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Post No. 42

October 9, 2010

A friend of mine pointed out a video of Stephen Fry on Catholicism in the Intelligence² debate. I’m sure it’s part of something else, but it doesn’t really matter.

All the usual suspects were called for the line-up: the Catholic Church definitely not being a force for good in the world, paedophile priests, riches that Jesus Christ Himself would have hated etc. Homosexuality was also thrown in for good measure – obviously because Stephen Fry is a homosexual himself. Nothing wrong with that. Absolutely. What I don’t like is when homosexual individuals twist the Church’s teaching to depict themselves as victims of an injustice.

What does the Catholic Church really say about homosexual persons?

Quoting lock, stock and barrel from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2357 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 [my emphasis] as acts of grave depravity, Tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts [my emphasis, again] 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 complementarity. Under no circumstances can they [the homosexual acts, that is] be approved.

Already we have a clear distinction between a person and the person’s actions – which is why I emphasised acts in the above passage. Let’s take a banal example. You lend a book to your best friend. When s/he returns it to you there’s  [insert favourite major catastrophe]. Saying you go ballistic is an understatement. Assuming your friendship was strong to begin with, would you really consider dumping your friend because of such a relatively minor incident? Hopefully not. You hate that your friend returned your book in a worse condition than when you lent it to him/her, but you’d still go for a coffee with him/her. Hate the sin, love the sinner sort of thing.

Then there’s the “intrinsically disordered” bit. Why would evolution have taken the trouble of selecting two sexes when one would have been enough? From a purely biological point of view, sexual reproduction is precisely that: gametes from different and complementary sexes meeting to produce a new organism of the same species (simplistically). There’s asexual reproduction too, but it’s only very rarely found in anything bigger than noncellular organisms. Nobody should feel wronged, then, when it is claimed that homosexual acts go against natural law. That human beings have incorporated sex into our leisure activities doesn’t make homosexual acts – among other questionable sexual activities – legitimate. We should not be cowed into accepting anything just because. The persons committing the acts should be treated with the utmost dignity and respect that every human being merits, but the acts should be roundly condemned.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is 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.

2359 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.

First off: heterosexual persons are called to chastity as much as homosexual persons. The passage happens to discuss homosexuals, so there wass no place for heterosexuals in that context. It is an important point to make, though, because it slips the notice of many – conveniently or genuinely – that sex between an unmarried man and woman is illicit too, the only difference being that from a biological point of view, at least, the right “connections” are being made. I don’t know if the same holds true from a catechismal point of view.

Discussions of the Church’s perceived stand against homosexuals always brings to mind the incident of a local gay politician – one Patrick Attard – who excommunicated himself from the Catholic Church because, like so many others, he thoroughly misunderstood the Church’s stance on homosexuals and homosexuality. I prefer to believe that he misunderstood the Church’s position. It is also possible – though by no means verifiable – that the Church’s teaching is intentionally distorted (by parties who have much to gain by doing so) to change her message of love and hope into one of hatred and discrimination. That was my original gripe. It seems like I’ve turned a full circle. That must be it then.

Toodle-oo.

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From → The Elephant

2 Comments
  1. Another Reuben permalink

    I agree that the Catholic Church has moved from hating the sinner to hating the sin. However I find this still to be flawed and not enough. Telling people that there is something wrong with them is not the way forward. Why are suicide rates for gays in Christian countries so high? Just think about that for a moment.

    Also, the logic of the church is twisted. If you are gay you cannot get married. No one can have sex or live a full relationship before getting married. Therefore they can never live a full relationship. How is that equality?

    Also this blatant homophobia is spread into the whole of society, where the PUFTI are then picked on, and their life made hell. Calling them disorders… How is that fair?

    “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 complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” This goes against what science tells us. This goes against what our civilisation teaches us. How is this not shameful?

    Also, what about my friends who are infertile? Are they an abomination too? Am I really to believe they were sent here by god only to be challenged?

    Just by telling me that you do not judge me, but what I am (my homosexuality) you are not really making me feel any better.

    Our morality is superior to that of the bible, the church, and the priests. We are inclusive and non judgmental towards homosexuality. People should really read about what science has to teach us about homosexuality before jumping on the church bandwagon.

    So what will happen? Gays will continue to be mistreated, hated, picked on and their fundamental human rights stolen, until two hundred years from now the church will come out and say “Oops, our bad”. As it did with Galileo, and Darwin, and Vaccination, and Witch hunts, and the crusades, and burning the person who translated the bible to English, and the Inquisition… (you catch my drift) . And as it will do with women rights, invitro fertilisation, and pretty much all of modern technology and scientific discoveries. The Catholic church simply has issues with modern life and human sexuality, and it continues to push forward a two thousand year old agenda that really needs to be updated. It is not pushing its claws into Africa, where its stance on condoms (on which one day it will also see the error in its ways) are causing havoc.

    Saying it goes against natural law makes no sense from a scientific point of view. In fact it is normally used to justify the believe that homosexuality is a choice. Homosexuality is found in nature, in other animals, and it is natural. It also serves its purposes. Also, we have people who are sterile, and we do not pick on them. And speaking of non-natural things, what about all the monks, nuns and priests, full of seed, who choose a life of celibacy. How is that natural? Why comdemn homosexuality for not being natural, but not priesthood?

    By the way, I would like to encourage you to see the whole debate. On the side of Stephen Fry there was also Christopher Hitchens. Here you can see the highly edited debate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kuzYwzGoXw

    • Also, the logic of the church is twisted. If you are gay you cannot get married. No one can have sex or live a full relationship before getting married. Therefore they can never live a full relationship. How is that equality?
      A Catholic marriage necessitates the joining of a man and a woman, which union shall be open to procreation. How can a man be married to a man, or a woman to a woman, and have their union open to new life? On the other hand nothing stops them from exchanging their vows at the town hall. The Church does not impose anything on anybody. The most it can do is advise one that a particular course of action is sinful, to which one can always reply “Bollocks to that!”

      “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 complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” This goes against what science tells us. This goes against what our civilisation teaches us. How is this not shameful?
      In over twenty years of reading science for fun and study never have I come across anything anywhere that tries to place homosexual acts in a moralistic context. I would be very grateful if you suggest some related reading.

      Just by telling me that you do not judge me, but what I am (my homosexuality) you are not really making me feel any better.
      I don’t – can’t – make you feel better about yourself simply by telling you to live your life as you see fit. If one is genuinely satisfied with one’s lot one doesn’t have to be made to feel better. If one feels put down by such a “neutral” statement, perhaps one should evaluate one’s professed position with one’s own honest thoughts about oneself vis-a-vis life and society.

      People should really read about what science has to teach us about homosexuality before jumping on the church bandwagon.
      Science can’t teach us anything about homosexuality. It is still trying to figure out why it happens. I am concerned with what it does and how its effects a human being’s perception of him/herself.

      The Catholic church simply has issues with modern life and human sexuality
      Of course it does. Especially when these issues compromise the dignity of the human person.

      Why comdemn homosexuality for not being natural, but not priesthood?
      A reply to the call to a religious life is a selfless act of love that requires the person to abandon all earthly possessions, vow obedience to his/her superior and the Church and lead a chaste life. (People joined in marriage as a sacrament are also required to live a chaste life, obviously it’s a different “level” of chastity, but chastity nonetheless).
      A homosexual person who engages in sexual activity – which activity has evolved solely for the continuation of the species – is not acting selflessly for a higher good.

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