Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why do we treat homosexual sins differently than other sins?

A mere five to ten years ago, the following was considered a tolerant and acceptable stance: Openly supporting and promoting natural marriage, while also being kind and loving towards our homosexual brothers and sisters. Today, that same stance is considered "bigoted hate", and its purveyors must be silenced, shamed, and ruined. To hold such a stance (publicly) is now unacceptable. The haters include the Catholic Church and all faithful Christians who speak up against gay "marriage".

The reaction to the simple and clear teaching on homosexuality is so visceral, so violent, so dark, that even otherwise outspoken and proud Catholics are gun shy on this particular issue, telling me that they are afraid to say anything, nervous to be labeled as evil and heartless, preferring to stay silent. This bullying is occurring in the whole western world at the moment, and it's so awful that even some gay people have (mostly quietly, for their own protection) decried what they see happening.

The Church is pretty much the only voice in the world that is not afraid to speak up against this sin (as she has done with other popular sins in the past), standing clearly for what is True. When the Pope and other Church leaders are bold, the rest of the flock finds the courage to speak as well.

But here's something that I don't understand, and it's perplexed me for years. For some reason, many faithful Catholics treat the sin of homosexual acts and gay "marriage" differently than any other sin, sexual or otherwise.

No faithful Catholic is afraid to say boldly that lying, cheating, stealing, blasphemy, greed, adultery, abuse, fornication, abortion, surrogacy, human cloning, contraception/sterilization -- all are grave sins. All have serious spiritual consequences, and we cringe and hurt to see our loved ones committing any of those sins. We hate those sins! We love the people, but we would never hesitate to speak or write on the wrongness and even the evil of those sins, many of which we have ourselves repented of.

But for some reason, active homosexuality sort of gets a pass, and we're told not to be so hung up on the gay "marriage" issue. I've even been told (more than once) that we should not be voting against gay "marriage" or engaging this issue in the public square, because to do so would make Catholics look "mean" and it will make people dislike us! There is a certain sympathy about this particular sin, and a reluctance to condemn it forcefully, that I don't see in any other area.

After the tragic vote in Ireland ushering in genderless marriage, I was heartened to hear the clarion statement given by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, calling it "a defeat for humanity". There is no question where the Church stands, and firmly. Yet, while I rejoice in the Cardinal's courage, other Catholics believe that statements like this are unhelpful at best, cruel and harmful at worst. They have great concern that such blunt and sweeping statements will not be received well by the LGBT community, that those souls will turn away from the Church, and that evangelization efforts will be hampered.

Here's what doesn't make sense to me about that. Let's say that a once-Catholic nation had been the very first in the world to pass a referendum in which the populace overwhelmingly and joyfully approved abortion. Or adultery. Or euthanasia. Or fill-in-the-blank sin.

Would a forceful Vatican statement against any of those sins be met with disappointment or frustration by the faithful? Would any of my Catholic friends be saying, "We really should not speak that way about [lying, cheating, stealing, blasphemy, greed, adultery, abuse, fornication, abortion, surrogacy, human cloning, contraception/sterilization] because we will offend and alienate [women, doctors, young people, corporate heads, pagans, adulterers, surrogates, etc.]."  Probably not, and yet those groups of people might feel excluded or marginalized or unloved, too. (I'm not being sarcastic, I really mean that.) So, is it that we think of active homosexuality as somehow different from other sins? Or even worse -- is there a sort of soft bigotry going on, where we don't think gay people are capable of hearing and handling the Truth as well as everyone else can?

I've been told that we need to love people, not "condemn" people or make them feel "unwelcome" by speaking Truth out loud and unvarnished. Yet, this is a false dichotomy! We don't choose between Love and Truth. We choose both Love and Truth. In his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis goes over this, time and again.

There is a micro way to talk about things and a macro way. In the micro, we speak personally to individuals, we get to know them for their own sake, we laugh with them, break bread with them, love them. When sensitive questions arise or questions are asked, we speak the Truth. We are gentle and kind and respectful to all, and if we are not, then woe to us! It will not go well with us as we stand at our Judgement.

