“marriage is NOT for Adam and STEVE”

From The Telegraph in the UK:

My emphases and comments:

Priest apologises for joking that marriage is not for ‘Adam and Steve’

A Catholic priest [no, he is a deacon] has apologised for joking during a sermon that true marriage can only be between Adam and Eve – not ”Adam and Steve”.

Reverend Frank Wainwright, 48, a Deacon [deacon] at St Gregory’s Church in Cheltenham, Glos., made the controversial comment during a Sunday service. [It isn’t controversial to people who have their heads screwed on in the right direction.]

He was preaching on the theme of marriage when he claimed that same-sex civil partnerships are not considered as marriage by the Catholic church. ["claimed"?  ummmm…. they aren’t…. are they?  Did I miss a change?]

But his ”flippant joke” sparked five complaints from his congregation and has been branded as homophobic by gay and lesbian rights groups. [Just because he made this statement about marriage doesn’t mean that he hates or fears homosexuals, that he is homophobic.]

Rev Frank Wainwright, who lives in Cheltenham, Glos., apologised for causing any offence and claimed he is not ”homophobic”.

He said: ”The sermon was about marriage and I have no idea why all this has come up but someone has obviously complained.

”The comment is obviously not homophobic and it was just intended as a joke. [A joke, in the sense that it is a clever play on words.  But it was true.] My duty is to preach what the church preaches that marriage is between a man and a woman.

”I have plenty of gay friends [?!?] and I have no problem at all with them but as a Catholic minister I must preach that marriage is between a man and woman and nothing else. ["nothing" else… and therein lies the problem.  More on that below.]

”I’m sure there are gay members of my congregation and I imagine it’s one of them who complained but it certainly wasn’t the thrust of my sermon.

”I can see why people are upset by the comment because it was flippant. I totally accept that I have caused offence and I am apologising for that.” [sigh … they have a little nutty… and someone else has to apologize!  Or was it not a nutty at all… but rather another purposeful slash at the Church to silence her on a matter of morals….]

Rev Frank Wainwright delivered the 15-minute sermon on marriage at St Gregory’s Church on January 17 this year.

He told his 200-strong congregation: ”Sometimes in our families we have situations that either surprise us or are not ideal.

”For example if your 15-year-old daughter comes home and says ‘I’m pregnant’ even if it’s a shock and we disagree the first thing we should do to that person is hug them and let them know they are still family.

Sometimes within the church we have to hold our heads above the parapet and say what we believe as Catholics and sometimes in saying that we will be marginalised and put down.  [Good for him.  And don’t apologize next time.]

”For example, in adoption a child has a right to want a mother and father.

”That marriage is between a man and a woman and it’s a life-long commitment and usually only ended by death, [And if it was a sacramental marriage, always ended only by death.] as it was in the beginning and ever shall be.

”Marriage is between Adam and Eve – not Adam and Steve.”

A spokesman for the Gloucestershire Gay and Lesbian Community group said Rev Frank Wainwright’s words were ”poorly chosen” but accepted his apology.

He said: ”I can understand why he has said it as there are canonic references.

”However, we are living in a different world and one would hope that anyone who is in a loving relationship would be accepted. [Go back and read that ridiculous statement and savor it.]

”In this country, it is legal for people of the same sex to enter into a civil partnership and that is not necessarily a religious relationship.  [It might be legal, but it is wrong in God’s eyes.]

”But we appreciate he has apologised for the remark and we would not want to stir anything up.”

His Hermeneuticalness commented here.

Note how this dovetails with what is going on in Boulder, CO, in the Archdiocese of Denver.

What I though was interesting was the statement: "I must preach that marriage is between a man and woman and nothing else."

"Nothing else".

That’s right. 

Once you legalize this sort of "marriage", then down the road people will want to marry minor children – for obvious reasons –  and then marry their dogs.

Sort of like an old-fashioned nylon stocking, isn’t it?  Once it gets a snag in it, there is no stopping the run.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. I’m reminded of line in E. Michael Jones’ article in “Fidelity Magazine” about Pope John Paul II in San Francisco in 1987 (y’all remember that scene??)…anyway, the pro-homosexual protesters outside of some venue were screaming “We want justice.” To which Jones quipped, “Boys, justice is exactly what you don’t want! You want mercy…” or something to that effect…
    Marriage (in the common and traditional understanding of the word) is not what these people want; it’s just public acceptance of a lifestyle [Right.] that is anything but stable, in most cases, (and according to a study that revealed that homosexual men in partnerships that endured over a certain amount of time…ten, maybe twenty years…did not engage in regular sex with their partners, but had “open relationships”, because once they were “partnered”, they actually committed to a friendship which then excluded sex…I have no proof this is true, but it is certain worth considering int he light of all the hoopla.

