Monday, May 5, 2014

The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Church




So, I've mentioned before that the most popular post on this blog was not written by me, but was written by my friend Joseph Prever (pseudonymously, Steve Gershom). Almost three years later, that post, "Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine", still gets several hundred hits a week, and rightly so. It has helped and inspired so many who are struggling with same-sex attraction, and it also has educated those on both sides of the gay rights issue.

Today, I am beyond thrilled to introduce a most amazing (and much-anticipated!) video that prominently includes Joseph Prever and his experiences and struggles as a man with same-sex attraction. Just as I was, you will be riveted listening to his story and those of several other wonderful men and women who pour out their hearts and their pain -- which we need to understand -- and who ultimately tell of the hope, dignity, healing, and love they found in Christ's teachings and in His Church.

The culture seems to insist that there are only two ways to look at homosexuality and those who are same-sex attracted: 1) Disgust, disdain, and rejection of gay people, or 2) celebration and promotion of homosexuality and same sex "marriage".

But there is a Third Way, the best way, that isn't talked about.

No matter where you stand in the debate, you will be changed by watching this video, and after you do, I encourage you to share it on your blogs, post it to your facebook pages (I know one friend who has posted it twice just to make sure no one missed it), and email it to your friends -- even your friends who are gay or who support the gay rights movement.

Say a prayer for an open heart, and hit the play button:


   The Third Way from Blackstone Films on Vimeo.



Of course I am most interested in hearing your thoughts once you've watched the whole thing. I welcome a substantive, respectful discussion about what you heard and saw. This is so incredibly important for all of us.



*Note: Because the comments on this post have exceeded 200, you must hit the "load more" at the end of the comments to continue reading the conversation.




334 comments:

  1. Wow! Thanks for sharing this Leila. As someone who used to support SSM and homosexuality this really helps put into words what I eventually came around to understand now. At this point I am not yet ready to share this on my FB (I have many gay friends and even more cafeteria Catholic friends) but when I am ready to open this subject up I want it to be done in the most gentle way, and this is a great start. Laura

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  2. This video is both gentle and powerful. I love what the nun said (I already forgot her name) about how we all want to be loved in an intimate way, which she meant in a non-sexual way. The people in the video with SSA have experience some real pain. And it was painful in the beginning to see people beating up other people. Doesn't every one of us want to go to a safe, loving place with all our insecurities, flaws, uncomfortable feelings, unsure feelings, desires, struggles, pains, quirks, disorders, illnesses, weaknesses, addictions, vulnerabilities and just be loved wherever we are because we're all works in progress? People want a deep connection with other people. I'm not even sure if my comment is still on point. Kudos to those in the video for speaking out.

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  3. Laura, you are a great example of someone who has "evolved" the other way, as we always hear everyone jumping on the bandwagon of gay rights, sort of "evolving" the other way. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. It's hard to speak publicly about this (esp. if you are on the "wrong" side of political correctness), and that is why I think this film is so refreshing. Truth in love.

    Unknown, yes! That is exactly it! One of the ladies in the film has a great blog, and she has said that the reason people with SSA are drawn to the LGBT scene is that they are so accepting of just about everything. And really, who doesn't want to be accepted and feel loved? Unfortunately, that can't lead, ultimately, to true love and real dignity. But so far, we haven't done a great job in loving and accepting those with SSA. I was particularly moved (and pained) by Joseph and who would hear people say negative things or jokes about gay people, and there he was sitting right there (they did not know his secret). That sort of thing has to stop.

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    1. Hmmm, I really need to proofread before I post a comment. I hope you got the gist.

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  4. The nun's name is Sr. Helena Burns of the Daughters of St. Paul - a religious community dedicated to evangelizing through media (books, movies, blogs, social media, music, etc.). I just went on a discernment retreat with them over Holy Week, but didn't get to see Sr. Helena since she's currently stationed in Toronto :( but I did get to meet her last fall when she gave a talk on Media Literacy at a nearby parish; love her! Follow her on Twitter if you have one; she's hysterical!

    Oh and LOVE The Third Way and actually getting to see the famous Joseph Prever/Steve Gershom! Looking forward to a great discussion on here; I was just thinking how quiet the Bubble has been lately haha

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  5. Yes, the Bubble has been quiet (my fault!) and I miss the conversations!

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  6. I posted as "unknown" above because who knows what my Google accounts are up to. (Google has been giving me a hard time.)

    Anyway, you said, "And really, who doesn't want to be accepted and feel loved? Unfortunately, that can't lead, ultimately, to true love and real dignity."

    Oh, I think speaking the truth is love and can be done in a loving way without degrading the personhood of person. I don't think one has to be mean or nasty, and certainly there's no excuse for violence. Sometimes it's hard to hear the truth, and if the truth is delivered in a rude, hostile manner, that's not going to help the receiver hear or accept the message. It just destroys bridges instead of building them.

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    1. Sorry, Lena, for the confusion. That's one of the reasons that I apologized for lack of clarity. When I said "that can't lead to true love and dignity", the "that" I was referring to was the homosexual lifestyle. Active homosexuality (sin) can never lead to true love and real dignity. Hope that made more sense. :)

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  7. I was really inspired by the video! It's not just about homosexuality it is about hope, love, healing and what it means to be human. I think anybody can relate to that. I read back through Joseph's original post on here and the thing that struct me as a pivotal point or most commonly misunderstood concept is celibacy. Many people outside of the Catholic Church (heck, probably some inside) struggle to understand how people can be called to a celibate lifestyle. I've heard countless people say it is impossible, unnatural and the cause of many sex scandals. I think that's why Sr. Helena's comment about our need to be loved in an intimate way being not the same as as sexual way speaks to us. We need to share more about what that intimate way is and how different individuals in various vocations feel it!

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  8. Interestingly, Steve Gershom's blog post at the Bubble in 2011 is what brought me here in the first place. I honestly have no idea where I stumbled upon the link to this post (what brought me here), but I clicked, and I found myself in the Bubble. All I remember was scrolling through the hundreds of comments under the blog post for hours because the comments were just sooooo good and reading them was sooo addicting. Then, I found myself reading other blog posts in the Bubble, and also having a heck of a good time scrolling through the debates in the comments for hours upon hours...late into the nights. The Bubble was my first ever Catholic blog I stumbled upon (totally out of nowhere...pretty sure God brought me here though)...and then through it, I discovered the entire Catholic blogging world and realized that there were people out there like me...that I'm not alone in this, what seems like, anti-Catholic world. So thanks Bubble and thanks Leila!!! I can't wait to see Steve Gersham's video once I'm done with pharm school exams and have a little bit of time. Definitely bookmarking it.

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  9. Jessica, you are right. In our sex-obssessed culture, we believe that if we aren't having sex, we will explode or die or something. It's weird, though, that those same folks seem to love the idea of Buddhist monks (because Buddhism is cool?), who also are celibate. Our culture's view of sex (and the human person) is impoverished. We are more than just our base passions and desires. I do believe all the casual sex is just a way to try to get at true intimacy, but it never fulfills.

    Agnes! That is such a great story! I am glad you found us! I know one lady who wrote me and told me that she and her husband break out the wine and popcorn when a discussion is happening in the comments here, and they spend a fun evening that way, ha ha! I love it!!

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  10. Hi Leila, honestly the Third Way makes sense only if you are Catholic and/or if you understand well the Way of the Cross and the meaning of redemptive suffering. In my life I met many people struggling with SSA, most of them not particularly religious. For many of them the only relief from a life often plagued by loneliness, chronic disease, rejection from their own family is entering in a gay couple stable relationship and in gay advocacy group.

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  11. 1. A fantastic video! Much needed in the dialogue about this issue today.

    2. Saint John Paul II said of pornography: “There is no dignity when the human dimension is eliminated from the person. In short, the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.”

    I believe this is the problem also with today’s aggressive, in-your-face, “gay” agenda. Not only does it cause us oftentimes to view people with same sex attraction as merely sexual creatures, even the movement’s activists advocate for them only as such, rejecting - nay vehemently opposing - any initiative to help anyone who is SSA, but not comfortable in his/her “gay” skin, to explore/expand other avenues of self fulfillment or finding love and support.

    3. Just as everyday, ordinary, peaceable Muslims (yes, there are plenty!) have largely been cowed into silence in the face of the violence being perpetrated by a relatively small number of Islamist fundamentalists (or risk violence to themselves) many, many people with SSA are intimidated to acquiesce to the radical “gay” agenda which includes things like the redefinition – nay, the very eradication, as is becoming increasingly clear – of the institution of marriage accompanied by open persecution of those who hold a (traditional) view of marriage/family, different to the one they’ve now suddenly concocted. (I’ve had several friends in my life with SSA, and not one of them ever expressed any interest in the concept of “same sex marriage”. Indeed, when I asked one or two of them about it they simply laughed it off, confessing they’d rather remain free and easy, in as many (simultaneous or serial) relationships as they wished. It is a well documented fact that monogamy is hardly a prominent virtue among same sex attracted people. So this intense push for “gay marriage” has a motive other than “marriage equality” - behind it.)

    Here are two articles expanding on the (hidden but significant) tensions between same sex attracted people and today’s radical “gay” movement:

    “Homosexual activists aim to ‘destroy the family’, impose ‘totalitarianism’: gay pro-family activist”

    “Befriending Those With Same-Sex Attraction: One Celibate Man’s View”

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  12. Here’s another article you might find interesting to read:

    “The Gay Movement and the Council on Foreign Relations’ Anti-Russia Psy-Op”

    Even though parts of it, despite the exhaustive list of references provided, do tend to read a bit like some far fetched conspiracy theory, what is educative in the article is the differentiation between homosexuality (as a sociological issue) and “gayness” (as a purely political construct).

    What I think is important for us is to separate the peaceable, everyday person with same sex attraction from the radical activists. We definitely need to minister to the former with understanding, love and genuine friendship, even as the latter launch wave after wave of vicious attacks on anyone and anything that is even remotely traditional or conservative.

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  13. PaxetBonum, you said:

    Hi Leila, honestly the Third Way makes sense only if you are Catholic and/or if you understand well the Way of the Cross and the meaning of redemptive suffering.

    I'm going to disagree, as the people in the video did not, as far as I can tell, start out with an understanding of redemptive suffering (I would argue that most Catholics, even practicing Catholics, don't really know about redemptive suffering, or if they've heard of it, they don't understand it yet). Certainly, it's wonderful if folks end up with that understanding, both straight and gay. It makes sense of suffering in this fallen world.

    You said:

    For many of them the only relief from a life often plagued by loneliness, chronic disease, rejection from their own family is entering in a gay couple stable relationship and in gay advocacy group.

    Yes, for a time there might be relief, but I've read and heard more times than I can count that the "gay" lifestyle is anything but gay (happy). There is a great deal of loneliness even then, and oftentimes it just masks the pain until they can find God. I won't disagree that some people do find a sense of stability and acceptance and peace in a gay relationship or in that circle of advocacy that they did not find in the previous life of pain and rejection, but there are people who are happy in any type of sinful lifestyle (cohabitation, fornication, porn, swinging, serial marriages, gambling, etc.). But since we are made in God's image, the acceptance they feel cannot compare to what God wishes for them; it always falls short, and the heart is always restless until it rests in God, as St. Augustine (quite the sinner) famously said. At some point the heart will cry out, for all of us (not just gay people). If it doesn't cry out and turn to God, we are in a bit of trouble, no?

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  14. Francis, I love the article about befriending those with SSA, the celibate man's view. So moving!

    You said:

    What I think is important for us is to separate the peaceable, everyday person with same sex attraction from the radical activists. We definitely need to minister to the former with understanding, love and genuine friendship, even as the latter launch wave after wave of vicious attacks on anyone and anything that is even remotely traditional or conservative.

    But don't we need to minister to both? Is there even one soul we should cede to the devil? In fact, those latter souls are perhaps the ones who are in most need of God's mercy (as we pray in the Divine Mercy Chaplet). There is even a devout reader of the Bubble who used to be an activist in the gay pride parades. Everyone is worth the Blood of Christ.

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  15. Leila, of course we are called to minister the love of God to all, but the question, given the antipathy of radicals in the "gay" movement at present, and their refusal (generally) to engage in any value adding dialogue, is how. Every time you mention "ontological", they run! :)

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  16. Dialogue with the radicals is not exactly effective. It's more like just showing them love when we encounter them. These are the most bitter, closed, wounded folks I have ever seen (the ones in the news, the scary ones… are they happy and well-adjusted and at peace with themselves and God? No way). It's like the conversion of Norma McCorvey (the Roe in Roe v. Wade). She was not converted by dialogue, but by the little girl who would sit with her and share her lunch with her at the abortion clinic that Norma ran (she was then a lesbian as well as an abortion mill owner). That's why her book is called Won by Love. Some folks (most?) do not dialogue. But they can still respond to love (which we all seek). Will all respond? No, of course not, but that can be said of straight people who are sinners as well.

    Remember this one?

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2013/11/when-truth-doesnt-cut-it.html

    I think it applies across the board.

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  17. I really would like for all my gay friends to find peace in God. Chastity out of context is very hard and challenging. Basically in the Catholic church chastity is the only option for gay people. This chastity is not chosen (like for consactreted virgins) and lasting for all the life (heterosexual can always enter the Sacrament of Marriage later on). It takes a lot of courage, grace and support from the community to live it.

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  18. PaxEtBonum, but do we expect teens and unmarried people to practice chastity? We used to. Americans were not at odds on that. It was expected that some would marry (and that was the context for sex), and that unmarried people ("celibate" simply means unmarried) would not have sex. Even the "old maids" and "spinsters" did not necessarily have sex, and no one blew a gasket and thought that they would explode or go insane. They were living dignified lives in their state of life. And what about married folks whose spouses are incapacitated or ill, maybe for life? We don't pat them on the head and tell them adultery is okay (I hope we don't!). Or what about adults in "loveless" marriages who would like to find comfort and companionship with the nice, attractive, attentive man down the street? And, if we ask our teens to not have sex (when the hormones are the strongest, arguably), then why can't mature adults remain chaste as well? Chastity is a state of life for all, including the married (chastity meaning simply the proper use of the sexual faculty). You are right that chastity today is harder, because the culture does not accept that virtue anymore. It's hard for any person now (married, unmarried, straight, gay) to practice the virtue of chastity. But it's still a virtue and the opposite is sin… which is no good for anyone. And of course, those with SSA can certainly enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony (and many have), so that's important to remember.

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  19. I've read one person's concern that the beginning of the movie sounds a little bit like they became gay because of something that happened in their childhood (unaffectionate parents). It was on another blog. I can totally see how someone could misinterpret that from the video. We need to be careful because having SSA has nothing to do with having a great or terrible family life. I certainly think it's powerful to point out why people with SSA seek the lifestyle (because of lack of support both from the Church family and within their own families). Being SSA is like having any other disorder such as depression. It can be the result of having a bad background or simply not (as in the case history of my husband's family) and that it's through support that one can "do battle" with any disorder. In my husband's family's case it's suicide or addiction. All of us are particularly in tune with trying to help various cousins/uncles/etc seek out help. Hopefully SSA will start receiving more support like depression does. But I fear, having dialogued with Protestants ,that there will be this stigma attached to it of having the inclination alone is a sin that the Church will have to struggle and proclaim against.

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    1. Sorry that was poor written. But you get what I mean, I think?

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  20. Deltaflute, yes the stigma from non-Catholic Christians (or Catholics who are ignorant) is that the inclination itself is sinful. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hopefully, the video helps to dispel that falsehood. Temptations are not sins. Sins are willed.

    As for the idea that SSA can be triggered by a problem in childhood, it's sometimes but not always the case. Each person has his/her own story. If people go further into the video, Joseph makes the point that his family was strong, and he was taught well. He did not come from abuse. So, hopefully people catch that.

    I wish, as you do, that SSA would receive more support as depression does, etc. but of course now we have the secular world going so far as to pass laws that even folks who would like help or therapy to turn from homosexual attraction will not be allowed to receive such counseling! I cannot imagine that we are at that point, and that our freedom to seek care is even being limited for an agenda, but there we are. Very sad, and so many who would wish to be helped will now not be able to get it. Crazy world we live in.

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  21. Absolutely, everyone deserves love. Love heals.

    Thoughts about the video:

    I think the challenge (and the beauty) to understanding the Catholic context (the Third Way) is to see all the squares of the quilt as they are meant to fit together; that is, all the teachings of the faith aligned and in relation to the unifying presence that holds it all together- God. This isn't necessarily intellectually intuitive to a struggling person who's never, perhaps, considered looking at life in such a large scope, at such a deep level.

    That being said, I think there are two major steps that lead to this fuller transcendent understanding of life in broad context, and offer the struggling person (no matter the type of sin or sin inclination) to a real comfort amid the chaos of the search: head-knowledge and then spiritual knowledge or awakening- both, of course, guided by the Spirit of God.

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  22. Nubby, yes!

    Another thought. I am sure that many who have SSA will not suddenly see this and turn it all around. But there are seeds in this video that will take root, if the heart is open. I first heard about the Church's actual teaching on contraception about ten years before I actually embraced it. But the seed was planted. I hope this video plants seeds in some hearts, perhaps to take root and blossom many years hence.

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  23. Amazing film. It does what we're all called to do--that is, to teach the truth with love.

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  24. I sent this video to my sister last week, and it happened that she was headed to DC this weekend. She visited her senator's office and gave him the link so he could watch it, too! It is an excellent tool.

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  25. I think this was a great video. Thank you for sharing!

