Brandon Vogt

Fr. Barron on “Gay Marriage” and the Breakdown of Moral Argument

Gay Marriage

With clarity and precision, Fr. Robert Barron comments on our loss of “the capacity even to have a coherent moral conversation,” specifically regarding marriage. He follows philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre who, in his book After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, noted how our culture no longer has the common background, vocabulary, and logical skills needed to discuss tough moral issues.

Two specific red herrings bother Fr. Barron: accusations of bigotry and affirmative poll results. “Gay marriage” supporters often cite both yet neither helps answer the fundamental question at hand: what is marriage? We can’t talk about equality or discrimination or poll questions until we first determine that answer.

I deal with these same two problems in my article on “The 10 Best Arguments for “Same-Sex Marriage”…and Why They’re Flawed”. Also, see my interview with Princeton law professor and marriage expert Robert George.



Why do you think we’ve lost the capacity to have moral conversations?


  • gigi4747

    Lots of good points in this video. Agreed that it’s a good thing that homosexuals don’t live in the closet any longer. No one should have to live a lie. Also, I know two people (one man and one woman) who were duped into marriage by closeted homosexuals. imo marrying someone under false pretenses is one of the most awful things someone can do to another person, and I’m glad if cultural changes have brought about a reduction in the incidence of such false marriages, as I would imagine they have. (I recognize of course it wasn’t society’s fault that some people duped others into marriage; the accountability was ultimately with the people who did it. They could have chosen simply to remain single.)
    What I find unfortunate about the conversation on marriage redefinition is that the focus has been placed so squarely on same sex marriage. I realize this has happened in part because of the scotus cases, but do we not oppose any and all redefinitions of marriage? I would never call, for example, a situation of one man-multiple wives “marriage” either. imo stating opposition to plural marriage tends to defuse the “bigot” accusation without actually responding to it, which is fruitless anyways.
    I think that if heterosexuals had shown more respect for marriage, eg, cohabitating less, divorcing less, over the past few decades, the marriage redefinition issue would not have gained nearly as much traction as it has. I agree with proponents of ssm that countless heterosexuals have failed to treat marriage as sacred. I don’t think ssm is the *beginning* of the destruction of marriage; it’s more like the result.

  • J.P Josephine Baba

    Rev..Fr. It is great pleasure to know that the church also took part in new media and involve in this interaction.

  • Christopher Huber

    So you claim your “gay”, does God love you, you ask? Of course he does. He always loves the sinner, but not the sin. Just like He would still love you if you were a bank robber, but yes, He would demand you return the money.The problem He finds, is that you try to “justify” your sin, instead of accepting a life of penance & good works. If you accept Satan yet claim God made you that way, you confound that sin with blasphemy. We were all made Earthen vessels, either the oil will be blessed or foul. You were made in His image. Yet too many try to change what shows in the mirror.
    I love each and everyone one of you but don’t make me deny you in front of the Lord. Comfort the lonely, feed the hungry, clothe the naked. Love the stranger on the road as if you found him beaten, & near death. Bind the five wounds on His body & pay the innkeeper to care for Him, so on the day you stand in judgement, He will give account how you bathed His body when came off the Cross. You did not abandon Him or deny Him. God will give you the keys & you will bind & loose in this world & the next.
    Otherwise I will deny you & watch crying as you are cast into nothingness. Please don’t make me choose. For I will always choose the Lamb, Testis Agnus. I will testify to His goodness & mercy.
    You confuse a choice of lifestyle with the mercy of God. No different if PT Catholic or Liberal Secularist.
    I will cry as you are cast aside, but I will still stand fast, my hands gripping the chains of the Abyss.
    So don’t confuse love of Christ’s mercy with bigotry of your chosen sin, God still loves you.

  • WRBaker

    Of course when a Prince of the Church crumbles under the weight of political correctness, it’s all so depressing that scandal continues to be given by clerics.
    Cardinal Schornborn capitulated when a pastor removed a gay member of a parish council not too long ago by reinstating him over the pastor’s decision.
    What more?

  • Love the sinner Hate the sin! Thats what we must always stand up for!

  • In times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act! Orsen welles

  • steve

    Father Barron makes my skin crawl, to come out of the closet is not AA! Nor is it a confession of sorrow or contrition, or an effort for credo, or help. It is a celebration of a depraved behavior that is calls gay pride, a cheering of an intrinsically disordered compulsion.

  • Joe DeCarlo

    For those who think that homosexuality is normal. These are institute which use therapy to cure this disorder- ” National Association for Research &Therapy for Homosexuality” “Courage” Institute for Marital Healing” “Imago Dei Institute” You will never see this in the mainstream press, because of their liberal agenda.