  2. Mrs McG says:

    A Catholic priest should never back down from teaching the truth about marriage from the pulpit. However, flippant little sayings like the “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” should *not* come from the pulpit. They are offensive and do enough damage to the discussion when they’re repeated by faithful lay Catholics. It is so critical to speak respectfully on sensitive issues, even if they are clear-cut issues. A sinner is unlikely to turn to the spiritual help of a priest who makes such a comment. Family and friends of persons with same-sex attraction will also find that kind of treatment of the issue hard to swallow. This priest made a beautiful apology while upholding Catholic teaching. I say: Good for him!

  3. KAS says:

    It seems to be an imperative for these pro-gay “marriage” people that their license be not only permitted but APPROVED. [Right.] When someone does not agree with them, there seems to be this knee jerk need to force an apology as if it were somehow evil to disagree with their actions.

    It is a weird and twisted culture we have these days!

  4. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    Why are we expected to apologize every time someone gets her or his nose out of joint? I believe we must proclaim our faith with integrity, and also with gentleness and humility. If someone has difficulty with this or that teaching of the Church, we shouldn’t be uncharitable to them. Who hasn’t struggled with you name it in the Church? Still, why are we expected to hide under a rock whenever someone disagrees with us? They certainly aren’t about to hide under a rock.

  5. deborah-anne says:

    In my opinion there was no apology necessary. It’s possible the good deacon may have yielded under pressure.

    ‘’However, we are living in a different world and one would hope that anyone who is in a loving relationship would be accepted. [Go back and read that ridiculous statement and savor it.]
    I did and instantly felt the rumblings of a regurgitative fit. Boy, is this guy right. We are living in a different world and if the secular progressives get their way, (and they are working hard at it) there will be no sanctity left in this world of ours. So the battle continues….

  6. johapin says:

    Once you legalize this sort of “marriage”, then down the road people will want to marry minor children – for obvious reasons – and then marry their dogs.

    Seriously: http://www.marryyourpet.com/

  7. Archicantor says:

    I dunno. All issues of second-hand overreactions aside, it seems to me that the problem here is not that this deacon was upholding Catholic teaching — people attending a Catholic service ought to expect to be taught Catholic doctrine — but that he used a very tired and hackneyed joke that is genuinely cringe-worthy. If he hadn’t told the joke, I don’t think he would be taking the flak now. The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives an excellent lead on how to use circumspect, dignified, mature and compassionate language to communicate Church teaching on homosexuality, all without compromising that teaching. Flippancy is out of place here, and not because it risks offending PC sensibilities. Catholic teaching on the body, sex, marriage and the family is meticulously constructed, grounded in the scriptures and centuries of theological reflection, and it is worthy of consideration by all thoughtful people, even if they may ultimately choose to ignore it. But cracks about “Adam and Steve” only serve to affirm people’s (and in this case especially gay people’s) suspicion that people of faith really are just self-congratulatory simpletons after all. It makes them switch off, when the Church sincerely wants a chance to make its case to open minds. This all reminds me of leaving Canada to study in the U.S., where I was teased about the Canadian pronunciation of the letter Z (how appropriate here!), which for us (and Britons) is “zed”. “How can that be right,” my gleeful antagonists chortled, “when it doesn’t rhyme at the end of the alphabet song?” Rhyme scheme as the test of truth. That’s the philosophical summit of Catholicism as caricatured by the “Adam and Steve” fag-jokes crowd.

  8. You know, a sense of humor is not a sin. I agree Archicantor, that it is important to be sensitive and not br overly crude or course in dealing with such issues; but come on. Lighten up!
    From what I’ve seen in certain sectors of the same-sex groups, they have no problem with all kinds of jabs, barbs, and downright stabs to each other and to those they don’t agree with.
    Why is it necessary for us to “tone down” our language in matters that are, to put it squarely, of eternal importance?
    Offending people is more of a “mortal sin” today than telling the truth.
    Of course, discrimination and persecution of those who same-sex attraction is not Christian nor approved by the Church’s teachings.
    But neither is a flagrantly “in your face” homosexual lifestyle.

