How to Discuss Gay Marriage

I can take absolutely no credit for this post. I simply asked two very intelligent friends of mine to chat with each other about the recent SCOTUS decision regarding the legalization of gay marriage. So, before I let you read their conversation, let me give you some background and ground rules:

Background and Intros

Cara has been my friend for 23 years now. She lives in CA where she works for an organization that helps philanthropists achieve greater good with their resources. She has her Master’s from University of San Fransisco.

Jenny lives in CO and has three children with one on the way. She writes for Catholic News Agency which hosts her blog, Mama Needs Coffee. She studied theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. 

ha. Just realized they both were schooled in St. Francis of Assisi inspired locations. Anyway.

Both people agreed to email back and forth so they would have time to process and respond.

Ground Rules

I invite you to join the conversation these two women have started, but. BUT. I am completely aware of the fact that the readership of this blog will tend to disagree with the SCOTUS decision (myself included), so let me make this crystal clear: please be genuine and tactful in your comments and questions. Both of these women are wonderful people (who I love) with intelligent thoughts on the matter. Please engage them in conversation while respecting their humanity.

Tips for Online Debate

So, let’s get this party started. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing how this conversation unfolded. It was amazing to watch how they were able to

  • address ideas without personal attacks
  • defend their beliefs while inquiring about the other’s
  • understand that they weren’t going to change each other’s minds, but they could clearly lay out their case for others who may be reading
  • know they could help the other person understand but not agree
  • come to a polite conclusion when they felt they had finished

What do you feel the effect of the legalization of gay marriage will be on the future of our country?

p.s. this is long, but oh, so worth it.

With SCOTUS recently ruling wedding rings for all, we are all finding ourselves in need of a lesson in online etiquette. Learn to stay true to your beliefs while still tactfully engaging another in conversation. | gaylove | gaypride | gay marriage | internet safety | debate topics

© Masson / Dollar Photo Club




I was sitting at work in DC when I heard the news of the ruling. It was coming off the heels of another SCOTUS decision upholding the ACA, and it felt to me like a SCOTUS magic week. The news started to ripple through my office, and we all cheered, breathed sighs of relief, and a few people were walking around waving equality flags that HRC was handing out across the street.

I dove into my iPhone to be sure I knew exactly what this ruling meant and when/how the decision would be implemented. The fact that it was immediate law and that couples could get married right away sounded almost too good to be true. I live in California where marriages have been legal and then annulled with the back-and-forth laws that have been state-driven. Throughout the day, I started to hear stories like Jack and George, and I shed my cynicism and believed this could really be a turning point.

Quite simply, when I think about what this ruling will mean for the future of our country, I think it means that we are one step closer to equality and that the future is a little brighter. It means stories like Jack and George can finally be a thing of the past and that from this point forward, individuals can marry who they love and enjoy the legal and societal privileges that come with that. I believe that the next generation will be astounded that this was ever a debate, much the same way that our generation can’t fathom that interracial marriage was illegal less than 50 years ago.

I do still have a very real concern for the future of LGBTQ rights in this country. Same sex marriage is a huge win, but it’s not the end of the fight. There is still incredible discrimination in employment and housing, for example, and the trans community remains one of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations in the US. So, I know there’s a real possibility of the movement losing some momentum after this, which concerns me. I must say though, this ruling has given me so much hope that hearts and minds really are changing and that acceptance in a concrete, legal form has finally been given to a large community.


My heart sank that Friday morning, when news of SCOTUS’ decision filtered down through my newsfeed. I was scrolling through the news and periodically raising my eyes above the screen to see my kids diving off the couches in the family room. My first thought was “what is this world they are going to inherit?”

My next thought was one that I’m convinced of more and more with each day that has passed since the ruling was handed down: “this is the Roe v. Wade of their generation.”

What I mean by that is twofold, one, that the High Court issued a mandate against the will of the people, as she did back in 1973, further eroding State’s rights and, along with them, the integrity of the American experiment a little more in the process, and two, my children will not grow up in a world without gay “marriage.”

Just as I have never known a world without abortion.

I’m not naive enough to think that our present culture places much value on marriage in any form in 2015. No fault divorce and contraception are rampant, and are lauded as fundamental human rights, so on the one hand, why not allow gay “marriage,” along with polygamy and incest and any other sexual arrangement that happens to come into vogue? We’re certainly not living, culturally speaking, an experience of marriage as a covenant of life-long fidelity and fruitfulness.

But I want more for my kids. I want them to see (please God, let them see) in their parent’s marriage the fruitfulness and the sanctifying grace of Christ present in the exchange of love between spouses. I want them to recognize the profound gift of new life in the face of each new sibling that comes along, and the awesome responsibility that we, their parents, have in co-creating and raising them.

And I want that for everyone else’s children, too.

I want them to experience this impossibly wide, self-denying and cross-carrying and soul-stretching love, whether they are called to the married life or to a celibate vocation. Because that is where real happiness lies. That’s where fulfillment of the deepest variety resides. And nothing the world can offer them in terms of popular sentiment or trending behavior can compete with that.

And so my job as a mother got a little harder on June 27th. Because now I must explain to these children of mine that not all laws are good, and that wherever our human laws stray from the natural law which is written on each of our hearts, there is tremendous suffering.

I see a unique opportunity here to impress upon them the incredible dignity of every human person – no matter their race, religion, sexual preference, socioeconomic status, and all the rest. Because there is surely a wrong way to teach the truth about love and human sexuality, and I’ve seen too much of that these past couple months.

But it’s scary to think that in teaching them the truth about their sexuality and how they were made – for communion with one unique and unrepeatable member of the opposite sex, if they are called to marriage – I am exercising what is now considered “hate speech.” I’ve been called a bigot 100 different ways online these past 3 weeks, and worse than that. Not because I’ve spoken ill of any gay person or suggested homosexuals deserve inferior treatment in the eyes of the law, but because I maintain that marriage is a unique arrangement fundamentally ordered toward the creation of new human life and,because of those new lives, is worthy of protection and distinction in the eyes of the law.

I don’t hate gay people. I don’t hate anyone. And I don’t believe there is such a thing as gay “marriage,” no matter what 6 unelected public officials and the far more important court of public opinion says about the matter.

People should be allowed to love – and to contract legally binding arrangements with – whomever they please. In my own state, that way already the case.

But I also don’t actually believe this was ever about securing a legal right for a certain class of people, but was rather about abolishing one of the last vestiges of Judeo-Christian morality from American civil law. And it’s going to be a slippery descent downhill, as mentioned above. Because polygamy, incest, and the like are all coming. And on what grounds can we deny anyone a legally-binding and civilly-recognized sexual relationship with any other person – or creature – of their preference? No matter how self-harmful. No matter how disordered. No matter how utterly incapable of producing new life or of investing in the future of a stable and just society.

We can’t. And that’s the world we’re passing on to our children. Not a world of greater equality and opportunity, but of darkened reasoning and of bizarre sexual deviance that everyone will be required, by law, to applaud for with a straight face, affirming that each choice is equally good and loving and valid, because the tyranny of the individual will now rule over the greater common good.