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  26. If I might elaborate just a touch: EVERY one of us has SOME disordered tendency or inclination. Not as many of us have a disordered inclination which is so "fashionable" today, which is so proclaimed to be "natural" and "normal," to the point where much of the world tells us to "just go ahead and fulfill your desires." A person with same-sex attraction who wants to remain chaste is fighting a real uphill battle these days.

    Pope Francis has called on us many times during his young papacy to love FIRST, and to let doctrine become part of the conversation at the proper time; but first and foremost, LOVE. I don't know about you folks, but this is a real challenge for me.

    One thing that may help is what some of us learned in Marriage Encounter: Love is a decision, not a feeling. And that makes it a little bit easier to understand what is meant by, "You don't have to LIKE someone to LOVE him/her."

    I think of my 36-year marriage, and it should come as no surprise to anyone who has been married any length of time that we have had our "ups and downs"; all I can say is that I guess that lesson stuck with us.

    Now...to bring love out into the world is a bit tougher...but it's what we're called to do.

    As a Church, we have our marching orders.

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  27. As a lesbian, watching this video was difficult yet put into words what I have gone through. I am following the Third Way. I am a child of God and I choose NOT to be in a same-sex relationship. I purposefully do NOT put myself in situations where I am around other lesbians. I have been chaste now for five years, though the brief sexual encounter I had in 2009 was with a man when I felt )I needed to make myself NOT gay. It doesn't work that way. That sexual act was just as sinful as the ones with another woman (and I have not been with another woman in 10 years now.) I came to realize I am gay but I don't have to act on it. Just like a person who is an alcoholic, but doesn't have to drink. WE CHOOSE NOT TO. The Bible is VERY clear on the sin of homosexuality. It's not about love, as Paul so eloquently put it above. It's about doing what God expects and asks of us. I'm so tired of gay people trying to twist the Bible's words to defend their sin.

    A man I was in a Bible Study with was very outspoken about homosexuality and how sinful it was and how we needed to "cure" them. At the same time, he was having an affair with a married woman in our group (he was also married). When confronted by the group, he said that, "God wants us to be together." He truly believed God destined them to be together, even though they were sinning in order to do so. I told him, "God NEVER goes back on his Word." Then I dropped the bomb on him that I'm a lesbian and I am not disillusioning myself into believing that I am different; that God will condone my being in a same-sex relationship. He had the audacity to tell me that my sin was "worse" because it was a deviant behavior.

    God's Word is very clear and I will not change it to meet my personal agenda.

    GOD DID NOT MAKE ME GAY. I know people want to believe that, but it is NOT possible. Just as we are born with original sin, we are born with our own crosses to bear. Whether it's alcoholism, pedophilia, lust for pornography, etc. We recognize these demons in our lives and we battle them and don't let the world try to tell us "because it feels good, it must be right."

    I have chosen a chaste life because that is what God asks of me.

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  28. DD, thank you!! And it makes my blood boil that someone told you that your (non) sin was worse than his blatant adultery!! UNREAL. I pray that was not a Catholic Bible study.

    You really are an inspiration, and I can't thank you enough for speaking up with courage.

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  29. This video was done by a group from my church. I am so glad it is getting national exposure!

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  30. DD...excellent comments. For whatever its worth, I tip my hat to you in your ongoing efforts.

    The guy in your Bible study was working very hard to fool himself. It's amazing that he doesn't consider adultery to be deviant. But at the same time, I have an inkling as to where he's coming from, insofar as justification of his adultery is concerned--not with regard to his comparison of homosexual activity to heterosexual adultery. I mentioned that my wife of 36 years and I have had our ups and downs, and one lesson that I learned fairly well is that the devil does a pretty good impersonation of Christ to those who leave themselves open to such deception. All I can say is pray for the guy, that he wakes up before it's too late.

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  31. Thank you Leila and Paul. I do pray for him. Recently I heard he was now divorced and so was she (she had only been married 2 years with an 18-month-old son). They immediately married each other.

    Leila, nope, wasn't a Catholic Bible Study. Sort of a non-denominational group that got together, but I'm not involved anymore.

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  32. I cannot imagine the heartache of two marriages being broken up by this affair (and the children affected for life), and yet this man dares to suggest that God willed this adulterous affair and somehow blesses their "marriage"! Awful, awful. It's a mockery of marriage.

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  33. DD, you're a real winner! Well done! Challenged, beaten, bruised, tempted, tested and calumniated, you've nevertheless forged ahead of the curve! Oh, what an inspiration you are, a beacon to your fellow (wo)man in the midst of so much darkness!

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  34. I didn't like the first 20 minutes of this video (it seemed to suggest that everyone in a same sex relationship is miserable which I don't think is true) but the second half gave a clear and accurate presentation of the Catholic church's position that I think both heterosexual and homosexual Catholics should see. There are far too many people (like DDs example) who think that homosexual acts are as bad as it gets. The Catechism calls contraception 'intrinsically evil', which sounds much worse than 'intrinsically disordered' (homosexual acts) to me.

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  35. Hi Tonia. I have to correct something you said. The Church teaches that homosexual acts are, in fact, intrinsically evil (i.e., sinful of their very nature). What is "disordered" (but not sinful) is to have the attraction to those of the same sex. But the acts themselves are definitely a moral evil (i.e., sin), just as are fornication, adultery, contraception, and any misuse of the sexual faculty.

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    1. In other words, it's not sinful to be attracted to others of the same sex (even though those attractions are disordered, in the same way it would be disordered to have a desire to eat non-food substances, i.e., pica, or to be inclined toward alcoholism). It is only sinful if one chooses to act on those disordered attractions. To willfully act is to commit the sin.

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  36. That's interesting. I was looking at parag. 2357. My Burns & Oates edition says "Tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts' are intrinsically disordered". Sin is sin, whether adultery, contraception or homosexual acts, but I think people treat homosexual acts as being worse than using contraception.

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  37. I love how our church gives Dignity to everyone. I think ordinary public opinion is so judgmental and harsh. Love is respect. I got some tears when the guy talked about experiencing such respect and love inside the confessional. That sacrament is so amazing. I never take it for granted as an adult convert.

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  38. All sin is evil, would you agree, Tonia? Therefore, homosexual acts are evil in addition to being disordered. Evil because they are closed to the gift of procreation, which is one of the primary purposes of sex, the other being unity of husband and wife, giving each other fully to one another.

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  39. ***Sorry for those of you who get your comment in email. The first time I published this, I messed up and the part that was in italics was missing! Trying again:

    Thanks, Tonia, you are right that that is included. Here's the whole context though (and the italics are mine, to distinguish between the acts and merely the inclination):

    2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.


    One other point of teaching is that while all mortal sin separates us from the friendship of God, not all mortal sins are equal in gravity. Consider what St. John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae:

    Certainly, from the moral point of view contraception and abortion arespecifically different evils: the former contradicts the full truth of the sexual act as the proper expression of conjugal love, while the latter destroys the life of a human being; the former is opposed to the virtue of chastity in marriage, the latter is opposed to the virtue of justice and directly violates the divine commandment "You shall not kill".

    But despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree.


    So yes, contraception is a grave sin that can keep us from Heaven if done willfully and with full knowledge of its gravity, but abortion is a sin that is more evil, more depraved. Where homosexual acts fall I don't know, but I'm guessing there is more gravity to the sins of adultery, fornication, porn, homosexual acts, etc., than to contraception used by a married couple. <---- even though that is still a moral evil that can never be accepted or condoned.

    Hope that makes sense, as I still haven't had breakfast, ack!!

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  40. Margo, exactly:

    "Therefore, homosexual acts are evil in addition to being disordered."

    And I know that folks chafe at the word "evil", but remember, that is the theological way of staying "sinful". Moral evil = sin. No one is calling any individual "evil", simply the acts. Only God can make the judgement that a person is evil, not us.

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  41. If we go to the Catechism on contraception it says:

    2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil.

    My concern is that on any given Sunday the church is full of sinners, people using contraception, couples co-habitating, people who knowingly miss Mass on Sunday, they are all made to feel welcome, but that's not always the same with people who are gay.

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  42. Tonia, how would anyone in a parish know who was contracepting or who is gay? Unless they wear signs, or tell people outright, who would know? And so how would they be made to feel unwelcome? I am seriously asking.

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  43. Hi Francis
    I looked at the first article you referenced (I couldn't get the second link to work). Going to LifeSiteNews for information on homosexuality is like going to Richard Dworkin's blog to get information about Catholicism. Believe me, any article that site has about homosexuality, even if it contains shards of truth, is tosh.

    It may be that they quote actual gay people, but one can find quotes from former Catholics and "cafeteria" Catholics who say that devout Catholicism ruined their childhoods and left them severely scarred; but you would probably not consider their commentary valid.

    And this: It is a well documented fact that monogamy is hardly a prominent virtue among same sex attracted people. Hmmmmmm... I think if you research harder you will find that monogamy is more based on gender than sexual orientation. Men are more promiscuous than women, so if you put two men together it stands to reason that you'll have more promiscuity. However, when two women are together there is typically less promiscuity than with heterosexual couples.

    Hi Leila!
    "I've read and heard more times than I can count that the "gay" lifestyle is anything but gay (happy). There is a great deal of loneliness even then, and oftentimes it just masks the pain until they can find God.

    And I've witnessed first-hand more times than I can count the joy gay people often experience in their long-term relationships and feeling they can be who they really are, instead of pretending to be straight.

    If I believed that what I heard in the media represents the truth of Catholicism I would run from it screaming--the zillions of "recovering Catholics" out there, the priest sex scandals, etc etc. Same if I believed the former Catholics I've met, (and their number is legion!) who say how damaged they were by the church, represented the truth of Catholicism (I believe I've asked you this before: have you ever read Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt? With all of the terrible things that Mr McCourt endured as a child, he said that he could forgive all of it but he could never forgive the Catholic church--for it's abuse and dishonest, etc)

    My point is that you are not getting an accurate picture of homosexuality by hearing about it in the media (particular from the likes of "LifeSiteNews."), or hearing from people who used to live the "gay lifestyle" (a term gay people don't really use) but have now "found God."

    I get that you consider homosexuality a sin because Catholic doctrine says it is and that's the end of the discussion. But I invite you and everyone not to create stories about homosexuality that aren't reality-based. Your viewpoint is justified by Catholic doctrine and it doesn't need to be justified to people who accept that doctrine. In the meantime, let's not encourage stereotyping.

    And I'm so glad to know that Buddhism is cool! :-)

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  44. I forgot to say that's one of the reasons I hang out in the Bubble, so I don't create stories about Catholics that aren't reality-based.

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  45. Johanne, thanks for the comments! I guess I will start by asking what you thought of the video?

    And, the comment about "reality-based" has me thinking, because what does that mean? What is real is what is true. I can definitely agree that there are some folks who are actively homosexual who are content and happy with what they are doing and how they are living. That is true for every spectrum of sinners (heterosexual sinners included). But you really believe that there is great peace and joy in the homosexual community? I just don't know about that. We will have to agree to disagree, since my view is formed by either what I've read (for decades) or what gay folks have shared with me, even those whose families and communities celebrate their relationships. There is still often a sadness that is deep. I haven't done a formal study, so that's all I've got.

    Here is a huge, huge frustration I have. You said this:

    "I get that you consider homosexuality a sin because Catholic doctrine says it is and that's the end of the discussion."

    Wow, after all this time, this is why you believe us to consider homosexuality a sin? Simply because the Church says so, period? Oh, my. So many thousands upon thousands of words, and articles and explanations, and biology itself, and nature, and even the point that it is not "Catholics" who consider it immoral, but the orthodox of every major world religion since… forever. And even atheist regimes, which have not a whit of concern about acquiescing to Catholic doctrine.

    It's as if you said to me, "I get that you consider stealing [or murder, lying, defrauding the poor, etc.] a sin because Catholic doctrine says it is and that's the end of the discussion."

    Ouch, it chafes!

    Whatever sufferings Mr. McCourt endured (and I have no reason to doubt him), I certainly hope he did finally forgive those who wronged him before he died. To "never forgive" is a very serious impediment to seeing the face of God. I know many devout Catholics who enjoyed his book (and the second one), and it's my understanding that in those books he actually had many kind things to say about the good and holy priests he encountered. It was his experience, and it was rough. But no, I have not personally read the book.

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  46. Hi Leila
    Regarding the video: I thought the sentiments expressed toward gay people were a great improvement from those typical of devout Christians.

    My language was clumsy and I’m sorry if it frustrated you. My point is that when all is said and done it comes down to doctrine. Yes I have read the thousands of words, articles, explanations, biology and I understand there are many reasons why the doctrine seems unquestionable to you based on logic, etc. But what I mean is that if anyone disagrees with the articles, explantions, logic, etc, it is truly pointless to try to argue a different point of view. That applies to homosexuality, contraception, abortion, etc etc. In the Church there can be no other truth, period.

    You have mentioned that you personally have had mixed feelings about the atom bomb and capital punishment. Yet you “submitted” to the Church. You find the case for homosexuality being a sin unquestionably convincing. With the atom bomb (I’m just extrapolating from what you’ve said; I may be wrong) maybe the logic wasn’t so obvious to you. But it didn’t matter. You submitted.

    I hope my point is making sense. Sometimes there’s a huge amount of evidence to support doctrine and sometimes there isn’t, but ultimately none of it matters—the fact that it’s doctrine is enough for you to “know” it’s an absolute truth.
    That’s the main thing I’ve learned from this blog. Doctrine is infallible and discussion is secondary.
    There have been a few times on this blog that I tried, sincerely, to explain my point of view that was contrary to doctrine and I felt cruelly treated (never by you personally)—it really stung. So I no longer try to argue with what you believe. But when “facts” are cited that aren’t facts I sometimes try to point that out. Because it’s the articles like the ones that Francis cited that encourage people to hate gay people and treat them cruelly. It’s the exaggeration and distortion and aggrandizing so rampant in Christian dialog (and rampant in Francis’s posts) that feeds the abuse that the video was speaking against. I hope this makes sense.

    Here's to the third way.

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  47. Johanne, thank you! Yes, I totally understand what you are saying and thanks for taking the time to clarify it.

    On a personal note, you've made me think about my previous positions. I think with the death penalty, it was not so much logic that drove me as it was emotion. If someone did something so heinous, they deserved to fry. That was essentially my reasoning then. I realized when I converted (accepting the fact that Christ, who is God, had founded the Church) that I had to rethink. And it was in the thinking that I saw a better way. To kill must never be the first answer to any problem, and sometimes it must never be. In the case of the death penalty, I submitted to the Church's wisdom first, then it made increasingly more sense to me. (Augustine's "Faith seeking understanding".)

    With the atom bomb, Hiroshima: I couldn't see past the horror of WWII, and the need to just make it all stop. And patriotism. And not being fully initiated in my Christian faith to understand that indeed the ends can never justify the means. That's a basic, logical principle that is so clear now. No evil can be committed in order to bring about a good. Today, the idea of Hiroshima horrifies me. So many innocents killed in a mass attack.

    So, the beauty of the Church and her teaching is that it is seamless. It all fits together. Breathtaking. One cannot take away one teaching or principle without the whole thing falling. And of course, it's the only thing that still stands and will ever stand: the Truth of Christ. It never changes.

    Logical. It is a joy to my brain, and now my heart as well!

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  48. Leila, you're right we can't see who is doing what on Sunday. It's great when anyone follows church teaching whether it's married couples or gay people, but our attitude to gay people who don't needs to be the same as straight people who don't. This video seems to be welcoming people who are trying to move away from a gay lifestyle into the church and not anyone who isn't.

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  49. Tonia, I honestly did not get that from the video. I thought the message was to be kind and loving to all, to stop judging gay people in a way that makes it seem like they are the worst kind of sinners, and stop the violence, name-calling, etc. I guess I am still unclear. What do you mean by "welcoming"? You know that the Church can't condone or embrace any sinful lifestyle, and those who are in a state of mortal sin cannot approach for Communion. I guess I am asking you to be more specific in your examples. Thanks! I don't mean to be difficult, I'm just trying to get at what you are saying.

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  50. Hi Johanne,

    “Because it’s the articles like the ones that Francis cited that encourage people to hate gay people and treat them cruelly.

    Huh? Where? In which article?

    The LifeSiteNews article wasn’t some opinion piece – it was plain factual reporting, so your comparison of it to some irrational rant against Catholicism by Richard Dworkins (I presume you mean Richard Dawkins) is exceedingly tenuous, no?

    By the way, here’s a “gay” activist confirming - in a totally neutral, secular setting - the man’s warning in the LifeSiteNews article that the real objective of the “gay” lobby is to destroy the institution of marriage:

    “Gay Marriage is a Lie: Destruction of Marriage, Masha Gessen”

    Here’s another link to the second article (hopefully this one will work):

    “Befriending Those With Same-Sex Attraction: One Celibate Man’s View”

    You might notice (in the Facebook comments below the article) that immediately upon reading this (same sex attracted) man’s story I issued an open invitation to him for dinner at my place anytime. Umm… that sort of flies in the face of your (mis)characterization of me as someone who hates SSA people – and, indeed, incites hatred and cruelty against them - no?

    “It’s the exaggeration and distortion and aggrandizing so rampant in Christian dialog (and rampant in Francis’s posts).”

    Care to back up that sweeping, hysterical and - dare I say it, exaggerated - charge with some concrete examples? I’ve been commenting for a while now on the Bubble, so you should be able to readily point to some of my posts that fit your descriptors, and perhaps more convincingly, point to say, a handful of readers (out of the thousands that frequent the blog), who echo your charge.

    I think if you research harder you will find that monogamy is more based on gender than sexual orientation.

