Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why Same-Sex Marriage Is Bad For Children

(Thirty-third Sunday of the Year (A): This homily was given on November 16, 2008 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani. Read Proverbs 31: 1-013, 19-20, 30-31; Sirach 26: 1.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Thirty-third Sunday 2008]

The message of today’s first reading from Proverbs 31 can be summed up with a line from the Book of Sirach, chapter 26: “Happy the husband of a really good wife.”

Notice, if you would, that this line of the Bible does not say, “Happy the husband of a really good husband”; nor does it say, for that matter, “Happy the wife of a really good wife.”

But there are some in our country right now who would gladly make those changes to this verse of Sacred Scripture if they had the power to do so.

Needless to say, the Bible recognizes no other configuration for marriage than 1 man and 1 woman.

Do you agree with the Scriptures?

Can you imagine a priest asking that question to the members of his congregation 40 or 50 years ago? I was ordained in 1985, and I can’t imagine asking it at Masses back then!

But it’s definitely a valid question now.

In decades past, if you even implied that marriage was for 2 members of the same gender, or for 1 man and several women, or for 1 woman and several men, the average person on the street—or in the pew—would have called you crazy!

But now when you say things like that, you’re called “progressive” in some circles.

And yet, my brothers and sisters, in spite of all the efforts to redefine marriage which have been made in recent years by the Hollywood elite, the liberal media, high-powered college professors—and activist judges who legislate from the bench—the majority of Americans haven’t bought it.

At least not yet. This was demonstrated once again in this past election, praise God, as voters in 3 states rejected so-called gay or same-sex marriage. By the way, that includes the state of California—which has the reputation of being EXTREMELY liberal on social issues.

This fact alone should give the defenders of marriage a lot of hope!

Of course, we’d better not make the mistake of sitting on our past laurels! As Catholics, we need to keep working to promote marriage as God designed it, because the enemies of traditional marriage are already plotting their next attack—which will probably come in the courts.

Have you noticed, incidentally, that this is the only way they’ve been able to get laws on marriage changed—by forcing their will on the people through activist judges? That’s what happened in Massachusetts, and it’s what happened in nearby Connecticut. On the other hand, when democracy has been allowed to function properly, and they’ve put the issue to a vote in a particular state, the people have consistently said no—even in a state like California!

Let me share with you now a few insights from an article that appeared in the Rhode Island Catholic a few months ago. This article was entitled, “Love isn’t enough: 5 reasons why same-sex marriage will harm children,” and it was written by a clinical psychologist, Dr. Trayce Hansen.

I do this today because, if we’re intent on defending traditional marriage, we have got to be able to give people solid reasons why legalizing so-called gay marriage is not in the best interests of society as a whole, and of children in particular.

So here they are. Hopefully you’ll be able to remember them.

(But don’t worry; if you forget them, you can always consult my homily blog. The web address is in the bulletin.)

Reason #1 why it’s in the best interest of children to be raised by both a mother and a father: Mother-love and father-love are qualitatively different, and a child needs the complementary balance of the two. Dr. Hansen says here, “the unconditional-leaning love of a mother and the conditional-leaning love of a father . . . are essential to a child’s development. Either of these forms of love without the other can be problematic.”

In other words, moms and dads tend to show their love for their children in different ways, and children grow and develop best when they experience the love of both a mother and a father.

Reason #2: Children progress through predictable and necessary developmental stages. Some stages require more from a mother, while others require more from a father. Dr. Hansen says, “For example, infants tend to do better in the care of their mother. . . . Fathers are generally needed later when they play a restraining role in the lives of their children.” (“No, you’re not taking the car out tonight; end of discussion!”)

Reason #3: Boys and girls need an opposite-sexed parent to help them moderate their own gender-linked inclinations. Dr. Hansen says, “Boys generally embrace reason over emotion, rules over relationships, risk-taking over caution, and standards over compassion, while girls generally embrace the reverse. An opposite-sexed parent helps a child keep his or her own natural proclivities in check by teaching—verbally and nonverbally—the worth of opposing tendencies.”

Reason #4: Same-sex marriage will increase sexual confusion and experimentation by implying that all choices are equally acceptable and desirable. From my reading and observation—as well as from my discussions with lots of teenagers—I would say that a great deal of this kind of experimentation is already going on, resulting in many young people being introduced to the gay lifestyle who otherwise would not be.

But, of course, the legalizing of same-sex marriage would make the problem even worse.

And finally, reason #5: If society permits same-sex marriage, it also will have to allow other types of marriage. This is not the first time you’ve heard that warning given from this pulpit, is it? And it makes perfect sense, does it not? I mean, if Adam can marry Steve, then why can’t Adam marry Steve and Stan—or Steve, Stan and Eve—or several women—or several men—or some combination thereof? Someday it might even come down to the question of whether or not Adam can marry Fido the dog or Fluffy the cat.

Now if you think that last one is totally ridiculous and could never happen, please keep in mind that 50 years ago 99.9% of the population would have said that same-sex marriage was totally ridiculous and could never happen!

But now it’s a very real possibility.

Let me close today with a final message from Dr. Hansen. May her words inspire each of us to do our best to promote marriage as the Bible teaches it and as God designed it:

“Same-sex marriage definitely isn’t in the best interest of children. And although we empathize with those homosexuals who long to be married and parent children, we must not allow our compassion for them to trump our compassion for [young people]. In a contest between the desires of some homosexuals and the needs of children, we can’t allow the children to lose.”