Regardless of how absolutely opposed our views are on this, I do appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me. The shock and sadness I experienced while reading your words made me think about how I really surround myself with likeminded people, for better or worse (no pun intended), and that because of that, I so rarely hear this side of the debate. So, in that way, I’m grateful to hear where you’re coming from and how you think through this issue as it’s honestly a side of the debate I so rarely am up against. Did I mention I live in San Francisco? ;)
There are about a million things I want to say in response, but I thought it might be interesting to look at three big areas where I think we start from the same place and then diverge wildly from a similar origin.

First, I think we both have strong relationships with God and that in big or small ways that is guiding our view on this issue. I was raised in a liberal Catholic home and have kept the main lessons from my childhood as pillars in my adult life. These lessons all center around an impossibly loving and accepting God who creates each of us as intentionally unique and strong individuals who are put on the earth to connect with one another. The God I have known since birth is 100% behind supporting loving gay marriage, and he doesn’t even put quotes around the word marriage! He would urge all of us to fight for the equal rights of everyone in our communities to ensure a safe, just, and loving world. A couple weeks ago, I marched in the SF Pride Parade with my Jesuit-run graduate school. It felt so great to represent a side of the church that is open and excited about this, as I think our voices are often muddled into “religious people” who are categorically opposed to gay marriage.

Second, I think you’re absolutely right that soul-stretching love (I love that wording!) is where true happiness lies. Marriage is an incredibly beautiful commitment between two individuals. I would bet that both of us know of strong and weak marriages. I can tell you with absolute certainty that two of the strongest marriages among people closest to me are gay marriages filled to the brim with soul-stretching love. One of these marriages was put on hold for decades because of archaic laws, while the other marriage is between two young men who were able to commit themselves to each other through marriage own their own clock because they happen to a reside in a progressive state. I am so happy that couples like these no longer have to hide their love away for their whole lives.

Finally, I think we both agree that the creation of a family within a marriage is something very special and something to protect. While I in no way believe that marriage has anything to do with some responsibility or calling to “create new life”, I do believe that a married couple can provide a loving home for children and a great foundation for a family. Same-sex couples do this equally as well as hetero couples, and this ruling offers an opportunity for the creation of so many more families to be formed with such greater ease and stronger protection. How can one not celebrate that?


I’m actually really enjoying that we can go back and forth without fear of misunderstanding or emotional fallout – so refreshing from what I spend a lot of time doing. Because of work I’m actually in fairly regular debate/discussion with people on both sides of the issue, so I’m not shocked by really…anything, at this point.

Oh, and ha! Just to cement our uncanny likeness a little further, I was born in San Fran and raised in the Bay Area. And my spiritual director is a former Jesuit, and my mom is a Santa Clara and USF grad, so maybe one of those is your alma mater too?

To address your first point, I want to challenge the logic of making an appeal to popularity or common option (the other alums and students who dissent from Catholic teaching on gay marriage.) That’s a valid emotional experience for you, but logically it falls under the fallacy “argumentum ad populum,” so it doesn’t strengthen your argument.

I was also raised – and am still a practicing – Catholic, and I don’t like the labels “conservative” or “liberal” – I really think they do more to divide than to unite, and we’re a big ‘ol universal church.

For those who will be reading this, I’d like for us to clarify what marriage is, and what it was created for. Since we’re both coming from a faith angle I think it’s safe to bring that into the conversation, but it could also be made solely from a natural law perspective, so really we could leave God out of it.

He’s already here in our email thread though, so let’s examine what He says about marriage and about human sexuality: first, He created us male and female with a purpose and with a distinct complementarity between our sexualities, to image in a particular way the life-giving exchange of love within the Persons of God, the trinity. And then the first instruction we receive from Him? Be fruitful, and multiply.

This lays 2 clear imperatives from the creator, first that there is something intelligent and intentional about our sexual differences, and second, that we are intrinsically ordered toward the creation of new life, just as God Himself is.

You say that marriage has nothing to do with children, in your mind, and that is probably the most difficult piece of your argument for me to answer, because it leads me to think we’re not actually discussing the same thing.

If marriage is not primarily ordered toward “the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring,” then what, exactly, is the purpose?

I’m guessing you’re going to say romantic fulfillment and life-long companionship, which are two goods of marriage, but are somewhat periphery to the two primary ends mentioned above. So could it be that we’re not actually talking about the same thing at all?

Like I said in my earlier email, our culture jettisoned the idea of marriage as something intentionally ordered towards bringing forth new life and raising that life in faithful, committed love, but does that cultural rejection actually alter the nature of marriage? What I mean is, can we redefine a thing based solely on popular opinion, considering we didn’t create marriage to begin with?

Finally, I want to challenge – so gently – the notion that children adopted into same sex partnerships do equally well as children raised by their biological parents. It’s simply not been borne out in all the research, and many adult children of loving, homosexual couples are coming forward and saying that no matter how loving their two “moms” were, and no matter how much they loved them in return, there was a void where the opposite sex parent was missing. And that void impacts them in a real and irrevocable way. I don’t think it’s right to discount the real experiences of children who are living on the front lines of our cultural experimentation and have something hard to tell us, even if it’s difficult to hear. That invalidates their lived experience in the name of furthering an agenda, and unfortunately many of these kids – now adults – are afraid to speak out or do so knowing they’re going to be alienated and rejected by the very community within which they were raised. Katy’s story of her experience being raised in a lesbian household is worth reading.

One final thought: of course children deserve a loving home and of course, orphans and single parent families and all the other impoverished and imperfect arrangements we find ourselves in, when parents die or the crushing demands of poverty overwhelm them, or when teenagers get pregnant or women are abandoned by the men who helped them create the child in question… because we live in a fallen world, and we’re all sinners. But neither of us would, I think, look at those aforementioned situations and call them ideal.

To intentionally deny a child their right to a mother and a father is a grievous injustice to that child. My favorite Jesuit – Pope Francis, says it well: “Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”
So if marriage has nothing to do with children, what is it for? And why should our government take any interest in it, in the first place?


So funny – USF is my alma mater! Go Dons!

I think we’re getting somewhere because I didn’t even need a deep breath for this one.

I want to be crystal clear here that my support of gay marriage and equal rights for all forms of sexual orientation and gender expression have exactly zero to do with appealing to some popular opinion or “common option.” There is nothing new, trendy, or popular about this. Same-sex love has been around since the beginning of time and all that is news here is that our country is finally coming around to showing this type of love and commitment the respect and legal rights that this community should have been entitled to for all of history.

My point was that there are many people who identify as Catholic who dissent from the fundamental bible-based Catholic teachings on gay marriage (and so, so many other traditional teachings of the Catholic church). A large group of people who believe in God and feel a connection to the Catholic church fully support LGBTQ rights and full acceptance and love of all people (backed by actually supporting all people to love who they love). Because we have such different core values, it does make sense to me to clearly delineate conservative and liberal Catholics. They are, in practice, such vastly different approaches to life, and to be honest I would be horrified to be bucketed into the traditional Catholic mold. Unfortunately, I think the conservative approach to Catholicism has been much, much louder on a variety of social issues, so the liberal portion of the church has gotten lost in the shuffle. I do think Pope Francis is doing a lot to improve this, and I’m happy to hear we can agree that he’s the best. :)

As far as what marriage is and why it is so important, I think you’re right we can leave God out of this, and I want to do just that. While religions all around this globe treat marriage as a sacred and monumental event, that piece is far more complex than what was decided on a Friday in June. The fact is that while religion can put many (valid and important and beautiful) layers on top of marriage, marriage is a legal contract in which each marriage is as unique and diverse as the individuals within the commitment. Some marriages are religious, some are secular, some are between young or older individuals, some span across states or countries, some include children, and some are between same-sex individuals.

