Sunday, June 27, 2010

While we're at it....

Why not add some more controversy to my blog?

The overhyped and over-the-top "Gay Pride 40th Anniversary" celebrations are hard to avoid, and I'm getting the media's point that we are to feel ashamed if we do not "celebrate" the joys of homosexuality with the other enlightened ones.

Yahoo even had a caption on one of its news photos of the event which read, Yahoo! is proud to support the LGBT community and wishes all a Happy 40th Gay Pride!

Um...was that shout-out really necessary?

Anyway, all this talk of "gay pride" reminded me that a few months back, a gay friend of mine from college agreed to debate me on the (admittedly limited) topic of "gay marriage." Here's what I wrote him to kick it off:

Okay, so here is my basic problem when debating the topic of "gay marriage":

I have an issue with the whole premise of redefining language. If a word means something, then redefining it seems to me a manipulation. For example, if the whole of the English speaking world has understood the meaning of the word "chair" to mean "chair" then I think it is wrong that a small group could start insisting that we understand "chair" to mean "chair and table". It distorts language and clouds understanding, till words become meaningless.

In my mind, the same thing happened with the word "gay". It was co-opted and now means something completely different from what it used to. Young people hear the words of a Christmas song, "merry and gay" and they have no idea how that fits, or perhaps they giggle. Women named Gay had to change their names. Gay suddenly lost its true meaning. That is manipulation of language that I think is political in nature and has nothing to do with the *organic* growth of language. (Would you agree?)

So, essentially, I can't debate "gay marriage" since "marriage" has always been known as one thing (male/female). If we want to call it something other than "marriage", then let's do that. How about "unions" "relationships" or even a new name altogether. But
marriage has already been defined for centuries (more, if you leave English for ancient language equivalents of "marriage"), and I just have a philosophical opposition to manipulation of language. I believe language must mean something.

Someone said: "All social engineering begins with language engineering" and I think that is true.

So, that is why I don't believe in "gay marriage" ... because it cannot, by definition, exist.
My friend's response was positive, and he said he liked the way this debate was going. He said he would get back to me. So far he hasn't, and it's been over six months.

(That is not the first time I have tried to have honest, friendly dialogue with a liberal, only to be met with silence after my very first question or statement. I could write a whole post on that.)

If anyone can step into his place and tell me where my logic is wrong, please do. I welcome it. I truly want to understand the liberal mindset, but I just don't get it. Why is it okay to turn language on its head to get what you want?

35 comments:

  1. Your response was very well written! I'm sure your friend is trying to figure out where to go from there. I often get frustrated when debating this issue because people in support of gay unions assume that I hate gay people, and I have even been called a bigot.
    This disturbs me since I am lovingly and logically articulating my points of complementarity of the sexes, etc, and this is not about hate or exclusion, but rather it is about truth. It is just not the in vogue view point these days...

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  2. As is evidenced by my slew of VERY OUTWARDLY homosexual FB friends, I am clearly not bigoted or judgemental of those with same-sex attraction. Yes, some have been so outwardly bigoted toward me and my beliefs that I have had to block their status updates (email me for specifics) but I have remained friends with friends I've had since grade school nonetheless.

    But your argument is dead-on in my book. I may not agree with their lifestyle, but should two persons of the same sex choose to live in a committed relationship with one another that is not a marriage. It is the impossibility of it that seems to trip up my liberal friends who don't understand our views on this... they think we're saying it's "impossible" for two men or two women to marry as if we're saying it's "impossible" for two unmarried people to engage in sex. It's not that we're implying "they shouldn't do it, it is a grave sin" but merely and much more simply, they CANNOT do it. End of debate.

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  3. Oh, wait, an addendum:

    I always follow up my discussions on this topic with a question- Why isn't the gay community working toward earning the "right" to procreate? Why aren't they up in arms over the fact that "we" (and nature) have told them they CANNOT procreate using their sperm and their partners' sperm, or their egg and their partners egg?? I don't see anyone holding parades or marches for that cause, and why?? Because it is a known and accepted truth that it is IMPOSSIBLE. End of debate!

