Monday, July 18, 2011

From "awesome" gay lifestyle to Catholic: Marie's story



I am very grateful to a reader of the Bubble, a young woman who wishes to go by the name of "Marie", for writing her personal reflections on the issues of gay marriage and true love.

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“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


Whenever I discuss my position on gay marriage with people, I’m usually asked, “Why does it matter as long as they’re happy?”, “What’s wrong with love?” or “What do you have against gay people?” It’s hard to briefly answer these questions without getting into a philosophical and theological discussion, but I’ve come to notice that if you ever have the time and your debater has the patience to listen, do it. It can help.

In answer to the questions, I want people to be happy, and I also don’t see anything wrong with love. More importantly, I don’t think I can hate gays considering that during a very important part of my life I was actively living an “awesome” gay lifestyle. I had a hot girlfriend and partied as if my wallet were a basket of fish and loaves. I loved her endlessly, even if my love confused me and led me to sabotage our relationship. I knew she was the one I would spend my life with. Yet something said no. It was Christ calling my heart. I finally answered and gave in, but it wasn’t easy.

I’ve been asked before why I would pick Catholicism as a convert when there were more “friendly” religions out there. My response: I didn’t choose to become Catholic, Christ told me I was Catholic. “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction."(i) Faith is not about picking and choosing. If that were the case, I’d choose not to believe. But my heart clears up the conflicts that my mind has.

I have a few friends that are gay. I use to have a lot of friends that are gay but I lost most of them when I decided to let go of lady-loving attractions and pursue my real purpose in life, which I felt was more likely connected to my relationship with Christ. They felt I was trying to be something I wasn’t and that I was judging them. Honestly, for a time I was. But I realized that by God’s grace alone I had walked away from where they were. I was not a better, smarter person because I had said yes to God. In fact, I was humbled to realize that more was expected of me now because I was no longer blissfully ignorant. I knew I could never go back, no matter how tempting.

I’ve always been attracted to men, which would label me as bisexual, but I think that sounds selfish. (It kind of says, “I just like everything out there so I’ll take it how I can get it.”) So am I gay? Am I straight? Still don’t know. Do I believe that you can “pray away the gay”? Nope. I believe you can pray to have the humility to handle the desires and behaviors that come with being gay, but it’s hard to stop loving someone just because you’re told that you shouldn’t love them.

Gay people do not choose to whom they are attracted, nor with whom they fall in love. As a heterosexual person, if you looked at your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or fiancé and said that you were just going to stop loving him or her at this exact moment, how successful do you think you would be? Not gonna happen. You'd likely fall into a deep depression and obsessively pine away for your love to come back to you. You’d scream “WHY?” and ask God for strength. As a woman who has fallen in love with another woman, this is a testament to what I dealt with upon finding my faith and relinquishing the evils of my life regardless of how innocent and pleasurable they seemed.

My purpose in writing is not to defend homosexual marriage and acts, because I’d then have to try and persuade myself. Instead, I just want you all to realize that the gay desire for marriage and acceptance is misguided, but it truly stems from love. They carry a cross that you do not know. Please understand that the anger and bitterness that comes from the other side is rooted in suffering. How can suffering be so closely tied to love? Ask Jesus, He suffered because of love. It’s unbearable to be told that you shouldn’t feel what you feel but yet not have the free will to change it. It’s surreal to have the feelings that you do but yet not be able to express them. Who would purposely choose to be gay? Seriously. Being gay may not be a choice, but living the lifestyle is.

The root of this fight is not about sexuality or equality, it’s about love. Everyone wants to be loved, to feel love, to express love and to give love. The difference extends to the origin of that love. As human beings, we love on a physical plane, yet are called to something greater. It can be hard to grasp this if you don’t understand the difference and unity of love – eros, philia and agape.

Eros is the love between man and woman that is neither planned nor willed but somehow imposes itself upon human beings. Philia is the love of friendship, akin to the relationship of Christ and the disciples. Agape is divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional, and thoughtful love. It is the love of God, grounded in and shaped by faith. They all are the essence of God, as He is love. The problem is that man has taken these gifts and has chosen to maintain the separateness of them instead of unifying. “An intoxicated and undisciplined eros is not an ascent in ecstasy…but a fall, a degradation of man.”(ii) The love between a man and a woman has become worldly and broken, creating a disordered union between eros and philia, and a complete division from agape. That is homosexual love. It is still real. It is still love. But it is not love in its full, true being. It is a fascination for the great promise of happiness, but because it has lost its proper unity in the one reality and true nature of love, it is impoverished and loses its truth.

So here is where I ponder: How did we get to this point? How did the beauty of God’s most precious gift become reduced to a mere commodity of sex and pleasure? How did marriage become a debatable issue of rights, desires, and benefits? Why is the societal hot topic “gay marriage” when real marriage has been broken? “To love and to be loved was sweet to me, and all the more when I gained the enjoyment of the body of the person I loved. Thus I polluted the spring of friendship with the filth of concupiscence and I dimmed its luster with the slime of lust.”(iii) Thanks, St. Augustine... 1,600 years later, you took the words out of my mouth. Man, gay and straight, has fallen victim to disordered love. This is why the issue right now may appear to be a fight about sexuality, equality, and freedoms, when truly it’s about love. Until man unifies the fullness of love, there will always remain this struggle between those who know and those who don’t want to know; there will be no purification or healing.

So please, “Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”(iv) However, with this armor please never stop loving and praying for those against you in this battle.




i Pope Benedict XVI, DEUS CARITAS EST, 2006
ii Pope Benedict XVI, DEUS CARITAS EST, 2006
iii The Confessions of St. Augustine
iv Ephesians 6:14-17



Related post: "Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine"


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328 comments:

  1. Beautiful Marie. Thank you.

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  2. God bless you Marie. I learned a long time ago that God gives us the desire to love so we will seek Him, but if we seek love without seeking God, we will never be satisfied, and ultimately we will be desperate and confused.

    Your sister in Christ,
    Stacy

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  3. wow! very thought provoking! please, feel free to continue with your thoughts.
    TheresaEH in Alberta

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  4. Wow,
    So much to say on this, and thank you Marie.

    First :"“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.""

    How I wish this could be true for me. Does that mean if you have not encountered such an event or person and had such an "aha" moment that you cannot be a Christian. I really relate more to the ethical choice/lofty idea.

    Second, Marie, have you ever read the works of Melinda Selmys, another gay woman who forsake the lifestyle and became Catholic.

    Third, have you ever seen research that reveals differences between male and female arousal patterns, that seem to indicate that females are more "naturally" inclined towards bisexuality than men: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/06/030613075252.htm
    (caveat...the researcher involved, Bailey, has some questionable views, but I think the study has been repeated elsewhere).

    I personally hold the opinion that male and female homosexuality evolved entirely separately, and thus are really two different animals.

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  5. I think that many of us can see ourselves in this post by substituting "awesome gay lifestyle" with "awesome hedonistic lifestyle"- that lifestyle that let us sleep around, contracept, and do as we wished, as long as "no one got hurt".

    Like you said, everything about the destruction and misuse of love is as true for heterosexual persons as for homosexual persons.

    Repairing real love is a battle to be fought on many fronts, as a part of the Culture of Life.

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  6. 100% in agreement with Monica.

    Beautifully written, Marie. Thank you.

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  7. I agree with Monica. And even to take it a step further, there are times when our desires are ordered and good, and it's not "to be" in our lives, and that can be very painful.

    What an awesome reflection, Marie, thank you so much!

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  8. Cool! I agree. Now that we have covered how difficult it is for some not to give into 'lust' even when it is correct for their persuasion and lifestyle. We need to cover 'avarice'. Is there any lifestyle where some people feel it's necessary to hang on to their wealth to feel in control and powerful even when Jesus asks us to let it go and put him there? How easy or difficult would it be? What would the benefits be to avoiding avarice in the same way that this very strong and clear minded person avoids lust?

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  9. Very beautifully written. Living the Christian life is always a challenge regardless of our attractions. God's grace is sufficient. May he continue to shower you with blessings and strength, Marie.

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  10. I was not a better, smarter person because I had said yes to God. In fact, I was humbled to realize that more was expected of me now because I was no longer blissfully ignorant.

    True, that. I believe this goes for any of us who've chosen to embrace our faith more fervently in the crosshairs of a particular kind of suffering, whatever that might be.

    Thanks for your story and for your insights. God grant you grace upon grace!

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  11. For those readers interested in a discussion posed by Dr. Strangelove:

    That discussion has been going on with Dr. Strangelove, at length, for several days. You can find that discussion here, in the comments section:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/07/truth-exclusive-catholics-arrogant.html

    I have added some thoughts there, as well as a reference to the Catechism on avarice and envy, and a reflection on the beatitudes of what it means to be "poor in spirit."

    Hop on over there if you are interested in that particular discussion.

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  12. WOW! Marie, that was amazing. I need to re-read it and let it sink in/percolate a little bit.

    I totally agree with Stacy and Monica's comments.

    God bless you Marie!

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  13. Thank you, Marie. I was especially struck by this passage: "How can suffering be so closely tied to love? Ask Jesus, He suffered because of love." This is so true, but so hard for our society today to accept and understand; that sometimes love involves suffering, and sometimes we must suffer for those we love.

    Dr. S, why not start your own blog and we can continue the conversation there? :)

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  14. Thanks for writing this, Marie. I think that being gay is probably one of the most difficult crosses that people are asked to bear, most particularly in this day and age when living that lifestyle is so encouraged. You are a wonderful example to us. Thank you also for calling for charity...it is so important for us to realize that the gay community is not a group of hateful people, hell-bent on destroying all the values we hold sacred, but a group of people who are hurt and who just want the freedom to love as they see fit. We shouldn't view it as a war or them as the enemy, but view it as a particularly difficult attempt at fraternal correction.

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  15. First :"“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.""

    How I wish this could be true for me. Does that mean if you have not encountered such an event or person and had such an "aha" moment that you cannot be a Christian. I really relate more to the ethical choice/lofty idea.


    Mary, I absolutely loved that part, too. Our Pope is dead on. I think it's entirely possible to come to threshold of belief by using the intellect. Lots of folks come to the Church through the road of "Truth" via the intellect. But there is a point, when you get to that threshold, when you realize that a decision has to be made. You encounter Christ, and you must decide. As he asked the Apostles all those centuries ago: "Who do you say that I am?" And we have to answer. Ultimately, all the truth, goodness and beauty in the world simply comes to a point in one Person: Christ. And, we have to decide if we will call Him Lord and call Him Beloved, and follow Him.

    Like Aquinas said after he wrote his Summa then had a personal encounter with Jesus: "All [I have written] is straw."

    Everything we can do with our minds, and where it can lead us (right to Christ) is nothing compared to the love relationship with a Person named Jesus.

    Like my husband did 14 years ago, we have to "make a decision."

    Great, great comment, Mary.

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  16. The last line said it all, we are the body of Christ and we are all made in his image so it is important to love one another through it all.

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  17. Thank you all for your gracious comments!  As I told Leila, my fear was that this would not be Bubble-worthy. Thank you for reassuring me.

    Mary,

    I completely understand how someone can be pulled to Catholicism because of its ethics, history and logic. Personally, I knew the basic history of the Church long before I ever thought of converting. The sole problem in being a Christian based solely on logic is that there is the likelihood that you will think yourself out of your Faith. There are mysteries that man will never be able to understand, so to follow Christ base on an ethical choice or a lofty idea leaves too much room for you to overanalyze teachings, doctrines, origins, etc and to discount them because they do not fit into what can be perceived as rational. The reason I used this quote from Pope Benedict is because it completely spoke to my circumstances the first time I read it. I “knew” about Christianity, but I needed more than knowledge. So until I had that “encounter” in my heart, it didn’t really matter what was in my head.

    I’ve never heard of Melinda Selmys, so I’ll definitely spend some time today on google. You’d be surprised how many gay people struggle with their sexuality and faith. From my knowledge, that tends to be a greater contention than social concerns or family reactions.

    I’ve also come across a lot of sources regarding the fluidity of female sexuality. This is actually a discussion/debate I’ve had quite often with friends. Men and women are definitely two different animals.

    Marie

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  18. Marie, thank you. I think you said it well when you said "Instead, I just want you all to realize that the gay desire for marriage and acceptance is misguided, but it truly stems from love. "
    I think this is part of the essence of human nature, is it not? To be seen and wanted, to love and to give, to receive and give love and create? I think so many of us deal with sexuaal woundedness at one level or another, but same sex attraction is a cross many of us just don't understand, and sometimes lack of understanding breeds fear. Thank you for sharing your struggles, but more than that, your hope.
    I have people who will want to read your post just to know they are not alone.

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  19. Men and women are definitely two different animals.

    Marie, thank you for this. This has always been understood as a given (that men and women are different is an obvious statement), but we have so many people who are now being taught (and stating on this blog) that there is no difference between men and women. It's one of the statements that I can't even wrap my head around, because where does one start when trying to prove the obvious?

    And oh, yes, Marie, your post is more than Bubble-worthy! I hope it travels far and wide outside the Bubble. Thank you for putting your heart out there.

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  20. Thank you so much for sharing this Marie. Your post was beautiful.

    It all comes down to Love. God is Love. Suffering is so intimately tied to Love. Many forget that but many who suffer don't. They are reminded daily by their sufferings how much they Love God!!!

    Blessings.

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  21. I had to stop when I came across this quote: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction."

    I love this!!

    Thanks Marie, you are a courageous woman and I hope your life is abundantly filled by the love of God!

    @Mary: "How I wish this could be true for me. Does that mean if you have not encountered such an event or person and had such an "aha" moment that you cannot be a Christian. I really relate more to the ethical choice/lofty idea."

    Honestly this is just my opinion from everything I have to come to learn about you from this blog---I think you might look back on certain events and experiences as "aha" moments, just because you don't see them that way right now. You have made it clear you are still searching/conflicted at this point on exactly what it is you believe about God. Perhaps even these discussions will be seen by you down the road as seeds planted in your heart? You never know.

    And Monica, right on!

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  22. First :"“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.""

    How I wish this could be true for me. Does that mean if you have not encountered such an event or person and had such an "aha" moment that you cannot be a Christian. I really relate more to the ethical choice/lofty idea.


    One wonderful aspect about Catholicism is its rationality, Truth and consistency. Those aspects alone have drawn so many people to the faith throughout history and we often benefit from the writings of great thinkers who were led to Catholicism through the use of reason. And yet while faith and reason is of great importance (the two can't be separated), the crux of the faith is a person-the person of Jesus Christ. Without a personal relationship with Christ, what is Catholicism (or Christianity in general)?

    Mary, I really don't think it comes down to an "aha" moment or that you aren't a Christian, but if you don't feel like you have an intimate relationship with Christ, I think that your faith is impoverished in some way and that you should focus your efforts on knowing, loving, and serving Him. This isn't to say, "Throw reason out the window!" of course (we ought never do that, our reason comes from God and is can lead us to Him), but Christ Crucified is at the center of our Faith and must be at the center of our hearts as well. We have a personal, loving God. If we don't know Him personally, then we are denying ourselves and Him the fullness and beauty of our Faith.

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  23. I have been following the conversation on Steve’s post and I’ve been working up to posting, but then I saw this one and I decided I might as well redirect my thoughts here. I will start by saying that I do appreciate both Steve and Marie’s perspective, and I’m not condemning their choice to shun homosexuality. That is completely their own decision and it doesn’t affect me either way.

    Can I start by asking a question? I had about four paragraphs written, but I decided they were too emotional and it could have very easily become a less than rational discussion. So, let me pare it down to this: do you believe that same-sex attraction is a choice? And is there a difference between being attracted to the same sex and being gay? It confuses me to see people openly identifying as gay but abstaining from gay sex, and therefore being lauded as some sort of hero. Again, please don’t misunderstand me - I have no ill will against Steve or Marie. I just don’t GET IT.

    Are you gay if you have the thoughts or just gay if you act on it? Though it absolutely sickens me to compare homosexuality to murder, I suppose that is the easiest way to clarify what I’m asking here: someone who has thoughts of homicide but does not kill is not a murderer, so someone who has thoughts of same-sex attraction is not gay, right...? No...? I’d appreciate the clarification here, because I do think it’s important.

    Because if we’re going to treat homosexuality as a legitimate aspect of someones’ nature that they have to purposely fight against, then I’m going to assume that we can agree that same-sex attraction is not a choice, right? It’s something that happens biologically, right? It’s no difference from being right or left handed, except lefties are lucky enough that people don’t think they’re witches anymore. You can tie my right hand behind my back and I can struggle to write my name with my left hand, and maybe with practice it will look less like my four-year-old niece’s handwriting, but I would never become left-handed. This is basically the same process, right? I could also shun same-sex attraction, despite knowing since puberty that I wasn’t like my female peers, and with time, I could probably play pretend in a heterosexual relationship without grimacing too often, but I’d still be a woman attracted to women, correct?

    What I’m getting at is that if we all agree that homosexuality falls on the nature side of nature vs. nurture, then what in the world is the point? Are you really trying to tell me that God gave me this cross to carry so that I could be a witness? Or an example? REALLY? Kids, actual CHILDREN, are bullied to death over this. Kids KILL THEMSELVES over this. People are disowned by their families over this. Over something that most people can agree is not a choice. What a testament to the love of God, am I right?

