• Our Blogger

    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Rebekah on Ask a Priest
    Skip on Ask a Priest
    Jon on Ask a Priest
    Gary on Ask a Priest
    Jeff on Ask a Priest

The Confusion of Colors in the Rainbow

When it comes to gender dysphoria and the alphabet soup that describes various degrees and types of same-sex attraction, there is an ever-increasing complexity or dare I say fragmentation. The current nomenclature is summarized with this designation: LGBTQIA+. Please do not ask me to decipher it! Instead of challenging those with mental illness and disorientation, we are authorizing and enabling them to identify themselves by the fiction they have embraced. Every effort to check this movement has either failed or given them fodder to ridicule their critics as mean and prejudiced.  It has been joked that if we cannot beat them, then maybe we should join them? I have always wanted to be a green Martian and have decided to claim such and treat as bigots any who would deny me my non-terrestrial self-designation. I reject your reality and have decided to impose my own. I breathe carbon dioxide and eat glass.  Who are you to object and tell me what I can do with my body? My intent is not to ridicule but to expose absurdity. I suspect that many who are fearfully silent concur that this whole business is rather silly.            

Many have swallowed the notion that human respect demands total and complete acceptance even if such would contradict our most fundamental values and basic reasoning.  Gone is any wiggle space that would permit debate or even silent toleration. As politicians, progressive advocates, the media and educators seek to transform the consensus of the public forum, those with traditional views on morality and relationships are coming under the brunt of “payback” discrimination.  Christians who focus on the Bible as the Word of God are finding themselves marginalized and the proclamation of the Gospel is condemned by extremists as hate-speech.  Contemporary secular values are supplanting those of traditional faith and the Decalogue. 

The gender designations leave us scratching our heads: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual and intersexual.  Really, what does this all mean?

  • Indoctrination without debate or questioning is demanded.
  • Blatant advocates are deemed as level headed and right thinking.
  • Sitting on the fence is interpreted as either cowardice or latent bigotry.
  • A failure to render support or promotion for the cause is judged as injustice.

There is a not so subtle threat connected to all of this— accept a plurality of subjective genders and an ever expensive field of sexual expression— or else!  Give in or you will be sued. You will be stripped of your livelihood. A baker lost his home and business because he refused to bake a cake to celebrate a same-sex union. Win or lose, the court costs are astronomical. The ridiculous has become serious and real. Indeed, even liberals and feminists who fail to toe the line are being vilified.   The author of the popular Harry Potter books, J. K. Rowling, has been mocked and black-listed because she wants to make a case for the rights of women who were “born with vaginas.”

What becomes of the voice of the Church for justice and peace when she is increasing regarded (albeit falsely) as an organization that promotes injustice and discrimination? Many would undermine the efforts of Christians for ethnic and civil rights because they are unwilling to include sexual orientation along with demands for racial equality. We have already seen the women’s rights movement hijacked by greedy abortion providers and now by LGBTQIA+ proponents. They argue that you cannot have one without the other.  What is the real status of feminism and women’s rights when men as transgendered females can compete with ordinary women in swimming, track-and-field and kick boxing? Women’s records are falling right and left, and biological women are being shut out. Notice that there is no “S” in the alphabet soup for straight men and women. That which was once regarded as normal merits no celebration but is reckoned as the enemy or as a prospect for conversion. 

The targeting of children is real in this confrontation over gender. The idiocy would have teachers planting the seeds for confusion in curriculums that target youth as young as five years of age. If the proponents cannot effect change with their parents then they will focus on the upcoming generations. There is no more celebration of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day because it is hurtful to those with a missing parent or same-sex parents. Valentine cards are forbidden because no one can be excluded. Condoms are given away by school nurses because it is expected that teens cannot control themselves and even many of the teachers have failed to wait until marriage.  We have eroticized childhood. Notice the direction taken with children’s television programming. Kids are breaking into romantic couples even prior to puberty. Further, today there is always the gay or lesbian in the mix, too.  

Those who oppose the stance of orthodox churchmen on the sexuality and gender questions are quick to charge them with unwarranted bias, ignorance and insensitivity. However, the last thing that any good shepherd wants to do is to inflict pain upon others.  They desperately want reconciliation and communion with all of God’s people. But tough love mandates that there are some concessions that can never be made.  A number of gay advocates, but not all, contend that monogamy and fidelity should count for something, even if bonds are judged as disordered.  However, just as with heterosexual sin and cohabitation, evils are not necessarily all violent or rude— there can be tremendous tenderness and intimate sharing in fornication and/or even adultery.  Same-sex unions may include real affection and love— but such elements cannot justify what is wrong. Indeed, such adds an insidious catalyst to the misbehavior, excusing harm caused to the beloved under a deceptive veil of caring and romantic love.  While sexual expression, both natural and unnatural, outside the covenant of heterosexual marriage may be consensual, it damages the soul and psyche as abusive behavior.    

We hear from gays, lesbians and others that the stance of the Church makes them feel unwanted and unloved. Indeed, some turn this anger against God for making them disordered or broken. This I can well understand as I often had tense prayers as a youth before God because of a struggle with asthma and breathing. I was always sick and often could not run and play with other children. Like Pinocchio, I prayed that I might be a real boy. Returning to the crisis at hand, those suffering gender dysphoria and disordered attraction would sometimes turn matters around and assert that their sexuality was okay and a gift to be celebrated, not scorned. The Church would affirm persons but that is all.  The Church could not pretend that a sexual disorder was normative. Certainly the shepherds of faith would never bless sinful acts as this would constitute blasphemy. 

