Student Life

Catholic, Episcopal priests debate gay marriage

Two pastors debated the merits of gay marriage Friday.

The debate, held in the Moore Hall Kiva between the Rev. Denis Heames of St. Mary’s University Parish Catholic church, 1405 S. Washington St., and the Rev. Wayne Nicholson of St. John’s Episcopal Church, 206 W. Maple St., emphasized the diverse opinions held on the subject in the Mount Pleasant community and also within a Christian context.

Heames, who represented the Catholic Church in the debate, said the church’s position, as well as his, is that gay marriage should not be accepted by society because he believes it redefines marriage in a way unaligned with God’s teachings.

He discussed his stay in California during his early adulthood, where he met and knew homosexual people and couples.

“The gospel is not something we slap on top of life; it stems from a place inside life, within life,” Heames said. “… When I looked at the homosexual community, at their commitment and their love, that was different from the commitment between my father and mother.”

Heames said gay marriage has a negative effect on children.

“To redefine the nature of marriage is to break down this bond of a child who has an absolute right to know his biological father and mother,” Heames said. “It is an absolute right.”

Nicholson, who identifies as part of the LBGTQ community, said he and the Episcopal Church support gay marriage, but the church’s and his opinion alone were not strong enough grounds to dictate the laws of the country.

“We live in a society where the church is separated from the state,” Nicholson said. “I don’t believe my faith should determine what laws you live under.”

Nicholson said gay marriage proponents are often accused of redefining marriage, and on those grounds, he said the opposition is right.

“People say we are redefining marriage; well, yes, we are,” Nicholson said. “We are redefining marriage to be based on love and fidelity.”

Nicholson said, in his opinion, the Bible is not the infallible word of God, only that it is inspired by God. He said if people were to treat the Bible as infallible, they should follow the commandments fully.

“If you want to follow that particular commandment, it dictates that if I lie with another man, you have to stone me,” Nicholson said. “Well, bring it on; you’ll have to stone me.”

The event, part of Hyde Park Day, was sponsored by the Central Michigan University student organization Communication Association. The day commemorates Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park in London.

In the mid-19th century, Speakers’ Corner began as a venue of protest for the working class against business owners and royalty and evolved into a place of free speech for people. Hyde Park Day emulates this and presents speakers and presentations on controversial subjects.

Communication Association President Meagan Mooney said the debate was a perfect representation of the spirit for Hyde Park Day.

“People are allowed to have free speech, get up on their soap box and talk issues,” the Waterford alum said. “Marriage equality has been an ongoing issue in our local community. An equality rights bill was just passed last year, and there’s still debate. Hyde Park Day allows others to see issues like this from different viewpoints.”

Kristina McCoy, a Flint sophomore, said she thought the debate was needed but was a little disappointed with the content.

“Both of them danced around questions, and I would have rather they’d talk more about their personal beliefs than their churches’,” McCoy said. “But, it was good. It was a needed discussion.”


  1. Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui says:

    Same-sex marriage is antithetical to the Rule of Law, for the principle object of laws in general is to correct bad inclinations, to prevent vicious habits, to hinder their effects, and to eradicate the passions; or at least to contain them within proper limits. Same-sex marriage makes an implicit statement that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, and that sex is irrelevant to parenting. Once same-sex marriage becomes legally and socially acceptable, more women will decide to raise children together. Teen aged boys without fathers are at risk for juvenile delinquency, violence, criminal activity, gang membership, and incarceration. Teen aged girls without fathers are at risk for early sexual activity, multiple sex partners, out of wedlock pregnancies, and sexually transmitted disease.

    After what has been said, let us be satisfied with observing, that the fitness in favor of the sanction of traditional marriage, is so much stronger and more pressing, as same-sex marriage throws into the system of humanity an obscurity and confusion, which borders on very much upon the absurd, if it does not come quite close up to it. There is, certainly, no comparison between traditional marriage and same-sex marriage, in respect to beauty and fitness; the first is a work of the most perfect reason; the second is defective, and provides no manner of remedy against a great many disorders. Now even this alone points out sufficiently on which side the truth lies and to reject this thought leads us insensibly to a kind of pyrrhonism, which would also be a subversion of the Rule of Law and social order.

    Here are two truths regarding marriage: (1) A man creating a family with another man is not equal to creating a family with a woman, and (2) denying children parents of both genders at home is an objective evil. Kids need and yearn for both.

    Same-sex marriage proponents demand “Marriage Equality”, yet, in return, they offer less-than-equal protection of the child’s happiness than can be afforded through the presence of both biological parents.

    Same-sex marriage proponents profess that it is love which gives the right to join the institution of marriage, yet, in doing so, they selfishly violate the principle loving objective of this noble institution; to protect a child’s Natural Right to be raised by both biological parents.

    In fine, same-sex marriage surmounts to nothing more than an unnatural extravagance which the supporters most ignorantly claim to be a “right”.

  2. So single parents (widows and widowers) should have their children taken away because being raised without both biological parents is wrong and will harm them.

    Orphans should not be adopted because anyone who is not their biological parent is incapable of properly raising a child.

    Civil unions are not recognized by the church. Religious marriage is not recognized by the gov’t. That is why religious people get married twice, once at the court house (civil union) and then again at a religious ceremony. The religious ceremony of marriage isn’t enough on it’s own to be recognized by the gov’t. It requires paper work at a court house to be recognized and to receive any of the gov’t provided benefits of marriage.

    Non-religious people get married all the time without the blessing of the church. How can we denying anyone the right to a civil union based religious beliefs without also denying the non-believers?

  3. I would like to know if Rev. Nicholson believes that any passages in the bible that are offensive to the GLBT community be removed from the bible.

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