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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Only God Can Judge Homosexuality #4 (Debate)

A Debate with Max on Homosexuality

MAX:

Some argue that in regard to the condemnation of homosexuality it would be difficult to find anything comparable in the Scriptures to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.  That is true— if you don’t know what the story references.

FATHER JOE:

Scripture has many levels and can be multivalent; nevertheless, how it is understood by the people who claim it does matter and more so than any proposed rediscovery or rethinking of the texts. You are simply bending over backwards to discount one of the two tiers against homosexuality, the witness of Sacred Scripture. The Catholic Church also employs a Christian anthropology that relies heavily upon the perennial philosophy of the Church and natural law.

MAX:

Historically, the story is presented as an indictment of homosexuality. Presumably, those knocking at the host’s door are male homosexuals bent on abusing the host’s male guests. The telling moment in this story, however, is when the host offers his daughters in place of his guests. These were “townspeople.” So, since the host knew them, he would have known that in this situation his daughters would not satisfy homosexual men— from the youngest to the oldest townsman— presumably from five years old to eighty.

FATHER JOE:

Lot offered his daughters because he was desperate and really did not know what to do. The men at the door are true “sodomites,” wanting to have their way with his mysterious visitors. Even the revised New American text has not garbled it: We read: “Before they went to bed, ALL the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old—ALL the people to the last man—closed in on the house. They called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us that we may HAVE INTIMACIES with them’” (Genesis 19:4-5).

MAX:

Most Catholic Scripture scholars today would see the story differently. Probably it is a story of ancient hospitality codes; the conduct rules between hosts and guests. When one travelled to a distant place he usually stayed with strangers. There were no Holiday Inns. This made for a risky situation for both host and guests. So host-guest rules (Xenia) were critical. In fact, Lot alludes to this in telling the townspeople: “these guests have taken shelter under my roof.” So he must protect them at all costs— including the lives of his daughters and his own. The nature of their assault on the guests symbolizes the degree of depravity in their lives. What was the nature of their depravity? Take your pick. Israelite tradition attributed it to wickedness of the city. The Yahwist (J Source) thought it was homosexuality; Isaiah thought it was a lack of social justice. Ezekiel saw it as a disregard for the poor and Jeremiah thought it was a general state of immorality.

FATHER JOE:

I do not know any orthodox Catholic Scriptural exegetes who would take the sin of homosexuality out of the mix. Your supposition about hospitality codes is just that and probably derived from the few footnotes on the bottom of your Bible. Every school boy who went to a Catholic college learned about the sources imbedded in Genesis. We also know that stories and references are sometimes told with a different emphasis. However, the whole Bible and not dissected parts is what we embrace as God’s inspired Word. The text is clear that these townsmen and boys wanted the visitors for homosexual rape. I would call that being pretty inhospitable! Sodom is destroyed because their perversion capped a vast malaise of immorality. “But among Jerusalem’s prophets I saw deeds still more shocking: Adultery, living in lies, siding with the wicked, so that no one turns from evil: To men they are all like Sodom, its citizens like Gomorrah” (Jeremiah 23:14). The comparison here is less with sodomy and more with the fact that like Sodom, no one is innocent or seemingly willing to repent before it is too late. People selfishly involved with their sinful lives care little for justice or for the poor. Likewise, Ezekiel compares God’s people to Sodom to awaken them from their moral stupor: judging his people as neglectful of the needy, he said, “Rather, they became haughty and committed abominable crimes in my presence; then, as you have seen, I removed them” (Ezekiel 16:50). In any case, this was a bit of an aside. I made reference to Sodom and Gomorrah to show that, even in the earliest days, the Bible condemned such sexual behavior as sin. I doubt that any day soon God will shoot lightning bolts down upon gay people. God would still be displeased, though.

MAX:

In contemporary times it has been fashionable to demonize homosexuality every chance we get in spite of the Church asking that we show kindness and sympathy. Maybe that’s why we like the homosexual interpretation so much.

FATHER JOE:

I neither like nor dislike it. It is simply the way things are and I have no authority to change it. Homosexuals should not be teased or bullied. We should not call them names. They are also God’s children. God calls them to celibate love and holiness. I embraced celibacy as a sacrifice of my priesthood. For the sake of my vocation to serve God’s Church, I freely gave up the right to have a wife and family. Unless some reversal in inclination is in the offering, the homosexual accepts celibacy from necessity. Homosexual actions are sinful. As for the homosexual orientation, it is unfortunate but invokes no fault. The life of purity brings no condemnation, but grace and holiness.