 You guessed that I think the point of marriage is for “romantic fulfillment and life-long companionship” and I find that phrasing incredibly empty and not even close to capturing what marriage is. When two people decide that they want to marry, that is an intimate decision that carries with it so many different intentions and goals. Because of that, I don’t believe there is one “reason” for marriage. I think it depends entirely on the individuals within the relationship. This diversity does extend to whether or not they decide to have children. Deciding to be a spouse and deciding to be a parent are such different decisions and roles in life, and it is for no one but the couple involved to make decisions about this. Do you know any married couples who have decided to not have children? Do you know any who are unable to conceive? Who have fostered or adopted children? Any who have blended families but have not “created life” together? Do you honestly think these marriages are not valid or living up to some “ideal”?

Your point about children being raised by their biological parents being somehow better off than children of same-sex couples just holds absolutely no water with me. I’m very familiar with the argument that some children raised by same-sex parents are somehow dissatisfied with their upbringing, and I had actually read Katy’s letter before. Some children of ALL forms of childrearing are dissatisfied with parts of their upbringing. There are just as many stories coming from children who are happy with their families, like Zack Wahls. So, this kind of “proof” isn’t proof at all. The stories of all families are complex with varying degrees of success and levels of overall happiness, regardless of the sexual orientation of the parents.


iiiiit’s a small world :)

And brace yourself, this is long, because I’m suuuuuper pregnant and was up thinking about it between 4-6 this morning…

Okay, after thinking it over, here’s what I pulled out as your three main points “pro” gay marriage:

1. Same sex attraction/homosexual behavior have been around forever, so therefore it should be legally recognized as marriage. This necessitates a change from the fundamental definition of marriage (which I’ll define as a legally binding, life-long, exclusive public commitment to a spouse of the opposite sex and any children which may result from that union) to a broader range of various sexual behaviors. I’m reading that you don’t believe children have anything to do with marriage unless the individual couples wills for them to, and then pursues them in whatever fashion they see fit. Is this accurate so far?

The main issue with this point is the final piece, because this view of marriage radically alters the nature of the institution, which is ordered toward the creation and development of a family, which is the fundamental building block for our larger communities, and turns it into something else entirely: a sexual partnership which is not outwardly-focused, by it’s very nature, but which is focused inward, on the mutual satisfaction and “happiness” (quotes because it’s a completely subjective state unique to each couple) of the spouses.

This is not to say marriage should not equal happiness, but that marriage in the traditional definition often results in happiness but is not contingent upon it. Happiness is a happy aftereffect, if you will, but it’s not proper end. So we contract marriages because we love the other person and want to build a life and a family with them, but the vision is directed outward, away from the individual couples, and that other-centered love physically begets new life. Children are a natural good of marriage – and an essential part of the purpose for marriage – precisely because they draw the spouses away from one another and toward a common good, and ultimately, the future.

You rightly mentioned adoptions and couples who struggle with infertility. I set those aside for the purpose of our argument because they’re tangential, but since you brought them up I’ll answer that when a couple cannot conceive this is a poverty in their relationship. Yes, they may be able to adopt and take great joy in building a family through alternative means (moral means, but that’s another topic entirely), but you’ll never hear an infertile couple say that their infertility hasn’t been a great sadness or a source of suffering. Is their marriage any less valid? Of course not. That’s like saying a cancer patient’s life has less value than a healthy person’s because her body has succumbed to a disease. It means something has gone awry physically.

For a homosexual couple, the sterility of their love is fundamental. That’s part of the reason I said in our first exchange that I don’t believe there is such a thing as gay “marriage;” marriage, by definition, is open to life and directed to the propagation of future generations. A homosexual relationship can never bring forth new life on its own, and so it cannot be rightly called “marriage” in the real sense of the word. Legal partnership? Sure. Civil union? Ok. But while the government has seen fit to radically alter the definition of marriage to include couples who are fundamentally incapable of fulfilling the essential duties (I’m using that word philosophically) of the office, there is nothing that can be done, legally or semantically, to actually alter the reality that only opposite sex spouses can contract a marital union.

2. When homosexual couples determine that they would like to acquire a child, either through adoption, IVF, surrogacy, etc., this results in a profound commoditization of the child. It reduces the child to a product, if you will, to be added on to their relationship as a kind of familial upgrade.

Do homosexual couples sincerely love the children they bring into their homes and raise as their own? I’m sure they do. But especially in the case of assisted reproductive technologies, there is almost total disregard for the dignity and the autonomy of the child. Their humanity is utterly secondary to wants and desires of the parent(s). Surrogacy is perhaps the saddest example of this commoditization, as it outsources the most fundamental human experience – gestation in your mother’s womb – to an unrelated third party. Does the child have no say in this? And can there really be no consequences to such an impoverished arrangement?

3. I didn’t present Katy’s story as any kind of definitive proof of the inability of a gay couple to raise a happy child, just as food for thought that maybe the children involved in these unions are not being afforded their full rights. We disagree on the nature of marriage as being ordered towards procreation, but there is still an innate drive, even among homosexual couples, to build a family. So the question becomes, what of the rights of the child? Does a child not, as we have legally recovnzzed up until this point, have the right to a mother and a father|? Is it not wrong to preemptively deny them a parent of the opposite sex, simply because two men or two women decide to build a life together?

My final thought is this: if marriage has nothing to do with procreation and building families, then why is the government involved in the first place? Traditionally the government has extended legal protections and benefits to married couples recognizing the unique benefits of marriage to society as a whole, (stable, intact families, healthier citizens, lower crime rates, greater economic stability, etc.) But these all tie into marriages begetting families.

Marriage has been recognized in a unique way because marriage – the sexual relationship between a man and a woman – is uniquely capable of bringing forth the next generation of civilization. Can it be done outside the context of marriage? Well yes, of course. But it’s always at the cost of the children involved, never to their benefit.

Also, if marriage means completely different things to different couples, as you said, if each couple contracts marriage on their own terms and for their own reasons and just wants to call it something that starts with an m….how can there be any kind of legal precedent at all for differentiating what makes the cut and what doesn’t? Can’t I marry my sister? Can’t I marry a second spouse of either gender while my husband is still alive? How is there any grounds, legally, to deny me that?

I’ve really enjoyed the peaceful nature and tone of this exchange (seriously, soooooo refreshing for someone who works on the internet) but I’m not sure we can go much further since it kind of feels like we’re talking past each other on a certain level. We’re using the same language, but we don’t mean the same thing, at all, when we say “marriage.”  So I guess maybe I’m up for one more round of closing arguments, if you will, and then we call it a day?


I agree on two points: I really have enjoyed the tone of this, and I think we’re getting to the point of talking past each other in many ways.

There are a number of things I’d like to push back on with what you’ve written here (i.e. those are not my three main points pro gay marriage). I think the fact is that we have wildly different approaches to marriage and family — beyond gay marriage or this particular ruling. I don’t feel the need for closing arguments, per se, as I (thankfully) saw this much more as a conversation than a debate. I would like to offer a couple reflections though.

