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Gay Son Wants Gay “Marriage”: How to Respond?

December 28, 2015 by  
Filed under Challenges, Church Teaching, Fr. Bartunek

Gay Son Wants Gay “Marriage”
How to Respond?

Dear Father John, Sorry to keep bothering you but in light of the new ruling allowing gay “marriage” throughout our nation I was wondering, how are we as faithful Catholics to respond to this? How should we feel? My oldest son is gay and he’s very passionate about this new law and I don’t know how to respond to him. I don’t want to turn him off to God but on the other hand I don’t want to disregard defending my faith. So far I’ve remained silent. What do you suggest?

This is a hard issue for many people. Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy answer. I will share some ideas, hoping and praying that they will give you some light, or at least some food for thought.

A New Culture Still Emerging

The Supreme Court’s ruling about gay “marriage” is really only the logical next step in a cultural shift that has been happening for a long time. I don’t think we should be surprised by it. Our culture has been gradually secularized over the past two hundred years. Religion has been sidelined more and more as a merely personal pastime, not an essential ingredient for the just society. And with religion sidelined, we no longer have a shared moral compass. As a culture, our vision of what human nature is, and therefore what is objectively good for the full flourishing of human nature, is no longer Christian. Rather, it has shifted to a kind of neo-paganism. In many forms of old (i.e., pre-Christian) paganism infanticide, homosexual sex, and other behaviors incompatible with true human dignity were mistakenly accepted as normal and healthy. It’s logical that they have gradually been making a comeback as the Christian worldview has been drained from our common social presuppositions. From a socio-political standpoint, I imagine things will continue to get worse before they get better.

Fighting the Good Fight

Duerer-Prayer5That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to work, charitably but passionately, to recover a legal and social enshrinement of the basic tenets of natural law. We should. In fact, I think many Christians and Christian groups are working harder now than ever before to re-evangelize our public institutions. This is an essential ingredient in the work of the New Evangelization. Each of us should discern prayerfully how God wants us to be involved in this process.

Loving the Sinner without Condoning the Sin

On a person-to-person level, I think it’s important for us to just meet people where they are. I can truly love, develop friendships with, and work fruitfully together with a Hindu man, even though our religious and moral beliefs, our worldviews, are starkly different. If he has trouble accepting me because I am a Christian and hold firmly to my beliefs, I can’t necessarily do anything about that. I can only control my own behavior, which still needs to follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

I can serve and love and affirm that person, without ever condoning his erroneous religious or moral beliefs. I can interact with him, seek to understand him, and even seek to help him understand my point of view (if he is willing and open). But I can’t allow myself to become anxious and disturbed if I am unable, through loving him, to elicit an interest in my faith. Nor can I compromise my own convictions in order to win his approval and affection. If both of us are mature, we can accept each other and maintain a healthy and perhaps even mutually edifying relationship. But there are limits and obstacles to full communion between us.

Accepting Our Limits

Likewise with those, even family members, who have chosen to accept the prevailing view about homosexual sex, gay “marriage,” and same-sex attraction. It is their choice to go with what society is telling them, even though so much information is now available that supports the traditional Christian view on this issue even from the medical and psychological points of view, not to mention the theological point of view. (See, for example, this article on Theology of the Body and these FAQs [Frequently Asked Questions] from the excellent ministry to people who experience same sex attraction called Courage, along with this video If they are open to dialogue, we need to be ready to explain what we believe and why, but many times they are not open to dialogue, and so we simply have to keep loving them where they are, truly loving them, without condoning their erroneous or even sinful choices. We can’t control how they will react to that. All we can control is how we behave towards them.

I hope this helps a little bit. But I know that you will probably face many specific situations that seem like impossible conundrums. Allow this challenge to bring you more frequently to your knees, so that through prayer and contemplation the Lord himself can transform your heart, giving you the capacity to love powerfully and wisely, more and more as he loves. Thank you for your question, and God bless you!

Yours in Him, Fr. John Bartunek, LC


Art: West face of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., UpstateNYer, CCA-SA; Praying Hands study for an Apostle figure of the “Heller” altar (Betende Hände), Albrecht Dürer, ca 1508, PD-US; both Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at

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  • Stop the war on Christianity!

    excellent article Father…

  • Michelle

    Also, in Father Jonathan’s book The Way of Serenity…, he shares a situation in his own family about this that may be helpful.

  • Ann Smith

    Thank you Father. Now that the initial shock of June 26 is behind us, I think that we can see where we need to go on this issue. I just get a little rankled when folks start condemning our religion. What gives them the right? Is that not bigotry? Gays think we hate them when all we want to do is live a life where we use our God given “parts” for the purposes intended. Why do we not get the freedom to adhere to our beliefs in peace? It’s not all about them when you consider that the wholesome life excludes even hetero sodomy, masturbation, etc. This is who we are as a people. I wish they would stop criticizing us.

  • LizEst

    Father does answer the question. Please kindly re-read the post.

  • Diane

    Thank you Father John. Once again you have blessed my life with your God given wisdom. While my son is still gay and still feels strongly about gay marriage, my prayers are starting to to spring forth fruit. He’s in college now and taking courses that have him wondering about Christianity and other religions. He’s been asking me a lot of questions and I was even given an oppertunity to tell him about a blessing I recieved from God while traveling through Loudes France. He seemed very intrigued. I have remained silent about how I feel about gay marriage out of respect for him and instead take up my concerns to God in prayer. Just like you suggested. Living out my faith has more of a lasting impression on my son at this time so debating someone I would lay down my life for, is not optional. It would get me no where and even worse, he would not trust me. It’s a very different case when your dealing with your own child. I believe that with God all things are possible. I have no reason to question that. I believe with all my heart that Jesus will deliver my son and one day he will come to know him. This is my plan so far. I feel very good about it. May God bless you Fr. John abundantly for all your help and spiritual guidance. You are truly doing God’s work. I will pray for you always.

    In Christ, through Mary,

  • Sandra

    Over the years I have done the same in my husbands family and now it seems (as has been said) we were creating atmospheres by not attending. I feel sad for you and others who have had the courage to silently (with or without words) remain faithful.

    God bless

  • MaryofSharon

    Thank you for your insightful post, Fr. Bartunek. I’m glad to see your endorsement of Courage. Perhaps your inquirer would want to look into EnCourage, Courage’s sister organization that supports parents, relatives, and friends of persons with same-sex attraction. See Courage has also produced a beautiful film, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, that would surely be of value to this parent:

    • Judy Silhan

      Thank you so much for your suggestion of EnCourage, which I was not aware of. My grandson is involved in this lifestyle, and my children seem to condone it by giving him and his partner a room to stay in while visiting, even though they still have young impressionable children of their own in the house. For me, I was told to not say anything, or don’t come for the celebration or dinner.

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