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Why I support gay marriage


'Gay marriage' by Chris JohnstonI didn't hear the word lesbian until I went to university. In my childhood, homosexuality was not discussed: not at home, not at church, not at school.

I'm sure there were homosexual people in my classroom or community. Possibly even in my extended family. But they were not 'out'. Even the prevailing culture did not engage with homosexuality: growing up in middle America in the '70s and '80s was still far more Happy Days than Glee.

To say I grew up in a Catholic enclave wouldn't be far wrong. I went to Catholic primary school, where my mother also taught. My dad was a Eucharistic minister in our parish. After attending an all-girls Catholic high school, I earned a BA in political science at a Catholic university, then spent a gap year teaching at a Catholic primary school.

I met my husband at World Youth Day '91. Before we married, I headed back to university for a masters degree in theology and got my first proper job working as the NSW state youth coordinator for the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

As a legislator, I have voted for and promoted legislation that accords rights, such as adoption, to homosexual people. I have publicly stated that I don't agree with the Church's teaching on homosexuality. How did such a good Catholic girl arrive at what appears to be a non-Catholic position on this issue?

The first people I knew who acknowledged their homosexuality were fellow Catholics at university, living away from home for the first time, struggling with a very real question of who they were and how they should live.

My lack of knowledge about homosexuality meant I had very few presuppositions to confront. I came to the questions of how to respond to homosexual people armed not with Vatican teachings and cultural assumptions, but simply with the Gospel message of 'love one another as I have loved you'.

What I witnessed were people who suffered greatly because of the judgement of their family and community; friends who were more acquainted with loneliness than with romantic relationships; devout Catholics, some with a true call to vocation, grieving because their own church had no place for them. I realised no one would choose an orientation that brought such misery.

In time I came to ask what the Church taught on homosexuality, and why. Richard P. McBrien's seminal tome, Catholicism, explained the Vatican teachings acknowledging the validity of homosexual orientation while condemning homosexual activity.

McBrien also outlined other theological points of view, including the argument that homosexual acts are morally neutral, because the morality of a sexual act depends on the quality of the relationship of the people involved; or that homosexual acts are preferable to living a life where one can never give expression to one's sexuality.

Another significant influence on my thinking also came from my studies of Catholic doctrine: the inviolability of conscience.

Conscience is a tricky area when one wants to claim it as a basis for disagreeing with the Church's official teaching. It often leads to accusations of being a 'cafeteria Catholic', choosing only the parts of Church teaching you want to agree with.

(I find this ironic, given that the Church has never explicitly claimed infallibility on a moral teaching, and has altered its own views over the years in response to cultural changes, e.g., on usury.)

The Second Vatican Council declares we are bound to follow our conscience faithfully; that one cannot be forced to act in a manner contrary to their conscience. But a conscience must be properly formed. Conscience is not a feeling; it is a decision to act based on thorough consideration.

A Catholic conscience must give attention and respect to Church teachings, but is also bound to consider science, reason, human experience, scripture and other theological reflection.

This is how I came to the views I have espoused in the Parliament and in public debate: by thoroughly forming my conscience.

Science affirms the Church's view that homosexual orientation is genuine, but if we are all made in the likeness of God, how can that natural orientation turn sinful when it is given expression through physical acts of love?

If we accept that heterosexual people who are physically unable to have children are able to express themselves in physical acts, why then aren't people who God created with a homosexual orientation able to do the same?

Scripture isn't a great deal of help in this area, though perhaps its relative silence is instructive. As the American Jim Wallis points out, there are 3000 references in the Bible to alleviating poverty, but very few on homosexuality. The Australian Christian Lobby's Jim Wallace acknowledges there is no place where Jesus taught one way or another about same sex marriage.

But Jesus did have a lot to say about self-sacrifice, laying down one's life for another, and loving one another as he loved us. When I see homosexual couples in mutually loving relationships, or giving self-sacrificing love to a child, how can I not but see a mirror of Jesus' love for us?

Taking a contrary view to Church teaching is not a position I come to lightly. It is formed by prayer, reading, and reflection. It gives me no relish to be at odds with my Church. But it also gives me no joy to see people who are created in God's image unable to fully express their humanity, or live with the rights and dignity that heterosexual people are afforded.

I act in good conscience — as a Catholic, I can do nothing else. 

Kristina KeneallyKristina Keneally is a member of the NSW Labor Party. She was the 42nd Premier of New South Wales. 

Topic tags: Kristina Keneally, Second Vatican Council, Gay marriage



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Existing comments

Well said, Kristina. And well argued and well written. I hope the responses that you get to this article will be as civilised as your input.

Ginger Meggs | 26 September 2011  

The way I see it, as a devout Catholic, is that even if homosexuality is a sin (which, because it's groundings are in the Hebrew Scripture, is not beyond doubt), there is no sin beyond Christs love and redemtive power. To say that homosexuals will not be forgiven is to spit on the passion and insult God.

Further, as is made clear in the Gospel, we as sinners have no right to judge or condemn the sins of others, and are bound simply to love without condition or exception.
And one cannot denie that should we believe homosexuality to be a sin, the duty of informing people of this has been well and truely carried out.

Ultimatly I disagree with homosexual marraige, purely on the grounds that it is a misuse of the word and unessecarily upseting to people of some faiths. I think a "civil union" with identical rights to marraige, open to all people not married by a religious institution is fine. Neither side can in honesty, be upset by that, and only radicals who are still upset about gays existing will condemn it

L. O'Brien | 26 September 2011  

Interesting and helpful KK, thanks for writing this.

buckleup | 26 September 2011  

Thank you, Kristina for your elegantly expressed position. I also grew up in a Catholic enclave and never thought about homosexuality; then I had children. When one of them "came out"it made sense of all the feelings and worries experienced throughout childhood and adolescence. Homosexuality is not a lifestyle and is not a choice.

Barbara Harland | 26 September 2011  

Great article! especially dealing with teenage angst and thought beyond that. The approach by the Churches, such as the Catholic church, is interesting especially when thoughtful evaluations suggest "perhaps 33% of priests have a homosexual orientation - about one in three", although "Beyond these estimates, of course, are priests who remain confused about their orientation". from - http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_rcc.htm Another article looked at "Homosexual Orientation among Catholic seminarian students" - http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_rcc1.htm This is not to denigrate the Catholic Church or its priests - rather to reflect interesting aspects of dynamics around clergy, and possible reasons, such as why young homosexual men from religious communities might have sought the priesthood, especially before homosexuality was as "out" as it is now.

Craig Maz | 26 September 2011  


mary oxborrow | 26 September 2011  

An excellent piece by KKK and it makes me wonder - why isn't she in Federal politics? She would make a massive and badly needed contribution.

Alan Slatyer | 26 September 2011  

Thank you Kristina. It is wonderful to hear your strong, passionate, articulate voice advocating a message of love for one another as Jesus taught rather than hate mongering based on some obscure references in the bible. love thy neighbour is one of the 10 commandments - I don't think it adds "unless they are homosexual". your courage in standing against your church on thismatter is inspiring and goes to the very heart of what is Christinity. The world would be a safer and kinder place for many,many people if more Christians choose to stand with you against the Church.

Melinda | 26 September 2011  

Kristina, please: 1. form your own political party 2. run for federal parliament 3. become prime minister KK for PM!

jakhamma | 26 September 2011  

Some of my best friends, male and female, are gay. I love and admire them. And would trust them with my children and grandchildren. Indeed I have trusted them with my children, and my daughters have trusted them with their children.
And yet I do not support gay marriage because for me "marriage" has acquired a limited legal meaning in our society.

There is no definition which adequately covers all types of marriage. It is an institution of society which can have very different implications in different cultures.

In our western culture it may be described as "a socially sanctioned sex relationship involving two people of the opposite gender whose relationship is expected to endure and which is open to the possiblity of offspring."

What I would like to see is a term that describes "a socially sanctioned sex relationship of two people of the same gender whose relationship is expected to endure" and which deserves the same legal protection of state as heterosexual unions.

