The Illinois state Legislature is gearing up to consider passage of The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (HB5170), a marriage equality bill. Unsurprisingly Cardinal Francis George, Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, opposes the bill.
What is surprising is Cardinal George’s reliance on “natural law”, not Bible references, to make his case. From the letter “Same-sex Marriage:” What do Nature and Nature’s God say? signed by the Cardinal and his bishops:
Marriage comes to us from nature. The human species comes in two complimentary sexes, male and female. Their sexual union is called marital. It not only creates a place of love for two adults but also a home for loving and raising their children. It provides the biological basis for personal identity.
It is physically impossible for two men or two women to consummate a marriage, even when they share a deep friendship or love. Does this mean nature is cruel or that God is unfair? No, but it does mean that marriage is what nature tells us it is and that the State cannot change natural marriage. Civil laws that establish “same-sex marriage” create a legal fiction. The State has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible.
Neither did the Church create marriage. …Christ raised marital union to the dignity of a sacrament, giving it significance beyond that given it by nature; but, like the State, the Church cannot change the natural basis of marriage.
Is Cardinal George a Roman Catholic Archbishop, or a pagan priest? If the former, why is he ditching Bible-based reasoning in favor of “natural law” that equates having sex to marriage and implies that even God is powerless to alter?
And “Nature’s God”? How strange to see a Roman Catholic cardinal invoking a deist notion coined by Thomas Jefferson.
Nothing about Cardinal George’s “natural law” argument sticks together, but he embarrasses himself in particular by implying that heterosexual sex is all that “natural law” allows. He is apparently ignorant of the fact that homosexuality is everywhere in nature. There’s nothing unnatural about it.
Archbishop of Seattle J. Peter Sartain and his bishops also attempted to use a secular argument against civil marriage equality, saying, “Upholding the present definition of marriage does not depend on anyone’s religious beliefs”.
Why are members of the hierarchy stepping away from their purview — religious-based arguments — and instead relying on secular arguments and “natural law”? As I said in response to Archbishop Sartain’s statement, it “constitutes a capitulation to the fact that a supermajority of American Catholics support marriage equality and have already rejected religious-based arguments for discrimination against their gay and lesbian friends and family members.”
Likewise, by relying on this “natural law” argument, Cardinal George and his bishops would seem to be admitting that they can find no religious reason to oppose civil marriage equality that is acceptable to their laity.