Four Ways that Same-Sex Marriage Will Affect You

July 10, 2013 | 8 comments

Just hours after the U.S. Supreme struck down the Defense of Marriage Act on June 26, a comedy website (which shall remain unnamed and unlinked-to) offered readers a “Guide to How the Gay Marriage Ruling Affects You,” the monotonous shtick of which was that, unless you are a homosexual who wished to marry, it doesn’t. Are you straight? Married? Religious? “This decision does not affect you in any way.”

Certainly nothing new or surprising about the assertion that “gay marriage won’t affect you.” Who among us hasn’t heard that?

What does surprise me is how folks on the political and moral Left can pretend that when it comes to sex every man is an island, while in most every other area they are so quick to see far-reaching social ripple effects from personal actions.

Think about it. Environmentalists want us to “think globally, act locally,” because, apparently, drinking from a styrofoam cup vaporizes the rain forest and eating a can of Star-Kist slaughters a family of dolphins. Others tell us to “live simply that others may simply live,” the implication being that my luxury is the distant cause of someone else’s poverty. And if former president Carter is to be believed, the Catholic Church’s failure to ordain women to the priesthood has led to all manner of economic and institutional discrimination against them.

Why is it, then, that sex is something that never goes beyond the bedroom? How can these same people, ordinarily so attuned to the interconnectedness of things, state so blithely, “This decision does not affect you in any way”?

This is a favorite challenge of same-sex marriage (SSM) advocates, first, because it does a handy end-run around the argument. Rather than inviting a needed discussion about the meaning of sex and marriage or about the role of the state in regulating them, it shuts down discussion by framing the whole question not in terms of principle but of consequences.

Secondly, because it implies that our motive is nothing more than moral busybodyism—a variation on Mencken’s definition of Puritanism as the fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time.

So I think it’s important, as the SSM train rolls on and its supporters become bolder, for defenders of traditional marriage to be able to offer cogent answers to that challenge. Here are four:

1. Ideas have consequences.

This is the first and most general response we might make. Culture, in which we all participate and by which we’re all affected, is the sum total of the ideas that shape it. The power of those ideas, and their shaping, is proportionate to the number and importance of the cultural categories they affect.

Sex, marriage, children, familial relationships: These things are the most pervasive cultural categories in human history. One doesn’t have to postulate great leaps of causality to see that rapid and radical changes in these areas affect everyone. Western culture as we know it is built on thousands of years of viewing marriage, sex, and family life in certain ways. To say that we can redefine those views and not change the culture is just silly, or else willfully naïve.

2. We all have to live in the world that SSM will create.

Same-sex marriage is not a mere tweak to a few lines of marriage law: It is a codified endorsement of homosexuality. Since the law is a teacher, this endorsement has the effect of confirming in their disorder people suffering from same-sex attraction and removing the stigmas that might have checked others from fully giving themselves over to it. Indeed, considering the low percentages of homosexual couples actually tying the knot in places where SSM has been legalized, and the disdain for marriage reflected in the writings of prominent gay activists and scholars, it’s not a stretch to say that this endorsement—not tax breaks or hospital visitation rights or any other practical benefit of actually getting married—is the primary goal of SSM advocacy.

All this matters because we believe people with same-sex attraction are profoundly wounded and in need of healing. When by power of law the state applauds woundedness, deepens it; when it creates conditions that will increase the numbers of wounded; when it prioritizes making the wounded into adoptive parents, giving them leadership positions in government, education, religion, and the military, and lionizing their condition in public observances, school curricula, and the media—how does this not profoundly affect life for the rest of us?

If culture is the sum of the ideas that shape it, our experience of that culture is the product of the health, virtue, and integrity of the other people who inhabit it.

3. "Error has no rights."

SSM’s definitive endorsement of homosexuality will have a thousand legal ripple effects. We will need to rewrite family law and develop new speech codes to do it. As artificial reproductive technologies mature we will have to recognize legal parenting arrangements comprising virtually any number of persons and gender combinations. While we’re at it, we’ll need some new genders, too.

You’d think that sorting through all that would be enough trouble, but the law—both in civil/criminal statutes and in the policies of organizations and employers—will also have to occupy itself with quashing dissent from the new paradigm. And that affects . . . you.

