A little background first... I subscribe to CRISIS Magazine's e-newsletter. It's a hyper-conservative Catholic magazine, and every so often (once a week or so) they send out a newsletter with the latest bits of news in conservative Catholic circles. I subscribed because I saw an ad advertising "10 Things Every Catholic MUST Know", and was curious. I've kept it... well, because it's as informative as it is infuriating. Anyway...
So I got an email from them today, giving kudos to the Senate for voting (unanimously) to award the Pope a Congressional Medal of Freedom, and noting that Archbishop O'Malley of Boston said something that could be construed as giving the Voice of the Faithful organization approval, and finally discussing the recent goings-on in Massachusetts.
First, the Voice of the Faithful... it's a group of Catholics who would like a little bit more democracy and flock-based influence in the decisions of the Catholic hierarchy. This is a simplistic way of looking at them, but check their website and make your own decision on that score. I find it interesting that hardline conservative Catholics are against this... but on the other hand, it's nontraditional, non-authoritarian, and in all other ways a new idea. Obviously, conservatives will reject it. I just hadn't thought it would be objectionable. Ah, well...
Now, the goings on in Massachusetts... If you haven't been paying attention, the Massachusetts Supreme Court recently decided that denying gay people the right to marry each other was contrary to the state's constitution, and therefore laws that did that must be changed---they gave the legislature 180 days to fix it (it being the existing laws that prevent gay marriage). CRISIS is, predictably, not happy with this situation, for a myriad of reasons mostly stemming from their belief in the moral authority of Leviticus, which has a passage that is frequently construed as banning homosexual activity.
The basis of the belief is, as I said, passages in Leviticus, a chapter of the Old Testament. The Old Testament, and particularly Leviticus, is a listing of ancient Jewish civil laws, including among other things a prohibition from touching the skin of a pig (outlawing football) and allowing you to sell your children into slavery and mandating that you kill people who work on Saturday. So, obviously, it's a strict authority (nevermind that Jesus essentially said "look, these laws are getting out of hand, that's not how you get into heaven, listen to me, I'll tell you how things are."). Additionally, the passages in question (and the ones surrounding them) are specifically talking about pagan temple prostitutes, not the general populace. (There are much more thorough explanations out there... here
for example) So, big whoop, they're misinterpreted and misapplied.
The interesting part of the argument that CRISIS makes is that marriage confers certain benefits in our society, from health insurance to the right to see and/or make decisions about your partner when they are having severe medical difficulties. These benefits are mandated by law, and if gay marriage becomes legal, could be forced upon conservative churches and charities that find such things to be contrary to their beliefs.
To be honest, I hadn't thought about it like that before. On the other hand, when we decided to integrate schools and to make it illegal to force black people to use different drinking fountains, we had to deal with lots of people who didn't like it (some people even believed (religiously) that black people were not human). That's what happens when society decides you're WRONG.
The argument, however, is that this is censorship. HOW???
People disturb me.