    --C

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  24. C,

    You ask some pretty valid points which I will try my best to address. However, let me first state that “shun” would not be the proper way of stating what we have done. We have not scorned or avoided our same-sex attraction. We both admit that we have homosexual attractions, we just do not let those attractions define who we are suppose to be and what we are going to do. You read my post; I clearly stated that the attraction may not be a choice, but the lifestyle is. I do not have a choice on whether I may find a woman sexually attractive, but I do have a choice on whether I decide to sleep with her. It’s ok that you don’t get it. I have plenty of friends who don’t and I haven’t always myself. I mean think about, if you feel a hunger for chocolate, you eat, you don’t tell yourself not to be hungry. But you can choose to fast; to abstain from chocolate for a purpose.

    “It confuses me to see people openly identifying as gay but abstaining from gay sex, and therefore being lauded as some sort of hero.”

    I’m far from a hero to anyone, C. In fact, I only “openly identify as gay” because it apparently seems to matter nowadays. I’ve told people because there seems to be this view that who you are attracted to defines who you are and how you live your life, when that is completely wrong. I don’t go around saying “Hey, look at me! I like girls, but I don’t hookup with them!” That would be kind of stupid, don’t you think?

    “Are you gay if you have the thoughts or just gay if you act on it?”

    I don’t necessarily like your murder analogy but I’ll go with it. If someone thinks about murder all the time but never murders anyone, no they are not a murderer. I’m not a psychologist but if someone is constantly thinking of murder, don’t you think there is a disorder there? Something isn’t quite right, is it? And if this person always thinks of murder and doesn’t believe they can stop thinking about murdering, what is the probability that at some point in their life they will actually commit murder. I’m going to take a stab and say the probability is high. Get it?

    Because if we’re going to treat homosexuality as a legitimate aspect of someones’ nature that they have to purposely fight against, then I’m going to assume that we can agree that same-sex attraction is not a choice, right? It’s something that happens biologically, right?

    Does it happen biologically? Is it environmental? Nurture vs Nature? These are all good questions, that no one has answers to. Maybe it’s all of the above, but no study, poll, survey, or litmus test will ever provide us with a definitive answer. I’ve thought about all of these things and have discussed them endlessly with friends. Nothing that I say here will be more than just an opinion to you. My opinion, based on my life. I’m ok with that. I’m not telling you to play pretend with a guy. If you aren’t attracted to guys then you aren’t attracted to guys. All that Steve and I have stated is that there is more to living and loving in this world than what satisfies our physical needs.

    Marie

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  25. "All that Steve and I have stated is that there is more to living and loving in this world than what satisfies our physical needs."

    Yes, and that something more is submission and obedience to God in all He requires of us regardless of cost and whether or not it's fair for God is God.

    Marie, may God bless you and Steve for your courage and love to share with us your testimonies.

    Please know that you are welcomed and loved by Him and by us.

    George

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  26. “You can tie my right hand behind my back and I can struggle to write my name with my left hand, and maybe with practice it will look less like my four-year-old niece’s handwriting, but I would never become left-handed. This is basically the same process, right?”

    Actually, C, you’re making it seem as if we’re saying “STOP being gay!” “It is a choice!” “Just try really hard to be hetero and you will!”. Again I reference my post:

    “Do I believe that you can “pray away the gay”? Nope. I believe you can pray to have the humility to handle the desires and behaviors that come with being gay, but it’s hard to stop loving someone just because you’re told that you shouldn’t love them.

    Gay people do not choose to whom they are attracted, nor with whom they fall in love. As a heterosexual person, if you looked at your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or fiancé and said that you were just going to stop loving him or her at this exact moment, how successful do you think you would be? Not gonna happen.” Well obviously, I think it’s easier to switch hands than it is to switch attractions. I’m ambidextrous; I started out right-handed and through life I’ve become better at doing most things left-handed. So no, it’s not the same process.

    I can see from your comment that this a very emotional issue for you that you can identify with. You even bring up the kids that are getting bullied and committing suicide. All of that sucks. No one deserves to be treated inferior, harassed or abused. I get very upset when I hear that “God Hates Fags” or that “All Fags Should Die”. My blood boils because I’m always curious to know why they think God loves them for saying that? Anyhow, I digress. Here’s a question for you: How many kids have you heard committed suicide because they were told that Christ loved them? How many kids killed themselves because they were told they carried a cross of suffering that would bring them closer to Christ? I’ve yet to hear of any.


    Marie

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  27. C, thank you for your heartfelt comment and thanks to Marie for the response.

    C, I am only going to throw out that it doesn't ultimately matter to the Church whether a person is born that way, or is nurtured that way, or if it's a choice to feel SSA or not. It's not about the feelings or inclinations (which the Church would say are "disordered" inclinations), it's about the will.

    A rough analogy: Can we be 100% sure if alcoholism is inherited, genetic, etc? No… but it's irrelevant. The Church will never condone drunkenness, even if someone is born with the alcoholic gene. Same with pedophilia, same with heterosexual disordered inclinations (sex addicts, porn addicts), etc.

    Sin is about a choice of the will, not about temptation. We all have temptations, some of them more difficult and awful than others, and many are even more difficult than SSA. But the inclination or attraction is not the sin. There is no sin in a "feeling".

    As to the term "gay"… that's a contentious thing. I personally think it's okay to use the term to mean "attracted to the same sex". I don't think there is an implication that that attraction is being acted on. I happen to think that "gay" can be used, then, for gay people who practice chastity, if they want to use it that way. It's not my call, but I go with what will be understood. So, if someone is "gay and chaste" I know what they mean.

    I know others feel differently about the use of the word, but I don't know how to change or address that inconsistency in usage.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I truly appreciate it.

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  28. Here’s a question for you: How many kids have you heard committed suicide because they were told that Christ loved them? How many kids killed themselves because they were told they carried a cross of suffering that would bring them closer to Christ? I’ve yet to hear of any.

    Marie, so beautiful. Thank you.

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  29. Hi Anonymous,
    You're asking the perfect question in asking, "What is the point?" As a heterosexual Catholic wife, I'm going to be coming at this from a different point of view than Marie, but the first answer that popped into my head in regard to your question is "Eternal Destiny." THAT'S the whole point.
    The Lord may well use Marie's testimony as inspiration to others, but first and foremost, the Lord wants Marie (and all sinners, for that matter) to get to heaven. And Catholicism is Jesus' prescription for doing just that, and his words regarding gehenna remind us that there are consequences for denying this truth.
    The reason it's so HARD, in my understanding, the reason we all have crosses to carry at all, whatever they may be, is that we live in a fallen world, a postlapsarian world, where sin has been unleashed and we are more than prone to it. Additionally, there are evil forces that actively want us to fail.
    Life should be a struggle, in moral terms -- to me, if it's not, I know I'm not doing it "right." This idea depressed me for a long long time, forcing me to ponder your same question -- what is the point -- until I understood that my eternal destiny in heaven is the point. Heaven is my hope, and that is where I have focused my gaze, which colors all my decisions now. Because I have a response to give, in the witness of my life, if I want to get there.
    Which leads to another somewhat interesting side point, with regard to those who want to witness to the disordered-ness of homosexual activity: from many of us, it is also done out of love. I get the same comments of "What do you have against gays" or the like -- but in the end, what I really want is for you to get to heaven too. It's why I pray ceaselessly for my husband's reconversion, or that none of my children ever falter from the faith. I want to see them there.
    So in the end, the fact of whether or not some desire is nature or nurture is irrelevant when placed up against God's call to become the people he wants us to be. Wherever a desire comes from, it must first be ordered to the will of God (a paraphrase of St. Augustine -- i think).
    The Church, of course, says it best: "The whole of man's history has been the story of dour combat with the powers of evil, stretching, so our Lord tells us, from the very dawn of history until the last day. Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself, and aided by Gods grace, that he succeeds in achieving his own inner integrity." Gaudium et Spes.

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  30. Hi,
    Marie said, in response to C, "I’m not a psychologist but if someone is constantly thinking of murder, don’t you think there is a disorder there?" I would argue that Leila and others view the attraction of homosexuality itself as a disorder (of the grey matter) as I had put it before. They view pedophilia, homosexual desires, bestial desires and other some other urges as disordered.

    Correct me if I am misrepresenting her.

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  31. C, if I could ask (beg) you to do one thing, please check out Melinda Selmys' blog:

    http://sexualauthenticity.blogspot.com/

    Mary mentioned her earlier. I didn't realize she was the same woman who wrote an article recently that I loved. She says she is not "straight" (though now she is married and has six kids), because she still has occasional same-sex attractions (and loves power tools, etc., ha ha!). However, she doesn't wrap up her whole identity in those attractions. She has a wonderful blog, and a book as well. Smart, honest, real.

    Check her out. She answers a lot of questions for all of us.

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  32. Marie,
    If you have time, I would appreciate your views on the following comment:

    Leila said: "A rough analogy: Can we be 100% sure if alcoholism is inherited, genetic, etc? No… but it's irrelevant. The Church will never condone drunkenness, even if someone is born with the alcoholic gene. Same with pedophilia, same with heterosexual disordered inclinations (sex addicts, porn addicts), etc."

    As I see it, the common thread uniting the vices listed above, is that they clearly cause harm in this world. I still fail to see the obvious evidence that homosexual partnering--let's stick with females, as Leila has brought evidence that some male homosexual practices are in-and-of-themselves unhealthy because they cause physical trauma--causes harm in this world.

    Two women in love, living together in a committed sexual relationship...is there evidence this is causing harm? Perhaps you know of some?

    I am not trying to be a pain, but this is how I see it.

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  33. Mary, I hope Marie will answer. In the meantime, I tried to answer that question for you earlier, but I don't think I got a response. I thought I would repost my answer here:

    No, it would make no difference to the moral law. Some things in life truly are sacred. And the mechanism by which human life is transmitted is one of them. Sex is sacred. Marriage (which is the only proper context for sex) is sacred.

    Sex is sacred because human life is sacred.

    If one does not believe that human life is sacred, then sex can be used in any way one wishes, even and up to the point where unfortunate babies resulting can be shredded in the womb for getting there without "permission". We kill for sex, and we die for sex. So, the answer is: No. It is impossible that legitimizing a misuse of sex could somehow be a good. The very fact of legitimizing genital play between two women (who cannot have sex, by the way, but only play at it) harms everyone involved. It harms the women (because sex with one's own gender is a sin, and discounts natural sexual boundaries) and it harms society (because it makes the institution of marriage meaningless).

    Again, every misuse of sex is a serious sin, because life is sacred. If you want to devalue human life, the best way to do it is to devalue (and desacralize) sex. We see it all around us. Life and sex are cheap now. And we've got millions of dead bodies, diseases, and broken hearts piled up in heaps to prove it.


    Also a technical note: The comment above yours (with Melinda Selmys' blog link) did not come through to my email, though it showed up on the blog. So, if anyone else is going only by email comments, please come to the blog and check out her link (she still has some SSA but is married with six children).

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  34. I still don't get why homosexual sex is only about lust and must be abstained from and heterosexual sex is this transcendent trifecta of love and friendship and God.

    I get it Marie, you were young and "in love" as many of us were pre-maritally speaking. And even newlywed it is no different. It's not like you say I do and suddenly sex with your husband becomes this sacrament unto which the angels personally trumpet each time. Love for another human being grows. It starts as attraction, turns to infatuation and then eventually becomes full-fledged love. The kind of love that you sacrifice your ego for without hesitation. When two people really do become one.

    Sometimes I give him pleasure and sometimes he gives me pleasure without procreating. We aren't holding anything back - we are giving to each other with no requirement of personal satisfaction.

    And the God thing... who is thinking of God during the act (besides shouting his name, of course). Are you really doing the duty for Jesus?Thinking of him instead of your husband? I don't get it.

    We've had children, too, but I don't see why homosexuals can't have the same love that my husband and I share just because we're heterosexual.

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  35. And PS - You might have been spending money & living hedonistically, but that is irrelevant to homosexuality.

    Oftentimes I see all these other personal attributes lumped in to give a false impression of a "gay lifestyle."

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  36. Here's an excerpt from an article by Melinda Selmys, from Family Foundations magazine:

    I'm married, I'm pregnant with my sixth child, I feel privileged to be a woman, but I'm not "straight." I've subjected my sexuality to the rule of reason, and I'm not neurotic or deeply conflicted about it -- because I've realized that same-sex attraction is just attraction. It's not identity. It's not a deep-seated psychological imperative. I don't struggle with same-sex attractions; I have them sometimes, but I put them aside, the same way that other women put aside attractions for men who aren't their husbands.

    I still love power tools, I still drink beer with the guys… and my wardrobe is largely indistinguishable from my husband's. I despise make-up… I hate gabbing with the girls, I don't watch romantic comedies…(etc.) These things are part of my personality; they are not an obstacle to my relationship with Christ.


    She doesn't need to change any of her personality in order to be "acceptable" to Catholics. And any Catholic who says so is not listening to the Church. She can (as all of us can) be and do anything she wants, as long as she is living a life of virtue and grace.

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  37. Anon, totally technical statement here, but two same-sex partners cannot have sex. There is not sexual intercourse possible. So, they cannot "become one" in a physical sense. There is no conjugal act.

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  38. And the God thing... who is thinking of God during the act (besides shouting his name, of course). Are you really doing the duty for Jesus?Thinking of him instead of your husband? I don't get it.

    Actually, the marital act is the renewal of the covenant, of the marriage vows. The body speaks a language. The language of sex is very deep and specific. So, when we renew our covenant during sex, God is very much present. Sex is sacred (see above).

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  39. Mary, I will definitely answer your question. It may take me more time than I presently have at the moment, but I want to focus on your question solely.

    Anonymous,

    Do you realize that not all heterosexual sex is ok? You’re correct in stating that “sex is this transcendent trifecta of love and friendship and God” and as I clearly pointed out, that “trifecta” can and has been broken. Solely by homosexuals? Not at all. When the true nature of love is broken, it’s disordered for gay and straight.

    “And the God thing... who is thinking of God during the act (besides shouting his name, of course). Are you really doing the duty for Jesus?Thinking of him instead of your husband? I don't get it.”

    I mean no disrespect but I had to laugh when I read this. I’m curious, are you Christian?

    Marie

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  40. To the Catholic anonymous at 3:43 (please give yourself a name), you are so right.

    I think a lot of this is a "wrestling with God" and even a fear of abandoning oneself to God. I taught converts for years, many of whom were skeptics, mostly on the issues that were most personal to them (things they would have to change in their own lives). The fear of letting go and taking that last leap of Faith is real. I hope that anyone who is still fighting that last little bit of the battle, who just can't imagine taking that leap out into "the deep", would just do it, and just trust God. It's life-changing in ways you cannot imagine. There can always be that one last argument, that one last excuse why we don't hand ourselves over in humility and obedience, but then we miss out on the real union, that eternal marriage with God for all eternity. It's not to be missed….

    Spend one hour a week in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and watch what happens to your defenses and objections. ;)

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  41. Anon,

    You are correct, spending money and living hedonistically had nothing to do with my attraction to women. I was just stating this to illustrate my life at that time – wild, free, and very hedonistic. But what you may not realize is that a hedonistic lifestyle is quite similar to choosing to live a gay lifestyle in that you live for yourself, your own choices, and whatever you feel will make you happy at any given time.

    Marie

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  42. I am a heterosexual woman. I am currently separated from my husband.I was also just recently confirmed in the Catholic faith.(thanks for all the teaching Leila, I'm learning a lot) I notice that some of the comments seem to think that the "catholic church" think homosexual sex is the only kind of sex that is wrong. And that someone who struggles with SSA is wrong. It would be just as wrong for me to have sex with a man. Because we're not married. I mention that I am separated because, although legally I am free to begin another physical relationship, I am not morally free to do so. That is my choice. Why, in our culture, is abstaining from sex seen as oppressive? And why, is pursuing as much sexual gratification as possible seen as liberating? Why do people care if OTHER people are choosing to abstain? Especially if those people are abstaining because they believe there is a better way?

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  43. Sorry -- Catholic 3:43 is Erin. Kids are crawling all over me. Aren't I being a good mother??! haha
    Anyway, others have said it before, but it resonates with me: suffering is not the worst thing in my life -- sin is. And I need the clear guidance of the Church to know just what constitutes sin; I know it cannot be left up to me. I've lived that life.
    erin

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  44. I'm going to make one comment here, because the assumptions that run around on this blog are absolutely ridiculous.

    First, Marie: I’ve always been attracted to men, which would label me as bisexual, but I think that sounds selfish. (It kind of says, “I just like everything out there so I’ll take it how I can get it.”)

    Talk about biphobia! How ridiculous. Those who have attraction to both sexes do not have those thoughts at all, and spreading that kind of rhetoric is ridiculous and harmful.

    And it ties in with my second comment, which deals with something Monica framed quite well: I think that many of us can see ourselves in this post by substituting "awesome gay lifestyle" with "awesome hedonistic lifestyle"- that lifestyle that let us sleep around, contracept, and do as we wished, as long as "no one got hurt".