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  4. You are absolutely correct. I"ll be covering that very subject in a future "Marriage Monday"! Furthermore, now only are we changing the language, but "gay marriage" is impossible! You can call it marriage, but you're just playing a word game. Marriage is about sex (loosly speaking) and sex is about babies. "Gay marriage" can't do that!

    Ah, Leila, you've hit a subject I'm passionate about!

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  5. TCIE - your addendum stole the words right out of my mouth! I can't even add to it. :)

    Leila - Great post! I love these sorts of subjects. Sometimes society makes us feel that if we aren't with the liberal way of thinking we are bigots and should just keep our mouth shut. This stuff needs to be talked about! I'm thinking your friend just doesn't know how to respond. I bet you really challenged his thinking!

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  6. Lies against the truth hold no ground. As we have seen in the past. ;)

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  7. My husband and I try VERY hard to not used the term "gay" because as you said it's not used properly as the word gay has nothing to do with homosexuality.I use try as our society has beat "gay" into us so hard it's hard not to slip and use it. We use homosexual and same sex marriage. the quote " All social engineering begins with lauguage engineering" is brillaint, where did you hear that? I love it.

    My husband and I feel very strongly on this being an abomination. Homosexuals are nothing new, they were around in biblical times but the language used for them was harsh, God seem this ACT has something very wrong.
    This is worse than heterosexuals fornicating because homosexuality in itself is UNnatural. Which is why being homosexual is not a sin but being a sexually active one is so wrong.

    great post Leila.

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  8. You know, marriage only recently became something the government was involved in. People used to take their vows under God, and then they were married, end of story. I don't know when the gvt recognizing your marriage with certificates and marriage tax credits started, but I think anytime you get the gvt involved in some place that they shouldn't be sticking their hands into, you're going to be having problems. Same sex marriage is a big deal b/c they want the same rights (tax credits, etc) afforded to heterosexual couples BY THE GVT. Yes, they may also argue that they would like their vows recognized under the Catholic church (or whatever other church), but the root of the whole demand is equal treatment by the government, which has nothing to do with the actual sacrament of marriage.
    I love your argument, by the way, and I believe that your friend just had no response. You kind of shut down the debate before it began!

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  9. Great post Leila! The John Mar.tignoni talk on Marriage and the Eucharist that I attended this Saturday actually discussed this very topic in part (and the talk is available online if anyone is interested).

    Call Me Mama is right that most of the issue here that is causing homosexuals to want "marriage" is the government/legal benefits that that are received through marriage.

    The other part of the issue is our society's misunderstanding of the purpose of marriage as a place for the procreation and raising of children and the purpose of sexual intercourse as for the procreation of children. People get married and plan to have no children, but still have sex. Since people think marriage is about the relationship between the adults, instead of being about the children that come from that relationship, why would homosexuals understand that what they are looking for is not truly a marriage.

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  10. Pardon me, may I attempt to "discuss" this topic from a different perspective?

    I think perhaps your friend decided not to continue the argument quite simply because it does not appear a very open ended/friendly debate; when you disparage gay pride activities the nature of your words comes across as rather antagonistic.

    I hope I am correct in understanding that a Christian/Catholic understanding of marriage is that of a sacred act, a sacramental union between man, woman and God? In which case, you are entirely right-there is no other definition of marriage for you and there can be no deviation from a union between man and woman.

    For those of us who support Gay rights, marriage is recognized as a binding legal contract made official by the state (and by state I mean bureaucratic, government entity). If you do not adhere to a Christian belief system, this is how you interpret a "marriage." One purchases a license, stands before a judge, and thereafter merges (usually) personal finances, etc. Gay partnerships seek these same rights (tax breaks, recognition of union under the law, etc.) that are bestowed upon married couples. Another divergent point here is that marriage in your understanding of a sacramental union before God also emphasizes the purpose of marriage to procreate. Those of us without this belief feel marriage can have multiple purposes: to have companionship, to gain financial security, to gain legal recognition of a partnership, etc.

    I understand the perceived "threat" to the word marriage that you vigorously defend. However, I do not think that the recent push for recognition of same sex partners is in anyway stopping heterosexual people from getting married in a traditional-or Godly-context. The popularity of the TLC show "say yes to the dress" seems to point to the continuation of man/woman marriages.