Uncle Pat | 26 September 2011  

Isn't this so right! Thank heavens for a public figure to put the arguments both in a moral and theological manner. Congratulations to Kristina Kenally! We need more thinking people like her to challenge and support those who are marginalized!

Peter Lynch | 26 September 2011  

I have always thought you were very compassonate. I am in a similar situaton with the church: devout Catholic and at odds with such moral teachings. The church needs to evolve faster if it's going to survive. Whuchn s very sad because the sacraments, all of the beautful things about the Catholc faith will be needlessly extinguished from the world. What a terrible shame if that were to happen.
Thanks for such an eloquent and compassionate article. I thoroughly agree with all you wrote.

Michy Godard | 26 September 2011  

Dear Kristina,Honourable Member of State Parliament,the Lord Jesus Christ did speak on Homosexuality as well as all sin when he said "Do not think that i have come to destroy the law or the Prophets,but to fulfill them"you cannot separate the Old Testament from the New Testament they are one book,Jesus never did, as he quoted regularly from the Old testament,as you may not know the New testament was not written when Jesus & the disciples were together,they quoted from the Old Testament,therefore the Old Testament Law regarding homosexual sin still applies,God see's these acts between two men or two women as abominations Leviticus 18:22 "you shall not lie with a male as with a women.It is an abomination".It is common sense that if God condemns adultery or fornication between a male & a female how much more does he condemn sexual acts between two men or two women,the whole of Leviticus 18 speaks about all types of sexual sins.The New testament confirms this 1 Corinthians 6:18,Ephesians 5:3 7 Colossians 3:5-7 1 Thessalonians 4:3 & many more passages affirm Gods condemnation of sexual sins.I doubt you even own a Holy Bible otherwise you could not come to your stated position.

Robert Check | 26 September 2011  

In this present age when many churches are hiding behind hoary old rhetoric and choosing to distribute hate propaganda and homophobic materials from the Australian Christian Lobby (now there's an oxymoron), it is heartening to hear how individuals grow and leave old prejudices behind. Change happens at an individual level. Valid and courageous leadership such as that shown by this writer endorses, promotes and values change. If only the leaders of churches would reflect, with her, more of the compassionate inclusion of Jesus Christ (the bloke they ostensibly emulate and worship) rather than the pharisees who helped butcher him.

Barry G | 26 September 2011  

Dear Robert, OK, I hear you. So what about Leviticus 24:16 - 'And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death'. Do you argue that law still applies?

Ginger Meggs | 26 September 2011  

Kristina, your comments here and on Q And A recently have been a breath of fresh air for me. I am pleased and grateful to have you on our side of the debate - Thank you for your public support!

Dylan Carmichael | 26 September 2011  

I am a chaste, Catholic bisexual woman (how's that for a mouthful?); this article has really warmed my heart. I know that Jesus loves me... but more often than not, I’m not so sure about His friends. On the whole, I feel the Church is largely uncatechised about homosexuality and its implications for believers. Homosexuality in itself is not a choice (believe me, I’d LOVE to be straight), but the choice to partake in homosexual acts is. In faith, I know how God created sex, and while I feel the inclination towards homosexual acts, I also know those acts are not God's intention for me and my sexuality, What I need is not condemnation, but love. More people need to react like Kristina, and accept me with my flaws, and not quote Leviticus at me instead. I’ve made my choices (and in truth, I don’t believe homosexual marriage to be a real thing), but the Church greatly needs to alter how they present truths on homosexuality, because my decision towards chastity, whilst difficult; has given me so many blessings. The Church’s call to chastity is about love, it is not a call to loneliness and despair.

Brooke | 26 September 2011  

Little wonder Kristina has got herself into such a doctrinal mess...her source material is Richard McBrien! His 'renowned' tome "Catholicism" does not carry a Nihil Obstat or Imprimatur and it was officially disapproved by the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops on the grounds that many of its statements are "inaccurate or misleading," that it exaggerates "plurality" within the Catholic theological tradition, and that it overemphasizes "change and development" in the history of Catholic doctrine, even though official dogmas of the Catholic Church are, according to the Magisterium, unchangeable truths. Do yourself a favour KK, spend sometime studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church instead of taking doctrinal advice from Richard McBrien and friends.

Bernard Toutounji | 26 September 2011  

Homosexuality is condemned throughout the Bible. Sodomy is one of the sins that cries to heaven for vengeance. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for this very sin. Our society is at a turning point. Are we going to undo the mistakes of the past thirty years that have given us an epidemic of divorce, fatherlessness, drugs, and violent and promiscuous children? Or are we going to continue the legitimization of same-sex unions by giving them the same status as heterosexual marriages? The choice is an easy one. Marriage should be exclusive, unconditional, permanent, and life-giving. Marriages like that lead to health, happiness, prosperity, long life, and social peace. And the evidence is there to prove it. Homosexuals will not be able to create marriages like that, even if their "marriages" become legal. Statistics reveal that the lives of homosexuals are anything but gay. A more accurate description would paraphrase Thomas Hobbes's vision of life apart from civilization: nasty, lonely, and short. The loneliness and short lives are not due to the fact that same-sex marriage is illegal. They are inherent in the nature of the homosexual lifestyle itself. Homosexuality doesn't satisfy; sexually satisfied people don't seek random sex with hundreds of strangers. Gay activists who seek absolution from society will not find it, even if same-sex marriage becomes legal. Courts and legislatures cannot create clean consciences. But legalization of homosexual marriage would empty marriage of its meaning. And that will tend to weaken marriage even further, which will further increase the divorce rate and maximize divorce-related misery. The institution of marriage is precious. It enhances the health, longevity, and well-being of married couples. It increases the health, vocational success, and emotional well-being of children. In providing all these benefits, heterosexual marriage contributes to the happiness and prosperity of society. Marriage must, therefore, remain limited to one man and one woman who strive to keep their marriage exclusive, unconditional, permanent, and life-giving. Nothing less will ever meet the needs of the human person, because nothing less satisfies. Because it is intrinsically disordered, we must not recognize homosexual activity as legitimate, and we must not give public approval to homosexual marriage because of the harm that will do to the institution of marriage and because of the social harm that will result from emptying marriage of its meaning. Perhaps the most serious social harm would be to children: the children of divorce and the children of same-sex couples, who will suffer all the ills we have discussed. Society has a lot to lose from legalizing homosexual marriage. And homosexuals have nothing to gain.

Trent | 26 September 2011  

KK, Your argument about marriage is really an argument that the Church should accept the practise of homosexual acts. This in my view is completely separate to the question of whether the government should legalise gay marriage. While you may be right that the Church's teachings do mean that homosexuals "are denied the right to fully express their humanity" within the confines of Catholic teaching, it does not follow that this applies outside that paradigm. The same argument could be made of heterosexual priests, so I assume that you support non celibacy for priests also who desire a partner. However, I cannot agree that this is a reason why you should support gay marriage as a legislator (though of course you are perfectly entitled to hold that opinion). Marriage is not owned by the Church or the State; though both have an interest in regulating certain aspects of it. Also, just because gay people in committed relationships are unable to marry, does not mean that they are denied the "rights and dignity that heterosexual people are afforded". All forms of discrimination against gay people have been rightly outlawed, gay peole can now adopt children, in States some form recognisble civil unions can be entered into. The redefinition of marriage to include gay couples will make little difference yet it will destroy marriage as we have known it for millenia and who knows where marriage will end up.

PEL | 26 September 2011  

Beautiful :D

Tallulah | 26 September 2011  

May I refer Kristina and readers of her article to an excellent explanation of the Church's position on homosexuality by Bruce Ryan, Executive Secretary of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. This was recently posted on their website: www.cam.org.au/news/same-sex-marriage-why-it-needs-to-be-opposed-html. This should be read in order to more deeply understand the whole issue of homosexuality and the discussion so far.

helga Jones | 26 September 2011  

To ROBERT CHECK: The verses you quote from the bible do not condemn homosexuality at all - they condemn the type of promiscuous and abusive behaviour that Leviticus et al were addressing at that time in history. You cannot just pick and choose bible quotes out of context and use that to justify a bigoted, homophobic mindset. The truth is that opposition to homosexuality has nothing to do with the bible or Christian values - it is purely a cultural abhorence of something that is 'other'.