  • just a mom

    I think that the reason that we’ve lost the ability to have moral conversations is because we’ve lost the ability to recognize sin.

    • tedseeber

      Correct. Without sin, there can be no morality. Without morality, civility is utterly impossible.

  • Roger Schmorn

    Amos 8 : 11

  • There’s a line in one of the early seasons of “The West Wing,” made by the series’ token Republican at the time, where she says to the Dems, “I don’t think you dislike guns. I think you dislike people who like guns.”

    I think that distinction is a large part of the problem we face in talking about issues. In discussing, say, gay marriage, too often we dehumanize people who disagree with us.

    I see it a lot. Folks who begin arguments with “That’s the problem with you queers. You’re all alike…” are probably not going to convince me of their position any more than if I decide to use the words “hate,” “homophobia,” or “bigot.”

    I’ve never been convinced of a position by being insulted. We have to work from a) some point of common ground, and b) an assumption that we’re talking to folks who are basically decent and worthy of love.

    Otherwise, w’re just bickering to stroke our own egos.

    • Tim

      For every instance of a slur being used against gays, a million slurs are being used against the individuals who want to protect marriage as one man and one woman. Why is the first group immoral; but the second group seen as moral in our culture?

      Isn’t the following the direction of our culture? The sooner we move to open marriage up to everyone, the sooner we can take morality out of government. One half of a million people in the US live with multiple partners. What moral ground do we have to limit marriage to two people? Why shouldn’t a woman be able to be with two men? On what moral ground can someone give to limit marriage as permanent? Shouldn’t people who share their life in a non-permanent way still be allowed to receive the marriage benefits? What moral ground do we keep benefits away from people who live in permanent relationships, but are not intimate partners? Shouldn’t adult familial members living together be allowed the marriage benefits to support their children? If marriage is just an emotional relationship, then it really needs to be open to all these other circumstances.

      Isn’t it also true, to bring this about, they will make anyone who opposes them as evil immoral devils and anyone (NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY) who fight for these inequalities, ANGELS.

      • With all due respect, I’m not sure how you felt that ANY of these points were responsive to what I wrote.

        As to the first point, I had hoped to be clear that I was discussing how BOTH sides discuss these issues, not just one side. I don’t know who treats who worse – and I know of NO philosophy (and certainly not Christianity) that somehow excuses bad treatment of our neighbor so long as we maintain a better average than him.

        When we talk to someone, we’re NOT talking to a demographic. If I talk to someone who happens to be a Republican or a polygamist or whatever… I am not talking to some monolithic Republican-dom.

        If we talk to people as individuals and NOT as abstract representatives of some larger group, more positive things tend to happen.

        And if we can avoid, “I feel justified in treating you as less than human because I’ve randomly determined people from your demographic are disproportionately rude,” we might have a starting point.

        Finally, nowhere in my comment did I endorse the idea of gay marriage, so I’m not going to open that can of worms at the moment.

      • gigi4747

        I think (and hope!) that the “half a million” figure is a huge overestimate, but your questions are good ones and ones that should be raised whenever this issue comes up. As I wrote above, those of us who support traditional marriage need to remind people that we oppose all redefinitions of marriage. Our thoughts/beliefs on homosexuality are not really central to the issue of whether the culture should redefine marriage.

    • As always, thanks for the comment, Katy! I completely agree. Generalizations, and general condemnations, are usually the death of fruitful dialogue.

  • K.

    What a hateful, selfish, angry person you are for believing all of this and promoting that your way is the TRUTH and the ONLY WAY. I hope someday you can open your eyes.

    • Thanks for demonstrating the exact attitude we’re lamenting here.

      • K.


    • Ryan Mayer

      K, wouldn’t you be doing the same thing? Promoting your way as the only way, and then calling people who disagree names? Let’s agree that we do believe some different things with regard to this issue and also agree that each of us is, most likely, doing the best we can. Then let’s have reasoned and respectful dialogue…without name-calling. Peace.

      • K.

        I used adjectives. There is no name-calling in my statement.

  • You question is poignant and I think is very multi-faceted with a need for great reflection. I think the things Fr. Barron addresses are crucially important to how Christians approach conversation and dialog in respect to the issue of same sex marriage. I especially resonate with the sentimental argument that so many people make, alleging that if my brother is gay, and a good person, then he deserves to be married. This is where the Church is brilliant in encouraging all persons to have self control in all areas of life–sex, alcohol, food, money, etc.

    Also, related to this topic, my husband is in education and recently blogged about teaching children to have respectful and meaningful debate because it seems as though we have lost the capacity to have moral conversations. Check it out it you like.

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