    Thank you,
    Gwen

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  11. Gwen,
    Your points are well taken, and I do understand your perspective. My uncle is gay, and he has lived with his partner for over 10 years, and I love them both very much. However, I cannot allow my emotions to sway my moral standpoint. This subject gets very emotional which makes it a difficult one to debate rationally.
    However, that said, your points illustrate how much our society has deconstructed and compartmentalized marriage. Marriage is definitely about companionship, commitment, etc, but it has always been undeniably about children as well. If you look back in history, it was always understood that marriage and children go hand in hand, and it was shameful not to be blessed with children in a marriage. People have known from the beginning of time that when you have sex, a baby often is the result. However, this is not to say that sex is only about babies, since it is also about bonding between the couple. Is it not well known that when two people have sex, married or not, their bond grows, and they are more emotionally tied. I firmly believe that if a couple is having sex and breaks up, the break up is going to me much more painful than if they were not having sex.
    The fact that sex is pleasurable is a nice bonus, and God meant for us to enjoy it, but pleasure has become the world's view of the purpose of sex. With the sexual revolution, contraception came on the scene, and suddenly the world's attitude has shifted to thinking that the main purpose of sex is sharing a pleasurable experience together. No babies equals no commitment which destroys the bonding aspect of sex as well. And this is the top a very slippery slope. If babies and bonding are taken out of the equation, then suddenly any sexual relationship becomes justifiable. In fact why should we stop at normalizing same sex attraction. By this logic, what's wrong with bestiality and the like? We are again redefining relationships to fit our whims.

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  12. On a different note, women and men are undeniably different. We are complementary both physically and relationally, and we do a disservice to our humanity when we attempt to say that men and women are equal in every way. We are absolutely equal in dignity, but to say that women and men are the same is just not true.
    In a marriage, women and men are designed to fulfill different roles. In a nutshell, women are the nurturers and men are the mentors. These two qualities together are of absolute importance when it comes to raising children. And try as two women might to lovingly raise a child together, they cannot provide the same balanced upbringing that a heterosexual couple can. The child will be lacking a mentor.
    I know that studies have been done that say children raised in same sex homes turn out normally, however, all of these studies have been done by groups who have a vested interest in advancing the homosexual agenda.
    There is research unrelated to homosexuality that I think illustrates my point.
    It has been shown that in families where the mother is devout in her faith but the father is not, the children have a very small chance of growing up to practice their faith. However, if the father is devout but the mother is not, the children have almost an equal chance at practicing their faith as when both parents are devout.
    I'm not saying that women can't have an impact on their children's faith development etc, but the mentor role of the man means that he is teaching his children through his example in faith, integrity, work ethic, etc. Women are equally important, but our role is teaching our children to have compassion, sensitivity, how to deal with our emotions, teach children to care for others, etc. Both roles are extremely important and cannot be overlooked or dismissed, and they both contribute to raising balanced children.
    So all that said, I'm sure some would say, well this is a free country, let people live as they wish. In fact, I used to think this way, but then I realized that the family unit is central to the foundation of a society, and unless we hold fast to the strongest family unit which I have illustrated is a heterosexual couple open to life, history has shown that society starts to fold in on itself. http://psalm34-3.blogspot.com/ (Go here for a greater explanation of this point) And while heterosexual couples have done a good job of making a mess of marriage as it is, the more we normalize non traditional unions, the slipperier the slope gets, and harder it is to return to traditional family values.
    I could keep going with the Catholic perspective on the full meaning of sexuality etc, but since you say you aren't Christian, I will just leave my argument here.
    Thank you for respectfully submitting your thoughts. It is nice to have a rational discussion about these issues.

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  13. Gays adopting has long been controversial. On the international front, most countries simply won't allow it. In other words, Elton John can not adopt an African orphan. The world sees the value in marriage, the benefit of having both sexes represented in the parenting of a child. I think it odd then, that Christian agencies here in the US are quite willing to place children in homosexual homes. Now I know, folks will scream that children are better off in A home, rather than no home. I understand. But really? Do we have to validate homosexual relationships with children that will not know a father or a mother. Is two mommies really the best we have to offer them?

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  14. Gwen, welcome! I am glad you are here, and I hope you will continue to engage us. Maybe you can be the liberal that finally answers my questions? :)

    Quick points, as I am out the door here in a second...

