By Tanya Connor
WORCESTER – “Gay marriage doesn’t affect me, so I’m not going to worry about it. It’s a civil right. Your opposition to it is hate speech.”
How should Catholics respond to these comments?
Christopher Klofft, an associate professor of theology at Assumption College, addressed such questions after giving a talk about marriage and transgenderism July 8 at his parish, Immaculate Conception.
Professor Klofft noted that some people think the United States Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage is awful, some are elated and some think it’s no big deal.
He laid blame on married persons who don’t live their marriage well enough, and included himself. Spouses are called to enact the love of Christ, who died for his people, he said.
Marriage is the primordial sacrament, the initial site of encounter between God and his people, he said. God created Adam and Eve to be spouses to one another.
This relational love is manifested through the body and often produces children. Any other configuration of marriage fails to symbolize Christ’s love as he revealed it and fails to be open to new life, Professor Klofft said.
But this is not just for Catholics. Civil law reflects natural law which reflects God’s law. So civil law must appeal to reason, which the Supreme Court did not do with its argument, “We think gay marriage is good so we’ll allow it,” he said.
Professor Klofft asked what is meant by marriage. He said one doesn’t need a license for friendships, because the government doesn’t have a stake in them. But it’s different with male-female relationships which might produce children, without whom there would not be more taxpayers. And being reared by their mother and father is in children’s best interest, he said.
Professor Klofft said he’s against the destruction of marriage as a whole; gay marriage is a symptom of a bigger problem. He said the Court did not give a reason why marriage had to be between two people, which leaves no basis for denying “marriage” to an animal, a child or more than one person.
Transgenderism is not the same as same-sex attraction, Professor Klofft said. But transgenderism and same-sex marriage separate the body from the person; they say, “As long as I am who I think I am, what I do with my body doesn’t matter.” But theological and natural law reveal that human beings are their bodies, not that they have bodies, he said. They are embodied spirits.
Same-sex marriage isn’t going away soon, he said.
“We need to be witnesses” to the good of marriage, he said. “We need to be martyrs. … We need to be more excited than the culture around us.” He said it’s important to be ready to give reason for one’s hope and remember that bad times make saints and that God’s kingdom will come.
“There’s no such thing as ‘it doesn’t affect me,’” Professor Klofft said in response to listeners’ stories and questions. “This marriage decision is going to change” parenting, education and medical care, and involve legal challenges. And someone will have to pay for all this.
Referring to the comparisons with the civil rights movement, he said sexual identity and preference aren’t the same as race. So the Church is replacing the term “homosexual orientation” with “same-sex attraction.” Ethnicity is bodily, he said. Attractions are experienced in one’s body, but do not define one’s personhood.
He said same-sex partners were granted legal rights, such as hospital privileges, like spouses, but then wanted civil unions, then marriages. He said he didn’t think priests will be required to marry them, but probably could not legally refuse their attendance at a church couples dance.
“Hate speech is whatever your lawyer can successfully argue it is;” there isn’t a consistent definition, Professor Klofft said, responding to another question. He said public discourse isn’t allowed to be reasonable.
He suggested considering the importance and likely outcome of discussions about gay marriage before having them with those who disagree with you. He mentioned Scriptures about being innocent but wise and not casting pearls before swine and advocated prudence.
He said he asks questions of those who question him. If someone asks, “Why do Catholics hate gay people?” he can ask, “Why do you think they do?” But he warned against sarcasm, called for living in love and said, “You have to be Christ.”