Oct 17, 2017
Oct 14, 2017
Sep 27, 2017
Hey Lizzie, I have a question about your first point. There are lots of things in the Bible that God doesn’t approve of and that certainly weren’t His design. But that isn’t God abusing His law, that’s just people being sinful people. Just because something is in the Bible doesn’t mean the Bible teaches that. Would love to hear your thoughts!
Yes I would also like you to clarify this:) everything else seems solid 👌🏻
I agree with you that God didn’t approve of Solomon’s 700 wives & 300 concubines. HOPEFULLY not! But it seems God approved of the polygamy between Jacob and his wives; he used those marriages to start the nation of Israel! That one in particular seems to be within God’s plan. And the practice of kinsman-redeemer was something God specifically established! Since earlier in Genesis before the polygamy, we see the verse of the man and woman becoming one flesh, but then in THE SAME BOOK there is this norm of polygamy, all I was doing is adding doubt that Genesis 2:24 was meant to be this black-and-white definitive theology statement of the permanent nature of marriage. Whoever wrote Genesis seems to think Genesis 2:24 doesn’t contradict Jacob being of “one flesh” with 4 different women. Where in Genesis does anyone ever directly condemn Jacob’s polygamy? I don’t think we can definitely see that at that time polygamy was viewed as sinful. It’s interesting to me that the “nature” of marriage changes even within the Bible. Why can in not continue to develop?
Regarding the fact that God used the polygamous relationships of Jacob and his wives to start the nation of Israel, God can make good things result from bad things happening, can’t he? I mean that God can allow the children of Jacob to become the nation of Israel even if the way that those children were conceived is not morally right. I don’t see the creation of the nation of Israel as God validating polygamy. As an aside, I only ask these questions to further discussion on the topic and do not mean to come across as rude or condescending in any way. I’m sure you know how things can be misinterpreted online. God bless, and I would love to communicate with your further on Christianity and Catholicism. I am Catholic, by the way.
Stop misleading people
The Bible doesn’t support your claims
Why don’t you explain your objections rather making an obnoxious claim?
Stop misleading people
The Bible doesn’t support your claims, that’s twisting of scripture to make your views seem right when it isn’t.
Please support your argument. You’re viewing the Bible within the 21st Century. Context matters with any text, including the Bible.
Hi Lizzie! I want to preface this by saying I really respect you in terms of your passion for justice, social issues, and Christianity. Your arguments are always thought provoking and inspiring. I greatly admire that. Notwithstanding, I want to make a few points about homosexuality and Christian living, being that I disagree with the general premise of this article. And rather than trying to debunk your arguments, I am going to present my perspective on the issue for you to consider.
Old Testament versus New Testament: What presides?
The first thing I want to discuss is what should be our foundation in terms of Scriptural reference points for judging homosexual behavior. Many people rightly argue that the strict application of Old Testament rules and regulations presented as part of the Law (beyond the Ten Commandments) is outdated due to these being chiefly designed to identify and “sanctify” the ancient Israelites from the heathen cultures around them. The New Testament agrees. This is why Peter’s account in Acts 10:9-15 of being told by God to eat previously “unclean” animals that God had now “made clean” is significantly noted.
What is demonstrated repeatedly by the New Testament is a “relaunching” or reinterpretation of the Law for modern thinking. No longer was the Law to be seen in specifically defined outward restrictions but in the orientation of the heart itself, influencing any action. This opened the door for “new” ways of sinning to be considered as the culture changed. Christ, in coming to fulfill the Law, manifests this idea in His own words. Take the Sermon on the Mount—His classic words: “You heard it was said….” (Here is one example from Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart”). Christ repeatedly restates and expands the Law in ways not specifically considered for the Old Testament Israelites in order to show how vast sinful behavior can be. In other words, the rationale of the Law was to show humanity’s imperfection: in God’s eyes, adultery can simply be done through “looking,” murder can be done through harboring emotion alone, etc. All of this was to, in turn, point to Christ as the perfect keeper of the Law—in both action and heart—and thus the Savior humankind needed to achieve God’s standards of perfection.
As Peter’s scenario shows, what the New Testament also does, however, by unbinding the Law from cultural-specific practices of ancient Israel and redirecting focus on the heart is open the door for people to realize new freedoms in any actions done, wherein they actually do not sin but fulfill the Law. Simplifying things, Christ conceptualized the fulfillment of the Law in this way: “He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40). The applicability of the Law can now be assessed in terms of loving God and neighbor, allowing for actions not specifically discussed in the Bible to be judged. This is why Jesus could say: “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles” (Matt. 15:11), forming the basis of Peter’s culinary revolution later. Jesus’ point here was to show that Old Testament eating rules were meant to teach Israel what it looked like to love God wholeheartedly as compared to heathen cultures, not to condemn eating certain foods as sinful. Thus, the applicability of these rules could change per the times as long as humans were wholeheartedly loving God and neighbor in their eating behaviors.
What the New Testament does is hence take Jesus’ conceptualization of the fulfillment of the Law—the two greatest commandments—and uses these as a foundation for explaining Christian living. Concerning eating, we see this in Romans 14. Notably, like with the expansion of the prohibitive nature of the Law in considering adultery and murder in Matthew 5, contrasting with the new reduction of eating restrictions for Peter in Acts 10, Paul calls for eating restrictions in Rome to be expanded or reduced as needed by unbinding ties to Old Testament outward religion and judging what is right or wrong based on love for God and neighbor (as seen in Romans 14, it is based on how to serve others per faith convictions). This is freedom in Christ, freedom to obey the Law liberally as you are led to love God and others. Importantly, though, the Law must still be obeyed to avoid sinning; it cannot be dismissed. The question we must ultimately ask is, is what we are thinking, saying, or doing simultaneously having us love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves? It is from this foundation that I’ll examine homosexuality.
Same-sex love is not a sin.
Accordingly, my first belief is that same-sex love is NOT a sin. This is where I think many Christians have become confused and caused much pain for people that have feelings for someone of the same sex because marriage is so often emphasized in our society today as needing to be rooted in emotion and thus the only place for relational affection: You must be “in love” with someone you have feelings for, and if you do love someone, you’re supposed to be in a relationship. (Note: love here is too often seen as a feeling for someone, not a decision.) Yet these feelings themselves are NOT sinful: it is Biblically okay to not only feel love for someone of the same sex but want to care for them as a life decision, serving God in the process. This directly epitomizes the two great commandments. In fact, one person in the Bible, whom most Christians ignore when speaking of same-sex relational issues, offers a great picture of what same-sex love can look like as supported by Scripture. He was the man “after God’s own heart.” His name was David and his “love” was Jonathan.
