G. K. Chesterton: It’s Not Gay, and It’s Not Marriage

May 4, 2015


One of the pressing issues of Chesterton’s time was “birth control.” He not only objected to the idea, he objected to the very term because it meant the opposite of what it said. It meant no birth and no control. I can only imagine he would have the same objections about “gay marriage.” The idea is wrong, but so is the name. It is not gay and it is not marriage.

Chesterton was so consistently right in his pronouncements and prophecies because he understood that anything that attacked the family was bad for society. That is why he spoke out against eugenics and contraception, against divorce and “free love” (another term he disliked because of its dishonesty), but also against wage slavery and compulsory state-sponsored education and mothers hiring other people to do what mothers were designed to do themselves. It is safe to say that Chesterton stood up against every trend and fad that plagues us today because every one of those trends and fads undermines the family. Big Government tries to replace the family’s authority, and Big Business tries to replace the family’s autonomy. There is a constant commercial and cultural pressure on father, mother, and child. They are minimized and marginalized and, yes, mocked. But as Chesterton says, “This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.”

The Next Great Heresy

This latest attack on the family is neither the latest nor the worst. But it has a shock value to it, in spite of the process of de-sensitization that the information and entertainment industries have been putting us through the past several years. Those who have tried to speak out against the normalization of the abnormal have been met with “either slanging or silence,” as Chesterton was when he attempted to argue against the faddish philosophies that were promoted by the major newspapers in his day. In 1926, he warned, “The next great heresy will be an attack on morality, especially sexual morality.” His warning has gone unheeded, and sexual morality has decayed progressively. But let us remember that it began with birth control, which is an attempt to create sex for sex’s sake, changing the act of love into an act of selfishness. The promotion and acceptance of lifeless, barren, selfish sex has logically progressed to homosexuality.

Chesterton shows that the problem of homosexuality as an enemy of civilization is quite old. In The Everlasting Man, he describes the nature-worship and “mere mythology” that produced a perversion among the Greeks. “Just as they became unnatural by worshipping nature, so they actually became unmanly by worshipping man.” Any young man, he says, “who has the luck to grow up sane and simple” is naturally repulsed by homosexuality because “it is not true to human nature or to common sense.” He argues that if we attempt to act indifferent about it, we are fooling ourselves. It is “the illusion of familiarity,” when “a perversion become[s] a convention.”

From Servant to Tyrant

In Heretics, Chesterton almost makes a prophecy of the misuse of the word “gay.” He writes of “the very powerful and very desolate philosophy of Oscar Wilde. It is the carpe diem religion.” Carpe diem means “seize the day,” do whatever you want and don’t think about the consequences, live only for the moment. “But the carpe diem religion is not the religion of happy people, but of very unhappy people.” There is a hopelessness as well as a haplessness to it. When sex is only a momentary pleasure, when it offers nothing beyond itself, it brings no fulfillment. It is literally lifeless. And as Chesterton writes in his book St. Francis of Assisi, the minute sex ceases to be a servant, it becomes a tyrant. This is perhaps the most profound analysis of the problem of homosexuals: they are slaves to sex. They are trying to “pervert the future and unmake the past.” They need to be set free.

Sin has consequences. Yet Chesterton always maintains that we must condemn the sin and not the sinner. And no one shows more compassion for the fallen than G.K. Chesterton. Of Oscar Wilde, whom he calls “the Chief of the Decadents,” he says that Wilde committed “a monstrous wrong” but also suffered monstrously for it, going to an awful prison, where he was forgotten by all the people who had earlier toasted his cavalier rebelliousness. “His was a complete life, in that awful sense in which your life and mine are incomplete; since we have not yet paid for our sins. In that sense one might call it a perfect life, as one speaks of a perfect equation; it cancels out. On the one hand we have the healthy horror of the evil; on the other the healthy horror of the punishment.”

Compassion Cannot Compromise

Chesterton referred to Wilde’s homosexual behavior as a “highly civilized” sin, something that was a worse affliction among the wealthy and cultured classes. It was a sin that was never a temptation for Chesterton, and he says that it is no great virtue for us never to commit a sin for which we are not tempted. That is another reason we must treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with compassion. We know our own sins and weaknesses well enough. Philo of Alexandria said, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a terrible battle.” But compassion must never compromise with evil. Chesterton points out that balance that our truth must not be pitiless, but neither can our pity be untruthful. Homosexuality is a disorder. It is contrary to order. Homosexual acts are sinful, that is, they are contrary to God’s order. They can never be normal. And worse yet, they can never even be even. As Chesterton’s great detective Father Brown says:  “Men may keep a sort of level of good, but no man has ever been able to keep on one level of evil. That road goes down and down.”

Marriage is between a man and a woman. That is the order. And the Catholic Church teaches that it is a sacramental order, with divine implications. The world has made a mockery of marriage that has now culminated with homosexual unions. But it was heterosexual men and women who paved the way to this decay. Divorce, which is an abnormal thing, is now treated as normal. Contraception, another abnormal thing, is now treated as normal. Abortion is still not normal, but it is legal. Making homosexual “marriage” legal will not make it normal, but it will add to the confusion of the times. And it will add to the downward spiral of our civilization. But Chesterton’s prophecy remains: We will not be able to destroy the family. We will merely destroy ourselves by disregarding the family.

Dale Ahlquist is the president and co-founder of the American Chesterton Society. He is the creator and host of the Eternal Word Television Network series, “G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense.” Dale is the author of G.K. Chesterton: Apostle of Common Sense and the recently published All Roads: Roamin’ Catholic Apologetics. He is also the publisher of Gilbert Magazine, and associate editor of the Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton (Ignatius). He lives near Minneapolis with his wife and six children. This post originally appeared at Catholic Exchange and it is reprinted with permission.