I will admit that I was a bit nervous going into this. After your first email I had tears in my eyes and ended up going for a couple mile walk with my dog on the beach to de-swell the lump in my throat and unknot my stomach a bit. These types of conversations can be really painful and difficult, but I’m so happy that by this last email I feel better about it all. So — I’m glad we went the email route with this so there was some reflection time built in and an opportunity to compose our thoughts.

Another thing I noticed is that maybe the trick to this is that it didn’t really feel like a debate. We both have clearly thought a lot about this issue and have extremely deep seated beliefs about what is right here. Given that, I think we both quickly knew that we weren’t going to sway the other or “win.” What we could do was explain our stance calmly and (as hard as it may have been for both of us) openly listen to the other side. I think there’s a lot of value in that, and I’m grateful to Jenna for framing this up front that this was to be civil and productive, not a battle or a gotcha debate.

Honestly, I still don’t empathize with your stance at all and I think a lot of what you believe is incredibly harmful to our society, but at the same time I can respect you as an individual and hope that somewhere down the line you have a change of heart as so many people have. And I bet you feel the same about me! At least we’re not apathetic members of society, right? ;) I do feel sure that we both want what we think is best for our world, and those opinions have been informed and shaped in very different ways.

Best of luck with the tail end of your pregnancy, and sincere thanks for having this conversation.


Well, I have to admit I’m a little relieved, haha. Not because it wasn’t encouraging to engage this way overall, but yeah, because it was a little personally devastating to hear someone so passionately opposed to the deepest knowledge of my heart and my faith.

I was telling my husband last night that it our conversation was making me sad, not for you necessarily, but for our culture at large, just because relativism is so overpowering and pervasive, and it makes fruitful dialogue so difficult.

But He is bigger, and I’ve seen firsthand the fruits of continuing to question and seek and wrestle.

I had a massive reversion to Catholicism in college when St. John Paul II died, and I credit him with saving my life. I’ll be asking him to pray in a special way for both of us,

Enjoy your weekend and God bless your willingness to engage in this.

Jenna again. Just popping in to repeat, “please be genuine and tactful in your comments and questions. Both of these women are wonderful people (who I love) with intelligent thoughts on the matter. Please engage them in conversation while respecting their humanity.” xx
some text


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

    CommentLuv badge

  1. says

    Oooh this is a great blog post! It’s smart to have the ability to back away from the conversation and take some time to calmly think of a response. Thanks to all three of you ladies for putting yourselves out there on such a hot topic!

    I would like to ask if there’s another such exchange in the future that Cara clarify her definition of marriage. In her response that starts “the point of marriage is for “romantic fulfillment and life-long companionship” and I find that phrasing incredibly empty and not even close to capturing what marriage is” I think she’s trying to get across that marriage is by definition different things to different people (and therefore there is no one definition), but I’d just like to know if I’m reading her response correctly!

    • Cara says

      Yes, I do believe that marriage is different things to different individuals and couples, and I think that is part of what makes it so beautiful. An important point here, however, is that this ruling was on the legal definition of marriage which is much more cut & dry.

      • says

        Thanks for clarifying Cara! I totally get the legal definition established – I’m just interested in people’s personal philosophies that line up with them supporting this particular legal definition. (Obviously people can have very different personal philosophies that lead to them supporting the same legal policies.)

  2. Megan says

    Reading Cara’s response regarding her version of Catholicism and the version those around her take of the faith makes me so sick to my stomach. I dont understand how people can outright deny the fundamental tenants of the faith yet still consider themselves to be a part of it? If you dont believe or hold to the principle teachings of the Church, then why are you still calling yourself a member? Im not meaning to sound aggressive in this comment, but I am literally asking for help in understanding this disconnect.

      • Megan says

        Cara, I was honestly asking this as a question. I have a hard time making the connection in wanting to be a part of something to which you disagree with its very foundations? I wonder this all the time about people who call themselves Catholic but choose to declare doctrine as irrelevant. Any light you can shed on this would be helpful, without it spiraling into snark.

        • Cara says

          I didn’t mean to snark at you — that was just a really harsh way to phrase your question.

          I’m not hung up on whether or not you or anyone else deems me Catholic enough to call myself Catholic, because the primary core of my faith isn’t centered on Catholicism. It’s centered on a God I have gotten to know through a lot of spiritual work, not through dogma or tradition.

          I happened to be raised in a Catholic home and had a really good experience with that faith community, so because of that I do have a strong connection with that religion. The church I grew up in doesn’t even resemble the church that is portrayed in the above argument, but I understand and respect spectrums not only in religion, but more importantly in faith and in one’s personal relationship with God (or who/whatever gives them strength and guidance).

          • Kathleen says

            “The church I grew up in doesn’t even resemble the church that is portrayed in the above argument” …. there is only one true Catholic church, Cara. You were poorly catechized (not your fault), so now you believe just what feels right and you don’t even recognize the teachings of the Catholic church as Jenny illustrated them. You may have heard the phrase a “cafeteria Catholic”: picking & choosing beliefs as he/she pleases. The Catholic church has remained steadfast in her teachings for 2000 years, so the teachings were there in your home church and through your childhood. Unfortunately they likely weren’t communicated to you as clearly as Jenny did above. I encourage you to explore the teachings of the Catholic church, and to pray about what it would mean to open your heart to saying “yes” to the Catholic Church, the one true Church established by Jesus Christ. ( I once was like you, but my (now) husband (then boyfriend) patiently & lovingly, over years, taught me, through gentle discussions, prayer, and encouraging me to check the facts myself, that when you open yourself to all of the Church’s teachings, the love you experience: God’s love, self love, spousal love, parental love – is unlimited & more than anything you could imagine. The best is yet to come. Yes, love wins.

        • Susan says

          I’m curious what you consider to be the very foundation of Catholicism. The Bible, or the Catechism? The published works of theologians? The words of the Pope?

          • Cara says

            I’m proud to be a cafeteria Catholic. I’m actually just a cafeteria spiritual being. I remain open to all religions, walks of life, and approaches to spirituality and think critically about which pieces I believe in and want to incorporate into my life.

            I’m interested though — when did this become a bashing fest on my personal faith? We were discussing gay marriage – not what you think I should believe. That is a deeply personal attack and I truly can’t believe you all feel so comfortable attacking me in this way. On top of it — you’re doing it in the name of God or Catholicism?

        • Brock says

          Megan I obviously don’t know with what exact line of faith you align yourself, but you must realize that any sect of Christianity has in some way been diluted in regards to the “fundamental tenants” of that faith by the simple fact that all various sects of Christianity have spawned from the beliefs or disbeliefs of individual men of their time. How many versions of the Bible have been written over time? How many opposing “Christian” churches are in existence at this point? You must understand and accept that all religions and all forms of faith come down to interpretation. By your definition of religion I cannot call myself a US citizen because I do not agree with every belief or law or way of life put forth by this country (by popularity or otherwise); yet here I stand a citizen of these United States of America.

          • Amanda says

            Hi Brock-

            There may be many opposing sects of Protestantism that all broke away and have different interpretations. But, the Catholic Church is the original Christian Church founded by Christ, which all others broke away from. The Catholic Church has not changed in 2000 years and won’t ever.
            Religion, by its very definition, is a set of beliefs. That is wholly different from Nationality. You don’t have to agree with laws to be an American, you are one by birth. To be a Catholic you must believe all the Church teaches, if not, you’d be like the men of the Reformation and you would be a Protestant.

