First things first: I apologize for my extended hiatus from posting blogs. Let’s just say a lot of very significant and life-changing things happened to me one after another.
Second things second: I’d like to return to my regularly scheduled programming by speaking about a rather snaggly issue in our state/country/world at the moment: gay marriage. You can’t possibly have missed the whole debate about whether homosexuals should be allowed to marry each other unless you’ve been living for years in a cardboard box in the northern Alaskan wilderness, eating ptarmigans and wishing someone would come and inform you whether Bill Clinton ended up winning the presidential race after all. (Side note to my northern Alaskan readers: He did.)
Brace yourselves, for I am about to make a statement that should not, repeat, NOT be misunderstood or taken out of context: I support equal rights for gays and straights alike. Gay people have just as much of a right to get married as straight people do.
Now before anyone says anything about anything, let me explain to you how you already agree with me. The key to this statement, and in fact the whole argument over gay marriage, is that the focus of the issue has been deftly manipulated to center on the wrong question. The question is not whether gays should have the same rights as straight people. Of course they should. They are people too, and nothing about them innately makes them lesser, second-class beings (CCC #2358). The real question that nobody is asking is: Do straight people actually have the right to get married?
The answer is, in point of fact, no. We do not. We don’t have the right to get married, nor could we even consider marriage a privilege, lest we be inclined to boast of our privileged status over homosexuals. No, marriage is neither a right nor a privilege – it is a calling. A vocation.
God has a specific plan for you. If He is calling you to marriage, then He has a specific person in mind for you to marry, and a specific life He wants you to live, and specific children He wishes you to raise. He knows the choices you will make in advance, and so He plans accordingly, with complete love for you and respect for your free will and choice in the matter. When you choose the person you wish to marry, remember that God knew far in advance whom you would choose, and He was the one who brought you together so that you would even know you wished to choose them.
He called you to that life of love. The same goes for priests, nuns, and other celibate religious – if you are called to some form of consecrated celibate life, it’s because God wanted you there, not because you had the right to be there. He MADE you for that purpose. That is the place where you will be most happy, and most able to use all of your gifts and talents, like a hammer that suddenly finds out its purpose in life is driving in nails.
There is no sense in denying this or trying to change it – not because you can’t change it, but because it would be stupid to do so. Why would you rebel against the very purpose for which you were made (Rom 9:20)? Why would you rebel against your own happiness and fulfillment? This is the question we must ask to anyone who tries to take charge of their own life, to put themselves and their wishes above God, whether they are attempting to choose married life when they are called to celibacy, to choose celibacy when they are called to married life, or to choose to marry one person whom they fancy when they are called to another.
If marriage is a calling, a vocation, then we heterosexual folk don’t have any intrinsic right to it, any more than the millions of people who buy tickets have a right to win the lottery. Marriage is a Sacrament, and part of the nature of any Sacrament is that it is not something that we do, but rather something that God does, in which we are allowed to take part and participate.
When we celebrate the Sacrament of the Eucharist in Mass, God is the one who transubstantiates the hosts, not the priest. Priests do not say a magical incantation that makes God bend to their will, but rather, God bends the words and hands of the priest to His own will. Priests do not have the right to consecrate the Eucharist, nor do they have the privilege – they have the calling to do so.
It’s the same way with marriage. The ministers of the Sacrament of Marriage are the spouses, but their vows do not force God to recognize their marriage; instead, God brings them face-to-face with the knowledge that He has made them to be together until death. The husband and wife do not have the right to get married, nor do they have the privilege – they have the calling to do so.
The debate in our country regarding gay marriage has been over the wrong issue the entire time. No one should be questioning whether gays should have the same rights as straights. Of course they should. But if marriage is in fact what we Catholics say it is – a vocation and a Sacrament – then straight people don’t have any more right to it than gays do. It is the business of God, not of man, to make these kinds of decisions (Job 40:1-14). I certainly don’t have the right to marry anyone, and I for one am quite glad that such a decision does not rest in my hands, as I have quite the track record of making bad decisions thus far. I will rejoice in whatever vocation God ultimately has for me, because I know He has my best interests at heart.
I therefore stand by my statement – that gays should have just as much right to marry as straight people do – but I take strong issue with the idea that a straight person such as myself should have the “right to marriage.” Heterosexual marriage may have a legally recognized status for whatever silly reasons our government or voting populace may give, but as we have seen, legislation and human judication does not equal actual truth, and the so-called “right to marriage,” in actuality, does not exist for either hetero- OR homosexuals.
Let the flaming in the combox commence.
EDIT (12/17): It appears that my intent in this post may have been unclear. Let me clarify, then: Gay marriage is impossible. It is a non-thing, like a square triangle or a rock so big God can’t lift it. Marriage is a calling from God, and God never, NEVER calls two same-sex people to marry one another. Neither the Church nor the government can rightfully declare gay marriage to be valid, because it is not. My point was not to deny Church teaching, but rather to deflate the arrogance of the heterosexual position. I apologize for any lack of clarity on that issue in this post.
Everyone has a Right to… : Homosexuality & the Catholic Church