Don’t want to attend a gay pride celebration in your office? You will be fired. Don’t want to rent a room in your B&B to a homosexual couple, or bake a cake for a gay wedding? Agree to service a gay wedding but just want to say your peace about traditional marriage? You’re going to jail, or at least getting slapped with a big fine.

In my experience, more and more proponents of SSM are changing their tune on this objection, from denying that such coercion could ever happen to saying that it could—and should. Shouldn’t you be fired for being a neo-Nazi? Wouldn’t it be wrong to deny a hotel room to a mixed-race couple? Homosexuality is a civil right, and being wrong about it is not.

4. Catholicism and gay rights are incompatible.

At present the Church, and all Christians of a traditional sort, coexist in a false and uneasy truce with the sexual revolution. There has always been sin in the world, of course, and Christianity and sin are always incompatible, but increasingly our world is one of sin normalized, institutionalized, made official. Think of the almost unbearable moral contradiction baked into abortion law, for instance. And of the inescapable conclusion that what the state says about abortion falsifies Catholicism.

Same-sex marriage, I think, will magnify this tension, perhaps to a point where it can no longer be smoothed over or ignored. The state and the culture say two persons of the same sex can marry; the Church says they can’t. This condition can’t endure. The Church’s position is just too great an obstacle—an insult—to the sexual liberation project, of which homosexuality has become the popular symbol.

So, you might ask, when the state and all the force of law say that our religion is false, that it is in fact bigoted, isn’t there a teensy chance it will affect us in some way? We don’t have to make wild predictions here—we just have to look at recent precedent. Viewed in the context of the fight against the HHS mandate and the state’s accompanying argument that religious freedom is really nothing more than “freedom of worship,” it seems clear enough that the logical terminus of legalized same-sex marriage is the forced relocation of Catholics to the closet—or the catacombs.



Todd Aglialoro is the director of publishing for Catholic Answers Press. He studied theology at Franciscan University, the University of Fribourg, and the International Theological Institute. A New York native, Todd now lives in the San Diego area with his wife, seven children, and one small bird.

Comments by Members

#1  theresa Eldridge - festus, Missouri

This is a great article. I am struggling with having a gay man in my RCIA classes. He claims to be "married", brings the man he falsely calls "husband" to church with their adopted child... When I am trying to grow in my faith I find it difficult to be constantly faced with such blasphemy... How am I supposed to ignore the blatant lifestyle of sin? How can he be given communion knowing the lifestyle he lives and chooses....

October 8, 2013 at 10:12 pm PST
#2  Sally Miller - Bend, Oregon

Well written article. I feel for Theresa above. She is facing head on what we all will be very soon. In school now the teens are being taught gay and heterosexual sex equally. I do believe for years gays have been banning together to gain strength and with the internet it has now become a powerful force. Opposition on most news sources are edited or censored. No one wants to say "what you are doing in the bedroom is strange" because all sex is strange if we really think about it, and some heterosexuals are pushing the limits of perversion. I think the issue that gets constantly ignored is how fragile heterosexual marriages are to start with and a society who honors romantic love and sex over what's "best for the children", which is to be raised with their biological parents who are committed to them and each other. Gays are pushing so hard to equalize that to "2 males and an adoption" that many are doing a BETTER job on parenting and marriage education just to prove themselves. ALso, you are correct about any number of persons and gender marrying soon. The front page of our paper this week described the life of polyamory which exists in the shadows of society now as homosexuality did…… but not for long. After reading that article, where two gay women were married to the father of their child (togetherness and all loving), while also leaving the nest on occasion to meet with sweethearts, I could find no more objection in principle with that arrangement than with gay marriage. It's all about forming a family with whomever you are attracted to. Yes, I do predict practicing Christians will soon be seen as freaks……. until the free love fallout happens and the pendulum swings back….. just like Rome.