  3. says

    Awesome post ladies!!! Enjoyed following your dialogue…wherever people fall on the issue we need to have it in kindness. Great series Jenna:)

  4. says

    Wow, thank you for doing this, and thanks to both ladies for emailing back and forth. This (gay marriage) is hands down the hardest thing I have ever come across to talk about without seriously harming relationships in the process. As a devout Catholic (also with a Theology background Jenny!) I struggle so much to articulate my views without making everyone think I hate people affected by this ruling. I think that’s what makes my heart hurt about this argument – for the most part everyone is trying to do what they think defends true, authentic love, and yet we find ourselves at odds with each other. I enjoyed reading both of your viewpoints.

  5. Lisa says

    This was very refreshing to read. Thank you both for putting your thoughts out there. I found myself relating to Cara, which really surprised me. I am a mother of 3 and attended a Catholic college in the Midwest but have felt like the Carholic church of a loving, accepting God has been drifting away. The angry rants on social media seem to come from the Catholics who want to claim the faith- our faith, my faith, as their own with no regard for grace or mercy. I have found a renewed calling with Pope Francis, just as Jenny did with Pope JP2. I often say that the Jesuits are keeping me Catholic (no offense to my beloved Benedictines!) We are a Universal church and there is room for all of us as faith-filled practicing Catholics. Thank you Cara and Jenny for proving that.

  6. Cara M says

    Not the Cara in the discussion, but great name!

    I recently had a conversation with my teenager about this very topic. From my viewpoint, I believe the Catholic Church is NOT trying to devalue gay marriage or homosexual people but is trying to affirm the importance of a covenant, Biblically defined marriage. I think the Church wants to emphasize the historical and familial definition of marriage between a man & a woman rather than the legal, civil union held by two people. This is why I don’t believe the Church will ever preside over a gay ceremony, and yet, the Church I know will not cast out or ignore gay couples. I will say that I have a difficult time with the SCOTUS ruling because I am very traditional, but I also recognize that God calls us all to love each other no matter what.

    I thought this discussion was an excellent way to communicate two opposing views without the bashing and name calling; it gives me hope that people can talk about it without bringing in such negativity. And I do think it’s important to remember that if one group wants their views heard and respected, it’s important to give the other group the same consideration. It’s such a hot topic that there is little chance of meaningful conversation if tempers are high. Thank you all for sharing your views!

  7. Ana H. says

    Thank you Jenna for Approaching the topic in such a unique and mature way – you have a gift for that. With majority of the catholic mom bloggers staying silent on a difficult subject, I was eager to read this piece.

    Jenny, as usual you are articulate and intelligent. Thank you for being a courageous voice in the mom blogging world.

    Cara, thank you for sharing your opinion. You were exactly like me – Jesuit schools graduate, dissenter of catechism, and worked as a lawyer in Frisco. One day my husband told me flat out I was wrong. I set out to prove him by reaearchinf catechism, talking to a holy priest and received the shock of my life that I was a disobedient daughter of the church who believed my own opinions and the opinions of my Jesuit teachers overruled the Holy Spirit in Church. (Im saying that about me not you). Incidentally I read the SCOtuS decision and it did not and could not
    change the meaning of marriage as you allege. the Supreme Court thought it removed a bias or prohibition by changing policy but had no power to do that as a judicial office. The framers ofthe constitution never included homosexual marriage in it’s mind. For the SC to liken biracial marriages to homosexual unions is apples to oranges. I am also
    Half of a bi-ethnical
    marriage and couples like us have the anatomical parts to perform the function of marriage. All the same thank you for your perspective. It helps me
    Understand where many of my catholic friends are coming from.

  8. Anne says

    Seemingly tangential, but the first thing I thought of after reading this is the bio of Pope Francis called The Great Reformer by Austen Ivereigh. It is a fascinating read and really shows how Pope Francis defies the “liberal” vs “conservative” dichotomy. Ironically he has been portrayed as both conservative and liberal at different points and reading about his life really helped me understand and love him better. Totally worth reading and, in a roundabout way, sheds a lot of light on how to experience conflict and disagreement in the church. Thx for this, ladies!

  9. says

    Hi Cara. I have a follow up question for you and I hope you’ll see this and be able to respond.

    I read this post yesterday and came back today. I thought I remembered more, which I can’t find right now – something about you being upset, taking your dog for a walk, and feeling that what Jenny said about gay marriage opening the door for other kinds of marriage to be hurtful. I don’t think I’m making it up but I can’t find it. However, my question for you stems a bit from that last part.

    Jenny gave a very specific definition of what marriage is. The logic to that is we then know everything marriage is not. You don’t give that saying instead, “Because of that, I don’t believe there is one “reason” for marriage. I think it depends entirely on the individuals within the relationship.”

    So my two-point question is:
    If you can’t define what marriage is then how can you define what it isn’t?
    And then, if there is no definition of what it is or isn’t when and where do we draw the line of what marriage could / can / will be: man + woman, man + man, man + man + man, man + 14 year old boy, man + 14yo + woman, woman + dog, woman + 14yo boy, and so on?

    • Jordan says

      Hi Bonnie,

      As a man in a marriage with another man (of which Cara was a witness), I think I can answer. Here you are confusing two things: civil marriage and spiritual/religious marriage. Cara’s point is that two people will get married for a variety of reasons with a variety of lifestyles and she thinks that is just great.

      The SC decision was about CIVIL marriage, which is state-sanctioned or legal marriage. The federal government gives thousands of legal rights to individuals who enter into civil marriage including tax cuts, inheritance regulations, hospital visits, shared property, immigration rights, and the list goes on. The SC decision was only about civil marriage. Cara, I’m sure, would easily be able to define civil marriage as a legally binding union between two consenting adults. There you have it! Children and dogs are not able to give consent and are not adults. Also the word “two” would take care of the polygamy worry. Whenever someone likens my adult consensual relationship to people who want to sleep with animals, I bet you can imagine that I find it hurtful? Animals cannot consent. My husband can. There is no precedent for animals or children being able to give consent or partake in legal contracts and I can fully assure you that if that day comes (which it will not), the gays will be fighting alongside the Catholics to ensure that the innocent are protected.

      Cara’s point is that, for her, myself, and a lot of people, the reasons for entering into marriage is something that is not so definable, just like marriage itself or any relationship changes throughout a lifetime. Narrowly defining marriage as a union to create offspring has always confused me because what happens in the following situations:

      – a women is unable to conceive children because of natural causes, an accident, cancer, etc. — should there be a legal or religious ban on their marriage?
      – a couple who are past the age of being able to bear children decide to get married (maybe their spouses passed on or maybe they were never married before) – should there be a legal or religious ban on their marriage?

      I am truly curious about those situations because I feel they are exceptions that are allowed in the Catholic church in spite of being a part of the definition of what marriage is not according to you. I could be wrong though!

      Personally, if a civil union afforded all the same legal rights as civil marriage, I would have chosen a civil union. It’s not just that I feel I don’t fit into the religious definition of marriage, but that frankly I don’t want to be a part of something that excludes so many individuals and has done so for thousands of years. Maybe we decide I will continue to call my marriage a gay marriage and Catholics can start calling their marriage a Catholic marriage to make sure everyone understands we define our unions differently. :-)

      • says

        Thank you for the answer, Jordan. I’m glad you took the time to do so.

