Saturday, March 9, 2013

On Homosexual Marriage

There are groups around the world calling for the church to recognize the unions of men to men or women-women. Some causes protests on the streets such as the gay pride march which made some states in the US to at least legalize Homosexual or Same Sex Marriage. This prompted other countries to follow their steps while many conservative countries remain strong in pointing the immorality of Homosexual Marriage. This issue is no longer avoidable in my country as it broke many traditional concepts and cracked cultures around the world. The Metropolitan Church, for instance, offers marital union for the LGBTs and it gained support from the minorities in the country today. It is in this light that we can say that the Church and the government is not anymore blind from recognizing the reality of this issue.
Having studied theology of marriage, as a lay individual, I get to have a wider opportunity to converse with homosexuals. I have many friends who are gays. They are very good people who just want to live the same normal life as others have. They've been longing to be accepted by the society and by the Church. When they love, they also want to get married, seal their love with a covenant with God and with each other. But the Church and our State does not adhere to this idea. This unacceptance has brought these people to hide; others even to the point of disregarding religion and simply put their faith on themselves.

In one of my conversations, my friend asked me what the motivation of the homosexuals for their marriage is. I guess that they do have the same motivation as the man and woman have before they present themselves to the altar. If it is just merely for recognition and legality, then it shouldn't be done. I think it still goes the same with the man and woman marriage. In our previous discussion, the Church gave emphasis on the relational aspect before getting into marriage. Marriage has gone too far from being simply an exclusive right over the woman’s body into something relational and committal. Both man and woman wants to get married for them to seal their love in the bonds of marriage, I think it goes the same with the Homosexuals.
On the one hand he pointed out on the morality side and said that the church is very enthusiastic in presenting the immorality of Homosexual Marriage. That according to the Bible union between the same sexes is immoral. Only man and woman can get married. I was very struck when he answered that notion in a question form. He asked me “why is it that when they see both men, loving each other, getting married they immediately points out that it’s immoral. While when they see teenagers, impregnated after a one night stand, got married and would not comment on the immorality of their marriage. They simply say it is better that they get married because it is for the welfare of the child and the woman. Without taking consideration that both man and woman don’t even love each other.” Which of this two points are moral and immoral or simply lesser immoral?
On the other hand our own culture has greatly influenced my countries stand on the immorality of Homosexual Marriage. For more than three centuries, we’ve been colonized by traditional and very conservative Westerners and they shaped our culture and beliefs. The same Westerners who have been very open to the concept of Same Sex Marriage nowadays. I think there is a need for a deeper understanding on the issue, awareness and acceptance; that these people does exist and they also have a place in the Church and in the Society. As the post modern thinkers would say, these values need to be ‘deconstruct’ in order for us to grow into our full existence.
Taking full consideration on the motivation of the homosexual couples, the questions of moralities and the culture that influences us, I guess it narrows us down into two very essential points.  First is on the encompassing love of Christ for us; that the love of Christ is unfailing. That it transcends beyond our questions of morality, society and culture. That His love chooses no gender and is free and constant for all. Secondly, is that we are bound to decide according to our conscience. We are always guided by our conscience. If our conscience would say it is right and moral to commit into a homosexual marriage then go, if there are hesitations seek for the working of the Spirit and ask for its wisdom.
Maybe the time is not yet ready for us to fully accept the concept of Homosexual marriage. As Fr. Tom Groarke, C.Ss.R. concluded in his lectures on the Challenges of Contemporary Marriage “Marriage is not a static reality. It evolved and developed in the course of history. Marriage within the most culture is also in a state of transition.” This transition is always moving and maybe in due time, Homosexual Marriage will be recognized, legalized and considered a moral act if done out of love.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