    Yes, for heterosexuals. In the case of SSA “couples” however, you’ll discover even with cursory research that they actually advocate sex with multiple partners to satiate any such urges that arise. Monogamy, in their book, is viewed only as “emotional fidelity”, to allow for “openly” “married” “couples” to indulge freely in sex with third parties. Indeed we’re told that it is precisely adultery (if one can call it that) which will now save the beleaguered institution of marriage – both for SSA and heterosexual folks:

    “Open monogamy”

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  51. Discussing this on two different blogs at the moment. Leila, you picked a good one to stimulate dialogue!

    Tonia: It's unlikely that you will see people at mass wearing buttons that say, "Using the pill, and proud of it." But just as an example, the rainbow sash says, in essence, that its wearer favors the acceptance of homosexual lifestyle and activity as "normal."

    We all sin, it's true. The problem is that some people want to call their sin "virtue."

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  52. I admit, I have not had time to watch the video. But my husband retweeted it, so it must be very good. He usually stays away from issues that are heavily political as well as theological, mainly because he doesn't want anyone to assume at any given point he is speaking for our diocese.

    However, I want to address a couple of things Johanne said.

    In the Church there can be no other truth, period.
    It's not simply that in the Church there can be no other truth, it's that there is only one Truth. There isn't their truth, and my truth, and his truth, and that one group's truth over there. There is only TRUTH. Some may believe there are differing truths, but in reality that line of thinking only leads to delusion and chaos. The Church is simply passing on the Truth. Not inventing it or creating it, but simply working to inform everyone of what Truth is. (Or rather who Truth is).

    You also stated that sometimes there is a lot of evidence is favor of doctrine and sometimes there isn't much, and when there isn't as much evidence, we look to doctrine for Truth. But you tried, sincerely, to explain my point of view that was contrary to doctrine.

    I sincerely apologize if you have ever felt like I have treated you cruelly, that is certainly not my intention. However, the thing is. When one finds Truth, in the person of Jesus Christ, one realizes, that inspite of a "lack of evidence" in favor of the doctrine, the doctrine is True, not simple because the Church "says so," but because Jesus Christ the Almighty Son of God made it so, and we trust in Christ.

    Many do not believe in Christ let alone Trust in Him. Many more struggle to trust. The failure to trust in Christ doesn't negate Truth, but it unfortunately hides the Truth from those seeking it.

    This is why we defer, if we have questions: because we trust in Christ who is Truth and in God, the Source of all Goodness, far more than ourselves.

    Don't know if that helps.

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  53. The more I read these comments and the more I think something is missing. I think in some cases instead if seeing the person as a whole there is a tendency to see only that the person has SSA. But the person is so much more than that! Moreover I think that often people focus mostly on the sexual aspects of homosexual relationships forgetting that people are looking also for love and acceptance from their partners. I met an homosexual couple in which one of the partners was extremely sick and I was amazed by how much care he received from the partner (and trust me, when you are that sick sex is the last thing in your mind!)

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  54. "Sometimes there’s a huge amount of evidence to support doctrine and sometimes there isn’t, but ultimately none of it matters—the fact that it’s doctrine is enough for you to “know” it’s an absolute truth. That’s the main thing I’ve learned from this blog. Doctrine is infallible and discussion is secondary."

    For Johanne - a few points:
    This is where the non-believer stumbles in understanding; that a Catholic's full submission to the doctrines of the Faith does not equal turning off the brain, and entering shallowly or stupidly through the Church doors.

    1) There is always ample evidence for any doctrine. Doctrine is revealed truth. Divinely revealed truth cannot be changed. It can only be passed along. This isn't a man made Church we're discussing.
    2) Certain doctrine unfolds over time, this doesn't mean there was little evidence for it.
    3) When one chooses to submit to the truth of the Church, that is not something orchestrated by human power alone. There are two parts: the human will cooperating with the grace of that moment. That is a moment of grace (insight, belief, faith, fuel, willingness to believe in the reasonable, etc.), led by the Holy Spirit.

    As pertains to your point regarding the 'facts of an article', it is rather beside the point (and opposite of the point) of what the people in the video have expressed.
    That is: They found their wholeness, and their connection to Christ, beyond their sexual attractions, beyond the experiences of this realm, because they were drawn out deeper (intellectually and spiritually). For the people in the video, their larger questions were fueled by great pain were greeted by the Catholic Church with satisfying answers, great comfort, and immense healing.

    We've touched on your beliefs as a Buddhist before. Am I right that a Buddhist does not seek a wholeness or connection to a transcendent Being? There is a search to unplug from anything and everything. That is the zenith, right? By stark contrast, a person seeking Christ finds connection, a greater whole, a unity, a plugging-in. Instead of a draining, there is an in-filling. Instead of "nothingness", there is complete communion in the spiritual realm. There is a peace that cannot be expressed, there are supernatural experiences and joys and profound insights that are not driven by human power alone. It simply is not possible.
    It cannot be quantified. It has to be experienced because we're talking about a Person. The One.

    And just because I'm thinking out loud here - I'm honestly curious on a practical question:
    If I am emotionally hurting, as the people in the video show, and I practice Buddhism, how is "unplugging" or seeking enlightenment going to help me? How does alone-ness and nothingness comfort me?
    By stark contrast, Jesus Christ, who is real, brings His gift of Peace and Healing openly, warmly, generously. He asks that I don't unplug, but that I seek to connect to Him and to others, and in that seeking will I find comfort and healing and love and joy. It's the tenderness and compassion that can only come from a best friend, an intimate soulmate. It's not a quick fix or a therapeutic practice. It's a full blown relationship.
    I'm curious on the practicality of the healing effect Buddhism offers to deep wounds of the soul, being that there is no One to administer the healing?

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  55. I'm not a Buddhist, but my eldest son works for a Buddhist fair trade company, and he has tried to explain some Buddhist precepts to me. As far as I understand, in this faith, desire is considered the root of suffering so emotional loneliness is born from a desire to be around others, without this desire how could you be lonely?
    Personally I find this hard to wrap my brain around, but you did ask and I just happen to have read this blog this morning :)

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  56. Susan,

    The patently obvious truth is that we are gregarious creatures. Our desire to be around others, to interact with others, and to gain their love and respect, is an intrinsic part of our natures, which we can neither deny nor suppress without doing violence to the very core of ourselves. Only a "hermit" who has an intimate relationship with a transcendent being can gain value out of aloneness - he is never really alone within himself. This is precisely why solitary confinement is one of the worst punishments imaginable, in quick time driving a prisoner to the point of insanity and disorientation even within himself!

    "God saw that it was not good for man to be alone" (cf Gen 2:18). Why? Because man is made in God's own likeness and image - a God Who in Trinity is actually community.

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  57. Susan, it almost sounds like Buddhism is saying that to be happy, we must deaden our desire for love. I hope Johanne will explain, because to me, that is hellish. Love is all there is, and it's the apex of existence, and love always involves an object, an other. Gosh, we could go on and on about Christian love, and the fruits of that love, and the Origin of love, and the bliss that comes when we rest in that Love, etc. Francis, what a great analogy, with solitary confinement being the worst punishment! Anyway, Nubby has great questions and I hope that Johanne will explain, as I really am wishing to know, so that I don't ever misrepresent what Buddhists believe.

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  58. PaxEtBonum, you said:

    "I met an homosexual couple in which one of the partners was extremely sick and I was amazed by how much care he received from the partner (and trust me, when you are that sick sex is the last thing in your mind!)"

    Yes, but these are two separate issues. Couldn't you say the exact same thing about fornicating couples, or adulterous couples, etc.? Would that make fornication or adultery a wonderful, beautiful thing?

    Bethany and Paul, good points.

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  59. "As far as I understand, in this faith, desire is considered the root of suffering so emotional loneliness is born from a desire to be around others, without this desire how could you be lonely? "

    If this is true, this brings at lot to mind:
    1) Desire itself is the root of suffering and so must be quenched, so how does that make the practicing Buddhist, or the world at large, that much more productive, interesting, fulfilling/fulfilled?

    Stark contrast: The Catholic view is that human desires that are morally upright (benefiting the soul, God, and neighbor according Divine precepts) are a good and holy avenue for Christ to bring His grace and spark action in us. He created desire, that we might desire the Holy Spirit to come dwell within us. Desires are inherent, they are what drive us to achieve, to interact, to offer, to serve, etc. We pray, "Lord, I desire 'x,y,z', if it be your will, please direct my steps to attain these for Your glory.",etc.

    Honest question regarding squelching desire via Buddhism: If I desire to bring soup to my sick neighbor, is that desire to be squelched, even though it brings an act of healing and friendship to my neighbor? If I am not to desire anything at all, won't I be reduced to a blob who does nothing for myself nor others?

    2) It's fair to say that Buddhism has its own doctrines (which it does), and it points to a philosophy. Conversely, Catholicism, which has doctrines (divinely instituted), points to a Being. More importantly, it points to the Way (the Son) to relate to that Being (Blessed Trinity) now and in the hereafter.

    I'm unclear, as there's no getting around desires. Every human being has them. The searching question to me becomes, since I have these desires, most of which are about a desire to connect and to fulfill various longings, how do isolation and squelching desires bring satisfaction, healing, or spiritual "success"?

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  60. As I mentioned, I'm involved in this on another blog at the same time, where I am observing--and engaging in a bit of dialogue with--a fellow who says, among other things, that Catholics should just stick to teaching Catholics "and leave the rest of us alone"; but then, he seems to have no problem himself with hanging out on an obviously Catholic blog, telling Catholics how they should DO that.

    As I get older, I grow more amazed at how many people want to have their cake and eat it too. This poor fellow is obviously very angry and hurt, but would undoubtedly insist that he is "happy" in his gay lifestyle; but he is VERY resentful of those--like in the film--who have chosen to return to Christ and His Church, live a chaste life to the best of their ability, and are HAPPY with their decision and their life. It comes very close to, "Let me do what I want to do...and then YOU have to do what I want YOU to do too!"

    This guy is probably rather typical of those who have chosen to live that way, and claim to be "happy." The film bears this out in the form of the recollections of people, some of whom ALSO thought that they were "happy."

    This film has "stuck" with me.

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  61. I not saying that a gay (or adulterous) relationship is beautiful. I am only saying that sex is only one aspect of a (gay or straight) relationship. I am curious now, what is the church position about a chaste gay relationship?

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  62. I wanted to touch on something Tonia said:

    "My concern is that on any given Sunday the church is full of sinners, people using contraception, couples co-habitating, people who knowingly miss Mass on Sunday, they are all made to feel welcome, but that's not always the same with people who are gay."

    I think there is so much important truth in this. I would love to have a priest get up in front of the congregation and say, "I know you hear a lot about homosexuality lately. I believe you are all aware that the Church teaches that homosexual acts are gravely sinful. I hope you are also aware that the Church teaches that we are to show love and respect to our homosexual brothers and sisters. But I'm not sure you know that many of you today are also guilty of gravely sinful behavior. I am not telling you this to condemn you, as I do not say homosexual behavior is sinful because I want to condemn gay people. I am telling you this because you need to know, because everyone who is in grave sin needs to know. And my dear brothers and sisters, missing Mass on Sunday without a serious reason is gravely sinful. In fact, if you did not go to Mass recently simply because you didn't feel like it or because you didn't bother to make time for Mass in your weekend schedule, you should not present yourself for Holy Communion today. You need to come to confession before receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion. If you are sexually active but unmarried, you are in grave sin, and should not present yourself today for Holy Communion. If you are married but cheating on your spouse, you should not present yourself for Holy Communion. If you are using artificial birth control (a show of hands is not necessary), then you should not present yourself today for Holy Communion. The same is true if you use pornography. Please, dear brothers and sisters, I am not telling you this to push you away from the Church. I am telling you this because I care about your souls. I am NOT condemning you, I am inviting you. I am inviting you to a greater level of love. I am inviting you to a closer relationship with Our Lord. I am inviting you to receive the gift of healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that the next time you come to receive the priceless gift of His Body and Blood, you will be able to receive the torrent of graces He wishes to pour out on your soul. Please, look in the bulletin for the hours that Confession is available in our parish. If you can't come at those times, or are afraid your confession would be too long for the times shown in the bulletin, call me. I will make time for your confession. I will make time to answer any questions you have about what I've said today or about anything related to our faith. These is nothing that would bring me more joy." I would love to hear that.

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  63. Oh, and he could add, "If you notice anyone not approaching the Communion rail today, let's all assume that either they are not Catholic, or they must have forgotten to keep the fast." :)

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  64. PaxEtBonum, a "chaste gay relationship" would be a friendship, and that is a wonderful thing.

    Sharon, that would be wonderful!

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  65. Sharon - I think the Church will seriously have to reconsider women ordination after what you wrote ;-) ! Oh, how I wish some priest would say that. Perfect words. Why don't we have enough priests with the guts, and the love in their heart, to say that?

    And Leila, thank you for sharing the video - I think it is excellent, and opened my eyes more toward the reality of homosexuals. I have mentioned before that I have gay relatives - but they do not share so much how they feel, perhaps because of shame, perhaps because they don't feel accepted and loved for who they are. And it IS hard, at least for me, to convey unconditional love (if not acceptance) to someone who openly and aggressively flouts the Church's teaching. I have never condemned them, and they know about my affection for them, but also that I cannot endorse their choices as "just great". And that seems to create a chasm between us that we cannot bridge. Some people in the video expressed their desire for friendship with people of the same gender. I for one am more than willing to extend friendship, but must I also endorse a lifestyle that I know ultimately harms them? The same of course goes for people habitually committing other sins in the sexual area that Sharon and others alluded to.

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  66. Francis:
    "Yes, for heterosexuals. In the case of SSA “couples” however, you’ll discover even with cursory research that they actually advocate sex with multiple partners to satiate any such urges that arise. Monogamy, in their book, is viewed only as “emotional fidelity”, to allow for “openly” “married” “couples” to indulge freely in sex with third parties. Indeed we’re told that it is precisely adultery (if one can call it that) which will now save the beleaguered institution of marriage – both for SSA and heterosexual folks"

    Can you quote your sources?
    As you and many know I am in a ssa marriage. We don't have an open relationship in any sense, whether it be emotional or sexual. I have many friends in ssa relationships. Of those closest to me I do know some that indeed are open, but I can tell you the majority are not open. For the record I know some heterosexual couples that have open relationships as well. So I'm curious where your information comes from?

    Also, and I'm not sure who said it, but I would just like to state for the record, I am happy and content in where I am in life and with my relationship. You can say it is hiding an anger or hurt, but I'll tell you that, for me, it's just not true.

    I have no anger or resentment for people like DD who have chosen to remain chaste. The only real argument I would have with her if she was telling me that I too had to remain chaste. Sorry, but in my relationship with god (and no I will not elaborate further, I've tried, it gets us nowhere) god and I are a ok with who I am, who I am married to and how I live my life.

    Johanne......thank you for your words. They matter.

    To all the moms, happy mothers day.

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  67. Alan, I just quickly googled "monogamish" and came up with a ton of stuff, but here's a bunch on HuffPo (left wing, no friend of conservatives). I haven't read through them all, but I will try to later. What do you think?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/monogamish/

    I truly appreciate your wishes for a happy Mother's Day! I have to say that today my heart aches for the children who have purposely been created to be motherless. :( They are no doubt feeling the pain of such a primordial loss. Let us pray for them and their parents.

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  68. Hi Alan,

    There has been plenty of research revealing that at least half of same sex “marriages” are “open”. Here are just a few links to articles about such research/findings:

    “Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret”
    “Beyond Monogamy”
    “The Couples Study”
    “Open Monogamy”

    To me these findings are particularly intriguing:

    “Based on interviews of 156 long-term couples, they found that after 5 years, all of the couples had incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity.” (The Couples Study - summary)

    “42% made an agreement to be open within the first 3 months, and by the end of the first year, 49% of all study couples had opened their relationship.” (The Couples Study – full report page 3)

    “Multiple studies have found no significant differences in relationship quality or satisfaction between samples of sexually exclusive and non-exclusive male couples (Blasband & Peplau,1985; LaSala,2004,2005; Wagner,et.al.,2000).”


    If at least half of SSA “couples” are happy to permit each other to have sex with third parties – i.e. they aren’t bothered by sexual non exclusivity - then are we really talking about marriage here? Since when was marriage an “open” institution (a handful of fabricated “open marriages” among heterosexuals a la Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie notwithstanding)? What does this approach augur for any children in such “families” - who might witness their “daddy” or “mommy” hanging out with different sexual partners at various times?

    Of course heterosexuals also cheat in marriage, but cheating (which usually causes untold angst to a spouse) is one thing, whereas freely incorporating sex with multiple partners into a supposed marital relationship is another thing altogether, wouldn’t you agree? If sexual fidelity/exclusivity has no currency in an intimate relationship between two people, the question begs itself: how on earth are their feelings for each other described as (spousal) “love” and how can their relationship described as “marriage” in any remotely meaningful sense of the term?

    As for you personally Alan, I’m happy to hear that you’re at least not interested in an “open” relationship, with all its dangers, not least of all the deadly health risks.

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  69. Francis, I deleted the last comments, only because I think it was sort of graphic and unnecessary, as you already provided the link to that if folks want to go there. I think it's fairly clear that monogamy is not a staple of gay "marriage", esp. among the men.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Francis,
    Thanks for the info. It does run counter to my real world experiences, but it is a study. One link actually stated there was a study that contradicted the others, but I think we have done the go round on social studies and their worth.

    I am intrigued to know what percent of these relationships the people were actually legally married. I wonder if marriage would make a difference?
    I just don't really have the time to devote to reading it all.

    Leila, I am familiar with the term monogamish. I believe Dan Savage may have coined it. Not sure if you are familiar with him. I don't necessarily agree with a lot of what he says.