    Re: my friend. He knows me, and he knows it was a friendly debate. He agreed to it happily, knowing my position (he reads my very frank facebook!), and I did not incite or bash in anyway.

    Re: the secular vs. religious view of marriage, it is a coincidence (a convenient one) that Lauren, just today, posted some in-depth studies on what happens when a society redefines marriage and family. Check out the stats at
    http://psalm34-3.blogspot.com/2010/06/marriage-and-society.html
    (Megan also points you there.)

    Also, regarding companionship, legal recognition, etc., then why not call it "union" or something else? Why usurp "marriage"? That was a point I made. Mrs. Blondies is right that marriage has always had procreation as a purpose... more on that in another post, to come.

    Would you be okay with two brothers getting "married", by the way? If not, why not?

    Re: Yes to the Dress... I LOVE that show! There was one episode with lesbians, and I really couldn't watch that one with any joy.

    Ultimately, you did not answer my question. I asked, essentially, if it was okay to manipulate language to advance a political agenda? Are you in favor of making words mean something they never have before? That's all I really want to know. I'm against it. I believe that liberals are for it. We don't have to agree, but I would like to be clear on what we all believe, so we can understand each other better.

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  15. *CHALLENGE* ;)

    Leila, maybe it's just me but I don't understand the big hoopla about this perceived "language manipulation." Is a homosexual union or relationship just as morally wrong as a homosexual marriage? Yeah. Words have changed meaning throughout the history of man. Gay, nice, awful, are just three words that have changed or gained more than one meaning over time. Throughout history the term gay has meant 1) joyful and carefree 2)a woman prostitute 3) a straight man or "bachelor". In the 20th century a "joyful and carefree bachelor" wasn't viewed as very masculine, which led to gay being a term for the homosexual male. It's like fruit or queer; neither originally meant homosexual. I think words change as society changes and they're not as important as the actions that society takes. Why be zealous about banning gay "marriage" but say that they can have gay "unions"? THEY MEAN THE EXACT SAME THING! So it's not the language that is important but the action and behavior behind it.

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  16. If you TRULY believe they mean "THE EXACT SAME THING" then why can't you settle for "gay unions"? After all, the mean "THE EXACT SAME THING?"

    In fact, you know, as do all of us and everyone else, that they don't mean the same thing. Everyone knows, deep down, that marriage has been known for centuries as a sacred institution between one man and woman.

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  17. LHorton: You are absolutely right in it is the actions and substance behind this which makes it morally wrong, but the problem begins with manipulating language to promote a political agenda. (Even the examples you gave were where words gradually – as in over centuries – took on additional slang meanings and that was what Leila referred to the “natural organic growth of language.” That is not the same thing as people demanding their State governments to change the meaning of the word “marriage” to mean something it has never meant so that they can receive benefits and recognition afforded to marriages. For a less hostile example: I do not want to register my vehicle, maintain insurance, pay ad valorem tax on it as the law requires for “vehicles” in my state, so why can’t I just rename my “vehicle” and now call it a “widget” or “furniture” so that these laws will not apply to me? (Sorry – it was the best example I could come up with on short notice). There is a serious problem with manipulating language in order to promote a political agenda. We count on words to mean what they mean and what they have always meant.

    With that said, I don’t think Leila or anyone else here (sans one commenter) is taking the position that a gay union is moral while a gay marriage is not. We’re all on board with you on that point. I thought Leila was saying “gay marriage” was hard to debate because there is no such thing.

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  18. L, does JJ know you are reading my blog at work, ha ha!

    I think Ann said it perfectly. Language should evolve organically, not by force of propaganda (aka, Orwell's 1984 "newspeak").

    Thanks to Ann, I don't have much more to add. All I would say is that I am a big fan of making distinctions.

    L, You were confusing two conversations:

    1. The manipulation of language
    2. The immorality of certain actions

    I think you blended the two.

    You are right that an immoral act is immoral act no matter what word is used to describe it. But it is also wrong when folks co-opt normally understood language in order to coerce acceptance of those immoral acts.

    My post dealt with the language issue.

