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Kevin C. Walsh

I came here through Michael Perry's link from MOJ, where he invited comments here. Your post helps me to think through these issues, thanks. And it is refreshing. It happens all too infrequently in many circles (at least in my limited experience) that people change their minds, admit to doing so, and explain why it makes sense to them to have done so. But in light of your earlier writings I wonder why you (seemingly) reject another way of reconciling the new set of public norms with the American legal order. In "Marriage: Its Relationship to Law, Religion, and the State" (2008), you sought to demonstrate "the ultimate unworkability of a radical separation of religion and law on the subject of marriage." Suppose you were right about that, but wrong about the desirability of relegating to no legal recognition same-sex couples with a loving commitment of exclusivity and permanency equivalent to that required of opposite-sex couples seeking marriage. The law could accommodate this by doing what some people have called abolishing marriage and others have called leveling down, but what might just thought of as evening out. The State would no longer perform marriage and all prior marriages would be understood as civil unions. This would be equality, but not "marriage equality." And one reason to adopt such an approach would be the difficulty of disentangling "marriage" from its roots in Western tradition and society. An argument for something like this could proceed along lines sketched by Paul Griffiths in Commonweal a while back. (although Griffiths spoke of same-sex marriage as civil marriage).


It is a leap of logic to attribute the sex of Song of Songs to marital love. Where is marriage mentioned? In particular, the marriage of the modern Catholic Church?

The true love stories are those of David and Jonathan and Ruth and Naomi. There are no other examples in the Bible; indeed, it is replete with negative examples: Adam and Eve, Sampson and Delilah, and particularly Job and his mocking wife.

Among the patriarchs, the only ones who paired off were the animals on Noah's ark!


Catholicism teaches that masturbation is sinful; how can mutual masturbation become 'love'?

...It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking...
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth...

Joseph Anthony

" As a Catholic, I still understand marriage, in my faith tradition, to unite the procreative and affective ideals. As an American citizen, however, I also know that I belong to a diverse and creative world where a new set of public norms is even now coming into being."

Is that dichotomy really sustainable? I suspect that your faith will someday have to give way. How can you believe, on the one hand, that God established sexuality to be an exclusive relationship oriented toward the establishment of a common life for the bearing and raising of children, and thus that it is a sin against the way he made man to use sexuality outside of this type of relationship, and, on the other, that the morally right thing for society to do is to abandon this conception so that everyone who has deeply committed love can have their relationships equally acknowledged by law? The tension between the two seems irreconcilable. It seems difficult to hold that society erred with the changes surrounding contraception and no-fault divorce, and, at the same time, embrace the end-result of this social error. Your evolution has been away from the ideals of your faith toward the ideas of the zeitgeist. Do you suspect that that evolution won't take you all the way, to the point of acknowledging that the Catholic Church has been wrong this whole time, and that all sexual relationships based on loving commitment ontologically are of equal value? This seems a lot like believing that society ought to protect abortion while, at the same time, believing that the unborn has all the rights and dignity of any human person. The two are in conflict, and the commitment to one of them has to wain. Faith and adherence to the beliefs of the world are not always compatible.

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