Imagine a movie today about a man who loved another man as his own soul, that is, two men who were essentially “soul mates” (1 Samuel 18:1-3). Imagine a movie in which two men were emotionally and physically vulnerable with each other to the point of mutual kissing and weeping (1 Samuel 20:41). Imagine one of those men romantically singing about his “love” after his friend’s death, calling the feelings between them stronger than those between him and women (2 Samuel 1:26). This conceptualizes the relationship between David and Jonathan. What amazes me about David and Jonathan is not only the level of intimacy shared between these two men but the mutual trust, submission, and will to care for each other that was held by them, nearly reflecting a marriage between a husband and wife. In fact, the two shared a covenant: “Thus Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, ‘May the Lord seek out the enemies of David.’ Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him; for he loved him as he loved his own life” (1 Samuel 20:16-17).
Notably, there is nothing in the Bible which condemns the feelings and actions shared by David and Jonathan. More specifically, the deep care these two men had for each other, and the emotional and physical actions they displayed to express this care, did not prevent David from wholeheartedly loving God, while clearly exemplifying his godly neighborly love. David’s desire was Jonathan’s physical and spiritual well-being as a person (and vice versa). This is why both men did not seek to kill each other for the throne but kept each other’s focus on God’s will for their lives, regardless of what might happen to them, positioning each other to wholeheartedly love God.
Accordingly, a problem for many Christians today is emotional and physical vulnerability is seen as taboo in Western society when shared by people of the same sex. It is taboo if you have feelings for someone of the same sex or want to show affection to them, care for them. We have come up with a label for people like this: “gay.” Mistakenly, we forget that humans are emotional creatures and affection is not reserved simply for the opposite sex (again reflective of our mistake of seeing marriage as simply feelings based). This is why people may surmise there is something wrong with them—they were born “gay”—if they have compassionate feelings towards someone of the same sex. But the fact of the matter is that people are commanded by God to love one another, regardless of their sex, justifying any actions or behaviors that symbolize true love between any two people. David exemplified this with Jonathan.
Gay sex is a sin.
Notwithstanding, when it comes to emotional and physical vulnerability/affection, there is one major boundary. The one thing David did NOT do with Jonathan, despite His feelings, is share his sexual organs with him. This leads to my second belief: same-sex intercourse/relations IS sinful. David—a man after God’s own heart—refrained from sex with Jonathan. (Yes, David himself did engage in his own share of sexual sins with women. But this is another discussion.) Notably, while the Bible freely allows the expression of true love in any manner of one’s pleasing, it is not true love if the act entails sin (Romans 13:9-10). Any act toward one’s neighbor which is associated with a violation of one of God’s commandments (specified here to the Ten Commandments) puts your neighbor—and yourself—at risk (physically, spiritually, etc.) due to the consequences of the sin, breaking the second greatest commandment. (An example would be murdering police officers in order to “care” for your minority best friend who keeps being unjustly oppressed by the police. Ultimately, this “care” is not true love because it puts your friend at risk.) As I’ll explain, the sin of lying to one’s neighbor and oneself is frequently at issue for participants in gay sex. Further, any sin whatsoever causes you to not love God wholeheartedly, breaking the greatest commandment by default (John 14:15). That being said, the most notable sin shared between a couple involved in consensual gay sex is actually a direct violation of the greatest commandment, which I’ll discuss next.
The main reason gay sex is sinful is because you and your partner cannot willfully do it while simultaneously pursuing the love of God wholeheartedly. On this point, I want to discuss sex in terms of the concept of “intelligent design.” By intelligent design, I am referencing Romans 1:19-20 to denote the wisdom of God sensibly present in all created things since He is their originator. (That is, to find God and His true purposes in something, all you have to do is locate the wisdom of God in that thing.) The wisdom of God entails the “best” of God in something, the” full potential” of an aspect of creation. This is the basis for a deeper knowledge of God and thus a deeper love for Him. If you believe that Adam and Eve were created by God as the first two humans on earth—as part of the perfect “good” of the Garden of Eden—this means that God’s intelligent design in terms of the “best” for sex must be examined with these two people and their organs because sex was Biblically instituted with this couple (Genesis 2:23-25). As a couple, Adam and Eve constituted one man and one woman. Two functions of sex, moreover, are depicted with Adam and Eve: intimacy (Genesis 2:25) and sexual reproduction (Genesis 4:1). The wisdom of God was thus for both of these functions to be conceptualized as the “full potential” for the sexual activity of any couple.
Now a modern argument for gay sex says procreation is no longer important in God’s eyes and sex is merely for intimacy, allowing people of the same sex to share their sexual organs. This suppresses intelligent design, taking one’s eyes off the wisdom of God in sex. Human bodies have not evolved. The design for the male and female genitals remains for compatibility. They are designed to work together in chemistry to facilitate the exchange of reproductive cells from the male to the female, explaining why the male’s orgasm still “expels” and the female’s still “absorbs.” The chemistry between these organs is designed to facilitate mutual pleasure in the process, encouraging intimacy. While other sexual activity (e.g., oral) has come about, the arousal and response of both male and female genitals remains the same despite the type of activity done, indicating the divine wisdom—full potential—for sex to entail the union of these organs remains the same. In other words, the “primary sex act” between any two humans as designed by God is penile-vaginal sex. All other types of activity will naturally urge a couple’s bodies to engage in this primary act, even if they refrain. To deny this is to ignore the wisdom of God, which in turn prevents one from doing all one can to pursue a deeper knowledge (love) of God via sex. Hence, the greatest commandment is violated.
Spiritually speaking, it is also dangerous to disregard human reproduction as a philosophical perspective today. Logically, if humans are created in God’s image, then God would delight in as many images of Himself as possible on earth—which He Himself recreates—through human sex. God wants to save as many people as possible; the more humans that are born today, the more people He can save. To reject a mindset of being designed to be used by God in this manner—even if you can’t have children—technically equates to failing to help God pursue His desires, that is, to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength. Again, the greatest commandment is broken. (Note the issue of abortion can also be critiqued here.)
Yet gay sex also entails a direct violation of the second greatest commandment. As mentioned earlier, one cannot love one’s neighbor as oneself if there is sin involved with the action because sin puts you and your neighbor at risk (if not physically, spiritually at least). Present in the act of gay sex is lying. Firstly, given the intelligent design of penile-vaginal sex, to hold any other sex act as the “primary act” in a relationship—i.e., the “best” one’s body can achieve sexually—is to lie to one’s own body and deny the body’s organs the chance to perform to their full chemistrical potential through the male-female sexual union. To turn other body organs (e.g., the mouth) into the theoretical primary sex organ in a relationship likewise is lying to one’s own body by forcing these organs to assume as “normal” experiences they were not designed to assume on a primary basis. Such lying is not “loving yourself.” However, what is more, participants in gay sex lie to each other by default because to receive the other’s use of his/her sex organs in this way affirms to the other he/she is designed to present his/her body in this way as a sexual creature, when in fact he/she is unable to realize his/her full potential sexually via the activity. Unlike heterosexual sex, gay sex harbors this type of lying as a shared lifestyle because it is impossible for the couple to psychologically hold the union of the male and female sexual organs as the primary human sex act in their relationship.