Dale Ahlquist


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Reader Interactions


  1. Adam says

    You make me ashamed to be a Catholic. The good news is that you’re fighting a loosing battle, and soon gay marriage will be legalized in all 50 states. I applaud the work of my fellow Catholics who have fought to give equal rights to the oppressed, and soon all of God’s children will be able to be legally bound by their love!

    • tvrdoglavi says

      Adam, you obviously don’t understand what marriage is and why it is regulated by state. If it was only about love (or “love”), a feeling, a sensation.. why would the administration even bother? Please, search for the information about what marriage and it’s purpose is, and why the state, the law, has anything to do with it. Then you will understand what we are talking about. I’ve never heard any law regarding marriage talk about love. Why? I challenge you to find out. God bless.

    • breidenc says

      Jesus, God himself incarnate, said that Marriage is between a man and a woman, as it was in the beginning. If you don’t believe Jesus on such a fundamental teaching, you cannot be an honest Catholic, and you should seek refuge for your faith elsewhere. Furthermore, it is evidently clear from Jesus, that he does not come to change the law or the prophets; therefore the applicability of all the Jewish Scriptures (as Jesus is a Jew) are relevant, as the denunciation of Marcion was to the Early Church.
      Either get right with Jesus, or seek out a new faith.

    • Aquinas says

      If this article makes you ashamed to be a Catholic, then you are ashamed of your faith. What the Church has taught cannot be changed. Marriage is between a man and a woman for the procreation of children. The State historically understood this and that was why it had a interest in promoting it. But as the State has given into modern pressures to alter long-standing understandings, the fabric unravels. Marriage hardly binds now since divorce is so liberalized.

    • LightinSight says

      If you’re ashamed, then it’s your issue, not us or the author’s. All your so-called fellow Catholics are not Catholic at all then if they fight to change the teachings. Legally bound by love is not good enough. All 50 states will soon be reduced to 50 collapsed empires.

    • goat10000 says

      It may be legal everywhere, but it won’t be marriage. Truth is not determined by majority vote, as Pope Benedict pointed out.

    • hsamuelking says

      You cannot be ashemed to be a Catholic because of this article. Why?
      Because if you were you would be denying a doctrine of the Church.
      Which by definition means you are not a Catholic.
      God bless.

    • Yeoman says

      The irony of this is that there’s never been any prohibition on people with same gender attraction marrying, it’s just that marriage has always been between male and female. Therefore, in order to argue for two people of one gender to “marry” one another, the entire concept of the institution has to be changed, and for a very small percentage of the population.

      If a very small percentage of the population has a right to demand the definition be changed to suit their attraction, then it’s the case that anyone with an emotional and physical attraction likewise has the exact same right, no matter what we think of the attraction. That makes very little sense. Likewise, it makes very little sense to change the traditional definition at all, as it does not reflect the basic set of concerns that gave rise to the institution in all locations and cultures.

      • Lithp says

        Tradition is not automatically right & small population size isn’t automatically wrong. Also, while you act like it’s some arduous task, it is literally just saying, “All of the status & benefits of marriage can now be obtained by gay couples.” It is up to you to provide a compelling LEGAL (not religious) reason why those couples should be banned from the practice.

        • sayno2ssm says

          Gay couples can obtain the same rites and benefits of a married couple through de facto relationships without redefining marriage itself.

    • Jimmy Chonga says

      I recommend that you begin your appreciation for what Marriage means by reading a little book by CS Lewis called the 4 Loves. The “gay” affection that you believe would best be served by formal nuptials does not measure up to the loft and goal required. Rather, “gay” love and affection reduces all authentic self-donation to self-service, simply put . . . eros; the “least” of the Loves to which our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies should aspire. Homosexual “affection” cannot measure up to authentic “Marriage”. I’m saddened that your time in the Church has not clarified these issues more soundly for you. Marriage is not a “right”. At it’s deepest, it is a response to a “calling” from the Creator to Co-create, a responsibility, a challenge, an emptying of oneself, and this is best expressed when 1 man and 1 woman make a single, whole-hearted, whole-minded, whole-bodied manifestation of their commitment.

        • Jimmy Chonga says

          I’m afraid that is ALL it has to do with. Honesty on their part should also be a given; but, that cannot not be assumed either.

      • Lithp says

        Effectively, “Gay couples aren’t capable of REAL love, it’s just about mindless sex.” I assume you also believe that they seek marriage for the sole purpose of insulting Christianity?

    • Mark Ziegler says

      Your not Catholic and neither are your comrades who are fighting to give you “equal rights”. By the way; Marriage is not a right. Raising children is not a right and confusing digestive organs for sexual organs is and always will be disordered. Don’t bother replying; This isn’t a debate, it’s a fact.

    • Tanya says

      Adam, you should be ashamed to call yourself a Catholic, you and your fellow heretics make the Church look bad. A scandal which is crying out to heaven, because not only do you proclaim on the housetops your abomination, you spread errors to others who have the right to know the truth.God have mercy on you.

    • Ticked Parent says

      Adam, Sorry but God always wins in the end. The Church speaks for God on these matters and She is very clear on this, and you are wrong. Like George Orwell said, “The more a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.”

    • Todd says

      Love has nothing to do with laws or legality – it has everything to do with covenant. To be truly bound by love is to participate in God’s plan of procreation. I cannot think of any stronger bond than children which are are the fruit of the love between a man and a woman.