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  71. I've been traveling and so haven't haven't been able to respond to questions about Buddhism until now. My apologies.

    @ Bethany
    The Church is simply passing on the Truth. Not inventing it or creating it, but simply working to inform everyone of what Truth is. (Or rather who Truth is).

    Yes, that is exactly what I was referring to in my original post. That is what Catholics believe and so discussion of doctrine is pretty much moot. It is truth—period.

    @Nubby
    This is where the non-believer stumbles in understanding; that a Catholic's full submission to the doctrines of the Faith does not equal turning off the brain, and entering shallowly or stupidly through the Church doors.

    I didn't mean to suggest that becoming a Catholic, and therefore unquestionably believing of all doctrine, is shallow or stupid. But I have heard many people, a couple on this blog, say they were guided to religion by faith and so they submit to doctrine even if they don't entirely understand it.

    My statement about facts in regards to gays was not a reflection on the movie. I accept those individual experiences were just as they described. But it's dangerous and harmful to present inflammatory, fictitious statements about gays which are not factual--and absolutely incites hatred. So I wouldn't bother to argue on this blog that homosexuality isn't sinful (though I believe it isn't) but I think it's fair enough and important for me to refute falsehoods that aren't specific to Catholic doctrine. (However, I think that might be pointless, as well :-)

    About Buddhism: I hear all your questions but I know if I took the energy to answer them the only possible response would be a point-by-point dissection of my words, and statements about why Buddhism makes no sense and Catholicism is the only legitimate point of view.

    So I'll say a couple of things. First, Buddhism is the only thing that has kept me alive through traumas; I find it deeply healing in a way nothing else even approaches. And that is a statement about my own experience so I hope you won't try to refute it. You may not understand it, but it's true.

    And this: how is "unplugging" or seeking enlightenment going to help me? How does alone-ness and nothingness comfort me?

    That is like me asking you why does drinking blood help you ? The Eucharist, the most holy of Catholic sacraments, involves the literal drinking of Christ's blood—true? I am not taking the Eucharist to task, but can you see that for someone outside of your faith, with only the most cursory of explanation of the Eucharist (drinking blood and eating flesh), would think it ridiculous and barbaric?

    So when you ask me about "unplugging, alone-ness and nothingness" it feels the same to me. Those words are accurate in the most insignificant and shallow of ways.--shorthand for something incredibly profound and healing. To someone outside of Buddhism, who has already decided that Buddhism makes no sense and is inferior, it is pointless to try to say more.

    I hope this makes sense.If not, I don't think I have anymore to add right now.

    Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
  72. One more thing I forgot to say.

    "Buddhism" exists all over the world and has more demoninations (we call them "strands") than Christianity--which varies from Amish to Mormon to Pentacostals to Quakers to Seventh Day Adventists to Catholics.

    So the answer to "what Buddhists believe" is complicated. There are Buddhists who have different viewpoints than I do.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Interesting. But can you give me a more concrete explanation of Buddhism? To your comparison, the most shallow or shorthanded way (to borrow your words) I would use to explain to someone who asks me about the Eucharist would be, "This sacrament brings healing to my soul because Christ is the Divine Healer." That's the nutshell answer. I ask this because I don't want to apply an "insignificant and shallow" anything, to any conversation, about whichever faith, believe me.

    Is there a nutshell answer, a more concrete answer, for how Buddhists find healing, when in the logical order of things, there is no one administering the healing, correct?

    ReplyDelete
  74. Johanne, I totally understand there is "mystery" involved in each thread of Buddhism. That is what God is = a mystery to search, but never fully understand. God is not the be solved. Neither is it the case that He is "too complicated to be known". This is the sticking point, I suppose, when I ask for an explanation of Buddhism.

    My nutshell answer to a Buddhist who asks me about Catholicism would include:
    Christ is a mystery, but that doesn't = unknowable. He's searchable, much like Buddhism. But the mystery showed Himself in time and space as a real person, so that we might enter into a relationship with him. All doctrines are mysterious. But they point to a Person who entered into reality and who historically lived and died and rose again. As Frank Sheed puts it, "...a being must be known before he can be loved!" "It is a triumph of his ingenuity that we know Him at all."

    ReplyDelete
  75. Johanne, in response to this question:

    That is like me asking you why does drinking blood help you ? The Eucharist, the most holy of Catholic sacraments, involves the literal drinking of Christ's blood—true? I am not taking the Eucharist to task, but can you see that for someone outside of your faith, with only the most cursory of explanation of the Eucharist (drinking blood and eating flesh), would think it ridiculous and barbaric?

    Yes, it would seem ridiculous to drink a regular person's blood and eat their flesh. However, we are not talking about some random human, we are talking about consuming the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who IS God.

    You seem so very knowledgeable about Catholicism; it is my prayer that you might someday embrace that knowledge as the ultimate Truth, come to know Jesus as a friend, learn from His love for you. As Leila has said many times, the beauty of Jesus is that all of His teachings fit together perfectly, all stemming from true, selfless love.

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  76. Johanne, I know it's a sensitive thing for you, and I want to respect that. I still have a great curiosity about Buddhism and how it can fulfill anyone if it's about emptying (toward… nothing?). If you can invite another Buddhist to come and answer (we will be kind!) that would be great, too. I can only be healed by true and abiding and infinite Love (which requires an Other), and I don't get how true fulfillment or joy or healing can come from an embrace of emptiness? Honestly, my heart hurts to think of it… If I thought that I'd teach my baby (my child!) to one day seek to embrace nothingness, instead of an infinitely, perfectly, blissfully loving Father and a loving Mother, etc… I think I would cry. And I am not a crier!

    ReplyDelete
  77. One more thing about the Eucharist. It's very nuptial. It's total union, a consummation. Remember, the Blood of Christ is not just His Blood, as every drop or every crumb of the Eucharist is fully Christ: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ Himself. So, the drinking of the Chalice is a communion, a "one flesh" union, with God. It's reception of the Whole Christ (completely undivided and unbroken) into ourselves.

    That's why the marital act is so sacred, by the way… it's the closest two people can come on this earth, body and soul. It's still a pale reflection, only, of the true union that it points to: Union with God. Without thinking of the marital act, think of a mother and a child. The child dwells within the mother. So close, such incredible union. And when the baby is born, how many of us mothers are so wildly in love that we want to hold our babies as tightly as we can? And we want to "eat them up", no? We want union. We are MADE for union with others. The Eucharist is a union like no other, where Heaven and earth meet. So, it's not simply a "blood drinking" exercise at all. All the world points to a union with God. It's what all souls were made for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *"it's the closest two people can come to each other on this earth, body and soul"

      And I am sorry if the rest was fuzzy; I have a four-year-old hugging my lap so tightly!!! (Which sort of fits the theme of souls craving union!)

      Every crumb or microscopic dot of the consecrated Host is fully Christ (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity). Same thing with the Precious Blood… every single drop is fully Christ (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity). Christ cannot be divided. So, it's not as if someone opened up a vein and that's what we are drinking. It's substantially the living Christ, really and truly, under the appearance of bread and wine. But it's the Whole Christ.

      Delete
  78. "We want union. We are MADE for union with others."

    Bingo.
    And what I'm trying to comprehend through the Buddhist lens is, how is this love actualized when there is only squelching of desire and striving for union?
    Honestly intellectually curious.

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  79. * when there is only squelching of desire instead of ...

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  80. Alan:

    Three of Francis’ four links are to two related studies, which Timothy Kincaid at boxturtlebulletin.com explored here:

    http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2010/02/10/20202

    And here:

    http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2010/07/15/24397

    That work absolutely does not “reveal that at least half of same sex marriages are open.” Reasonable people, including Leila and Francis, ought to be able to agree on that.

    “I am intrigued to know what percent of these relationships the people were actually married.”

    Very few of the couples were married. Marriage wasn’t legalized in California until last year, except for a brief period in San Francisco in 2004, and the pre-Prop 8 period of the summer of 2008. The studies were conducted in the Bay Area and published in 2010.

    The studies included no lesbian couples.

    In the Hoff study, a “relationship” was defined as anything longer than three months. The average length of the relationship was seven years, but the median was 4 years—as Kincaid points out, that suggests that the participants were skewed to short-term couples. (The Spears and Lowen study included longer-term couples, but that’s hardly relevant, as we’ll see in a minute)

    Furthermore, participants in both studies were recruited in gay bars, clubs, and STD clinics—so, hardly representative samples. There’s no reason at all to believe that these samples tell us more about the gay community as a whole than do Alan and his friends.

    And notably (get this!): in order to participate in Spears and Lowen’s study, participants had to have an agreement for sex outside of the relationship. In other words, monogamous couples were excluded from the study.

    Neither study was designed to discern what percentage of the gay population has open marriages. So they can’t be used for that—at least not honestly. As Kincaid writes:

    “Hoff did not conduct a study of gay men to see who is monogamous; she studied how HIV-positive men negotiate communication and agreements. And Lowen and Spears did not conduct a study of gay men to see who is monogamous; they sampled non-monogamous couples to see if they liked it.”

    Again, I believe Leila and Francis are reasonable, so I’m sure they’ll agree that those studies do not show what Francis claimed.

    Best,
    Frank

    ReplyDelete
  81. Thank you, Frank. And I've heard from many sources that lesbian couples are more monogamous that gay male couples. That is also my observation. Of course, none of this matters from the the viewpoint that homosexual activity is a sin.

    ReplyDelete
  82. *I mean more monogamous than heterosexual couples.

    ReplyDelete
  83. @ Nubby

    It is not "squelcing" and it's not "desire"----it's letting go of and craving or clinging---such as addiction, jealousy, etc. Closer relationships are a natural outgrowth of a regular Buddhist practice. Intimacy is a natural human need and is only enhanced from the compassion that naturally arises from regular practice.

    And no, there is no divine being, such as Christ, in Buddhism. Buddha was fully human, though extraordinary. But for many Buddhists, including myself, practice is intimately connected with God.

    @Margot
    I hear what you're saying about the Eucharist--which is really my point: it's impossible to grasp (and therefore makes no sense to judge) a tradition by a simplistic description of it.

    @Leila
    Embracing (not a word I would use...) "emptiness" of negative attachments--such as jealousy, hatred (a form of attachment), and pathological clinging, opens the way for greater love. I hope this makes sense.

    ReplyDelete
  84. ...and @ Margot. I appreciate the kindness of your prayer for me, but I can't imagine ever embracing Catholicism. But never say never...stranger things (but not many) have happened...

    ReplyDelete
  85. Johanne, Bear with me. I'm not picking on you, I really seek understanding. I busted a few hundred neurons trying to sum up my questions. I'm on warp speed trying to grasp the reasoning.

    "Closer relationships are a natural outgrowth of a regular Buddhist practice. Intimacy is a natural human need and is only enhanced from the compassion that naturally arises from regular practice."

    I thought all desire was to be disconnected from? Is desire to be intimate not a desire to be disconnected from? Are there only select desires to be disconnected from? Who is Budda pointing you to, then? Why add the God part? If God is merely a vehicle to enlightenment, and not the ultimate attainment, then why the need/application (?) for him at all?

    You said to Leila: "Embracing (not a word I would use...) "emptiness" of negative attachments--such as jealousy, hatred (a form of attachment), and pathological clinging, opens the way for greater love. I hope this makes sense."

    Yet, love requires an object. Love is a form of attachment, too. It is the Ultimate attachment. If nothingness is the ultimate attainment, why is the love component there? Whom are you loving? Who is loving you?

    ReplyDelete
  86. Embracing (not a word I would use...) "emptiness" of negative attachments--such as jealousy, hatred (a form of attachment), and pathological clinging, opens the way for greater love. I hope this makes sense.

    You mean a turning away from sin (or vice)? A turning away from sin is what Christians advocate, too. Turning away from sin and toward virtue, and toward a Person. Nubby's questions are good ones, and I do want to learn the answers. I don't know much about Buddhism. What is the goal?

    As for Frank… he is a Christian who does not believe the Christian teaching on sexual sin. It's a head-scrather to me. Why bother being a Christian if the one think Jesus died to save us from is sort of… cool now? If the moral law can be jettisoned after two millennia in favor of the spirit of the age (led by secular sentiment, not any religious orthodoxy of any kind), then what is the point? Will Christ be impressed when you tell him someday that sodomy is cool because the secular elites in 21st Century America said it was? Shaking my head...

    "If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself." - Saint Augustine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *thing, not think

      And this part was for Frank, not Johanne:

      "Will Christ be impressed when you tell him someday that sodomy is cool because the secular elites in 21st Century America said it was?"

      Delete
  87. Johanne,

    "Of course, none of this matters from the the viewpoint that homosexual activity is a sin."

    True. But like you, at this point I'm just trying to refute falsehoods.

    Leila,

    Cheers and God bless! Recognizing that our moral understanding develops is not the same as jettisoning the moral law. That said, I'm not going to get into a long argument tonight.

    Best,
    Frank

    ReplyDelete
  88. Frank,

    Surely you see the distinction between development of doctrine and reversal of doctrine?

    I'm curious... do you think God changed his mind about sodomy, or do you think he instead allowed His Church to teach error as doctrine for 2,000+ years? Seems to me it can be only one or the other.

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  89. Frank,

    When this:

    1) Homosexual acts are a grave moral evil, an intrinsic evil, one that cries out to heaven for vengeance and can never be condoned under any circumstance

    turns to this:

    2) Homosexual acts are not sinful and are a positive good; in fact they are so good that they should be celebrated and given the status of "marriage"

    that is called, "jettisoning the moral law"

    If that is not an example of jettisoning the moral law, then can you give me a concrete example of what would be?

    Because moral understanding does not "develop" into its opposite.

    I speak to you bluntly because you are a Christian and the others make no such claims. You are known for arguing against the Christian moral law, as a Christian. This is a dangerous place to be. I say that out of love and concern for your soul, my brother.

    God bless you, too. Come back to the Christian camp on this, my friend. The secular world doesn't hold the answer, the zeitgeist is not your Lord, and you needn't wander there for Truth.

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  90. "True. But like you, at this point I'm just trying to refute falsehoods."

    I find this ironic, Frank. You try to refute falsehoods but hope for the day when doctrine morphs morally. Why refute falsehoods when truth can change and shift anyway?

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  91. "2) Homosexual acts are not sinful and are a positive good; in fact they are so good that they should be celebrated and given the status of "marriage""

    Leila
    Where does that actually come from? I'm not questioning that it's real doctrine, though I've heard many times that Jesus is not recorded in the bible as having said anything specific about homosexuality. so I wonder what you're quoting.

    ReplyDelete
  92. AAAAAACKKKKK!! I am so sorry! I just reread what I copied and pasted! Of course that is not doctrine!!!

    But can you tell me where the doctrine comes from? (I mean specifically Catholic doctrine--I know many religions and cultures eschew homosexuality)

    ReplyDelete
  93. Johanne, ha ha, I thought that was a cut-and-paste error! I do that a lot, ack! :)

    Sure. Well, the sinfulness of homosexual acts first and foremost can be known as doctrinal because it has been taught always and everywhere as Christian doctrine. Never has there been a time that the Church did not teach the sinfulness of homosexual acts as part of the moral law (and of course, Judaism was clear on it, before Christ came).

    Here is the Catechism on human sexuality, including lots of footnotes to the Fathers and the Councils, popes, and of course Scripture:

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm

    Some specific Scripture mentioned in the footnotes (though I fixed the typos, ack!)

    Gen 19:1-29; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10.

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  94. Frank,

    Thanks for your response (addressed to Alan).

    The whole phenomenon of “gay” “marriage” being as new as it is, it’s understandable that there aren’t wider/more detailed formal studies just yet about the worldviews and practices of its adherents.

    Nevertheless, from the substantial volume of general literature that I’ve read on this topic–comprising in large part of discussions between “gay” people themselves–I have to conclude that

    (a) “gay” “marriage” is an evolving institution–if it is a clearly definable institution at all–with only the most tenuous “equality” with age old, traditional, heterosexual marriage and

    (b) monogamy is considered a non binding virtue by “queer” minds.

    If you have the time, read this article (written by a “gay” man who was named Journalist of the Year 2012 by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association):

    “Master Bedroom, Extra Closet: The Truth About Gay Marriage”

    The whole rationale of “gay” nonchalance about “genital exclusivity” (to borrow an expression from the article) appears to be: “Since infidelity is a common urge and so many are doing it–heterosexuals included–why not just do it openly? Let’s do away with the stigma attaching to it...”

    Yes, let’s just be honest, and normalize evil–even calling it good. But then I guess if love can include sodomy, then it’s no big deal for marriage to incorporate a bit of “playing” in it... right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, that link mightn't work. In which case, try: http://gawker.com/master-bedroom-extra-closet-the-truth-about-gay-marri-514348538

      Delete
    2. As for your refutation, Frank, of the Hoff study which I'd earlier linked to, here's a "gay" man who emphatically supports its findings. A man who says he's known thousands of couples:

      "Regardless of the methodology in which Hoff arrived at her conclusions, my gut tells me she is not only correct, but that her estimation of the percentage of gay male couples in open relationships may even be low. I've been out for almost 35 years, and yes, that's a purely anecdotal conclusion, but I've known thousands of couples over these decades and most of them were non-monogamous."

      http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2010/07/gays-and-monogamy-here-we-go-again.html

      Delete
  95. Regarding Buddhism, an observation...

