ASK FATHER: How to respond when homosexuals tell you they’re “married”?

From a reader…


Our comings and goings in civil society are going to be getting markedly more and more difficult, especially as “gay marriage” becomes legal in state after state, and as “transgendered” people are being allowed to have their bodies mutilated so as to appear to be something they are not. As Catholics, we simply cannot accept lies and untruth. Two men who exchange rings and pledge their troth to each other are not married, and can never be married to each other. A man who chooses to have himself surgically altered and wear dresses and high heels is not a woman, and can never be one. But now civil society is, more and more, saying that these logical inconsistencies and untruths are true.

What is a Catholic to do?

In our social lives, we need to continue to be polite. If Bruce and Alphonse show off their “wedding” rings and talk about their fabulous honeymoon to Cabo at a neighborhood barbecue, we should nod and smile and move on to another table. Haranguing them about the Truth then and there would not be effective. If LaVerne now wants to be called Herman, we are not under any obligation to now include her on the men’s softball team, or bring her into the study for cigars and brandy after supper.

In our work lives, things are going to get dicey. Some corporations, under the influence of the very heavy-handed gay agenda, are pushing a policy of “tolerance” that forces acceptance of every sort of deviant lifestyle and intolerance of traditional mores. These policies will make it more or less mandatory to accept “gay marriages.” The employee who fails to acknowledge that Ellen and Bernice are now wife and wife will be subject to discipline.

We have to craft our responses to these situations carefully.

“Boris, good to see you, it’s been a long time! I understand from your recent correspondence that you and Philbert said ‘I do.’  [Keep that smile plastered on your face!] Now, that’s going to change your income tax filling status!  I’m glad you came in to get that all sorted out, and I’m here to help you.”

St. Thomas More would be a good patron to invoke for assistance in walking that tightrope between upholding truth and morality, while attempting to live in a society that’s quickly going mad.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. acardnal says:

    “If LaVerne now wants to be called Herman, we are not under any obligation to now include her on the men’s softball team, or bring her into the study for cigars and brandy after supper.”

    And you didn’t even address the confusing public bathroom situations which are arising in our businesses and schools and athletic locker rooms . . . .

  2. TMKent says:

    I recently ran into this problem. A new “boss” called me in alone to her office for my first scheduled meeting with her (about 4 days after our state legalized same sex ” marriages”). Immediately she showed me her “wedding” picture. I froze then stammered saying that it was a nice picture and inquired as to the location. I later found out that none of my colleagues had been shown the picture in their meetings. It’s well known that I am Catholic and I’m certain I was being tested. My priest suggested I look to Thomas More as well. I suspect there will come a day when the line will be clear and I will have to leave this job.

  3. Latin Mass Type says:

    Listening to the news and talk radio gave me a fuzzy idea that has been sharpened into focus by this question.

    (Sarcasm alert!)

    On greeting the newlyweds I would smile and say, “Be thankful you don’t live in the Islamic Caliphate! Yet.”

  4. Sonshine135 says:

    We have to get smarter about these things, and remember that there is never a good time to be rude. When someone comes in loudly proclaiming their same sex attraction, they are in essence proclaiming their opposition to Our Lord and His commandments. What good comes of trying to instruct a person who has a heart of stone? You would get better response from a wall.
    This being said, it does not mean we should be ugly to the person either. After all, the golden rule still applies even to those who do not share our values.

  5. Suz. from Oklah. says:

    I don’t know. Aren’t we somehow complicit by our silence and a plastered-on smile? Isn’t silence what got us in this mess to begin with? I don’t know.

  6. tgarcia2 says:

    “Boris, good to see you, it’s been a long time! I understand from your recent correspondence that you and Philbert said ‘I do.’ [Keep that smile plastered on your face!]

    This is something that people forget (to smile), be tactful and pray for them. No good is done to be condescending towards others in any situation

  7. TheDude05 says:

    I say just acknowledge them as we do every other broken human being (all of us), treat them fairly and with charity, and at the same time maintain your faith. I have a brother who is gay and while I do not condone his lifestyle it doesn’t cause me to harangue him about it. I keep talking about the Church and the wonders of Christ and the Saints and try to live my life in the glory of God. Doing this and praying for him and others is a great way to entice that part of every man that yearns for God. Now thankfully I have yet to be put in the position of him entering a civil partnership and have not had to deal with the moral tightrope of that situation but I pray that the Holy Spirit guides me if that happens and I pray that his heart changes before it does.

  8. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Yes, one should be kind and pray for others, but here is what is not being addressed:

    The reason many homosexuals “marry” as often as not has nothing to do with legalities and tax status, but is rather to seek the approval of others for their relationship.

