When Gay “Marriage” Affects Your Family

Also posted at Catholic Insight

marriage-wrecking-229x204On June 26, 2013, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down in a five- to- four decision by the United States Supreme Court. Gay activists south of the border were overjoyed. Here in Canada, it was just another marriage equality day since our Supreme Court redefined marriage with the passing of the Civil Marriage Act on July 20, 2005. Major cities have just hosted or will soon be hosting the spectacle otherwise known as the Gay Pride Parade, including Toronto and New York City.

Many people are rightfully concerned about the redefinition of marriage and its negative consequences on society but the issue is still removed from their personal lives. For others, gay “marriage” hits very close to home as gay family members get “married” and look for the support and acceptance of their relatives.

But what if you’re against same-sex “marriage”? What if your Catholic Christian beliefs cause division in your family? What if you choose your religion over family harmony?

Six years ago, two of my extended family members – my side of the family, not my husband’s side – decided it was time that the rest of us officially accept their same-sex partners as part of the extended family. Everyone agreed. Everyone except me. I calmly and charitably explained that although I loved my extended family members, I would not recognize their same-sex unions because of my Catholic beliefs. The fallout from my statement was upsetting as some of my relatives were furious at my uncompromising stance. They felt I should set aside my beliefs for the sake of keeping the peace. The hardest part was realizing that I didn’t have any allies among my extended relatives and it caused a rift which still exists today.

Those of us who have chosen our religious convictions over family harmony have been accused of being homophobic, fanatic, out-of-touch, narrow-minded, hateful. For some people one or more of those words may apply, but for others, our decision to follow Christ instead of giving in to family pressure is rooted in charity – love of God first and love of neighbour, including family members who are in same-sex marriage and those who support them.

When a person abides by the Gospel at the expense of the family, many challenges arise. One priest with whom I spoke said that family members who refuse to recognize the same-sex unions of their relatives experience much difficulty. He has counseled many parents who don’t know how to handle the news that their children are in a same-sex relationship. I know siblings who have stopped speaking to each other because of it. Jesus’ words resound: “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.” (Matt.10: 35-36) Families that are divided over same-sex unions live His words every day.

It’s not easy to say no when the rest of our family has a different opinion and many anguished moments result. The last thing any of us wants to do is hurt the ones we love but they will inevitably be upset and angry when we disagree with them.  Our conduct must be one of forbearance, forgiveness and charity, bearing in mind that we do not have the right to judge, condemn, vilify or hate because we too are sinners in need of God’s mercy and the plank in our eye may be bigger than the one in theirs.

When faced with this situation, it’s important to seek guidance. I sought advice from a few good priests who helped me through a very difficult time and I confided in close, supportive friends. My husband and children stood by me and as a result, my kids were strengthened in their religious conviction to uphold the Gospel first.

Pope Benedict said that “the truth is not decided by popular opinion.” His words ring true especially when the popular opinion is within the family. But it’s exactly for the sake of our family that the truth must be proclaimed in charity and lived without compromise. We hurt our family more when we make concessions and buckle to pressure in an effort to keep worldly peace. We may be the only beacon of light for family members living in the sin of same-sex lifestyle. Through our example, self-sacrifice and prayers, by God’s grace they may one day experience healing through a conversion of heart and have authentic peace – the peace of Christ.

Postscript: After I finished writing this post, I found a complementary article written by Fr. Denis Lemieux on his blog, Ten Thousand Places. Preach The Gospel with your Strife explains why as Catholic Christians, we are called to speak out against same-sex “marriage” despite our own sins and failings. He’s also writing a series of posts called A Question of Law and A Question of Love where he talks about “marriage, sex, the Church’s teachings, and the whole difficult issue of same-sex marriage and its civil recognition.”