But there is a more significant form of sin in play when it comes to gay sex. A huge problem in our society today is the mistaking of lust as love. By lust I mean the desiring of someone’s body for self-pleasure (over true love—the desire to care for the whole person, body and soul included). Lust is also a form of lying when used to pursue personal pleasure in the name of love. When it comes down to it, gay sex can only come about through lust because one cannot truly love another in sinning against them. (Lying is not the only sin, by the way. To fantasize over the sexual organs of any person as the basis for entering a relationship is itself idolatry and coveting; and for members of the same sex to do this, it also constitutes greed because every man or woman, as a man or woman, already retains all of the physical sexual attractions of his/her own sex in his/her own body. And we also know Christ has condemned looking at others with lust in terms of adultery.) Lust causes people to lie to themselves and others as being “in love,” urging them into a homosexual lifestyle per what body parts make them aroused. This is why it is troubling to hear a man or woman say they are only attracted to people of the same sex. To hold stereotypical attraction as this entails not an attraction to unique human personalities but to bodies because personalities themselves are intersexual (as I’ll discuss momentarily). Ultimately, lust never loves your neighbor as yourself because you desire to “use” something/someone you don’t have or don’t need to gratify yourself.
Same-sex marriage is a sin
Based off of the premise that gay sex is sin, I hold that gay marriage is sin. On the most simplistic terms, the concept of gay marriage today is itself a violation of several commandments due to the fact that it is nonexistent in the Bible but entails a concept which has been sanctioned by God for men and women since creation (Matt. 19:4-6). At the very least, there is coveting (desiring a privilege belonging to a man and woman since creation), stealing (taking a heterosexual term rather than instituting a new, separate term), and bearing false witness/lying (assuming the historic roles, rights, and status of married heterosexual couples as a norm for gays from creation). As Jesus relates in Mathew 19, the Bible understands marriage as the structure for sex—becoming “one flesh”—pointing to the chemistrical desires God has of the sex organs per His intelligent design to help these reach their full potential in intimacy/pleasure and reproduction simultaneously. Marriage is designed to position humans for heterosexual intercourse. To deny this wisdom from Genesis is to no longer care for seeing God’s creative qualities reach their full potential in wisdom, by which to fully glorify God, meaning effectively failure to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Thinking about gay marriage further, one thing the Bible does for humans is structure roles. Men, women, and children are given roles in the family, workplace, church, etc., by which chemistrical social order (neighborly love) can be realized, not simply personal pleasure. These roles dictate human behavior despite the theoretical potential of the human body to realize pleasure. As Ephesians shows, children are called to obey their parents and honor them, for example. Now using his brain and hands, a teenage son could murder his parents in response to them forbidding him from using the family car for no specific reason. Yes, he would experience pleasure via his body, but if all teenagers saw this as a norm, disorder would follow as a society of violence/terror evolved. Children are called to honor their parents even if it doesn’t make sense to them for the sake of social order.
Similarly, people of the same sex were never sanctioned for marriage by Christ as a social norm; otherwise, Jesus would have expanded upon Old Testament Scripture (“You have heard it was said…but I say unto you….”) in Matthew 19 rather than reinforcing it. There is good reason He didn’t: sanctioning gay sex via marriage opens the door for disorder. There is no way to justify gay sex without justifying other sex acts as incest, rape, prostitution, etc., all of which entail sexual pleasure. The same way you can argue that the latter acts hurt someone in some manner, the sanction of gay sex through marriage can be argued as harmful. It hurts the couple spiritually because it sanctions lying to oneself and one’s partner as a social norm, per intelligent design, preventing fellowship with God and thus a full love of Him. It lies to children about the artistic chemistrical nature of God exposed through the heterosexual union, hindering kids in a gay family from experiencing His wisdom by which to wholeheartedly worship and love God. It also hurts society by establishing the psychological framework for concepts as incest to be socially sanctioned in the name of justice, which will lead to disorder. In all of this, wholehearted love for God and neighbor is nonexistent in some manner.
A place for effeminate men/masculine women?
One other question I have asked concerning homosexuality is what should be made of effeminate men/masculine women. Is gay marriage justified for people as these? My belief is that if the sin of lust is not the driving point for being in a gay relationship, there is no need for marriage to express love. Being feminine or masculine are social creations (e.g., there is nothing in the Bible that sanctions pink as a feminine color). Social creations can be learned, picked up, or dropped at will, but the true person is deeper than a social label. In being driven to a relationship by “love” then, one must examine whether they truly love the person or just the social role being assumed (and since a role is not the person, the latter would not constitute neighborly love). Further, as seen with David and Jonathan, you can desire to care for a person having certain qualities without having sex with them. And this care can take place in an unmarried relationship. Still, marriages which honor God will honor the two Greatest Commandments, meaning any form of lying (false love) should not underlie the marriage of any couple. What is interesting is that for stereotypically effeminate men attracted to masculine personalities, masculine women DO exist for marriage (and vice versa). Again, this assumes lust is not the driving point to marriage for these people.
Homosexuality/sexual orientation entails idolatry.
My final point in this discussion actually focuses on the overall identity associated with homosexuality (being gay) versus what it means to identify in Christ. The primary reason homosexuality is sin is because it entails idolatry. Jesus makes it clear: You cannot serve or identify in Him as a Christian while simultaneously serving or identifying in another “lord.” Matthew 6:24 states it is impossible to serve “two masters”; you will despise one or the other. Christ makes it clear what it means to serve Him as Lord and Savior: “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.’” (Matthew 16:24-25). Notably, the “self” can include anything about a person in which the person finds identity and direction for living. The Bible teaches that to truly be in Christ entails renouncing earthly aspects about yourself, including your body, social status, appearance, etc., in terms of these things dictating how you live. Instead, Christ and his commands must determine how you live. This makes Christ “Lord” of your life. And while many people view “losing your life” as simply meaning physical death, this can easily mean something as losing your “right” to sexual pleasure or a sexual identity if such entails a violation of God’s commands.
Consider this. Paul writes in Galatians 3:27-28 the following: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” The ultimate conviction for a Christian is not being enslaved to earthly identities, including those defining gender/sex (orientation) and related behaviors, but to Christ and His commands. This is freedom in Christ. Accordingly, a “reborn” male might say, “even though as a man, I am so often sexually aroused due to the prominence of physically attractive women on the internet, I will not give in to my body by raping someone or having multiple ‘baby mommas.’ I am no longer a male, serving my male bodily urges. I am in Christ, serving Christ. Christ says sex is for marriage between a man and woman. I will honor His commands. Yes, this means my body may suffer in me trying to suppress my bodily hunger for pleasure. But this is what it means to ‘lose my life’ to be His disciple.”
