The Vatican and same-sex marriage

In the wake of the approval on election day of three referenda in the US approving same-sex marriage and the defeat of one measure that would have banned it, and with Spain upholding its same-sex marriage law and France and the UK poised to introduce legislation to do the same, the pope has dug in his Prada heels and vowed to never stop insisting that marriage is only between a man and a woman, with a Vatican spokesman arguing, “If not, then why not contemplate freely chosen polygamy, and naturally so as to not discriminate, polyandry?”

I liked that touch of including polyandry to to avoid discriminating against women. The Vatican, notorious for its relegation of women to lower status, discovers gender equality only when it needs it as a weapon against homosexuality. If they had included bestiality as another potential consequence of allowing same-sex marriage, then they would have gone the full Santorum.

This defiant attitude does not surprise me. If the Catholic church can lay claim to one quality it is its doggedness determination in holding on to beliefs long after the rest of the world has accepted them. It apologized only in 1992 for its treatment of Galileo in 1616 for supporting a heliocentric universe (a wait of 376 years) and it accepted the theory of evolution (with limitations) only in 1996, a lapse of 137 years after Charles Darwin’s publication of On the Origin of Species.

So we can expect the Catholic church to accept same-sex marriage somewhere around the year 2150, by which time it may well be just a small sect.


  1. dano says

    Excellent. I am looking forward to finding a second wife but only 15-20 years younger. Wait until I get home & tell my 1st wife she may have some help coming once this is voted on in the upcoming elections. Finally equal rights for all!

  2. jamessweet says

    I read the nod to polyandry as actual being symptomatic of the Vatican’s deep disrespect for women. When most people use the word in this context (i.e. in the context of marriage freedoms), they mean to include both polygyny and polyandry. Whereas American conservatives love to say, “If we allow same-sex marriage, next we have to allow polygamy, and after that bestiality”, the Vatican’s equivalent is “…and after that polyandry!”

  3. smrnda says

    I notice that they did not use the term ‘polyamory’- after all, it’s a gender neutral term to mean some sort of intimate relationship between more than 2 parties that is somewhat egalitarian. I’m guessing it’s that notion of ‘equality and consenting adults’ that they don’t get.

  4. Forbidden Snowflake says

    “Tell her”? Don’t you mean “ask her”? You don’t plan to same-sex-marry your first wife to this new one without her consent, do you?

  5. jaxkayaker says

    I’m looking forward to my polygamous bestiality-based marriage. I want to be able to marry as many animals of either sex as possible. Mammals only, though. Mating with non-mammalian animals is disgusting and therefore wrong.

  6. baal says

    Polyamory is the preferred term for the pro-multiple long term partners crowd who are not swingers (who seem to be a distinct group who emphasize sex but not relationships). Polygamy as a term seems a bit muddled with historic patriarchal models (ex. mormanism with multiple sister wives or mideast harems) of multiple partner relationships.

  7. baal says

    My only question for you is whether or not dolphins count as mammals or fish for marrying purposes.

  8. Didaktylos says

    I think it should be pointed out that the only form of organised polyandry that has ever been attested to exist is a patriarchal construct: brothers share a wife

  9. Mano Singham says

    This reminds of the greatest headline ever, on a news report about a woman who went through a marriage ceremony with a dolphin. It was The Porpoise-Driven Wife.

  10. Forbidden Snowflake says

    But polyamory does not require marriage, and so is already legal. It’s not a suitable substitute here.

  11. Corvus illustris says

    “If they had included bestiality as another potential consequence of allowing same-sex marriage, then they would have gone the full Santorum.”

    This actually represents liberalization on the Vatican’s part: their default mode is what we think of as full Santorum.

  12. stonyground says

    Am I to assume that the Vatican can point to a Biblical basis for their position that polygamy is wrong? Presumably out of all the poygamous heroes in the Bible, they can find one or two that were both monogamous and refrained from sex with slave girls.

  13. mnb0 says

    “it accepted the theory of evolution only in 1996”
    Actually this was only a confirmation of the ecyclical Humani generis from 1950.

  14. Nomen Nescio says

    having waited until 1950 to accept evolutionary biology, only to have to confirm that they really meant it as late as 1996, doesn’t really improve matters for the catholic church.

  15. Corvus illustris says

    This is anecdotal, of course, but I took h.s. biology at a Catholic school in 1951 and the (extremely competent, BTW) Dominican sister teaching the course had no problems with evolution. She did not seem to have done a 180° because of a recent encyclical. Of course the soul™ and the creation of Eve had to get special treatment.

  16. Corvus illlustris says

    Once again, the One True Church™ will not argue on a sola scriptura basis but will use a little bit of the Gospels, some St. Paul, some Apostolic Tradition and the Doctors of the Church to argue that while polygamy was permitted to the OT patriarchs by special dispensation from On High, it is in general contrary to natural law and some scriptural exhortations. Monogamy is therefore imposed on Christians. See Summa Theologiae, Suppl. q.65 aa.1-2 for one version of the details.

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