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  19. I'm afraid I have post-lunch sleep inclinations otherwise I'd dive right into this debate on language manipulation (which is a part of the fluidity and nature of political language for better or worse-"compassionate conservatism" or "trickle down economics" anyone?)

    But I would like to point out that gay marriage does in fact exist in such havens as Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and even the Coquille Tribe of Oregon! I just wish the many friends I have who are gay/lesbian and not living in the above places had a choice to see their love recognized and the morality of thier choices in life respected instead of condemned.

    Thank you so much for the lively discussion : )

    Peace,
    gwen

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  20. Thanks, Gwen, but you missed my point. We have the same definition for "compassion," you and me. We both know what we are talking about when we are talking about "conservatives" and "liberals". (I happen to think that liberals are less compassionate than conservatives, btw.) Those words mean what we know them to mean. "Trickle down economics".... same thing. We know what "trickle down" and "economics" mean.

    You may disagree with "trickle down economics" in the sense that you think it doesn't work as well as liberal economic models, etc., but that term is very CLEAR... we know what it means.

    You may disagree that conservatives are "compassionate", but we still know what those words mean.

    So, you are WAY off the point.

    As far as those states who have "gay marriage".... Calling a chair a lamp doesn't make it a lamp. And that's exactly the point of this post.

    So, you never really answered: Are you okay with changing ACTUAL DEFINITIONS of words in order to advance political agendas?

    And, are you fine with two brothers getting "married" if they are in love? I am truly interested in the answer.

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  21. I think this exchange has just inspired my next blog post.... Stay tuned....

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  22. I am so not ok with two cousins being identical. A la Patty Duke. I have a huge problem with that. Just thought I'd share.

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  23. Wow, I think that was well written. I don't think it was offensive at all! When you tell it how it is, you usually don't get much in the way of a response b/c there is nothing to say back to the truth! :) and I agree with TCIE

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  24. http://www.usccb.org/marriageuniqueforareason/index.shtml

    I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but this video by the US bishops is supposed to be very good. It's why marriage is unique.

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  25. I'm late to the discussion but as a speech pathologist (and taken my fair share of courses on communication and language) I thought I would put my two cents in about the language thing.

    1. Is language organic and dynamic? yes
    2. Can the systematic substitution/alteration of a word definition truly fit in what is the normal development of language? No. Language makes sense. Because it makes sense, we have been able to learn about languages that no longer exist (courtesy of the Rosetta Stone discovery as an example). We know that languages have phonemes, morphemes, semantics, syntax, etc. All these things make sense (even when different) and help us understand language. If people using some extinct language arbitrarily decided to change the meaning of a word systematically for 10 years or so in the middle of their existence- when future people find their writings, would they have a clue what was going on? Likely not, because the semantics is violated. Disclaimer- I know that semantics (since it is a part of language) can be develop, but it would change naturally and evidence would be present in some of the other markers of language to indicate such.

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  26. Wow, catching up on posts here! You are on a roll tackling the tough subjects here, Leila!

    In regards to language and definitions, I'd like to humbly submit my own opinion that part of the confusion today on the meaning of "marriage" came with the legal and cultural acceptance of no-fault divorce. With no-fault divorce we stepped away from the understanding that marriage is a union between two members of the opposite sex primarily concerned *with the procreation of and rearing of children.* We threw out the *responsibility" (not merely the "right") towards children and basically redefined marriage as a union between a man and a woman *for the purpose of the happiness of the individual spouses,* and this union can be broken any time for pretty much any reason.

    I realize that with no-fault divorce we are still talking man and woman. But notice the change... marriage is now about the individual *right* to personal fulfillment/happiness. And one can now be "married" to multiple partners, in succession of each other, if that is what they prefer. (Serial monogamy). No matter how miserable this makes the kids.

    Now, it seems so unfair to deny others - say, same-sex pairings - of the 'right' to 'personal happiness' too? Correct?

    This is where it gets frustrating for me as I feel our culture has abandoned the original definition of marriage long ago, even though natural law still points clearly to it. :(

    And this idea that marriage is all about your personal fulfillment has also led to the increase in the pursuit if children through IVF, surrogates, etc. (which also further "legitimizes" same-sex unions. See they can "have" kids too!). The US is far more liberal about these technologies than many other countries because again, we don't want to hinder anyone's "right" to personal happiness - even if children receive the fall-out.