    I don't know how many ways I've said it (maybe being a little more brash might help?), but maybe this will help. There is not an explicit "gay" lifestyle. Just because you're gay and you date people of the same sex doesn't mean you're a whore. Generalizing the entire queer community into the " gay lifestyle " is soo presumptuous and prejudiced.

    I only scanned the lyrics, so I'm sorry if I'm beating a dead horse (I did see Anon touched on this).

    The assumption that romantic love, or Eros, or whatever you want to call it can only occur between a man and a woman is also pretty lofty.

    See you all in the next thread!
    -Zach

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  45. Hey Zach,

    Biphobia?! LOL

    Obviously, I offended you with my statement on why I don't care for the term bisexual. It's my opinion, and you definitely have your own. It's funny though, because most of my homosexual friends would suffer from what you call "biphophia"...see I've heard it described exactly how I stated it from them. On more than one occasion, I've has someone who identifies as completely homosexual, tell me to "Pick a side." Funny, huh? Some of them were joking, and some of them were not.

    Marie

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  46. C,

    Two points. First, modern science has mostly rejected the nature/nurture distinction as a false dichotomy, as many human traits have been shown to be the result of both. Second, "choice" was never the relevant distinction between nature and nurture, even when the rubric was employed.

    The nature/nurture distinction was an attempt to conclusively identify whether a person's physical and behavioral traits were the result of either innate qualities (i.e. genetics) or human experience. In some cases, as with most physical traits, this was easy. For example, I have brown hair; it's determined by my genetics. With non-physical traits, such as personal tastes or measurable intelligence, things don't fall neatly into either category. Further, modern research has demonstrated that it is often the interplay of genetics and environment that determines certain traits, which ultimately caused collapse of the nature/nurture dichotomy.

    Another important point is that "choice" has never been a distinguishing factor between nature and nurture, and it does not equate to “nurture”. In other words, just because homosexuality is not the result of "choice", does not mean that it is, de facto, the result of nature. Some human traits may result from human experience, whether voluntary or involuntary, and some may result from the interplay of genetics and experience. For a primer on nature/nurture, read this article: http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articles/papers/nature_nurture.pdf .

    As stated above, science and behavioral psychology have mostly abandoned the nature/nurture dichotomy. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that many, if not most, behavioral traits are the results of the interplay of both nature and nurture. Many human traits are now understood to result from a genetic predisposition and environmental triggers, rather than by deterministic genetics or objective experience. Obesity and genius-level intelligence are two such examples.

    As to human sexuality, the research is fairly murky, especially given the politically charged nature of the debate. However, some sociological research suggests that a majority of homosexual men report having had a highly strained relationship with their fathers or were actually subject to abuse by their fathers. While some might dismiss this as a chicken-and-egg issue, it at least raises the possibility that environmental factors beyond a person's control can contribute to sexual attraction.

    Other research, admittedly anecdotal, has recounted the cases of countless sets of identical twins where one is homosexual and the other heterosexual, despite having identical genetics and no discernible genetic mutation between the two. Personally, I have known 3 sets of identical twin for which this was true. At the very least, these cases reveal the implausibility that homosexuality is the exclusive result of a person's genetics.

    By saying this, I don't mean to suggest that one has control or choice over sexuality. I mean only to suggest that homosexuality is probably not the exclusive result of biology. It very well could be the result of a genetic predisposition triggered by certain environmental factors.

    Beyond the nature/nurture question, I find myself in agreement with Marie's chocolate analogy. Just because a person has homosexual desire, does not mean that he or she must engage in homosexual sex. There is a distinction, ultimately, between an urge and a deliberate act to fulfill that urge. Just as one might choose, for health reasons, not to eat the chocolate he so desires, a person might also choose, for moral reasons, not to engage in the homosexual lifestyle he so desires. Sometimes we want things that are not good for us. It is the consequence of the fall of man, and we all suffer for it in differ ways. Fortunately, our Savior is always there to carry us through our sufferings ...

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  47. Zach, married couples who use contraception are not "whoring around" either, but it's still morally wrong. Surely you know enough about Catholic teaching to know that moral wrongs don't fit into a nice little box that say "whoring" on it. There is a lot more to sin (and virtue) than concern about whoring.

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  48. Mary,

    I’m not sure if this answers your question at all.

    Let me preface everything I’m about to say with a small disclaimer:

    EVERYTHING I’M ABOUT TO SAY IS SOLELY MY OPINION. I AM ONLY STATING THE FOLLOWING THINGS BASED ON MY FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE /EXPERIENCE, INTIMATE DISCUSSIONS WITH FRIENDS, AND WITNESS TO CIRCUMSTANCES.

    (Deep breathe)

    Physical trauma? No.

    Women and men are totally different, which is why for women the attraction to other women isn’t always solely based on the physical but on the emotional. Women are able to understand and connect with women emotionally on different levels than with men. This is where I’ve seen the trauma. Now, I understand that heterosexual relationships can be unhealthy also, so I’m not trying to state that every hetero is good and every homosexual relationship is going to crash & burn. I’m just going to note that they can be unhealthy in different ways, and when it comes to lesbian relationships the most likely reason is based on emotions.

    What I have witnessed from my own relationship and others:

    Codependency
    Jealousy
    Abandonment Issues
    Fear of commitment/finality
    Depression

    These are visible in straight relationships but overwhelmingly, I’ve witnessed them in lesbian relationships. We would chalk this up to immaturity, but it’s deeper than that. Women emotionally investment more in relationships faster than men do, so when you take two women and put them together intimately in an emotional way, it’s a catalyst for a lot of issues to arise.

    I don’t have any documented sources to say two women, living together in a longterm loving committed relationship is wrong. I just know that it’s way more complex than your question posed. I have friends that are in their 6th year of a “longterm loving committed relationship” and I love them dearly. I have some that are having babies, commitment ceremonies, and European marriages. I love them all. I love when people find love. But that love is not complete. That is all I’m saying.

    A few weeks ago, I had a discussion with a close friend (she is bisexual) about the basis of my post and she asked why does it matter. So what if a gay person knows that the love they are pursuing isn’t complete, what next? I was stumped for a moment, but then I realized that to know is better than not knowing. Some of my lesbian friends “know” and they still make the decision to have relationships with women. They have the free will to do so. I still love them. Christ still loves them. I’m not trying to make decisions for people. I just want them to know.

    Marie

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  49. Love is also wanting good for the other (as I read in the the CCC). This says nothing about getting anything back in return. But, I personally find this to be the most difficult thing to do in my life because of my own pride. The cure for pride is humility and the way to humility is loving God and revereing Him.

    We are all called to accept our own pain and suffering and unite to the Cross. I also find this incredible difficult since I have a very long list of defenses.

    Marie, you are a profound example of accepting your Cross. By avoiding grave sin, you will be blessed.

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  50. Patrick said: "However, some sociological research suggests that a majority of homosexual men report having had a highly strained relationship with their fathers or were actually subject to abuse by their fathers. While some might dismiss this as a chicken-and-egg issue, it at least raises the possibility that environmental factors beyond a person's control can contribute to sexual attraction."

    Could you provide some links for the evidence of this? And....from the guys I know, this is UTTERLY a chicken and egg issue. Heterosexual fathers have very strong hopes and dreams for their sons, and I cannot think of one that dreams his son will be gay. As a gay son's orientation shows gradually, I am sure there are countless moments of frustration, fear and anger felt by the father.

    Your style and thoughtful approach were appreciated!

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  51. Leila,

    Respectfully, I did not ask about the moral law. I asked about hard evidence that homosexual female unions create visible bad stuff. (But I get why you re-posted what you said). The list of vices you had described above all demonstrate clear bad effects! They are all different kinds of problems, but all show easily documented harm that can be measured.

    I do understand what the moral law of the Catholic Church says: the genitals are only to be used within a procreative, heterosexual marriage...period. But, you were listing vices as evidence that the Church teaches that bad things are bad, regardless of whether they are inherited traits or not.

    My point was that it is easy to morally rule on things that are empirically bad, but you are on thinner ice with behaviors that cannot be demonstrated to be empirically bad. At this point, you are going 100% on the opinion of the Church, through revelation and the dictum of the Magisterium.

    Marie, I appreciate your answer, but (and you did nod to this) that list of problems you describe with lesbian relationships is so easily transferred over to the heterosexual relationships I have known in my life that is is striking. In fact, I would venture that every single heterosexual relationship has one of those issues you listed right now, in some form, however mild. Mild fear of abandonment here...and occasional jealousy!

    You did say " I love when people find love. But that love is not complete. That is all I’m saying." Well, maybe not complete for you, but it seems others do find it complete.

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  52. Zach said, "Those who have attraction to both sexes do not have those thoughts at all, and spreading that kind of rhetoric is ridiculous and harmful. "

    I don't know any people who claim to be bisexual (although i do know some people who claim to be asexual). Are you saying that no bisexual people are ambivalent about their feelings or none that you know are. Actually, I would be quite interested to hear from bisexual males, because, from what I have heard, bisexuality is more common in females. Personally, I cannot really imagine being STRONGLY attracted to both sexes, but then again (in keeping with the chocolate vein) I love dark chocolate and just cannot understand my sis-in-law who hates the stuff!

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  53. Mary,

    I'm sorry my response disappointed you. As I said, I don't have documented sources to demonstrate what you want. I'm thinking that unless I could show you a scientific study showing that lesbians are 80x more likely to be involved in domestic violence (I'm making this up!) then nothing I say is really go to matter. That is fine. I can only say what I know.

    I've met a small amount of gay men and have only been acquainted with one young bisexual male in my life, so I don't have a lot of knowledge on that side. Can you clarify your question about ambivalence?

    Marie

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  54. Marie,
    Disappointed is the wrong word. I was not feeling that way. I think your views are valid, and well-explained.

    You also provided ample caveats that you did not have a scientific study....but I guess until I do see some study that shows me that lesbian relationships are more prone to divorce, or more prone to producing faulty kids etc. then I find it hard to consider them "in mortal sin" based solely on the revealed Truth as decided by the Magisterium. I just know of (two that I am sure about) long-term (one 30+ yrs) lesbian relationships that seem pretty healthy and stable on the outside. I did know a few lesbians I worked with in San Fran, but have lost touch, so don't know if their unions lasted.

    You, obviously, have seen some negative lesbian relationships that help you to understand and accept that the Church is speaking Truth about homosexual female unions. I just have not seen that, but your input will go into the data bank in my head for future consideration.

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  55. Marie,
    My point to Zach about ambivalence was in response to his response to your statement: "(It kind of says, 'I just like everything out there so I’ll take it how I can get it.')"

    Maybe "ambivalence" was the wrong word. I cannot come up with another, better one though...

    I really have zero experience with knowing bisexual people, and Zach seems to know some, and how they think about their orientation(s)...so I thought it would be good to get more information from him.

    Personally, I think that having the chance to have direct, pointed (but respectful) dialogue between homosexual people and heterosexual people (both practicing and non), in this kind of forum is amazing. I would not have the guts to ask some of the gays I know some of these questions, as I wouldn't want to make them feel weird, and I don't know some well enough to ask....but since you are all here posting, I guess I feel like you are secure enough to talk about stuff and offer your candid thoughts.

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  56. Mary,

    Why do you need earthly evidence to justify Church teachings? You said "I find it hard to consider them "in mortal sin" based solely on the revealed Truth as decided by the Magisterium." How would a study prove that something is sinful? Did you read my very first response to you? I am wondering if you are thinking yourself out of your Faith.

    Marie

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  57. I find it hard to consider them "in mortal sin" based solely on the revealed Truth as decided by the Magisterium.

    Mary,
    What’s your definition of the Magisterium?
    Is not what the Magisterium “decides on” decided already by God?

    I just know of (two that I am sure about) long-term (one 30+ yrs) lesbian relationships that seem pretty healthy and stable on the outside.

    Because they appear healthy on the outside? We don’t know that much. We don’t even know that much about close friends who are heterosexual; or even family members.

    You can draw any analogy to this way of thinking. Why not argue that people with six kids are happier than those with four? It's all painting with a broad brush and holds no basis in fact beyond personal opinion, which is very much the opposite of the Magisterium.

    And I’d still like your answer on those Darwinian myths, if you have a moment.

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  58. In response to Mary--

    The idea that bisexuals will take whatever comes their way is a common idea that's about as absurd as saying that you'll be attracted and have sex with every guy simply because you're a heterosexual female.

    Obviously I'm not in the business of going into the nuances of my sexuality (which, as far as I'm concerned, is saying anything beyond "i'm gay"). But for most of the time after coming out of the closet I identified as bisexual and this was a extremely common misconception. It's..."easier" to tell people that I'm gay and it makes more sense to them, because like them, they think I'm attracted to solely one sex. However, my boyfriend does identify that way, which means I deal with those misconceptions all the time anyway. People ask me if they're worried I'll leave him for a woman. WHAT? No more than I'm worried he'll leave me for another man...

    I'm saying they're ambivalent in the sense that they're attracted to men and women, but the way they approach dating and love is individual and not dependent on who and what they find attractive. Most people who identify as bi that I know tell most people they are gay because there is rampant implicit biphobia in both gay and straight communities.

    Let me know if anything was unclear. I decided that clarifying ideas about biphobia was perhaps important enough to come back.
    -Zach

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  59. Back on the scene, and a bit confused with the anonymouses who do not give themselves a name. Please, I ask that if you want to post anonymously, give yourself a name so that we can know who is speaking and keep things straight (no pun intended, ha ha ha).

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  60. Marie to Mary:

    How would a study prove that something is sinful? Did you read my very first response to you? I am wondering if you are thinking yourself out of your Faith.

    Took the words out of my mouth! I keep wondering why "studies" are the key to morality? Mary, do you believe in a moral law? Or do you believe that morality is something we determine based on the latest studies on evolution or sociology? I'm honestly asking. I am confused about where you think morality comes from and whether or not it changes with the times?

    I go back to Jesus asking: "Who do you say that I am?" It's a question that every soul must answer. There is no getting around it. No study is going to tell you who He is. There is evidence all over the place and all around you, but no university study.

    Pray for Jesus to reveal Himself to you. He will, if you are asking sincerely. Prayers might be the missing link here, but I don't want to presume.

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  61. You have put beautifully into words what I have been struggling with for months now. My family and friends can't understand why I would become Catholic, much less forsake the gay lifestyle I lived for twenty years. I did not choose to be Catholic; God chose me. He's been knocking on my heart's door for a very long time and he finally reached me and I cannot go back, no matter how hard it is at times. Thank you, Marie.

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  62. Zach,

    Thanks so much for this...I am really learning something new here, as you said, "Most people who identify as bi that I know tell most people they are gay because there is rampant implicit biphobia in both gay and straight communities. "

    I would have guessed the exact opposite: that it is easier for gays to identify as "bi", because that left them some mental wiggle room to "fit into the mainstream". Really amazing...Goes to show, you just cannot assume things. Also...rocks my assumption that most men are really gay or straight and women can be someplace in-between. Heck, and I even lived in San Fran for a while!
    I guess part of what you are saying, is that the bi folks you know fall in love with a person, first and foremost. Hard for me to understand, as I guess it never dawned on me to think I could fall in love with a woman.

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  63. Leila said, "I keep wondering why "studies" are the key to morality? Mary, do you believe in a moral law? Or do you believe that morality is something we determine based on the latest studies on evolution or sociology?"

    Well, yes, but as you know I think Truth and science are more closely linked than most. I think almost all moral law worth its salt can be backed up with, at least some, empirical data.

    There are certainly a few exceptions. I mean, it is hard to understand how the urge to give up a kidney for a totally unrelated person could have evolved, but I do think it is good. Certainly, it is good to live in a society where lots of people are altruistic. Not lying, not stealing, not coveting, not murdering, not adultering...these things are clearly supported by evidence to be bad, so readily accepted in my sense of a moral code.

    Now, giving up all attachment to worldly goods, is not so self-evident, as the desire to be financially prosperous is a good things within limits. But, I can see that an over-attachment to these things could cause you to miss out on (what I think) is important in life. The nobility of suffering as part of a moral code is also something I am really pretty uncomfortable with. I would have to say that is not so readily discerned from empirical evidence, however, I do understand that suffering can lead you to develop character and new depths of understanding. That is worth a whole blog post unto itself: the dangers and benefits of viewing suffering as a positive thing.

    Does that help?

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  64. Mary, it helps a bit, but I'm still not totally clear. Is morality something that is revealed to us (revelation, something outside of us) or is it something that is revealed (maybe or maybe not) and that we need to verify with empirical studies before we accept it or believe it? I get that you don't see any "harm" in lesbian relationships (though that still seems your subjective opinion… can something harm the soul without your "seeing" that?), but there are plenty of people who don't see any "harm" in small lies, or even big ones, for a good cause. Or, adulterous affairs if it leads to happiness (JoAnna's mom), etc. It seems so subjective, what you are positing. Could go either way, depending on one's opinion on any given moral subject. Do you see what I mean?

    Also, the meaning and fruit of suffering comes in our own suffering (and we all suffer, like it or not), but definitely not in trying to spread suffering around for others' "good" or anything like that! I'm sure you got that, but I wanted to clarify, ha ha.