AURELIUS | 26 September 2011  

On bended knee I ask, 'Will you civil union me?' - how romantic. So many christians are blinded by the light, it's refreshing to read an article which has some thoughtful logic and compassion. I too studied theology but I choose not to base my life on a book written by nomadic murderers who have justified their position with a murder hungry god, who had his son murdered. I would like to see a more secular world where care is expressed because of our common denominator: humanity. And not because you hold a value system based on a two thousand year old book. I spent 30 years of my life suicidal because of the christian paradigm, believing my homosexuality and I was an abomination. Not exactly a loving or healthy message. I see so many haters who justify their position with pride because they found a book that tells them that is okay to do so. Sad! And shame on them! Good on you KK for pointing the world in the right direction, and shining a light on institutionalised justified hate and prejudice which I think is completely unacceptable. Helping the poor is a far better use of energy than banning lovers from your straight club.

Luke Power | 26 September 2011  

Kristina, thank you for clarifying your position. The central flaw in your reasoning seems to be the one sentence that you glossed over, namely, that "a conscience must be properly formed". The (Vat II) Council Fathers and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are clear that Catholics must form their conscience in the light of the teaching of Christ, which our Saviour entrusted to the Apostles and their successors, the Bishops.

As Catholics, we are right to oppose discrimination against people with same-sex attraction. We also have a duty to be there for them if/when they realise that the homosexual lifestyle is not what they had hoped it was going to be.

Dominic Byrne | 26 September 2011  

Well done, Kristina. And isn't it instructive that you roused to anger those whose guide to morality is a set of ancient books of (one-sided) history, folklore, poetry and social control belonging to a nomadic people. And the subtext is not concern for who homosexuals are but for what they do. In the old days, we would have said the people who find same-sex attraction objectionable had "a dirty mind." Certainly an empty one. Sorry Ginger if this is not civilised. But how can you argue with anyone who trots out the Bible as answer to everything.

Frank | 26 September 2011  

Beautifully said Kristina. Congratulations.

Jim Jones | 26 September 2011  

Kristina, thank you for clarifying your position. The central flaw in your reasoning seems to be the one sentence that you glossed over, namely, that "a conscience must be properly formed". The (Vat II) Council Fathers and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are clear that Catholics must form their conscience in the light of the teaching of Christ, which our Saviour entrusted to the Apostles and their successors, the Bishops. As Catholics, we are right to oppose discrimination against people with same-sex attraction. We also have a duty to be there for them if/when they realise that the homosexual lifestyle is not what they had hoped it was going to be.

Dominic Byrne | 26 September 2011  

Your contrary view is formed partly by prayer? What a weird assertion. I can understand that reading and reflection might help you form a view, but are you claiming to know what a god wants?

Martin Spencer | 26 September 2011  

"On bended knee I ask, 'Will you civil union me?' - how romantic" The perfect answer to L O'Brien @ comment 2. Well said KK - that's the position most Catholics hold (if you count all the ones that have separated themselves from the Church)

Russell | 26 September 2011  

When it is, in fact, so easy to reconcile Christian faith and homosexuality, I wonder why it creates such a fuss. Even as a married man with two kids, I resent being told that marriage should be restricted to questions of sexual orientation or the ability to have children. Marriage is far more than that: it is first and foremost about love, respect and companionship. Childless couples and gay couples know this all too well. A loving home is what a child needs and this is forged from a loving and functional relationship. Love is more important than either the gender or the fertility of its bearer. So thanks Kristina for standing up for marriage and not letting the church or conservative politicians undermine it by framing it in narrow terms of sexuality and procreation.

Chris Johnson | 26 September 2011  

Some of the views presented in this discussion board are the exact reasons that people with same sex attraction turn away from the Church. Gay people are not naughty children, and it is high time that they were treated as such. Some of the views here have been so hurtful. The last I checked, we're all sinners, and some of the condemnation people are spouting brings something to mind about pots and kettles. As Christians, we are ultimately called to be Christ to the world. I'm reminded of the words of Ghandi, "I like your Christ. I do not like like your Christians, they are so unlike your Christ." So I'd like to say a massive thank you to some of the posters on here, for making me feel, once again, that while Jesus may like me well enough, His friends don't...

Brooke | 26 September 2011  

Robert Check. The Whole Point of Galatians is that Christians do not have to obey the OT law. Say it does and Paul said you must obey "everything" in the law Gal 3:10. "Whole law" 5:3. Lev 19:37 and 20:22 says "Keep ALL my decrees and ALL my laws". Sorry you do NOT get a choice.

David Turner | 26 September 2011  

Thank you so much for such a wonderful compassionate articulate take on the issue. I grew up as the son of a Baptist pastor, realised I was gay early on in my teen years and faced all sorts of dilemmas reconciling this to my faith. I am now with the most beautiful man and I would love the chance to get married to him since I knew God didn't slip up and make a mistake with me and my love is as valid and real as anyone else's, and I would love to demonstrate that publicly by marrying the man I love, and believe God gave me. Thanks for being such an awesome advocate for love and truth!

Andrew | 26 September 2011  

A beautifully written article, well thought out and expressed.

Mandy | 26 September 2011  

As a lesbian from a very religious family, this article makes me feel so happy. I've struggled with suicide due to the discrimination I've endured. Great to see someone advocating love not hate.

elissa oberg | 26 September 2011  

For those of you claiming that the bible condemns homosexuality, I suggest you visit godmademegay.com and read some research carried out by a Baptist minister over many years. He looks at the original translations of the bible and also discusses the intent of the author of each part of the bible and the social context. It makes fascinating reading and demonstrates that in fact much of the current beliefs about the bible view of homosexuality are due to translation choices and also cultural filters.

GlendaSings | 26 September 2011  

Well argued & said...Well done Kristina...The Church should take note!

Leslie Oorloff | 26 September 2011  

I too would be ok with "a 'civil union' with identical rights to marraige, open to all people not married by a religious institution." However it is not the "radicals opposed to the existence of gays" that are the problem. It is the radical homosexual agenda that oppose it - they are not interested in "equal rights" - they want to make it clear that they can do as they please and have no respect for anyone with beliefs that differ from their own. Many religious people would be ok with civil unions with the exact same legal status as marriage - it's merely the insistance of using the word "marriage" which, as a word, has deep religious meaning, that they do not want to apply to homosexual unions.

*sigh* | 26 September 2011  

Thank you for writing such a well-measured and well-considered article. It is refreshing to hear this matter discussed in a way that does not involve chest banging. I came out as a lesbian in a Catholic all-girls school in Brisbane. I later transitioned to live as a man (when I discovered it was possible to truly express myself). The hate expressed by some corners of the Church has made my spiritual journey difficult. I have a close relationship with God and it upsets me greatly that I have no 'church' to pray in because the Catholic church is openly homophobic (despite many Catholic individuals being accepting). I too believe that God made each of us in his image, that he loves us and that he wants us to share love with each other rather than judgment or anger. Thank you again.

Andrew Gills | 26 September 2011  

@Brooke: I too agree "the choice to partake in homosexual acts is. In faith, I know how God created sex, and while I feel the inclination towards homosexual acts, I also know those acts are not God's intention for me and my sexuality, What I need is not condemnation, but love." To be honest, I don't know how anyone can condemn you if you are chaste. Most people have sexual urges of some kind that are not biblical - any sex outside of a one man/one woman marriage is "sin". Whether it be premarital sex, extramarital sex, polygamy, and the list goes on. I have met very few christians who at one stage have not desired sex before or outside marriage. Yet what matters is what they actually DO. If they remain chaste, THAT is what matters. Whether someone believes sexuality is a choice or inborn, it shouldn't matter. What IS a choice, is the act of having sex. Christians only have any right to speak on what people DO not what people are attracted. Good on you Brooke - I know how hard it is to stay chaste in the modern age and it's no easy job.