    Sorry so long!

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  27. Before I express my opinion on your post, I would first like to congratulate you: Congratulations! Although I blatantly disagreed with what you had to say, your argument was so well written that I couldn't help but appreciate your polite but firm position.
    However, I would like to prove you wrong on two counts:
    Firstly, on your idea about the "manipulation of language" on both the words "Marriage" and "Gay". According to the dictionary, the word marriage has several definitions, none of which directly pertain to a man and a woman. These definitions are as follows:
    "The state, condition or relationship of being married; wedlock.
    The legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of two people to live as a married couple, including the accompanying social festivities
    A relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other, in the manner of a husband and wife."
    You will note the last definition says in the MANNER OF, not ONLY PERTAINING TO.
    Now for the word, "Gay." It isn't like someone just up and decided, "Hmm, today I think I'll change the definition of the word 'Gay.'" It happened over a period of many many years. As all the Literary Professors I have ever been taught by have reminded me, "If you can't roll with the evolution of language, stop using it." One must learn to adapt to the new definitions of words.
    Also, if anyone is giggling at the word "gay" in Christmas Carols, they are most likely about five years old.
    Secondly, I would like to point out that though you say you "simply don't understand," I think it goes deeper than that. It looks like you are discouraging Homosexual marriage because you dislike the idea of it, not just because of the so-called abuse of literary devices.
    I have thoroughly enjoyed posting this to you. I do hope I can continue to keep up a friendly debate with you over this, as I have several good points on the subject.

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  29. Sophie, thank you!! You are truly welcome here, and I am happy to engage you! I returned from a six-hour car ride literally 20 minutes ago, and I need some time to start some laundry, etc. But I am so thrilled that you have answered me, and I will be back soon with my own responses to your points. God bless!

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  30. Sophie, if you are still there, I have addressed my most recent post to you, and would love if you would continue the dialogue. Blessings!

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  31. Hi Leila. Welcome back.

    I'm a little confused about your comments about Obama. The article you referenced says that houses of worship and religious nonprofits don't have to provide birth control coverage. And of course no one is forced to use birth control if they don't want to. Some Catholics are happy about the decision
    http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/news/pr/2012/ObamaFinallyDoestheRightThingforWomen.asp

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    1. Hi Sarah. Not sure why you posted this comment here? Maybe you meant to post it on my "Not quite a Quick Takes" post?

      Nevertheless, remember that "Catholics for Choice" is not a Catholic group. It's like saying that "Vegetarians for Meat Eating" is a vegetarian organization. You can see the problem, no?

      As for the very, very narrow religious "exemption"…. it is a farce. Even Jesus would not qualify for it. What Catholic organization, charity, hospital, school, university, etc., only serves and employs Catholics? I'll answer that: None. So, it's a ruse. A joke. A funny little poke in the eye to Catholics who want to practice religious freedom in this nation. Perhaps you didn't realize that the exemption applies basically to no one.

      Blessings!

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  32. I'm sorry Leila--I'm not used to blogging and I keep getting lost amidst your postings!

    It is confusing from the outside to know who is Catholic and who isn't when different groups claim to be Catholic. I have a friend from Israel who says different Jewish groups are forever claiming the others aren't "real Jews." Not being a Jew, or a Catholic, I take a person or group at its word as to its identity.

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  33. Sarah, understandable. Basically, anyone who was baptized Catholic is a Catholic. But of course, being a faithful Catholic (or accurately representing Catholic teaching) is a different story altogether. Unlike most other religions, we have a hierarchical authority system, and official teachings. So, it's not hard to show that many people who claim to speak for the Catholic Church in fact do not. If someone says they are a "Catholic for a Free Choice" on abortion for example, they are easily shown to be an unfaithful Catholic, unwilling to submit to Church teaching. Very obvious, very well-known, very non-negotiable Church teaching. So, anyone like that I would take with a grain of salt, for they do not actually live their faith. They pick and choose which moral and/or doctrinal teachings to follow. And many times, they lead others to confusion on what it means to be Catholic.

    Hope that helps! The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great place to learn what is authentic Catholic teaching, by the way.

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