Friday, January 12, 2007

Not OK

“We have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak, not to please men but to please God, who tests our hearts” (1Thess. 2:4). This call to be faithful to the preaching of the word of God is made to all ministers of the Gospel of Christ, though I wonder if all have read it and take it seriously. For it seems that many wish to please men instead of God, or at least they talk like they do. One of the major serious issues of the day, in which those entrusted with the Gospel tend to please men rather than God, is that of homosexual behavior. Though I’ve written about this occasionally, I do not make it a crusade, but something I read recently made me realize that it is time once again to stress the Catholic position.

One of the errors that is commonly preached is that homosexual acts are not greater sins than heterosexual acts committed outside of marriage. It is true that all sin is offensive to God, but as St John reminds us, some sins are worse than others (see 1John 5:16-17). The reason for this is that homosexual acts (like abortions, for example) are evil in themselves, not just in a particular context, e.g. outside of marriage. There is no situation, no context, no set of circumstances in which they could ever be anything but intrinsically disordered and hence evil. Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is in itself a good thing, but can become evil if abused, i.e., practiced without the benefit and blessing of marriage (be it pre-marital, post-marital, or extra-marital sex). But within marriage it is not only morally acceptable, it is a means of grace, part of God’s design for the joy and the propagation of the human race, as is clear from Scripture, Church teaching, and in detailed theological presentations like John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. So, heterosexual activity is good within certain bounds; homosexual activity is never good, can never be a means of grace. It is unnatural and contrary to the design and will of God for human beings and therefore cannot be good.

There is much pressure these days: social, political (both secular and ecclesiastical) and ideological, to accept homosexual behavior as something normal or at the very least tolerable in modern society. I won’t deal much with the ludicrous and blasphemous assertions of some who go so far as to insist that it is a “gift from God.” Such “devout” gays are only worshiping an idol of their own creation and are willfully standing against the word of God while they try to somehow paste a little spiritual respectability onto their disordered lifestyles. They either lack all integrity, are purposely pushing a “legitimizing” agenda, or are hopelessly blind.

Many civil and religious leaders are giving in to the surrounding pressure so as not to rock the boat or to appear as behind the times or reactionary or fundamentalistic or even as old fuddy-duddy sticks in the mud. Some are doing so in the name of a misguided “compassion” or a “who am I to judge?” attitude, which only tends to confirm “gay” people in their sin. (Let me make it clear here that in dealing with homosexual sin I am not lumping all homosexuals together, for some people with same-sex attractions very courageously and virtuously struggle to carry their crosses and to be faithful to the word of God and the teaching of the Church. But when we speak of someone as “gay,” that implies the embracing—either in actual practice or simply in mind-set—of the lifestyle, the sub-culture that promotes and practices homosexual acts and lobbies for social, political, and ecclesiastical change to that end.) Surely it is not right to point out others’ sins if we do not sincerely repent of our own. But to cast the whole issue in terms of tolerance or not judging is to miss a crucial point.

God made human beings male and female and told them to be fruitful and multiply. Obviously this is only possible for a man and a woman (new aberrations in reproductive technology notwithstanding ). God did not say to explore all possibilities of sexual expression, and when you find what you like, enjoy it. Nor did he even say to follow our inclinations wherever they might lead. In fact, St Paul makes it clear that living “in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind” makes us “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:2-3). So God has designed human beings in a certain way and for specific purposes. Let no man, then, experiment with and alter what God has designed and proclaimed as his will for mankind.

Here we come to another issue. Scripture is very clear in several places in its denunciation of homosexual activity. But great efforts are being made to so radically re-interpret Scripture as to deny all negative statements concerning homosexuality. But this is patently deceitful and is the manifestation of a particular agenda of those who wish to please men instead of pleasing God. One manipulates the word of God at his own peril. It cannot be forced to serve modern trends but stands on its own timeless merit. “When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as what it really is, the word of God…” (1Thess. 2:13). It really is the word of God and you can’t make it say what it doesn’t, or not say what it does. For a detailed interview with a Bible scholar on the teaching of the Bible on homosexuality, click here.

It is a clever and all-too-effective tactic of gay militants to describe anything that is said in disagreement with their agenda as “hate speech.” There, no one wants to be accused of hatred. How convenient if every argument, even the most cogent, rational, and even-tempered, is immediately labeled “hate speech” if it unmasks their deceptions, sinful acts, and bad will. We are to speak the truth with love, and in this neither truth nor love may be sacrificed. I do not align myself with those who really do hate gays, for God hates no one. If God hated sinners, then He would hate you and me too, and everyone else. Let me assure you, if I really hated gays I would keep silent and smile as they died in their sin. But as “one entrusted with the Gospel,” I speak not to please men (or to tolerate current trends) but to please God, who desires that all come to knowledge of the truth, repent, and be saved.

We need the witness of the Bible and the teachings of the Church to face the deep crises of our time. When we abandon the objective norms of faith and morality, chaos ensues. As soon as the gays came out of the closet and began demanding rights, the issues of polygamy and “polyamory” (multiple lovers) surfaced, and the disintegration of society and human dignity will only continue if things move in this direction. Because some people are inclined to homosexual activity, must society and the Church accept and bless their subjective preference? Some people are sexually “oriented” towards children, animals, or sado-masochistic acts, or can find sexual satisfaction only when raping someone else. Is that aberrant or deviant behavior? Who decides? Should we tolerate and bless their behavior too? It’s their preference, after all. Who are we to judge what works for them? Where do you draw the line once you accept a major deviation from millennia of Judeo-Christian morality? Why not accept another, or two or three?

I believe that since the Pandora’s Box of “alternative sexuality” has been opened, this moral plague will not go away. Society will probably degenerate still further. But the word of the Lord stands true, as does the teaching of the Catholic Church, whether is it followed or not, despised or not. It is up to us as Christians to see the issues clearly, to desire and labor for the salvation of all, by speaking the truth in love and trying to bring the Gospel of life, love, and salvation to a society that is (literally) hell-bent on its own perverse satisfactions. We do no one any favors—rather a grave disservice—by tolerating evil in the name of compassion. Homosexual people need to hear the word of the Lord, for it is not only a word of uncompromising truth and admonition, but also of forgiveness and salvation. (Tolerance is not at all the same as forgiveness, which presupposes repentance and greatly benefits the one who receives it.) They must then earnestly seek healing and the grace to live under the blessing of God’s will unto eternal life. It may be a heavy cross to bear, but the alternative burden is infinitely heavier. The love of God and the hope of salvation are sufficient for those who are committed to doing what is right and living according to the dignity of humans created in the image of God.