*sigh* | 26 September 2011  

Beautifully expressed. That question "who would CHOOSE such misery?' has often come to mind when I listen to friends and family members who are homosexually oriented and struggling with their place in a Church that tells them that the expression of their core sexuality is disordered. I am saddened by the comments below which reflect self-righteousness, rigidity and lack of biblical literacy. But I am encouraged by your own example of prayerful thought and the comments which reflect an openness to the mind of Jesus, who did not condemn.

Helena | 26 September 2011  

@ l o'brien just try and remember that 'marriage' was around way before any religion, it predates the pagans. anyone who gets 'married' nowadays has to receive a licence from the government, they do not have to receive anything from the church. therefore, howabout marriage for everyone who gets a marriage licence, and the church call it something else? that way, same-sex marriages will be seen as equal to opposite-sex marriage and if someone wants that marriage witnessed by a religion, they can think up an appropriate name!

gary | 26 September 2011  

It is a breath of fresh air to finally hear in this debate over gay rights and marriage equality a sensibly argued Christian view point. Unfortunately the majority of what I have read or heard from a Christian perspective has been hell and brimfire, Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve, eternal damnation, but very little reasoned commentry. That is not to say that is the only Christian stance, as this article clearly shows! Well done Kristina Keneally for having the courage of your convictions to show support for gay equality though it may be against the teachings of your church.

Kristy Alger | 26 September 2011  

Kristina Keneally's last paragraph " I act in good conscience - as a Catholic, I can do nothing else". Well, my advice to Ms Keneally is to read the CCC1799 "Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them" But, I understand when Ms Keneally express her views of the Catholic Church in Parliament, QA and Eureka Street, she has been influenced by Father Richard P McBrien, a dissident American Catholic priest.

Ron Cini | 26 September 2011  

My partner and I have been together for 12 years. Early in the relationship he wanted us to get married - I said I'm not interested in a "pretend' marriage, which is not recognised - my conservative family would laugh at it. Now it is too late - Wedding ceremonies are for the romantic - there is not enough of that left after 12 years - is yours? I go and support all the Equal love rallies etc for the sake of my 18yo nephew and others while love is young and fresh. Thank you Kristina - your article is appropriate for my 'Catholic' family. Who know maybe some will read it and find inspiration.

Ma | 26 September 2011  

Bravo! An intelligent, compassionate and well-written contribution to exposing the cruelty of one of our many human rights issues. Those whose dark minds dwell on homosexual fantasies and feign disgust, when heterosexual couples show their affection in similar ways, should keep their noses out of other people's bedrooms, and get down on their knees and really ask for forgiveness.

Annabel | 26 September 2011  

I'm gay and Catholic. I've struggled with being gay for over 50 yrs. It is so refreshing to read KK's posting. Thank you. I've been through so called "Gay Recovery" programmes - they just don't work. I'm gay - I was born that way and the God I know in my heart does not condemn me for being gay. I live alone but always busy and not lonely but I do miss the companionship and exclusive company of a partner in life ("God saw that it was not good for the man to be alone"). My church denies me that emotional support. I don't agree with "gay" marriage - but think that there should be some kind of "civil union" where each pledges fidelity to the other for a lifetime together. I read some horrible bigotted responses here and that saddens me more. Don't quote Leviticus! How much of the quoted law in this book is still law today? Think about that! And as it's already been said most of the bible passages thrown at us gay people are taken out of context anyway. But, thank you KK for showing your support for a very lonely and unfulfilled, (because of an intolerant church) sector of the community.

Murray J | 26 September 2011  

In his seminal work, After Virtue, philosopher Alisdair MacIntyre argues that the abandonment of Aristotelian ethics lies at the heart of modern society's slide into moral decadence and decline. Having abandoned an ontological, "is-ought" conception of the world, MacIntyre maintains that society now lacks a foundational vision to guide and order itself. Individualism, reigns supreme. Nowhere is the truth of MacIntyre's observation more readily apparent, perhaps, than in the precipitous decline of marriage. What was once venerated as a holy, sacramental institution is now considered an optional, if slightly outmoded social convention. Because the conception of marriage as a fungible institution is not rooted in anything deeper or higher than the whims of human emotion, it's not capable of sustaining and propagating human society in the manner it was intended. As we've seen over the past several decades with the explosive growth in the rate of divorce, the marginalizing of the role of fathers in the lives of their children, and the mainstream celebration of “alternative” lifestyles, a society that spurns the traditional obligations of marriage is certain to reap a bleak harvest. Statistics bear this out, for anyone interested enough to read them. Traditional marriage (specifically, Christian marriage) has through the centuries served as a critical civilizing force in society. It has been, quite literally, the glue that holds communities and peoples together. As traditionally understood, the bonds of marriage are forged not by man, but by God. They are not merely legal, physical, or emotional, they are spiritual and sacred. Yet the desire to wrench marriage away from its religious roots continues.

Trent | 26 September 2011  

The way I see it, as a devout Catholic, is that even if homosexuality is a sin (which, because it's groundings are in the Hebrew Scripture, is not beyond doubt), there is no sin beyond Christ's love and redemptive power. To say that homosexuals will not be forgiven is to spit on the passion and insult God. Further, as is made clear in the Gospel, we as sinners have no right to judge or condemn the sins of others, and are bound simply to love without condition or exception. And one cannot deny that should we believe homosexuality to be a sin, the duty of informing people of this has been well and truly carried out. Ultimately I disagree with homosexual marriage, purely on the grounds that it is a misuse of the word and unnecessarily upsetting to people of some faiths. I think a "civil union" with identical rights to marriage, open to all people not married by a religious institution is fine. Neither side can in honesty, be upset by that, and only radicals who are still upset about gays existing will condemn it

L. O'Brien | 26 September 2011  

@Brooke. Great to read someone who sees the value of chastity. I am heterosexual but still face temptations that devalue the gift of my sexuality. We too often think that to deny some of our basic instincts is a punishment rather than a blessing. @Murray J I cannot pretend to understand what it would be like to be attracted to the same sex and be told that it was not right. However, the rest of the passage from Genesis that you quote ends with God creating a female for the male! Obviously we must move on from the brutal punishments prescribed in the OT. Jesus' law was one of love and understanding, but this does not equate to acceptance. In all of the passages of the Old and New Testaments, I see none that even indirectly legitimise homosexual acts. Finally, I deplore the number of contributors here, and elsewhere, who so easily accuse those who disagree with them of being hateful. Hate is a very strong word. Posters here have disagreed with KK and challenged the basic premises of her article. But I have seen none call for people who are gay or lesbian to be vilified. They simply beg to differ that homosexuality is a valid expression of human sexuality.

Patrick James | 26 September 2011  

Dear Robert Check, the Lord Jesus Christ did not speak on Homosexuality. I would be interested to see the Gospel verses. If he did speak on Homosexuality, we don’t appear to have any written record. In my Bible he seems to spend massive amounts of time at weddings, parties, anything. Why is that? Furthermore it is explicitly stated that he hangs out with sinners, the Gospel writers being especially pleased to include tax collectors and prostitutes in that category.

What is noticeable in these stories is how the Lord Jesus Christ does not condemn them. The people he does seem to judge, though I wouldn’t use that word, I would say warn, are those experts in the Law who think themselves well up on the Law, and who are always quoting verses of Scripture (often out of context) to get at people and make their lives a misery. All of which doesn’t have anything to do with Homosexuality, as such.

When he does talk about sexuality and sin he seems very interested in the sources of our own desires. I sometimes wonder how you can commit fornication just by looking at someone gorgeous and “your type” and having lustful thoughts about them. It seems the most natural thing in the world. Perhaps, Robert, he is saying that it is our own desires, hidden even from ourselves that if not understood and identified, can lead to sin. Nothing much about Homosexuality per se in any of this. When he said, "Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the Prophets, but to fulfil them" it seems to me that we are being asked to read the First Testament in the light of his message of love and forgiveness.