    • DN says

      It’s Catholicism itself that makes you ashamed to Catholic. It appears that you do not like Catholicism. You can dissent all you want from it, that is your free choice, but what you preach isn’t Catholic, anymore than someone who preaches unfettered abortion is pro-life, they are mutually exclusive. Jesus Christ teaches that marriage is between and a man and woman and has never taught anything different. To stray from that is to teach or advocate for something that isn’t Catholic.

    • Stephen says

      Adam, as a man who has wrestled with homosexual inclinations my whole life, I couldn’t disagree with you more. I think you are well intended and I thank you for that, but you have a grave misunderstanding about the condition itself and the issue of same sex marriage.

  2. cM87 says

    Stop living in a delusional bubble and be subject to change. You can’t automatically assume and say all homosexuals whether male or female cannot be honest Catholics. You adapt to change, or you get left behind. Right now, you are demonstrating how your close mindedness is secluding yourself to the rest of the open world.

    it’s 2015. grow up. explore. stop discriminating.

    • Aquinas says

      cM87, We haven’t changed in 2000 years in the way you suggest and yet we are still here and plenty of other things that “got with the times” are gone. No one said that homosexuals can’t be honest Catholics, but you can’t act on homosexual actions and be a good Catholic in good standing with God or the Church. Sin is sin. “There is no end to the misunderstandings which result from an uncertain use of word” (Hilaire Belloc, The Great Heresies). Actually define marriage and discrimination rigorously before you determine us to be “closed minded” We have based our arguments on coherent definitions of marriage and male and female. What is yours based on? Is it closed mindedness to comprehend the world through a logically coherent lens whereby some actions are wrong regardless what we might feel about them? The “openness” you claim to espouse avoids defining anything at the risk of accepting everything, even things which would be distasteful to some of the same “open” people.

    • xsosdidel says

      “Delusional bubble”, is it? Well lets see if you, with all your adaptability, can deal with a genuine rational argument: The institution of marriage has always been a means of delineating the duties and responsibilities inherent to procreation. It is a way for society to answer the question, “Who is responsible for that child?”. Note that the responsibility is based in something real: the biological facts. Since male and female have, in principle at least, the complimentarity to reproduce, an institution was universally established in order to regulate the duty that derives from that complimentarity. Thus the institution is defined in terms of nature and practicality, not personal whim. Upon what principle ought society now base marriage?

      • saulofhearts says

        The responsibility to raise children hasn’t always been linked to marriage, nor should it be. You’re assuming that people who choose not to get married, or who enter into a “non-traditional” marriage, don’t also have an interest in the well-being of children. By recognizing diverse relationship arrangements, we can encourage MORE people to value the well-being of future generations, not less. We can honor a) biological parents, b) adoptive parents, c) those who help care for the offspring of their families and communities, without having children of their own, and d) those who are unable/uninterested in caring for children, but participate in other social responsibilities that help their communities to thrive.

        • Yeoman says

          The problem with the argument is that the long human experience and data here pretty clearly indicates that children are best protected if raised by their natural parents. Granted, that won’t always happen, but when the bonds between the natural parents are weakened by law or cultural practice, the children suffer.

          If you have close exposure to what’s occurring in our society now, that’s pretty evident. We’re rapidly building a two class structure where traditional marriage is being practiced by the upper middle class and the wealthy, while its the lower middle class and the poor who have bought off on the glamorized “no marriage” concept, which is leaving a lot of women to struggle by, and a lot of children, particularly boys, growing up with no male model at all, and very badly damaged as a result. This is ha process that has been long ongoing, and marriage as an institution has been taking damage due to “reform” and societal trends for a very long time, with the same gender marriage argument only the most recent example. However, it has served as a wake up call of all the damage that has been done, and how peculiar our current notions are that marriage serves no other function other than to have the state recognize a physical relationship based upon emotion.

          • saulofhearts says

            These are two separate concerns. It’s true class issues are making economically impossible for many people in my generation to even consider marriage or children. It’s not the case that the “glamorization” single-parenthood or being unmarried is the REASON children grow up with no male role models. Let’s address the problem that actually exists, not the imaginary one.

        • Jimmy Chonga says

          You fail to recognize the real distinctions in Male and Female and their interaction are required for the well-being of well-rounded kids. A single-gender couple cannot compensate for the differences. Every child deserves both a Father and Mother, that’s how they came to be – I don’t care how much you “care” for a child as a single-gender couple; that couple cannot compensate for the loss and the kids show it.

          • saulofhearts says

            Have you heard of “aunts” “uncles “grandparents”, etc? In many cultures, extended family members function as role models when children don’t have a male and female parent. Same-sex marriage isn’t the only reason a child may not have a mother and father present. Death, travel, work, etc., can all get in the way of the “ideal” family you have in mind.

    • Jimmy Chonga says

      The value of Eternal Truths is not indexed by the “times”, whether they be Ancient, or “modern”. They ARE Eternal, therefore, not subject to change just because the clock has a different time on it.