Conversely, in today’s society, what homosexuality does is promotes one’s bodily urges over Christ and His lordship: arousal dictates how one identifies and behaves in relation to others rather than Christ’s commands, making sex the primary lord of one’s life. People likewise say that they are born gay and cannot help their decisions. But this is technically “keeping your life”—surrendering to the physical body in which you were born—and not being willing to die (painstakingly suppress your nature) for the sake of Christ (rebirth). If people cannot renounce a “sexual orientation” or any other natural identity (including race, class, etc.) for being “in Christ,” they do not want Christ as Lord and Savior. Their god is their natural status. Sadly, it only makes sense then why many people might leave the church today to serve their bodies.
In conclusion, it is actually difficult for me to accept the harshness of the cost of discipleship in writing this. But it makes sense because Christ gave up everything He had to save us and He expects us to do the same as His Body. I could critique the different ways homosexuality is a sin awhile longer; there are so many ways to analyze this issue. Yet importantly, I DO NOT think the activity should be illegal from a government perspective. Other sins are legal and totally accepted socially, including fornication and adultery. Social justice requires treating people equally and fairly even if they want to sin. God will deal with the unrepentant in the next life. That’s not our concern. Our concern is to love. Like with the Prodigal Son, I actually think people should be given the freedom to do whatever they please, so to speak, so that they can realize sin’s dissatisfaction, opening the door to repentance. After all, God has done so for us; He does it every day. Should we not do so for others?
Accordingly, please consider my thoughts and don’t be shy if you have any questions! I look forward to reading—and perhaps critiquing—more of your thoughts in the future.
I am perhaps the odd man out in these comments, not being a regular follower of your Youtube videos, and having come across your channel and website by chance only within the last few days. For this reason I hope you won’t mind if I preface my comment with a brief self-introduction that will explain my presence and motives for responding to this blog post.
What led me to your website? I recall the incident well, it having taken place a scarce four days past. There I was, unremarkable Catholic that I am, browsing through Catholic videos, minding my Catholic business, doing Catholic things…when suddenly, in the corner of my eye, I notice pop up in the recommended videos list the word “PROTESTANT”. “Ah, Youtube’s infamously eclectic algorithms strike again,” thought I; but lo, taking a closer look, I discovered the reason why this particular video had been recommended to me. “PROTESTANT VISITS LATIN MASS! What I LOVED and HATED.”
Well, I’ll admit the thumbnail filled me with a sort of morbid curiosity. Could a Protestant’s reaction to a Latin Mass be anything other than pure, unadulterated horror—horror over the incense (pagan rituals!), devotional imagery (idol worship!), and reverential silence (dead liturgy!)? Were I to open the video, would I not be treated to a twenty minute rant on the abominations of the Whore of Babylon, Pagan Rome, meretricious seat of the Antichrist? What was the point? Better to ignore this obvious distraction and concentrate on more important matters.
I clicked on the thumbnail.
It did not take long for me to realize that, far from becoming reality, my dire projections would dissipate without ever assuming concrete form. It became readily apparent that you had already done some reading on Catholic and Orthodox traditions, were somewhat prepared, and knew at least a few things about what was going on around you. Pleasantly surprised by your reaction and abashed by my own erroneous and presumptive judgment, I had a gander at a few other of your videos, my interest piqued by this Latin Mass-frequenting, Sola Scriptura-critiquing Protestant. Soon this led me to this website, and the blog post on which I am currently commenting.
While it is evident that you have done some reading on Catholicism and have interacted with Catholics for some time, it is apparent that there are some aspects of Catholicism and Church teaching that you are still unfamiliar with (which is only to be expected), and that these gaps in your knowledge are making it difficult for you to fully comprehend the reasoning for the Church’s position on a variety of issues. Most likely you are reading certain teachings or doctrines; and, not knowing exactly how they fit as part of a whole, derive meanings from them which differ from the Church’s own understanding. In other words, those things you reject in Catholicism would be similarly rejected by the Church herself. I do not say this applies to every issue, but it is my impression that a few clarifications would suffice to make certain Catholic beliefs more palatable to you, and the Church herself less incomprehensible.
If I am writing to you today, it is not because I intend on charging your beliefs headlong; my purpose being rather to simply provide you with some data which I believe you may be unaware of, and which may help you to better understand the Catholic Church, and better form and develop your views on this issue. By “this issue” I mean of course the subject of this article, which has to do with homosexuality and how Christianity engages with those who profess a sexual attraction to members of their own sex.
Before we address the content of your post, I would like to make a brief remark upon its title, “Why Homosexuality is Not a Sin”. You will be glad to know that on this point you and the Church are in complete agreement. I know not whether or not you grew up in an environment that considered same-sex attraction to be intrinsically sinful, and individuals suffering from it to be automatically condemned to eternal hellfire, but given the prevalence of this view among a certain number of denominations, I will presume that you have at least been exposed to it, and are concerned about the disastrous impact it has on many people and the role it plays in driving them away from Christianity. I am sure it will relieve you to know, if you do not yet already, that this sort of blanket condemnation of innocent persons is completely incompatible with the Church’s understanding of God and human beings.
The Catechism on this matter is clear:
“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,141 tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’142 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.”
“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.”
It is of utmost importance that we distinguish between persons and deeds. The Church does not teach that to be attracted to persons of one’s own sex is sinful, nor that persons suffering from SSA would be rejected by God for that reason. This is perhaps an admissible point in view in the soteriology of certain denominations, particularly Calvinism, which teaches that God created certain souls only so that He might damn them in order to glorify Himself (a most disagreeable thesis), but this is irreconcilable with Catholicism, which teaches that God loves all men and desires for all to be saved.
Of course, I do not expect these passages, however reassuring you may find them, to resolve all of your difficulties. You will object that even if there is no question of rejecting homosexual persons, still there is mention of rejecting those acts which you believe are essential for their well-being. This brings us to the next part of my comment.
In your video, you said,
“It would take an extreme amount of evidence on the other side of the debate for me to consider changing my view. And I would consider changing my view. I just have not seen anything that contradicts what I have studied.”
I hope you won’t mind if I take this statement as an invitation to offer you, if not an extreme amount, at least a sizable body evidence for you to peruse at your leisure. Below you will find links to various studies, accompanied by choice extracts, which will already give you a good idea of their contents, if you do not have the time or inclination to read them in depth.
