Notre Dame Marriage Panel Follow-Up

Last Monday, I spoke on a panel on marriage at the University of Notre Dame. Here is an excerpt from the Irish Rover’s article on the event:

Ron Belgau is a graduate student in philosophy at Saint Louis University and founder of the website Spiritual Friendship. . . .

Belgau began the discussion by acknowledging that “debates over same-sex marriage are extremely polarizing.” As a gay Catholic who embraces the Church’s teachings on sexuality, Belgau emphasized the need for a positive pastoral example for men and women who have same-sex attractions. He noted the experience many people have of “homosexual sins [being] graded on a very different scale than heterosexual sins.” In light of this tendency for homosexuals to feel marginalized, Belgau noted the importance of discussing ways for these people to respond to God’s calling and to use their particular gifts within the Church, with a particular emphasis on spiritual friendship—understanding the Church’s teachings as offering a positive vocation for same-sex attracted people.

In contrast with the negative precept to not engage in “gay sex,” Belgau said that a deeper understanding of the Church’s teaching on chastity can provide a positive vision for same-sex attracted persons. To be chaste, Belgau explained, is “to be able to order our sexual desires in accordance with right reason, in accordance with the plan that God wrote into creation that is known through right reason but which is also revealed to us in the Church.”

Belgau concluded by discussing the importance of mercy as related through the St. Patrick’s Day Gospel reading. “If we respond to this call to bear witness in a way that recognizes our own sin, recognizes our own struggle, then we have a very different witness to give to our culture,” he said.

I’ll post video of the event when it becomes available. The whole article is worth reading.

9 thoughts on “Notre Dame Marriage Panel Follow-Up

  1. Minority views are always interesting and should be treated with respect.

    Catholics form a minority in the US therefore they cannot hope to impose their views on us all. If they want to live their lives according to their doctrines, nothing in the equal marriage laws stops them from doing so. But they should not wish to impose their morals on everyone else. That would be theocracy, which is expressly forbidden under the terms of the U.S. Constitution.

    As for weak arguments about the curtailment of religious freedom, they quite literally don’t stand up in court. Service cannot be denied on the basis of sexual orientation any more than it can be denied on the basis of race. To do so is to contravene basic constitutional protections.

    The only way the Roman church can win this debate is to convert a super majority of Americans to their faith, win a sympathetic majority in all state legislatures and Congress, make sure a Catholic president is elected and then call for a constitutional convention to amend the Constitution so that it enshrines Catholic values in law.

    If you can’t do that (and you’re free to try) then you’re going to have to continue living in a society that, on the whole, doesn’t share your views.

    So why aren’t you out there evangelizing the masses instead of sitting in your ivory towers bewailing your lack of power and influence ?

    • I’m not even sure what you’re reacting to in this comment. Nothing in my remarks at the panel, or in those remarks as they are reported in this article, suggest that my goal is to win a political fight about gay marriage.

      • To Ron:True, but Anderson and morse on the panel did address the political fight about gay marriage. It is in the Irish Rover you linked your readers to. May that is what Rhi is reacting to.

  2. It strikes me as a bit odd that both Girgis and Anderson were included in the panel, given that there’s no substantial difference in their views. Further, they both approach the issue using the Grisez-Finnis notion of natural law, which largely takes modernist categories for granted. The Church’s approach to marriage and family is only going to make sense to the broader culture when we acknowledge a certain discontinuity between Christ and the natural world. In that sense, I have a much stronger appreciation for what the so-called Augustinian Thomists have to say on these questions.

  3. After having read the article, my take was that there seems to be a conflation of the political and pastoral responses to same-sex marriage such that, for many, a political response suffices for both.

  4. The article seemed to be another example of a select group of people preaching to the choir and glossing over or skipping entirely the arguments against their points of view. What about married heterosexual couples that don’t want children or those that can’t have children? What about the “plethora” of social scientific evidence that has come out in the last couple of decades which shows that children that grow up with same sex parents fair no better and no worse than those that grow up in married opposite sex households? What about older opposite sex couples that want to marry and for whom children are not an issue?

    There is a terrible arrogance and/or assumption present in the arguments made by several of the speakers that same-sex couples are not able to become one in the same way that opposite sex couples can. There is an assumption made that they, same sex couples, are unable or unwilling to be monogamous, and that the love and sacrifice that some married same sex couples make for their children and each other is somehow inferior to that of married opposite sex couples. This idea that the love and commitment a same sex couple may have and show towards each other, no matter how much it transcends mere emotion or sex, is somehow inferior to the love experienced by married opposite sex couples, is simply wrong. Until these people are willing to honestly engage this issue and not merely rally their base, they will continue to lose this particular war of ideas.

  5. Rhî, your post begins ‘Minority views are always interesting and should be treated with respect’ – but I don’t see a whole lot of respect in your comments that follow. Rather than seeing the views expressed by Ron and others as some kind of ‘Roman agenda’, would it not be more helpful to actually consider their content? Yes, Catholics are a large minority in your country (as they are in my own wonderful country), but that is not the point. There is a Christian ethic espoused in the Ancient Faith and many of us are wrestling with it to see how it might fit with the lived reality of ourselves and our fellow human beings. This is an honourable pursuit and one deserving of praise and not an assumption that it represents an intent o n the part of ‘Romans’ to impose their ‘Romish doctrines’ on ‘free Americans’. That’s very 19th Century stuff.

  6. Pingback: Notre Dame Marriage Panel (video) | Spiritual Friendship

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