by John-Henry Westen
(This article was first published in the Easter issue of the BC Catholic)

Christianity is not about discrimination and prejudice, not about judging and condemning, not about hatred and bigotry, it is about love. Love for God and love for neighbor – meaning all mankind.

So, why would a religion based on love oppose the union of two persons in marriage if they are of the same sex?

Simply put, because homosexual sex – the underlying basis for such unions – causes harm to those engaged in such activities. Doctors have indicated the physical harm it causes and psychologists have pointed out the emotional and psychological harm that ensues. But over and above these very serious considerations is the spiritual harm that results from this sexual behaviour.

Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God Himself, came to earth and died on a cross to save us, not from physical or psychological harm but, from spiritual harm.

As Christians we are called to imitate Christ in sacrificial love. Such a love for neighbor would see the Christian ready to sacrifice possessions, freedom and even his own life to protect a brother or sister – another child of God as we all are – from spiritual harm.

Christians thus do not advocate for civil unions as a compromise measure in the marriage debate. Such a compromise would undermine the central issue in that it would demonstrate a lack of concern for those actively involved in homosexual activity. Such a proposal amounts to ghetto-ization as opposed to healing.

Rather, Christians seek to call those afflicted with unhealthy sexual lifestyles to the truth.

Legalizing same-sex marriage would amount to societal approval of such destructive behaviour. As it has often been said, the law is a teacher. If society is granting unions of this nature the status of marriage, they certainly can’t be wrong, the teaching goes. That teaching will bring death, physical death through sexually transmitted diseases, emotional and psychological death through dysfunctional relationships and worst of all spiritual death through loss of salvation.

Like those inclined to sex outside marriage, to adultery, to masturbation and other sexual aberrations, those with homosexual inclinations are called to chastity outside marriage and fidelity within it (should they choose to marry persons of the opposite sex).

This can be a difficult road, but it is the only one which leads to spiritual health – the outcome of which is eternal life with God in heaven.

A life of struggle with disordered sexual desires is the struggle most men and women face, homosexual or heterosexual, married or otherwise.

From the eternal perspective, one might say it is ‘short term pain for long term gain’. However, even that ‘pain’ is better than the pain of body, mind, soul and spirit that comes with flouting God’s design for our sexuality.

The massive pain that sexual sin brings is rampant in the world today in the heartbreak of broken sexual relationships; the grief and trauma of children abandoned by divorced parents; the horror and scars of abortion, rape, incest and pedophilia; and the degradation of prostitution and pornography.

To be set free from the slavery to sexual deviance, which strips us of true freedom and binds us, is a goal for all to embrace.

God’s plan for marriage is the freely chosen, lifelong, loving union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, which is open to new life. Nature demonstrates that men and women complement each other in their union. As pro-creation is the primary end of marriage, it is plain that the sexual union of a man and a woman is the natural means to that end. That complementarity exists also on the psychological and ultimately the spiritual realm.

There are very real and often deadly consequences that result from abusing the very powerful gift of sexuality that has been given to us by God.

Numerous Christians find themselves inclined to homosexual sex. Homosexual persons who struggle against their disordered desires are examples of victorious struggle against sometimes fierce temptation.

With so many in society today suffering the destructive effects of sexual sin in our pasts, these men and women who struggle valiantly are a sign of hope. They encourage and strengthen all of us in our resolve that we too can, with the help of the Almighty, overcome our own temptations to sexual sin.

The key to overcoming sexual sin and being released from its clutches lies in devoting oneself to God. Fittingly, it is in the passage relating the celebration of marriage at Cana where the Scriptures give us the secret. If we heed the Mother of Our Lord and “Do whatever He tells you”, if we draw up the water of our wills to the brim of our beings and struggle to remain always faithful to whatever He tells us, then when the time of testing comes, by the miracle of Christ we will be transformed into a wine fit for the divine wedding banquet.

Following Jesus’ example would cause us to be ready to even lay down our lives for the spiritual health of our neighbors, homosexual persons included. I pray that should it come to that I would be given the grace to offer my life for the spiritual betterment of my brothers and sisters.

It is, after all, long-standing Judeo-Christian tradition, that, out of love, we object to illicit marriages, even if that objection costs us our lives. John the Baptist, over his objection to Herod’s illicit union with his brother’s wife Herodias, was beheaded. St. Thomas More, refused to consent to his friend King Henry VIII’s decision to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. For this, he too was beheaded.

Anyone who understands, from faith teaching, reason or personal experience, the deadly personal and social consequences of acting against the natural sexual order, is in fact obliged by charity to act against current trends. He who knows the truth is his ‘brothers’ keeper’. If those who know the truth are negligent or weak and compromising, then the greater harm that results will be more upon their final resume than upon those who did not know better or who needed to be encouraged to repentance and change.

As More was about to be put to death, he uttered his last words which spoke of his loyalty to the King. Out of love for his friend and his faith in God did he sacrifice his life for the truth of marriage. Christians today, who face persecution and ridicule for standing up for marriage, out of love and concern for those who would enter it illicitly echo More’s words: “I die the King’s good servant-but God’s first.”