Essential in this regard is the command to overcome the great sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, i.e. our stubborn even sometimes evil refusal to show hospitality to others. That’s all for now, Desi.

Desiderius Erasmus | 26 September 2011  

@ Brooke:
Thank you for posting this!
You are truly an inspiration to me (your faith and strength not least), and I am deeply saddened by the thought of anyone condemning or insulting you for what you are. Ultimately, when anyone does such things it is they that are in the wrong, they a breaking Christs second greatest commandment!

"last I checked, we're all sinners"
Beautifully put and so true, none of us has the right to condemn another, we must, in love, walk together.

Believe me that I despite not knowing you love you as much as any person, I would happily die for you as my beloved sister! And I "know" (it's a matter of faith) that Christ loves you incalculably more so! Believe me when I say that you are probably far more deserving of this love than most people I have ever met, doubtlessly including myself!

When you talk of "friends of Christ" I feel that you are wrong, they are not His friends (though He loves them as much as us), they turn their back on his lobe and deny his power.

I wish you well in your struggle, and I pray deeply that those who condemn or look down at you may come to know the love of Christ and realise their own position!

May God bless you and keep you, hold you in the palm of his hand, guard you against hate and draw you close to his heart.

I will pray for you and those who condemn you.

L. O'Brien | 26 September 2011  

It is good to read a well informed comment on this issue. I would also like to add that Christian marriage and civil marriage are not the same thing. What the state regulates is a civil/legal union whatever words are used to describe it. A sacramental union is a matter for the church.

I find Kristina Kenneally's argument convincing, but those who do not should remember that a christian view has no special standing in the secular realm except in so far that its rational argument can convince the majority of voters. Ms Kenneally's reasoning shows the flaws in some christian arguments.

Sheelah Egan | 26 September 2011  

What will my grandchildren be asking about a church that allows them to be baptised as Catholics, and doesn’t allow their gay parents to receive the marriage sacrament? Made in the image of God, my child is entitled to receive this gift, it is her birthright. And who denies her this right? Sadly, a church that is so entangled with its past and present practices and cover-ups of paedophilia and sexual abuse; of clerics that are confused about their own sexuality and have limited and secret ways of expressing their sexuality. KK is opening the way for more healthy conversations that give equity and honour to all human beings. And to Eureka Street who have the courage to provide the forum.

jo dallimore | 26 September 2011  

I happen to have been born with an absolutely dependable sense of direction that happens to be exactly 180 degrees out of phase.

When I think I should go left, I invariably ought to go right, instead.

So, in order to get where I need to go, I've learned to overrule my natural inclinations,to get a second opinion,or use a compass and map, or GPS.

Needless to say, relying on the opinion of another who suffers from the same seriously disordered sense of direction might appear to work, but only for a short while, until both of us, rejecting all opinions contrary to our faulty beliefs, finally come to the realization that we are truly lost.

Homosexual people are in a similar quandary.

Their innate feelings tell them they are right, but the truth is unfortunately, 180 degrees removed.

And without a reliable guide (the Catholic Church) they may well be lost, for a long, long time ... perhaps never reaching their intended destination.

True Christians understand this type of problem and attempt to deal with it, with love.

Unfortunately, a personally frustrated person responds poorly to love, since he/she typically cannot fathom the true reasons for it.

Hence, love is perceived as hate, helpfulness is taken for condemnation, and the will of God is presumed to be something other than what it truly is.

You Kristina, have chosen your own set of defective guides, and you too, have arrived at the wrong destination.

But there's still time to find the right path .. and stick to it, with the help of the church.

So go .. and sin no more. God loves you. God will provide. Trust in him.

Doug Lawrence | 26 September 2011  

Are you so pure that you have a big bag of stones to throw, Doug? We are all personally frustrated at times in our lives and thank goodness there are people like KK who live the Jesus message of unconditional love, who unconditionally support those who are marginalized and on your 'wrong path'. In 'real life' many people are gay, have gay children/grandchildren. Don't think you can take on us grannies, 'cause I have a truckload of rocks!!

jo dallimore | 26 September 2011  

Husband & wife are honorable titles, associated with commitment,to love,loyalty & the protection & nurturing of children. Homosexual unions are easier to walk away from & to include children requires more than the natural outcomes of marriage. I wish our homosexual citizens no ill & fair treatment but their unions are not the legal commitment of marriage. Civil unions, as arranged in the UK meet the needs of homosexuals. However they don't stray over the line of the legal, emotional, historical, psychological & traditional connotations of marriage.

G.Long. | 26 September 2011  

It warms my heart that the responses thus far to Kristina's piece have been almost overwhelmingly supportive, as they should be. Bravo, Kristina. I will post and repost this :)

Kate | 26 September 2011  

Great subject for a mid-theology major finals exam.

"How many mistakes can you find in the following essay? Indicate if the error is theological, philosophical, or otherwise. If theological, state the magisterial authority/ies which expose the error, and critically assess the authorities upon which the author relies. If philosophical, point out the logical fallacy/ies involved, and/or the natural law entities that are implicitly or explicitly ignored or attacked.

Extra credit will be given for a political deconstruction of the piece in terms of the identity of the author, its appearance on a particular blog, etc, etc."

HH | 26 September 2011  

God's plan for bringing us home to him is full of love, grace, and sacrifice: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:16-17 NIV).

Gays or no gays  everybody must embrace and pursue their relationship  with Jesus instead of embracing and pursuing a religion. Jesus says, "I have come that you might have life [not religion] and have it to the fullest!" (John 10:10).

Yinkus | 26 September 2011  

You are wrong Kristina. Re-examine your conscience.

Peter Flood | 26 September 2011  

An eloquent, thoughtful, creful, compassionate, and I would say deeply spiritual and reverent piece of work. Thanks. Years ago, when this issue first surfaced, I like so many people who are not gay was startled -- "marriage" means a man and a woman, no? words mean something, don't they? -- but then had an epiphany: for heaven's sake (literally), are we not all about love? Isn't that the point of Catholicism? Isn't that the first rule, that trumps all else? Pick and choose in scripture as ou like, but the Editor was blunt about that. So now I think: hmm, people want to be committed in love, in society, legally, only to each other...and our objections to that would be ...what, exactly? Are there not much more serious and troubling things to battle, like violence and greed and the fouling of the gift of creation?

Brian Doyle | 27 September 2011  

Dear Doug Lawrence, if you really were born with an absolutely dependable sense of direction that happens to be exactly 180 degrees out of phase, then why should we trust anything you say? By your own admission you say you don’t go for a second opinion, which might explain why it must be easy to judge people who are different to you: you never have to put yourself in their shoes. It is the height of arrogance, especially in light of the aforesaid, to say that homosexuals’ innate feelings tell them they are right, but the truth is unfortunately, 180 degrees removed. What is the truth? You seem to have some very great fear of innate feelings, which may be why you need “a reliable guide” like the Catholic Church. I’m not sure what happened to the 180 degrees at that moment in your argument. In my experience a personally frustrated person responds very well to love, since he or she typically can fathom the true reasons for it. This goes for everyone, even heterosexuals. As someone who tries to be a Christian, I have cause to be cautious with people who say they are true Christians and that they therefore speak unerringly on any subject. I also tend to trust my innate feelings about love, as shown in Jesus, ahead of what the Church has to say about what is and is not love. To place the fallible rules of the Church ahead of the revelation of love in others is not only mistaken, but probably idolatrous. Love will find a way and I know this from what I see in people of every kind, including the Christians who call themselves Catholic. That’s all for now, DE.

Desiderius Erasmus | 27 September 2011  

One of the thoughts that comes out of this article is the danger of being totally educated in one religious tradition. It seems to have narrowed KK's knowledge of the world before university. Although 'things' may be different now, this seems more than a little troubling. What of the students who did not go to university?