A refusal to acknowledge the many subjective designations of gender and deviant sexual acts signifies no disrespect to personhood and our common humanity.  The Holy Father would have us accompany these souls in their faith journey. We can lament and cry with them. We can hear them out as our brothers and sisters.  But any dialogue will always find itself directed and restrained by the values and truths extracted from the sources of Christian doctrine. Jesus associated with tax collectors and sinners and yet he also called them to repentance and conversion. We must do the same.

While many churchmen have placed an emphasis upon fixing homosexuals, I suspect the better approach is in finding lawful and valid ways for them to move forward as they are. Further, if the rest of the Church is to learn anything from this, it may be not to soft-pedal heterosexual sin by comparison. Regardless of orientation, we should all focus on virtue and avoiding serious sin. Anyone who would “love” another into mortal sin is practicing a false or self-seeking love.  We should pursue grace and holiness for the beloved.  Here are a few propositions that might lead us out of the moral quandary where we find ourselves:     

  • Affirmation of chaste loving familial relationships or special friendships;
  • Dedication to celibate “brotherly” and “sisterly” bonds;
  • Encouraging a vigorous spirituality of prayer and the sacramental life;
  • Dedication to the faith in ongoing study, catechesis and evangelization; &
  • Focusing on an apostolate of charity and service.

What Did the Pope Say about Unjust Laws against Gays?

It amazes me that the news media repeatedly invents news where in truth there is none.  Pope Francis affirms that homosexual acts are regarded by the Catholic Church as sinful. When was this ever in doubt.  (It should be added that the orientation is not sinful, just disordered.)  

Now a lot is being made of his admonition that we should demonstrate tolerance in not criminalizing same-sex relationships. Has anyone heard of any popes or bishops of late demanding the execution, imprisonment or even fines of outed gay people?  No, although Putin’s Russia has outlawed the LGBT community and many Islamic states target them for death, the Church would challenge them but respect their dignity and lives as persons loved by God.

Missed in the conversation is that “a lack of charity” for one another works both ways. Many in the homosexual community are not satisfied with the Church’s concessions and rudely demand nothing less than full approbation. However, this will never happen.

While I doubt any Church shepherds are actively campaigning for unjust laws, the Holy Father has asked for a movement of “conversion” among bishops in not tolerating or remaining passive to the criminalization and violent persecution of gays and lesbians. What the Pope says is true, that we are all “children of God” and he “loves us as we are.” However, this does not nullify the call to repentance and conversion which is constitutive of the Gospel. It would also not negate the termination of positions from parish and parochial schools because of poor Christian witness.

As a further instance of distortion in the news, much is made of the Pope’s support for same-sex civil unions (not marriages), stating that “homosexual people have a right to be in a family.” It may not be the ideal family, but we recognize many variations as with those that are missing a spouse or with grandparents within family units. The Church cannot sanctify sin so her ministers cannot bless same-sex unions or witness feigned marriages. However, there is some speculation that the Church might restore an ancient rite where people pledge themselves as chaste brothers and sisters to one another. The Church insists that sexual activity must be between a man and woman in marriage. However, the Church is no enemy of love.   

What Do We Understand by the Mark of the Beast?

QUESTION

Does the Church teach anything definite about a future manifestation of the Mark of the Beast? How is the Mark unforgivable? Does this not conflict with the Church teaching that all sins are forgivable?

RESPONSE

You are referring to Revelation 13: 16-18: “It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads, so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast’s name or the number that stood for its name. Wisdom is needed here; one who understands can calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number that stands for a person. His number is six hundred and sixty-six.”

Catholics are not fundamentalists and we would not take literally the symbolism of the Apocalypse. The beast signifies the pagan Roman emperors that persecuted early Christians, the single most being Nero. His name in Hebraic numerology is designated as 666. Many exegetes presume that the mark of the beast has to do with the coinage that bore his image. (Remember the incident when Jesus was asked about the legitimacy of taxation and he asked whose image was on a coin. When the answer came back Caesar he told his listeners to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. Of course, ultimately our loyalty and most everything belong to almighty God as the Creator.)

We belong not to the world or the Roman Empire but to Christ and his kingdom. We have a jealous God. He will not share us. We might live in the world but we must never forget that we are wayfarers and our true home is heaven. We may give human respect to the earthly community but we place our ultimate faith and find our values in the Lord.

The mark of the beast in the narrative is compelled and not voluntary. This mitigates responsibility. What is damning is that some worship the beast and thus violate the first of the commandments. Such strips one’s name from the Book of Life because we are only permitted to render worship to God. This work of true worship is perfected in the Mass. The so-called beast would urge idolatry and an abandonment of the Eucharist. We place our trust less in men and foremost in the Lord. Christ is the invisible head of the Church and the Pope is his vicar and the visible head. The beast and/or the anti-Christ would attack the Church and all who remain steadfast. As in the early Church, while there may be a reluctance to reconcile traitors to the faith, today the sacrament of penance is more liberally offered. Such has been the operation of the keys given to Peter and his successors. As long as one lives, there is the chance for repentance and absolution.