Jason Adkins started with a Biblical perspective on marriage and then moved into the civil aspect in a talk Sunday in Princeton that supported a proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between one man and one woman.
Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, aimed his nearly 90-minute talk on getting listeners who agree with that message to help persuade other voters to support the amendment.
Adkins spoke before a crowd of close to 30 at the Christ Our Light Catholic Church in Princeton.
Adkins’ message comes at a time when Minnesota’s Catholic bishops have sent letters to the state’s approximately 400,000 Catholic households, asking for financial support for TV ads encouraging a “yes” vote on the marriage amendment.
Adkins started with the Biblical perspective on marriage, that it is a union between one man and one woman. Adkins talked about the scripture in the Bible book of Genesis stating, “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
Both the man and the woman in this kind of marriage are complementary to each other through each providing gifts unique to being man or woman, Adkins said. It is also the marriage that “brings forth life,” Adkins called the difference between the two sexes “very central to who we are.”
The civil aspect
Adkins then moved into the civil aspect of what he called “the institution of marriage.” He described that as a “beautiful,” and “universal human institution” in which a person does not have to be Catholic to be part of.
Adkins addressed why “the church is getting involved” in the promotion of defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Churches have a responsibility, he said, to promote laws that “serve human dignity and the common good.” Those laws have dealt with issues including unborn life, undocumented workers, employment struggles and more, he said. The church’s role, he said, is not to have sectarian or religious control over the state, but to serve as a conscience.
The “bedrock of the church,” Adkins said, “is to vote according to your conscience.” But it is everyone’s responsibility, he added, to form their conscience so it is “consistent with the gospel and the demands of justice.”
Adkins said the Catholic church teaches to love everyone, and that the push for defining marriage as between a man and a woman is not discriminating against gay couples. As far as legal rights to visit someone in a hospital or pass on an estate, those can be achieved through contracts and would not be prohibited if two people who are gay are committed to each other but not married.
Heart of the matter
Children are at the heart of Adkins’ line of reasoning for voting yes on the proposed marriage amendment. He brought that out early in his talk, by stating that marriage is a human institution to “bring about and nurture the next generation.”
Adkins focused on the message from Pope Benedict XVI on March 13 this year when bishops visited him. The pope called for the Catholic church to “resist the powerful political and cultural pressures seeking to alter the definition of marriage.” The church must have a “reasoned definition of marriage as a natural institution,” consisting of “specific communion of persons, essentially rooted in the complementarity of the sexes and oriented to procreation,” the pope continued. “Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage. Defending the institution of marriage as a social reality is ultimately a question of justice since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire community and the rights of parents and children alike.”
Adkins stated that the definition of marriage has been “greatly weakened in law and culture and that the proposed amendment just gives voters the final say over the marriage definition.”
Adkins talked about the difference between the sexes this way: The difference between the sexes goes “down to our toes” in many ways, including physically, psychologically, spiritually and emotionally, Adkins said, and added that the differences should be celebrated.
The cultural and legal reasons for supporting the institution of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, Adkins said, is that it produces the next generation and is in the “best position to nurture.”
“A mother can’t father and a father can’t mother,” and “all children have a right to be cared for by a mother and a father,” he continued. Adkins said social scientists have stated that “kids do best that way,” and Adkins called such a marriage an “anti-poverty mechanism.”
Adkins went on that the “pro marriage amendment is not anti anything, not anti gay,” but instead “affirms what marriage is and always has been.”
Adkins said he can understand why individuals of the same sex will have a “love for each other,” and talked about how he came to love a college roommate of four years as a brother, but that it doesn’t mean they should marry each other.
Further, this proposed marriage amendment is needed, Adkins said, “because marriage is on trial,” and “activist judges” are inserting things into law. The people pushing for a no vote on the amendment proposal “don’t want this roadblock to redefine marriage,” he said.
If government comes to treat gay marriage as the same as a marriage between a man and a woman, then those who would oppose same-sex marriage would become “discriminated against.” Adkins said.
Question and answer time
Among the questions Adkins took, was one about the Nov. 6 election ballot stating that if a person does not cast a vote either way on the marriage amendment proposal, that will be counted as a no vote. Adkins said he has no problem with that, but would have a problem if the ballot did not state that fact.
Bruno Gad spoke in opposition to the proposed marriage amendment. Speaking slowly, Gad noted that this coming spring he will be 73 and said he remembers a lot of changes in the Catholic church and society in his time. The Catholic church has changed its mind on some matters, Gad said, giving examples of the church’s stance on whether the planets orbit the sun and whether it is wrong to eat meat on Fridays.
Gad predicted that society, many years from now will look back on the Catholic church’s stance on marriage as antiquated, and said there are ways of having a child without a man and a woman being married together.
One good thing that has come out of the marriage debate, Gad said, is that the Catholic church has spoken of a need for a prayer for marriage.
Gad said his daughter-in-law has changed his views on “what it is that makes a couple a couple.” Gad said his daughter-in-law has a couple of gay male friends who Gad predicts will someday marry each other.
Gad, after the question and answer period was over, held an old worn baseball cap he wears with a button on it signifying he is a Catholic who will be voting no on the marriage amendment proposal.