Allow me to warn you in advance that before long in your reading you would notice something curious about the studies that immediately follow this paragraph. You see, none of them directly address homosexuals, presenting instead the adverse effects non-procreative sexual acts have on heterosexuals. How then, you may wonder, are they relevant to our current discussion? The reason is simple. The studies demonstrate that sodomy, even when practiced between heterosexuals, causes harm. That which is harmful to oneself and to others is against the will of God, and therefore sodomy is sinful. From a Christian perspective that is not the only reason why it is sinful, but I find this elementary argument to be the best starting point, as it is the easiest to grasp, and for the majority of persons, the most accessible.
Of course the foundation of this argument is that sodomy is physically harmful in all cases; which claim I invite you to verify to your satisfaction through an examination of the following scholarly works, and other online resources if you are so inclined:
“It is well established that oral sex may lead to the transmission of a wide variety of STIs, including HIV.1–4 As discussed elsewhere in this issue (see syphilis symposium, pp 309–26) oral sex appears to be important in the resurgence of early infectious syphilis in the United Kingdom. Many of these latter cases have been in HIV positive individuals and it is likely that co-infection with syphilis would increase the risk of (oral) transmission of HIV—as has been shown similarly in numerous studies of genital HIV/STI co-infection.”
“Oral cancer in non-smokers is becoming a growing problem—with cancer detected at the base of the tongue or in the throat. The culprit?—the human papillomavirus (HPV)—most likely transmitted through oral sex. This is the same virus that causes cervical cancer. The May 10, 2007 New England Journal of Medicine reported a study by scientists that analyzed throat swabs from 100 patients who had oropharyngal cancer, and 200 people without the disease. The results showed, ‘The cancer patients were 12 times as likely as the others to have an active HPV infection….HPV-16 DNA showed up in 72 percent of the throat cancers.’ This is the strain considered most likely to cause cancer. HPV-16 can transform normal cells in the mucous membranes—like those lining both the cervix and oral cavity—into cancerous squamous cells.”
“Certain kinds of sexual behavior were significantly associated with oropharyngeal cancer after adjustment for confounding variables. The association with oropharyngeal cancer increased significantly with the number of vaginal-sex partners or oral-sex partners (P for trend=0.002 and 0.009, respectively) and was markedly elevated among patients with a high lifetime number of such partners…Oral HPV infection is strongly associated with oropharyngeal cancer among subjects with or without the established risk factors of tobacco and alcohol use.”
“Irrespective of whether penile-anal intercourse is occurring between a male and a female or two males, penile-anal intercourse is associated with greater risk of HIV transmission than penile-vaginal intercourse [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. The risk of transmission during unprotected anal intercourse has been estimated to be 10 times greater than during unprotected vaginal intercourse [8, 9, 10]. Some estimates suggest the risk could be as high as 20-fold . While some caution is required for pooled transmission probabilities, it is clear that unprotected HAI poses greater risk for females than does vaginal intercourse .”
“Most heterosexuals engage in unprotected anal intercourse less frequently than they engage in unprotected vaginal intercourse, but unprotected anal intercourse presents a higher probability of HIV and STD infection than does unprotected vaginal intercourse, particularly for women. Biologically, the increased likelihood of mucosal disruption and trauma in the more fragile columnar epithelium that lines the rectum versus the vaginal lining’s squamous epithelium, along with increased risk of trauma because of the muscular anal sphincter, are postulated reasons for this increased risk. One seroconversion study estimated the probability of HIV infection per act of receptive anal intercourse at 3.4% versus less than 0.01% per act of vaginal intercourse and also found a 5.1 increased odds of HIV infection from anal compared with vaginal intercourse.”
“Anal membranes are easily damaged during sex, facilitating the spread of infection. Past studies suggest that anal exposure to HIV poses 30 times more risk than vaginal exposure.”
(This article then goes on to recommend that people make greater use of condoms…but neglects to mention that condoms only reduce the chance of contracting HIV and other diseases; they do not render it non-existent. This makes its guidelines somewhat akin to dissuading someone from shooting themselves in the head with a shotgun, recommending that they play Russian Roulette with a pistol instead.)
“The American Journal of Epidemiology (F.N. Judson vol. 112, p 836-43) reports, “’Studies have also indicated that the body’s natural immune system is broken down by repeated exposure to sperm during anal (and oral) intercourse….’”
“Anal intercourse can eventually lead to fecal incontinence. A February 2016 study concludes: ‘The findings support the assessment of anal intercourse as a factor contributing to fecal incontinence in adults, especially among men.’ In the case of heterosexual anal intercourse it is the woman who is at risk to develop fecal incontinence.”
“The American Cancer Society reports, ‘Receptive anal intercourse also increases the risk of anal cancer in both men and women, particularly in those younger than 30.’ 7 HPV (human papillomavirus) is the main cause of anal cancer; but apparently, anal intercourse in particular increases the likelihood that the virus will attack the anus or rectum. Multiple sexual partners is also listed as a risk factor for anal cancer. Again, it is the woman experiencing heterosexual anal intercourse who is at risk…furthermore, receptive anal intercourse carries a risk 17 times greater than receptive vaginal intercourse. Moreover, receptive anal intercourse even carries a risk 2 times greater than that of needle-sharing during injection drug use.”
Note that thus far we have not considered any religious arguments, and have referred to predominately secular sources. This view that I am presenting is not specifically Christian; you will find atheists who oppose our society’s brazen endorsement of sodomy on the grounds that it causes human suffering. Though I as a Christian will be animated by supernatural charity, and will see my neighbor as a fellow child of God and therefore earnestly desire that he desist from committing those actions which threaten his body and immortal soul, as well as the bodies and souls of those with whom he commits them, even purely natural human sympathy suffices for us to desire that those who commit sodomy will amend their ways and cease harming others, and even their own selves. We are called to love, but I do not love myself if I willingly risk my own life for evil purposes; and if I cannot even love myself, I certainly cannot love my neighbor (Mk. 10:31).
You will agree with me, I trust, that this position does not make one “heterophobic”, or somehow intolerant of other persons. It is no more an insult to warn someone of the risks inherent to harmful practices such as sodomy than it is for a doctor to advise a chain-smoker to at least cut down on his habit. The difference, however, is that one act of sodomy, being quite possibly an act of life or death on a physical level, and quite certainly one on the spiritual (as the willing endangerment of one’s own life and that of another for immoral reasons constitutes grave matter), is not comparable to a habit like smoking; which, undertaken with moderation, does not necessarily carry the ruin of health and destruction of life in its wake. With sodomy there is no such possible moderation, and so those acts must be categorically rejected.
