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Right to Refuse: Interracial Couple & Same-Sex couple

A Xt3 Member asked at 4:04am on September 15th 2017
Hi again Father,

I have been talking to someone about the plebiscite on marriage and in our discussions, he brought up the refusals of service to same-sex weddings from religious businesses. I said these people weren't discriminating against people but activities and that conscientious objectors in other areas of service aren't forced to violate their beliefs.

In response he said to me, "So how would you respond to a business owner who refuses service to interracial marriages? He isn't discriminating based on race because he will happily serve a black and white person themselves, he just won't serve at an interracial wedding because he disagrees with that. Owner is also refusing to serve the 'event' of an interracial marriage."

How should I respond?

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Hi Miguel, I'd be inclined to ask just where and when this refusal to provide services (I'm presuming hotel reception, flower supply or baking a cake) for an interracial couple actually happened. Is it a recent event - if so, I'd be surprised we haven't heard about it in the media, which are rather find of publicizing these kind of situations. Even in the US, where there's been no legal prohibition of interracial marriages since 1967. That objection seems to me at least 40 years out of date, as there's no way such a refusal would be allowed in the US today. As far as I know, once Australian Aboriginals were granted citizenship in 1967, there could have been no legal prohibition of interracial marriage here either.

For a Christian, as St Paul puts it several times, we're all one in Christ Jesus (see Gal 3:28). But Paul also very clearly regards gay or lesbian activities (the Church is careful to distinguish between a gay or lesbian orientation and gay or lesbian sexual activities) as sinful (Rom 1:26-27). That's why there's a difference between an interracial marriage which doesn't go against Christian morality, and a gay marriage (presumably including sexual relations) which does.

That doesn't ever mean that I consider myself morally superior to anyone else. As I was saying in my homily last Sunday:

'A few years ago, in Ireland, I was on a radio programme with Quentin Fottrell, a gay journalist, and was asked what about the Church's teaching that homosexual activity is an objective moral disorder. I said that that was the clear teaching of the Church going back to the New Testament, and even to Jesus' only statement about sexual sin, that 'anyone looking at a woman lustfully commits adultery in their heart.' In other words, that any using of another human being for merely sexual enjoyment is committing a form of adultery.

But I went on to say that when the Church says something is objectively disordered, it's not making a pronouncement about the person's subjective state. For example, if someone is involved in a gay relationship but doesn't understand or realize that it's sinful from a Christian perspective, we can't make a judgment about that person's subjective moral state. So I said to that journalist, Quentin, that you may be nearer to God than I am - which wouldn't be hard - since I can't comment on your personal moral status with God. And it's a big mistake for me, as a sinner, to ever think I'm better than anyone else.'

Very best, Fr Brendan
Xt3's Ask a Priest answered at 11:52pm on September 27th 2017 reply
 

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