Washington DC is in the process of passing same sex marriage legislation. This legislation would prevent any organization that takes money from the city from discriminating against gay people who are married under the new law. Significantly, employers who take money from the city must provide benefits to married gay couples just as they would to straight married couples. The law DOES NOT require the Church to perform same-sex marriages.

Jane Belford, chancellor of the DC Archdiocese, wrote a letter to the DC city council asking that the church be “exempted” from these aspects of the legislation, based on the notion that its religious freedoms were being violated. The church certainly does have a right to make its views known on any issue and has the right to petition local/state/federal government like any other entity. This argument was rejected by the DC city council, on the grounds that giving specially designated groups the right to discriminate against people based on assertions of religious principle sets a dangerous precedent.

For many years, Catholic Charities has contracted with the city to provide services to the homeless, and it has collected 8.2 million dollars from the city over the last three years alone to help provide these services. Since their desire for a “special discrimination exemption” was rebuffed by the council, the DC Catholic archdiocese has settled on a strategy to force its will upon the city. They are now threatening to simply stop providing services to the sick, the poor and the homeless throughout the city unless their demands are met. Currently about 1/3 of homeless shelters in the nation’s capitol are run by Catholic charities and roughly 68,000 people are served by the Charities each year. If Catholic Charities do cease providing these services, this effectively means that these people will be turned away from the doors of soup kitchens and homeless shelters throughout the city.

I don’t recall Jesus having much to say about gay marriage, but I do remember he had quite a bit to say about caring for the sick and the poor:

“When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. [Luke 14:13 &14.]”

If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. [Matthew 19:21]

Jesus also had an opinion on the role of the church in determining public policy:

Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. [Matthew 22:21]

If the church decides to make the sick and the poor suffer and die because of a squabble over gay marriage and constitutional protection, this would run counter to every teaching ever ascribed to Jesus Christ. It is a decidedly evil, immoral decision, and persons who would make this decision no longer deserve to proclaim themselves adherents of Jesus or his teachings. They are now serving an entirely different purpose than any he ever advocated. They now more closely resemble the Pharisees and money-changers that Jesus railed against.

My question-How many sick and poor people would Jesus allow to suffer so that the Catholic church can make its political point about same sex marriage? Would he really use the most vulnerable in our society as pawns in a political chess match?

Given the same situation-What would Jesus do?