I get that Catholicism won't acknowledge religious gender-neutral or same-sex marriage (GNM) and why it won't support GNM,

but why exactly does that extend to being outright against (as opposed to having no stand) secular GNM?

Besides possibly the arguments here, what are there?

In case the article is too long for you, here is a response that takes the article apart.

  • 4
    Part of the issue, I think, is that Catholicism doesn't acknowledge marriage in general as strictly secular. Jul 4, 2015 at 18:03
  • @MattGutting I guess...so what exactly is the argument?
    – BCLC
    Jul 6, 2015 at 12:58
  • @MattGutting What if we call it 'civil union' instead? 'Marriage' is just a word. Consider that 'open', a mere word, means something different in mathematics as in everyday usage.
    – BCLC
    Jul 6, 2015 at 13:00

3 Answers 3


Pope Leo XIII's encyclical on marriage, Arcanum §23, gives a succinct answer to your question:

23. Let no one, then, be deceived by the distinction which some civil jurists have so strongly insisted upon—the distinction, namely, by virtue of which they sever the matrimonial contract from the sacrament, with intent to hand over the contract to the power and will of the rulers of the State, while reserving questions concerning the sacrament of the Church. A distinction, or rather severance, of this kind cannot be approved; for certain it is that in Christian marriage the contract is inseparable from the sacrament, and that, for this reason, the contract cannot be true and legitimate without being a sacrament as well. For Christ our Lord added to marriage the dignity of a sacrament; but marriage is the contract itself, whenever that contract is lawfully concluded.
His argument is, in a nutshell, that the Church has jurisdiction over marriage, not the State, because marriage is sacred and that is the realm of the Church. In other words: there is no such thing (at least for the baptized) as secular marriage divorced from sacramental marriage. Just because the State benefits from marriage, this does not mean it has lawful authority over it.

Also, to call marriage what is not marriage is contrary to objective truth and the Catholic understanding of human law as flowing from and being in-line with natural law and divine law. "The Canonical Nullity of the Marriage Process as the Search for the Truth" by Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke (the last article of the anti-Kasper Remaining in the Truth of Christ) says:

Regarding law, in general, there has developed the notion that the law has no relation to objective truth but is constituted by whatever man, usually the judge, decides. Such a theory was proposed in my homeland, the United States of America, already in 1897 by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. [The Path of Law and the Common Law pp. 1-29]

  • This like 2 of the other answers here seems to present only the assumptions of the argument/s rather than the argument/s itself/themselves. I mean, so what? This seems to suggest that Pope Leo thinks 'marriage' as defined by most states is sufficiently similar to the 'marriage' defined by Catholicism. In what way?
    – BCLC
    Jul 7, 2015 at 16:11
  • Secular marriage is something which a state uses to determine whether two people deserve certain benefits e.g. tax exemption or hospital visitation. So I'm guessing Pope Leo says the state shouldn't bestow such on gay couples. Why exactly? I have a strange feeling Pope Leo has sentiments of the same sort as the ones of KOLASINSKI (link in OP).
    – BCLC
    Jul 7, 2015 at 16:11
  • Also, you mentioned 'there is no such thing (at least for the baptized) as secular marriage divorced from sacramental marriage.' --> Interesting. The Church is against something that doesn't exist? :P Seriously though, what does it mean? And again, what does it mean for secular GNM?
    – BCLC
    Jul 7, 2015 at 16:12
  • 1
    @BCLC The number of your comments leads us to believe that you are not so much interested in the answer to your question, as you are in having a debate on the subject. This is the wrong place for that. Jul 7, 2015 at 17:15
  • 1
    @BCLC What benefits do same-sex unions have for the State? No children (future citizens for a nation) can come out of such unions.
    – Geremia
    Jul 8, 2015 at 5:38

Catholics believe that one of the duties of the secular state is to uphold moral law. Secular authorities should make things that are bad (like theft, fraud and tax evasion) illegal. They believe that people benefit from following moral laws, even if they don't believe in the source of those laws (God). They also believe that this makes for a better society.

  • This like 2 of the other answers here seems to present only the assumptions of the argument/s rather than the argument/s itself/themselves.
    – BCLC
    Jul 7, 2015 at 16:08
  • 1
    @BCLC You asked why Christians would be opposed to same-sex secular marriage. You said you understood opposition to religious same-sex marriage. This answer gives you the differences. If you didn't understand about general reasons for believing homosexual activity wrong, then please ask a new question. Jul 7, 2015 at 17:14
  • I am not presenting you with an argument, I am answering your question. StackExchange is the wrong place for an argument, but you seem to be intent on having it. I'm not going to. Jul 9, 2015 at 19:24

Have you heard of the natural law? It is an rational ethical system based on the "ends" or purposes of human nature. We are against any government that rejects the natural law, as the natural law can be known by human reason alone, so any rational person should accept it. It is one thing for the secular state to reject religious law; it is another for the secular state, which glorifies reason, to reject the natural law which can be known through reason.

Following Scripture and the Church Fathers, as well as the Natural law, Catholics understand sex as being for the purpose of procreation. In fact, the denial of procreation, either as itself (contraception, sodomy, masturbation, etc.) or its effects (a child that needs a family to raise him, which divorce frustrates) are the cause of all merely sexual perversion.

Notice, from the Catholic point of view, that if you accept contraception, we deny that you can argue against sodomy. If you don't think sex is for procreation, which approval of contraception requires, then you can't denounce sodomy either, except of course by appealing to Divine Command. We actually agree with the author of the second article that, given marriage is not about procreation, it follows that there is no reason to reject gay "marriage." However, we Catholics simply deny the premise "Marriage is not primarily about procreation." To put it another way, we think that the acceptance of contraception (which all Christians, Protestants and Catholic, didn't accept until the early 1900's) led to the acceptance of sodomy.

Anyway, one might notice that rape is not really against procreation in itself. I wish to clarify that the evil in rape is not in the sex act, but rather because the sex act happened without consent. As such, this makes rape far more evil then any of the sins above, because instead of it being a sin against sex, it is a sin against justice.

Modern sexual ethics, on the other hand, don't accept that sex has any inherent purpose, but rather a purpose as we define it. In other words, sex can be for procreation, but only if we choose for it to be so. From this principle, no sex act alone can be wicked; only sex without consent can be wicked, as rape is not evil because of the sex act, but rather because of non-consent. This is why I mentioned above how rape is not a problem of procreation, but a problem of consent- and justice.

In fact, the entire principle of the Sexual Revolution is that, in the words of Philosopher Peter Singer "sex brings up no serious moral questions." Any sex act*, under this view, is good, as long as it is consent among all persons involved.

Christi pax.

*Pedophilia is wrong, in the Sexual Revolutionist's eyes, because a child is not mature enough to consent.


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