    For anyone who missed out on the Catholic view of suffering, and why it has (or can have) infinite and redemptive meaning, go here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/10/suffering-catholic-style-part-two-of.html

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  65. Leila,
    You said, "I go back to Jesus asking: "Who do you say that I am?" It's a question that every soul must answer. There is no getting around it. No study is going to tell you who He is."

    Very good point, but I thought I had explained before that I am not convinced that Jesus was truly any more God than my neighbor. I think it is possible to answer his question by saying that he was a smart, loving teacher, with great insight into human nature, who somehow had convinced himself he was divine.

    My belief in God is much more secure, and started with Pascal's Wager....I think I explained that before.

    I would love to be able to accept the resurrection story wholeheartedly, but I cannot. I did pray to accept this for a long time, years ago, sincerely, as I was so despondent and desperate in my atheism/agnosticism, and my mother and some others told me to just keep trying. I never got any feeling, thoughts or clarity this way.

    Now, I know you will all say that there is evidence through miracles, apparitions etc., but maybe you know about this guy called the Amazing Randy? This guy has a one million dollar prize out there for anyone who can clearly demonstrate the supernatural...thus far, not a single person has been able to do so. I am definitely open to the idea they could happen, but upon close study, almost all claims break down or seem spurious. (The Akita apparition does strike me as the most interesting, and I would be willing to study that).

    Also, some (not all, but a sizable majority) of the very religious people I know, are quite manipulative and dishonest on a base level. (I AM NOT saying that about anyone here in particular) Some do not even seem to be aware of this themselves. They have great fear of the unknown, of death, of being free...they love believing in a system that assures them that if they do x, y, and z the outcome will be good.

    Of course the testimony of those such as Marie and Steve is very interesting, because clearly these are people who are actively seeking to live a religious life in direct opposition from some of their deepest desires to love and be loved.

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  66. I am not convinced that Jesus was truly any more God than my neighbor. I think it is possible to answer his question by saying that he was a smart, loving teacher, with great insight into human nature, who somehow had convinced himself he was divine.


    Another fantastic C.S. Lewis quote that addresses this point...

    "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." — C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

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  67. I think it is possible to answer his question by saying that he was a smart, loving teacher, with great insight into human nature, who somehow had convinced himself he was divine.

    If a man convinces himself he is God, we don't call him good, we call him insane. I hope and pray you do begin to read C.S. Lewis, because Jesus just being a "smart, loving teacher, with great insight into human nature" is not an option that the Bible or the Church or Jesus gives us. It really is either, "Lord, liar, or lunatic". And if you read the gospels, Jesus is not any type of "wise, guru" type character. Not at all.

    As for examples of the Christian life truly well-lived, go to the lives of the saints. They are our examples. Most all started out terribly sinful, even evil, and become transformed by Christ. The evidence is there by the thousands. Same with the Church being unchanging. Same with the evidence for the Resurrection. Same with miracles, apparitions (which are not necessary to believe in Catholicism, of course). Evidence abounds, but "proof" in the sense that you want a repeatable experiment? It's not gonna happen. God leaves you a choice, a place to make your decision on your own.

    I do think it's wonderful that you took Pascal's wager. And I am so happy you do believe in God, and that your (sainted, ha ha!) mother is praying for you. This is so good.

    Have you gone to Eucharistic Adoration? Or read the lives of the saints?

    In any case, I hope you will keep praying. I really think the door will open in a big way at some point. Especially if your mom is St. Monica to your St. Augustine. :)

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  68. JoAnna, excellent quote from Lewis! (And the other quotes from him, too.) That man is the most Catholic non-Catholic I know, ha ha!

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  69. Leila,

    I totally disagree with your analogy. An adulterous affair is clearly harmful, even if some are happy as a result. Clearly there was harm....JoAnna described her feelings. Also, adultery is breaking a promise. If we disregard the morality of following through on promises, then our entire society based on contractual agreements and such falls apart. You said it is subjective....list me one person who thinks adulterous affairs are a good thing for everyone involved, and then that one person would have to agree that it would be good or neutral for someone to have an adulterous affair behind their back....I don't think you would get any (sane) takers.

    As far as my subjective opinion about lesbians, well, of course it is subjective, and spurious, as I only know two relationships, but it seems just as subjective as your saying they are harmful, because I am guessing you don't know, say 200 or so lesbian couples, and how things go. This kind of (less subjective) empirical data would be produceable. In fact, I think there was a study demonstrating no difference in the outcomes of the children of lesbians vs heteros, but then someone claimed the researchers were biased because they were lesbians themselves. I would love to see a joint study conducted by those pro and against lesbian unions...and I would like to see the raw data so I can decide for myself.

    Can something harm the soul without being "seeable"? Can you list something you are thinking about other than sexual immorality?

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  70. Can something harm the soul without being "seeable"? Can you list something you are thinking about other than sexual immorality?

    Other than lust? Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, envy, and gluttony.

    Mary, I'm curious, what do you think of so-called "open marriages," in which adultery is engaged in by both parties, with consent of the other?

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  71. Bummer!! Computer ate my comment!! Back soon to re-write, Mary. Ack!!!

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  72. "Of course the testimony of those such as Marie and Steve is very interesting, because clearly these are people who are actively seeking to live a religious life in direct opposition from some of their deepest desires to love and be loved."

    Following God's Will reaffirms my deepest desires to love and to be loved. If God is love, how can a "religious life" be in direct opposition? I am free. I have no fears. A moral life frees not binds, so I'm not sure why those "religious" people that you know are so scared of the unknown, death, etc.

    Marie

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  73. Following God's Will reaffirms my deepest desires to love and to be loved. If God is love, how can a "religious life" be in direct opposition? I am free. I have no fears. A moral life frees not binds, so I'm not sure why those "religious" people that you know are so scared of the unknown, death, etc.

    Beautiful, Marie. This Bible verse immediately sprang to mind:

    There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. - 1 John 4:18

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  74. Yep, know that oft-quoted bit by C.S. Lewis, but I don't agree. I think it is certainly possible (another option to Lewis' liar,lunatic or lord) that the gospel writers and Paul embellished the story of who Jesus claimed to be..there is speculation that Paul's encounter on the road to Damascus was actually a grand mal seizure.

    I really don't know...but I don't think it is crazy to question it.

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  75. I applaud you for spreading the message that being gay is not a personal choice, but instead a biological condition, and I also applaud you for your open embrace of the view that you can't "pray away" or "cure" gay. I see a lot of resistance to those two beliefs throughout America, but I think the more time you spend around gay people the easier it is to understand those two sentiments. Thank you

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  76. Mary, you said earlier that you thought Jesus might have convinced himself that he is God. So, I am confused? Wouldn't that make him insane?

    Also, there was the whole issue with the Apostles seeing and knowing of the Resurrection before St. Paul even had his encounter with Christ. They were already proclaiming Christ risen. And no one ever gave me a plausible scenario of why they would do that, and face torture and death, all for a hoax and a dead man that was clearly a fraud while he lived? But we've covered all that, and no answers that I can see.

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  77. Mary, have you watched this youtube video from your friends? It's good. http://youtu.be/5p9CY976_kw

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  78. So, apparently JoAnna and Marie have only known people who have been transformed for the better through Catholicism. I, unfortunately have not had such an experience in my life. I know many, many "devout" people who, on the surface seem very nice, but once you dig deeper you see how they are using their religion to cover up deep fears, using it to control others (which is another way of dealing with fears) using it to justify life decisions, using it to not have to think "hard" about things (my mother--who I love, but who once told me "I just am not smart enough to think about those things, I am simple." when I challenged her with some of my issues and asked how she reconciled her mind to them), using it to get attention...

    Have I met some religious people who do seem "bettered" by their spirituality? Yes....but lots who were not. I am trying to be part of a Lutheran Church right now, but I am very cautious.

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  79. It's true that the "Lunatic, liar, Lord" scenario only works if you're coming from the point of view that Jesus was a real person who actually existed, but that's pretty much been proved by independent historical evidence. But it's interesting you think that His works and words were just "embellishments." That naturally leads to the question of motive. What was the payoff for creating and promoting said embellishments? For the money? Oh yeah, THAT worked out well. Best. Conspiracy. Ever.

    I have to say I've yet to meet anyone who would give up their formerly cushy job and wealth, forsake his family and cultural identity, travel around the known world while in ill health, willingly serve jail time, suffer continuous persecution from Jews AND Gentiles, and then be brutally executed for nothing more than either a fictional character that he made up or a real man who did NOT die and rise but rather died, was buried, and then had a bunch of stories made up about Him. It doesn't seem logical.

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  80. So, apparently JoAnna and Marie have only known people who have been transformed for the better through Catholicism.

    Actually, no, I know many Catholics who are simply "Catholic in name only" and use it more as a social club than an actual belief system. Lutherans, too (in fact, my mother and stepfather, whom I've referred to above, are both Lutheran and have been all their lives).

    Catholicism doesn't change people. Lutheranism doesn't change people. CHRIST, and a personal relationship with Him, changes people. Chances are the Catholics and Lutherans you know haven't had or have rejected that personal relationship.

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  81. That's not to say that I believe denomination doesn't matter... I converted to the Catholic Church from the Lutheran church because I came to believe, through faith and reason, that the CC has the fullness of Truth, and that I wasn't following Christ to the best of my ability unless I was in the Church that He established and to which He gave teaching authority.

    But it doesn't matter what denomination you're in if you don't have that personal relationship with Christ. In my personal view, as a Catholic it's so much easier to develop and nurture that relationship because you have the Sacraments, and the grace that accompanies them.

    But if you're just a Catholic so you have a place to baptize your kids and go for free doughnuts after church... that relationship won't be nurtured. A relationship is participatory, not passive. You can't get anything in return if you're not giving of yourself in the first place.

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  82. Well, certainly there have been people who were amazingly smart, gifted in many ways who suffered from bouts of insanity. Take Godel and John Nash for instance. Nash even had bouts of thinking he was a divine messenger. None of this seems to negate their brilliant insights and discoveries. So, I think it is possible (not saying it is true).

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  83. And have either Godel or John Nash inspired others to start a religion that has endured for over 2,000 years, despite many trials and persecutions? Has anyone claimed that either of them died and then rose again? (Remember, unlike Elvis devotees, the Apostles never claimed that Jesus' death was faked... they claimed he literally did die, was buried for three days, and then resurrected Himself.)

    Again, just looking at it logically...

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  84. JoAnna,
    "But it's interesting you think that His works and words were just "embellishments."

    I don't "think" this...I think it is a possibility.

    Motive? People love drama and stories...this is evident. And, if you are listening to stories, and they ring true to you, you work hard to convince others to listen to them and believe what you do. I think about this with "products". How many times have my friends lauded a product and tried to get me to adopt it with zeal. Or what about crowing about a particular private school or university (sometimes the zeal for this borders on the religious) and urging your friends to send their kids there...what is your motive? It helps to reassure you, that yes, your personal investment in this idea or event or institution was correct, because, "see, so many others are joining me."

    Another motive would be that you like the main messages of Jesus, and want to make sure they get heard. I have a cousin like this. She is a good person, but whenever she has an idea or a point, she embellishes the truth just a bit, because she is really trying to convince you. I could see this happening over time with the stories about Jesus, as they passed from mouth to mouth.

    I guess I would ask, what do you think about Muhammad? He clearly thought he had revelations from God and was a teacher/leader who started a (now huge) religion.

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  85. People love drama and stories...this is evident. And, if you are listening to stories, and they ring true to you, you work hard to convince others to listen to them and believe what you do.

    [...]

    Another motive would be that you like the main messages of Jesus, and want to make sure they get heard.



    As I said previously, however, I have to say I've yet to meet anyone who would give up their formerly cushy job and wealth, forsake his family and cultural identity, travel around the known world while in ill health, willingly serve jail time, suffer continuous persecution from Jews AND Gentiles, and then be brutally executed for nothing more than either a fictional character that he made up or a real man who did NOT die and rise but rather died, was buried, and then had a bunch of stories made up about Him [or a real person who had some good things to teach and say but was otherwise just a normal man with some lunatic tendencies who was brutally killed.] It doesn't seem logical.

    I guess I would ask, what do you think about Muhammad? He clearly thought he had revelations from God and was a teacher/leader who started a (now huge) religion.

    One key difference - Mohammed never claimed to be God incarnate. He only claimed to be a prophet. THE prophet, granted, but a prophet nonetheless. Actually, I recently read an an excellent post over at the blog Shameless Popery about this very topic, and I agree with it wholeheartedly: Why Trust the Apostles over Muhammad or Joseph Smith? Joe (the blog owner) has a very reasoned, logical argument.

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  86. Marie, I think this is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your struggles. Paix et bonne volonte. (Peace and good will)

    Mary Said:
    I would love to be able to accept the resurrection story wholeheartedly, but I cannot. I did pray to accept this for a long time, years ago, sincerely, as I was so despondent and desperate in my atheism/agnosticism, and my mother and some others told me to just keep trying. I never got any feeling, thoughts or clarity this way.

    Now, I know you will all say that there is evidence through miracles, apparitions etc., but maybe you know about this guy called the Amazing Randy? This guy has a one million dollar prize out there for anyone who can clearly demonstrate the supernatural...thus far, not a single person has been able to do so. I am definitely open to the idea they could happen, but upon close study, almost all claims break down or seem spurious. (The Akita apparition does strike me as the most interesting, and I would be willing to study that).


    Now, I'm not an expert, and I, too, highly recommend several readings of Lewis. But, instead of looking to apparitions and other similar ideas (not that they're not important), but why don't you consider the more mundane examples in your life. :) Like the fact that you keep coming to Leila's blog to learn more and are more than willing to hold conversations with people who are fairly orthodox Catholics and are willing to learn and grow and even defend your side of it all.

    Sometimes it's the little obvious signs that God is using to pull us into communion with Him.

    I totally disagree with your analogy. An adulterous affair is clearly harmful, even if some are happy as a result. Clearly there was harm....JoAnna described her feelings.

    Then the feelings of the family (mother, father, siblings, grandparents) of the lesbian, do they count as harm to? Honest question

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  87. Observation: You do indeed "quibble with the Ten Commandments", Mary.

    Why would you say you don't, when clearly that's not true?

    There is a sweet irony in your comment regarding 'studies for proof'; remember that exchange you had with me? Something along the lines of me chasing down gay people I know with facts and reports that repudiate or denounce their lifestyle? And I answered that I would not do that, that it wasn't my job (even though the reports and evidence regarding said lifestyle is overwhelming that it is not physically healthy); and yet in your previous comment, did you not just hope to employ that very tactic to uphold your side?

    That is, you want studies that show the 'healthy' evidence for gay (lesbian) relationships- why?
    Would you then use that in the opposite manner you said I would? Would you march up to believers and say, "Have a look-see. Evidence for healthy lesbians exists. Therefore, your belief in moral law and of God is irrelevant." (Which, of course, it still wouldn't be, anyway).

    It's not enough to make evolution into God. It most definitely does quibble with the Ten Commandments. I gather that for you, personally, evolution says, Thou shalt only ever present empirical data and theory before me.
    Thou shalt permit no moments of grace to transcend thee.

    There is no convincing anyone, in any manner of combox remarks, that will force a connection of your heart and mind to Christ Jesus. All we can do, all we hope we've done, is to show you reasonably, how such an encounter is not only attainable but life altering.

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  88. Anon - I am prob way late to this conversation but just because something is not a choice, doesn't mean nurture wasn't what created the issue. I think it's really unrealistic to say that something is just nature and not nurture or vice versa. We don't have enough info, and it's probably a combination. But even if someone struggles with something because of something that happened in their environment (nurture), that doesn't mean they feel their struggles are a "choice." A child raised in an abusive home who later must wrestle with demons as a result of her upbringing wasn't born with those demons but that doesn't make her struggle her "choice" or her fault.

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  89. "That doesn't mean her struggle *was her 'choice' or her fault." Sorry. Can't type. But yeah, I don't see much productivity coming from trying to sort out, right here and now, if same-sex attraction is a result of nature vs. nurture.

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  90. Mary, Mohammed and the rest had philosophies and ideas that they believed about God and wanted others to believe.

    By contrast, Jesus said he WAS God. Big difference.

    The apostles were not interested in spreading a philosophy that they really, really believed in. They were spreading the news that JESUS HAD RISEN FROM THE DEAD. That is an actual "event", a real happening, not a "philosophy" that they really liked.

    Think about it: In the three days that they knew Jesus to be dead, they did not risk death, torture, etc. for a "big idea". They knew that it was OVER. He was DEAD. It was only after Jesus rose, and they witnessed it, that they began to not care one whit about their own lives and comfort, and began to preach Christ RISEN. That is such a far cry from what you are describing, about believing in an idea or a school or a philosophy.

    They were not embellishing an idea, they were proclaiming an EVENT.

    Hope that makes it a bit more clear. Can you see the distinction?

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  91. Mary,

    This line of reasoning is as old as David Hume. I recommend Newman's unofficial rebuttal here. In fact the modern atheistic argument comes from Hume's essay on Human Understanding, particularly the part "On Miracles"--which I recommend as well and would hope you would critically evaluate. (as a side note, Hume is critical of Newton as promoting a kind of superstition)

    Don't you think that given the massive persecutions in the 1st-3rd centuries (attested by Jewish and Pagan historians alike), if this were merely a fairy story, someone would have "cried uncle"?