December 4, 2013 at 8:44 pm PST
#3  Anonymous Freethinker - City, Federated States of Micronesia

Ok, I just wanted to make sure you understood something. In America, State and Church are to be kept separate. This means that the government cannot enact any legislation that promotes or discriminates against any religion. Think about it this way, if the government enacted a law that said women had to cover their faces in public, how would you feel? That would be a blatant promotion of Islam and discriminatory to followers of other faiths (and those who don't follow any faith). Now, before you say that legalizing gay marriage would discriminate against Christians, it won't. It really doesn't affect you in any way unless you want to marry someone of the same sex. Also, if gay marriage is legalized, that does not mean that the law is stating that your religion is false or bigoted. It simply means that the law is not promoting a particular religion. Oh, and Sally, I'm not familiar with what you are referring to about Rome. If you read this, could you enlighten me?
Thank you all for listening to what I had to say.

January 20, 2014 at 10:29 am PST
#4  A J - Exton, Pennsylvania

To the above commenter, you appear to have not read the article. If you did, rather that repeat the same argument the author debunks by providing evidence to support his view, you should have done the same. Also, your view of "State and Church are to be kept separate" is a myth. In reality, the constitution says there shall be no establishment of an official state religion as was the case under colonial Britain and still the reality to this day.

February 21, 2014 at 3:40 am PST
#5  Gus Nelson - Nopevile, Washington

To the Anonymous Freethinker, I don't even know why I'm on this site, I'm pretty sure that stupidity (like being gay) is just an incurable fact about a person.
Anyway, yes, there are repercussions from gay marriage being legalized. Of course it will effect you, just not in any substantial way.
The first point, " Ideas have consequences." This is just a fact of society. It's not inherit of gay marriage, but in fact happens whenever any change happens. In fact, the same effect would occur if gay marriage was continually outlawed. Furthermore, you provide no evidence of how gay marriage, specifically effects culture negatively.

The second point, "We all have to live in the world that SSM will create." I don't even know how to respond. Forget the fact that you believe that gays are, "profoundly wounded" but you also claim that they need healing. Well according to god, they don't. Leviticus 20:13 clearly states that you should kill all homosexuals. But clearly you guys are smarter than the god you worship.

The third point, "Error has no rights." Yes, there will be some changes to law because of SSM being legal. Kinda how there were laws changed when the slaves were freed. I'm not saying that slavery is as bad as not allowing SSM, but the same principal holds, that rewriting legal documents shouldn't prevent progress. And please stop playing the "we poor Christians are being segregated" card. Yes, there are people who think just because you people believe in a stupid religion, practice stupid rituals, and you yourselves discriminate others, that you should be unfairly treated. I don't share this belief, and if you spent more time with people from all walks of life who think that no one should be discriminated, and not just the ones who get into heaven, maybe this wouldn't happen.
The final point, "Catholicism and gay rights are incompatible" *Sigh* Jesus please smite these idiots (not the son of god, my gardener). Okay, I really have no idea what this one is talking about. Yes, according to your beliefs, sins are being more normalized into our culture. The great thing is YOU DON'T HAVE TO COMMIT THESE SINS! This is what people mean when they say "gay marriage doesn't effect you". Stop acting like the law is being discriminate to any religion just because it allows things you don't believe in. Yes, if gay marriage was mandatory, that would infringe on your rights. But its not and it doesn't.

Even though my argument is sound, I'm sure someone will respond with a retort comprising mainly of "your view of 'State and Church are to be kept separate' is a myth." -AJ. To that I say: In that case lets outlaw bacon, force women to wear burkas, and force a lazy day on the Sabbath. Just as along as we don't make one official.

In conclusion, Good job Catholicism. For taking the rational steps to allow shellfish, bacon, polyester, and expensive clothing, while still trying to impose your disapproval of gay people unto said gay people, you've earned yourself 2 smiley faces.
8=) (=8

May 9, 2014 at 1:13 pm PST
#6  Gus Nelson - Nopevile, Washington

I'm sorry, but I've just read the comments posted my both theresa Eldridge and Sally Miller. No offense, but your posts need some editing because I failed to hear the sarcasm in what you wrote. I mean, of course you guys are sarcastic because if Sally actually meant that she, "feel[s] for Theresa" because she had to deal with a gay man in her RCIA, I might collapse in a subsonic implosion of pure stupidity overload. I'm not even going to give a substantial reply to theresa because, honestly, I think she's in a room writing Shakespeare right now. But to Sally, I feel a response is due.

Dear Sally,
A wise man once said: "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself" - Jesus, or maybe Buddha or even Confucius.

