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Tension Between Homosexuality & Christianity

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The traditional Christian view is that homosexual acts are grievously sinful.  This was expressed recently by Vice President Pence and it precipitated an immediate response from the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg.  Making an assessment of his own same-sex “marriage” to Chasten Glezman, he states:  “Being married to Chasten has made me a better human being because it has made me more compassionate, more understanding, more self-aware and more decent. My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man. And yes, Mr. Vice President (Pence), it has moved me closer to God.”

What should be the response of a traditional Christian who is well aware that the revelation of God in Scripture and in creation, itself, stipulates that homosexuality is a grievous sin and that it can cost us a share in Christ’s kingdom?  Some churchmen contend that the Church herself can overrule the testimony from the Bible; however, the Pope and Magisterium may interpret Scripture and Tradition but do not have the authority to revoke or reverse revealed doctrines.

Some authorities claim that the harsh stand against homosexuality in the Bible reflects not the mind of God but the bigotry of men. If this be entirely the case then the whole question of biblical inerrancy is called into question. What is or is not inspired by God then becomes dubious.

Some authorities assert that there are certain teachings and practices in the Bible and in the life of the Church where we see a development over time in our understanding, as with the institution of slavery.  While this is true, critics would quickly add that such development must be organic or natural (as when various biblical themes interplay against each other) and cannot be forced. Those who would promote a radical anti-patriarchal feminism have sought to fabricate a new divine archetype.   There is a return to the goddess or the Lord (in some cases) is viewed less as a man and more as an androgynous human. Could the God proposed by Buttigieg be of this sort— a deity fashioned precisely for homosexuals?  The problem in both cases is the forfeiture of what is real and the substitution of human fancy.  While there are subjective elements to our discipleship, Catholic Christianity demands attention for what is objectively real.  This is a necessary symptom of our belief in the incarnation and resurrection.  Either Jesus is God made man or we are still in our sins.  Only God has the power to save us.  Either Jesus rose from the dead or we are the greatest of fools who will be soon forgotten in our graves.  None of this can be left to empty myth or to a sentimental feeling or to a drunken hallucination.  Either the story of salvation is true or we are lost and the Gospel is a lie.

If he has not fashioned a new god, could it be that Buttigieg is ignorant of his deity’s demands?  Could he be in psychological denial as to what the Judeo-Christian faith and its deity demand?  Could he have bought into the notion that biblical moral teachings are somewhat capricious and that all that matters is that we try to be “kind” or “compassionate” or “nice”?  Some politicians think that they can legislate morality at will to satisfy their current agenda.  Unless one has the gift of reading souls, no one can truly know whether Buttigieg is closer to God or not.  This is despite the fact that those of us who believe in an objective order would insist that homosexual acts constitute the matter of mortal sin.  How can one be close to God if one has severed his personal and communal relationship with Christ through sin?  Sin is a declaration of the person to God and to his fellow men— he is saying not merely that he hates God but that he is indifferent to him and toward anything he commands.

I cannot say I have heard much rhetoric of an alternative deity as I have from the camp of radical feminists.  This group hates men and raises abortion to the level of an infernal sacrament.  It is for this reason that many Christians view abortion as the return to the practice of human sacrifice.  The innocents are being devoured by demons (masquerading as deities).

When we see rallies for militant homosexuals, they are also often associated with the new atheism and its tendency toward sacrilege and the vulgar or profane.  Homosexuals have a widespread tendency toward promiscuity and multiple partners.  The Christians among them seem to yearn for a particular friendship.  Many have noted that while of the same gender, men and women alike in these same-sex bonds seem to mimic heterosexual polarities:  one is more manly or dominant and the other is more feminine or passive.  Most Christians who struggle with homosexuality tend to stay clear of much of the more blatant and overt shenanigans.  They are not cross dressers and the notion of spitting the sacred host into the face of priests (as was done to the late John Cardinal O’Connor is repugnant to them). They tend to steer away from public expressions of intimacy.  They deplore violence and emotionally are easily hurt.  They love the Church but often feel that the Church does not want them. They struggle with the judgment that they are welcome but only as long as they remain chaste and celibate.  While it might sound like a stereotype, they are attracted to ritual and sacred music.  They delight in liturgies that are aesthetically beautiful and which raise hearts to heaven.  As a group they are attracted to churches with set ceremonials and find comfort in familiarity.

Catholicism cannot affirm disordered homosexual acts as akin to the marital act between a man and woman.  The Church does not have the authority to ratify as good or neutral what is deemed by both divine positive law and natural law as wrong and sinful.  As with our COURAGE program, we can assist them to live out a chaste celibate love.  We can partner with them in prayer and service.  They should not define themselves principally by the same-sex attraction with which they struggle.  They may not be called to marriage but they are called to holiness.  They should not engage in homosexual acts but they are called to love and to have friendships.  There is a place for them in the Church.  It is best that homosexuals not enter the priesthood; however, priests can rightly model for them lives of celibate service.  God will give his children the gifts and the strength they need to be good and holy.