    Whereas Christianity, at its heart, attempts to address our deepest existential questions, Buddha refused to answer these questions, which he viewed as "unwise reflection":

    1.What am I?
    2.How am I?
    3.Am I?
    4.Am I not?
    5.Did I exist in the past?
    6.Did I not exist in the past?
    7.What was I in the past?
    8.How was I in the past?
    9.Having been what, did I become what in the past?
    10.Shall I exist in future?
    11.Shall I not exist in future?
    12.What shall I be in future?
    13.How shall I be in future?
    14.Having been what, shall I become what in future?
    15.Whence came this person?
    16.Whither will he go?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_unanswered_questions

    ReplyDelete
  96. Francis,

    To clarify, I’m not refuting the Hoff study—just your use of it. The study, again, was not designed to discern the percentage of gay couples that are non-monogamous.

    Also, you said:

    “(b) monogamy is considered a non-binding virtue by ‘queer’ minds.”

    By which “queer” minds? Alan is telling you that monogamy is a binding virtue for him and his gay friends. Do you not believe him? Monogamy is a binding virtue for plenty of gay women I know.

    The thing is, there’s no such thing as “the queer mind.” There are gay people, men and women, and bisexuals. In all of those categories, some value monogamy, some don’t. Some live up to that value, some don’t. The exact same thing could be written about straight people.

    You and I both know that I could find (in about 30 seconds) multiple articles written by straight people celebrating non-monogamy, or claiming that monogamy is unnatural and unhealthy, or claiming that all (or most) men cheat. And you and I would both be hacked off if those articles were taken as representative of our views on monogamy.

    Surely we can agree on that?

    Best.

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  97. Nubby:

    “Why refute falsehoods when the truth can change and shift anyway?”

    I don’t believe the truth changes. Truth is truth.

    Leila and JoAnna:

    http://letterstothecatholicright.tumblr.com/post/71334956193/another-set-of-quotes-you-should-know

    I'm really not looking to start a fight, especially one we've had so many times before. I love visiting here because I'm interested in what you all have to say, but I do feel the need to defend myself when you say I'm rejecting Christian morality. I'm not.

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  98. Frank,

    Lending money with interest is not an intrinsic evil according to Catholic teaching (and never has been considered an evil -- and before you bring up usury, please see here), whereas homosexual acts are and always have been, so the quotes you provided are rather pointless.

    Christian morality says, and always has said, that homosexual acts are sinful. As recent as twenty years ago, the majority of Christian denominations taught this.

    Now, you say they are not.

    So... how is that NOT rejecting Christian morality? Again, did God change his mind, or did He allow churches to teach error for 2,000 years?

    I'm not trying to fight. I would just appreciate an answer to that question, because I'm interested to know which option you think is correct.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I, too, would appreciate a clear answer to JoAnna's question.

      Delete
    2. I'm curious as well. Are we to expect a new and improved version of divinely revealed morality in the future?

      Delete
  99. Frank. No. Sorry. Your usury fallback is a non-starter. We've been over it and over it.

    Let's talk about sodomy and gay sex acts. There is not one scintilla of evidence in Christian history, tradition, teaching, Scripture or logic that gay sex acts are moral and good. Not one, not ever. The Church is firm, has been firm, and will always be firm. You have sold yourself to the spirit of the age on this issue. To say "I'm not rejecting Christian morality" when you accept homosexual acts as good is the same as saying that adultery is good, and that you are "not rejecting Christian morality".

    You are kidding yourself in the worst and most damaging way.

    Let me say to you clearly: You are, without any doubt, rejecting Christian morality outright. And boldly.

    I think you are a nice guy. But you are on very dangerous ground, spiritually. I say that for your good, brother. You needn't listen, but I am obligated to say. Because if I don't, then it's my soul in danger.

    Many blessings to you, Frank.

    ReplyDelete
  100. I agree, truth is truth. Morally speaking, truth has already been calibrated by Christ, if one is a believing Christian. So when you replied thus: "Recognizing that our moral understanding develops", it implies, "the moral understanding will change in the future" you're implying a re-calibration of morality, or no?

    ReplyDelete
  101. Frank,

    When you write "The thing is, there’s no such thing as "the queer mind”", I think it's fairly safe to conclude that you don't have much of an idea at all of what "queer" means - in the (non derogatory) sense that I use the term, and in the sense that "queers" themselves use it.

    Far more than referring to one's sexuality, "queer" refers to a mindset which views "normative narrative and expectations of marriage and child-rearing" as a "shackle". Here are two articles (from "queer" writers) which might help your understanding of the phenomenon:

    http://queeringthemind.com/2013/10/28/now-that-were-married-can-we-go-back-to-being-queer/

    http://antioppressive.wordpress.com/2009/03/03/queer-is-a-state-of-mind/

    Note these passages in particular:

    "Being queer is still in part about having sex how we want and with whom. In obscuring our sexuality behind the more acceptable veneer of monogamous marriage, albeit an effective political strategy, we lose some of our history and our identity."

    In other words, a queer minded person considers sex a free-for-all pastime, while using a veneer of monogamy in relationships only for political advancement of his/her causes.

    "Some straight people still have trouble with the word queer, viewing it as a politically incorrect word. It’s not. It has a meaning that is distinct from gay and lesbian. There are even queer studies now. So you can use it — but know what it means. Queer is an alternative identity to straight. It rejects all other categories of sexual identity. Straight remains normative and has privilege attached to it. Queer encompasses the entire range of non-straight identities — and is not limited to LBGTTIQ2. Queer views sexual identity as something that is fluid, situational, and shifting."

    In other words, one can be male or female - or any variation/combination thereof - at any time, according to one's inclination on any given day/hour/moment. The queer mind believes that a person's sexual orientation is actually "fluid, situational and shifting". I know mine certainly isn't. How about yours?

    I have no reason to believe that Alan, although he is same sex attracted, is actually "queer" in his thinking. In fact, he pretty much disqualifies himself from truly "queer" thinking by subscribing so staunchly to monogamy.

    This entire sexual revolution is multifaceted and largely anarchic. Which is precisely why, in my very first comments on this thread, I tried to draw attention to the big difference between (simply) same sex attracted people and the radical "gay" or "queer" segment.

    ReplyDelete
  102. Francis:

    I'm familiar with Queer Theory. And don't worry, I didn't assume that you were using the word in a derogatory sense.

    Thanks for the links.

    ReplyDelete
  103. Nubby:

    I don’t know what you mean by a re-calibration of morality. The measure of morality will always be Jesus. And I don’t understand what you’re implying—are you suggesting that our moral understanding doesn’t or shouldn’t develop?

    Leila:

    “We’ve been over it and over it.”

    We have. You still haven't given a good response.

    Thank you for the rest of your thoughtful words. I’ll think about them, and try to respond tomorrow.

    JoAnna:

    First: “in-ter-est>n: 2. Money paid regularly at a particular rate for the use of money lent, or for delaying the repayment of a debt.” (The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd Edition, 2005)

    Second: St. Thomas Aquinas: “Hence it is by its very nature unlawful to take payment for the use of money lent, which payment is known as usury: and just as a man is bound to restore other ill-gotten goods, so is he bound to restore the money which he has taken in usury.”

    Third: JoAnna: “Lending money with interest is not an intrinsic evil according to Catholic teaching (and has never been considered an evil…)”

    Yeah. What did that Thomas guy know, anyway?

    I tease, I tease.

    Look, I am very familiar with the Catholic apologetics surrounding usury, including Palm’s argument (Which is bunk. Sorry, it is.). If you want to say that the Church teaching that usury is a sin has never changed I won’t argue with you. What is inarguable—a matter of historical record—is that the Church denied communion and Christian burial rites to people who lent money at interest for centuries. Now the Church runs banks.

    In other words, if you keep your money in a bank at interest, just about any medieval peasant (and his priest, and his bishop, and probably his pope) would consider you a usurer. And if you tried to explain to him about just title, and the fungible nature of money, blah blah blah, he’d probably laugh and accuse you of thinking that Jesus is “cool” with usury now. (Or whatever word medieval peasants used for “cool.”)

    You asked: “Again, did God change his mind, or did He allow churches to teach error for 2,000 years?”

    God didn’t change his mind. The moral law is unchanging.

    Patrick O’Neil, talking about usury (waaaay more honestly than Palm), says that “The Church may err —because of inaccurate testimony,” including “general popular opinion, in an area outside of faith and morals, but related to those judgments made regarding issues of faith and morals.”

    And he says that “Changes under these circumstances do not threaten the claims of the magisterium of the Church in any way.”

    That also comes from Thomas Aquinas, by the way.

    Just as the Church’s approach to usury was based on a limited understanding of economics, the Church’s approach to sex is also based on a limited understanding of human sexuality. To paraphrase O’Neil, it’s a case of correct moral principles mistakenly applied on account of the inadequacies of early understandings of sex.

    Night, all!

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  104. "the Church’s approach to sex is also based on a limited understanding of human sexuality."

    Because the Church couldn't figure out for 2,000 years (up to this moment) that anal sex between men is a virtue. Mmm-hmm.

    What about fornication, Frank? Will the Church expand her understanding on that? Or masturbation (sex with one's hand)? Or some porn maybe (sex with enhancements)? Why not? We just have to catch up with secular understandings of human sexuality and we will be right there, on the cutting edge of the new morality.

    You see, the truth and meaning of human sexuality is not "in an area outside of faith and morals" -- it's directly at the center of the moral law.

    When the secular culture okays sex between adults and kids and animals (it's coming; ages of consent are being lowered in secular nations, and bestiality is being tolerated and even advocated), will that also be an area that the Church just didn't "see" before? Is our bias just a matter of "limited understanding" of human sexuality in all its fullness?

    It's funny, because on facebook right now I am debating some fundamentalist Baptists. They claim that they can interpret Scripture correctly, individually, because they are in the Spirit. You are a liberal, an Episcopalian, and you work from the same paradigm -- you've got the greater insight about what Christ really meant and wanted. Whether it's pope Ann or pope Shawn (the Baptists) or pope Frank, it's all so prideful it makes me shiver.

    I thank God I'm Catholic and that I do not ever, ever set myself up as the arbiter of the moral law.

    PS: This, honestly, gave me a chuckle: "...the inadequacies of early understandings of sex." Because 2,000 years into Christianity is an "early" understanding of sex. I guess we are at an "early" understanding of theft and murder, too? Interested to see what will come up for us when we are "seasoned" in such things!



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  105. Leila, you all fired up or something? :)

    "It is no measure of health to be well attuned to a profoundly sick society." Thank heavens the House of God has a Cornerstone and is built upon a rock instead of shifting sand!

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  106. Frank, usury and interest aren't the same thing. Usury can be used to mean interest, but it mainly is used to mean exorbitant interest. Usury used to be no only immoral but illegal, and of course it remains immoral. I'm shocked to see the interest rates that lenders are allowed to charge since usury laws changed. But I don't believe it's accurate to use the words "interest" and "usury" interchangeably without any consideration of the meaning of each word. This is beside the point in a discussion of homosexuality except if the condemnation of interest (actually, usury) is being used as an example of incorrect or evolving moral teaching.

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  107. Frank, you said, "The measure of morality will always be Jesus."

    What do you mean when you say that?

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  108. Sharon:

    That’s the modern understanding of usury, but it’s not the one the Church held for centuries.

    From the Palm article that JoAnna cited:

    “First, let's be clear about what usury is not. It is not, as many people think, exorbitant interest on a loan. All parties in this discussion are agreed that the rate of interest has nothing to do with whether a loan is usurious (Noonan, 56).”

    From the O’Neil article:

    “Consider the Church's stand on "usury"—the charging of interest for the borrowing of money.”

    From Thomas Aquinas:

    Now money, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 5; Polit. i, 3) was invented chiefly for the purpose of exchange: and consequently the proper and principal use of money is its consumption or alienation whereby it is sunk in exchange. Hence it is by its very nature unlawful to take payment for the use of money lent, which payment is known as usury: and just as a man is bound to restore other ill-gotten goods, so is he bound to restore the money which he has taken in usury.

    Leila:

    I’ll have more to say later, but I think Sharon’s confusion offers a nice quick response to your last post. You’re acting like I’m playing pope, at sea with nothing to guide me, while you’re secure with all the answers. But counting Sharon, that’s four different views of the meaning of usury and/or its history in the Church (Sharon, David Palm, Patrick O’Neil / John Noonan, Thomas Aquinas). All of them from Catholics.

    When questions like that come up, how do you discern the truth?

    In the Episcopal Church, we’re taught to examine the question in light of Scripture, reason, and tradition. The three-legged stool.

    What’s your methodology? What’s the process by which JoAnna came to accept not the view of the sainted Doctor of the Church, nor the view of the respected theologian John T. Noonan, but instead the reason-defying view of David J. Palm, freelancer from Waukegan, Illinois?

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  109. "Examination of the texts, however, leads us to the following conclusions: Until the fourth century all that can be inferred from the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers is that it is contrary to mercy and humanity to demand interest from a poor and needy man. The vehement denunciation of the Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries were called forth by the moral decadence and avarice of the time, and we cannot find in them any expression of a general doctrine on this point; nor do the Fathers of the following centuries say anything remarkable on usury; they simply protest against the exploitation of misfortune, and such transactions as, under the pretence of rendering service to the borrower, really threw him into great distress. The question of moderate rates of interest seems scarcely to have presented itself to their minds as a matter of discussion."

    From here: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15235c.htm

    I don't see why you value St. Thomas Aquinas' opinion on anything, Frank, given he also held that sodomy was sinful. Why do you pay attention to his teachings on usury but ignore his teachings on sodomy? Why is he right about the former but not the latter?

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  110. So, Frank, your view is that God has forever deemed homosexual acts as moral and good, but He allowed Christians to teach error for 2,000 years. And that Jesus, who overturned so many prohibitions, somehow forgot to mention to his disciples that sodomy was now a virtue, not a vice. And when disciples such as St. Paul taught that sodomy was a sin, none of the apostles corrected him. And God saw fot to let this error perpetuate for 2,000 years. I guess the same was true with contraception? And abortion? And divorce? So, Frank, your view is that God has forever deemed homosexual acts as moral and good, but He allowed Christians to teach error for 2,000 years. And that Jesus, who overturned so many prohibitions, somehow forgot to mention to his disciples that sodomy was now a virtue, not a vice. And when disciples such as St. Paul taught that sodomy was a sin, none of the apostles corrected him. And God saw fot to let this error perpetuate for 2,000 years. I guess the same was true with contraception? And abortion? And divorce? What if teachings against adultery are also something about which God has changed his mind?. Why should we bother with any Christian teachings at all if we have no idea if they are in error or not? Apparently we have no way to know, by your logic.

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    1. ugh, sorry about the repeating sentences -- I'm on my iPhone doing a cut and paste from the Notes feature and I think it accidentally pasted in twice.

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  111. "I don’t know what you mean by a re-calibration of morality. The measure of morality will always be Jesus. And I don’t understand what you’re implying—are you suggesting that our moral understanding doesn’t or shouldn’t develop?"

    If the measure of morality is Jesus, He has already spoken on morality. He has already calibrated (set, marked) what is morally right from wrong, correct?
    My question to you: What, in the logical order of things, makes you think "development of doctrine" in the future will mean that a re-marking or re-standardizing morality will take place?
    Development of doctrine means a fleshing out of what has already been revealed in glory. It actually means the opposite of your implication; development means a more concentrated look. It doesn't mean adding a completely different component to the explanation. Ex: The doctrine on the Blessed Trinity. Fleshing out gives an explanation for the grasping of our finite minds. Doctrine doesn't involve changing the fundamental revelation.

    This is where I'm confused by your point of argument. Further, let's say the Church sways her doctrine in favor of what you suppose. Then, 50 yrs later, She sways back again against that teaching. Why bother with being Christian, then?

    If I cannot measure myself against an unchanging God (a unchanging value, mark, etc.), why would I be Christian? I might as well be tossed about by the world that gives me basically that same attitude.

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  112. Frank,

    Going back to the issue at hand - homosexuality - let's examine it a bit deeper and see how it compares/contrasts to heterosexuality.

    When a man and a woman engage in sexual intercourse, they give themselves fully to each other, out of love and openness to potential new life. When two men or two women engage in a sexual act...well...they receive pleasure from each other and then...what? Is there anything beyond momentary pleasure? Their sexual act is completely closed to new life, since last I checked, no new life can come from two people of the same gender.

    Now, let me ask you this: why would God honor an act that is completely closed to new life when He is all about LIFE?

    Also, how do you explain Jesus telling us to practice self-denial and carry our crosses on a daily basis? Are we supposed to live life based on our desires or based on what Jesus desires for us? What is marriage according to Jesus? Is it about a child being raised by his-or-her biological parents or just being raised by two adults who have affectionate feelings for him-or-her, while being deprived of the biological mother or father?

    Jesus makes things simple; us humans complicate things when we try to go against God's ways to fulfill our own desires.

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  113. "In the Episcopal Church, we’re taught to examine the question in light of Scripture, reason, and tradition. The three-legged stool."

    Frank, with due respect, the Episcopal church's stool is spinning wildly around the room, completely out of control and untethered to anything but the winds of the age. And that's why it is dying fast. There is nothing of Scripture or tradition or reason to moor it to anything at all. It is the example of a church which long ago decided to set itself on every shifting sand.

    Remember, this is the church that does not mind if one thinks of the Resurrection figuratively or literally:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2013/01/from-radical-feminist-to-devout-catholic.html

    It is a church in which down can be up and white can be black, all depending on the Spirit of the Age. It prides itself on that, sadly. I can understand why you are confused and think that the moral law can screech to a halt, throw it in reverse and go the opposite direction at full speed, and still say that it's "tradition, Scripture, and reason" that put it on the alternate course.

    But if you step back and think, that's an absurdity, and it's no model for Truth. It's not Christ's Church. It's the Church of What's Happening Now.