But in the macro, the Church as Teacher needs to be unambiguous and clear (and we laity have every right and obligation to repeat that Truth). The moral law is a beacon. It is True for everyone, and when the moral law is transgressed by entire nations, then yes, it is a blow not just to the Church, but to all of humanity. We say this clearly. We don't mince words. We speak the Truth in season and out. Who else will? Who else has been charged by Christ to do so? When we watch a traditionally Catholic nation embrace grave sin with shouts of celebration, we should be heartened, not concerned, to hear our Church speak with a clarion call, denouncing the evil we see.

In the macro, there are millions who do not understand that the Church will never change her teaching on homosexual sin. Most people assume change is coming just around the corner and so settle comfortably in their sin, even feeling "a step ahead" of the lagging Church. In the west, the comfort level for this sin is growing, and more people, not fewer, are becoming lost. If it were any other grave sin, every faithful Catholic would be fighting hard against it, and vocally.

One more thought, and it's personal. For every sinner that is "turned off" or stung by the Church pronouncing unambiguous Truth, there are others, like I was, who desperately need to hear it.

When I was in high school and in the midst of grave sin, I turned to the girl I saw as the most serious and devout of my Catholic friends. I asked her what I should do, whether I should continue on as I had been, down this sinful path (but one I was happy to be on). I will never forget her response. I even remember where I was standing. She placed her hand gently on my forearm, gave me a loving smile, looked me straight in the eye and said: "Leila, I just want you to be happy. You do what makes you happy."

At that moment, I decided to stop worrying about my sin.

She soothed and affirmed me when what I needed to hear was, "Leila, what the hell are you thinking?? You snap out of it right now, turn to God and stay on the straight path! I love you, and I am here to help you!"

I needed her to be the Church for me, not the world. Sure, I felt "loved" in that moment, and that comforting feeling led me to turn from the Truth, for at least a decade.

There are many millions like me out there, who need to hear the Truth clearly, who need to be held accountable to that Truth in order to change. Let's not forget about them and their spiritual needs.

Praise God for the Truth-tellers, and the ones who are not afraid to face the consequences of doing so.

I love being Catholic.

And I'm sorry for rambling and redundancy. It's very late here (early), and I'm just going to hit "publish".



Related: This thoughtful atheist gets it! Check it out:


  1. Leila! I love you for writing this. My sister is currently living in Ireland and is thrilled that marriage has been redefined. We got into a heated discussion last night where she said she didn't realise I was such and archaic judgemental bigot. So, I think the conversation went well ;). But yes to this entire post!

    1. Thank you, Catholicginger! That must be hard, having a sister on the other side of such a contentious and important issue. :(

  2. A few years ago when our state was voting on a referendum to define marriage as one man and one woman, I wrote 2 letters to our small-town newspaper. They were very reasoned and loving and focused on the effects to children of gutting marriage further. A national gay activist somehow read one of the letters. This was before I started blogging, and I'm a SAHM, so I wasn't easy to find. He went through the trouble of finding out where my husband worked and getting his work email, then sending him a message ranting about how evil I was and wasn't my husband proud of my ignorance and stupidity? We googled the guy's name and discovered he had a website where he had posted obscene content about various women who were supporting true marriage. You can bet that his behavior made me think twice about speaking out again.

  3. Connie, I have not mentioned it publicly, but I am pretty sure that's the same guy who targeted me and did and said some evil and unthinkable things, fabricating things, editing things, making me into something I am not. Very evil things, designed to scare and ruin reputations. I wanted to call him out publicly, but I don't want to give him any traffic (and he is anonymous, what a coward, where I am not, and he used that against me).

    Very few people want to face those types of repercussions, and who can blame them, really?

  4. Hmm. I'd say there's two main reasons.

    -In many places and times, homosexual acts have been illegal, sometimes punishable by death. Gay people were, and still are, sometimes targeted for violence. Plenty of influential American Christians have used the lines in Leviticus to condemn homosexuality, not addressing the fact that this same text calls for the execution of those who have gay sex. So bottom line, there really have been haters on this subject for all of recorded history. People are afraid of looking like that, or even becoming that. I think they're right to worry. Something about this issue really does seem to attract haters (including, yes, some on the pro-gay side but that's another discussion).

