Ask A Priest – Why is the Church opposed to same sex marriage?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I’d like to try to answer this by asking myself four key questions:

Could same sex marriage fit into Jesus’ view of what marriage is?

Jesus once spoke about marriage, drawing on the Book of Genesis: ‘Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one”? What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Mt19:4–5).

Is the love of the partners for each other in a Same Sex Marriage marked by this utterly self-sacrificing love?

Jesus laid down the basis of Christian living with what he called his ‘new’ commandment: ‘That you love one another even as I have loved you’ (Jn 13:34). The hard part of Christian love is that little word, ‘as,’ which for Jesus means that Christians, including spouses in marriage, are ready to lay down their life for each other. Jesus is only asking us to do what each Person of the Blessed Trinity are doing for one another. So Pope Francis has said that marriage is ‘the icon [or image] of God, created for us by him, who is the perfect communion of the three persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’.

Would the partners in a Same Sex Marriage be able to say they’re loving each other unconditionally, and not for their own pleasure?

Jesus is definitely not obsessed with sex—he’s only said one sentence about it, which sets such a high standard I think it refers to any and every sexual failure we humans can fall into: ‘Every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart’ (Mt 5:28). As St John Paul II explains, ‘heart’ means the full depth of the person as loved by God, where God loves each of us for our own sake, not for what he gets out of us. If I don’t love you other unconditionally and purely for your own sake, and treat you as an object to provide myself with pleasure, I’m committing adultery in my heart.

Is it fair to a child to deprive them intentionally of one of their biological parents, since every child has a natural father and mother?

The only way a same sex married couple could have children would be through adopting or fostering a child of other parents, or through another ‘partner.’ I’ll leave a discussion of Same Sex Marriage adoption/fostering for another day. Lesbians are likely to access donor-assisted human reproduction, while gay men desiring children have to adopt, foster, or use surrogacy. Donor-assisted reproduction, or the use of surrogacy, seems to be a terrible injustice to children acquired in this way, intentionally depriving them of at least one biological parent.

U-S childrens’ rights Heather Barwick, born to lesbian parents, has an interesting take on this: ‘I don’t support gay marriage. But it might not be for the reasons that you think. It’s not because you’re gay. I love you, so much. It’s because of the nature of the same-sex relationship itself.  Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mum’s partner, but another mum could never have replaced the father I lost.’