What can we affirm?  First, we should accept as genuine the religious sense that they have.   They should seek to remain in a state of grace so as to make the most of faith study, prayer and the sacraments.  Second, love needs to be expressed and our parishes have many initiatives where they can participate.  They have generous and selfless hearts.  Third, the church would be the first to promote friendship or brotherhood or sisterhood.  Love does not have to be sexual.  The sacrifice of Jesus shows us the true depths of a love and passion that eclipses all other loves, including the passionate intimacy of spouses.  The covenant of lovers points toward that greater covenant that is merited by the blood of the Cross.       

There is something of a mystery when we speak of the God who has revealed himself and the God we know.  The saving acts of God take place in history but the presence of God is not locked in the past. As Catholics, we would make a case for the Christian deity or the Trinity.  We would insist that God is real and one; that he is the author of all things; that he cares about us; that he has inserted himself into human history; that he has shown his face to us; that he has redeemed us from the folly of sin and death; and that he has established a community of faith to proclaim the truth and to perpetuate his saving work in Christ.  We argue from faith, philosophy and even science that God objectively exists apart from whatever many might subjectively believe or not believe.  While Christians would seek to live in peace with others, we would not personally tolerate or regard as also real the various opposing notions of deities or the negation of atheism.  Tension often arises because belief is not easily captured between church walls but tends to saturate the society in which one lives, influencing human values and how people would express them.

Many early Christians became martyrs in the pagan Roman Empire because they refused to worship mythical deities or the emperors.  These deities were interpreted by the ancient Church fathers as false gods or worse as demons in disguise. When we read the later pagan authors, they blamed the fall of the empire upon the rise of Christianity and how it had reinvented or replaced the deities they previously followed.  Their arguments were somewhat pragmatic because even during its heyday, many Romans went through the prescribed motions but really placed no faith in the false deities and their “soap opera” lives.  But the acceptance of Christianity had a profound impact upon the values of Rome.  There was a definite moral shift.  Today, many are again recreating our understanding of a deity while growing numbers are complaining that the whole notion of a God has served its purpose and should now be discarded.  As before, many say they believe but in truth there is nothing about their behavior that would convict them as Christ’s disciples.

Within the context of Christianity, many would say that revisionists have no right to reinvent God and to modify or to reverse his moral teachings.  Leaning toward the subjective, they would counter the argument by a preponderance of questions.

For further reading…

National Catholic Register
Pete Buttigieg is Wrong — God Still Forbids All Homosexual Acts

7 Responses

  1. There are still an inordinate amount of homosexual priest within the Catholic Clergy.
    Many of them sympathetic to homosexual causes and LGTBQRt events.

    FATHER JOE: I am often amazed by such claims. No one has ever polled me as a priest about my orientation. Where is the raw data that backs this up?

  2. Let’s not get too caught up in our righteousness, if Christ would forgive sinners then let’s do the same. I assume the sacrament of confession would be open to all who willfully wander away from God. Blind obedience is a struggle for some, especially when those you truly trust have forsaken their oath to God and neighbor. Some of societies ills are of our own making what we have done and failed to do. Let’s not assume we are beyond total dependence on God, for everything and everyone good in our lives. Don’t be stingy with God and grace. If you have either it’s fortunate and a responsibility.

  3. Sydney writes: “…bondage to the law to which Jesus brought freedom”. Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill even more than the minimum Laws! Obeying the Laws of God regarding chastity has made me the free-est and happiest I have ever been! He has showered me with so many gifts of the Holy Spirit like i never knew for sure were real and possible. I have now a taste of eternity in the glorious happiness of heaven. There will be no sex there. So those who follow Christ are free to choose the spirit over the flesh, and enjoy this freedom now as well as later! Paul states that he wished all could be chaste like him! Now I know why, because of the gifts of the Holy Spirit! Those that crave the flesh are to gratify it according to His natural law or burn for eternity Paul says. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are really real and given freely only to those who obey God. People get high off sex or drugs are accepting a cheap imitation of the real thing we are truly meant for in loving Him in willing obedience. It breaks my heart that the world kills its own children to be slaves to the flesh. It breaks my heart that LBGT brothers and sisters don’t realize that they have to love and obey the laws of God as a proof to really loving Him. Actions not words He demands!
    It breaks my heart that so many Priests especially have forsaken Him to serve the flesh. It outrages me that we Faithful to Him have to suffer Priests enslaved to the flesh at the altar-I cannot even speak of the degree of this blasphemy before God!