    -Sexual orientation is a much stronger characteristic than a desire for adultery, theft, etc. It is not necessarily set at birth, but it seems set by puberty, and from that point on that person has an almost-unshakable predilection towards sexual interest in whatever way corresponds to their orientation. So homosexuality is much more a part of who someone is than almost any sin might be. Because of this, many Christians are reluctant to condemn homosexual acts. According to Catholic doctrine, gay people can have literally no kind of sexual release without sinning. People are afraid to ask so much of a person, especially if said person is already distrustful of them (see point 1).

    Also, maybe Catholics have it different, but I don't see too much condemnation from most Christians on, say, divorce and remarriage.

  5. Thank you- for being that voice of the Church even amongst friends and even when it means a loss of friendship. I think I'm halfway there but I do struggle between wanting to keep friendships and shaking the ever loving sense into people who know the Truth but refuse to listen to it. I think you know to what I'm referring.
    I aspire to be more like you :)

  6. I'd agree with that, Chris. I think there's confusion about where same-sex attraction comes from in the first place. Is it built-in somehow, or is it fomented by bad parenting or environment? No one can say for sure, though I lean heavily toward environment and parenting. I do not believe God "makes" anyone gay. But as you said, it seems to be all wrapped up in identity and "who" someone is, and therefore, people of good will are very reluctant to say that homosexual acts are sinful and disordered. The language for saying that clearly is difficult for most people to come by, and it's never received well anyway.

    But there IS a way to say it, and it is not condemning or bigoted. But we do have to be courageous enough to accept that it will likely not be received well, and our words will be twisted and our motives will be impugned, and we'll be the ones hated. I don't see any way around that. It's gonna be that way from now on. That's not an easy reality for most people to accept. No one likes being reviled and ostracized.

    So, the question is, do we fear the opinion of men more than we fear the Lord? Everyone better ask and answer that question for themselves.

  7. Leila,
    Not all sins are equal You know this as a Catholic; there are venial sins and there are mortal sins. Now, the problem with homosexuality is that not only is it mortal sin, it is very particularly one of the hallmarks of pagan civilization, along with human sacrifice. Now that --- it's not really homosexuality per se; a casual study of the gay community will find so many variations that it's more a pansexuality than strict homosexuality -- the two of them have been forcibly normalized in our society, we are basically a society of followers of the Baals and Ashteroths. And opposition thereto is going to become increasingly criminalized in ways that other sins are not.

  8. Chris P, three quick responses:

    1) Adultery has traditionally been reviled too, and fornication. And adulterers were to be stoned to death (and in some nations, are still killed). But the same very devout Catholics I'm talking about would not be upset if the Church was forceful about the sin of adultery.

    2) But you could argue that the sexual orientation of those attracted to children and animals are also very engrained and almost impossible to "change" or shake. But no devout Catholic I know would have a problem with the Church or Catholics forcefully saying that those acts are gravely sinful, in no uncertain terms. And, yes, everyone has a sexual outlet if they desire it, and it's called marriage to the opposite sex. (And no one ever died from being chaste and unmarried.) Think of the married folks who took vows and meant them, and their spouse dies or is incapacitated or leaves them. They also are called to be chaste. It's not just gay people who are to live by the moral law.

    3) Most Catholics don't speak bluntly on divorce and remarriage because that sin has already lulled us all to sleep. The sin of the day, the one getting bulldozed on society right now, is gay sins. And, the devout Catholics I speak of in the OP would definitely be okay with me or the Church for speaking about divorce and remarriage as sinful. At least I don't think I'd get the emotional, visceral reactions that I do with the issue of homosexual acts or gay "marriage".

  9. Amy, awwww, I heart you!

    CatholicMoxie, well said!

    Elisabeth, agreed! So why are very strong and good Catholics balking at a strong response to this one issue? That's the confusing part to me.

  10. Adultery has traditionally been reviled too, and fornication. And adulterers were to be stoned to death (and in some nations, are still killed). But the same very devout Catholics I'm talking about would not be upset if the Church was forceful about the sin of adultery.

    Well, that stuff's definitely farther removed. And nobody, even chronic adulterers, sees adulterers as an oppressed class. Whereas it's not hard to look at history and see gay people that way (at least, in many places and times). Hence all the worry about hate.