    So it is one thing to smile, and quite another to make statements that appear to approve of the relationhip, as many such ‘couples’ will certainly be “fishing” for such remarks.

    Fr. Z. is right, we have to be smart about this. For example, from a co-worker, ‘Todd’ to you: “My ‘husband’ Rod and I just got married! Isn’t that great? Aren’t you excited for us?”

    Wrong answer for a Catholic: “Yes, that’s great.” [It isn’t] “Yes, I am so happy for you.” [Who can be happy about formalizing gravely immoral sexual unions?]

    Better answers: “Sounds like that made you very happy.” [There is no approval noted in this response] -or- “What did your family and friends think” [diverting attention away from the disapproval with a question]. -or- maybe best — That’s interesting. But I usually keep my personal life out of the workplace. I think that’s generally best, don’t you? [Hints subtly at disapproval and strongly hints that you are not interested in the sordid details of the relationship, which, if you are lucky, will shut down any more conversation on that unpleasant topic]

    Not easy, but it is possible to be gracious in these times gone quite mad.

  9. iamlucky13 says:

    “St. Thomas More would be a good patron to invoke for assistance in walking that tightrope between upholding truth and morality”

    I hope we don’t end up having to imitate him too closely. He walked the tightrope adeptly for a while, but his political obedience did not satisfy the bloodlust of those who demanded his religious obedience, as well.

    The bloodlust already extends to a willingness to destroy people’s careers. The cake bakers and photographers are just the tip of the iceberg. Accountants and lawyers will probably be added to the list of people who can be punished for insufficient recognition of gay marriages. CEO’s are already there – the head of non-profit web browser developer Mozilla, despite the fact that even gay employees of Mozilla praised the benefits he provided and work environment he fostered, was forced to resign after coworkers determined to ruin him publicized and politicized his private support of California’s proposition 8. His right to freedom of speech and religion, protected both in the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act was treated as subordinate to a “right” recognized in neither.

  10. richly says:

    It’s a mad world indeed, but Fr. is correct. We must remain civil and polite in our public discourse with individual people even if we know what we’re seeing is objectively wrong.

    However, if two of my male or female co-workers all of sudden announced “marriage,” I’d have profound trouble to stifle this kind of smile:

  11. Monica says:

    Sorry, I meant to add this addendum. Most of the time, it’s comments like this that require the unsmiling and set face: ‘my son is moving in with his girlfriend this weekend’ or ‘I told my daughter she’d better get on the Pill. Two children are all they can afford.’ This is more usual in most peoples’ worlds than the same-sex marriage announcement.
    If circumstances allow, I say “I’m so sorry.” Be prepared for a spittle-flecked nutty then, in my experience. But I’ve done that and followed up with the reasons why I’m sorry to hear such news and, yes, lost the esteem of some friends and neighbors.
    It’s going to get harder.
    It’s going to cost all of us.

  12. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    On greeting the newlyweds I would smile and say, “Be thankful you don’t live in the Islamic Caliphate! Yet.”

    That reminds me of another line:

    “If the muslims take over, all I’ll have to do is grow out my beard, and get a few more wives, it’ll be the gays and the feminists who will be in trouble.”

  13. Scott W. says:

    It’s going to be hard to dodge people who are deliberately “over-sharing” to test you.

    “I’m not comfortable discussing this subject.” is a response that would be truthful in most cases. Granted, it probably won’t mollify anyone, but if someone continues to press, then it is clear that they want to squeeze you in which case you are dealing with someone malicious and are then free to act accordingly.

  14. avecrux says:

    I think things are getting worse – but I’ve certainly been in pretty uncomfortable situations before… It is amazing how many women will talk about tubal ligations at Catholic school basketball games. It just seems to be one of the topics of choice while scooping out popcorn for the kids.

  15. MrsMacD says:

    Richly, I laughed so hard I cried! That picture is truly priceless.

    You could always try the old, “You what? You got married to her (him)!? That’s sad. Your life is over. You’re in shakles now. What a sad state of afairs! How will you survive?! You should get out while you still can! After all there’s divorce!”

    Father, does this mean that if a man has previously contracted a legal union with a man outside the church and he changes and wishes to marry a lady within the church, that he has to wait for divorce papers to go through? Oh, what a tangled web we weave…


    My hysband walked into a bathroom at a department store with my four year old a couple weeks ago and was surprised to see a woman putting on lipstick…,” Yeah man, you got the right room.” He fled the store. Who wants to explain that to their four year old?

  16. Spade says:

    I say nothing and don’t acknowledge it. Won’t call somebody a “spouse” or the like.

    It’s well known at work I’m catholic. If people have a problem with that it’s EEOC lawsuit time.