No Love No Marriage

No Love No Marriage

Marriage has gone a long way. As I have learned in our class the concept of marriage has evolved into different stages from a very simple gesture of marrying to form alliance of different kingdoms, to an exclusive right of a man over a woman for sex and thereby completing the marriage by the act of consummation. Now marriage, in the Church, has been lifted into a level of a sacrament. And for this reason couples put more importance on the preparations and the externals of marital rites in the church. These days also, we seldom see couples marrying out of wedlock, alliance or business partnerships, and marrying out of pregnancy. Couples turned out to be ‘in love with each other’ before they get married. But is love really essential before marriage?
My grandfather married my grandmother without courtship and shall we say love. As what our family history would say, my grandfather was a handsome and hardworking teacher and just asked for the consent of my grandmother to get married and both got married on Feb. 14, 1958. They had two children, and one is my mother. And for 35 years they had a very good relationship, filled with love and faithfulness until my grandmother died on 1993.
My mother got married with my father because both of them loved each other. They surpassed the trials of time and for 20 years they were together. And when we all finished our college, and all of us were professionally working in our different fields, my father left home and left us. We did not know what took place, what transpired. We were very clueless. My brother was working abroad when he heard the news. When he came home, we gathered and later did we know that the love they both shared had been gone for quite a time. And they finally decided to separate after considering that we are all mature enough to handle the situation.
I cited these two situations as my point of comparison. These are very real situations, situations that we sometimes disregard but needs the attention of our church. The examples I gave would somehow reflect the marriage before and at present. The latter showed marriage without love but turned out to be faithful and lasting, true to their promise. The former has love then marriage but failed. The question is this; up to what degree can we say that the love the couples have for each other is enough for them to get married and to keep their marriage successful. Considering that marriage is not merely for procreation but also a lifelong partnership, a commitment to God and each other.
Why is this happening? I believe that these are realities that we should look into. In my own view, I would not put more weight on love prior to marriage but love before, and ‘during’ marriage. As Gabriel Marcel would say, love is the highest phenomenon we can do to express our existence fully. And in this case it should be present within the marriage for it to work. But it does not stop there; both should have hope and fidelity for each other for marriage to work.  Hope that their marriage would last and fidelity that no matter what happens throughout time they remain constant in their commitment.
 I believe that the Church should put more stress on the relational aspect of marriage. In my lay perspective, I see that the Church has lapses when it comes to handling post marital concerns of many couples. Even the pre-nuptial seminars was considered to be a burden for marrying couples thereby considering it as nuances and less prioritized. The obligation of the Church does not stop from officiating the wedding rites of the couples but it goes down into the level of the couple, understanding their differences and helping them cultivate that love within marriage. What is essential is for the couples, with the aid of the Church, to cultivate that ‘love’ in their marriage.

This article was my reflection paper on my Theology class.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Church Should Not Reject People...

I went into the Redemptorist formation for 5 years, fortunate for me that at least I received a strong foundation when it comes to faith and the Catholic religion per se. But after living 5 years outside formation, somehow I already made a clear distinction between the life of a religious and an ‘ordinary’ Catholic. And in this paper I will give my reaction according to the perspectives of a lay man.
The Church should not reject “people who have sex outside marriage, use contraception, don’t attend Sunday Mass”, and should I include the LGBTs. This statement of Bishop John Buckley touches most lay man’s concerns, particularly on moral issues. Personally, speaking in behalf of the lay, we tend to disregard most of the teachings of the Church and live a life that is somehow directed by the Church’s teachings but we tend to choose what we follow and not just simply obey without rationalizing. In this generation of Catholics, seldom would you hear lay obeying guidelines without even asking why. Most of the time it ends up with protest against the Church, a clear example was the case of Carlos Celdran raising a placard with the word “Damaso” during a Mass as a sign of protest against the involvement of the Church on RH Bill proceedings. It was an indication that lay are getting more inquisitive.
It is in these situations that the Church has created a gap. Nowadays, lay Catholics have gone afraid in going to church for Mass because they always feel guilty and unworthy. This guilt and unworthiness becomes part of our system. When asked to attend Mass, they would say it’s only for the religious and the clean. This should not be the case because, as sinners we are then called to conversion and the Church can help us out. The Church is indeed our refuge and not someone who merely gives emphasis on our mistakes. Bishop Buckley was right in saying that religion is about hope and strength and not about condemnation or rejection. This development serves as a challenge to our Church leaders, who have attained a certain degree of distance from the faithful, to reach out and explain that the Church is a refuge.
And it is true that these laws and regulations are the ‘ideals’ that we should follow. Ideals that should shape our mentality and shall then establish our Christian way of life. I believe that having them as our examples to live by will benefit us in one way or another but I also stand with the thought that not living on these ideals doesn’t make me less of a Christian, in this case less of a Catholic. What is essential is what my conscience dictates me. If I feel that I am happy and is fulfilling what Christ requires me to do then I am a Christian.
It should be noted also that there is a great responsibility for the Church to be constantly on guard when there is threat to our Values. It is essential that the Church should remind the faithful to live a life pleasing to God but in a manner that does not cultivate a culture of rejection and fear. The Church, I believe, has gone too much preoccupied by setting up guidelines and laws but forget to think of what is essential; and that is to love one another as God has loved us. I always stick to my standpoint that religion is just a vessel for me to face God but then again in the end I’ll be facing my Creator alone.

This is my reflection on my Theology Class.

Just Dropping By!