MAX:

For me it’s a question of catecheses. In the Old Testament we need to stop teaching old Babylonian myths and Assyrian folkloric stories and start teaching Hebrew history and how the Hebrew Bible was put together.

FATHER JOE:

Faith is not found in dissected parts of the Bible or in historical-critical analysis of Scriptures. You seem to admit some deficiency in various parts of the Bible, and yet, it is all God’s inspired revelation. The final interpretation of the texts remains with the Pope and the bishops in union with him, not with you and not with the so-called experts. Look to the kerygma of faith, and not to the semi-atheistic techniques that rob the Bible of mystery and ultimately of binding truth.

MAX:

The New Testament, particularly the Synoptics, are written in the genre of Greco-Roman biographies. If one is not familiar with the genre form, he’s not going to really appreciate the New Testament. The average pew Catholic, which is the majority, gets none of this from the pulpit. So as time goes on movements like the New Atheism is going to continue to eat our lunch as we will continue to look sillier and sillier. Catholicism is a defensible religion. So we need to start doing it.

FATHER JOE:

The New Testament gives us four Gospels each with its own particular theology but all about the life of Jesus Christ. If you deny that it gives us the real life of Christ then you fall under the censure of the Syllabus of Errors against the heresy of Modernism. We have Acts that gives us a window into the early Church. We have the Book of Revelation which reminds us about God’s providence and how all things will be consummated in Christ. We have various letters, which instruct and admonish the churches.

We will not survive the New Atheism by adopting its methods or by making Christian truths, dogmatic and moral, somehow relative. Sorry, I will stick to the faith that is survived the ages and is true, not with your new dissenter’s version.

Returning to the topic of this post, homosexual acts are immoral— PERIOD!

Discussion

TS:

“Only God Can Judge Homosexuality”— Assumption: The perfect Deity has a need to cast judgment.

FATHER JOE:

Actually, we have a need for judgment. We bring it upon ourselves. We were made for God. If our faith in words and witness testifies to him, he will give us himself. If we reject him, he will respect our freedom and draw us away from his presence. The joy of heaven and the pains of hell are first fashioned in this world and made final in the next.

MICHAEL:

I don’t understand why we complicate the simple things of life. God desires so much to bless us in abundance. Why are we so ignorant of this?

Instead of being receptive, we’ve chosen to be wayward in disobedience and unworthy of any blessings. God can’t bless us if we are self willed and live according to our flesh. This is an insult to God. I would choose to go without sex my entire life for that fact alone, IF I were a person with homosexual tendencies.
Our Lady told the Fatima children that souls fall into hell like snowflakes because of sins of the flesh. They’ll never know what they’ve missed out on. SEXUAL INTERCOURSE IS RESERVED FOR MARRIED PEOPLE OF OPPOSITE SEX ALONE. God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.

TASTI:

Father Joe, I am glad that you have gay friends and continue to have dialogue with them. That says a lot about you and your ministry. I will read your other posts. You have every right to your opinion as I do. On this issue we differ. I do not have argument with God. It is you I disagree with on this issue. I am sure we can go back and forth on just this point.

Even the clergy is at odds about their own interpretation of Scripture, each calling each other valid or invalid. Look how many churches exist today who broke away from the original Catholic Church because of one point of doctrine or another. Yes, we can go back and forth on this point also.

As passionate as we are about our different points of view on this topic, you have responded to the opposing questions thoughtfully with your points. If I ever have the opportunity to be in Maryland one day, I would love to drop by your parish and visit. You would be a very interesting person to talk to about faith matters.

MORSE:

“Returning to the topic of this post, homosexual acts are immoral— PERIOD!” Why? If it’s just because you think your god says so, then it’s as completely arbitrary as “wearing hats indoors is immoral.” If you have an actual reason as to any harm that homosexuality causes, by all means present it. I am, however, well read in many of the debunked “homosexuality leads to crime/depression/unsafe sex’ studies.” But, as I said, they are debunked. Anything new, however, would be lovely.

FATHER JOE:

My posts are religious ones. Two Scripture citations were made in the first, next I quoted the universal catechism, and here I record an extended debate. It is a debate within Christianity. Except for the matter of natural law, I had not originally intended to extend it to atheism. As a Catholic, I believe that God exists and that he and his laws are part of an objective order. Christians have as much right as anyone else to have their say and to have their votes counted in a free society. As for the various problems associated with homosexuality, I hardly want to discuss such a sordid business. Let it suffice to say that I know a doctor who has had to perform a great deal of rectal surgery because of the damage caused by anal intercourse. In any case, I think your comment here is mere mischief.