Assuming that one arrives at the standpoint that heterosexual sodomy is unacceptable because it harms heterosexuals, the logic needs be pursued only a little further in order to arrive at the natural conclusion that it is equally unacceptable if it occurs between homosexuals. If heterosexual sodomy would be sinful even if only for the reason that it causes harm to heterosexuals, then obviously it must likewise be sinful if committed by individuals who suffer from SSA. They are not lesser beings, or worth innately less than heterosexuals; consequently, that act which harms and/or kills heterosexuals must at least be equally sinful in a homosexual context, and to say otherwise would be to denigrate the human dignity of the homosexual. (Rest assured, however, that I did not interpret your video or blog post as homophobic, nor do I believe that you wish for and desire the suffering and death of homosexuals; rather my belief is that some facts were simply unknown to you.)
This is perhaps the greatest sin of the LQBT movement—by which I mean the attack upon and denigration of persons through rhetoric which reduces them to their sexuality and arbitrarily condemns them to a lifetime of suffering and hedonism at best, or an empty youth and early grave at worst, as if this is the highest end to which they can aspire. But I’m getting ahead of myself—before delving into metaphysical or spiritual considerations, of which the commenter “Dan” has already given us a preview, let us proceed as we have been doing, concerning ourselves first and foremost with purely biological factors.
At last we reach the question of homosexual sodomy. I am in agreement with many of Dan’s points, but one thing in particular that I cannot agree with is his assessment that physical risk is not inherent to homosexual sodomy. The facts do not bear out this assertion. I won’t post many more links, as everything that heterosexuals are susceptible to applies equally to homosexuals, so we already have a good idea of the ominous specter of disease and death that they face, but there is a key difference, in that though many of the diseases endemic to homosexual sodomy are identical to those which arise as a result of heterosexual sodomy, the risk factor skyrockets when we speak of homosexual acts, and the rate of contracting a fatal affliction is also much increased, leading to dramatically shorter lifespans among the active homosexual population:
“An epidemiological study from Vancouver, Canada of data tabulated between 1987 and 1992 for AIDS-related deaths reveals that male homosexual or bisexual practitioners lost up to 20 years of life expectancy. The study concluded that if 3 percent of the population studied were gay or bisexual, the probability of a 20-year-old gay or bisexual man living to 65 years was only 32 percent, compared to 78 percent for men in general. The damaging effects of cigarette smoking pale in comparison -cigarette smokers lose on average about 13.5 years of life expectancy. The impact on length of life may be even greater than reported in the Canadian study. First, HIV/AIDS is underreported by as much as 15-20 percent, so it is likely that not all AIDS-related deaths were accounted for in the study.
Second, there are additional major causes of death related to gay sex. For example, suicide rates among a San Francisco cohort were 3.4 times higher than the general U.S. male population in 1987. Other potentially fatal ailments such as syphilis, anal cancer, and Hepatitis B and C also affect gay and bisexual men disproportionately.”
“A 2010 CDC data analysis underscores the disproportionate impact of HIV and syphilis among gay and bisexual men in the United States. The data, presented at CDC’s 2010 National STD Prevention Conference, found that the rate of new HIV diagnosis among men who have sex with men (MSM) is more than 44 times that of other men and more than 40 times that of women. The rate of primary and secondary syphilis among MSM is more than 46 times that of other men and more than 71 times that of women.
“Anal intercourse also puts men at significant risk for anal cancer. Anal cancer is the result of infection with some subtypes of human papilloma virus (HPV), which are known viral carcinogens. Data as of 1989 showed the rates of anal cancer in male homosexual practitioners to be 10 times that of heterosexual males, and growing. Thus, the prevalence of anal cancer among gay men is of great concern. For those with AIDS, the rates are doubled.
Men who have sex with men account for the lion’s share of the increasing number of cases in America of sexually transmitted infections that are not generally spread through sexual contact. These diseases, with consequences that range from severe and even life-threatening to mere annoyances, include Hepatitis A, Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica, Epstein-Barr virus, Neisseria meningitides, Shigellosis, Salmonellosis, Pediculosis, scabies and Campylobacter. In America, Human Herpes Virus 8 (called Herpes Type 8 or HHV-8) is a disease found exclusively among male homosexual practitioners. Researchers have long noted that men who contracted AIDS through homosexual behavior frequently developed a previously rare form of cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma.
The consequences of homosexual activity have significantly altered the delivery of medical care to the population at-large…AIDS spending per patient is more than seven times that for cancer. The inequity for diabetes and heart disease is even more striking. Consequently, the disproportionate amount of money spent on AIDS detracts from research into cures for diseases that affect more people.
“Bacterial vaginosis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, heavy cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, intravenous drug use, and prostitution were present in much higher proportions among female homosexual practitioners…although researchers have only recently begun studying the transmission of STDs among lesbians, diseases such as “crabs,” genital warts, chlamydia and herpes have been reported. Even women who have never had sex with men have been found to have HPV, trichomoniasis and anogenital warts.
It is acknowledged today (however reluctantly by some) that if AIDS, which has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans since the 1980s, was able to spread as rapidly as it did in the US, this was in large part due to sodomitical acts between men; and, as even the pro-sodomy CDC admits,
“Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men made up an estimated 2% of the population but 55% of people living with HIV in the United States in 2013. Gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 accounted for an estimated 92% of new HIV diagnoses among all men in their age group and 27% of new diagnoses among all gay and bisexual men.”
Now, though it’s terribly presumptuous on my part, I’d like to turn the tables around for a bit and ask you a question. Homosexual activists begin with the premise that sodomitical acts between members of the same sex are an objective good, and in doing so seek to put defenders of traditional morality on the backfoot, and it seems you accept their claim. But can you provide any reasons why we should accept this unsubstantiated assertion? Does it not seem, in light of all the research and scientific evidence available to us, and the hundreds of thousands of deceased AIDS victims in the US alone, that our default position should rather be that sodomy is harmful to persons and is therefore not an objective good? This is more of a rhetorical question; I am not demanding either a written response on this website or in a video. My object rather is to provoke you to explore avenues of thought which I suspect to have lain heretofore undisturbed. I suspect them to lie untrodden, because I was guilty of the same neglect myself, until a confrontation with the evidence obliged me to revise my beliefs, which were once not dissimilar to your present views on this subject.
We come now to our conclusion. In your latest video on this subject you said, “I don’t want to be responsible for turning away thousands of people from God.“
An admirable sentiment, and it is one with which I am sympathetic and strive to keep in mind, being someone of a naturally combative bent myself, who would gladly argue the entire world into belief were it possible: but we must also take care lest we indulge our compassion so greatly that it lulls our sense of justice to sleep, causing us to lose our seasoning qualities and become flat and savorless. We are the salt of the earth, and the role of salt is to purify and to preserve. But if we lose our saltiness, what are we good for except to be despised and trodden underfoot by the world (Mt. 5:13)? Undoubtedly there are people who have been badly mistreated, and who have turned away from religion as a result, and we can deplore this tragic state of affairs and take steps to remedy it. But at the same time, we cannot blind ourselves to the reality that many have turned away from God, and even become virulently anti-Christian, not because of any trauma, but because of the perceived “injustice” in the Church’s teaching that they cannot give themselves over to licentiousness and commit with abandon those actions which they see as good and harmless, but which in actuality are gravely harmful to themselves and to others and are contrary to the will of God.