  9. He should not have said the joke during his sermon, Other than that, he was right. The Truth can be preached without trying to make a joke of it, I don’t remember St Augustine telling jokes in any of his sermons :)

  10. John Fannon says:

    This in a week, when there were cartoons in the press of the Holy Father shown sitting glowering on his throne and on his head there was a condom in lieu of a Papal Tiara.

    Catholics and other Christians need to take example from the homosexual lobby and shout loudly whenever there is a perceived slur and make a nuisance of ourselves.

  11. markomalley says:

    The concept of homosexual “marriage” is so utterly nonsensical that nonsense is the only appropriate way for it to be referenced. The fact that, in modern society, we have to give it serious consideration, discussion, and rejection based on logical proofs is, in of itself, an indication of how far we have gone in rejecting the natural law, much less revealed law.

    The fact that a homily had to be dedicated to refuting the concept, with or without cheesy attempts at humor, is a horrible commentary on our modern, “enlightened” society.

  12. Grace says:

    No apology was needed. I do wish none had been given.

  13. Archicantor says:

    Hi, nazareth. I’m not saying clergy should “tone down” their language. If they really want to persuade people who don’t already agree with them in a matter of “eternal importance”, they need to tone it up! Perhaps it’s because I’ve always been more impressed by the Church’s teaching of marriage as a high and difficult calling, in which the “anything goes” sensuality of modern assumptions about sex is rejected in favour of conjugal chastity, combining disciplined self-mastery with the responsible, free and loving gift of the whole self. Arguing for chastity as something for everyone to strive for (and generally hard for everyone to achieve, straight and gay alike) is far more persuasive than tub-thumping against same-sex unions as encroachments on some sort of biologically constituted club that has exclusive rights to sexual satisfaction. I’m all for humour, but when it’s coming from the pulpit let’s make sure it’s both actually funny and charitable. When in doubt, the high road should always be the default option, no? Not a lot of commentators on this blog are in the mood to “lighten up” when the joke is on the Pope…

  14. chironomo says:

    Can we all then agree that jokes are somewhat “out of place” in a homily to begin with? Whether a bad joke or a good joke, this issue in particular is not one where humor should be a tool for teaching.

    My response, if I were in a position to respond, to anyone who “complained” about this incident would be that confessions are at 4:30PM every Saturday and it would be good to see you there…

  15. Magpie says:

    Marrying your dog? Come off it Father – like that’s ever going to happen…


  16. Bornacatholic says:

    And don’t apologize next time

    Amen, Amen, Amen.

    He said not one thing that he should have apologised for.

    If they can’t handle the truth, let them swim the Tiber to where they will hear comforting lies.

    The Church, The Ark of Salvation, is not supposed to be in the business of fluffing-up the pillows for its perverted passengers.

    The first “sermon” of John The Baptist’s Ministry was about repentance.

    The first “sermon” of Jesus’ Ministry was about repentance.

    The first “sermon” of Peter’s Ministry was about repentance.

  17. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I must agree with Archicantor that while the content of the statement should (and must) be preached, the way in which it was preached was ham-handed. The “Adam & Steve” joke has been used in many fora, but it is both inartful and hackneyed.

    Poor use of the medium can obscure the message. I would have cringed, not for what was said, but for how it was said.

    That is, however, all that needs an apology.

  18. TomB says:

    I think he IS homoPHOBIC…he’s afraid of homosexuals, so he apologized for what he said.

  19. thomas tucker says:

    We should quite being defensive about the truth.
    No apologies are needed for stating the obvious.

  20. lofstrr says:

    Perhaps we should start branding them as hetrophobes and demanding apologies.

    It amazes me just how short sighted these militant homosexual activists are. What exactly are they hoping to gain by undermining the very society that generally tolerates them even if it sees them as an aberration. Homosexuals don’t reproduce, they need hetros to at least keep society afloat. Where do they think their “next generation” is going to come from? And if our society fails, especially in Europe, what will it likely be replaced with? Muslim society doesn’t tend to treat their homosexuals too kindly. In fact, they often claim to not have homosexuals, want to guess why they don’t have any?