    I agree, let's be reasonable and use probability/possibility as our starting point.

    I'll admit to you that it is possible that Christianity is merely made up, if you can demonstrate to me a reason why someone would carry on with this tale through such atrocious persecutions. Tacitus affirms the "exquisite tortures" in as early as 64 A.D. There is only one thing the human person likes more than stories: self-preservation.

    That said, I recommend Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. He was an atheist, who assumed a similar story as you seem to be. He was a Chicago Tribune legal editor and sought out to debunk the evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was positively the Son of God. The claims of Christ, and the historical precedent, dare I say empirical effects of his existence (or at least of his teachings) is worth a careful study and not merely dismissed as a fad or mere human invention based upon the probability as such. As famous Oxford chemist/philosopher Michael Polanyi reminds us, probability is only as good as reality, and implies a personal commitment to a likelihood. 99% not likely is only as good as the 1% is not true.

    Peace to you on your journey,

    Brent

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  92. "Of course the testimony of those such as Marie and Steve is very interesting, because clearly these are people who are actively seeking to live a religious life in direct opposition from some of their deepest desires to love and be loved."

    Mary, the last part of this statement seems to imply a belief in eros and philia, and a rejection or omission of agape. But the whole point of Marie's post was to point out that love disconnected to agape is disordered love.

    Also, regarding your mom and her "simple" faith. Remember, the Faith of Christ is accessible to everyone, no matter their level of "simplicity" or intellect, no matter their state in life, etc. The Catholic Faith is so amazing, in that the poorest illiterate peasant can become a holy saint as surely (and perhaps even more easily) than the most brilliant Aquinas, or Augustine, or Newman. The Faith is as simple or as deep as the person that God is meeting in the Sacraments and the Word.

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  93. Stealing hurts people, lying potentially hurts people, murder certainly hurts people, adultery and pedophilia hurt people. But how do two adult women or men in love with each other and choosing to consummate that love hurt people? Yes, you could argue that they aren't having sex for the purposes of unity and procreation but doesn't God love when his creations show love for one another? And if its disordered, therefore God does not show love on that instance of love, then how can he love our soldiers? and our criminals?

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  94. And if its disordered, therefore God does not show love on that instance of love, then how can he love our soldiers? and our criminals?

    Sorry, not following this. First, no one has said that God does not love gay people, or soliders, or criminals, or anyone. God loves all His children. But He cannot force us to love Him. And, what do soliders have to do with this? Soliders are like all of us, doing their duty with honor, as we all hope to.

    Also, as to "hurting" others. Gluttony, let's say. I used to be very skinny. Up till about 40, ha ha. I ate very gluttonously at times, but no one could "see" it. And it hurt no one. And, my health was and still is great. But gluttony does hurt the soul. It is still a sin. Or, how about a man who embezzles (steals) a little bit from a very wealthy man who doesn't know about the missing money. No one "sees", no one knows, no one is "hurt"... and yet, the soul of the thief is wounded and soiled. Sin, even those that are "hidden" is still harmful. There really is no private sin. And just because something is not harmful physically, or "empirically" (really, can studies can tell us what "sin" is?), it doesn't mean the soul is not harmed.

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  95. Anon,

    When you were a kid did you ever bring home a bad grade, tell a lie, hit your sibling, or break something important to your parents? And when you did one or more of these things, did your parents stop loving you? No. They disapproved of your behavior and were disappointed but they never stopped loving you. They just expected more from you. God will always love you, but that doesn't mean that he approves of every action. He'll always be there for you, but that doesn't mean that he won't be disappointed by your behavior.

    Marie

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  96. JoAnna,
    No, I know what you are saying (the doughnuts cracked me up!), and I have talked about this before...the people who really stun me are the ones who just "do it to have something to tell their kids", but those are not the people I am talking about. I know several who are really doing it all: adoration, holy days of obligation, the sacraments, bible study etc. One is even a deacon!

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  97. Since we are throwing around C.S. Lewis quotes, I'll let him address your point, Mary:

    Take the sour old maid, who is a Christian, but cantakerous. On the other hand, take some pleasant and popular fellow, but who has never been to church. Who knows how much more cantankerous the old maid might be if she were not a Christian, and how much more likeable the nice fellow might be if he were a Christian? You can’t judge Christianity simply by comparing the product in those two people; you would need to know what kind of raw material Christ was working on in both cases.

    We cannot every judge individual souls. We just don't know what they have been through and who they might be without Christ. We don't judge souls, but we do have the ability and the revelation to know what is moral or immoral.

    Do you read the lives of the saints?

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  98. .the people who really stun me are the ones who just "do it to have something to tell their kids", but those are not the people I am talking about. I know several who are really doing it all: adoration, holy days of obligation, the sacraments, bible study etc. One is even a deacon!

    We cannot assume to know the amount of graces these people have received or will receive.

    You’re viewing the unfinished product of people on their way to holiness, not ones that have arrived. None of us can claim to be living saints.

    Imagine if we turned this comment around toward homosexuals: “but those are not the people I am talking about. I know several who are really doing it all; homosex, promiscuous dating, drug use, etc. One is even a bisexual!”

    Just all around not a nice gossipy tidbit.

    One thing I've learned and teach teach my kids when they’ve been disappointed by others’ behavior, assumed or not, is: “Extend them some grace.”

    Leila, gorgeous comment there.

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  99. Nubby...I am not being rude and ignoring you...I keep getting sidetracked. Thanks to all for your comments...I will try to address as I have sporadic time...

    Nubby, other than the second commandment (the second part of which I guess I could quibble with, as it seems to imply that your children will suffer vengeful wrath if you have other idols in your life) which commandment are you convinced I am questioning?

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  100. No problem; totally understand about getting sidetracked.

    My perspective is that it appears to me that you’re not convinced of the 1st commandment based on a few comments of yours taken just from your comments today:

    First Commandment reads: “You shall have no other gods before me.” Or “strange gods” in some translations.

    I observed earlier that you mentioned:

    1) You don’t fully accept Christ as God (transgresses the 1st commandment because Scripture says, “The father and I are One (John 10:30), which means if you don’t accept the Son, you cannot accept the Father, which leads to your transgressing the 1st Commandment.”)

    2) You question the truth of his word (ie, Paul may have suffered seizures and, therefore he didn’t experience the encounter with Christ that led to Paul’s conversion, therefore, the word of God is deceitful. Disbelief in what the apostle Paul has done is discrediting Scripture, which is discrediting God’s Truth, which is discrediting God, which is transgressing the 1st Commandment.)

    Thoughts?

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  101. Nubby, I am confused by your comment...maybe you missed what I was intending to say. You said, "Imagine if we turned this comment around toward homosexuals: “but those are not the people I am talking about. I know several who are really doing it all; homosex, promiscuous dating, drug use, etc. One is even a bisexual!”

    I am talking about my noticing people who are using their religion, which is sincerely practiced, as a way of allaying their deepest fears, or supporting what their ego wants to do, often in ways that are not even conscious to them.

    I will say that most I have encountered who strike me this way are very uncomfortable with lines of inquiry such as we are conducting right here. They need a system with rules and definitive codes. They cannot bear uncertainty, and are deeply afraid of people and ideas which are foreign to them. Some of the women I grew up with used the Catholic religion as a way to openly justify having lots of kids..."It's God's calling", they would say, but I knew them when they were young and when they had their first jobs, and they hated being under the yoke of a boss, and some of them, quite frankly, just couldn't hack it, and then they decided it was God's will that they stay home and mother full time. I have no problem with that, but at least don't delude yourself: be honest and say, "I tried the work world and hated not being in charge of my day, hated commuting, wasn't that good (for some) and wanted lots of kids, so I am going to do that." I would respect that. It's being honest with yourself.

    Upon reflection, saying that a majority of religious people I know are like that at a base level is overstating it....I think it is more like fifty-fifty.

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  102. Better text here, fleshing out the 1st commandment:

    28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
    29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

    Mark 12:28-31

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  103. Anon (please, all the anons, give yourselves name), I will simply cut and paste what Steve says on his own blog:

    Q. So are you gay, or what?

    A. You could say that, if you wanted to, although I don’t like the term and don’t identify with it. I’m attracted primarily and almost exclusively to men, and have been since I was about fourteen; but I don’t date men or have sex with them, so where does that leave me? I’m a faithful Catholic, so a romantic relationship with another man literally doesn’t fit into the way I see the world. I don’t see myself as different in any essential way from heterosexual men, so describing myself as “gay” doesn’t seem to fit.

    On the other hand, “homosexual” sounds clinical, “queer” certainly isn’t me, and “man who’s attracted to other men” is cumbersome. So, “gay” is a useful sort of shorthand, and I’ll use it from time to time until a better word comes along. SSA (same-sex attraction) is a useful term too, as in “He has SSA” rather than “He is SSA.”


    Sometimes, like it or not, we use the language of the community we are trying to reach. Or the language which will be clear to the most people (language is about communication, and sadly, the word "gay" no longer means what it used to).

    Also, concupiscence and disordered attraction are not sin. Sin is, by definition, a willful choice. We cannot willfully choose to whom we are involuntarily attracted. We can willfully choose our actions and behaviors.

    If temptation to sin is the same as sin, then we are all without hope. Thank God, that is not what the Church teaches. Whew!

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  104. Nubby,
    Do you believe in pattern recognition? Pattern recognition is the ability to notice patterns and form strategies, assumptions and ideas that can inform your behavior. Human beings are excellent at this, as we all know. It is one of the keys to our existence. Now it does have a down side. Prejudice and "profiling" are pattern recognition behaviors that can get us into trouble, because, although they can get it right some times, we also run the risk of getting it wrong, and wrongly accusing or judging people unjustly etc.

    But, that does not negate the fact that pattern recognition is a real and often correct thing. I have used my pattern recognition to notice these behaviors and similarities in a group of people. I do try to give them the benefit of the doubt, but the little voice in the back of my head keeps noticing, and putting me on my guard. Just like it would if I was in an elevator or a room alone with a young male, who was giving off certain threatening vibes....i would be aware. If a great many Catholics or Christians of any sort seemed to sway my pattern recognition the other way, I would notice that too. If they seemed more open, more receptive, more honest with themselves about their motivations for doing things, more radical in their love, more able to see things from another perspective, more interested in inquiry...then I would be intrigued.

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  105. I am talking about my noticing people who are using their religion, which is sincerely practiced, as a way of allaying their deepest fears, or supporting what their ego wants to do, often in ways that are not even conscious to them.

    Mary, respectfully, this sounds just kind of base.
    We (you) cannot assume people are just using religion as a prop; especially if they’re going to holy days, adoration, etc.

    If they’re doing that much, they must be taking something seriously, and that’s where I’ll just caution against assuming that what religious people do is all a put-on. Gotta tread carefully, we just don’t know.

    You don’t know how they discern things, even if they do. You don’t know if they’re going through a point in their conversion that won’t bear fruit until much later.

    I mean, be very careful about suggesting that people can’t honestly follow God to the best of their ability in the present moment, no matter how phony or ugly it may appear.
    Guard against attributing their holiness or lack thereof, or egotism, or lack thereof. If anything, we should just give people the benefit of the doubt.

    And now I'll descend from my soapbox...

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  106. Upon reflection, saying that a majority of religious people I know are like that at a base level is overstating it....I think it is more like fifty-fifty.

    But Mary, how can you even judge their hearts? I don't get that. And to say that you know what those women were thinking and feeling as they left work and used religion to "justify" having more kids… I just, again, don't know how you can read their hearts, or even why it is wrong to decide what they did? I guess I'm not getting the horrible thing that you are saying is being done in the name of religion?

    As for allaying fears: Yes, yes! God definitely allayed my fears! Why is that wrong? That is one of the most wonderful things about a relationship with God, and knowing the truth! So many fears are replaced by peace and joy. That is actually supposed to happen. And of course, the journey will take a lifetime (and then some… Purgatory), but what is so wrong with leaning on God and one's faith? Isn't that the consolation in all of this? "come to me, all you who are burdened…"

    As for those who don't want to question their faith. Why should they have to? Those who love to "dig in" and really go the route of questioning and intellect, etc., may need to do so, and may really enjoy that and find it edifying. But is everyone called to question and dissect their faith? No way. "You have seen and believed, but blessed are they who have not seen, and still believe."

    There is every kind of person out there, Mary. It seems like you think they should all approach their faith the same way? It's okay to simply believe and love God, without picking each doctrine apart. It doesn't make their faith any less profound or real. In fact, God "hid things from the wise and revealed them to babies" in order to confound the "wise"… And he always chose the simple, open-hearted to draw closest too. It's okay to have a simple faith. God is pleased with those who have a pure heart and are single-minded. It's not a "lesser" faith than those who question, question, question….

    I hope I am making sense.

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  107. Mary, respectfully: you’re not clairvoyant, you’re not omniscient.

    Okay, you recognize patterns, great. You’re observant. I think I am, too. Perhaps, maybe not. It's neither here nor there.

    However, pattern recognition in people isn't a free pass to extrapolate from those observations that you can assign motive to people.

    You might notice this or that about a situation or a particular person’s behavior, but you cannot know their motive.

    And to your last paragraph, what would be a high enough standard of achievement?

    If all Catholics gave away everything? Mary, we’re not all called to be on the same mission at the same time using the same gifts.

    We’re called to love everyone, each person. That doesn’t always reflect in radical giving away of everything to go live in contemplative life, or live in the gutters with the poor; it might mean, on any given day, that I am to forsake myself for just one other person’s good.

    You cannot assign motive. It’s just cruel and you just don’t know.

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  108. Mary,
    Incidentally, have you ever misjudged someone? Have you ever thought someone was going to threaten you, only to find that as they advanced they merely had a question to ask you; or wanted to pay you a compliment?

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  109. Nubby...sorry, but I don't think you can say that if you don't accept (or have trouble fully accepting as I do) that Jesus was God, then that means you cannot be counted as a monotheist.

    I mean, lots of people are monotheists who are not Christian.

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  110. Mary,
    Do you worship the Incarnate God? Word made flesh?

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  111. So, Mary, you don't believe in the Trinity?

    I guess the next question would be, with your own personal understanding of the faith (in your CCD classes, etc) why are you not convinced that Jesus Christ is infact united to God the Father in power, majesty and glory?

    Where does Christ fall short in your understanding of the faith? And I mean, fall short as put forth from the formal teaching, not as falls short based on your personal experience of someone's bad example, etc.

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  112. No, I know what you are saying (the doughnuts cracked me up!), and I have talked about this before...the people who really stun me are the ones who just "do it to have something to tell their kids", but those are not the people I am talking about. I know several who are really doing it all: adoration, holy days of obligation, the sacraments, bible study etc. One is even a deacon!

    Mary... why do you assume these people you know are the way they are because of their Catholicism as opposed to in spite of their Catholicism?

    Catholicism is a journey, not a destination. Maybe some people think that once you're in, you're good and you can just stop trying (similar to the Once Saved, Always Saved philosophy of many Protestant sects), but nothing could be further from the truth. We're all working out our salvation with fear and trembling, and not one of us can stop doing so until the moment we die.

    There's a popular quote out there that says, “Be kind to everyone you meet, for every person is fighting a great battle.” (attributed to St. Ephraim, John Watson, and Plato) But it's the truth. Unless you're God Himself, you DON'T know a person's life story, or what they happen to be struggling with at that moment in time. Maybe the deacon who is rude to you after Mass just found out that his father has terminal cancer and is struggling to deal with it. Maybe the Catholic lady you overhear gossiping is desperately trying to keep her marital troubles out of her mind by talking about something, ANYTHING else. And so on. You just can't know.

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  113. Leila, Nubby, JoAnna,
    Fair points...I'll accept them...you can never 100% know a person's heart...but you can get pretty close in some cases! I have known many people I live near since birth (with time out for living abroad etc.) as I am back in my hometown. I know some people pretty well. Conversely, I would have to say that my husband and my best friends and my mother know my heart pretty well too. They, in my estimation, could make a pretty clear "judgement" or assessment of my motives for many things. And the repetition of seeing behaviors and such over and over and over...helps to bolster that your ideas about someone's motivations (possibly and probably unconscious motivations) might have some merit.
    I'm sorry, but I just don't believe that those of you over thirty sail through your interactions with people without gradually developing a recognition of inconsistencies in behaviors/words/claims etc., and then forming judgements about them (howevermuch you try not to judge others).

    For cryin' out loud Leila, you always say things like, "well, liberals think" or "those living the gay lifestyle want..." You are making your own judgements about people's motives. Zach called us all out over this very thing.

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  114. Nubby...yes I have misjudged...both directions...misjudged someone's motives as good...boy...that was a bad experience...

    Well, I would say though, that after living more and more I have gotten better at reading people, we all have...it's part of wisdom.

    JoAnna...your point is a good one...but I have noticed it in religious people. I have noticed other things in atheists; like the tendency to insult individual people...but this is usually more blatant.

    Good night...gotta go!

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  115. But, once again, Mary... why do you assume these people you know are the way they are because of their Catholicism as opposed to in spite of their Catholicism?

    This isn't about making generalizations or judgments based on observed behavior. What you're doing (at least in my view) is saying, "Well, THIS Catholic goes to daily mass and still does _____, so therefore daily mass has no merit."