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  114. USURY, AND THE CHURCH’S MORAL TEACHING
    (Part 1 of 3)

    The Church has always condemned usury, still does, and always will. Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, the decrees of councils and popes condemn the taking of interest on loans to the poor and the greed of usurers. However, the Church has nothing against the (modern) system of charging of interest in general. It is erroneous to identify today’s charging of (commercial) interest with the usury that the Church condemns.

    Firstly, it is vital to understand that the condemnation of usury was promulgated by the Church (and ancient philosophers, ethicists and secular authorities as well) during a time when it was difficult to find profitable investments for money - that is, when opportunities for investing money in commercial undertakings or converting it into revenue-producing property were comparatively rare. At that time, a loan made to a solvent person, instead of being onerous to the lender, was rather an advantage to him, in giving him full security for his money, for the borrower insured him against its accidental loss. In this context interest constituted merely an (exploitative and unjust) charge for money lent to a needy person. Further, lending money at interest creates an opportunity for a lender to exploit the passions or necessities of other men by compelling them to submit to ruinous conditions; men can be robbed and left destitute under the pretext of charity. This is the usury against which the Fathers of the Church have always protested, and which is universally condemned to the present day (by Jews, Christians and Muslims).

    What constitutes usury in its truest sense has long been a subject of debate. In Roman times it was interest charged in the absence of risk, and it was illegal. They called it foenus, which they got from Aristotle, which stemmed from foetus and meant "to bring forth". Foenus Nauticum, on the other hand, referred to charging interest on large projects, particularly sea voyages, where there was risk to the lender, and indeed, the risk was high. In such situations interest actually referred to "an interest" in the venture, and was legal, in the sense of receiving a share of profits, or making good losses eventuating from a financed venture. Usam, on the other hand, was used interchangeably with foenus and referred to excessive profits, as in charging exorbitant interest, or declaring "an interest" where there was actually no risk, or demanding interest up front. Julius Caesar set the maximum interest chargeable at 12%, in line with a Senate ruling of 88BC. This was the Centisima Usura and referred to charging a maximum of one hundredth of the principal per month for one hundred months.

    The Byzantine Emperor Justinian, who codified much of ancient and Christian Roman Law into a system that was handed down through the western European nation states, set interest rates according to a sliding scale. The highest rate was set at 12% and applied only to Foenus Naticum (commercial ventures). Rates of 8%, 6% and 4% were set for other classes of people (individual borrowers).

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  115. USURY, AND THE CHURCH’S MORAL TEACHING
    (Part 2 of 3)

    With the development of commerce (and, thereby, opportunities for investment), the potential for use of money changed. The lending of money became, as it were, a joint-venture. Under such an arrangement, when money is lent at interest the debtor owes something above the principal no matter how much profit he makes, or even if he takes a loss in his investment. For example, if I lend you money for a venture and get, besides the principal, a share of the profits from that venture, that is not interest in the old sense, because I am actually investing - at some risk - in your enterprise.

    St. Thomas Aquinas distinguished between profit as a share of the returns derived from investing and charging interest without any real investment risk. His Summa Theologica (II-II, q. 78, a. 2) verifies the principle of emergent loss: a lender could charge, not because of the loan of money itself, but for the loss incurred due to the circumstances in which the loan was made. This becomes the foundation for a lawful and justified title for the taking of something above the amount lent. For example, one could charge the costs incurred in hiring a courier to transport the money loaned. Initially debated, one particular type of loss was soon recognized: lost profit. If one could have made a profit with one's money (which one has ample opportunity to do in the modern era, with wise investment) instead of loaning it, (and can prove it!), then this becomes a legitimate title for interest.

    From the Summa:

    Reply to Objection 5. He who lends money transfers the ownership of the money to the borrower. Hence the borrower holds the money at his own risk and is bound to pay it all back: wherefore the lender must not exact more. On the other hand he that entrusts his money to a merchant or craftsman so as to form a kind of society, does not transfer the ownership of his money to them, for it remains his, so that at his risk the merchant speculates with it, or the craftsman uses it for his craft, and consequently he may lawfully demand as something belonging to him, part of the profits derived from his money.

    Session X of the Fifth Lateran Council (1515) gave the exact meaning of usury: "For that is the real meaning of usury: when, from its use, a thing which produces nothing is applied to the acquiring of gain and profit without any work, any expense, or any risk." In modern economics it is no longer true that money produces nothing.

    St. Antoninus (1389-1459), a Dominican of Florence, seems to have questioned whether Aristotle was correct in saying that money is naturally sterile. Money alone, he said, is sterile, but, combined with knowledge and enterprise, it is fruitful. His Summa Moralis examined commerce and banking, and prepared the way for modern notions of interest, which generally regard proper returns on loans taken with just title as fair.

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  116. USURY, AND THE CHURCH’S MORAL TEACHING
    (Part 3 of 3)

    Today, the term "usury" is usually reserved for taking excessive (i.e., unusually high for the economic conditions) interest on a loan because of someone’s circumstances: The greed of the lender takes unjust advantage of the weakness or ignorance of the borrower.

    Father Ballarini (Opus morale, III, pt. III, ii) thought that the justice or injustice of taking interest depends on one's intention; thus, we may give credit gratuitously, or we may give the use of our money for a consideration. In the first case the contract is essentially gratuitous; and as formerly this gratuitous contract was the ordinary practice, the Church was opposed to all claim of interest. However, as the use of money has its value, like the use of anything else, the Church on this ground at the present day permits the lending of money for interest. A lender, during the whole time that the loan continues, deprives himself of a valuable thing, for the price of which he is compensated by the interest. It is right at the present day to permit interest on money lent, as it was not wrong to condemn the practice at a time when it was more difficult to find profitable investments for money. From the earliest Biblical references, Christianity has viewed usury, that is, making money from money, as in the old Roman form of Foenus as an evil. After all, Christ said “Lend, hoping for nothing in return” (Luke 6:35). However, making good the losses (or lost opportunity for income) from money lent, from ventures financed and for late repayments of borrowed monies could be claimed under canon Law as interesse (compensation).

    There is a great difference between the claim that the teaching of the Church on interest taking is now obsolete, and claiming that the Church's teaching was wrong or has changed, for the second premise is not a necessary conclusion of the first. A change in the nature of financial transactions is not a change in the teaching of the Church on usury. The only change is that now the extrinsic title of loss can be assumed to exist on loans. This was a development of justice, not a reversal of the prohibition on the taking of interest without a just title to compensation.

    Does this "change" admit of change in other areas of Church teaching? If this teaching became obsolete, could not other moral teachings also be obsolete today? While modern society has drastically changed in recent centuries, fundamental human nature and divine revelation are unchanging and never obsolete in any time or culture. This is an important distinction, for while usury involved changing economic conditions, almost every other moral teaching of the Church involves the unchanging human nature (e.g. the prohibition of abortion, contraception, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, etc.) or the contents of divine revelation (e.g. reserving the priesthood to males). One can never claim that teachings such as these could become inapplicable in today's circumstances.

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  117. Thank you, Francis! That last paragraph was especially pertinent to what Frank's response would likely entail.

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  118. Frank,

    What do you think of a Christian bishop who marries and divorces a woman, then follows that up with marrying and divorcing a man? What do you think of a so-called "liturgy of divorce"? Just curious, what with all your claims about the inadequacy of Catholic understanding of matters sexual and moral...

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/announcing-divorce-gay-bishop-gene-robinson-cites-missed-opportunities/2014/05/05/7c28849c-d485-11e3-aae8-c2d44bd79778_story.html

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  119. That’s the same (bad) argument Palm makes, Francis. The gist is that the nature of money changed—that originally it was non-fruitful in nature, but (at some point) it became fruitful. Which is nonsense—as Nubby will tell you, things don’t change their nature, and money has always had, by nature, the potential to make more money. That argument is opposed to the more honest one made by O’Neil (and others), which is that the Church’s understanding of the nature of money changed.

    Leila,
    “That last paragraph was especially pertinent to what Frank’s response would likely entail.”

    No, because I don’t think the Church’s teaching is obsolete. I think (following O’Neil, Noonan, and others) that the Church applied sound moral principles to a flawed understanding of economics.

    JoAnna,

    Regarding your excerpt from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: let’s look at those claims.

    “Until the fourth century, all that can be inferred from the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers is that it is contrary to mercy to demand interest from a poor and needy man…”

    Fair enough.

    “The vehement denunciation of the Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries were called forth by the moral decadence and avarice of the time…”

    I posted three quotes from the Church Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries (there are others, obviously). They were certainly vehement—I’m not sure it why it matters that if vehemence “was called forth by the moral decadence and avarice of the time…” Does that mean their teachings don’t apply at other times? And anyway, did times ever become less avaricious or decadent?

    “…and we cannot find in them any expression of a general doctrine on this point;”

    Um, what? Leo the Great said that “the money-lender’s trade is always bad,” and that “the iniquity of money-lending must be absolutely abjured.” And all of them spoke in the language of nature and design, the same language of the eternal, unchanging
    moral law that would later be applied to Church doctrine on sexuality.

    “…nor do the Fathers of the following centuries say anything remarkable on usury…”

    Okay.

    “The question of moderate rates of interest seems scarcely to have presented itself to their minds as a matter of discussion.”

    I’m not sure if “their” in that sentence refers to the Church Fathers as a whole, or to those later Fathers mentioned in the previous sentence. If it’s the former, it’s clearly false, as St. Jerome plainly says that even small gifts accepted “over and above what was given is called usury and superabundance.” If it’s the latter, I’m not sure why it’s relevant, since the Fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries had already established that usury had nothing to do with the amount received. As Palm says in the article you posted, “All parties are agreed that the rate of interest has nothing to do with whether a loan is usurious.”

    Ditto the claim the later Fathers just protest about how interest hurts the poor: St. Jerome had already said that it was just as bad to charge interest to a rich person as to a poor person.

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  120. More JoAnna:

    “Why do you pay attention to his [Thomas Aquinas] teachings on usury but ignore his teachings on sodomy? Why do you think he is right about the former but not the latter?”

    I don’t think Thomas was right about usury. I think the error is plain in the passage I quoted: he thought that money, by nature, was not fruitful. The modern world is built on the understanding that it is.

    To your larger point:

    “I don’t see why you value St. Thomas Aquinas’ opinion on anything.”

    Because his thinking built our contemporary understanding of the universe! He was an amazing thinker, and his methodology is the basis of modern science. But just because his methodology was great, that doesn’t mean all of his conclusions hold up today. He said all kinds of nutso things, like that masturbation is a graver sin than rape. But he was smart enough to know that the world is complicated, and that he didn’t have all the answers:

    http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/07/21/the-silence-of-st-thomas/

    Margo:

    I’ve answered a lot of those questions before, to no one’s satisfaction. : ) I’ll try to give you some responses tomorrow, though.

    Nubby:

    I know I owe you a longer answer, but this question struck me:

    “Why bother with being Christian, then?”

    It boggles my mind when a Christian asks this question. Because you love Christ. What other answer do you need?

    Leila:

    I also owe you more answers, but I have to say this: you are so, so wrong about my church. So wrong. I know I can’t prove that to you with words, but you have a standing invitation to come to church with me if you’re ever in Austin.

    Everybody:

    Thanks for the conversation today! I’m sorry such a slow answerer.

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  121. Frank,

    Currency and money are constructs. They do not have a 'nature'. Human being and human sexuality are not constructs. They have a nature, and intrinsic meaning. Eternal meaning. Meaning that is reflective of the Trinity.

    As for the Episcopal Church. I am happy to hear what you have to say. It seems to me that they shift with the times. Please show me where or how that is not true. I will listen.

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  122. "Because you love Christ. What other answer do you need?"

    But loving Christ means loving what He loves and hating what he hates (sin). And it means loving the Church He founded. The way a Christian shows love to God (and Jesus is God, we agree) is by obedience. Obedience even unto death. That is loving Christ.

    And I am curious why you can't use words to show me that your church does not change doctrine with the times. All you have to do is tell me what the doctrine is now, and that it's the same as it was in the past centuries. You can use words to show that (how else could it be demonstrated? We are talking about Creeds and Truth and articles of faith).

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  123. "“Why bother with being Christian, then?”

    It boggles my mind when a Christian asks this question. Because you love Christ. What other answer do you need?
    "

    Yet, loving Christ hasn't got a thing to do with whether or not I should follow shifting doctrine (as was the original context of that quote).
    I can love Christ, but I also need to know where I stand in Him (morally speaking), otherwise he's relegated to nothing more than a 'really interesting teacher', not the Lord God Almighty, Himself, who was clear with commands and precepts from the beginning; and I could just as easily follow a non-theological philosopher from any era I choose.

    Are you hanging your hat on the idea that one day doctrine will change to include what it now calls sin, and therefore, we might as well live like that now?
    If doctrine shifts and morality becomes all inclusive-anything-goes, then why would a Church have rules in the first place? And rules are suddenly subject to change? Under whose authority?

    There's no need for set doctrine at that point, because it becomes a blur of the modern age, not revealed truth held up and passed on.
    Where's the peace in never having solid footing?

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  124. * to include as virtue what it calls sin

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  125. Frank,

    I compiled a comprehensive 3 part answer to your charge on the usury matter and you write again as if you haven't read (or understood) a line of it!

    As Leila said, money is a human construct, it doesn't have an innate, immutable nature, save that which is accorded to it by us from time to time. As you should know as a Christian, man can even elevate the status of money to that of a god - an idol - at times.

    It'd also appear that you're engaging in deceptive argument on this matter by quoting selectively from Catholic documents. In your earlier post you pointed, via a para in the from the Summa Theologica, to St Thomas' opposition to usury/taking of interest. In turn I pointed out in my aforementioned 3 part response that he also considered the taking of interest an acceptable practice under certain circumstances.

    Now you've quoted Pope Leo's assertion “the money-lender’s trade is always bad,”. Interestingly, you omitted the rest of that sentence (in his Sermon XVII) which reads, "and the gain which lacks all humanity must be shunned." You also failed apparently to notice that that part of his discourse was entitled, "Money-Lending at High Interest is in All Respects Iniquitous". Could it be that selective quoting of scripture by Protestants to justify their doctrines also extends to selective quoting of the Catholic Church's teachings - while skirting their context - to lend credibility to spurious arguments against the Church?

    Anyway, I'm going to make these my last comments on the usury matter. What I have written so far should be ample for any sincere and fair minded reader to draw his/her own valid conclusions about the whole allegation. If my effort serves to assist even one reader to understand the truth of the muddied matter, then it will have been worth it. Now perhaps we can get back squarely on topic without resorting to tangential/spurious debates, and even more hopefully, without the deployment of further red herrings.

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  126. I would love to have the time to study about the development of doctrine. Someone I know recommended a book that explains the subject. Was it you by any chance, Leila?

    But in the meantime, I cannot see how the subject of usury compares to the subject of sexuality in terms of Church teaching. Taking advantage of the poor and weak through excessive interest charges has never been ok, and that is the foundational aspect to me. In the same way, the foundational teaching regarding sexuality has not changed, although in the past century in response to our society's need to understand it better the Church has expressed it more fully. (Sorry, that is a terrible sentence but I am not able to come up with a better way to express it at this point.)

    However, I would still like to see Frank's explanation for his statement that the measure of morality will always be Jesus. What do you mean by that, Frank?

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  127. I like to analogize the development of doctrine this way. It's like a parlor that has a dim light. We see the objects in the room, objects that don't move or change. Over time, the dim light becomes brighter. We begin to pick up details in the room that we didn't see before. Nothing in the room has changed, but we are more clear on what is there. We understand things better, and see how the room all fits together, in greater detail and clarity. The room simply becomes more grand, more beautiful, more filled with illumination. But not one object in the room is changed, destroyed, turned upside down or dismantled. The room is unchanging.

    If someone were to remove a chair from the room, or throw in a new bookshelf, or disassemble a desk, or throw ink on the carpet, this is a break from the continuity of the room, and it doesn't fit. It's not the same room anymore. This is the sort of thing that can never happen in the Church, with doctrine. There are no additions, no subtractions, no distortions. Simply more clarity, more understanding, more depth of knowledge.

    Saying that sodomy is a sin against our very nature, and an act of grave depravity that can never be condoned, is and has always been Christian teaching. It's the universal moral law. There is no way that we can suddenly shine a light on that and "discover" that it's been a wonderful, good, and holy act all along. That doesn't work, it's not development of doctrine. Development of doctrine is what we have seen with JPII's Theology of the Body: It takes what we already know about the "parlor", and it shows forth more of the goodness, truth and beauty of that doctrine. It explains more of the "why" the Church teaches as she does, and in no way reverses the teaching. We simply get a greater understanding of the Truth that is already there. More depth, more beauty, more appreciation.

    A gift of clarity and illumination, not a reversal or a contradiction or a negation.

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  128. Sharon,

    What I reckon you're keen on doing is joining Leila Miller this year in obtaining a Master's Degree in Dogmatic Theology from the excellent Holy Apostles College. Then you can start your own little Bubble and become rich and famous like Leila. Okay, okay, famous at least! :)

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  129. Francis, ha ha! I do wish everyone on the Bubble would join me and get degrees from Holy Apostles College and Seminary as well! I am really just giddy about this… it came on so suddenly, but I think the time has come to get some credentials and dive in a bit deeper. So exciting. Y'all join me!

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  130. Congratulations, Leila! And Francis, I'd love that! The degree part. I'll leave the blogging to Leila!

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  131. Francis, some quick answers to your suggestion that I’m misusing quotes:

    1. Thomas Aquinas forbids the taking of money for the use of money lent—which is the dictionary definition of interest, which I posted. He permits taking money over and above the amount lent if the lender has just title to it, based on lost profit. Again—that is NOT for the use of the money itself. The distinction is the whole point of his argument.

