September 1, 2012 by Nash Riggins
The battle for same-sex marriage intensified last week after Scotland’s Catholic Bishops ordered an open letter condemning the latter to be read in all 500 of the Church’s parishes.
Ringing in what Bishops subtly dubbed ‘Marriage Sunday’, the letter called on worshippers to “act against efforts to redefine” marriage, and to “pray for our elected leaders, invoking the Holy Spirit on them, that they may be moved to safeguard marriage as it has always been understood, for the good of Scotland and of our society.”
The move comes just days after Catholicism’s top figures chose to excommunicate the Scottish government over its pledge to legalise same-sex marriage by 2015 – a goal in which even Conservatives in Westminster seem to share with the Scottish Nationalists. Indeed, recent polls indicate that at least two-thirds of Scots support same-sex marriage – which is a substantially higher percentage than those in favour of the nation’s independence.
Yet amidst such a widespread expression of tolerance, it only makes sense that the Catholic Church would seek to halt said progress – as Catholic belief tends to dictate that people of the LGBT variety are to be condemned to eternal Hell. In fact, Cardinal Keith O’Brien – the nation’s most senior Catholic figure – tactlessly dismissed gay marriage in March as a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.” Yet given the plentiful expressions of less-than-traditional sexual tendencies amongst members of the Catholic clergy throughout the past two decades, what leaves Cardinal O’Brien to feel so entitled to criticise one’s sexual orientation?
Since 1997, the molestation and rape of children by priests have cost the Catholic Church more than £2.1 billion – with average settlements reaching around $1 million per victim – leading to an inexcusable liquidity crisis in the Vatican’s treasury. As a result, the Catholic Church seems to have, as of late, been using billions of pounds’ in donations from the faithful as a means of erasing publicly raised debt of a questionable means.
That being said, is it fair to assert that all members of the Catholic Church engage in acts of paedophilia? Of course not, as the Catholic Church is the single largest multinational charity in existence, and is composed of billions of caring and benevolent individuals. Yet if said individuals are indeed so benevolent, why would they maliciously deny happiness to 726,000 British citizens?
The dictionary definition of marriage is “the legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of two people to pledge themselves to one another”. In the eyes of logic and religious impartiality – two staples of western democracy – marriage is not exclusive to heterosexual couples. As a result, this basic human right to profess one’s love for another in the eyes of the state cannot readily be denied by a government claiming to offer any degree of ‘religious freedom’.
Likewise, religious freedom would be compromised by the passing of same-sex marriage legislation should those who find it immoral be legally obligated to carry out same-sex weddings; however, the Scottish government does not plan on forcing Catholics to do anything they don’t want to do. In fact, Alex Salmond’s government has guaranteed a “conscience clause” within the proposal in which religious orders whose beliefs do not fall into line with that of same-sex marriage will not be obligated to admit, perform or recognize these civil unions – more or less meaning that the passing of same-sex marriage will not affect Scottish Catholics in the slightest.
What’s more, Christians cannot readily argue that allowing LGBT individuals to wed will undermine the sanctity of marriage, because the divorce rate amongst heterosexual couples is a behemoth of a joke – if anything, allowing same-sex couples to marry will make the institution of marriage stronger. Moreover, if this is the case, why could Catholics be so hell-bent on seeing the bill killed?
According to the Church’s Marriage Sunday letter to the public, “When asked about marriage [Jesus] gave a profound and rich reply: ‘Have you not read that the Creator, from the beginning, ‘made them male and female’, and said: ‘This is why a man must leave father and mother and cling to his wife and the two become one body’.’ (Matthew, 19: 4-5)”
In essence, because Catholics suffer the presupposed assumption that homosexuality is unnatural, they are obligated to condemn same-sex marriage as an ‘unnatural’ take on a traditional union – ‘marriage is God’s gift to Adam and Eve,’ Bishops preach to the masses, ‘and it is therefore a slap in the face of God in order to redefine that union!’
Yet apparently unbeknownst to some, committed lifelong partnerships were established long before man, and subsequently, prior to the emergence of monotheism. After all, some species of dinosaurs are known to have mated for life – but because the first altruistic Dinosaur Bishop decided against ‘putting a universal label on marriage,’ said partnerships were never condemned to a single-serving definition that only accounted for a slice of said population.
If Catholics believe that same-sex marriage is immoral, they are completely within their right to do so. Likewise, if those same individuals feel that it is ethically wrong in order to oversee the marriage of a same-sex couple, that’s fine, too – because that’s what religious freedom is all about. Yet it is when one religion attempts to impose those beliefs upon the rest of society that – as Cardinal Keith O’Brien would aptly clarify – a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right” has been allowed to occur.
In Philippians (2:4), the Christian Bible delivers the following plea to its practitioners: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” If Catholics truly believe that LGBT individuals will burn in Hell as a direct result of doing what makes them happy, why throw a fit? Many of those apparently Hell-bound individuals probably don’t even believe that such a place exists in the first place – although that’s not to say that Christianity and homosexuality are mutually exclusive, because they are not.
It’s great that the Catholic Church feels so responsible for the eternal souls of same-sex couples that it is willing to tell them what they can and cannot do; however, there must be a certain point in which leaders take a step back in order to realise that people are going to actively pursue their own happiness regardless of the predetermined opinions of others. After all, smoking tobacco and eating fatty foods kill faith-loving Catholics every day – but does the Church tell its followers not to engage in said suicidal indulgences?
The ability to marry is a basic human right, and believe it or not, legalisation passing same-sex marriage in Scotland will not magically turn the whole nation into a realm of sodomy-loving sinners – or, at the very least, no more than it already is. Moreover, anyone claiming to stand for religious freedom cannot knowingly dare to assert otherwise, because they must recognise that in order to retain said human right, they must in turn appreciate others’ rights to do the same.
In short, Catholics can justifiably stand against same-sex marriage – but they cannot justifiably prevent others from pursuing it. If Scotland goes ahead with this proposal by ignoring the bigoted demands of its Bishops, the nation as a whole will have proven a valuable lesson to the western world: that all individuals – regardless of creed or sexual orientation – are entitled to the same basic rights.