  4. Sydney, my argument is still not overcome as Scripture is God’s revelation to men and that which is taught regarding the nature of man and God’s commands does not forfeit its binding force…

    Leviticus 20:13 – If a man lies with a male as with a woman,k they have committed an abomination….

    Leviticus 18:22-23 – You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination. You shall not have sexual relations with an animal, defiling yourself with it; nor shall a woman set herself in front of an animal to mate with it; that is perverse.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    1 Timothy 1:8-11 – We know that the law is good, provided that one uses it as law, with the understanding that law is meant not for a righteous person but for the lawless and unruly, the godless and sinful, the unholy and profane, those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, the unchaste, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is opposed to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

    Romans 1:26-28 – Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper.

  5. Well put, Sydney. I agree with your points. Also, one hateful and false statement in Father Joe’s piece…”Homosexuals have a widespread tendency toward promiscuity and multiple partners” is unproven and contradicts the essence of homosexual marriage, to commit to one partner. As Father Joe misinterprets the point of gay marriages like that of the South Bend mayor, who affirms his lifelong love toward a single partner, Father Joe misleads in much of the remainder of his piece.

    TAKEN FROM WIKIPEDIA: Dr. Hewitt wrote the following regarding homosexual male promiscuity in United States in the 1970s in the Journal of Sex Research: “Gay liberation in the 1970s was accompanied by an explosion of gay sexuality, especially in tolerant cities such as Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, where gays concentrated. The director of the New York City Department of Health describes the situation as follows: ‘By their own reports, many men had large numbers of sexual partners annually, often numbering in the hundreds and even in the thousands. Frenetic casual and anonymous sex was widespread among homosexual and bisexual men. Bathhouses, back rooms of bars and clubs, and other public settings such as erotic bookstores and movie theaters were, in effect, wide open…these practices and more were accompanied by extremely high rates of sexually transmitted diseases and set the scene for the rapid transmission of HIV once it appeared in the late 1970s. Rates of rectal and oral gonorrhea in males soared…'”

  6. There is a serious disconnect in the moral debate about homosexuality. One side says that the attraction is disordered and that homosexual acts are immoral and the matter of mortal sin.

    The other side insists that the attraction is natural and they will point to instances of homosexuality in the animal world. They claim that there is joy in the proximity they find in bed even though they all know a poignant sadness because the two really do not become one. They will further say, in a few cases, that they find happiness in a common life.

    Of course, we are not simply animals; we are men who should be able to reason about right and wrong. Looking at the human body there is a complementarity between males and females. Human bodies are fashioned to be joined and this makes possible both joyful fidelity and reproductive fecundity. The homosexual act becomes a parody where the body is misused to arouse pleasure. There is no fruitfulness possible.

    One side says, “God made me this way!” the other side says, “No, you are the way you are because of original sin and how you are wounded, broken or disoriented.” Then the other returns, “You are saying there is something wrong with me, that I am wrong!” Then the critic states, “Yes, but grace can overcome all challenges; you can place your trust in one greater than you. By living a virtuous life you can master your desires and addictions. You can find true freedom.”

    I would add to this argument a reminder, that no matter how vile we might regard the sin, God brings forgiveness. The reason our Lord gives us the sacrament of penance is that we might know absolution even as we have to return again and again to the flowing springs of his merciful blood.

  7. And these are some of the questions:

    “How can you be sure that your Catholic perspective is not overly tainted by vain human philosophy, desperate compromises made with the old Rome, the political machinations of popes and princes, and especially the corrupt financial machine that backs the Vatican?”

    “At a time when Church leaders are guilty for perpetuating, enabling and disguising the sordid sins of men who rape boys and nuns, how can you claim any moral authority over the lives of others?”

    “Given that your fellow churchmen are accusing Pope Francis of heresy on questions like adultery, homosexuality and the death penalty, how can you to say that your appreciation of God is right and ours is wrong?”

    “If everything is plainly revealed then why are there so many different religions in the world and so many competing varieties of Christianity? Indeed, much of the Protestant world would laugh at the notion that the least of your priests could force God from his heaven into a piece of bread.”

    “Some traditionalists would depict Jesus at the Last Supper as wearing fiddleback vestments, fingers appropriately placed together, saying Mass with his back to the apostles and distributing to them rounded wafers. Can you really be sure that the idolatry is not yours? Are you sure that your rubrics and moral laws are really any different from the bondage to the law to which Jesus brought freedom?”

    “You talk about religious liberty, and yet would you strip away the right of most people to believe what they want to believe? Must I believe in the God you understand or say you know? Is this not a symptom of hubris?”

    Where is the fantasy? Who is the idolater? When does compassion become false?

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