    • Mark Ziegler says

      CM87: Truth doesn’t “change”. “Growing up” won’t change that, As a matter of fact, most grown ups recognize that. You can be same sex attracted and be Catholic, but you can’t advocate acting on that attraction and remain Catholic. I say “advocate” intentionally. We all have sins we struggle with. Mine might be gossip, or greed, or pride or… We all sin, need forgiveness, pick up ourselves up and try again. However, if you don’t believe what the Church teaches and advocate change to that churches teaching, you by definition are not a member of that church. You are a PROTESTER of that church. I’d suggest lining up with truth or go find a church that allows YOU to be the arbiter of right and wrong. Discriminating right from wrong is not a bad thing

    • Tanya says

      CM87-It has nothing to do with with discrimination, It has to do with really wanting the best for our brothers and sisters, If you believe in heaven and hell, you would hope they would be making their way to the former. If you love one another as Christ has taught us, you would tell your brethren that they are getting ready to fall off the cliff. Please quit trying to make Catholics seem as if they are close minded, they are not. But by the grace of God they can see with a supernatural outlook what is going in this world. To be an honest Catholic, means obeying the laws set forth by God, which means living chastity in every state in life. A person who suffers with same sex attraction is not a sinner until he gives into the temptation of that sin, and he/she can overcome with the help of God.

  3. MarkM says

    There was a brilliant reply by Stephen Fry to a nun during a debate on Intelligence Squared entitled ‘Is the Catholic Church a force for good in the world?’ The nun said that she was not sure that the church condemned homosexuality. Stephen said, “Well, I’m afraid it simply does, it does condemn it, yes. It calls it, the official word is a disorder, but it was refined by the current Pontiff, Ratzinger, who called it a moral evil. But on the other hand we must remember, as the point that was made, is that the church is very loose on moral evils, because although they try to accuse people like me, who believe in empiricism and the Enlightenment, of somehow what they call moral relativism, as if it’s some appalling sin, where what it actually means is ‘thought’, they for example thought that slavery was perfectly fine, absolutely okay, and then they didn’t. And what is the point of the Catholic church if it says ‘oh, well we couldn’t know better because nobody else did,’ then what are you for?!”
    The Church is supposed to be the bearer of the gospel, of the good news of God’s love but what is the point of it if society outside of the Church is actually more loving, fairer, more tolerant, more accepting of differences? (I say this as someone who lives in the civilised United Kingdom) The Church is actually instrumental in causing misery and heartbreak in its lgbt members. As a gay man in a ten year loving relationship with an agnostic man, I have tried to go back to Mass every now and then but I cannot stand the hypocrisy or cognitive dissonance….you hear the message of love in the readings, the homilies, the hymns, but then in the next breath you hear that it’s not okay to love someone if they’re the same sex as you because…why? Erm…a few verses out of some books in the Bible which we’ve translated to suit this narrative and…erm…tradition…are you okay with that explanation now?…so just pretend you’re happy with that and please be single and celibate for the rest of your life…which with today’s medical advances will probably mean a very long time alone…
    It’s ludicrous! I heartily recommend the Intelligence Squared debate, it’s simply brilliant and although I had sympathy for Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Ann Widdecombe, the outright winners were Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens for the sheer clarity of their thought and truth. The idea of marriage is not owned by the Church, there were joining ceremonies and handfastings getting on for 6 thousand years ago in pre-Christian, pagan and native aboriginal societies. Marriage as a concept has evolved over thousands of years, from family business contracts (unfortunately still prevalent in some uncivilised countries) to today’s declarations of love and commitment before family, friends, the state, and some churches. It smacks of hypocrisy and unnecessary cruelty to deny others access to something which you yourself enjoy and benefit from. And you’ve heard Stephen Weinberg’s quote “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” So, if religion is not to become irrelevant and if the Church wants to fill its pews again, it needs to do a better job of espousing the message of love and it cannot do this if it is showing itself to be less loving than those outside its walls. Also, it might help you to hear those lgbt people who want to get married if you understand that they’re not asking for ‘gay’ marriage, not asking for a ‘special kind’ of marriage, they’re actually simply demanding ‘equal’ marriage – along with those heterosexual people who already have access to it. We pay our taxes too.

    • xsosdidel says

      ….” what is the point of it if society outside of the Church is actually more loving, fairer, more tolerant”. but you are clearly deluded and ill informed. What do you know of Saint Damien of Molakai, of St Maximillian Kolbe, Mother Theresa, St Joan of Arc, St Josephine Bakhita, St Andres Bissette, the millions of Catholics who got and get it today? These are the Church and its teachings for all to see! These are all dismissed by you and yet you have not one single secular individual who can be named to match what these individuals did with their lives. Will you be honest and discover the truth, or will you fortify the bunker of misery and delusion which you inhabit.

    • hsamuelking says

      Why on earth should we not ” deny others access to something which you yourself enjoy and benefit from.”
      I am 15 and if i went simply with my desires i may well want to get married and well, other things.
      but I know from reason and faith that i cannot ever.
      we should always deny people things when the thing is morally evil

    • Cody says

      In a heterosexual family of four with a boy and girl there are the following distinctly biological relationships. father to son, father to daughter, mother to son, mother to daughter, brother to sister, sister to brother, son to father, daughter to father, son to mother and daughter to mother, mother and father to daughter and daughter to mother and father, mother and father to son and son to mother and father, son and daughter to each other before mother and father and that makes 16 and then there’s husband to wife and wife to husband, for a total of 18 biologically distinct relationships.
In a Same Sex relationship with a boy and girl there are the dynamics of the two to father and father to them, plus them to each other, 2, for a total of 6 uniquely biological relationships, assuming the two children had the same surrogate mother. If not, the biological relations are reduced to 4.

    • Cody says

      A marriage is territorially exclusive, a union of a man and woman to the exclusion of others. A homosexual marriage requires a third party to procreate and so fails this measure of exclusivity. Homosexuals also consider sexual exclusivity an option and disassociate their sexuality from emotions and here too homosexuals fail the most basic definition of exclusivity. What homosexuals are vying for is a new definition whereby anything goes and they get legal rights and recognition, but there will be no legal rights for the biological parent who is dismissed by a legal contract, nor to the child’s right to a mother and father when possible. The dismissal of the biological parent by contract places law above the previous legal status of the biological mother who had to be proven unfit before her child could be taken by the state.