Penelope | 27 September 2011  

A well reasoned article. However I agree with the comments of L. O'Brien and Uncle Pat that homosexual marriage is a contradiction in terms since marriage is a permanent union of a man with a woman, which involves the consequence of the formation of a natural family. However, this does not preclude the establishment of a civil union with similar rights to those pertaining to a marriage. With regard to Scripture, the Gospels do not refer to this issue, but St Paul does in his letter to the Romans 1:26-27

Tony Santospirito | 27 September 2011  

It's strange that in the many responses to this article, talking about what marriage is and what we should call it, and whether and how and by what names we should distinguish heterosexual and homosexual unions, there has been no mention of the words matrimony (just for Catholics?) and wedlock.

Gavan | 27 September 2011  

Thank you, Kristina, for giving voice to the position many thinking and faithful Catholics have arrived at. May you continue to be a credible witness to the message of love that is the basis of the Good News.

Rose Marie Crowe | 27 September 2011  

This is a well argued piece about why homosexual relationships can be loving relationships in a Christian sense. I fully agree with her logic and conclusion.

But Ms Keneally doesn't take the argument to the promise of the headline - the article says why she supports gay relationships but does not say why she supports gay marriage.

There was a Eureka Street article in November last year that articulates well where I struggle with this social issue: "The perils of redefining marriage".(http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=24259).

Jimmy P | 27 September 2011  

I am committed Christian but not a Catholic. I'm a former NSW MP and I think I can regard myself as a friend of Kristina Keneally but I cannot agree with one very central thrust of her article. Jesus may have been silent about homosexuality, but not about marriage. In Matthew 19 he makes it quite clear that marriage is a union where males and females are joined indissolubly by God. The Bible and Jesus accept that there is a great deal of diversity in human sexuality but not all of it is morally acceptable.

While Christians are not free to please themselves sexually there is no endorsement in the Bible for using civil power to enforce Christian morality. Jesus points out in the same passage that Moses permitted divorce even though God regards it as evil. That might be a justification for Christians supporting laws that permit diverse sexual practice in a community that it not universally Christian, but there is not much evidence that Jesus either endorsed homosexuality or regarded it a permissible.

John Ryan | 27 September 2011  

Thank you Kristina. I too watched Q&A a week ago and thanks to Leigh Sales twitter reference I read this. I am a gay man, have been all the 40 years of my life. Have a house, a job, pay taxes and been in a relationship for years, oh an grew up Catholic. The one thing I know beyond any doubt is your God made me exactly this way. No interference by a pedophile, no over smothering mother, oldest child, WHATEVER theory you want to pigeon-hole me in... I developed and turned out just like this. And I thank God everyday for doing so.

But no thanks or extra brownie points when you turn up at the pearly gates for twisting his words and spitting out venomous hate in his name. I'm sure he's not one bit impressed.

Ben | 27 September 2011  

To those of you who selectively quote Leviticus (like Robert Check)I'll reference you to this: http://tinyurl.com/9bo9j8

Barlet: "I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7 (
"When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go free as male slaves do.") She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleaned the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?"

"My chief of staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death ("On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be sacred to you as the sabbath of complete rest to the LORD. Anyone who does work on that day shall be put to death") Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police?"

You obviously agree with these, correct? After all, we wouldn't want to be inconsistent, would we?

The Bible tells us to do lots of things. It is filled with ancient laws and has conflicting positions that need to be placed in contex. Christ's law, however, is love. Practice it.

J Powell | 28 September 2011  

My question to Ms Keneally is this.

Why should two individuals recieve government supported fiscal and social benefits because they feel an attraction towards each other, be it physical or emotional.

Surely, if you are so worried about discrimination, you would be focusing on the silent suffering of those who make up a much larger band of society than those who have homosexual tendencies. That is, those who are unlucky in love or chose to, be it tempory or permanent, remain in a state of celibicy.

Apart from not recieving the many documented benefits of having a lifestyle partner such as general increases in longevity and happiness, they also have to cope with not reciving this government support that those with lifestyle partners, regardless of gender, receive.

Surely the only way to remove this discrimination is to open marriage to all regardless whether they have a partner or not.

I also find your assertion that an act can be legitimized solely by the urges one has to do that act, quite disturbing. While I am not necessarily arguing that homosexual acts are morally wrong, you cannot justify them using this arguement. This arguement can be shown to be illigitemate by taking it to its logical conclusion. For instance, if I were to have urges to constantly steal or, God forbid, commit sexual acts with young children, I could use exactly the same arguement to justify my actions.

Francis | 28 September 2011  

Kristina Keneally's support of legalising same-sex marriage contradicts the very image of God. The male-female act of sexual union symbolises the spiritual relationship between Christ and his Church. We are immortal souls and the sexual union has the possibility of creating new life with God. The creation of the soul by God with the cooperation of the "one flesh" act is seen repeatedly through the Scriptures.

Same-sex marriage does not protect the rights of children. The right to be raised by one's biological parents is under attack by a miriad of alternative lifestyles. These lifestyles are more likely to raise children into disadvantage and rob them of their natural rights. The right to life is taken due to poor decisions being made. The "Stolen Generation" had their natural rights taken by poor legislation driven by racism. Our generation is doing the same to its children. Adults should sacrifice and make good decisions for the young and unborn, not the other way. Same-sex union couples should be willing to sacrifice for the protection of children's rights.

Kristina Kenneally's theological views reflect a dearth of understanding of Catholic teaching and the long term implications of such legislation.

Dale Moore | 28 September 2011  

KK's piece is also seriously flawed. To suggest that "Scripture isn't a great deal of help in this area, though perhaps its relative silence is instructive", ignores the cornerstone scripture which defines marriage cf: Genesis 2:24 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." More importantly, this is affirmed by Jesus himself in Mark: "From the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they two shall be one flesh: so then they are no more two, but one flesh." This forms the basis for the unitive, the complementarity between man and woman. It is a union that is incapable of being formed between same gender attracted people. It is also the type of union which has produced everyone on of us, including KK, me and same gender attracted people alike, thus contributing to its justified elevated status. This is the starting point when arriving at a fully informed conscience on the issue and to ignore it, means that a conscience cannot seriously be fully informed.

Neil | 28 September 2011  

You Catholics are so funny. You seem to think that your religious scriptures are applicable not just to those who self-identify as Catholics, but that they should apply to the wider community - who generally don't recognise the authority (let alone the existence!) of your deity of choice.

Seriously folks, but I feel as beholden to your rules as you must to the mad ravings of the Scientologists, for instance! Why do you not realise this?

If your religion forbids gay sex, then by all means don't have gay sex!

If your religion forbids gay marriage, then don't have a gay marriage!

That you think you have a mandate to impose Catholic rules on the wider society is sorely misguided, presumptuous, and downright rude. It's not as if the church owns "marriage"!

It's so simple... stop trying to make everyone behave as though they're a Catholic. (otherwise... Australian Taliban, anyone??)

Skimming through the comments, I'd also like to add...

There is no such thing as "sin". By all means think of yourselves as sinners if it pleases you, but try to contain your hand-wringing guilt fetish to yourselves where it rightfully belongs.

Also, from my point of view, it is all of YOU who are "instrinsically disordered". What kind of disordered mind is it, I often wonder, that believes in the myths and legends of one ancient civilization, without even noticing the reason for believing in them is simply because it's the way you were raised! It beggars belief!

Anyway, sorry to have intruded. I'm sure you won't have taken offense, as you seem to have no problem throwing around insults like "sinner", "evil" and "disordered" without batting an eye.

Please do carry on quibbling over the meanings of your ancient scrolls... It's a treat to watch. ;-)

Jimmy | 28 September 2011  

Reading some of these comments, I'm glad we don't live in a country ruled by religious law as espoused by Leviticus. Not only would it be illegal to be gay, but slavery would be legal again and you could be put to death for wearing poly-cotton blends! There seem to be a lot of Christians getting very upset that gays aren't being tolerant of their intolerance. For all those Christians who believe it is wrong to marry someone of the same sex, just don't marry someone of the same sex. How difficult is that? I fail to see how another person's marriage in any way affects your own. If your neighbors get divorced, does that suddenly make your own marriage less stable?
Thank you KK for such a reasoned and intelligent piece.