(photo courtesy of protectmarriage.org.nz)

Deo Gratias

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34 Responses to When Gay “Marriage” Affects Your Family

  1. “the spectacle otherwise known as the Gay Pride Parade,” yeah, that’s brilliant! What happened to straight Pride? People want to argue over this issue over and over again. Such a bizarre time to be alive right now. In other places round the world, people will kill a person over their same sex wishes. So, why pretell do we allow this to have even become an issue? It sickens me. Yes, I agree with you, we are caught up in the dogma of our beliefs while, guess what? The other side has an agenda and is acting on it. Is this how Lot felt? Here’s something to make one chuckle for a minute: God put a rainbow up to show He would not flood the world any longer. The current symbol or flag for this agenda is a? You guessed it. He did put other revisions in on Revelation however! I think your wise priests are right totally on this one. This whole thing doesn’t even “feel” right honestly. It speaks to us of evil. It isn’t found in nature and was it not good enough that one could not simply exist without making it a marriage. God save His children! Evil and immorality are rampant, wont be long before Christians will become a target and someone will aim their hatred at us. Bless you!

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  3. blmaluso says:

    Thank you for aligning yourself with the Lord and standing for the Truth. These are evil times – we need to pray as never before…for eyes and hearts to be opened and for the conversion of souls. Daily recitation of the rosary is a good place to start. My faith has grown and my life has changed since I started to pray and meditate on the rosary. May God bless you and you family.

  4. SaintlySages says:

    People can change sociology, but not biology. God bless!

  5. linda santoro says:

    thankyou so much for this post. I am going through much the same,only my eldest daughter, a psy.d sees it differently, and  I am devastated.

    ________________________________

    • I think there are many families experiencing the same thing and it causes so much heartache. Be strong and leave it with God.

      • ‘Be strong and leave it with God.’This soooo hard to do. So hard to internalise when we live in the world.The statement is so glib and we’ve heard it many times. It doesn’t provide me with much comfort, when as a mother I worry about homophobic retribution; judgement of your child’s character; when you know your child will face uncomfortable family confrontations; when you are left to deal with perceived ignorance of the ’causes’ of same-sex attraction that point directly to you as a mother or a father; when you know how much pain your child has to bear as a result of their life style choice.
        So far along this road, it has provided little comfort.

    • http://www.couragerc.net/Encourage.html
      EnCourage is a ministry within Courage dedicated to the spiritual needs of parents, siblings, children, and other relatives and friends of persons who have same-sex attractions.

  6. quinersdiner says:

    This post is beautifully written with love. Thanks for sharing your story. My prayers are with you.

  7. Terry, I can empathize with you. I have an immediate family member who was married outside the Church (his “wife” practices Native American religion) several years back. Most of my family attended the wedding. Neither I nor my parents did, because it wasn’t valid. I got blamed, my parents were eventually forgiven–though I worked hard to tell them not to base their decision on what I said, but on their own convictions. One sibling won’t even Friend me on Facebook to this day because of the conflict. The “offending” person and I have a strained relationship, but we try to make nice when we meet. I have not had to deal with the same-sex “marriage” issue in my family–yet.

    Keep standing strong. God is with you. Souls are more important than feelings or false harmony.

  8. When I divorced my first husband, my mother said she knew what he was doing to me but she didn’t agree with the divorce. In God’s eyes I was married until the day I died even though my parish priest offered me and my children safe shelter, encouraged the divorce, and supported me through the annulment.

    Although somewhat hurt, I always respected my mother for her stand. I knew she loved me even when holding firm in her beliefs. If we want to be loved and respected for who we are and our decisions, that must go both ways.

  9. This is a topic of which I have personal experience. We are to accept and treat those with same-sex attraction with love, and respect and the dignity they deserve. Not shun them, damn them or never speak to them again. Approach them in love.
    Parents who have children who say they have same-sex attraction should accept them and keep the channels of communication open. Let them know how you feel about them as your child, and let them know that they are loved.

    • Thank you for your valuable advice and insight.