      The concept of homosexual marriage is based on beliefs that gender is a sliding scale based on scant evidence of glandular and hormonal differences, thus defining gender as feeling. But no matter how much one or two men may believe they are a mother, they can never replace a mother to an infant.

      Monogamous heterosexual marriages is the dominant choice by cultures today for transmitting life from one generation to the next and by such definition, homosexuals don’t qualify for marriage.

  4. eddie too says

    lest people be misled, the RCC never taught that one human being can own another human being. that definition of slavery was always anathema to the RCC.

  5. eddie too says

    homosexual conduct will never be considered either morally neutral or morally acceptable by the RCC.

  6. eddie too says

    what is currently being called “same-sex marriage” in the usa has NOTHING to do with a person’s sexual orientation or with love or with sex. what is being sought is based on either one of two concepts. it is based on either I want to get what the government has reserved for marriage without any of the responsibilities that were associated with marriage and that justified the government encouraging and supporting marriage; or, it is based on hatred of human life and how marriage supports human life. it has NOTHING to do with equality. if it were about equality, there would be no clamor for so-called “same-sex marriage”, because there is substantially nothing equal about the opposite-sex human relationship and the same-sex human relationship. a person has to be very confused, very ignorant or delusional to think these two types of human relationships are equal. can the government force the law to treat them as though they were equal? of course it can, the government possesses the only legitimate exercise of force. on the other hand, that does not mean that all of a government’s use of force is either acceptable or rational. governments have always been able to abuse their use of force. forcing people to acknowledge the absurd is not beyond a government’s exercise of force.

    I have never met a man who related to women in the same way he related to other men.

  7. MarkM says

    It’s getting away from the thrust of my argument but seeing as mentioned it, Look up the Catholic Church and slavery in Wkpedia, e.g. “However when the Age of Discovery greatly increased the number of slaves owned by Christians, the response of the church, under strong political pressures, was confused and ineffective in preventing the establishment of slave societies in the colonies of Catholic countries. Papal bulls such as Dum Diversas, Romanus Pontifex and their derivatives, sanctioned slavery and were used to justify enslavement of natives and the appropriation of their lands during this era.”

    • Elizabeth K. says

      I see you selectively left out what came before the “however” in that sentence, and what came after (and for the record, I wouldn’t trust Wikipedia as my go-to source on church history). Yes, as your source mentions, the church was in some cases ineffective in combating slavery–in other words, stupid lay Catholics didn’t listen to church, just as many stupid lay Catholics aren’t listening to the church now on a variety of issues, eg., their birth control, their gay marriages, or whatever it is that they want to have without question.

      Also, and I know this is shocking, your Wikipedia source is a bit confused in how its using its dating dating: The Age of Discovery didn’t really begin until the 1490’s, (not coincidentally until after the Battle of Lepanto, which was a crucial piece of the history you’re looking at) while the papal bulls you mention were published in the 1450’s. They don;t really have anything to do with one another, depite what’s implied by their juxtaposition in Wikipedia. While it is of course possible that there were stupid Catholics who used those bulls to justify slavery, they would have been a) ignoring the context of those bulls and b) ignoring all of the other vastly more important teaching on slavery produced by the church since the days of St. Patrick. The bulls in question, both from 1452, were not in response to the Age of Discovery but to the wars with the Ottoman Empire–the instruction was that in war, prisoners should be taken prisoner and put to work, rather than killed outright. It was for that specific circumstance and purpose–the creation of a more just approach to a war enemy–not any kind of general endorsement of slavery as would come to be a century later.

  8. eddie too says

    Jesus said that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. Jesus said marriage is between one woman and one man. Jesus said fornication is evil.

    on cannot say that a relationship used to justify engaging in fornication is a loving relationship.

  9. MarkM says

    Equal marriage is about legal access to the same institution which heterosexual couples enjoy. It puts lgbt couples on the same legal footing as heterosexual couples and gives them the same rights, responsibilities and legal benefits. Denying lgbt couples something as fundamental as legal recognition of their relationships, with the same name of ‘marriage’ used by heterosexual couples, is a way of denying the legitimacy of lgbt relationships. It’s like saying, your relationship doesn’t matter or isn’t as good as mine because you’re not married but in the same breath saying that you deny me and my partner the right to get married, thereby preventing us legitimising it. Also, how does it mean that we hate life and how marriage supports human life? That’s crazy talk! As far as I know, most lgbt people come from heterosexual unions and will continue to do so, although I see nothing wrong in lgbt couples bearing/adopting/fostering kids because kids just need a loving and supportive environmental in order to thrive. Having no children myself, part of my taxes go to pay for hospitals, nurseries, schools, child benefit, etc, which I will not use but which I continue to pay for. Therefore, I’m actually being more altruistic than my childbearing heterosexual friends, as I’m paying for something from which I do not directly benefit. I’m so glad there’s separation of Church and state because a world where you could enforce your reactionary views would be a nightmare.

    • Mark Ziegler says

      The true nightmare where enforcement of reactionary views begins when “Gay Marriage” is supported by federal law. That’s when 2% of the population litigates into oblivion every religion, business and person who gets in the way of their ideology. The world you long for will be a nightmare.

  10. saulofhearts says

    Wow, so glad I left this religion behind me! Just wish I could take those 13 years of Catholic school back. Meanwhile, I’ll honor the diversity of relationship styles that allow people to thrive, contribute to society, and create a better world for future generations.