        I appreciate your distinguishing between civil and religious marriage and I find it interesting that you then said you would have preferred a civil union had that afforded all the legal benefits a legal marriage does. I have heard from others in same-sex relationships that they do not feel the same way, which I think only adds to my confusion on trying to understand the other side’s perspective.

        I see that you find it discriminatory that not everyone is allowed a religious marriage but I hope you can respect the belief, at least for orthodox (in line with official Church teaching) Catholics, marriage is something you are called to, not a right. God calls some to convents, some to monasteries, some to the priesthood, and some to marriage. To demand the right to be married in the Church is the same as demanding the right to enter a convent. It just doesn’t work that way. Again, no need to agree, I just hope you can respect the difference in definition. My worry is that the time will come (and I have heard and seen gay marriage supporters talk about this gleefully) when Churches who hold this kind of view will be made to comply (perform religious marriages for gay couples) or will be so heavily persecuted they will be forced to cease to exist. That is *not* tolerance.

        I think you are spot on in saying that people can consent and that consent is a very important part of marriage – but some people are crazy and I’m sure we’ll see on some magazine cover a crazy person trying to marry their dog. But I do think that if marriage is really about consenting adults it is not too far of a stretch to say three or four or five consenting adults can all be married. Once we change a definition that has been around for ages it will be easier to change again.

        Finally, in response to your question, I agree that it can look confusing. The difference lies in that the couples still have the necessary anatomy to conceive a child. I have met and have heard of couples who were told they would never have children and yet a child came. I have heard of wombs being healed miraculously and so forth. I also know couples who always remained open to life but were never given children. However, with all of them, the couples who are naturally infertile have done nothing to change sex from what it is supposed to be. They are still open to life. But two men will never have a womb and two women will never have semen. I hope that doesn’t sound cold. In one sense it is just a basic fact of life, but I don’t want to seem to belittle your love or your life.

  10. says

    What a great dialogue between two women who have really opposed viewpoints here and were able to maintain respect and courtesy throughout. It’s so refreshing to see people disagree (adamantly) about something, not back down from their position or compromise it, but yet listen to what the other person has to say and not resort to name calling and ad hominems.

    I definitely identify with Jenny here, but I think both Cara and Jenny have really hit on something in terms of identifying the fact that the reason these conversations often go nowhere is because we are using words to mean different things and therefore talking past one another. Cara pointed out that as every marriage is different, she believes that we can’t really come up with one set dentition of the purpose of marriage. I totally agree with her that every single marriage is different in it’s details, but I disagree that we can’t come up with a definition of what marriage is in it’s essence. If we can’t come up with that, I don’t see how we can have civil/legal recognition of marriage in the first place. So, in order to make this conversation fruitful, I think we simply must as a society agree on what we mean, in a civil and legal sense, by marriage and why we recognize it in the first place. Only then can we address what relationships do and do not constitute marriage.

    Another big take away for me was that both Jenny and Cara are absolutely convinced of the correctness of their position and hoping for the other person to change their mind. Based on simple logic, we know they cannot both be right here. But both are strongly convicted and both are people of good will. I think it’s a really important reminder for all of us to be humble. Just as we cannot understand how our “opponents” don’t see it, they can’t understand how we don’t see it. A reminder that the “rightness” of our position is not always self-evident to all.

    Jenna, thanks for being a bridge builder.

    • says

      You nailed what was bothering me – Cara never defined marriage, so it makes it really difficult to have a discussion about it! I think that may have changed the course of the conversation in an interesting way, as I left the conversation concluding these points:

      – Jenny believes that marriage is between one man and one woman, with full consent and a total gift of self to the other.

      – Cara believes marriage means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and is defined by the people who are in it.

      Which makes a fruitful discussion difficult, because of vagueness. I felt like a lot of the conversation was Jenny saying things like, “So…I think you believe x about marriage?” and Cara responding, “No, you didn’t get it right at al!” But then I still have no idea what she DOES believe, because she didn’t end up defining it in any of the responses. I was definitely left more confused than before about that side of things.

      But overall, this was a great idea for a post, Jenna. Thank you for finding two eloquent and cool ladies to have the discussion we all want to (but don’t want to at the same time!) have.

    • says

      Just popping in to say how much I appreciate your comment. I think it’s so hard for people to address issues and not people, but you did a fine job here. Not grading anyone in their participation here, but great job ha!
      Jenna recently posted…#5Faves: Summer BeveragesMy Profile

  11. Anne says

    I came back too Something has been nagging at me since I read it. I came away thinking ok, they both did that so well. But… no one changed their mind. So, how am I supposed to handle these situations in my own life? What am I supposed to say to convince people? And then I thought that Jenna is a genius because the whole point, and the thing that reminded me of the Pope Francis book, is the idea of encounter. We aren’t supposed to be concerned about convincing as much as accompanying. We have to be willing to go out in charity, build and maintain relationships, and let God do the rest. Maybe the beauty of every conversation like this is in the moment of human encounter and not the outcome. So thought provoking you guys!

  12. Val says

    One of the things I am always interested in is the idea that if you disagree with a teaching of the church you can no longer identify as Catholic. I am an active practicing lesbian Catholic and disagree with three teachings of the church gender and sexuality in general being the root of all three. I believe in everything else and primarily in transperstantiation, the communion of saints, and the active belief in social justice specifically the focus on the dignity of humanity found in the talks about imigration.

    What I can not understand about the church I love in many ways is its ability to believe that love, devotion, and comitmint is not found in same sex unions and that love is wrong. I believe marriage in a legal and historical sense is to bring two properties together and to create a safety net for people so the state saves money on the care of people. It does this by protecting people in 5000 codes and laws that allow for the people involved to be more protected. They also sees comitments of families and couples as a good of society because two people comiting helps society. I personally even though it won’t happen in the church I love believe in a sacramental marriage that takes that legality and makes it about your comitment to each other and God to be a symbol of God’s unconditional and radical love to the world. As a lesbian to love and respect a church so much and that church does not believe I deserve either basic rights to see my partner in a hospital or that in some way my love is less than someone else’s or even sinful really affects my ability to stay Catholic.

    • says


      When a Catholic receives the Eucharist at Mass the Sacred Host is held up to them and the priest or deacon or extraordinary minister of communion says, “The Body of Christ.” We then respond, “Amen.” However, we say “Amen,” we are not just saying that we believe in transubstantiation. Everything the Church teaches is connected. What the Church teaches about the Eucharist is tied to the teachings on the priesthood, which it tied to the teachings on all the Sacraments, which is tied to the teachings on mortal and venial sins, which is tied to teachings on sex, the dignity of life, gender, immigration, death, education, the environment, papal succession, the communion of saints, miracles, demons, the Virgin Birth, the Trinity, creation, Scripture, Tradition, and so on and so on. All of it is connected. We cannot pick and choose what we believe.

      If you are a baptized Catholic there is nothing you can do to stop being Catholic. However, if one is openly disagreeing with Church teaching and unabashedly living a life that goes against Church, well they have distanced themselves from the Church.

      I hope that helps you not be as confused by earlier comments, but what I really wanted to say to you is this: the Church does *not* believe you don’t deserve the right to see someone you love in the hospital. The Church does not believe that your love for your partner is bad or that you are bad. The Church does however hold firm to God’s teaching that sex is for marriage and marriage is between one man and one woman, that only death can end it, and it should be open to life.