  21. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    “A spokesman for the Gloucestershire Gay and Lesbian Community group said Rev Frank Wainwright’s words were ‘’poorly chosen’’ but accepted his apology.
    He said: ‘’I can understand why he has said it as there are canonic references.”

    That’s possibly the most reasonable statement I have seen from a gay rights group about the Catholic Church’s stance on gay marriage. Of course he goes on to disagree, but unlike most of the crazies that argue against all kinds of Church positions, this guy at least recognizes the Church’s stance is acceptable to hold, even if he thinks it is wrong.

  22. Peggy R says:

    I agree the priest should not have apologized. Whether his tone was joking or not, he was speaking the Truth. I can imagine a priest saying those same words in an earnest & serious tone, even with righteous anger or passion for the Truth. “Marriage was made for Adam and Eve–not Adam and Steve.” One should never apologize for stating the Truth. That phrase makes it all too clear what is Truth.

  23. dcs says:

    Can we all then agree that jokes are somewhat “out of place” in a homily to begin with?

    No. There is nothing wrong with an occasional bit of levity in a sermon.

  24. JohnW says:

    This is a problem in our society ,no one wants to stand up for what is right and holy. Every one is afraid that someone will be offended. I think it is high time that we as Catholics stand up for our faith and defend all things right and just. If we don’t no one else will. I am proud of my faith and have no qualms about saying what is right and what is wrong. I ‘m afraid that many people were raised wrong in not wanting to offend any one or thing no matter what. TFMM

  25. Random Friar says:

    As a member of the Order of Preachers, I would just say, IMHO, that humor is perfectly fine in a homily, provided it has illustrative value, and is not just a filler or “warm-up act.” When I use humor, I tend to use it to show our human foibles, even my own, and have a laugh at the foolishness of man’s ways versus God’s ways. It really should strengthen the preaching of the Gospel, and drive the point home. The homily may start with folks laughing, but it should always end with folks thinking.

  26. albizzi says:

    Instead of that Adam and Eve / Adam and Steve joke, he had to read the excerpt of the Bible that says that “lying in a bed with a man like one lies in a bed with a woman is an ABOMINATION in God’s eyes”.
    Certainly same sex minded people would have been much more offended.
    But which apology would he have given? None. The Bible speaks. Every catholic faithful (I guess) has a Bible ansd is free to read it…

  27. albizzi says:

    “Muslim society doesn’t tend to treat their homosexuals too kindly. In fact, they often claim to not have homosexuals, want to guess why they don’t have any?”
    There are more homosexual men in the muslim societies than you think for arithmetical reasons due to polygamy: If a man has 4 wives, that means that he deprives 3 of his brothers from ever to mary at least one since God fortunately makes as much girls as boys to be born. Then when sexual needs sometimes are urging and available girls lacking, … you know what may happen.

  28. Lets start with this.

    ‘Marriage is between a man and a woman only – that is what the Church preaches. It always has and always will. For those who object, Roma locuta est, causa finita est – look it up!’

  29. Rob Cartusciello says:

    As the risk of being crass, ask any veteran who has spent time in Afghanistan what “Man Love Thursday” is.

    The Afghan tribesmen indulge certain inclinations on Thursday night so they can atone for them on Friday (the Muslim “sabbath”). These activities often involve young boys.

    In the Canadian Army, soldiers charged commanding officers failed to failure to report the rapes of young boys committed by their Afghan interpreters.


  30. everett says:

    I personally think Adam and Steve is an incredibly lame joke and has no place in a homily. However, the reason it doesn’t belong is because it isn’t remotely funny, thus failing the levity test. Other than the lame joke, the homily was excellent. Would that we had more permanent deacons who were able to preach in this manner.

  31. Dave N. says:

    Trite comments like this make a homilist out to be a less than serious thinker about a pretty grave matter. They really should be avoided as they work to make everything else he says seem less credible.

  32. Frank H says:

    I don’t know, Everett. Even though I’ve heard the “Adam & Steve” thing several times (although never in a sermon) I still chuckle. Even the homosexual folks seem to find it amusing (see Fr. Finigan’s post at his blog.)

  33. MBinSTL says:

    I realize it’s partly a joke (I hope!), but there’s a recent “interview” with a young British woman who indicates she’s dead serious about “marrying” her laptop computer. Do a YouTube search for: british laptop alex. It should come right up.