  17. Supertradmum says:

    In A Man for All Seasons, there is a great scene wherein More tells his daughter, Meg, that if he can avoid taking the oath, and avoid suffering, he would.

    We do not have to go out looking for trouble. It comes to us. However, we do not have to call people spouses, nor should we attend ceremonies celebrating such “unions”.

    Mrs. MacD,

    Four year olds understand more than you think. I stopped taking my son into public bathrooms even in the 1990s in England and later in Canada. One should be prepared and no longer surprised.

    Be assured that God will not let this decadence continue for long and we need to be training our children to be saints, and martyrs. As a good priest in England said when the civil marriage same sex union law was passed, “Your children and grandchildren’s lives will never be the same.”

    Reading the Old Testament to your children or if they can read at four, as some do, is a good start.

  18. mysticalrose says:

    “Some corporations, under the influence of the very heavy-handed gay agenda, are pushing a policy of “tolerance” that forces acceptance of every sort of deviant lifestyle and intolerance of traditional mores.”

    You mean like (allegedly) Catholic universities? I wish I were kidding. *sigh*

  19. Gail F says:

    Years ago, before I was a practicing Catholic and before “gay marriage” was legal anywhere, I was president of a club. A woman who had been in it for some time and another woman “got married” (it wasn’t a legal ceremony, but the church they attended did them) and the long-time member came to a meeting with her wedding album and wanted to show me the photos. It was a social club and I was the president, so of course I looked at the photos. She wore a wedding gown, the other woman wore a tux. I said what good photos they were and asked about their families (“Is that your mom? She looks so much like you!”) and what kind of cake they had, etc. I really didn’t have any well-thought-out religious beliefs at the time but I thought it was very sad. What good would it have done for me, at the time, to have said so? None that I could think of. It wasn’t my place, I had no religious convictions, and we were not friends. All kinds of things were going on with her that I didn’t and still mostly do not know about (family and mental issues, etc), but that relationship didn’t last she has had a boyfriend for many years now.

  20. Matt Robare says:

    Pray for them.

  21. St. Thomas More . . . he has seen me through on more than one occasion in the workplace standing up for Catholic principle.

  22. Christophe says:

    My struggle is, at what point does politeness become cowardice or, at least, the desire for human respect?

  23. Ellen says:

    I know several people in gay relationships and mostly the subject does not come up. I may ask how is (insert name here) but that’s about it. My sister’s former brother in law identifies as a woman and has for years. He is a kind man and put his life on hold to care for his ailing mother for 2 years. He has a problem with alcohol. I can only pray for him and hope that he finds peace. Meanwhile, I am polite. Not gushing, but polite always. And I pray.

  24. ejcmartin says:

    It’s funny how the only people under 40 who want to get married are homosexuals. All the heteros just shack up and live together.

  25. Cafea Fruor says:

    I suppose it’s not really so different than how we respond when two fallen-away Catholics get married outside the Church via a JP and insist they are “married”, as do my sister and the man to whom she’s legally married. In the eyes of God, they are not married, but in the eyes of the government, they are. The only difference is that my sister and this guy could be married, had they fulfilled the other requisites, whereas Billy Bob and Jim Bob could not.

    I still have not figured out the proper language to use in my sister’s case. They aren’t married, but what how do I speak of them? It makes me cringe to think of calling the guy her “husband”, but what other term can I use that’s not impolite?

    In their case, since my sister is family and not a stranger or coworker, I made my stance very clear by not attending the ceremony (much to the chagrin of my family) and by explaining explicitly why I could not in good conscience attend the ceremony when it was in contradiction to Church teaching. And I did not send a gift. I told her, “How can I celebrate when there is nothing to celebrate?” But after the fact, I still have to deal with figuring out how to handle things like, “Do I get them a joint Christmas gift?”, etc.

    And I just ticked off my other sister when I told her, after I found out that her boyfriend has moved in with her, that I don’t approve. *SMH*

    In the case of Billy Bob and Jim Bob, I just dunno… I guess I’m grateful that I work for the Church and that all of my family members and friends are straight, but I am sure this will end up affecting me directly some day. There’s already an indirect effect — for instance, one of my good friends recently attended the “wedding” of her brother-in-law, who was “marrying” his long-time boyfriend in DC when SSM was legalized. I did express my concern that she was actually going, and I tried to be kind, but it took every ounce of my strength not so say, “Are you out of your MIND? How can you call yourself Catholic and actually attend this nonsense?”

  26. kimberley jean says:

    A few years ago at an office party one of my bosses introduced me to her “wife”. I said “good afternoon.” and moved on. I don’t know if I was being tested or not but she did make it a point to let me know that she’s an Episcopalian now and has left the Church. You have to be very clever with these people. Say nothing unless you are pressed into a corner and have to deny Christ or His Church.

