This post is a revision of comments made some years ago. I thought I would revisit the topic of the Church’s view of homosexuality and various responses it elicited. Rather than one inordinately long post, this is the second of a series.
A proper understanding of the postulate, “Only God can judge… but that verdict is not pending,” permits little room to escape revealed and objective morality. Homosexual attraction and “sense of self” is a serious DISORIENTATION. While in itself that may not bring down the full weight of culpability; practicing a homosexual lifestyle is explicitly condemned in the Bible. It is not an accidental or trivial matter that can change with the times and morphing cultures. Indeed, the deontological prohibition is confirmed by a teleological appreciation of natural law. Homosexual acts are grievously sinful. While I cannot speak about individual souls or persons, certainly these are the types of acts that can cost one the gift of salvation. Neither I nor the Church defines who is or is not in hell. There is no reverse polarity to the canonization process, where sinners are cursed while saints are beatified. I am well aware that some minimize the worth of divine positive revelation. However, while the Church comes chronologically before the New Testament and a complete Christian Bible; having been ratified by the Church, every Christian stands under the scrutiny of God’s Word and is not the master of revelation and truth. I am amazed sometimes that people fault the Pope for things about which he has no authority to change. The Magisterium interprets and defines Christian doctrine; it does not assemble it brand new or offer something in radical contradiction to previously defined objective truth.
My emphasis here is not upon human subjectivity, but the absolute claims that come from God and his revelation. Subjectivity may mitigate fault because of weakness or ignorance; however, it does not make objective truth into something purely relative. As for the issue of conscience, such must be properly formed and instructed. There is no way for an educated Catholic not to appreciate or to know about the Church’s stance on homosexuality. I will admit that homosexuality is a malady of the mind, but it does not strip one of complete freedom, that is unless we are also talking about a person who suffers from serious mental retardation. Children and those with gross mental defects are blameless and innocent because they do not have a sufficient capacity for reason. Given the context of the average homosexual, I fail to see how absolutely all guilt might be escaped.
It may be a mistake here (regarding dissenters and political proponents) to paint the picture of a benevolent homosexual, misled but well-meaning. Yes, there are a few who quietly struggle while respecting traditional values. I have known reverent souls among them who regularly frequent the sacrament of Confession. However, note the Hallmark card. The post is about something entirely different… the push for gay marriages and the social acceptance of homosexuality as normative. Homosexuality has become increasingly militant with vulgar public acts. Unless one is discussing the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, there is little else comparable in the Scriptures. God’s judgment was terrible upon them. We may be invoking God’s justice upon us, too. Little ones are being led astray, not simply because there is an absence of good catechesis but because secular modernity preaches its message more effectively than we do.
The subjective element is left to the divine judgment of individual souls. However, we can say that regarding artificial contraception, abortion and homosexual acts— that they constitute at all times and circumstances, the grievous “matter” of mortal sin. They are those types of acts which can forfeit our relationship with God and blacken the soul. While God is certainly generous with his mercy, we should not commit the sin of PRESUMPTION in supposing that people cannot in general commit such mortal sins. Salvation is purely a gift, not something that we deserve or can merit apart from Christ.
Here is the teaching of the Catholic Church, in her own words (the universal catechism):
[CCC 2357] Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
[CCC 2358] The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
[CCC 2359] Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
What a cross!
Isn’t it remotely possible for a person to be attracted to members of the same sex and still be chaste? It certainly is. If love is in the will; then a person (gay or not) can choose to love God by not participating in sinful behavior.
Not every homosexual is a practicing homosexual.
If I were gay, and thank God I’m not, I would be scared to death of engaging in such a sinful act with anyone. The injustice already has the penalty built in, as you say.
I have read the dialogues (in this and the previous post). As you all know, the homosexual and lesbian lifestyles are being incorporated into the curricula of grade schools, high schools and colleges.
Are we not responsible, and therefore accountable, for protecting our children from such distortions in thinking? Are not those non-practicing homosexuals and lesbians similarly responsible to promote purity in our children, regardless of their own inclinations?
Respecting our gay brothers and sisters is not an issue for me. What I don’t and will not respect is the insinuation made by many gays that their lifestyle is “natural” and therefore acceptable.
I interpret the defense of “only God can judge,” as a means to deflect responsibility, just as politicians avoid responsibility for supporting abortion by insinuating the issue is above their pay grade.
Is the heart of the matter not the avoidance of accountability?
We make moral judgments all the time. The expression, “Only God can judge,” probably relies upon a type of atheism (which is at the heart of moral relativism) or the hope that God is so distant that he does not really care what people do. What such critics are really saying is, “No one can judge me, not you and not God.” We have the natural law and divine positive law; do they expect God to come out from behind a cloud and give them an update on their status? No, they do not, and so saying that “only God” can judge them is an attempt to avoid a “negative” judgment all together. They refuse to accept any judgment other than a lenient and positive one.
We were all better off when they were “in the closet.” They have no shame today.
Thanks, Father. I’m growing tired of God’s name being thrown about with such flagrant disregard, not to mention being tired of having to defend my own belief.
Living the Catholic faith is no walk through the park (as I’m sure you’re aware). I fail miserably and often, but I march on, Father, doing the best I can. I’ve behaved wrongly and plenty of times— but I recognize wrong and try never, ever, to rationalize my behavior in order to pacify my conscience.
I’m simply losing my tolerance for others who commit wrong and do just that.
Lara, the joy comes from knowing that you do “good” and that your life can make a positive difference in this crazy mixed up world. What they do is on them.
True Michael, but we, and our children, have to live with their foolishness.