Ali | 28 September 2011  

What I'm unable to understand is that the Catholic ethical framework primarily derives from a philosophical basis. Nor does Catholicism hold the Bible to be in contradiction to any scientific position held. It seems incongruent to me then that so many can take an anti-homosexual view based on a Biblical reading, without ever approaching the observations of science, both biological and psychological. Yet this position is so strongly ingrained that even if a Catholic may openly accept homosexuality, they still enforce their own casuistry against homosexual marriage. Why? Because apparently Catholics created and own marriage. So whether you be atheist, Buddhist, Muslim or whatever, in a modern Australian, you're still bound by Catholic incongruent ethical framework.

Iceman | 29 September 2011  

Kristina, because you possess a masters degree in Theology does not make you a theologian, nor does it give you authority over the Church's Magisterium. (The same can be said for me, though I possess 3 masters degrees in Philosophy, Theology and Religious Education). Kristina, you are wasting your time and your ink for the Church will never change her teaching regarding same sex behaviour and so-called same-sex marriage - it will never happen!

Robert Haddad | 29 September 2011  

@Robert Haddad I am not sure changing the teaching of the church was her immediate purpose, perhaps that is just the pipe dream!

@Dom Byrne, how are you mate? and no surprise to see we seem to been at opposing ends of this issue! But it did surprise to read that you seem to imply that only bishops etc are capable of being informed? Is the point of informed conscience that we should just believe whatever the bishops tell us to? I hope for the sake of your faith that you are never faced with the situation where in good conscience you just can't agree with the Bishops. Peace and Love mate. I know that this church is big enough for the two of us!

Patrick Sinclair | 29 September 2011  

Thank-you Kristina well written and critically substantiated.

Ingrid | 29 September 2011  

BRAVA Kristina! The Catholic Church should be extremely proud of counting you as one of Her own!!

Mark B. A. Cappetta | 30 September 2011  

Congratulations Kristina on your courage to write such a beautiful and heart-felt article. I agree with all that you have written.

Maureen O'Brien | 30 September 2011  

Wow, haven't read heresy like this in a long time. Well done.

Bring on the suppression of the Jesuits.

Chris | 30 September 2011  

Here we have a person who has not heard the wisdom of Judeo Christian ethical teaching. 1/ A conscience can be malformed or distorted as it is in Kristina Keneally's case. 2/ Sexual inclinations, lust and obsessions can distort the procreative urge. 3/ In heterosexuality when a man and women have sex it is ordered to having children. Chemical sterilisation/ contraception is a distortion. Not having children deliberately a distortion. 4/ Being infertile is not deliberate.
5/ Two members of the same sex having sex is sterile and I suspect chosen partly for that reason.

When heterosexuals like Keneally espouse homosexuality I think it is because they do not know what heterosexuality is about...or indeed the sexual urge. 6/ Just feeling something does not mean it should be followed. No one should live by impulse and compulsively! Inclination can lead to good or bad actions.Feelings need supervision. Pleasure is not an indication of right or wrong.

Keneally needs to stop picking untrustworthy and siren like voices of the times. Does she believe in Christ's teaching or cherry pick it because she is a god in her own universe? There is not one morality for Christians and another for others. The only workable and true moral system is that of Christ.

Mark Roberts | 30 September 2011  

I just want to support you. As a lay preacher in a protestant church which is also very anti- homosexuality, I too have the same conflicts. Your arguments are sound and well reasoned and I admire you for being so up front with your beliefs.

John | 30 September 2011  

@The lovely Mark Roberts re. "Not having children deliberately a distortion"

Perhaps that goes some way to explaining the mess that is the Catholic Church; Its leader, and his legions of men and women in funny hats are all "distorted", according to you.

Jimmy | 30 September 2011  

Yes. Let us have compassion for others and please, let us not ever judge the other, But, we cannot call it marriage! Just as we aspire to have compassion for all the handicaps others may have and, just as we need to first take the logs out of our own eyes, we cannot give a homosexual relationship "marriage"!... Surely!

Nicole Pryor | 30 September 2011  

@Nicole, re "Just as we aspire to have compassion for all the handicaps"
Decorum prevents me from pointing out that it is actually you who are handicapped, being gullible enough to believe one of the religions is actually true!

Re " we cannot give a homosexual relationship "marriage"!... Surely!"

Why not?

Jimmy | 30 September 2011  

Sensible stuff! Well said etc etc, as most commenters here acknowledge. The awkward language of the opponents reveals their authors' lack of ease with the real world. SEX, OF COURSE IS THE BIT CHALLENGE HERE, and until catholics get their heads (OK, and the dirty bits too) around that, it's all going to be a slippery slide of confusion. Start with married priests, which is a real obvious one from every point of view (thanks to Bishop of Toowoomba on that), and before you know it, the whole BODY/SOUL thing will start to make more sense. The rules have changed irreversibly. Starting with photos, then films & digital, the simple fact is that today's media have an unstoppable effect of letting ordinary people see/feel/touch/etc their BODIES more than ever before, so the crazy body-denying heterosexuality is simply experienced as arrant nonsence. The challenge is not saying NO anymore; the challenge is what saying YES means (ie, the church heirarchy must realise that sex is something that people will continue to do, d'oh). It's all the same bag: ABORTION, HOMOSEXUALTIY, PEDERASTY IN THE CHURCH, EVEN MASTURBATION, GAY MARRIASE, DIVORCE, ETC Please try to get something decent happening in this area, will you?

paul | 01 October 2011  

Kristina, Your argument does not relate to the heading of the article. You speak well of loving relationships between persons of all sexual orientations but you do not give any reasons for gay marriage which is another issue entirely. Recognition of same sex relationships is given credibility in our legal system. Gay marriage changes a definition of marriage. Is that what you want to do?

David Marburg | 01 October 2011  

Thank you Kristina, for this article and thank you to Eureka Street for bringing it to us. I am much encouraged to see these different views expressed and that the repressive sexual ethics I grew up with (as a cradle Anglican) being challenged publicly and with authority and scholarship. Sadly Archbishop Jensen and his followers will neither read such things, or if they did, blind themselves to such words of grace.

Christopher Heath | 01 October 2011  

In October 2010 I mailed to Kristina Keneally a copy of "Considerations regarding Proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons" issued by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith" over the signature of the then Cardinal Ratzinger. This document states the Church's position that one cannot give recognition to homosexual unions. If she read that document and noted the footnotes and still holds herself out to be a "practising Catholic" she is deluding herself and causing scandal to many other Catholics.

Par | 01 October 2011  

Kristina and Eureka: thanks for bringing this issue up so well. To my mind, life experiences tell me that sin is about vilification of other people because of the way they were born. For goodness' sake, how ridiculous is that! Gays, many of whom have been my best friends, are born gay. It is not, repeat not about choice. Christ, to me, is about love, which is simple: it means caring, sharing, humility, and duty. Not about judgment of other people.


LouW | 02 October 2011  

Catholics and Christians on this forum who continue to ignore the despairing situation of gay youths who commit suicide while going on to rattle off rationalisations and justifications for traditional Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality should hold their heads in shame. Catholics who ignore the suffering their church's teaching causes need to be told that they have nothing, nothing at all, of worth to say in response to the tragedy of young gay suicide if they cannot recognise the complicity of their own church and its defective, disordered moral teaching in the hate which destroys lives. Please, please, if you have any sense of decency at all, remain silent. Your sense of Christian compassion is so profoundly offensive and inappropriate.

AURELIUS | 03 October 2011  

You are quite right Aurelius. The official attitude of the Roman Church, in this day and age, is both disgraceful and laughable. As for gay couples adopting children, supported by Kristina: my parental home was terrifying because of an alcoholic, violent, unfaithful father. My mother and we children had a very traumatic upbringing, the memories and pain of which never leaves one. Opponents of gays adopting children reckon every child has a right to be raised by the biological father and mother. Believe you me, we would have much better off without the one we had! Just Mum would have been a blessing.