    • hsamuelking says

      Do remember that this society will not last forever. The liberal project for a man made ‘utopia’ (although that word is not an apt desciption of what they have in mind) will never succeed. escepially with your Moral evil.

    • Tanya says

      saul, wow so sorry you cannot bear the truth and feel you have wasted 13 years. I hope God will give you a profound gift of really seeing what has happened, and it isn’t holy. bowing to the creature and not to the Creator is a real problem.

    • Mark Ziegler says

      “Just wish I could take those 13 years of Catholic school back.” – I’d say it looks like you have in spades saulofhearts.

      “What is Truth”, right?
      If there is no objective truth, there can be no debate. The loudest, strongest voices will prevail. Eventually a dictatorship of the strong will try to force their ideologies on those who have pursued and understand the concept of absolute truth. Unfortunately for the ignorant, brute strength will only take you so far. Eventually (after religions are ruthlessly attacked, good people are martyred, and hedonists have exhausted their senses) the folly of “same sex marriage” will implode on itself.

      Have fun with that better world.

  11. goat10000 says

    Incidentally, if you’re wondering why you see pro-same-sex marriage comments appearing on a relatively small blog, it’s because people are paid to do this.

  12. MarkM says

    Thanks for your comments saulofhearts, glad you’re happier now. Goat10000, are you serious? Is that your way of counterarguing, just saying that people are paid to have opinions like mine? I’m just a normal bloke from England who happens to really enjoy reading most of the articles on this site but who was disgusted by this one. When religion is used to denigrate the loving relationships of millions because they apparently do no not conform to your own, that’s when I take umbrage and have to say something. Like I said earlier, if society outside of the church is more loving, fairer, more tolerant, more accepting of differences than the church is, then what really is the point of the church, apart from a group of people twisting themselves into tortuous situations for the sake of it?

    • koryp says

      “more loving, fairer, more tolerant, more accepting” … Is it loving to be tolerant of an alcoholic’s self-abuse, or can toleration and acceptance of an evil actually be an unloving thing to do? How about a person who “lovingly” continues to feed their mother whatever she asks for even though she is bed-ridden due to extreme obesity? How about a father that helps their son shoot up because it’s painful to watch his withdrawal symptoms? I wonder if you believe that the existence of pain and suffering signify a lack of love. Yet the opposite is true. It is in the suffering which comes from the refusal to tolerate and accept self-destructive behavior that the most profound love is revealed. I’m entirely sure that your heart is in the right place, but sometimes the *actual* loving thing to do is to recognize an evil for what it is. I love you enough to tell you that there is a greater love waiting for you. Tolerating your self-destructive choices and turning a blind eye would be heartless.

  13. Luigi Burchiani says

    Great article. By what i read in the comment section i can just add a thought. Reading this one cannot feel ashemed to be catholic. You either are ashemed by the fact that sodomy is a sin (yeah, i have to take this half-a-step forward) or you are catholic. One can be ashemed of one’s own sin and perversion but that is a different business. It is actually the approaching of Conversion. Lastly the point of catholic morals is never to condemn people but to convert them.

    • Yeoman says

      “Lastly the point of catholic morals is never to condemn people but to convert them.”

      And to recall that we all have something, some cross to bear. Some are very heavy, some are hidden, but nobody lacks them.

  14. Trixie says

    What would Jesus do if he physically and visually walked among us today? Do you think he would be pleased with our progression from when he was here 2000 years ago?
    Take government out of the equation since it doesn’t belong in personal relationships anyway. Should we encourage free love, go ahead and engage in sexual relationships with anyone we “love?” What next…animals needing equal rights? People do love their pets. It’s ridiculous and sad that people can’t envision the sorry direction in which humanity is heading.

    • beth trussell says

      Has ANYONE remembered that the Wedding at Cana was between a man and woman? I don’t recall seeing anywhere in the Gospels of Our Lord attending any other type of wedding…..

  15. jmjriz says

    Excellent article Dale, don’t forget to mention the Triangle of Truisms…

    “This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilisations which disregard it.” – G.K. Chesterton

    It is surely time for a rallying around the colors (a military term)…but what are the colors?
    They have the rainbow…or do they?

    COVENANT is key; so is the Cross and most important is the Blood of Jesus Christ, the New and Everlasting Covenant that has as its source the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Heaven.

    So is there such a banner? I hope so…


    Here is the blog post that explains it.


    Here are the numerous religious images that demonstrate that Jesus Christ is seated on a throne surrounded by a rainbow arch.



  16. Mark says

    A gay wedding is like buying 2 left shoes, and calling it a pair of shoes. Yes it slightly resembles a pair of shoes, but it doesn’t actually fit. You can force them to be worn, you can say they are a fit and ignore the consequences, but it is not actually compatible with the purpose or design of a pair of shoes.

  17. beth trussell says

    Hasn’t ANYONE noticed that the Wedding in Cana that Our Lord and Lady went to was between a man and woman..nobody else. Now get them to say that Jesus meant marriage was between anything but. Also, Jesus may have eaten with and forgiven the sinners, but He always said “Go, and sin NO MORE.”

  18. RON says


  19. SouthCoast says

    The irony is, those who demand that the Church “change with the times”, will, in turn, find themselves left in the dust the next time the “times” change under them.

  20. James Bond says

    ◄ 2 Timothy 3 ►
    New American Standard Bible
    “Difficult Times Will Come”

    1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.
    10Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

    Irregardless of what we think about an issue, what do the scriptures say? God has a reason for traditional marriage. Satan always has a counterfeit.