NIGEL:

Nigel cited my initial blog post with the two Scriptures passages that condemn homosexuality…

Pastor, I don’t know where you went to seminary, nor do I know how long you’ve been preaching, but it is clear to me that you’ve forgotten a very important, yet basic, passage from the Bible, and this is what it says:

He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke, 10:27)

It seems that you are quite capable of doing the first part of this passage quite well, however you clearly don’t have the slightest clue as to do the second. Gays and lesbians, Father, are just as much your brothers and sisters as anyone else. And yet, here you are belittling them and name-dropping God as a cover for it.

My suggestion to you, then, would be for you to re-evaluate the people you work with on a daily basis. Chances are, you work and pray with gays (whether or not you’re aware of it), so I’d suggest that you change your ways.

I hope that you learn to accept people for who they are, regardless of whether or not you agree with the way they live their lives.

FATHER JOE:

Nigel, I think you were rather rash in judging me before inviting some discussion.
I posted the verses on my Blog to illustrate the negative view that is taken from Scripture about homosexual activity. (The inspiration was a new HALLMARK card that supports gay civil unions or marriages.) In my follow up comments I also quoted the universal catechism of the Catholic Church. It was never denied that gays and lesbians may also be brothers and sisters in faith. I firmly believe that we treat everyone with respect and compassion. Considering homosexual acts as sinful does not mean that we must necessarily hate or discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Regarding Luke 10:27, the love of God and neighbor is not an emotional affair but must have real Christian substance. It refers to a movement of the will and a practical application. The model of love that our Lord gives us is that of sacrifice. Loving God means placing faith in his Son and allowing that love to spill over upon our neighbors. If we firmly believe that certain things are right and wrong, then love must take hard stands. Like Jesus in the garden, the movement of our soul has to imitate Jesus’ submission, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” We want to please God, no matter what the cost. We want our neighbor (composed of both friends and enemies) to be happy and to know the joys of the kingdom and eternal life. Although sometimes ridiculed, there is truth in the proposition that we must “love the sinner but hate the sin.”

I count a number of gay men and even lesbian women among my friends. A few of them agree with me that they are called to a life of chaste celibacy, service and prayerfulness. Others would disagree with me but I remain close to them and their families. They know what I think and I will not deceive them about it. They also know that I am there for them, always ready to bring absolution to those with contrite hearts and to anoint those who will soon see God. Peace!

ROBERTA:

No human has the right to judge what is immoral for another.

FATHER JOE:

Ridiculous! Would you not judge the immorality of a pedophile or a slaver? Sure you would; indeed, while subjective, you have already judged me for judging!

ROBERTA:

If gays want to act on the way they were born let them be.

In the end only the higher being can judge if they have made a mistake or not.

FATHER JOE:

Again this is silly. You are saying that the Church must be silent about Christian morality! The Church and her ministers have every right to transmit the values of faith. The Church also has a right to be a player in the public forum.

ROBERTA:

I know many gay people and most of them are wonderful kind loving people with families, friends, homes, jobs and yes even children. Just let them be and show some love and compassion.

FATHER JOE:

A failure to admonish the sinner is a pathetic love. No one is talking about deliberately hurting people just to make their lives miserable. As a Catholic priest and as a Christian, I have a mission mandate to spread the faith. If St. Paul took your advice, whole epistles would disappear from the Bible. As a priest, one of my duties is the forgiveness of sins and to help people in receiving sanctifying grace. We should all want our homosexual brothers and lesbian sisters to go to heaven, and ourselves along with them. Silence and moral apathy is a false compassion and not from God. You mean well, but such an attitude is defeatist. My suspicion though, is that it reflects a moral decision, that homosexual activity is no big deal. In contradiction, Catholicism regards all sexuality and personhood as tremendously important.

SMILEY:

Father, what about homosexual tendencies? Let me explain. What if a person has a leaning towards this terrible sin which cries out to God for vengeance? The person may never act on it physically, but what about mentally. Does not the Bible say not only committing adultery is wrong but so much as looking at a woman the wrong way?

What about sinful acts committed in the mind leading to self abuse. This is also a mortal sin is it not?

We live in a spiritual minefield where every ad on TV and in the news and on the radio we are exposed to these things. God Help us!

FATHER JOE:

You answered your own questions; yes we can sin in the mind and the imagination.

JOHN:

Please, let us stop the garbage that only God can judge a homosexual, while we have no qualms about the state or city or Feds putting some pedophile or murderer away.

As a true Traditionalist, let us just go back to our Baltimore Catechism with respect to Sin, chapter 6:

What is actual sin?  Actual sin is any sin of willful thought, word or deed contrary to the law of God.