    Or, "Well, THIS Catholic attends Mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation, and they do _____, so therefore attending Mass weekly has no merit."

    And so on.

    Are you trying to argue that since these people appear, on the outside, to be "good" Catholics, they should therefore be perfect people?

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  117. For cryin' out loud Leila, you always say things like, "well, liberals think" or "those living the gay lifestyle want…"

    Mary, I talk about political and social philosophies (what liberals believe about this or that) and/or policy agendas, and our speculation as to why groups of people feel this way or that about the Church or about certain issues. I have never, I hope, tried to assign motives to an individual person or read hearts and souls! As I tell my kids all the time, "You have no right to judge or feel better than anyone else, because they could get to Heaven way before you! They may be a saint, and you don't even know it."

    'Count all others as better than yourself' as the Bible says.

    Anyway, if I try to read the souls or innate goodness of anyone else, please call me on it. I have absolutely no way of knowing the struggles or issues that anyone else is going through. Even my own family members cannot be completely known to me! Every person is a mystery, often even to themselves.

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  118. Wow. Thank you so much for writing this- I am privileged to have read it. You will remain in my prayers! May your message reach far and wide!

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  119. 'Count all others as better than yourself' ha ha that's funny hardly any Christians do that.

    When you hear the following it is safe to assume the following in most cases, especially from the religious righteous.

    'I'm not judging you' = they are judging you.

    'I'm putting you first' = As long as you don't disappoint me, or as long as I need something from you, or as long as you can take the blame or be responsible.

    'I love you' = I want something from you.

    'No offence but,..." = I am going to offend you.

    'I go to church every day!' = and still can't seem to do what is right,difficult or unselfish or prevent myself from knowing what my right hand is doing from my left.

    'That offends God' = this offends me most of all.

    'How can they live with themselves' = they have also done this sin that I do.

    Now if someone just happened to not be self-righteous and selfish then you might hear things like this.

    'What I did was wrong' = What I did was wrong.

    'I don't know' = I don't know.

    'I'm going to pay for that' = I'm sorry.

    'I'm dumb' = I'm dumb.

    'Ooops' = 'Ooops'

    'From what I understand about God, I sure am lucky' = they sure are lucky... not good.

    See the difference.

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  120. To the Anon @ 2:36pm

    Stealing hurts people, lying potentially hurts people, murder certainly hurts people, adultery and pedophilia hurt people. But how do two adult women or men in love with each other and choosing to consummate that love hurt people? Yes, you could argue that they aren't having sex for the purposes of unity and procreation but doesn't God love when his creations show love for one another? And if its disordered, therefore God does not show love on that instance of love, then how can he love our soldiers? and our criminals?

    There is a reason why the sin of Pride is listed at the top of the 7 deadly sins.

    Because it's the sin of Pride. It's saying to God, "I'm going to ignore the instructions (both Church teaching and biological) that You have given us, and I'm going to do what I want out of misconstrued notion of what love really is; and since You're going to love me anyway, then it's all good. I know better than You."

    All sin harms, even if it can't be seen or even directly felt at the time by the individuals involved.

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  121. Leila brought up a REALLY GOOD point:

    "As for those who don't want to question their faith. Why should they have to? Those who love to "dig in" and really go the route of questioning and intellect, etc., may need to do so, and may really enjoy that and find it edifying. But is everyone called to question and dissect their faith? No way. 'You have seen and believed, but blessed are they who have not seen, and still believe.' "

    I have always, always, always had issue with this. Even as a young child. I can clearly remember hearing it and giving pause, and furrowing my brow. I think this might be worth it's own post, because it is such a huge point.

    I cannot understand how someone can believe something like faith, without questioning it at all. To me, that seems no better than believing in astrology or superstition.

    BTW...my mother is decidedly not simple. She questions all sorts of other things...like being very interested and sharply critical of friends I spent time with, and extrapolating motives and slights and allegiances. I love her dearly, but she has been very jealous of some of my friends and annoyed I am closer to some of them than family members on her side.

    Check this out: M. Scott Peck's stages of spiritual growth
    http://www.factnet.org/Stages_Of_Spiritual_Growth.html

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  122. Dr. Strangelove,
    No room for charity at all?
    I love you really can mean that I think...I love you truly can mean, "I want what is best for you."

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  123. But, Bethany...

    How would you feel if God asked you to love this person?

    What is easier, for God to come down and strike down the personal flaws of every individual with lightning bolts, leaving only the pure and righteous or asking everyone to love each other through their faults, and yes I would agree sometimes loving people is disagreeing with their actions and values.

    Even Jesus asked this question, Which is easier for God, to forgive sins and heal the crippled man or not break any of the rules and leave him to his problems, and God healed the man and told him to walk and break the rules!

    If she is crippled in some persuasion as some might have argued, I guess God would forgive her sins and right the wrongs... if she wants that more than being free with her lifestyle and life limited to her perspective and values.

    It's funny that some homosexuals have described their sexuality as a burden, I think it is for everyone, even for the heterosexuals who are just as much to burdened by their own lust for the opposite sex instead of the same sex. I think we all come to God crippled here and have to choose God over ourselves, (and our Bubbles).
    He chooses us over himself.

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  124. Mary,
    "I cannot understand how someone can believe something like faith, without questioning it at all. To me, that seems no better than believing in astrology or superstition."

    Faith is a gift from God. It is the belief in things unseen...we can question and study and search all we want, but in the end it's going to come down to a question of faith. God's not going to put all the answers out there for science because faith is what pleases Him. If you only believe in those things you can prove through empirical evidence, then that = no faith.

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  125. Mary said...
    Dr. Strangelove,
    No room for charity at all?
    I love you really can mean that I think...I love you truly can mean, "I want what is best for you."

    Sure, you can believe that but, it is only charity if the actions prove it to be so.

    Some men say they love their wives, but if the wife gets old and overweight and then he leaves her for a younger thinner woman, what do the actions say? Words are not to be valued over solid actions.

    Women say they love their husbands, but if the husband looses his job and becomes the ridicule of the town because of it and the woman leave the husband for a powerful man with status. What would her actions say about her?

    I say pay attention to peoples actions. If they act Christian or Catholic then let that be the motivation for believing what the say.

    "You will know they are Christians by their love"

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  126. Dr. Strangelove, you sound like you are very bitter because people have disappointed you in the past who claim to be Christian. Try no to judge them before the Lord does.

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  127. Dr. Strangelove, there are over 2 billion Christians in the world, and you claim to know "most" of them, as well as their innermost thoughts and motives. That's pretty impressive. Just how have you met over a billion Christians in your life, and gotten to know them so well? Care to elaborate?

    Let me ask you something. Do you think that being kind, nice, non-judgmental, etc. are good qualities to have -- that is, qualities that everyone should display, regardless of religious affiliation?

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  128. Leila says this, a lot: Also, there was the whole issue with the Apostles seeing and knowing of the Resurrection before St. Paul even had his encounter with Christ. They were already proclaiming Christ risen. And no one ever gave me a plausible scenario of why they would do that, and face torture and death, all for a hoax and a dead man that was clearly a fraud while he lived? But we've covered all that, and no answers that I can see.

    Here is a plausible scenario, described in this article:

    http://dissentmagazine.org/online.php?id=479

    And a quote so that people get the gist

    A naked readiness to die—that’s something that defies human understanding, as well as our basic instincts. Thanks to the voluntary nature of their death, to their commitment to doing something that only very few of us would do, the performers of such acts somehow envelope themselves in an aura of election and transcendence. These people gladly trample on whatever makes human life possible: survival instincts, self-protection impulses, and fear of death. In so doing, the performers of voluntary death come to inhabit a territory where other rules apply and a different logic operates.

    The story also lists plenty of people who die or threaten to die/kill themselves for some cause (not Christianity) in order to convince.

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  129. A naked readiness to die—that’s something that defies human understanding, as well as our basic instincts. Thanks to the voluntary nature of their death, to their commitment to doing something that only very few of us would do, the performers of such acts somehow envelope themselves in an aura of election and transcendence. These people gladly trample on whatever makes human life possible: survival instincts, self-protection impulses, and fear of death. In so doing, the performers of voluntary death come to inhabit a territory where other rules apply and a different logic operates.

    Now that's the farthest reach I've ever seen. And good for a chuckle.
    Thanks.

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  130. Your article, MaiZeke, explains why people voluntarily kill themselves for reasons of protest or to make some sort of statement. It does not address those, such as the Apostles, who willingly subjected themselves to torture and death at the hands of others for what they believed in.

    All the Apostles had to do was quit preaching Christ and him crucified in order to avoid torture and brutal execution. They chose, willingly, to undergo those ordeals instead rather than publicly renounce Christ (even if it was a false renunciation in order to deceive civil leaders).

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  131. Maizeke,

    Perhaps you're referring to the terrorists who flew into the World Trade Center on 9/11.(gladly giving up their lives, defying human nature)
    Just yesterday I listened to a cd (I receive these Catholic cds monthly in the mail-yes, I AM a dork for Catholicism) and the woman speaking in this cd was on the plane sitting NEXT to one of the 9/11 terrorists weeks before 9/11 happened--only, of ocurse, she didn't know it. She had just come from a conference where she spoke about Jesus and Mary. He asked her where she was going and when she explained, he was RELENTLESS about hearing more about Jesus...so much so, that he freaked her out and made her uncomfortable. She told him about Jesus and she asked him if he was happy and he said no he was not but that he was going to make some changes...but when they got off the plane he lost it and followed her, desperately asking her where the nearest exit was. She said she was so frightened by him that she hooked up with another stranger and asked this stranger to walk with her. The terrorist was yelling, "I need a cigarette!" but she could tell this was not a nicotine attack. When she got home she told her husband about this man, and weeks later she was reading the paper and she saw the man's picture.

    We ALL have a hole in our hearts for Jesus and innately we're all wanting to be united with Him. He loved that man. He was giving that man an opportunity by placing that man next to that woman on the plane to hear about Him. He gives us ALL opportunities to come to Him in our lifetime, and His mercy endures forever. He loves, you, Maizeke. And He's trying to reach you.

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  132. I don't know it just seems like most Christians I meet, (online as well), don't have any issues or awareness of being self-righteous and nothing but a condescending attitude with others points of view.

    Maybe it doesn't represent 100% of all Catholic Christians but so far "some" seem to speak for the majority of attitudes I encounter, character assassination of others who have different points of view, there is only one way to act and see the world and that is the way "they" act and see the world, other opinions and points of view are not to be tolerated, even it that means resorting to an evil which they claim to admonish.

    I think the good Christians are the Christians who have the humble attitudes about themselves and do not take themselves as seriously as they want to take God, not the ones who are waving the victory flag of righteousness and are bubbling over ready to pick a fight with anyone who doesn't see it like they do. In fact they are the most difficult of all people sometimes,

    It's much easier to befriend a sinner than a so called saint. At least the sinner is willing to change and is sincere about themselves and their actions, even Jesus hung around the bad people much more so than the chief priests and scribes, one group was wanting and seeking and was in desperate need of the Truth and the other had it all figured out and didn't want anyone upsetting things even if that meant crucifying them to keep them silent.

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  133. I don't know it just seems like most Christians I meet, (online as well), don't have any issues or awareness of being self-righteous and nothing but a condescending attitude with others points of view.

    Have you ever considered that the problem may not lay with them, but rather your perceptions? Also, some people have very different personas online than they do in "real life." For example, I am MUCH more outspoken online than I am in "real life" because I find it easier to communicate clearly and effectively via the written word.

    I've met a lot of horrible people online who identify as atheist, but I don't automatically assume, then, that all or most atheists are therefore horrible people. The atheists I do know in real life are mostly quite nice.

    I think the good Christians are the Christians who have the humble attitudes about themselves and do not take themselves as seriously as they want to take God, not the ones who are waving the victory flag of righteousness and are bubbling over ready to pick a fight with anyone who doesn't see it like they do.

    I absolutely agree, and so does the Catholic Church. That's why She canonizes them. :) Again, though, this may simply be a perception problem. Perhaps what you see as "bubbling over ready to pick a fight with anyone who doesn't see it like they do" is simply enthusiasm, zeal, and love for one's faith that is vibrantly expressed. It might be a good idea to give these people the benefit of the doubt, and assume the more charitable motive instead of the more sinister one.

    It's much easier to befriend a sinner than a so called saint. At least the sinner is willing to change and is sincere about themselves and their actions,

    REPENTANT sinners are, yes, but not all sinners are repentant, so it depends. You'll notice that Jesus hung out with REPENTANT sinners and spoke VERY harshly about those who sinned but did not repent (e.g., the Pharisees).

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  134. MaiZeke, I guess I should do a whole post on this, because it's not sticking: The Apostles did not die for a philosophy or a cause.

    They were willing to die a torturous death, giving up everything, because of an event that they witnessed: The death and resurrection of Christ. If they had not witnessed the Risen Christ, who had recently be dead and buried, they would not have died for squat.

    Can you name twelve people you know (or even two)! who would be willing to lose all they had, and then be tortured and imprisoned and ultimately brutally killed, for something that they claimed happened, but they knew it never really did happen?

    Thanks!

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  135. typo: don't have any issues *with*

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  136. That's fine, but why doesn't this ZEAL ever carry over to these two things in particular... Giving all your money to the poor and washing other people feet... It always seems to carry over to the glamorous side of things and not the tedious of self-sacrificial sides. Is there any reason for that? Why is it always carrying over to the overwhelming disgust at sin, but never to the vigilant and sacrificial prevention of sin and recognizing ones own sin? Why is it always the preaching but occasionally and only when they are cornered into it, and then grudgingly, the practice?

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  137. Dr S,
    How can you assume that people don't do loving deeds in real life? You don't know what missions they attend, what deeds they do. And you shouldn't know, because Christ asks us to do those things in secret. It's not something to boast about.

    And as for giving all money away, what? We're not all called to do that, not all at once, not in equal degree.

    We're not all called to live in gutters with homeless people or to go into contemplative life.

    We all have different spiritual and temporal gifts. Working together as the body of Christ is what we're called to do. Whatever small or grand sacrifice, at any point in time, that may take.

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  138. To continue what Nubby said, Dr. S, the Bible specifically instructs Christians not to boast about the good deeds they do, but rather to do those good deeds privately and silently. If Christians ARE boasting about the good deeds they do, then they are actually going against Jesus' teachings.

    The reason you most often see Christians evangelizing, on the other hand, is because we are supposed to evangelize and engage in public ministry. St. Peter tells us to always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us.

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  139. Dr. Strangelove,

    why are you speaking as if you are the judge and jury and all Christians are hypocrites 100% of the time? I could tell you stories but is that not boasting? I'd rather do things unseen and receive my reward from the One who is capable of giving it to me. Just because you see someone being selfish does not mean they don't go to soup kitchens/donate money without telling a soul. If you are cornered into something it sort of defeats the purpose.

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  140. Just saw Nubby's and Joanna's comments..echo, echo, echo!

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  141. Manda, Nubby, JoAnna, you are right. When I wrote the following post, in defense of pro-lifers, I asked for others to chime in with some of the things that they do:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/03/pro-lifers-love-fetus-but-they-dont.html

    People didn't do it, and I heard from them privately that they didn't feel it would be humble if they spoke out about their good deeds. They don't want to tell. They do it for God, and they don't need the praise or any earthly reward.

    Great points.

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  142. Oh, come now that's exactly my point, defensive defensive defensive, and never "Oh yea, we do that and could improve, even if just a little at a time.".

    What I see is this, "See if you allow us to twist our intent from our actual actions just a little bit then we are blameless and pure in every circumstance so how can you say that we need to improve?"

    So everyone who has ZEAL!! (Yippy!) for God, would never show himself washing feet or sacrificing their hard earned money away, because doing so would be boastful before others? Come on, that is a bunch of garbage!

    Wouldn't them being silent but generous be the norm then? I wouldn't hear them complaining about sinful things because they are silently working to right the wrongs without me ever finding out how disgusted they were about them.

    Everyone knows that the Christian leaders don't need to speak out at all, they just get going and get their hands dirty with sacrificial good deeds to change things silently and without credit, glamour or circumstance.

    Heck I'd love to find this to be the actual case. Why isn't it? I heard some resistance here to having to share ones goods, why would silent good Christians care about worldly goods anyway, who had and who had not? Goods are from God, not man. They must silently put God first in all things and only say they won't or don't.

    Wow! I must be living in the wrong part of town, because all these silent generous deeds don't seem very self apparent, but I'll take your word for it, you only say "No Way!" to some of God's most difficult directives, but you are silently generously giving all of yourself, so silently that it doesn't seem to change anything outwardly.

    I need to join your Church, I think I may have a nack for the 'silent' good myself. I mean that I have, already I'm just 'silent' about my deeds you'll never find out how good I was. Never.

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  143. So everyone who has ZEAL!! (Yippy!) for God, would never show himself washing feet or sacrificing their hard earned money away, because doing so would be boastful before others? Come on, that is a bunch of garbage!

    Why is this garbage?:
    1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
    2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
    - Matt 6:1-4

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  144. It's not being defensive, Dr. S, it's explaining how your perceptions may not be entirely accurate.