  21. Manny says

    Why do those against same sex marriage always focus on two men together but two women barely merits any comment? Its because a gay man is to your way of thinking trying to be a woman and that is the worst thing a man can be. It just shows your inherent sexism and hatred of women.

  22. Gregory Lascelles says

    My biggest fault with the article, is that, while I am a great fan of Chesterton, his view of “homosexuals”, rather than simply, “homosexuality” is dated. I don’t blame him, as the human race was simply more ignorant of the topic then, just as in an earlier age, it was greatly ignorant of and had no terminology for, schizophrenia, down syndrome, or left-handedness. I speak with some authority, as I am “gay”. I grew up sane and simple but was not repulsed by homosexuality because I always knew I was homosexual, even before I knew what sex really was or could admit so to myself. Such is the story with virtually all of my gay friends, the vast majority of which, lead productive, well adjusted lives. And while I chose to convert and become Catholic, and while I choose to live in accordance with Church teaching, as best I can and grace gives me, as someone who is a faithful Catholic, I think the Church could be greatly helped if She was not so abysmally poor at providing pastoral care to gay people. Most diocesan websites, publications, etc. for example, do not even mention such care or even mention gay people, at all. As I recently complained to a Catholic friend, “The Church speaks loudly and clearly in Her opposition to same sex marriage, and even anti-discrimination bills, but then She falls completely silent in engaging those same gay people in Christian love, afterwards.” The Church seems to say to us, “We love you”, but then goes on to say, except you are not welcome in our seminaries, nor our monasteries or convents, nor teaching in our schools, and you should really avoid having gay friends who are not living in chastity, lest there be the occasion of sin, and realistically, that means a life lived alone, (And btw, we will actively work to ensure that the right of a landlord to evict you from your apartment, or an employer to fire you from your job, or to be denied employment or housing, simply for saying you are gay, be protected by law.). And if you do ever meet someone who you may think, “I could make a life with this person!”, and they feel the same, you need to shatter your own heart, cut ties with them, and go back to your life lived alone. My gay friends who are not religious, or have left it behind, and think I’m nuts for trying to remain a faithful Catholic, think I suffer from Stockholm syndrome with my Church. It is often difficult to argue otherwise.

  23. Stephen says


    This posting of Dale Alquist’s article seemed to have given you more responses than your average blog post. I suppose it should be no surprise as it is one of the hot topics of the day.

    I buy the Church’s teaching on the issue, hook, line and sinker. I don’t know what I would have done without the clarity and insight it gave me, as Ive struggled with homosexual inclinations all my life. That said, these words of Chesterton’s can sting a bit. I suspect some readers may have felt that sting and reacted when they read…

    Any young man,“who has the luck to grow up sane and simple” is naturally repulsed by homosexuality because “it is not true to human nature or to common sense.”
    Seems I am among the unlucky. Furthermore, by inference, I am apparently neither sane nor simple or natural or possessing common sense. Am I perceived by other Catholic men (my brothers in the faith) as less than a man, a developmental deformity that naturally repulses them? I sometimes think…yes. That is why, for the most part I keep this issue safely private, so that this repulsion is not an obstacle to fraternity and friendship in the company of those I respect most.

    I don’t want to give Chesterton too hard a time here. He was a genius and the world needs to hear more of him. I know this disorder (not a popular word, but I use it), however it came to be within me, does not define me. The fact that I have struggled with the inclination rather than pursued it, may have kept me among the “sane and simple” as Chesterton describes them. However, I think those who have had less exposure to the teaching language of the Church would have a more difficult time hearing his words.

    Most guys who struggle with this issue, already feel some separation from other men, often on a profound level. Reading Chesterton’s words, and some of the posts, I wonder if this separation is preferred by the “sane and simple”, normal men. This perception (mistaken or true), can lead a struggling man away from the holy fraternity, he desperately needs and push him toward the many counterfeits that are all too available.

    Thankfully, I have avoided many such counterfeits (There, but for the grace of God go I. ), but I don’t doubt that in any gay bar, you will find a good number of men who are really looking for friendship and some way to belong to a fraternity of men. I wonder if the counterfeit could be more easily seen for what it is, if true fraternity were presented to them in charity?

  24. Mark Ziegler says

    That was the most articulate, convicting, open response from someone who struggles with same sex attraction that I have ever read. It shames me to think ab out the harshness of my reply’s to those who aren’t so articulate or have given in to the struggle and openly fight the church. You’ve pointed me back to the confessional. Your witness is bringing me closer to God. Thank you.

  25. Dennis says

    Thank you Stephen. I too have struggled with same-sex attraction for years and it is a heavy cross. Your post sensitively highlights the crippling loneliness experienced by many gay men and I feel for those younger Catholics choosing the Faith over the aching need for intimacy. I too knew I was homosexual long before puberty. It’s not all about sex especially as we age, it’s about companionship and sharing your life with someone you love. To willingly absent oneself from this possibility in order to live the Church’s teaching is very painful as only God knows.

