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Scripture supports marriage equality

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As a retired Roman Catholic priest, I can see many religious reasons to support the civil marriage equality law ("Scare tactics on Question 6," Oct. 18). Both Scripture and Christian theology are supportive and persuasive.

In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus tells his followers to give back to Caesar (civil government) what belongs to Caesar. In the letters of Paul and Peter there are instructions to respect civil society. Don't mix the laws of the state with those of the church: Jesus' kingdom is not of this world.

St. Augustine, in his great work "City of God," reminds the Christian community that it is part of a political society where Christians must be open to the whole of humanity. Christians must learn to exercise their decision-making in civil society by promoting what is good for the human race overall. In civil society it's not about church institutions having control but about the way in which human beings live together.

I have always favored St. Thomas Aquinas over St. Augustine, especially in his opposition to legislating morality, which he summarized in the axiom "he who bloweth his nose too strongly maketh it bleed."

Vatican II's Declaration on Religious Liberty urged members to exercise freedom responsibly in their judgments about social actions. Conscience and a sense of duty to contemporary need, not coercion, should lead one to seek truth.

Supporting civil marriage is not to oppose religious institutions but rather to seek a place in civil society for all God's children. By law, the government must strive to protect stable human relationships. Civil marriage is one step in that direction.

Andrew Joseph O'Brien

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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