  13. Drey says

    Precious Cara & Jenny:

    You did the right thing engaging here. I am currently engaged with a lesbian (though I believe we may have had our last dialogue the other day) on Facebook for all to read. I have changed her name for sake of privacy, but have let my small following (from Christians afraid of conflict to leftists who would much rather live in Denmark) witness that the truth of the Gospel is in fact–indeed, in its very nature is–loving. I tell my children the truth, because I love them. How much more will I speak the truth if I am questioned about it? As I was with “Jane”.

    I grew up an outspoken, die-hard Christian in Oakland/Berkeley/Fremont, so I am super comfortable (dare I say MADE) for controversy. I absolutely love nothing more than to respectfully, comedically, open-heartedly, intelligently and HONESTLY talk about the grit. To get down and dirty, to matters of the heart, is a lost art.

    Since beginning my outspoken Facebook posts after the SCOTUS ruling, I have received numerous private messages from those reading, some too fearful, too uncomfortable to talk. So, many have been giving me articles to read, or sharing their personal stories, or just asking my thoughts. Indeed, that is how I even found your dialogue here–from a reader of one of my Facebook posts. Their messages are proof to me that this conversation needs to be happening.

    Let me simply end here by again restating: I believe not only is our culture–our world!–dying for these dialogues, seeking and hungry for the truth, but I believe these dialogues are EFFECTIVE. They CAN change minds and hearts! Our job is only to show, not tell. You both have effectively shown both sides to a very consequential issue.

    Dare I say the job is now for the reader to see it is Jenny’s side that is luminesce. ;))

  14. Kathleen says

    I was excited to read this post, but it felt short of my expectations, I think primarily because Jenny & Cara were so mismatched. Cara came across incredibly immature and just ill informed. Cara’s arguments had more holes in them than a piece of swiss cheese – some of her comments were laughable at times. Remarks like, ” I think a lot of what you believe is incredibly harmful to our society,” are so off base. First, the only issue discussed here is gay marriage. Cara doesn’t know what Jenny believes (unless Cara has read Jenny’s blog) and how Jenny’s positions on pro life issues, contraception, pornography, IVF, traditional marriage, motherhood woes and countless other spiritual and religious beliefs can only HELP society because Jenny’s beliefs are all firmly planted in the virtues: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, humility.

    I suspect that Cara is not married and does not have children. I think when & if this happens, her heart will change, specifically on the issue of children being raised in a same-sex union. Seeing your child benefit from both a father & mother under 1 roof is invaluable and really can only be experienced first hand. Cara rejected Katy’s open letter to Justice Kennedy, but for me, when I read it weeks ago, this was the most telling paragraph, and, Cara, I can tell you I have seen this happen in my family to my own cousins who either have gay parents or who are gay & go through IVF/adoption:

    “Talk to any child with gay parents, especially those old enough to reflect on their experiences. If you ask a child raised by a lesbian couple if they love their two moms, you’ll probably get a resounding “yes!” Ask about their father, and you are in for either painful silence, a confession of gut-wrenching longing, or the recognition that they have a father that they wish they could see more often. The one thing that you will not hear is indifference.”

    • Lisa says

      I believe Jenna called for respect and tact in the responses to this discussion. The post was called “How to Discuss Gay Marriage,” so while I appreciate your hunger for more depth from each of the writers, that was not the point of the dialogue. And while Cara may not know what Jenny believes, the same can be said for Jenny not knowing what Cara believes. They were each asked by their mutual friend, Jenna, to engage in a respectful discussion about a topic on which they have differing perspectives. The goal wasn’t to change the other’s mind or delve into other topics.

      Additionally, I think it’s unfair of you to judge or assume Cara’s current marital or parental stage in life, especially as it relates to how she plans to raise her own children. I would hope that as a loving child of God, you would reconsider when hurling judgements.

  15. Kathleen says

    I thought Cara’s entire dialogue was weak, baseless, emotionally charged, misguided…that’s not judging. It’s my opinion & I’m entitled to it.

    Maybe Cara’s a parent, maybe she’s not. My point was that if she’s a parent in a heterosexual marriage, she’d likely be able to recognize how a child needs both a mother & father. It’s harder to deny the impact & importance of both a mother & father in a child’s life if that’s your current family situation.

    • Cara says

      Basing my support of gay marriage on love, kindness, acceptance and a strong desire for social justice is not weak, emotionally charged, or misguided.

      For as much as Jenny and I disagreed on this subject, I really enjoyed my conversation with her – both what was published here and subsequent exchanges we had. She actually gave me hope that I could continue to have these kinds of discussions in the future, but it is comments like yours that hold all of us back from productive sharing of views.

      • Anne says

        What I really took from Kathleen’s comment is the importance of tone. When discussing issues of such deep emotional resonance, it is really essential to prioritize the dignity of the person you are talking to over being right/proving yourself right. Jenny’s explanation of church teaching is rooted in John Paul 2’s theology of the body, and I believe those teachings explain the truth about the design of human love. But I also contradict or undermine the beauty of that truth if I communicate them in a way or tone that disrespects the humanity and dignity of the person I am talking to. I felt that Cara and Jenny showed us how to come out of ourselves and build a bridge to another person instead of trying to beat other people down in the name of truth.

        • Cara says

          Anne — thank you for your thoughts. You are exactly correct that tone and respect means everything in these discussions.

        • says

          I have been responding to many of you via email, but I do think that I will post some of my responses here because at some point things do require public mediation. I could almost copy and paste everything Anne said here.

          While Cara and I have very different viewpoints on this subject, she has been a friend of mine for over 20 years. I love her dearly even though we do not agree on many social issues.

          I think it is incredibly brave of her (and shows her intelligence!) to come here and discuss this issue in a room of people who she knows will not agree with her. She knew that going in, and asked me to make it very clear that this post was about how to discuss hot topics in a civil manner.

          So please, if you take anything from this post at all, it must be the fact that we are to love the human being first and foremost. Secondly, we are to DISCUSS our points of view in an honest and respectful manner.
          Jenna recently posted…#5Faves: Summer BeveragesMy Profile

          • Kathleen says

            Jenna, while I understand you wanting to protect Cara & also act as moderator, please be aware that when she throws words around like Jenny’s position is “harmful” to society or questioning the type of human being I am, I’m not going to take it lightly. Fair is fair. We all need to play by the rules, Cara included.

            Still waiting on a reply to my question to you below.

      • Kathleen says

        Love & kindness are emotions or emotionally-based actions. You made several references to your emotions: having to take a walk with your dog, having to take a deep breath to respond. I didn’t make this up when I said emotionally charged; rather, you offered the evidence.

        Further, love & kindness & acceptance are a weak defense of gay marriage. I support traditional marriage, but I still love my gay aunt and would lay down my life for her. I still love my gay cousin, because our mothers are identical twins and shared a woman together and have the same DNA, because we went to school together so were not only cousins, but classmates for 12 years, because we studied the same subjects in college and have a lifelong bond. These gay women are my family and I would never, ever treat them with anything less than all the love & kindness in the world. I love my gay coworkers because they’re good, honest people. We travel together & have been through a lot together. I accept their life style. I don’t agree with it, but I don’t battle them over their choices. As Pope Francis said, “Who am I to judge?” So love & acceptance & kindness can be found on both sides of the fence, Cara, and just because you believe in love & kindness & acceptance doesn’t mean gay marriage is okay.