It is an act of mercy to correct the sinner, while to enable him in his sinful habit is exhibit nothing more than false compassion. We must always strive to balance the exhortation to repent with compassion for the sinner, and perhaps Christians in the past have erred on the side of exhortation, but it is no solution to fall into the opposite error and be so welcoming that we provide even sin a place of honor at our table. We do not want to chase people away from God, but we will not be able to bring them to Him if we allow them to commit suicide—suicide of another kind, a kind that is ostensibly more elegant and agreeable, true; but which is suicide all the same.
If you have extended to me more attention than I deserve and read all that I have scrawled, you have my sincere thanks and your longanimity my admiration. I fear however to try your patience again in the future, for we have not even begun to examine those arguments made in your post, and it is my intention to attempt to answer them to your satisfaction, as time permits. Please do not hesitate to inform me of your dispositions regarding this intention of mine. If you do not wish for me to clutter up this comment section further, you need only make this known to me, and I shall cease to impose upon your time. If, however, you are willing to read yet more of my contributions, but are too busy or do not particularly feel the need to respond to them, then I will continue commenting without taking your silence as a deterrent. Alternatively, if you disagree with something I have written, and wish to tell me so, I shall be glad to receive your criticisms or questions.
Yours in Christ, and wishing you a blessed day,
Wow. J Reed, you nailed it. It’s a long read but the topic is worthy of such an answer.
You are incorrect concerning “abomination.” The word in Hebrew is “to’evah.” Leviticus 18:22 says, “Thou shalt not lie with zachar (man) as with isha (woman): it is to’evah (abomination, detestable.)” It is listed among the sins for which the former inhabitants were driven out of the land. Orthodox rabbinic commentary says, “The harshness with which the Torah describes them (these practices–which includes bestiality) testifies to the repugnance in which God holds those who engage in these unnatural practices.” With other sexual sins, to’evah is not used. The Orthodox Commentary (The Stone Edition) on Leviticus 18:22 says, “None of the relationships given above are described with this term of disgust because they involve normal activity, though with prohibited mates. Homosexuality, however, is unnatural and therefore abominable.”
I find it interesting you omitted 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Homosexuality was covered in both sexually immoral, and men who have sex with men. My guess is you couldn’t figure out a spin for that particular verse to fit your rhetoric.
Also, homosexuality did exist in the first century. The acts existed, maybe language hadn’t given labels to them, but it existed. Also, the Bible also doesn’t explicitly say anything about pedophilia or beastiality— but one can easily discern why both are sins, just as we can do with homosexual sex.
Lizzie, your arguments are flawed. 1) the fact that David, Solomon, and Israel had more than one wife doesn’t mean that God WANTED it that way; they CHOSE to do it that way. In fact Deuteronomy 17:17 says to the Kings of Israel, “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.” 2) if God calls something an abomination, that means YOU SHOULD NOT DO IT! It doesn’t matter if he tells you not to eat shrimp or wear clothes with multiple fabrics; disobedience to God IS sin. 3) Homosexuality clearly existed in the “ancient world”. You already admitted it with Sodom and Gomorrah. Please, don’t support this. You are leading MANY people astray into the idea that homosexuality is okay.
You are not Catholic and you arguments are completely wrong.
Holy crap you don’t even know what sin is.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts about TENTIE. Regards
I became really attracted to your channel because of your views on Catholicism and the Orthodox. I really appreciate your perspective regarding this topic and how you’ve pointed out so many things which seem obvious to me. However, I’ve noticed that you are adamant in your belief that homosexuality is not a sin. I wish to provide you with some links – 1 protestant and 3 catholic – that I would like you to see. I would hope that this comes to change your perspective.
https://youtu.be/RhUv4rvIRgc – woman
https://youtu.be/fWZ171V0wEQ – father mike
https://youtu.be/cGP97mvMeMA – protestant debate
https://youtu.be/4-9_rxXFu9I – father mike transgender
I also have noticed that you say you have looked into and done your own research on whether gay marriage or homosexuality is sinful or not. I would like to raise some awareness in you that modern biblical scholarship has been dominated by something called post-modernism. A post-modern perspective isn’t necessarily the best way to read the Bible from a faith-based perspective. Anyway, I hope that these videos help a little bit. Let me know. Keep making videos!
Imho, you really explain this point better than I’ve seen anywhere. You take the contrary view seriously from your church background. I do want to point out a scientific aspect. While it’s true that people do not choose their sexual orientation, the brain is extremely plastic. That’s why folic acid from vegetables and lots of cardio can help renew the hippocampus after depression, or in my case after cancer and chemotherapy. Plasticity has been shown over time to be more and more important and gives people a little more impact on their wiring than used to be generally believed. So it’s true that homosexual brains under examination were found to be markedly different, but with plasticity that difference probably is a combination of genetics and behavior over their lifetimes. Conditioning and reinforcement through sex is extremely powerful. Once you start down a way then you may create a superhighway neurologically in that direction. Neural highways have been observed, for example, in musicians. It’s not a conscious choice, however with the plasticity there’s probably conditioning as well as genetics involved. Theologically I think you’re totally correct and actually you are impressive.
I was meaning to comment on this post, but forgot about it! While I come to different ultimate conclusions, I really admire how much research and thought you put into this. I see a bunch of others have commented quite at length, so I’ll just add a few thoughts taking a somewhat different tack.
