Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
My question is this: What is it specifically about homosexuality and, by extension, homosexual “marriage” that makes it such a widespread cause celebre in contemporary Western society? I ask because I know many, many people, people who are otherwise thoughtful and intelligent, indeed who could even be called “conservative” in the broad, non-political sense of the term, who uncritically accept the notion that the denunciation of homosexual activity is the moral equivalent of race prejudice and that there is no good cause to oppose expanding the legal definition of marriage to include members of the same sex.
I find this baffling. I can only assume that many people have simply bought into the notion that these questions are about “fairness” or even “justice” rather than morality. Do you have any insights or thoughts on the matter that might make this more explicable to me?
I suspect it is a combination of things in a sort of “perfect storm.” First, of course, is the devolution of our understanding of all morality into a theory that consent is the sole criterion of the good. This is the end stage of a process which began with the Reformation principle of Private Judgement as the final determiner of faith and morals. We now live in a world where, if two or more people of whatever combination of gender “love each other” that is all that matters and we are powerless to reply so long as “consent” is the sole deciding factor. Currently, homosexual relationships are at the cutting edge of the push to roll back Christian moral norms. Soon, it will be incest, bestiality, and pedophilia that will likewise be defended as “consensual.” So long as we have no vocabulary for articulating the idea of the common good (namely, that marriage is about more than two or more people’s desires; it is also about the need children have for a mother and father), we will continue to be helpless.
In addition, there is the fact that homosexuality is deeply narcissistic. It demands not merely tolerance, but approval. And in its increasingly militant form, it demands not merely approval, but the persecution, muzzling and smashing of those who disapprove, even when they pose no threat—out of pure spite. In addition, the gay community, having a larger amount of disposable cash than other demographics (due to having fewer children) have disproportionate clout to evangelize for their cause.
And finally, of course, there is the mystery of sin at work in the world. There are, I should carefully note, those in the gay community who seek to live chastely and who desire to love and serve Christ. They bear a heavy cross, not only because of the malice they often receive from other homosexuals, but from the stupid rejection they often get from Christians who cannot tell the difference between temptation and act. They deserve nothing but love, prayer and support from us. But the fiction of gay “marriage” has two main goals. The first is to try to compel those who know better to pretend that homosexual acts are good and not disordered and sinful. The second is to try to create a legal basis for persecution of those whose religion teaches that homosexual acts are sinful. The devil is always happy to see the state mutate into a colossus bent on smashing the Church and isn’t particularly fussy which mania humans embrace as their excuse for doing so. A thousand years ago, it was a mania for smashing icons and statues. Currently, it’s a mania for all manner of disordered sexual desire. A hundred years from now, it may be a mania for some other absurdity, like fear of bread and wine.
The persecuting fever will eventually abate, of course, and the destructiveness of gay “marriage” will, like the destructiveness of the sexual revolution and no-fault divorce, will be impossible to hide forever. But for now, our deeply libertarian culture lacks the ability to conceive of anything beyond consent as the sole criterion of the good, so it is powerless to deal with gay “marriage.”