        By misguided, I was referring to your misunderstanding of the Catholic church’s teachings. You yourself said you didn’t recognize the church Jenny described. I think that’s really unfortunate, though all too uncommon, as I see it more often than not. It’s not your fault – like I said earlier. Too many Catholics have been poorly catechized. I encourage you to explore your faith. I encourage you to have discussions with a theologian, priest, deacon, apologist and ask them really hard questions. I encourage you to learn more about the Church’s teachings. What are they? Why do they matter? What relevance do they have in your life? Why is it so hard to be a Catholic? Isn’t it easier to eschew the archaic teachings of the Church that seem out of touch with today’s world? Who needs those pesky rules anyway? How will they help you get closer to God?…As Blessed Mother Teresa said, in the final analysis, no one else’s beliefs or actions matter…it will be between each of us and God alone.

        • Cara says

          1. Loving without support for legal equity is not love at all, and to say that love and kindness are not base enough to make decisions shows a lot about what kind of human you are.

          2. DO NOT tell me to explore my faith — I have been doing that for almost 30 years. I am confident that I have thought more critically about faith than you ever have.

          3. The deep breath thing was a joke with Jenny (not all published) as we both agreed we needed to take them after reading each other’s stances. The WHOLE POINT of this blog was to show that you can have emotionally-charged conversations while remaining civil and respectful. This comment conversation proves to me how important it is to have two people committed to that because I have absolutely no desire to engage with you civilly as you continue to attack the most sensitive and personal aspects of me as a human being.

          Take care.

          • Kathleen says

            Cara, I apologize for my tone. It was not intended. Tone is just totally lost in a written forum like this and I’m certain that if we were face to face over a cup of tea, the conversation would be civil. I apologize if I have offended you.

            1. You support gay marriage for several reasons. From my perspective, your position seems largely based on emotions. I support traditional marriage based on facts. We will have to agree to disagree here. No need to get personal and attack the type of human being I am (?).

            2. Please don’t use all caps. It looks like you’re yelling. I’m actually surprised that Jenna hasn’t encouraged you to explore the teachings of the Church. From my perspective, it’s called evangelization. It’s called reaching out to fallen away Catholics. It’s called care & concern, however, I totally get that you did not want to hear it from me for numerous reasons. Fine, I’m okay with that. Again, I apologize if my tone offended you; however: I did not make assumptions about your spiritual journey and I kindly ask you to refrain from making assumptions about mine.

            It occurred to me why you feel your faith is under attack, especially when you didn’t sign up for this. You signed up for a civil discussion on gay marriage. For many of us who support traditional marriage, it cannot be separated from our faith. I accept traditional marriage for 1 reason & 1 reason alone and that’s because it’s part of the teachings of my Church. So I cannot separate the marriage issue from faith issues because the institution of marriage was established thousands of years ago, by God himself, before Jesus Christ walked the earth, before the Catholic Church began, before, even the creation of democracy.

            I was once pro-choice. I was once on the Pill. I once supported gay marriage. I once questioned the infallibility of the Pope. But then I did some serious soul searching and educated myself with theological facts and now I’m pro-life, an NFP’er, and the whole 9 yards, but only because I realized that by accepting the Church’s teachings, my heart could be opened 10,000 times bigger to God’s love. So perhaps it was wrong of me to assume your spiritual journey might resemble mine, that if you discovered the real truths of the Catholic church, you might come to learn why we support traditional marriage. Perhaps this was an erroneous assumption on my part, but please rest assured that it was never, ever intended as an attack on your faith. Ever.

            3. Agreed. I don’t see this conversation going anywhere, sadly. I was hoping that I might learn something about how to defend traditional marriage, but I sense your frustration and so I agree it’s best to end the conversation for now, but know that, like Jenny, I’ll be keeping you in my prayers and trust me, that is not some type of condescending jab. It’s sincere.

    • says

      I have been responding to many of you via email, but I do think that I will post some of my responses here because at some point things do require public mediation. I could almost copy and paste everything Anne said here.

      While Cara and I have very different viewpoints on this subject, she has been a friend of mine for over 20 years. I love her dearly even though we do not agree on many social issues.

      I think it is incredibly brave of her (and shows her intelligence!) to come here and discuss this issue in a room of people who she knows will not agree with her. She knew that going in, and asked me to make it very clear that this post was about how to discuss hot topics in a civil manner.

      So please, if you take anything from this post at all, it must be the fact that we are to love the human being first an
      Jenna recently posted…#5Faves: Summer BeveragesMy Profile

    • says

      Kathleen, I appreciate your passion for this topic, but perhaps your enthusiasm might be better placed elsewhere. The point of this post is to foster and encourage civil discussion on hard topics. While I agree with your ultimate stance, I will ask that you refrain from participating until you can play by the rules.
      Jenna recently posted…#5Faves: Summer BeveragesMy Profile

  16. Kathleen says

    Ok you’re right. I need more patience with types like Cara.

    However, Jenna, I’m curious why you’re silent on the issue. You sit there & say, “Play nice!” Yet I wonder how you’d respond to all Cara’s points. I’m not being sarcastic, I’d sincerely like to know. You hosted this topic, so obviously you have an interest in the issue. Why aren’t you defending the position of your Church? How would you defend the position of your Church? Again, not being wise, would honestly like to know. Clearly I need a lesson in apologetics. I’d love to hear from you.

    • says

      Well, the biggest reason I did not participate in this discussion is because it is not my strong suit. Not using that as a cop-out, but I know where my strengths and weaknesses are. Cara and Jenny are two people I know who have a way of putting their thoughts in writing that I envy.

      But, none of that is to say I don’t have a formulated opinion on the matter – because I do. It just doesn’t come out as eloquently. wink.

      So, first let me start with the how:
      How do I feel about the matter? Well, to put it simply: I do not support gay marriage. I am a huge fan of loving a person regardless of their actions. And, I also feel that tactful and understanding dialogue wins more hearts than accusations and truth slinging. Meeting people where they are, ya know?

      I’m not sure how long you’ve been reading CHH, but I would say it is a safe bet that my readers already knew that about me though due to my strong faith in the Catholic Church and everything she teaches (although I shouldn’t assume that as new readers are joining all the time).

      Now for the why. Why don’t I defend my faith? Well, I mentioned it above, but I assume that most readers already know where I stand on this issue. Secondly, and I think most importantly, I don’t think God asks us to fight every keyboard battle. When he does want us to, I know he sends the Spirit to move us and provide us with the words. And I think those words are gentle ones.

      So, do I defend my faith? Yes. Often. But this post was more about how it is possible to have a loving discussion with someone who is diametrically opposed to something you hold dear to your heart.

      I will end with this: One of the best emails I ever received was from an old childhood friend. I hadn’t talked to him in years, but he emailed me to tell me two things. First, he is gay. Second, he was so appreciative of the fact that I was able to show love for the gay community as people even though I did not agree with their actions. It was a proud moment for me.
      Jenna recently posted…#5Faves: Summer BeveragesMy Profile

  17. says

    Castiron says:

    July 9, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    I like the link posts because someone usually takes the time to say something brief about why the link’s might be worth my time. But I’d also be fine if they went away; if one of the links is really important, someone on Teleread’s probably going to do a full post about it later.