    For the record, though, I do recognize that the definition of interest is muddy, which is why I posted my source (and it’s also why I told JoAnna that I was teasing her—I know she had a case for that assertion). Again, I posted my source for the definition. But if you want to challenge that source, I’d appreciate you doing that, rather than accusing me of deception.

    2. Pope Leo: I included the full sentence here: (http://letterstothecatholicright.tumblr.com/post/71334956193/another-set-of-quotes-you-should-know), and I posted that at 1:57 pm on Tuesday, May 13. No attempt to hide anything. The words I omitted (the second time I used the quote) don’t change the quote’s meaning.

    3. True, I did not give the subhead from Pope Leo’s sermon, but that’s not at issue since, as JoAnna’s source acknowledges: “ALL PARTIES IN THIS DISCUSSION ARE AGREED THAT THE RATE OF INTEREST HAS NOTHING TO WITH WHETHER A LOAN IS USURIUS.”

    Sorry for the all-caps, but I’ve posted that before, and you seem not to have seen it.
    I understand your desire to leave this area of conversation. On your way out the door, though, please note that you still haven’t addressed the gaping hole in Palm/Coulter’s reasoning: money has always been fruitful (at least in potential), and thus “just title” has always existed. Thomas Aquinas didn’t invent the concept in the 12th century; he just recognized it, and later, the Church as a whole recognized that it applied to (practically) all financial transactions.

    Always a pleasure talking with you, Francis. Take care, my man.

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  132. Leila:

    part 1

    Wait. Are you saying that “money” is an empty signifier that means nothing? (That, ahem, money ain’t a thang?)

    If money is a thing, even if it’s a construct, it has a nature. If money doesn’t have a nature, it isn’t a thing.

    And if the nature of a thing “changes,” then we’re talking about a different thing.

    (As an aside, then how are we to make sense of all of the verses in the Bible that talk about money? According to Coulter and Palm, those verses are about a different thing then what we call today “money.”)

    Read Thomas Aquinas’ argument about interest again:

    “I answer that, To take usury for money lent is unjust in itself, because this is to sell what does not exist, and this evidently leads to inequality which is contrary to justice. On order to make this evident, we must observe that there are certain things the use of which consists in their consumption: thus we consume wine when we use it for drink and we consume wheat when we use it for food. Wherefore in such like things the use of the thing must not be reckoned apart from the thing itself, and whoever is granted the use of the thing, is granted the thing itself and for this reason, to lend things of this kin is to transfer the ownership. Accordingly if a man wanted to sell wine separately from the use of the wine, he would be selling the same thing twice, or he would be selling what does not exist, wherefore he would evidently commit a sin of injustice. On like manner he commits an injustice who lends wine or wheat, and asks for double payment, viz. one, the return of the thing in equal measure, the other, the price of the use, which is called usury.

    On the other hand, there are things the use of which does not consist in their consumption: thus to use a house is to dwell in it, not to destroy it. Wherefore in such things both may be granted: for instance, one man may hand over to another the ownership of his house while reserving to himself the use of it for a time, or vice versa, he may grant the use of the house, while retaining the ownership. For this reason a man may lawfully make a charge for the use of his house, and, besides this, revendicate the house from the person to whom he has granted its use, as happens in renting and letting a house.

    Now money, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 5; Polit. i, 3) was invented chiefly for the purpose of exchange: and consequently the proper and principal use of money is its consumption or alienation whereby it is sunk in exchange. Hence it is by its very nature unlawful to take payment for the use of money lent, which payment is known as usury: and just as a man is bound to restore other ill-gotten goods, so is he bound to restore the money which he has taken in usury.”

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3078.htm (Sorry for the large chunk of text. Don’t want to be accused of taking things out of context.)

    That’s a natural law argument. The idea is that certain things (wine, wheat, money) are by nature consumed in their use; other things (a house) are not. Thomas is saying that to accept interest for the use of money is to use money in a way contrary to its nature. Thus he writes: “Hence it is by its very NATURE unlawful to take payment for the use of money lent…”

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  133. (part 2)


    Now go back and look at the articles Francis and JoAnna provided on this thread.

    Palm:

    “This was at the heart of the question of usury. Eventually the morality of interest-taking came to be understood as intrinsically bound up in the NATURE of the thing lent and the impact (or lack thereof) on the person lending it.”

    “Due to advances in transportation, communications and generally expanding economies, the NATURE of money itself has changed in the course of time.”

    Coulter:

    “St. Antoninus (1389 – 1459), a Dominican of Florence, seems to have questioned whether Aristotle was correct in saying that money is NATURALLY sterile.”

    [emphasis added, obvs.]

    Getting the point?

    Anyway, now I’ve got the song below stuck in my head, thanks. Maybe it could be your new theme song!

    (Parental Warning--Explicit Lyrics)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N1CPSD70bY

    Best,
    Frank

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  134. Frank:

    Currency is a human construct. The human body and the sexual faculty is not.

    Let's go with something else that is a human construct: A chair.

    A chair has a nature, it's true. But if I use a chair against its nature, is it automatically a sin? Let's see. If I use a chair as bed or a ladder, it's not going to be as effective as if I used it according to its nature. But it's not a sin or an offense to God to use that human construct (chair) against its nature. Now, sometimes, indeed, it is a sin to use a chair against its nature: If I use a chair to crack someone across the face. That is a sin. Well, unless of course I use it to crack someone across the face who is coming to kill me (self-defense).

    So, yes, things that are humanly constructed do have a nature.

    But things intrinsic to the nature of man, which were created by God alone, to reflect the Trinity (think: human body, human reproduction, human sexuality, for example)… we cannot use these things against their nature at any point, or we have sinned gravely.

    Now, could you get passed the obsession with usury and actually address the questions that have been posed to you time and again?

    Thanks!

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    1. "The human body and the sexual faculty *are* not." Also, "… can you get *past* the obsession…" Sorry! I hate bad grammar, ha ha.

      And I should have been extra clear with the sentence in the middle: "So, yes, things that are humanly constructed do have a nature. It is not automatically sinful to use those things against their nature."

      Delete
  135. I guess I had to say all that because no one is arguing that money/currency does not have a nature! Unless I missed something, and that's possible, ha ha.

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  136. Frank, I have to say that I don't know why St. Thomas (who is not a member of the magesterium, of course) would be opposed to a person being paid for the use of his money. Property is property.

    I do understand, though, that the reason you want to discuss usury is because it is a common subject in regard to the question of changes in Catholic doctrine. I understand that if you show that the Church cannot be trusted in the matter of usury, then you can suggest that it cannot be trusted in the matter of sexuality - or, I suppose in any matter at all. I would first question whether the matter of usury itself at all touches the level of the matter of our sexuality, and I would suggest that it doesn't (do you?), and that that fact matters. I think that is what Leila is getting at and I am interested in following what she is saying, especially as it turns the discussion back to the original subject of the blog post.

    By the way, Frank, have I mentioned that I was wondering what you meant when you said that the measure of morality will always be Jesus? I was still wondering about that. :)

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  137. On my way out the door :) ...

    In the great big quote above which Frank has provided, Aquinas says that money "was invented chiefly for the purpose of exchange: and consequently the proper and principal use of money is its consumption or alienation whereby it is sunk in exchange."

    Aquinas is talking here about money being used up in consumption – something we do with our money to this day, when we are “consumers” of goods and services – or when we give it away as charity. Our money is "consumed”… “alienated… “sunk in exchange". This was the principal application (and understanding of the nature/purpose of) money in the medieval age when Aquinas lived, because at that time, as I have pointed out in earlier comments, there was limited scope for money to be employed in any other manner. There were few opportunities for investment of one’s money in commercial, profit producing ventures. However, since Aquinas’ time (and the time of the Church’s condemnation of usury/interest taking) the use of money has expanded to include its investment – hence it's very "nature" has expanded/changed.

    In the earlier scenario (understandably) the spending/giving of money entailed (and still entails) transfer of its title to the recipient (with expectation of its return in the case of charitable lending), whereas in modern economics, investing monies for interest/profit does not include transfer of title. Title remains with its owner, who thus becomes “entitled” to a share of any profits generated from its use. My money in the bank is still my money. I haven’t “given” it to the bank, nor lent it to the bank in charity! I have jointly invested with the bank, along with other customers, in some profitable venture, with a view to obtaining a “return”!

    Frank just can’t see (or acknowledge) the real difference between the two scenarios, which explains why the legitimate earning of interest from an investment is not the same thing at all as usury corrupting (charitable) giving/lending! This, even though in the very same great big quote above, Aquinas himself highlights the difference: “On the other hand, there are things the use of which does not consist in their consumption: thus to use a house is to dwell in it, not to destroy it. Wherefore in such things both may be granted: for instance, one man may hand over to another the ownership of his house while reserving to himself the use of it for a time, or vice versa, he may grant the use of the house, while retaining the ownership. For this reason a man may lawfully make a charge for the use of his house…”

    Aquinas wasn’t wrong. Nor is the Catholic Church wrong. Anyone who disputes either is wrong. And yes, anyone who claims that Aquinas’ and/or the Church’s teachings do not follow a hermeneutic of continuity is wrong.

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  138. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  139. We go from "no double-dipping someone monetarily", to joint-venture explanations, and we're still trying to equate that with doctrine on sexual morality? Comparable how?

    The nature of money has nothing to do with the nature of man. The nature of my car has nothing to do with human nature. There is no apples to apples comparison.

    Are you drawing this line of thinking that one day the Church is going to say, "Hold up. The nature of human sexuality really isn't about fruitfulness. It's about sterility, erm, ya know, like money! Let's add some footnotes to this mammoth doctrine on man and woman created in God's image." That would be bass-ackwards.

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  140. Some extremists persecute same sex attracted people. Muslim Ayatollahs hang them, Westboro Baptists say God hates them, and Ultra Orthodox Jews will not even rent property to them:

    http://blogs.forward.com/forward-thinking/198294/dont-rent-apartments-to-lesbians-says-rabbi/?

    Other extremists celebrate same sex attraction.

    One Church adopts a balanced stance, understanding the struggles of same sex attracted people and loving them as any other people, even while staunchly advocating against sexual activity based on (any and all) disordered impulses.

    Both sets of extremists attack the middle path of this Church. Surprise, surprise. It’s what all extremists do.

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  141. GAH! It’s like that scene in Pretty Woman where Richard Gere tells Julia Roberts not to answer the phone and then he keeps calling her. If you don’t want me to talk about usury, quit talking to me about usury!

    Especially quit saying things that so clearly cry out for responses.

    Francis, I understand one hundred percent Coulter’s argument, and I understand Thomas Aquinas. You’re misunderstanding what I’m saying. I’ll try one final time:

    What you, and Coulter, are arguing, is that money/economic systems changed in kind. That’s what a change in nature means. Got me so far? But what you’re describing is a change in degree. You get the difference, right? Kind vs. Degree. Look at your language: “There were few opportunities for investment…” Few? Maybe. Fewer than today? Certainly. But not “none”. The difference is in degree—not kind. Tell me you understand that. Kind. Degree. Can I go on?

    Investment has existed as long as money has. Banking has always been a joint venture.

    It’s blatantly false to say “since Aquinas’ time… the use of money has expanded to include investment.” Read the Bible! You know that’s not true.

    Or go ahead, try. Point to the date when banking became a joint venture. What specific year did that happen? What specific year, after Aquinas wrote his Summa, did the use of money expand to include investment? 1401? 1745? 1830?

    I didn’t think so.

    Further, another reason the Church gave for claiming “just title” on loans was the possibility of lost profit. Again, that was always there. Think about it: a medieval peasant or biblical shepherd who socked away 100 gold pieces could take that money, buy some chickens, and sell the eggs for money. That possibility was always there.

    Or, again, tell me: in what year did that possibility arise?

    The reason I don’t recognize the distinction between loans that include a transfer of title and those that don’t is because that’s not a real distinction. Money owed is money owed. Historically, that “transfer of ownership” was almost never an actual, physical title. What happened, as modern economies developed, is that the Church found it impossible to keep track of who had an (imaginary) extrinsic, just title to interest and who didn’t, so they just said, “Meh. You all have a right to interest.”

    Which was right, but it had always been that way.

    You know all this, Francis. Stop arguing.

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  142. Leila,

    I also messed up grammatically in my last post. It happens! : )

    “I guess I had to say all that because no one is arguing that money/currency does not have a nature!”

    Previously, you said, “Currency and money are constructs. They do not have a ‘nature.’” How else was I supposed to interpret that?

    And you’re right—the sin of usury is in the fact that in using money contrary to its nature you’re harming another person. The actual sin is injustice, according to Thomas. But the point is, it’s a natural law argument, and Aquinas got the “nature” part wrong.

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  143. Nubby, Sharon, Bethany, Leila:

    The point of bringing up usury is this: All of us, everyday, now commit acts that practically every peasant, priest, and pope from 1000 years ago would tell us are usury. Like the current condemnation of same-sex acts, that condemnation was based on “natural law.” Those are inarguable facts. Yes, as evidenced by this thread, the Church has 8 million explanations for this phenomenon, many of them contradictory.

    Please hear this, though: NONE of the theorists we’ve been talking about: O’Neil, Coulter, Palm—not even John T. Noonan—think that the Church changed her essential doctrine. That’s not what this is about for me, either. It’s the one thing everyone agrees on.

    So, yes, I think it’s worth questioning what, exactly, the sin of sodomy entails, and whether all homosexual acts are necessarily sinful. Please note that this is a huge conversation, probably better left for another day. If you’ve got an hour, a good place to start the conversation is Matthew Vines’ video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezQjNJUSraY or his book, God and the Gay Christian. He’s an Evangelical Christian, so he deals mainly with Biblical references, but a lot of his arguments apply to the references the early Father make to “sodomy,” too.

    Leila, I agree that it’s a grave sin to use the human body against its nature. And yes, Nubby, I think the Church has misunderstood the nature of human sexuality, and that that doesn’t necessarily challenge the claims of the Magisterium. I’d love to have a conversation about the meaning and nature of human sexuality—another day.

    Y’all have asked lots of questions. Here’s what I’d like to do:

    1) Spend the rest of the evening with my family, not thinking about sodomy or iniquity.

    2) Start trying to answer those questions tomorrow.

    But I need some help before I can start answering.

    Sharon: I’m not sure what’s unclear about my statement that I take Jesus as the measure of morality. It means that, for example, if I see a person in need, I drop everything and help them, or I know that I’ve sinned. It means that I understand that all the law and the prophets hang on the commandments to love God and love my neighbor as myself. Not that I often live up to that.

    What else do you need? Help me out.

    Leila: You want me to prove that my church has never changed its essential doctrine. (Yes, I added the word essential, because I think it’s important.) Proving a negative is impossible, so how do you want me to answer that? What kind of evidence are you looking for? I seriously doubt I have an answer that will satisfy you, but help me get started.

    Best to all of you,
    Frank

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  144. But Frank... you ignore Jesus when He tells you to listen to His Church. And you ignore Jesus' apostles, to whom he gave authority to bind and loose, when they state that sodomy is a sin. So how can you say that Jesus is your measure of morality when you selectively ignore some of His teachings?

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  145. Frank, I don't think my question is that hard, either. I expected your answer to be more encompassing than that. I realize that you have given the two great commandments on which all others rest. I would hope that loving your neighbor as yourself does not include endorsing a behavior for which the body was obviously not designed and which is so harmful that it leads to a high risk of contracting a deadly illness and a severely shortened life span. How do you reconcile love of your neighbor with that scenario, Frank? And while Leila rightly points out that there is no one background that leads to homosexuality, what about those who do come from ahistory of physical, emotional or sexual abuse? Do we celebrate with them as well?

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    1. I should have said more detailed rather than more encompassing. The details matter.

      Delete
  146. Only have a minute:

    “Currency and money are constructs. They do not have a ‘nature.’” Oops, you are right! I did not say that well. I meant to imply that there is no intrinsic created nature to money. Money was "made" and systems of money "made" by humans. Humans (including their sexuality) were made by God directly. We were made in His image. Not so, money, which came on the scene later, as a construct.

    As far as your church. If by "essential" you mean things that even atheists or anyone else can believe (i.e., "love thy neighbor, be kind, do unto others", etc…), then that's not what I mean. I mean CHRISTIAN doctrine, specifically. So, what specifically Christian doctrine/dogma is not up for grabs in the Episcopal church? I would expect that virtually none of them should be… and yet most seem to be. Help me out. Thanks!

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  147. Yes, the Bubble has been quiet (my fault!) and I miss the conversations

    Well why didn't you say something? Ta Da!

    This is a great, even perfect, presentation for all LGBT's to see IF, and only IF, the teachings of the Catholic Church are really and truly "The Truth". That is the premise on which this expertly done piece is based.

    I just happen to think that the teachings of the Church are not only not "The Truth" but are by and far not true to any real extent. Therefore, I see this film as propaganda and insulting to same sex attracted people who just want to live their lives together without having do-gooders tell them that their lifestyle is disordered, unnatural, sinful, against God's design, will, etc.

    If I am right and Church teaching is wrong, then I stand by what I have said. If I am wrong and Church teaching is right, then I stand corrected and this is indeed a film worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. It is one or the other and nothing in between.

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  148. The short version of my comment would be that it truly is a great presentation and can be life changing for those who believe.

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  149. Sorry. I didn't realize till I got to the end of the comments that the Bubble has not been quiet at all and you were having a great conversation before I barged in. I'll just keep reading and not say anything else.