    Is there always room for improvement in an individual Christian's life? Of course! Holiness is a journey. We aren't perfected in holiness until the day we arrive in Heaven, if we are so fortunate. What we're saying is you don't really have the ability to judge what people give or do for Christ in terms of service, especially if they are people you only know online.

    So everyone who has ZEAL!! (Yippy!) for God, would never show himself washing feet or sacrificing their hard earned money away, because doing so would be boastful before others? Come on, that is a bunch of garbage!

    Why do you think so?

    Wouldn't them being silent but generous be the norm then? I wouldn't hear them complaining about sinful things because they are silently working to right the wrongs without me ever finding out how disgusted they were about them.

    Huh? "Complaining about sinful things" =/= "works of service." Can you give an example from your life of how someone has "complained about a sinful thing" to you, so I can get a better idea of what you mean?

    Heck I'd love to find this to be the actual case. Why isn't it?

    What evidence do you have that it is not?

    I heard some resistance here to having to share ones goods, why would silent good Christians care about worldly goods anyway, who had and who had not?

    Again, I'm confused. No one on this blog has ever said it was wrong to share one's goods. If you're referring to economic matters, taxation isn't "sharing one's goods" because it's not voluntary, it's mandatory. Apples and oranges.

    Goods are from God, not man. They must silently put God first in all things and only say they won't or don't.

    Um, no. They must put God first in all things, period.

    Wow! I must be living in the wrong part of town, because all these silent generous deeds don't seem very self apparent,

    Again, evidence?

    but I'll take your word for it, you only say "No Way!" to some of God's most difficult directives, but you are silently generously giving all of yourself, so silently that it doesn't seem to change anything outwardly.

    You don't know me in real life, so how can you make this judgement of me?

    I need to join your Church, I think I may have a nack for the 'silent' good myself. I mean that I have, already I'm just 'silent' about my deeds you'll never find out how good I was. Never.

    You need to join the Catholic Church if, and only if, you believe that the Catholic faith is the truth of the gospel taught by Christ himself and given to his apostles.

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  145. "Everyone knows that the Christian leaders don't need to speak out at all, they just get going and get their hands dirty with sacrificial good deeds to change things silently and without credit, glamour or circumstance."

    Is this sarcasm?

    You obviously haven't known many Christian leaders on a personal level. My priest is literally bombarded with people (members and not) wanting his time, his advice, his spiritual direction, etc. He does funerals, visits the sick in hospitals, visits homes, several times a week! He is free counseling--he gets to hear people's personal problems 24/7 without being asked about his own. I don't know this because he shares this information, I know this because that is his job! It's a thankless job as far as the world is concerned, and it can really get a person down. He doesn't do it for your approval- he does it for God's greater glory. He does it in order to aid humanity in not falling.

    I'm sorry you feel like Christians are a bunch of ineffective hypocrites, but you have made your views clear and your condemnation speaks for itself.

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  146. We have all tried all angles with Dr. S, for many days now, on different posts. When things keep going round and round, with no apparent good will shown at all, nor any concessions, I start to suspect trolling. Personally, I will not be addressing Dr. S again. Others can make their own decisions on whether or not to engage him.

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  147. Ditto, that, Leila. Can only lead someone so far. If they dig in their heels, that's their free choice.

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  148. Manda,
    As I see it, you could just as easily say the following: "Belief in Astrology is a gift from God. It is the belief in things unseen...we can question and study and search all we want, but in the end it's going to come down to a question of faith".

    I know some people who read the astrology bit in the paper and really are amazed by how it applies to their lives.

    I'm not saying the the astrologically inclined are as widespread or as organized or even as effective as a group as Christians are, but you get my drift...why can someone not believe in astrology?

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  149. Mary, because astrology is unreasonable. Christian belief is reasonable. There is nothing in it that contradicts our reason. You don't find C.S. Lewises and Chestertons and Aquinases and Augustines and Newmans and JPII's of "astrology". Name the great "philosophical/astrological" thinkers off the top of your head?

    Here is a definition of philosophy:

    phi·los·o·phy/fəˈläsəfē/Noun
    1. The study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, esp. when considered as an academic discipline.

    and

    the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.

    Christian philosophy is deep and real and respected. Astrology? Not so much.

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  150. But, Bethany...

    How would you feel if God asked you to love this person?


    Which person? I'm confused who are you referring to?

    What is easier, for God to come down and strike down the personal flaws of every individual with lightning bolts, leaving only the pure and righteous or asking everyone to love each other through their faults, and yes I would agree sometimes loving people is disagreeing with their actions and values.

    I'm still confused as to what you're asking. Is it easier for God to take care of all the problems. Sure. But why is it supposed to be easy?

    Even Jesus asked this question, Which is easier for God, to forgive sins and heal the crippled man or not break any of the rules and leave him to his problems, and God healed the man and told him to walk and break the rules!

    Still confused.... But God doesn't break the rules, God IS the rules. If God so chooses to make a crippled man walk, more power to God. Not you, nor I, nor anyone else on this planet at this time, is God, not our choice. Like I said before, Pride

    If she is crippled in some persuasion as some might have argued, I guess God would forgive her sins and right the wrongs... if she wants that more than being free with her lifestyle and life limited to her perspective and values.

    I'm assuming you're referring to the "lesbian" (in quotes not because they don't exist, but because I was not originally referring to any particular person) from my earlier comment.
    That being said, I'm still confused as to what you're trying to point out. It would be most helpful if you could direct your rebuttals to the individual phrase or wording of the comment your addressing.

    It's funny that some homosexuals have described their sexuality as a burden, I think it is for everyone, even for the heterosexuals who are just as much to burdened by their own lust for the opposite sex instead of the same sex. I think we all come to God crippled here and have to choose God over ourselves, (and our Bubbles). He chooses us over himself.

    The English degree is coming out and the bolded is a run-on sentence. :)

    But your point is excellent and not against anything we've been saying. Unless what you're trying to imply is that, because we are all sinners and we all should come to God, choosing Him over ourselves and our desires, we should both ignore and even accept EVERYONE's sin and just let God sort it out in the end.

    Um... yeah... No.

    Loving the person does not mean accepting their sin and letting God and them deal with it. Just like loving my children does not mean I let them take up a sinful lifestyle because it's what they want and it's their sin.

    And of course, the appropriate response to that is, "But adults are not children!"

    To which I respond, "Yeah, but can God tell the difference?"

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  151. Mary, in answer to your specific question, though: You can believe in astrology if you'd like. You can also believe that the moon is made of green cheese. No one is forced to believe anything. Free will is a great gift, to be used well, or used poorly.

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  152. Dr. Strange,
    I think you have some points...but you overstep! I know lots of Christians who do good things. My Mom is one. Yes, there are lots who are not, and are the "doughnut eaters" as JoAnna referred to, but then there are the ones, even those I have issue with, who do good things, and sincerely try...but they sometimes fall into the trap of using their religion as a tool for not facing themselves....I think this is more subtle than you describe.

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  153. Leila,
    But, you and others told me that you cannot reason your way to a belief in God...you must take a leap of faith.

    And, it is perfectly fine, encouraged even, for simple people to accept the teachings of the Church without a single question. These people you see as having a pure heart. I see them as being lazy and not wanting to critically examine their own thinking and what they are being asked to believe. I very much respect those who have reasoned their way through and can explain their journey. To me, that is a true understanding and practice of religion.

    My FIL does not think it is reasonable at all to think that a man was born of a virgin and performed miracles. Many people think that way. If miracles are so probable, He would ask you then: "why has nobody claimed the Amazing Randy's prize?"

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  154. Bethany...I had the same problems understanding dr. s...but I would say, I sure hope God can tell the difference between an adult and a child!

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  155. Mary,
    It's not just Leila and others who have told you that you must take a leap of faith, it's the Church and the bible, as well.
    For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

    And not as a result from science...but you have said in the past that the bible is not truth to you, either. So where does that lead you?

    Astrology is so broad and almost always has something uplifting and hopeful in store for the reader-- this is today's horoscope for a Capricorn: "You need to get in touch with your ancestors — who may be just a phone call or email away, or may be in need of more spiritual communication systems. Your energy is just right for making the connection."
    Wow! That's neat! Too bad I'm a Cancer: "Fall back on your memories today — they are sure to cheer you up, especially if you focus on times when you were especially active or engaged with some deep issue. It may inspire you, in fact!"

    Wow, that's super and could apply to a Libra or Leo or Pisces any day of the week. How convenient for astrology. Absolutely. Zero. Depth.

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  156. But, you and others told me that you cannot reason your way to a belief in God...you must take a leap of faith.

    Mary, maybe I'm not being clear: There is certainly enough evidence for one to reason one's way to belief in God and Christ. It happens to skeptics every day. Many people come to God through the avenue of pursuing truth and using their intellect. But at some point, there is a choice to be made. All the claims of Christianity can be known beyond a reasonable doubt, but not beyond a shadow of a doubt. If you need ironclad "proof" beyond any doubt at all, God does not give that to you. It's a relationship and an invitation, and that choice has to be free.

    As for others, why should everyone have to come to God through their intellect as you are trying to do (and as I did)? Why can't they come through seeing goodness or beauty in the Church and in God? Why do they have to be like you? And, why can't you accept that some folks have an experience and an understanding of God in a heart to heart, real way, as much as you have a relationship with those in the flesh, right in front of you? I can tell you that Christians who are in a relationship with Christ are not faking it. We know He is as real as you are. Why, if a person knows Christ, would they have to go through the mental and intellectual gyrations which you require them to?

    What if I told you my grandma existed (now deceased). Would I have to show you the death certificate, and also exhume the body and then do a DNA test to prove that she was/is real and that I know her intimately?

    I guess I don't know why you seem to need everyone to need the kind of "proof" that you need. Some people have a very comfortable relationship with God and Christ, simply because they are close to His Sacred Heart. I encourage you to read the lives of the saints. Some are towering thinkers and intellects, and some are simple peasants. They all knew the same God, and they all accepted the same truth.

    Anyway, I hope I'm being clear but I think we may be going round and round.

    I will end by saying that I have as much trust in the Truth of Jesus as I do in the fact that if I get on on an airplane, the plane will stay up. In other words, I don't have to know every last law of physics in order to believe that I can safely get on a plane and fly. If I had to know all the details first, I would be paralyzed and couldn't make any choices at all. Could I be wrong in trusting the laws of physics? Sure, I could… But I am willing to take that "leap", without every last bit of investigation and proof", because it's more reasonable to believe than to not believe. So, yes, it requires some faith to get on a plane, but it's not unreasonable to do so.

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  157. Leila says: MaiZeke, I guess I should do a whole post on this, because it's not sticking: The Apostles did not die for a philosophy or a cause.

    Leila, you are are trying to 'prove' that Jesus must have died and risen so that we should all be Christians - that is, that we should follow the Christian philosophy.

    A: Jesus died and rose.
    B: If Jesus died and rose, then he was God
    C: If Jesus was God, then we should follow him

    People call into question the truth of A. You say that A MUST be true because the Apostles died for it. (This in itself is questionable logic to me, but I'll let it pass for now).

    If it were only a matter of Jesus dying and rising, that would be one thing. But you yourself are using the fact that Jesus died and rose means that we must follow his/your philosophy. The philosophy that the Apostles were trying to spread around when they died.

    AND, just like the article says, YOU are drawn in by the fact that someone DIED for this idea/philosophy, so it must be REAL -- someone DIED for it, so it is more important. The way you react to these people dying for a philosophy is just as the article is saying. In so doing, the performers of voluntary death come to inhabit a territory where other rules apply and a different logic operates.

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  158. Nubby says: Now that's the farthest reach I've ever seen. And good for a chuckle.

    This is much more believable than the statement "Because someone died asserting a statement is true means that the statement must be true."

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  159. I fear you still miss the point.

    Show me, MaiZeke, anyone you know who would die in witness to an event that they knew never happened? Then show me several thousand more…

    I don't want you to follow a philosophy. I want you to know and follow the Risen Christ.

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  160. He loves, you, Maizeke. And He's trying to reach you.

    Leila, are we required to be subjected to proselytizing in order to comment here? Because if so, I'll leave now.

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  161. MaiZeke, let me ask one clarifying question:

    If you knew a man who died (without doubt, you and everyone knew the man was dead), and then He rose alive again, on the third day, and you saw it and you knew it was true: Would you take seriously His claims that He was God (the very author of life and death)?

    I want an honest answer.

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  162. Leila, are we required to be subjected to proselytizing in order to comment here? Because if so, I'll leave now.

    Strange way to phrase it, but can you expect that Christians want you to come to know Christ? Yes, you can expect that on this blog, absolutely. Why is that offensive to you? I would expect that on an atheist blog the folks would try to convince me to make the switch to atheism.

    Why is that surprising? I'm confused.

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  163. Leila says: I don't want you to follow a philosophy. I want you to know and follow the Risen Christ.

    Are you trying to tell me that being a Christian is not a philosophy?

    What about that nice little Chesterton quote from the Quick Takes --

    "The modern habit of saying, 'Every man has a different philosophy; this is my philosophy and it suits me' -- the habit of saying this is mere weak mindedness. A cosmic philosophy is not constructed to fit a man; a cosmic philosophy is constructed to fit a cosmos. A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon." --G. K. Chesterton

    Are you still trying to tell me that your religion is not a philosophy?!?


    Also, about this comment: Show me, MaiZeke, anyone you know who would die in witness to an event that they knew never happened? Then show me several thousand more…

    The point is, Leila, that the crux of your whole entire philosophy, and the philosophy that they were trying to spread, rested on the veracity of that single event. The event cannot be separated from the philosophy, since it is the CRUX. As you yourself have said, if that event did not happen, then you wouldn't have Christianity. You have said it probably 10 times that I've read around here.

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  164. In fact, I'll quote you.

    From http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/05/did-jesus-really-die-and-rise.html

    Christian belief boils down to one thing: The literal, bodily resurrection of a man named Jesus, who lived in first century Palestine.

    If Jesus of Nazareth did not die on a Roman cross, if he was not buried, and if he did not rise again on the third day, alive, then you have no reason to give him or Christianity another thought.

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  165. MaiZeke, the crux of EVERYTHING is Christ. He is the center of everything at all, including the center of human history. That one event is the CRUX of Christianity. Christ is Truth. He is God. He showed us, and we follow. I guess you could say, "I accept that Jesus' Resurrection proves His divinity, but yet I won't follow the Truth He taught and left."

    I mean, I guess people have said that. There are people who saw Him resurrected and still did not follow. Yes, that's an option, of course. Free will.

    Pope Benedict:
    “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction."

    This in no way negates the fact that the Christian philosophy is true. It confirms that the Christian philosophy is true. It is true because Christ is God. Truth is Truth is Truth. Jesus is Truth and His teachings are Truth. Christ and Christian philosophy (which is from Christ) are both True.

    I hope you will answer:

    If you knew a man who died (without doubt, you and everyone knew the man was dead), and then He rose alive again, on the third day, and you saw it and you knew it was true: Would you take seriously His claims that He was God (the very author of life and death)?

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  166. Are you still trying to tell me that your religion is not a philosophy?!?

    I'm trying to tell you that if Jesus did not die and rise, then we (and our philosophy) are worthless!

    So, our Faith is about a Person and an event in history. Our philosophy (which is wonderful!) can in no way be separated from that Person and that event in history.

    What Christianity is not is "just a philosophy".

    I hope I am being clear?

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  167. MaiZeke, you said it perfectly!!! This is exactly right:

    The point is, Leila, that the crux of your whole entire philosophy, and the philosophy that they were trying to spread, rested on the veracity of that single event. The event cannot be separated from the philosophy, since it is the CRUX.

    And did you know the meaning of the word "CRUX"? It's “cross, wooden frame for execution”

    So, what you said is even more profound than you might realize. The crux of everything is, indeed, the Cross.

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  168. If you knew a man who died (without doubt, you and everyone knew the man was dead), and then He rose alive again, on the third day, and you saw it and you knew it was true: Would you take seriously His claims that He was God (the very author of life and death)?

    If I did know a man such as this, then certainly. I do not know such a man, and I do not know of such a man. The fact that someone died because they believed this does not say to me that I need to believe this.

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  169. The fact that someone died because they believed this does not say to me that I need to believe this.

    No, but it is the only explanation for why the Apostles and the others did what they did. No sane men would ever submit to torture and death for an event they knew never happened.

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  170. Leila says: This in no way negates the fact that the Christian philosophy is true. It confirms that the Christian philosophy is true.

    And she says: What Christianity is not is "just a philosophy"

    I give up. Is it a philosophy or isn't it?

    I think I'm done with this little thread, too, since Leila says now that

    So, what you said is even more profound than you might realize. The crux of everything is, indeed, the Cross.

    We've moved from reason to the leap of faith again.

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  171. MaiZeke, it's a philosophy that does not stand alone. It was not dreamed up in someone's head one day, or arrived at by a committee who thought it was "a good idea". It is based in a fact of history, in the fact of a Person named Jesus Who died and rose.

    Christianity (belief in Christ Risen) has a philosophy, but is not "just" a philosophy.

    I am surprised you don't see the distinction?

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  172. We've moved from reason to the leap of faith again.

    Faith and reason go together. It is reasonable to take the leap of faith to Christ.

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  173. Leila says: No sane men would ever submit to torture and death for an event they knew never happened.

