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Marriage is a gift, not a right

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The view of the Catholic Church on same-sex marriage is often distorted in the media. I hope I can help clear things up in fewer than 400 words.

The Bible has three simple words to describe God: "God is love." There is a consequence to believing in God, a consequence to love. We know where love led Jesus, to the cross. Too many of us want nothing to do with the cross, with sacrifice or with loving in a heroic, sacrificial way.

Catholic teaching on marriage is very clear because Jesus Christ is very clear. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Catholic teaching on this issue will not change. It can't.

Catholics waiting for an "evolution of thought" have been desperately misled.

Those who struggle with our church's teaching see it as cruel and/or barbaric. Those claiming marriage is a "civil right" couch the discussion where it does not belong. Marriage is not a "right" like the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Marriage is a gift and, by definition, between one man and one woman.

The Catholic Church does not condemn someone with same-sex attraction. Can two men love each other? Of course. Can two women? Of course. Whether the attraction comes from a gene or is a learned behavior is not the point for us as Catholics; science can determine that on its own. We believe those who are not married are called to live a celibate and chaste life, whether they have opposite or same-sex attraction.

Where do those with same-sex attraction fit into the Catholic Church? They fit right along with the rest of us sinners who are trying to find our way to heaven. All of us are built to love and there is a great consequence to loving ... because God is love. The cross of Jesus, rejected by many, is still the focus of all truth no matter what the polls say in November.

None of this is easy. Every family I know has been touched by this issue in some way. As a priest, I am fully aware how those with same-sex attraction (and their family and friends) struggle mightily with what Christ is asking of them. As a pastor, I pray my response is always compassion followed by echoing the incredible invitation to love in a heroic, sacrificial way.

Fr. Don Braukmann

Bemidji

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