What is mortal sin?  Mortal sin is a grievous offense against the law of God.

Why is this sin called Mortal?  This sin is called mortal because it deprives us of spiritual life, which is sanctifying grace, and brings everlasting death and damnation to the soul.

How many things are necessary to make a sin mortal?  To make a sin mortal three things are necessary; a grievous matter, sufficient reflection and full consent of the will.

Let’s now jump to chapter 11.

Why did Christ found the Church?  Christ founded the Church to teach, govern sanctify and save all men.

Are all men bound to the Church?  All are bound and belong to the Church, and he who knows the Church to be the true Church and remains out of it can NOT be saved.

Now this must come as a shock to the Church of Vatican II that teaches that even those that deny Christ such as Jews, Moslems and Hindus can actually be saved, as Mother Teresa actually taught in India.

This is false, and for those who are homosexual which Scripture clearly condemns, this is a mortal sin in any way shape and form, and I can only guess because upwards of 50% of Catholic priests are homosexual themselves, they don’t have the guts to call it like it is.

Christ can only be shedding tears in heaven for what has become of his beloved Church.

FATHER JOE:

I don’t know how many gays may be in the priesthood. Neither can you know. We need to support our priests. Most of our clergy are good men, faithful to their celibacy, their prayers, and to their parish responsibilities. God may also be shedding tears for those quick to condemn priests and for those adding to the wounds of Mother Church. God bless you, you are right about sin. Peace!

MICHAEL:

John, Mother Theresa taught exactly what the Church teaches. We never deny ANYONE the possibility of salvation. We don’t do that because we know that Jesus has been given complete and full authority by His Father to judge and to rule the Earth. All of us will be judged on three criteria:

  • The light of truth that we have.
  • The opportunities that God gave us.
  • The choices that we’ve made.

I disagree with your assertion that 50% of our priests are homosexuals. That’s simply not true and where did you come up with that figure?

Regarding mortal sin as it relates to modern society, there is no such thing as mortal sin anymore. What we have is moral relativism, which is the denial and refusal of objective truth and moral absolutes. I would love to see everyone adhere to fundamental Catholic teachings, but I’m sorry to say that I think that we’re too late for that. This is not 1953 and Fulton Sheen isn’t on prime time TV.

The old man has a strong grip of his short rope and it’s getting tighter and tighter with each passing day. We don’t have any more spiritual unity in this country, which is our main downfall. Despite all of this, I ask myself what I can do to make things better. I know that I can never change another person’s way of thinking by foisting my views upon them. What I do is this; I try as hard as I can in conforming my life to Christ and my will to the inerrant will of God. I can only account for what I do.

JOHN:

Father, my apologies for broad-brushing the priesthood; those like yourself, who are so honorable and devout, are to be role models for sons of the Church like myself. Such is as was the case 50 years ago when the most honorable and proud thing a parent could show off was a son who entered the clergy!

With respect to Mother Teresa, she was a wonderful beautiful woman; but, by many accounts, she was not in any way an Apostle for the Faith. Neither was she in the business of conversions. She actually compromised the Catholic faith in India and taught the teachings of the Church incorrectly, informing the Hindus (a pagan religion— 1st commandment I may add?) that as long as one were a good Hindu, they could be saved. Any 1st year theology student or anyone who ever read the OT or NT knows this is false. She did much good as a HUMANITARIAN; but, in my opinion is not a saint. Sorry.

FATHER JOE:

Mother Teresa always sought to be of one mind and heart with Christ and his Church. She had many wonderful insights into the wonder of human creation and the sanctity of life. She embraced poverty so that she might pour out herself entirely for the poor. She never made any claim about being a theologian. Saints sometimes make practical mistakes and/or fail to make distinctions in the faith that are entirely accurate. But saints are always humble, and like Mother Teresa, always deferred to men like Pope John Paul and Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI). I recall once that she was quite apologetic when she mistakenly received Holy Communion at a Mass offered by a priest of the Patriotic Catholic Church in China. She honestly admitted that she did not know such was prohibited. Although the old Tridentine form was used, she said it looked the same and she had not followed the current political situation between the Church and the government of Communist China. China had invited Mother Teresa and her sisters to start a house in their country. A similar invitation came from Cuba. Doors closed to most in the Western world were opening to her. Such is the mysterious power of love, and a sign that God’s providence was leading her footsteps.

Her sisters in Washington reached out to the poor and offered tender care to those dying from HIV complications. Many of these suffering people were homosexual; and yet, the sisters loved them unconditionally. That is also the face of the Catholic Church on this important issue.

This discussion will continue in another post.