Is it possible to interpret the link in Ephesians 5 between the Christ-Church relationship and man-woman marriage in analogical/sacramental rather than simply metaphorical terms, as you describe it? A “metaphor” is just a figure of speech that highlights certain shared characteristics whereby one reality is like another, but where there is no intrinsic connection between the two (e.g., “laughter is the best medicine”). In common parlance the word “analogy” is often used quite similarly, but the Catholic tradition uses it to connote a kind of ontological participation of one reality in another, with the understanding that all being finds its ground in God (since being is *positive* and does not include sin/evil, which are privations). For example, when Psalm 23 speaks of how “the Lord is my shepherd,” these positive qualities of “shepherd-ness” are not applied to God extrinsically but find their original and complete reality in him, and all earthly shepherds participate in this reality to different degrees. The whole tradition of figural/allegorical reading of Scripture, in the early Church and Middle Ages, is related to this — and unlike Platonic participation which only really moves “vertically,” this moves “horizontally” as well, seeing analogies between the different events of God’s working in salvation history as centered in and ordered to Jesus Christ. And this is why, for Catholics, analogy can pass into sacrament, in which, by the Spirit, certain created realities are enabled to make Christ and his activity tangibly (and “really,” not just metaphorically!) present. All this is to say that Paul does not bring up Christ’s relation to his Church in this context of marriage just as an effective literary tool, but because he is pointing to the deepest essence and ordering of this “great mystery” of nuptuality (Eph 5:32), in which the bride and bridegroom are enabled to participate sacramentally, as active agents, in making present the very heart of our faith. This involves the sort of unconditionally self-abandoning love Christ embodied for us and that we embody in lovingly submitting ourselves to him (and for Catholics, when we do this, we ontologically participate in Mary’s own totally reverent and joyful self-availability for Jesus – so this is found in someONE who already *is*, not someTHING we accomplish by our own efforts!). Yet we don’t see this as a reality that began *temporally* with Christ and the Church, but rather in Eden, since all creation has been ordered to its fulfillment in him from the very beginning, and “grace does not abolish nature, but perfects it,” as the Scholastic formula goes. So man and woman from the very beginning have, as it were, “born the marks” (physical and spiritual) of self-gift to their “other,” in which sexual relationships are embedded in the context of the mutual, total self-giving of the whole person that we call marriage — and “total” in the sense of open and welcoming to whatever fruitfulness flows from this. In these contexts, it’s so significant that Scripture begins with a marriage, ends with a marriage supper, and is centered in Christ’s cruciform love for his bride. No doubt there are some questionable points in it, but there’s a reason by St. Pope John Paul II’s “theology of the body” has shaped recent Catholic thinking to such a degree in these areas — he articulated what Christians have always held but in a way that begins not with a list of rules/prohibitions but with the question, “what does it mean to a person?”, and sketches a positive biblical and philosophical-theological vision that integrates sexuality with the rest of our existence.
I say all this because I find that an adequate Catholic perspective DOES begin with a positive, holistic vision, rather than starting by condemning what falls short of this on the basis of isolated texts. That Catholics do consider same-sex sexual activity (not persons!) as “falling short” of God’s design for sex (but not necessarily *more* so than fornication, etc.) is not primarily based on particular interpretations of the story of Sodom or that passage of Leviticus, though the Romans 1 passage is regarded as more of a source (it does seem to me that the fact that Paul here also mentions women suggests that male pederasty wasn’t the only kind of sex he was thinking of). By the same token, most Catholics would have no problem with seeing the OT examples of polygamy/concubinage you cite as less than the perfect will of God, either in terms of God’s allowing it for that time (similar to divorce or “eye for an eye” justice in the OT), and/or God’s people’s understanding his will imperfectly (it’s controversial, but many would put, say, the Canaanite genocide in this category). Catholics don’t read the Bible in a “flat” way but, again, as centred on Christ and interpreted in light of him. No doubt, having encountered the very presence of God’s own self in Christ, we are called to a life that surpasses what was possible in the OT.
On one of your other points: yes, in the Catholic understanding gay Christians are called to celibacy, but if you want to phrase this as “forced,” this is not completely dissimilar from how straight Christians might be “forced” into celibacy for long periods (or their whole lives) because of *many* possible circumstances I can think of. Catholics also emphasize that the virtue of chastity is required even IN marriage; marriage is itself a kind of asceticism that shapes and disciplines our desires towards greater selflessness and self-transcendence (by the way, I would put a right use of NFP in this category – the Church specifically *rejects* the idea that it’s another form of birth control, as “control” is specifically the opposite of the self-abandoning love in question here!). Often it’s precisely in acceptance and obedience that we become free, fulfilled, and ourselves (contra so much of the Enlightenment/modernity). Along these lines, you’re right to speak in terms of “gift,” but the challenge of such gifts is that they involve both limitation and opportunity: they close some possibilities and open our way to others. Discovering and accepting these gifts in dialogue with their Giver always takes place in the context of, well, the other things and circumstances we’ve been given, above all our very selves. Like a tapestry, with countless interconnections. So in one who senses an attraction to the same sex, this need not be something that only “closes off,” but a pointer to many possible gifts, e.g., in cultivating kinds of friendships that would not otherwise be possible. This is one of the major ideas behind the “Spiritual Friendship” movement (see https://spiritualfriendship.org/), made up of LGBT Christians (of different denominations) who live celibately but who see their orientation as not only a challenge but as opening up such possibilities in a positive way. I really recommend the book “Gay and Catholic” by Eve Tushnet, one of the main collaborators in this movement.
And this leads to my last major point, which is that I think Catholicism is particularly well-placed as a home for the LGBT community. I’m not trying to idealize things — that it’s “well-placed” doesn’t mean it actually practically lives up to this. What I mean is that although the Church understands sexual activity to belong exclusively within man-woman marriage, she recognizes that we are all sexual beings (insofar as sexuality is a much bigger and deeper thing than simply what we do with our genitals) and that there are many different, unique, holy ways of living this out. A lot of this has to do with all the different types of communal and monastic life the Church has incorporated over so many centuries, associated with different charisms and patterns of life. These are utterly different from one another in the sorts of relationships and communities they entail, yet this very diversity is affirmed as holy by the Church. Now the Reformation led to many needed changes, and there are many areas in which Protestants have done a much better job than Catholics in communicating and living out the Gospel. But some of the Reformation changes were very much two-sided — e.g., its attack on clericalism and emphasis that married, worldly life is just as holy a path as celibate priestly/religious life was very needed, but it very quickly led to delegitimizing forms of life *other* than the married/worldly state, as manifested, e.g., in the destruction of the monasteries and the whole “Protestant work ethic” that gave no room for vows of poverty. In my judgment, a sign of this is that when we speak of “THE American dream” (the U.S., of course, being by far the most prominent nation founded specifically *on* Protestantism), we think of a certain wealthy, suburban, “white picket fence,” (heterosexual) married-with-2.5-kids kind of life, which is also usually bound up with a whole lot of gender norms and expectations. Upper-middle-class, bourgeoisie existence. But in Catholicism, precisely because of all the diverse forms of life and paths to holiness the Church has blessed, there is no uniform “good/human/holy” life. There are as many roads to holiness as there are saints. Yes, we believe married life has a central, irreplaceable place in any healthy society, and honor it as the sacrament it is, but there’s so much room for so much else, and so many others. Friendships do not all need to look the same. Someone who is gay will clearly relate to members of each sex differently than would a straight person, and have different kinds of friendships, different ways of expressing love. Yes, the Church believes certain *expressions* of this sexuality are closed off, but this sexuality in the broader sense, and the particular friendships, loves, and community flowing from it, can lead to so much that is good and holy.
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