  26. Mark says

    The Church has been wrong about many things…slavery, women’s rights, the environment, observable science, animal welfare, just to name a few…they will be proved wrong about sexuality too. Sex between consenting adults is not only for procreation but also to express closeness, love, bonding and passion for each other. Good sex is psychologically and physically healing. If the Church has been proven wrong about the areas I’ve mentioned previously, it shows that humans have evolved and improved their ethics through rational discussion and thought and that reliance on only the Bible and Church tradition for ethics leads to stagnation and an affront against healthy human living. Human ethics are likely to continue to evolve, for instance to unblock full equality for women with men in every area of society; to champion animal rights now that western society has sufficient healthy nutrition available that killing animals for food is no longer necessary; to supporting adult relationships between consenting adults which provide stability for those people concerned and for society as a whole, and so on. In the Old Testament marriages were deals where the daughter was considered the property of the father…something still the case in many backward countries around the world. Women were spoils of war, women had to marry their rapists, etc. Just think, if you allow the Church to control what you do in the bedroom, in the most private area of your life, how much it easier it is then for the Church to control the other areas of your life. I was brought up Catholic but disagree with the Church on many subjects, just like everyone else. I think religion is man’s primitive attempt at ethics and philosophy. There have also been hundreds of philosophers in Greek and Roman times and in all of the centuries up to the present who have helped humankind to improve our behaviour, society and mental outlook. I sometimes get bogged down in all of the Catholic world…it has an internal consistency, a circular logic, which can be comforting because it tells you what to think, steers you clear of some dangers, gives you pomp and pageantry so that you feel part of something great and special, gives you a superhero Saint to pray to about whatever’s on your mind, makes you feel connected to some greater power…it’s all very nicely sewn up. However, it is also infantilising and stops you thinking for yourself. The church doesn’t have a monopoly on goodness, far from it. When I see other people falling for the whole kit and kaboodle of Catholicism I suddenly realise how dangerous it is and want to free them from it. Free them from the institution that says “Welcome, please enter into our loving family…but remember, you can do this, but not that…you can love these people, but not those…you can think this, but not that…we’ll allow you to do this, but we must draw the line at that…and don’t worry your head thinking about that, we’ve already done that for you….” The only thing which the Church would have in its favour is if it had any supernatural power. The gospels say that Jesus told his disciples that they would do greater things than he did. If this is true, why are there no miracles? Why aren’t Christians going around hospitals in order to heal people? A plethora of demonstrations of scientifically verifiable supernatural power would have people flocking to the Church and belief in Christ. But no, there aren’t any, so the Church is asking for people to believe in an unverifiable afterlife (suffer now, reward after you die, you hope); eat the body and blood of your saviour (cannibalistic vampirism anyone?); live your life according to the Bible, Church tradition and its interpretation of the Bible, and other books by faithful Catholics/Saints/theologians. In the end you just have to think for yourself. Life is short and we none of us know if anything will happen after it ends (unlikely). So for me, humanistic ethics are the way to go. The belief that we can still discover better ways of living our lives. That we are self-determined and can do anything we put our minds to. That we can cooperate with other humans without putting them into divisive categories. I take responsibility for my thoughts and actions and change them if I find a better way to do something or think about something. So, as far as equal marriage goes…live and let live. Christianity does not own the institution of marriage – pagan handfastings and aboriginal partnering ceremonies predate Christianity. Marriage is a ceremony to join two consenting loving adults in a stable relationship in front of family, friends and society. You can add a religious element to it if you want to, but it’s not necessary. I say equal marriage and not gay marriage because that’s what it is. It’s equal because it’s no better or worse than a marriage between a man and a woman, and it is as valid in the eyes of society as such. So, if you are experiencing same sex attraction and religion is causing you to suffer because of it, I would consider removing yourself from religion. You will be happier and your religion couldn’t care less – they have millions of other people they’re continuing to fool. You can google lgbt support groups in your area or online and speak to them. You can find similar minded groups into all sorts of hobbies, from hiking to art groups, find something you’re interested in and make some good friends. Practise safer sex and keep yourself healthy and divest yourself of all of the Catholic guilt and psychological burden…it’s a made up problem that you don’t have to carry anymore. Evolution is true – we evolved from single cell organisms for millions of years up to today. With no first parents, no Adam and Eve, there is no original sin, no need for an atoning Jesus as scapegoat, no need for religion. Learn how to think critically and live your life as you see fit. Big Hugs, Mark

  27. Mark says

    I feel for you Gregory, you seem to see the problem and your friends have been telling you the solution. I used to go to Mass regularly, played an instrument in the Church folk group, bought and read hundreds of Catholic books, prayed the Rosary regularly, went on pilgrimages, screwed my head and heart up for years denying my sexuality and my intrinsic worth as a gay man. Visited Rome last year and expected a spiritual experience but found it an anticlimax. It was tacky and vulgar and the churches were overgilded and overwrought. St Peter’s was huge and overwhelming, massive columns, sculptures, marble everywhere…too much! Just shows what can be done with the wealth of millions of people. Didn’t feel especially spiritual at all though. My advice is that it is not worth waiting for the Church to catch up with today’s ethics. You’ll be dead before then…remember how long it took to apologise for its many crimes over the centuries https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_apologies_made_by_Pope_John_Paul_II
    I stopped going to Church because I realised that it would not change for the better, at least not quickly enough to make a difference in my lifetime. I stopped going because I realised how unfair it was to myself to keep attending a place where I wasn’t fully accepted and where I would have to forego the love and companionship of my partner if I wanted to be fully accepted and allowed to take communion. Thankfully my partner is non-religious. He sees all religions as equally wrong and just gets on with life. He’s helped me to get away from magical thinking and just see life as it is and try to make the most of it, and also to treat people well and do stuff for people just because it’s a good thing to do. Humanistic ethics…based on evidence and with no need for supernatural religion. I wish you well and a speedy recovery!

  28. DSC says

    Chesterton was quite thoughtful and so reasoned in his day. His sayings on compassion, why leftists ideals are destructive if taken to their fullness, why forgiveness and the family matter, why indulging passions is averse to civilization whole freedom not to indulge serves civilization, so accurate.


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