  27. Thorfinn says:

    “It’s well known at work I’m catholic. If people have a problem with that it’s EEOC lawsuit time.”

    I think this is good practical advice. The workplace is for work, not discussion of religion & politics — but that does not mean we hide our faith. (Hide it under a bushel? No!) If the subject comes up as a controversy, reference the teachings of the Catholic Church and say as a Catholic that’s what you subscribe to. Tolerance does work both ways; and if it doesn’t, you (may) have grounds for a lawsuit. If you hide your faith and get ‘outed’ as a supporter of traditional marriage — well, there’s no employment protection for strictly political opinions.

    In the case of the pushy coworker seeking approval for their moral choices — people in the workforce have been dealing with this for decades! It’s nothing new. Just be tactful. Loving people means wanting everyone to be happy, the true joy that comes from union with Christ. So there is plenty of room for kind words on scandalous occasions.

    “I’m finally getting a divorce from that stupid *****.” “I have to say I’m sorry to hear that — a happy marriage is so wonderful and I wish you could have that; and divorce can be really rough on everyone involved. How’re you holding up?”
    “You coming to support our coworker that the charity drag contest?” “I always like to hear about charity events, but that doesn’t sound like the kind of entertainment that appeals to me. Let me know if there are other events coming up, okay?”
    “I gay married my partner last weekend — isn’t that great?” “I wish you the best of happiness.”
    “Four kids now, huh? About past time for the snip snip, isn’t it?” “Well, I couldn’t imagine life without my youngest. You need to see these pictures — she is so cute! And besides, I’m Catholic, so I don’t believe in sterilization.”
    “Man, my girlfriend had a scare last week, but I got her the pill, and hopefully that took care of it.” “I never like to hear about that kind of heartache. You know [smile], you wouldn’t have that worry if you were married!”
    “We’ve been trying for a year and now we’re doing IVF — fingers crossed!” “I know you will be a great mother; I’ll remember you & Brad in my prayers!” “Thank you — I’m so nervous, and IVF is expensive!” “Hey, don’t worry — you know the McKendricks, right? They just adopted a little boy and they are so happy now — so there’s always that route. We’ve thought about doing it, too. They still give you maternity leave!”

    So there’s a certain amount of moral encouragement that is both appropriate, culturally acceptable, and may, may even find fertile ground — single people are used to recommendations to marry, most people acknowledge that divorce sucks, etc.

  28. Giuseppe says:

    I always go with “Wow” for pictures, complimenting something about the clothes or lighting, and sometimes a simple “Wow” for news followed by “How’s it going?”
    When someone overshares something they think is negative: “How are you (or they) holding up?”
    When someone overshares something they think is positive: “I bet you’re thrilled.”

  29. iamlucky13 says:

    “It’s well known at work I’m catholic. If people have a problem with that it’s EEOC lawsuit time.”

    It’s a nice thought, but it’s already proven to fail. I don’t have links on hand, but I’ve read about a couple cases that are loosely related. The response to the suit is always that they weren’t fired for their religious convictions or for their free speech, but for their inability to work cooperatively with coworkers, and for causing disruptions to the work environment.

  30. HeatherPA says:

    Pray for courage.
    I would also, in addition to St. Thomas More, also ask St. Peter’s intercession for courage and steadfast faith and the right words to say. He put his foot in it a time or two and is a great intercessor for us now.

  31. Uncledan says:

    How do you respond when your Pope and his bishops are putting homosexuals to the front row for VIP treatment in the Vatican itself?

  32. Uncledan says:

    OK people, things are way out of control. Our pope has gone nuts, the church is feting sodomites, Muslims are making inroads everywhere, we’re under attack from all sides.
    Time to bring out the most powerful weapon we have: an online rosary rally.
    I need FIVE of you for starters. The rally is Thursday (tomorrow) any time you can pray during the day. Try to say as much of the rosary as you can. Just pray, don’t ask for anything special. The Blessed Mother knows what to do. If you want, add a mass, confession, fasting, bible reading, or anything you can think of.
    Who’s on board? I’ll start. I need four more people.

  33. Mike says:

    I’m in, Uncledan.

  34. Akita says:

    I’m in uncledan.

  35. msc says:

    I guess Thomas More might be a good model, so long as one takes him on a good day, not when he was cooperating in the burning of heretics. That would surely lead to all sorts of trouble with the politically correct.

  36. Midwest St. Michael says:

    I’m in, Uncledan.

    I’ll be praying at a PP mill this afternoon (where it will be a whopping 8 degrees).


  37. Uncledan says:

    Thanks for joining me today, folks!

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