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  150. Frank, I hope you will consider reading a book I just came across last night. It is called Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything by Robert Reilly. Maybe you'd like to click through to Amazon using Leila's link at the top of this page to take a look at it so that the orphans can be helped by your eventual purchase! :)

    Fortuitously, I also found out that Teresa Tomeo interviewed the author just this morning. Here is a link to her audio archive page. The interview was in this morning's second hour. I think this is a direct link:

    http://www.avemariaradio.net/audio_archive/catholic-connection-may-16-2014-hour-2/

    I do hope that you will take the time to think about the repercussions of the behavior you are supporting. The consequences of a changed view of human sexuality is not without serious consequences. We can even see the bizarre situation now where individuals are already paying with their livelihoods if they dare to go against the ideology of homosexual activists - Brandon Eich of Mozilla is one example, brothers who were slated to have an HGTV program is another example, as well as a young actress in France who was chosen to portray St. Joan of Arc but had to remove references to France's traditional marriage movement from her Facebook page due to pressure from gay activists. We are at the point where employers may as well ask an applicants' opinion on traditional marriage before even interviewing them, so that they can avoid hiring those of us with such supposedly unacceptable views on marriage. Are you comfortable with that one result of "making gay ok"? There are numerous examples of the far-ranging effect of placing homosexual behavior on a par with heterosexual behavior. I truly hope you will take time to truly examine this reality before you continue to support the gay agenda.

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  151. Sharon, thank you. And Frank, serious question. Is God okay with this arrangement:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2611020/Meet-worlds-married-lesbian-threesome-baby-make-four-July.html

    It's just more love for the child that is to be born here, no?

    Do you think this is a healthy situation to bring a baby into? And do you think this could be a legitimate form of marriage? Clearly it's becoming more accepted.

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  152. Sharon,
    Do you take issue to One Million Moms planning a boycott of J C Penny because they hired Ellen DeGeneres as a spokes person?
    Do you take issue to firing someone simply because they are a homosexual?

    Does HGTV not have the right to decide who they hire to host their shows? The brothers statements may not be representative of HGTV.

    Is it ok for christians to attempt to use their power, their voices to affect the lives of millions of homosexuals?

    Should America run to help free over 200 kidnapped Nigerian school girls but ignore the fact that Nigeria wants to kill gays simply for being gay?

    PS, no such thing as the gay agenda.

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  153. Leila,
    I agree the three person marriage is wrong. But if you've ever really read what I have written that should not surprise you.

    But if you think that there has anything to do with the fight for gay marriage you are wrong. Yes some may agree with it, but heck aren't there religions where the orthodox believe in pologamy?

    See the point?

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  154. Just popping in to say that I didn't get the free time I hoped for today, but your questions are still on my mind. I haven't forgotten. See you all tomorrow!

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  155. Hi Alan,

    I was not aware that there was any controversy involving JCPenney and Ellen DeGeneres. Are you seriously saying that her livelihood is truly in danger, when she already has her own TV show? HGTV can hire whomever they want, but they DID hire these brothers, whose specialty was buying houses and fixing them up so that families could have a nice place that they could not otherwise afford. Sounds like a great spin on the fixer-upper genre to me, smart move by HGTV. But the brothers have the audacity to have an opinion on traditional marriage that People for the American Way could not tolerate, and HGTV pulled the planned show. So I guess they can't hire whomever they want. Their hires have to have the approval of groups like People for the American Way. I take it you are opposed to such tactics? Or only as it applies to Ellen DeGeneres?

    Alan, Christians have been suffering horrendously at the hands of militant Islamists. It took the kidnapping of that many girls to get the world's, and our First Lady's, attention. I did see that sharia law bothers people who would otherwise stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but not because of the suffering of Christian men, women and children. They are concerned about the suffering of gays only. Is that your take, too? Or have you been trying to get the attention of our administration for the sake of the Christian children, and adults, who have been suffering horrendously for so long? I am opposed to sharia treatment of gays and sharia treatment of women and sharia treatment of children and of non-Muslims.

    No such thing as a gay agenda…. really, Alan? You haven't noticed the insistence that we not only tolerate but accept homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality? Were you aware of the insistence at the Pentagon that silence regarding homosexuality would be considered hostility toward homosexuality? You find the forced resignation of Brandon Eich to be simply appropriate? Sorry, Alan, your denial doesn't change the reality.

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  156. Alan, where is the evidence of Nigerians wanting to kill gays "simply for being gay"? I really am asking… I don't know of those facts.

    Second, why are you opposed to three lesbians marrying? On what principle?

    And, did you read where even Andrew Sullivan is horrified by what the gay rights advocates have become (read his response to the Mozilla firing)? It really is becoming a whole new type of oppression. Did you see the latest of what has happened to the HGTV brothers? Take a look:

    http://dailycaller.com/2014/05/16/exclusive-suntrust-cuts-business-ties-with-benham-brothers-after-conservative-views-attacked/

    All for being Christian. Not attacking anyone. Living as Christians, with Christian beliefs. Frank, what would you say in defense of your fellow Christians?

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    1. Well, thank goodness that the bank decision was reversed due to outrage:

      http://dailycaller.com/2014/05/16/suntrust-reverses-decision-on-conservative-benham-brothers/

      It's still incredible to believe it could have happened in the first place in America.

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  157. Alan, weird. I was in Nigeria for 10 days last summer, speaking at and attending several pro-life, pro-family conferences and not once did I hear anyone mention that Nigerians kill people simply for being gay. It's certainly not a matter of policy there. Where'd you get that one??

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  158. http://mudbloodcatholic.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-least-of-these-my-brethren.html

    This blog is written by a celibate gay Catholic man, and this particular post deals with the laws in Uganda and Nigeria. Please read.

    I would also recommend this blog post:http://aqueercalling.com/2014/05/07/all-are-welcome-some-conditions-may-apply/. This is another blog by a celibate lesbian couple. Their blog provides good insight on the difficulties faced by LGBT Christians trying to fit into the church.

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  159. Priscilla
    I appreciated the second blog entry. Haven't had time to read the first one yet.

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  160. Priscilla, Johanne, this is in Massachusetts. How do you feel about it?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2611020/Meet-worlds-married-lesbian-threesome-baby-make-four-July.html

    Do you agree with a child being conceived artificially (no father) and brought into this lesbian trio to be raised with three "moms"? If not, why?

    Personally, my heart breaks for this child.

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  161. I don't support artificial insemination. It leads to all kinds of weird situations, like this one. I don't believe children should be treated as commodities. I agree with you about that.

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  162. Johanne, I am relieved to hear that. How do you reconcile the idea of gay "marriage" with the inevitable "right" to children that comes with that?

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  163. They are separate issues to me. I believe the vast majority of aritficial insemination is don't by straight couples. And having children doesn't depend on being married; plenty of straight people have children outside of marriage. No one as to be married to have a "right" to have children.

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  164. TO EVERYBODY CONTRIBUTING TO THIS DISCUSSION:

    A simple question for you: do you reckon you have a right to know and relate (love, and, in return, receive love and care from) your biological mom and dad? Do you see being held and cuddled by them as your natural birthright? Do you know and relate to your biological family? That is, your blood brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and the like? Is your actual and real family tree of interest/importance to you? Have you lived your life deprived (intentionally) of knowledge of and relationship with them? If so, what has been your experience?

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  165. The link provided, Leila, has two separate issues which need to be addressed.

    1) These women are involved in a polyamorous arrangement. I have yet to see a multiple partner relationship that wasn't completely dysfunctional. Those relationships lack a basic level of fidelity that marriages should have. Children should not be raised within that framework.

    2) The other issue if using an unknown sperm donor to create babies who will be intentionally deprived of their father. This is another problematic issue for me. Unless a court has severed rights to biological parents, a child always has the right to know, and be raised by his or her parents.

    Now, Leila, your turn. Did you read the links I provided? Both these blogs are written by gay people trying to live the Church's teachings. How would you respond to some of the issues they raise?

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  166. Priscilla, I read both the links and they were very thoughtful. I absolutely agree with the link to the Vatican statement provided in the first link. There should be no undue discrimination and certainly no torture or death penalty for being gay! I sure hope that people have understood on this blog that the Church would never approve of such things. And the video linked in the OP (The Third Way) speaks to how we are to treat one another.

    The second link I understood, and can see happening. Yes, there are the "social justice" (and often dissenting) parishes (which I avoid like the plague) and there are parishes which teach the faith in its fullness, and which still contain sinners who will say thoughtless things and not understand the plight of those struggling with SSA (that is the thrust of the video in my post, and it's why it's so important to understand the third way). Ultimately, and I don't think the writer mentioned this, we go to church for the sacraments, which give us life. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives, and no amount of social justice clubs, and no amount of gossipy parishioners should ever eclipse that basic truth. Without understanding that, we are nothing as Catholics.

    But yes, I thought those links were heartfelt and I have great compassion for what they are saying. Again, that is why the video above is so critical.

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  167. Leila,

    “If by ‘essential’ you mean things that even atheists or anyone else can believe (i.e., ‘love thy neighbor, be kind, do unto others’, etc…), then that's not what I mean. I mean CHRISTIAN doctrine, specifically. So, what specifically Christian doctrine/dogma is not up for grabs in the Episcopal church?”

    Oh. Well, then, the Creeds.

    But I don’t think teaching that “Love thy neighbor” sums up the whole law makes a church somehow insufficient, since that’s exactly what Paul says in Romans 13. The fact that atheists can assent to that teaching isn’t a knock on it—it’s evidence of its awesomeness, and an opportunity for evangelization.

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  168. Sharon:

    First: I would love to read Reilly’s book. How about this for a deal: I’ll read that one this summer, if you read Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian?

    Second:
    “I would hope that loving your neighbor as yourself does not include endorsing a behavior for which the body was obviously not designed and which is so harmful that it leads to a high risk of contracting a deadly illness and a severely shortened life span. How do you reconcile love of your neighbor with that scenario, Frank?”

    Endorsing harmful behavior is not loving your neighbor. You’re right. But homosexual acts do not inherently “lead to a high risk of contracting a deadly illness.” One gets STDs by having unprotected sex with an infected partner. Period. They don’t come from the act itself. And the “evidence” that gays have a “severely shortened life span” is outright fraudulent.

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  169. JoAnna:
    “But Frank... you ignore Jesus when He tells you to listen to His Church.”

    I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.

    I’m sure you’ll disagree that our churches are one. And I’m neither inclined nor equipped right now to defend 1) all of Protestantism or 2) the Episcopal Church’s claim to apostolic succession. So, for now, hopefully you’ll let us agree to disagree.

    “And you ignore Jesus' apostles, to whom he gave authority to bind and loose, when they state that sodomy is a sin.”

    I assent to the idea that it’s a grave sin to use one’s body in a manner contrary to nature to the detriment of oneself or others.

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  170. Frank, okay so let's go with the Creeds (which were/are pretty important to Christians, even worth dying for). I don't know if you read Kim's story (former Episcopalian who took her journey alongside mine, contacted many Episcopal clergy including the former assistant to the Archbishop of Canterbury in order to avoid becoming Catholic), but she addresses the Creeds in her story:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2013/01/from-radical-feminist-to-devout-catholic.html

    Here's just a snippet, but I encourage you to read the rest:

    It was explained to me, by the dean of an Episcopal seminary, that the Episcopal Church is not a “confessional” church in which one is required to concur with any particular interpretation of doctrine. An Episcopalian, he said, cannot ignore the articles of faith (found in the Book of Common Prayer) or the creeds, but at the same time he need only profess them with regard to how he personally interprets them. Shocked, I remember clarifying, “Do you mean that one man in the pews can profess belief in a literal resurrection, and the man next to him can profess a metaphorical resurrection, and they’re both right in the eyes of the Episcopal Church?” The answer was a definite “Yes.” I was told numerous times that Episcopalians believe that “everyone is right, both Protestants and Catholics.” But I had already learned that it is only in the world of subjective truth that two opposing doctrines can both be right. Subjectivism is simply antithetical to the objective Truth of Christ.

    Do you agree that we must believe the Creeds in the way that the writers of the Creeds intended? We can't make up our own definitions or find "new ways" to interpret what they meant, right? So, what part of the Creeds are not up for grabs in the Episcopal church?

    "I assent to the idea that it’s a grave sin to use one’s body in a manner contrary to nature to the detriment of oneself or others."

    Frank, could you clarify what you mean by "nature"? Is it "nature" as in "what is the nature of a thing?" (objectively) or do you define it as "whatever one is inclined to do" (subjective desires, tendencies)?

    As for your implication that homosexual acts are perfectly compatible with good health, I don't think so… Here are some new stats from the CDC, and I think we all should be able to say (without my having to spell it out) that the anus (where human waste is expelled) is not meant to be the receptacle for the reproductive organs (even among monogamous males), nor was any part of the digestive system made to work in conjunction with the reproductive system. (This seems so obvious as to be almost unbelievable that someone could miss it.)

    http://barbwire.com/2014/05/14/cdc-syphilis-outbreak-among-men-sex-men/

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  171. Frank, maybe you could take a look at this study. Obviously you can only contract an infection from a person who already has the infection. According to this study, though, the risk of transmission from anal sex is 18 times the risk of transmission from vaginal sex. Perhaps you do not see that as being "to the detriment of oneself or others", but I do. I would suggest that fighting against our nature is a dangerous thing, unless you are talking about fighting against our fallen nature, which I think you would agree is a good thing to do.

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    1. Sorry, left off the link:
      http://www.aidsmap.com/HIV-transmission-risk-during-anal-sex-18-times-higher-than-during-vaginal-sex/page/1446187/

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  172. As far as God and the Gay Christian, I believe Robert Reilly addresses that book in an interview at Catholic Answers. Actually, I just went to Catholic.com to get a link to the interview for you and Matthew Vines' book is, at least right now, on their homepage. I had wanted the link to the radio interview because what Reilly says about it is that his book really is not written to refute the ideas in Vines' book, that his (Reilly's) book presents an argument based on reason, not on Scripture. A book Reilly recommends that address homosexuality and the Bible is Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views by Robert Gagnon. So if we were going to read two books to compare arguments, Making Gay Okay and God and the Gay Christian would not be a good comparison. Maybe you would be interested in reading and, if you'd like, sharing your thoughts about Trent Horn's article at Catholic.com, since you (I think) have already read God and the Gay Christian.

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    1. Maybe some day when I say, "Here's a link," I will actually remember to include the link. Here's the link to the radio program. It runs a little less than an hour and is better than the one I linked to earlier.

      http://www.catholic.com/radio/shows/making-gay-okay-12633

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  173. Sharon,

    "I would suggest that fighting against our nature is a dangerous thing, unless you are talking about fighting against our fallen nature, which I think you would agree is a good thing to do."

    Well said! That's precisely the nub of the problem these days. Our prosperity and pampered lives have made us too soft, too wussy, to fight the things that will soon enough prove to be our own disastrous undoing!

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  174. Too true, Francis! Our Lord's timing for Divine Mercy couldn't be better! (I am sure He is glad to have my approval :)

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  175. Sharon:

    “According to this study, the risk of transmission from anal sex 18 times the risk of transmission from vaginal sex.”

    Did you read the study? The per-act transmission risk was 1.4% for anal sex and .08% for vaginal sex. Technically, yes, that means anal sex is 18 times more risky, but we’re dealing with small numbers there.

    It’s like if 1 out of 100 people in Population A get a disease, and 2 out of 100 in Population B do, you can technically say that Population B is 100% more likely to get the disease. But it sounds scarier for Population B than it should.

    [NOTE: In no way does this diminish the risk of unprotected sex (of any variety) with an HIV-positive partner!]

    And we’re still leaving lesbians out of this conversation, who have exceptionally low HIV transmission rates.

    But the most important thing is what I’ve already said: two STD-free monogamous men will never ever ever ever ever ever get an STD. Ever ever ever ever ever.

    Never ever.

    Ever.

    Ever.

    I’ll read Horn’s article and try to find time to respond.

    I did say, though, that I would read Reilly’s book—not just a critical review of it. I chose Vines’ book because it’s well written and in the news right now, but if you want to read something that deals less with Scripture and more with (ahem) “reason,” you could read John Corvino’s What’s Wrong with Homosexuality?

    In fact, that’s probably a better choice, since he deals in it with the argument you’re making about risky sex.

    Do we have a deal?

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  176. Leila,

    If a man is willing to stand up next to me in good faith and say the words of the Creed, and presumably die for them, then I’m happy to share communion with that man. I’m not going to quiz him on what those words mean inside his head.

    That’s how much we value the Creeds. We think they’re sufficient as statements of the faith. They don’t need 1000 pages of explication, which in turn could be misinterpreted, and so require 1000 more pages of explication, which also could be misinterpreted, and so on and so on…

    It’s bare-bones, but that’s its beauty. The words are enough.

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  177. Leila,

    “Is it ‘nature’ as in ‘what is the nature of a thing?’ (objectively)”

    Yes.

    “Here are some new stats from the CDC…”

    Uh-uh. You know that a pair of STD-free, monogamous men will never, ever, ever, ever contract an STD—not syphilis, not HIV, not HPV—no matter what sex acts they perform or how often they do them. Never ever. Ever.

    And, just to be clear:

    “…nor was any part of the digestive system made to work in conjunction with the reproductive system. (This seems so obvious as to be almost unbelievable that someone could miss it).”

    This is you talking, not the Catholic Church, right? Or correct me if I’m wrong: it’s licit to use the mouth, tongue, and salivary glands (all parts of the digestive system) in sex, isn’t it? As long as everything finishes in the right place?

    I ask because I find that when we start talking about nature and sex, we tend to get a lot of loose talk.

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