      • As parents we continue to receive invaluable,sensitive and caring support from our parish priest. He has been our rock through this storm.
        It has been a very difficult journey, one for which we were totally unprepared emotionally and figuratively. It’s a chronic pain parents will never be able to accurately describe. It’s personal to each parent.It’s personal to each couple.
        Although we have been blessed with many years of marriage and up until 2 years ago I felt as though there was absolutely nothing more that could ‘cripple’ us, I was proved so, so wrong.
        It’s a pain that you cannot share with just anyone, especially at our parish, because sadly, yes, there are those who condemn, who are extreme in their views without the experience to back up their viewpoints.
        We discovered the beauty of the teaching of the Church and our Lord about love, and it is the one consolation for us. Our child loves us and respects our views, we respect and love him unconditionally.
        We found solace in the fact that we know God does NOT make mistakes, but through our darkest struggle with this issue we have felt isolated to the extreme. Very alone. This is because our Catholicity and of course because we live in a secular culture that cannot comprehend a Christian world view.

  10. You were strong to stand up for truth. It really bothers me how so many people want to accept compromise in today’s world for the sake of “getting along.” One does not make compromises with evil – because that is how evil wins. First a little here, then a little there, then it runs the show.

    You were right to accept them for who they are, but that does not mean you have to accept their sins. Love can be hard sometimes; it is not always, “whatever you do is ok by me because I love you.” Rather, it is “I love you and therefore I will watch out for what you do to protect you from harm.”

  11. Thanks, Isabella Rose. It’s not easy but we have to love the sinner, not the sin.

  12. Anabelle says:

    Oh wow. Thank you for this. I don’t have the gay union experience yet but on other issues, my husband and I are constantly on the minority side.

  13. Terry, I have an immediate family member (on my husband’s side) who claims to be married to his partner. My husband and I were the only ones to not attend the large reception they threw for themselves out of both sides of that entire family. We have been told that we are homophobic and worse by our cousins. My husband and I love this man very much, and we have nothing personally against his “friend” (as we call him in front of our children), and it is because of this that we will never recognize their union or expose our children to it. As adults, we can socialize and know that they know what we believe, and I think he knows we love him, and not fear scandal, but it is different in the case of our children. They don’t know what the homosexual means and certainly don’t know that this man is one, and they won’t until we are quite ready to discuss this with them (thank God for homeschooling). It’s out of love that we must be sure that they know why we refuse to participate or sanction, in the hopes of one day leading them back into the fold.
    It’s not the first situation we’ve been in with our family (both sides) where we’ve had to stand, alone sometimes save for God, and it only serves to strengthen our resolve each time, despite the hurt of being outcasts amongst our friends and family. God bless you for writing this with such love and honesty Terry! We all need to know that we’re not alone, no matter how it feels.

    • Bridget, your contribution to this post is much appreciated. We had concerns about the children too, especially the younger ones and like you, we referred to their partners as their friends. These situations are always challenging but I think that a great consolation is that with God, all things work together for good. Thanks, Bridget.

      • Our family is conservative and Catholic. Our children attended Catholic primary and secondary schools. We never socialised with gays or lesbians, but our child grew up to announce same-sex attraction.
        You can protect your children from the ‘world’ for just so long. Are you going to live in a virtual bubble, an exclusive compound? Will you never see that person, converse, send them birthday cards? Pretend they don’t exist?
        Just think of their parents. How are you supporting them on the ground?
        If not, it’s a very sorry state of affairs indeed.

      • 1catholicsalmon, I apologize if my previous comment seemed glib…that was not my intention. I have often wondered how Christian parents cope with their children’s same-sex attraction and you have shed valuable light on that. I wonder how I would feel if one (or more) of my children were homosexual? I hope you don’t feel that anyone who has commented here is judging or blaming you. I don’t think anyone is doing that, not here anyway. At the risk of sounding glip yet again, I’ll just say thank you for your valuable insights. Writing them can’t be easy. It seems to me that you have an insightful blog post just in these comments…..maybe one day you’ll be ready to blog about your experience. You will help many loving parents, I’m sure.

  14. Thanks for the reply. Still lots to work though.

  15. Teresa Rice says:

    Keep up with your perseverance, faithfulness to the Gospel and to the teachings of the Church. Thanks for sharing. In this situation I guess the best thing to do is pray for their conversion. God Bless.

  16. God bless you, wonderfully written with so much love breathing in it. It is a huge delight reading your words.

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