Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Traditional Catholicism vs. The Gay Culture

Catholicism vs. The Gay Culture

Being a Traditionalist Catholic (and a former Protestant), I am very sensitive to the criticism that Traditionalists sometimes have an almost Protestant aura about them in certain ways. One particular way this quasi-Protestant mentality can can be sensed is in the tendency to define Traditionalism in negative terms: in comparison to other Catholics, we are not this, we don't agree with that, this is wrong, etc. I believe an authentic expression of Traditionalism is positive, full, rich and balanced. Traditionalists may rightly object to certain things, but the right to object ought not devolve into developing an identity centered around objection.

With that in mind, I hope to offer a few posts from time to time on the moral issues of the day and how we might handle and process them more effectively as Catholics. All orthodox Catholics can easily join in agreement on these issues. In this day, when the "dictatorship of relativism" has undermined and obscured even the Natural Law written upon all mens hearts, there is little more orthodox and traditional than fighting back with the light of Truth.

Yes, Virginia, there really is Truth, expressed perfectly in the person of our savior, Jesus Christ.

A Catholic View on Homosexuality:

I have received many questions about homosexuality, but I believe this one represents a good many of them:

"I have been trying to learn more about my faith, and one thing I hear so often is 'the Catholic faith is not like a buffet, you can't pick and choose which things you believe in and will follow, and which things you won't.' While I know this is true, one topic I am not completely understanding is why the Catholic Church does not believe that people can live out a gay lifestyle. I know that the Catholic Church says it is ok to be gay, but not to act upon it. What I don't know is what are their reasoning backing that up. Why is the Catholic Church against a gay lifestyle?"

It may be helpful to clarify some terminology here. The Church has not said it is "okay to be gay". The term "gay" implies an entire lifestyle choice, not merely a sexual preference or orientation. And the "gay" lifestyle is never acceptable. Perhaps the most accurate and useful way to refer to it is "Same Sex Attraction" or "SSA".This is what the Catechism has to say about homosexuality and homosexual acts:

"Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (Genesis 19:1-29; Romans 1:24-27; 1Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:10 ), tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved......Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2357 and 2359)

It is important to remember what sex is, or at least what God intended it to be. Sex is the fullest expression of the marital commitment/bond between a man and a woman, it is a private, intimate bodily verification of the verbal commitment husbands and wives publicly make at the is the bodily "I do". Marriage is a SACRAMENT. Every time a husband and wife engage in the marital embrace, they renew their vows, they renew their complete commitment to one another, without reservation....through their actions, they each say "I am yours completely." In this, it is very much like the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist: every time we receive Christ, we renew our vow to love and serve him with our whole being and receive Him into our bodies.

As is clear from the Scriptures and basic biology, man and woman were created for one another. Their very nature is complementary (not just biologically, but psychologically and spiritually)....they complete one another. When husband and wife express their love through the marital embrace, the man gives of himself completely, and the woman actively receives him. This expression of love is creative and fruitful, so much so that it may bring forth life in 9 months! This is the nature of God's love: complete, sacrificial and creative.

While there are certainly cases where a particular married couple may be infertile, the point is that the basic nature of man and woman together is creative and complementary. The infertility is not a fundamental part of the relationship, it is an unfortunate defect.In the case of homosexual acts, the acts themselves are completely and fundamentally sterile, they are defective by nature. No two men or two women are capable of expressing sexual love in such a way that it is creative. Two men or two women together sexually are simply not complementary, they do not "complete" one another. This kind of bodily expression is really a kind of of the self, or of "sameness". A man basically sees a reflection of himself and is attracted to it. Ditto for a woman. This is fundamentally disordered. (And by the way, the idea of voluntarily engaging in sterile sexual activity is exactly the same reason why contraception is destroys the full meaning of the marital embrace, turning it into a lie...."I give myself fully to you....but not really!" The acceptance of contraception has gravely undermined the family and opened the way for acceptance of other kinds of sterile sexual homosexual acts.)

In sexual relations, man is the one who "gives" of himself. It is the way he was designed. The woman was designed to receive. To compare it to a very simple worldly, mundane thing, if one has two electrical outlets together or two plugs together, it just doesn't work. The electricity will not flow. It takes a plug and an outlet. It is a fact of the design itself.These are some of the fundamental reasons why homosexual acts can never be holy and good. Now, as is usually the case, when something is fundamentally wrong/disordered, we expect to see negative consequences that follow. And sure enough, we do. This is how "Natural Law" works. We don't need the Catholic Church to tell us that murder is wrong. It is built into our very nature and we should be able to see its negative effects. Ditto with stealing, and....homosexual acts. All of these things have negative consequences for individuals, families and societies. This is what the "Natural law" is all about: things that are stamped into our very nature.

In the case of homosexuality, here are some of the unfortunate consequences that give light to the results of defying the Natural Law:

1) Drastically reduced life-span (estimated at 20 years less than heterosexuals)
2) Drastically higher rates of psychological illness, from depression to suicide
3) Drastically higher rates of serious diseases and physical ailments (many of which are rare or even unknown in heterosexuals), including but not limited to: anal cancer, Chlamydia trachomatis, Cryptosporidium, Giardia lamblia, Herpes simplex virus, HIV/Aids, Human papilloma virus, Isospora belli, Microsporidia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C, anal fissures, anal "incompetence" (inability to retain fecal matter)
4) Drastically higher rates of "promiscuity"
5) Higher rates of substance abuse
6) Drastically higher rates of pedophilia (those with SSA comprise only 1-3% of the population, yet they commit over 33% of the cases of sexual abuse of children) and more.......

Additionally, I would mention that the psychological effects cannot simply be dismissed by claiming they occur only because homosexuals are under the strain of "not being accepted". These statistics stay relatively constant even in countries that fully accept and embrace homosexuality and homosexual unions.

Taken together, studies establish that homosexuality is more deadly than smoking, alcoholism, or drug addiction. Yet, few will say so publicly out of fear of reprisal or a mistaken sense of charity. But what is charitable about allowing or encouraging people to engage in things that will likely kill them? What is charitable about allowing others to fall into such deadly behavior because of our silence?

Contrary to current, popular belief, not one study has ever shown homosexuality is genetically determined. Even scientists with SSA (or who advocate for homosexuality) admit that no such "gay gene" exists. Regardless, even if it were true that SSA was partly genetic, genetic tendencies do not mean that objectively destructive behavior is somehow "good". Men have a biological tendency toward violence and promiscuity. Do we want to say "go ahead, it 's natural"? Of course not. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, man has inherited many sinful tendencies. But with Christ, it is possible to overcome them, if we have the will to do so.

In conclusion, Catholics are not "against" people with SSA. We differentiate between "the sin" and "the sinner". We are ALL sinners in need of God's mercy. But we cannot call "good" what God has called "evil" if we hope to ever find our way home to God. We must speak charitably, but we must speak THE TRUTH. Homosexual behavior is not like skin color or gender. It can be changed, and it has been changed very successfully in many instances. Groups like Fr. Harvey's "Courage" help men and women who want to change. They key, of course, is having the WILL to change. Without that, no amount of help will be effective.

We should all humbly pray for those who suffer with SSA, that they develop the will to fight against that which is destroying their bodies and souls. That is the traditional, Catholic thing to do.

Michael Forrest