You've seem to ignore this rule by treating gay people as freaks and then complaining because, "practicing Christians will soon be seen as freaks."
Also, this is an assumption, but I think its safe to say that you think pagans are freaky for believing in multiple gods, and trust me my pagan friend is criticized by monotheists a lot. So my real issue is that you are being very hypocritical, oh and you're stupid, there's also that.

Okay for the love of god Sally (no pun intended). I've actually read you're comment now, and it has happened, I have imploded.

"teens are being taught gay and heterosexual sex equally"
Although, this is just a statement of fact, and a poorly worded one at that, you're tone seems to be disapproving. To suggest that gays and heterosexuals are not equal goes against the very constitution that founded this great (although declining) nation. I'm sure that, if you reply, you'll say that you mean it in a literal sense because its 2 men or 2 women, and not 1 man 1 women. But I'm sure that would be an attempt to cover your tracks.
Sally, I had some respect for you, because you are a human being that I'm sure has gone through some hard things in life. But really? Like seriously? I'm not even sure you are human anymore. I don't like comparing people to Nazis because, in the modern day, such horrors only compare in third world countries where seemingly endless genocides happen. But more and more, you seem to share their beliefs.

Off topic, I'm not really an expert on the Old and New testament, but I wanted some clarification. Commandment 6 is "Don't kill people" But Leviticus 20:13 says homosexuals should be put to death. Does Catholicism not follow the commandments, or are gays not living people?

Your's truly, a heterosexual

May 9, 2014 at 1:49 pm PST
#7  Milton Rhodes - Roanoke, Virginia

As a heterosexual Christian I feel deeply saddened by this article.

Gay people are hugely mistreated. Many gay kids are made to feel utterly worthless by these kinds of attitudes and are driven to having suicidal thoughts.

Where is your concern for the suffering of a much mistreated minority group?

Jesus told us we had to be loving and we had to help those in need. He also made it clear how precious children are to him.

He made a point of standing up for the excluded, the outcasts, the mocked and the marginalized.

Even as I write these words there are thousands of kids, aged perhaps 12 and older, who have discovered they are gay and are suffering great torment and misery, because of attitudes like this.

How many more kids have got to commit self harm or suicide before we stop this persecution of gay people?

Instead of spreading hateful messages about gay people, perhaps we should follow the teachings of Jesus and reach out and try to help these kids.

Perhaps we should stop and listen to what they have to say instead of spouting mindless nonsense, with no understanding of the heavy burden that has been placed on their young shoulders.

Todd, I pray that your eyes might be opened and that you might see the suffering that we in the Christian community, with our thoughtless words, are causing these poor kids.

May 10, 2014 at 11:38 am PST
#8  Maryrose Pokorny - Colorado Springs, Colorado

There are two major issues I see in the comments here. I notice that a couple of the commentators are expressing upset at having encountered a person or persons living an actively homosexual lifestyle. I observe that the first (identified under the moniker "theresa Eldridge") feels threatened by the presence of a person who identifies himself as a homosexual and is in a sexual relationship with another man. The first thing I would say is that your reaction is not entirely unwarranted--it is good that your "red-alert" lights are going off, because we should all feel uncomfortable around sin, no matter what sin it is or where it is found. That being said, the person who makes you uncomfortable is still a son of God, as is his partner, and no matter what sins he may be committing he still deserves the dignity and respect that comes with that status. He also really needs your love, not your fear and condemnation. It is never acceptable to marginalize or persecute people, no matter how uncomfortable they may make us feel.
To the character who identifies under the moniker "Anonymous Freethinker", it does affect those of us who believe it is inherently sinful in the following ways: our children, who really shouldn't be exposed to anything sexual before they reach puberty, will be constantly exposed to a situation that will raise sexual questions because it will be all around them; also, for those of us who experience homosexual attractions and are trying to live chastely, it will make temptation all the more prevalent and all the more difficult to avoid. I'm not saying that either of these necessarily have any immediate bearing on the legislation, but it is not fair to say that the situation does not affect us.
To the individual under the moniker "Gus Nelson", I can only say--civility and rational discussion (i.e., no insults) are necessary in conversation and debate.

October 13, 2014 at 11:45 am PST

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