LouW | 03 October 2011  

Furthermore, regarding gay couples adopting children: I proffer that children would be just as well loved and raised by same sex couples as with heterosexual couples. I mean, these days hetero marriages / relationships don't last long anyway, and more and more children have half siblings and different step parents. It is becoming the norm. There is nothing wrong with gay couples adopting children. Let them get on with it.

LouW | 04 October 2011  

The article represents a very welcome coming out (ie, pegging of a real personal experience reality to the weight of inherited and shared dogma) from a prominent Catholic. Thanks for writing & posting here.

But there needs to be a lot more reflection on the demonstrable failure of the church to address realities of human sexuality: abortion, pederasty within the church and elsewhere, marriage of priests, condom use and general birth control issues, homosexuality, pre- and extra-marital sex, etc. They're all linked.

It's not possible in this era of renewed appreciation of the reality of physical existence, to exalt the spirit at the expense of the flesh (desire). Human sexuality is a gift of god, of course. Its link with reproduction is clear, but the church has to try a lot harder to help real people living ordinary lives to sort all this out.

Yesterday's cut and dried NO's are clearly not working. Please, talk to us about the New Testament God in all this. Get smarter...

paul | 04 October 2011  

Excellent, thought-provoking article, Kristina. All the best in your public life. And there are so many wonderful responses both for and against with great reference material. I must do more reading. Real food for thought. I particularly liked the comment of Pel ... "marriage is not owned by the Church of State." Exactly. Domestic, physical and sexual unions have been around in societies all over the world long before the Church existed. The Church may have a right to dictate the terms of a "Christian marriage" but why should these teachings hold sway in a secular society? We had a taste of dominant Church political and legal influence in societies in centuries gone by and from my readings things didn't go too well. Much of what transpired was in complete contradiction to the teachings of Jesus, the New Testament AND the Old Testament. So why should we let any religious institutions dictate, in a secular society, what constitutes the union known as a marriage? Christians can keep their Christian marriage, Muslims can keep their Muslim marriage, Hindus can keep their Hindu marriage etc etc etc. And I find it hard to reconcile with the theory that "society will collapse if these gay marriage laws are passed". Really? The Catholic Church hierarchy and other religious (and public) institutions have done a pretty good job over the past 100 years or so of destroying society by allowing pedophiles and child abusers to work in their institutions and by actively hiding their heinous activities from their next victims, families and legal authorities. As a Catholic this not only angers and disgusts me but will be a source of shame for as long as I live. I actually believe societies face destruction or collapse when they ignore the words of Jesus ... "love one another as I have loved you" and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Nevertheless, I will keep reading, praying and prodding my conscience ... peace, love and respect.

Danny Drew | 06 October 2011  

The church teaches that homosexual persons are to be treated with love, dignity and respect but the bible is very clear about the homosexual act. Congratulations Brooke for your practice of celibacy. However gay marriage is another issue. Even from a secular standpoint gay marriage discriminates against all the married couples who have entered marriage under the current definition. If gay marriage was allowed, I would have to qualify my status every time I am asked if I am married. “Yes, but to a man”. I married in good faith under the current definition. I have a right to that definition. If gay couples want a union like marriage, that is their choice but use a different name. It is very dangerous to change definitions that have been around for centuries, long before Christianity, the consequences could be a slippery slope to disaster. What next, change the definition to include a loving union between 2 men and a woman or a loving union between a father and his daughter over 18.

J. Fernandez | 06 October 2011  

Thanks Kristina for your thoughtful article.
I too have come to this position though I now belong to a church (the Uniting) that shares my views.

jean Sietzema-Dickson | 07 October 2011  

KK - you go girl.
As a person who loved God with a passion and set out to follow Him with every fibre of my being....which included having to leave the Catholic 'Mother' Church because of slavery to a mob of blokes(Vatican) who just didnt get the freedom Christ won for us at Calvary- His redeemed humanity sent by God as human, alive, forgiving, accepting and informing all about the entire love of Our Father for a world gone mad!

Then by Christ teaching us all about this loving God, states that we also can experience this same relationship with His Father too...He allows us to choose-or not! Love - Jesus spoke "--by this shall all men know that you are my followers, if you have love one for another." We can only give this compassion, mercy and grace (love)to fellow humanity saint and sinner, heterosexual or gay if we KNOW the author. It seems that many people Catholic, Christian, other faith expressions know a lot about God but don't KNOW Him and experience ultimate relationship with a living God! 'All fall short' but are saved by the magnificent Christ... KK shows a depth of insight that only someone who knows the shepherd could write. 'Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches....' Predisposition, alchoholism, disability, homosexuality is not a choice.It would be ridiculous to say to a person born with structural or functional defects to run walk think and relate like those born healthy. Lets put ourselves in the shoes of our homosexual brothers and sisters and walk a mile in their moccasins.... then cast the first stone!

Meg Fitz | 08 October 2011  

From one Catholic girl to another Yay! Right with you on this one. Refreshing to hear it spoken out by 'one of the faithful'. Time to bring about the social justice the Church prides herself on!!

Aunt Pearl | 09 October 2011  

1Cor6:9 Is explicit. Corinth was infamous it needed this teaching. Similarities today. Arguments from silence re: Gospels is silly, the Jews were under no misapprehension re: disordered practices of the pagans. It was the one flesh for life teaching that was shocking.

Keneally doesn't understand the philosophy of nature embraced by the Church, and just parots Hume and atheist inspired traditions of 20thC psychology. A non- functional club foot doesn't mean feet have no function. Infertility doesn't mean the one flesh union is no longer ordered to procreation. There is a difference between non-function and deliberate misuse of our natures.

There's no evidence Keneally has sincerely tried to understand the teaching of the church here, Aristotelian-Thomistic, phenomenological or dogmatic. My high school students know the difference between sincerism (sincerity = epistemological purity) and honest engagement with an argument.

Nothing Keneally has said is foreign to me, in my ignorance I held to it 6 years ago, no longer praise God. But to call myself Catholic and use a public platform to scandalise the
Church at the same time? I can't imagine it. Especially if I was unwilling to even engage with a faithful presentation of the Church's position.

Martin Snigg | 11 October 2011  

Beautifully said x

Robyn | 30 March 2012  

Are there ANY faithful catholics left here at "Eureka Street?" I can only imagine not - who among us would willingly subject themselves to this inanity..

Let me make it simple for you all, and there should be nothing contentious about what I write - it is simply the doctrine of the mystical body of Christ, the one, holy and apostolic Catholic Church, and this doctrine has never changed:

1) Sexual relations outside of sanctified marriage are inherently sinful.

2) Homesexual activity is gravely sinful, whatever the circumstances (and sodomy is defined in your catechism, should you care to look, as "a sin crying out to heaven for vengeance").

That is it. Those of homosexual orientation are called to do the same as every other Christian who is unmarried - keep their pants on, turn back to God and stop sinning.

Where is the wriggle room here? Kristina, "taking a contrary view to church teaching", and expounding such a view as yours in such a grave area, is heresy - pure and simple. You have excommunicated yourself from the Church, latae sententiae. All those who cheer her on must ask themselves if they are similarly guilty.

That your final sentence is a perverse borrowing from Luther is wholly apposite - he is undoubtedly the worst heretic of history, father of all who followed (such as the current editorship of Eureka Street by all appearances), who has done more to destroy the faith of the souls of Christendom than any other, and is undoubtedly right now enjoying plenty of "same-sex relations" deep in the pits of hell.

What company you keep.

[Dear Moderator, let's see your intellectual honesty in publishing the above..]

Waverley | 17 June 2012  

Kristina, I understand your reasoning but disagree with your conclusion because it disagrees with the scripture. The conclusion is really reached by applying humanistic biblical interpretation. Humanism is human based. The faith Christ left us is God based. God based faith uplifts us. Humanism merely allows us to hear our own voice.

Michael | 01 July 2013  

Sadly Keistina, you have no actual understanding of church teaching on the matter. This is clear to me from reading this article. For example you failed to mention that a conscience must be formed and that, we have the responsibility to ensure our own is!

Michelle | 29 March 2016  

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