that verse Jesus is answering a question as to whether a man should be allowed to divorce his wife, (see Matthew 19.3). So it can be strongly and convincingly argued that Jesus was not commenting about same sex marriage at all. (Indeed, so far as I am aware, Jesus never mentioned homosexuality.) I call the church’s reliance of this passage to be cherry picking – and dishonest cherry picking too.
So what else does the church rely on to oppose the proposals?
The answer is – nothing. If you don’t believe me then read the letter for yourself. I have posted it below. Apart from some, (at times meaningless), rhetoric the definition of marriage by Jesus is the only argument that it relies on.
It is also worth noting that the church does not follow all of Jesus’ teachings. For example, in the same book, (Matthew), verses 5 to 7 – commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says a lot of things that no one, not even the catholic church takes seriously today. (For a full deconstruction of the Sermon on the Mount by Matt Dillahunty click here)
In the letter there are undertones that appear to suggest that the catholic church considers that allowing gay marriage would have an adverse affect on society. However, what that adverse affect would be, or why it would happen is never explained.
Surely, if the church had any valid argument(s) it would have raised it/them in the letter. Their failure to do so suggests to me that they have no valid argument, (other than bigotry which is hardly an argument), that would withstand scrutiny.
And because their selective, arbitrary, cherry picking, (if that is not a tautology), I can only conclude is motivated by bigotry and homophobia.
Anyway, have a look for yourself. Here is the letter.
“In all things, we as Catholics look to Jesus Christ as our model and teacher. When asked about marriage He gave a profound and rich reply: “Have you not read that the Creator, from the beginning, ‘made them male and female’, and said: ‘This is why a man must leave father and mother and cling to his wife and the two become one body’.” (Matthew, 19: 4-5)
In the Year of Faith, which begins this October, we wish to place a special emphasis on the role of the family founded on marriage. The family is the domestic Church, and the first place in which the faith is transmitted. For that reason it must have a primary focus in our prayerful considerations during this period of grace.
We write to you having already expressed our deep disappointment that the Scottish Government has decided to redefine marriage and legislate for same-sex marriage. We take this opportunity to thank you for your past support in defense of marriage and hope you will continue to act against efforts to redefine it. We reaffirm before you all the common wisdom of humanity and the revealed faith of the Church that marriage is a unique life-long union of a man and a woman.
In circumstances when the true nature of marriage is being obscured, we wish to affirm and celebrate the truth and beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony and family life as Jesus revealed it; to do something new to support marriage and family life in the Catholic community and in the country; and to reinforce the vocation of marriage and the pastoral care of families which takes in the everyday life of the Church in dioceses and parishes across the country.
For that reason, in the forthcoming Year of Faith we have decided to establish a new Commission for Marriage and the Family. This Commission will be led by a bishop and will be composed mostly of lay men and women. The Commission will be charged with engaging with those young men and women who will be future husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and with those who already live out their vocation to marriage and parenthood in surroundings which often make it hard to sustain and develop the full Catholic family life we cherish.
We wish to support too, those who are widowed, separated and divorced and all who need to feel the Church’s maternal care in the circumstances in which they find themselves. The new Commission will promote the true nature of marriage as both a human institution and a union blessed by Jesus. The Commission will be asked to develop an online presence so that prayer, reflection, formation and practical information on matters to do with marriage and family life can be quickly accessible to all. It will also work to produce materials and organise events which will support ordinary Catholic families in their daily lives. During the course of the coming year we will ask for your support for these initiatives.
Our faith teaches us that marriage is a great and holy mystery. The Bishops of Scotland will continue to promote and uphold the universally accepted definition of marriage as the union solely of a man and a woman. At the same time, we wish to work positively for the strengthening of marriage within the Church and within our society.
This is an important initiative for all our people, but especially our young people and children. We urge you to join us in this endeavour. Pray for your own family every day, and pray for those families whose lives are made difficult by the problems and cares which they encounter. Finally, we invite you to pray for our elected leaders, invoking the Holy Spirit on them, that they may be moved to safeguard marriage as it has always been understood, for the good of Scotland and of our society.”