    After the initial laugh and thought that “she’s crazy”, it makes one ask a number of questions.

    For one, I wonder what it says about the quality of men she’s run into during her short 24 years; and the quality, or lack thereof, of the relationships those men seem to be capable of nurturing.

    Also, I found her “as long as you’re not hurting someone else” ethical framework to be tell-tale for the ultra-individualist mores of modern Western society.

  34. eulogos says:

    I have thought about this, and I think that the joke makes the point in a memorable way. By mentioning Adam and Eve it points to the creation story ” male and female He created them” and that He made the woman as a help suitable for the man.
    That is where Catholic beliefs on this issue ARE rooted. God made them male and female, and Adam and Steve just do not fit God’s pattern. The only reason not to use the joke is that people are so sensitive to the idea of not being offensive to designated victim groups, that their reaction on that plane might prevent them from thinking about the legitimate point which is being made by the joke.
    People are getting their beliefs on this issue more from TV than from anything which is said from the pulpit. For years now there have been sympathetic gay characters on major TV shows, like the lesbian doctor on ER, who when her “partner” was killed, went to pick up ‘their’ child, of which the partner was the mother, and the partner’s family keeps the child and tells her she is not related to it. The whole thing is set up to induce sympathy for the lesbian doctor. That is just one example of what has been going on on TV for maybe the past ten years, or maybe longer. It has been wildly successful in altering public opinion.
    Good for this priest for preaching about this subject. He had nothing to apologize for. He might have decided that in the future such jokes were not his best strategy, but it was a mistake to apologize. It makes it seem as if he is backing off from what he said.
    Susan Peterson

  35. irishgirl says:

    The deacon shouldn’t have apologized. I’m getting tired of having to ‘apologize’ to the homosexual lobby!

    Simply put, ‘Marriage is between A MAN AND A WOMAN-PERIOD! No such thing as ‘marriage’ between two men or two women!

    Look at the animal world-they obey the natural laws when it comes to mating! Why is it that man can’t get it through their thick skulls?


  36. Carolyn says:

    I have to agree with Archicantor. I think Catholics, as well as other Christians or people from other faiths, would be better-served by using more dignified language when referring to gay people or other groups with whom they disagree on various points. Someone commented that people in the gay community have adopted words that were once considered derogatory, such as “gay,” “queer,” or even “fag” and so should not be upset when others use this type of language or make those kinds of jokes. But, I think at time Catholics might in good humor poke fun at some aspect of their faith or culture without ever having the intent to deride it – it’s what we all do, we all like to laugh at ourselves – but I don’t think some of the commenters here would appreciate people not in the church making those very same jokes. We could all probably learn to take things with a grain of salt more often. But again, Archicantor points out, and I must agree, when someone makes a joke about the Pope (which I certainly don’t appreciate or approve of), Catholics aren’t about to “lighten up.” Should they? No. But, many people inside or outside the gay community probably feel just as justified in choosing to not “lighten up.”

    I really don’t think this deacon meant anyone to take offense at what he said. Humor certainly has a place, and it can serve as a powerful teaching tool at times. I guess I just think this could serve as a lesson for the future that, in the future, those types of comments are taken as offensive by other groups, and I don’t think it advances any dialogue or fosters any understanding between two groups.

    I am not gay, nor am I a Catholic, though I do believe in the truth of what the Catholic Church teaches. However, I do think many have struggled with various teachings, and the issue of same-sex marriage is one with which I have struggled.

    We are all sinners, but we are all called by Christ. We are all sinners, but there is room for us all in Christ’s Church. And we are certainly all called to proclaim God’s truth to others. However, call me crazy, but I don’t see why someone who is gay would ever see the Catholic Church as somewhere they would ever be welcome or where they could ever come to know God, when those who are Catholic and are gay are being called “perverted passengers.”

    I absolutely don’t think Catholics should be barred, or discouraged, from proclaiming the teachings of the church and holding fast to their faith. And I know that proclaiming Christ’s truth or acting in love towards others doesn’t necessarily mean that we are “nice” 100% of the time. I just think that being “nicer” when possible wouldn’t hurt, and would maybe soften some hearts to being more willing to at least listen to what the church has to say.

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