[quote_box_center]EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of three articles about talks presented at the Day of Understanding sponsored by the diocesan offices of Family Catechesis and of Marriage and Respect Life Oct. 21. [/quote_box_center]
Charitably defending a stance on a hot-button issue is not always easy. That’s even more true when it comes to homosexuality.
Some 120 Catholic priests, deacons, religious and lay leaders left a “Day of Understanding” seminar at the Diocesan Pastoral Center Oct. 21 with practical tips for sharing the truth about love, marriage and homosexuality.
They heard from a trio of speakers addressing different facets of the issue including twice from Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research fellow in American Principles and Public Policy with expertise in bioethics and natural law theory with the Heritage Foundation. He underscored the importance of responding to the sexual revolution.
“More children are having ideas of sexuality shaped by Hollywood than churches and Bibles,” Anderson said.
He advised not focusing on same-sex issues, but on marriage. There’s a sore need for richer understanding that God made mankind in His image/likeness, that they were created male and female and made for each other, Anderson said.
At the same time, Catholics can’t ignore the same-sex issue either. Those with same-sex attraction are welcome in the Church — the Catholic apostolate Courage has a chapter in Phoenix and Tempe — and deserve to be welcomed into the family, but ministry can’t simply be outsourced, Anderson said.
“Every Thanksgiving, everyone needs someone to share that table with,” Anderson said. He added that there’s no clear road forward, but offered some ideas.
His talk on how to move Catholic leaders forward in the discussion of homosexuality largely drew from his recent book “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom.”
Anderson said it’s important to be able to make the philosophical argument for marriage. He advised being prepared to give 30-second responses to common statements or questions from a biblical, theological and secular standpoint.
The co-author of “What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense,” whose words were also cited in the dissenting opinion in this year’s Supreme Court case involving sate marriage laws, equipped the crowd with some social science arguments supporting the benefits of marriage as God created it.
Anderson first pointed out the fallacies in the 49 studies of same-sex couples cited by the American Psychological Association. Of the eight studies on same-sex parenting that did use a large, representative sample, Anderson said all of them concluded that children are better off with a married mother and father.
For example, Anderson said when biological fathers are present, it delays the onset of puberty in children by up to a year. Having a non-biologically related man in the house accelerates it. Living out the truth provides a vital witness, he said, that’s the Church’s best apologetic.
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“It’s the lives of the saints that win arguments,” Anderson said. “It’s the beauty of holiness that attracts.”
Mike Phelan, director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Respect Life, which co-hosted the “Day of Understanding,” agreed.
“The Church hates no one — she seeks only to bring mercy and truth, which go hand-in-hand,” Phelan told The Catholic Sun.
He said all three presenters offered the truth in love “and since courage is contagious, we now have more courage to engage and answer questions when they arise about how the Church views those who experience same-sex attraction, the question of ‘gay identity’ and how to explain the meaning of marriage after the Supreme Court decision on marriage last June.”