    See examples of such a thing in the link, which I previously provided. http://dissentmagazine.org/online.php?id=479

    Just because death did not come by one's own hand does not mean that the person didn't seek it out. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_martyrs)

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  174. I think you keep missing a key part of the sentence, MaiZeke:


    "...for an event they knew never happened"

    There was no philosophy they were dying for, no cause, nothing. They were ready to slink away and hide for life. But then Jesus rose! That was the thing that they went out to proclaim, fearless! It was the EVENT that they were witnessing to, that they were willing to die for. No one would DIE in witness to an event THAT THEY KNEW NEVER HAPPENED.

    Is anyone else understanding my point? Thanks!

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  175. Mary said: I would say, I sure hope God can tell the difference between an adult and a child!

    I see very little difference between the mentalities of the adult who wants abortion-on-demand, contraception for no-consequence sex, or same-sex marriage (all of which are defined as intrinsically evil) and my four year old daughter demanding the right to hit her baby brother if he knocks down her block tower, to have ice cream for dinner every night, or to live in the bath-tub for the next three years.

    And while, yes, I'm sure God can tell that one of the two is above the age of 18 and one is not, but if their both acting in the same manner (by doing things that will inherently be harmful to themselves or others, through sin, as well as potentially physical or emotional harms) then, should we really get treated any differently?

    If you wouldn't let your 4 year old daughter or son choose to ________________(fill in the blank with your favorite sin), then it's still not a good idea when their 40. It's not wrong for the 4 year old simply because they're 4, it's wrong because IT'S WRONG. Age is just time passing.

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  176. If this isn't offensive and quite condescending in tone to anyone with more liberal leanings reading this blog, I don't know what is:

    "I see very little difference between the mentalities of the adult who wants abortion-on-demand, contraception for no-consequence sex, or same-sex marriage (all of which are defined as intrinsically evil) and my four year old daughter demanding the right to hit her baby brother if he knocks down her block tower, to have ice cream for dinner every night, or to live in the bath-tub for the next three years."

    -gwen

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  177. This is much more believable than the statement "Because someone died asserting a statement is true means that the statement must be true."

    I was referencing your application of that paragraph (about suicide) to the apostles. Not a valid application to use toward them, or toward subsequent generations of those who suffered for their belief in Christ.

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  178. Hi!

    The discussion seems to have veered a little way off the content of the original post...I'd like to speak to some of the issues that got raised surrounding homosexuality itself, and to thank several of the posters here for recommending my blog on the subject.
    I'm in a situation somewhat similar to that of the OP: I converted to Catholicism about 12 years ago, and the first thing that I did upon converting was to phone my girl friend and tell her we had to break up.
    I agree with Marie absolutely that it's the encounter with Christ that makes a difference. I was a very strongly convinced atheist for many years, I'd been around the same logical circles that I see atheist commentators on this blog going through, and although I probably knew that arguments in favour of Christianity better than a lot of Christians know them, I just wasn't convinced. I wanted a rational argument that would be able to put every conceivable reservation to death (as if that kind of certainty could ever exist about anything...), and until I found it, I wasn't willing to consider that Christianity might be true -- especially since it seemed to say that the central relationship in my life was sinful.
    Then a lot of different things came together in my life, all of my rational constructions came tumbling to the ground, and suddenly I was standing there, face to face with God, and I had no idea what to do. It's like C. S. Lewis says, you can spend years playing around with the idea of a supreme being, but when you suddenly meet Him...it's tremendous, literally, in the sense that it causes one to tremble, and also in the colloquial sense.
    Those who wonder how you could give up a "loving relationship" that really makes you happy, and doesn't hurt anyone, need to understand that that relationship is being given up in the context of a relationship with God. It's not just "I'm going to stop loving this person," it's "this love is nothing compared to what the Church has to offer, and if the Magisterium says that it's an idol that has to be smashed, let's get smashing."

    Melinda Selmys

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  179. Yeah...Gwen..I have to say it struck me that way too.

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  180. Melinda....was just watching your ewtn appearance yesterday. I thought it was informative. Thanks for doing it.

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  181. OK...I didn't read your book (only excerpts), but I am now going to.

    You said, "It's like C. S. Lewis says, you can spend years playing around with the idea of a supreme being, but when you suddenly meet Him...it's tremendous, literally, in the sense that it causes one to tremble, and also in the colloquial sense."

    Why have some of us never met him, despite more years of trying than you had ( I am estimating) being brought up in the faith, being desperate for such a meeting or something, and never getting it? Is there some supposed point to our travails?
    (PS I don't mean to be very confrontational, I am very glad you and Marie and everyone else is willing to chat).

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  182. Thank you so much Melinda! I am obviously in 100% agreement. :-)

    Marie

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  183. Melinda, I am thrilled that you commented! Thank you so much! I am grateful for your witness, and I hope you keep writing and speaking.

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  184. As to this statement,

    I see very little difference between the mentalities of the adult who wants abortion-on-demand, contraception for no-consequence sex, or same-sex marriage (all of which are defined as intrinsically evil) and my four year old daughter demanding the right to hit her baby brother if he knocks down her block tower, to have ice cream for dinner every night, or to live in the bath-tub for the next three years.

    Bethany can speak for herself quite well, but I've no doubt she would agree that it applies to all sin. You can substitute any sin for the ones she named, and so it shouldn't seem so arrogant after all.

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  185. Everything is my opinion is a little twisted here, some speak of how putting others first "In humility let each esteem others better than themselves." [Phil. ii, 3] is important and then go on to condescending to each others worth and points of view. Does anyone know what "esteem others" means? "Humility?" I sure don't, but if someone did I don't think it would mean to them it's OK to be calling someone a 'troll' over and over again and hoping the other point of view will go away in some manipulated shame. Either that person doesn't truly believe what they are saying or they are unable to act on it, either way it sounds hypocritical to me. Doesn't Christianity say to love your enemy, that loving all your buddies and friends with the same point of view is worthless since even sinners love sinners this way and what is that to a God who makes sun and rain for the good and the evil? Basically what do you have to be proud of for all your good works? I don't know, about this humble open door some claim to have for each other here, it seems pretty closed and locked to me with a big members only / no trespassing sign that we offer to each other. I don't feel welcome to my point of view at all. People here hope we feel worthless and hope that having that feeling will change each others minds. I would suggest to them to try another method to win each other over.

    Plus no one addresses how murder is not a personal choice but greed is. Go and take all you want it is not our job as Christians, much less Catholics, to stop you. It is only your job to stop yourself. When you feel you have gone to far, then stop yourself. Why? I see somewhat of a double standard on personal responsibility to God vs. a plural responsibility that we all share in stopping evil deeds. In the old days all the commandments were equal. I thought Jesus said that even if you were angry/upset at your brother you were in danger of hell. (apparently we are all in danger here, but no one is scared enough to be good -imperfect contrition- much less *wanting* to be good -perfect contrition- .)

    Wouldn't even the little things like too much greed/anger and saying OK fine don't worry about greed/anger put some in danger with themselves?

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  186. Mary,

    "Why have some of us never met him, despite more years of trying than you had (I am estimating) being brought up in the faith, being desperate for such a meeting or something, and never getting it? Is there some supposed point to our travails?"

    His timing is perfect for each of us. Everyone has a conversion story. God knows what we need, and if you have not encountered God in any way but truly want to, you will. In His perfect timing. Be prepared to take the bad with the good that ultimately comes after. The suffering will be looked back on as blessings in disguise.

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  187. Thank you Leila. We've been having a bit of a rough day around here and I have not been able to get on as frequently.

    If this isn't offensive and quite condescending in tone to anyone with more liberal leanings reading this blog, I don't know what is:

    I'm sorry that both you, Miss Gwen, and Mary found it offensive and condescending, but it rather applies to all sin, not simply the ones I mentioned - I mentioned specifically those probably because they tend to be the sins discussed most frequently as having some sort of subjective value in our conversations here.

    The point is, however, that the mentality of "I want, what I want, when I want it" applies equally to the 4 year old as it does to the 40 year old, or even the 84 year old. The sin is the same, even if the object of desire is different. And age (whether it be an individual growing older, or evolution in its entirety) does not change a sin to "not a sin".

    Does that make sense or am I getting all convoluted again?

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  188. As far as Dr. S.

    You might get farther along in conversations here if you would address our questions and confusion about your comments because they are very convoluted and confusing.

    Unfortunately, what I'm reading out of most of your comments is that until we, as a whole Catholic community, admit that we're all hoarding money that you claim Jesus has said we all must give up completely and follow him penniless, shoeless, with the clothes on our backs, then we have no ability to base an argument against any other sin.

    Is this what you're claiming, that to have any degree of wealth (whether pennies or millions of dollars) is a sign of greed and the only way to fight against the greed is to give that "excess" money to the government so they can disperse it "properly"?

    A yes that is what you're claiming or a no that is not what you're claiming - followed by a concise definition of what you're claiming would be greatly appreciated.

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  189. Bethany, those last two comments? I couldn't have said it better. Thank you for being so clear on both subjects.

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  190. I'm sorry Bethany, but age definitely changes things, like, your ability to reason and your understanding of nuance. Adults are not children and they should be held to a higher ethical standard in everything. Yes, sometimes as adults we do stupid or selfish things, but that does not negate the worth of our reasoning powers.

    If I contracept, you see it as being a case of "I want what I want, and I am not going to be told no." You don't seem to think there might be any selfless reasons a person might contracept within a marriage. I just cannot understand how you and others cannot imagine how this could be the case.

    It is amazing to me that you all think that all the contracepting couples out there are saying, "I want sex with no consequences." Well, maybe some are, and maybe not; after-all, you cannot presume to know all the motives;) But how about those that think it is the best they can do for their two, three or even four kids to limit their numbers and provide better? Maybe they have great gifts in addition to their gifts as parents, and they want to share them with the world, and not spend all of their time rearing kids. Maybe they are concerned with the population of the world, and want to adopt (I know a few cases).

    This is another huge topic, that has been discussed...but I really cannot understand how a person who can speak so clearly such as yourself (and some others) cannot see that. I suppose you just say, "Well, the Church knows best, and even though I might see that shade of gray there, I am going to quell out those little bubbles of critical thought. The Church must always be right."

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  191. Two points:

    Leila and JoAnna asked if I could imagine a sin (other than female sexual intimacy) which harms the soul without being detectable as a negative in the world.

    They listed gluttony (which Leila elaborated on) greed, wrath, envy, and pride.

    Well, gluttony would certainly be visible as a negative, as a person would be eating to the point of feeling sick, or eating far more than others, or gaining a lot of weight. Wrath seems to be clearly evident most of the time it surfaces. I suppose you could be wrathful in your heart and walk around whistling Dixie all day, but I suspect not. Envy...definitely comes out, it is impossible to hide. In fact, it is one of the most common sins I witness in adults around me. I think Pride...Pride could be easier to hide...it is more subtle. Also, perhaps Greed, as you could be very greedy in spirit, but appear to be generous some of the time...but not all of the time.

    So again, from your standpoint, it is entirely reasonable that the Catholic Church deems female sexual intimacy as a sin "that cries out for vengeance", because, despite the fact that we cannot point to empirical data showing it causes demonstrable harm, it MUST cause harm to the soul.

    So a woman practicing in this vein could go to a therapist or a priest and seem very content, happy, committed, productive, passing all those tests, and not be troubled by her lifestyle, but they should tell her, "Although there is no evidence at all. You are harming your soul."

    As I think about it, a person continuously struggling with Wrath or Greed or Envy, and even Pride, would come off as entirely unhappy and somewhat disturbed in such a therapy session.

    In fact, just today, I interacted with three active (I assume) homosexuals who are out. One is a policeman in town and the little brother of a friend. One is the pastor of the local Unitarian Church who is close with a friend of mine, and the other is the brother of a neighbor. They are all delightful and seem pretty normal. The neighbor's brother does seem a bit overly theatrical, but he is in S.F. and from his dress and manner, appears to be very into projecting a metrosexual style.

    I am ashamed to admit it, but during all three encounters, in the back of my head, I was replaying some of what was discussed here, and looking for clues that these people were being harmed by their relationships. Nothing stood out...so, of course....I question the validity of deeming it a mortal sin.

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  192. But how about those that think it is the best they can do for their two, three or even four kids to limit their numbers and provide better? Maybe they have great gifts in addition to their gifts as parents, and they want to share them with the world, and not spend all of their time rearing kids. Maybe they are concerned with the population of the world, and want to adopt (I know a few cases).

    Answer: Natural Family Planning. No ethical, moral or physical harm.

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/03/natural-family-planning-post.html

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  193. (First comment on this site)
    Mary,
    Quick question. How do you know that your perception of what love should look like is correct? Why should I trust your judgment of what is harmful or what isn’t harmful? I’m open to your system or your authority on judging these relationships.
    See, I’m not smart enough to know what love between two men is supposed to look like. I’m also not smart enough to figure it out for myself what love looks like between a straight married couple. All I know is that a lot of other people must be in the same boat as me, because there is a hell of a lot of domestic violence and divorce out there in the world. Did humanity somehow lose the ability to tell the difference between true love and love’s counterfeits? It sure seems like it has to me. If true love walked into someone’s path would they even recognize it? I don’t think many do.
    These were the types of questions I pondered in college. No, not all of them arose out of my own mind and heart. I’m not smart enough for that. Luckily I had some friends who asked the questions and we pondered them together. The bottom line was that I had no idea what love was, and even though I was young I had already learned the difficult lesson that “Following my heart” didn’t always work out too well. This left me with two options as I saw it:
    1) Either I am fated to stumble through life blindly, hoping to just get lucky that what I think is true love is authentic love and not a counterfeit. Or…
    2) Love can somehow reveal itself to me, helping me to distinguish what love is and what is merely counterfeit.
    It was when I came to believe option two that I got serious about my Catholicism. I suppose I could have gravitated toward another religion, but no other religion I know of claims what Christianity claims -that God actually became a human in order to reveal true love to humanity. So it seemed like a good place to start and so far nobody I’ve seen has been able to demonstrate that there is a higher authority on the issue. While a lot of the story is left out, this in a nutshell is why I defer to what God has revealed in Christianity (as well as the teachers this God-Man appointed to guide his disciples) to be the final authority on what love is.
    I don’t understand everything regarding love. I’m very much a work in progress. But the closer I draw to this person – Jesus – the clearer everything gets. If anyone else can make a case for why they are a better authority on love and can help me identify the counterfeits, I’m all ears (or eyes). But one thing is certain: I’m not willing to go back to blindly stumbling through life’s guessing game, unable to identify true love when it comes my way.

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  194. Mary, regarding your comment at 8:41, I don't think you ever responded to the point I made a couple of times (forgive me if you did and I am forgetting). It was made in response to your question, that you don't "see" any harm in lesbian relationships, so if there is no evident "harm" would that change the moral situation.

    I said:

    No, it would make no difference to the moral law. Some things in life truly are sacred. And the mechanism by which human life is transmitted is one of them. Sex is sacred. Marriage (which is the only proper context for sex) is sacred.

    Sex is sacred because human life is sacred.

    If one does not believe that human life is sacred, then sex can be used in any way one wishes, even and up to the point where unfortunate babies resulting can be shredded in the womb for getting there without "permission". We kill for sex, and we die for sex. So, the answer is: No. It is impossible that legitimizing a misuse of sex could somehow be a good. The very fact of legitimizing genital play between two women (who cannot have sex, by the way, but only play at it) harms everyone involved. It harms the women (because sex with one's own gender is a sin, and discounts natural sexual boundaries) and it harms society (because it makes the institution of marriage meaningless).

    Again, every misuse of sex is a serious sin, because life is sacred. If you want to devalue human life, the best way to do it is to devalue (and desacralize) sex. We see it all around us. Life and sex are cheap now. And we've got millions of dead bodies, diseases, and broken hearts piled up in heaps to prove it.

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  195. Andrew, welcome! Excellent points. Thank you!

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  196. Mary, do you feel like if you embraced Christ and the Church that you would somehow be obligated to "judge" everyone or tell them what the Church teaches and that you couldn't love them or something? I am sensing a real fear or reluctance to accept Church teaching because you think you might hurt people? I may be totally off base, but is that what you are feeling? Thanks! Like I said, I could be wrong, but it's a sense I get.

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  197. Thanks Leila! You have an excellent project going on here. Thanks for clearly and lovingly (and repeatedly) explaining the truth's of the faith.

    God Bless.

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  198. Andrew, thank you so much. It's comments like yours that keep me from throwing in the towel. :)

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  199. Andrew O'Brien,
    Bravo!

    Mary,
    "I suppose you just say, "Well, the Church knows best, and even though I might see that shade of gray there, I am going to quell out those little bubbles of critical thought. The Church must always be right."

    Not so, Mary. The evils of contraception can be seen just by looking around us. Contraception was what Margaret Sanger fought for (in order to stop certain groups from breeding) and that has progressed to full-fledged abortion. Birth control itself acts as an abortifacient in many cases, many that we don't even know about. There are girls out there right now who believe that life begins at conception and have had fertilized eggs prevented from attaching to their uterine wall because of their bc pills, IUDs, etc.
    Birth control cheapens the sexual bond, making it selfish in nature and only about physical pleasure.

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