    But you could argue that the sexual orientation of those attracted to children and animals are also very engrained and almost impossible to "change" or shake. But no devout Catholic I know would have a problem with the Church or Catholics forcefully saying that those acts are gravely sinful, in no uncertain terms.

    It's a case of ordered vs. disordered attraction; most secular folk don't see homosexuality as intrinsically disordered because it doesn't hurt people in the way that pedophilia does. Even if you accept homosexuality as a sin they're not really similar beyond that both are sexual sin. You wouldn't compare masturbation to pedophilia, certainly.

    And, yes, everyone has a sexual outlet if they desire it, and it's called marriage to the opposite sex.

    Is it really a sexual outlet for those who aren't attracted to the opposite sex at all?

    Lifelong celibacy is a fine calling, but it's mostly associated with monks, priests, people who choose it voluntarily and are already devoted to the faith. When trying to get someone interested in Catholicism you wouldn't usually be telling them about what a wonderful priest they'd make.

  11. I am still trying to figure out the best way to differentiate the reaction on this issue versus all the others, and I think it's this: It's the only sin I speak about (or the Church speaks about) where I feel like I am the "bad guy" for speaking bluntly about it, even by other devout Catholics. I or the Church could say the exact same things about other sins, use the same words, but this is the only one where we get called out for "uncharity" by people who are fully faithful, good Catholics.

  12. Leila,

    I'm not sure if the guy you're talking about is the same one who targeted me. If so, his new blog appears to be much tamer than his old one. His old blog was taken down about the same time he contacted me. He was posting on it by name and it was really foul--photos of National Org. for Marriage members with feces on their heads and just about every vile thing you can imagine wished upon them. Perhaps he has tried to reincarnate himself as a slightly more respectable blogger, while hiding his identity. Anyway, it's no surprise why this would scare some people.

    1. Yes, he goes after NOM members! I will PM you privately later and give you the info and what he did to me. I think he might be the same guy....

  13. "Is it really a sexual outlet for those who aren't attracted to the opposite sex at all?"

    Chris, what if I am married to man who is repulsive to me (smelly, slovenly, etc.)? What is my outlet? Adultery? No.... I am chaste. Why is a "sexual outlet" necessary for some but not for me in this case? Or, should I go and have an affair? (For the record, my husband is a babe, ha ha!)

    "It's a case of ordered vs. disordered attraction; most secular folk don't see homosexuality as intrinsically disordered because it doesn't hurt people in the way that pedophilia does."

    But I'm talking about devout Catholics' reactions specifically in this post, not secular folks.

    Well, that stuff's definitely farther removed. And nobody, even chronic adulterers, sees adulterers as an oppressed class. Whereas it's not hard to look at history and see gay people that way (at least, in many places and times). Hence all the worry about hate.

    Farther removed, exactly. We are all about gay stuff now, 24/7. And the Church must speak against this very popular sin. And with all the adulation and applause and good press, the gay community (which is also on the average pretty well-off financially) is not an oppressed class at all. In fact, the more accepted homosexuality and gay "marriage" become, the MORE vicious are the attacks on the Church's stance and the people who dare to say, "Hey, that is a serious sin!". It's ironic how it's an inverse effect, according to how tolerant folks are becoming.

    1. To the first point, my point was that, in other words, MILLIONS of heterosexuals are no longer attracted to their spouses. What is their sexual outlet? Masturbation? Adultery? Porn? Is any of this good and virtuous?

  14. I second Leila's comment to Chris about homosexuality and the death penalty. So often GLBT supporters bring up the fact that homosexual sins were punishable by stoning in the OT--but so were most serious sins. This is the root of the doctrine of mortal sin. In the OT, serious sins were quite literally mortal. They ended in physical death. I haven't heard anyone lately saying we should stop opposing adolescent rebellion because such sins were punishable by death in the OT, or point to the OT's teaching about rebellion as evidence that the lives of rebellious children are today in jeopardy from Christians.

    As far as people caving on this sin, besides the intimidation, I think it's a misplaced desire not to appear judgmental. When straight people criticize adultery, they criticize a sin they may presumably be tempted towards themselves. They don't want to criticize people who are tempted in a way they cannot imagine being tempted themselves. They don't want to be seen as judging "the other guy," just people in their own group.

    Also, a misplaced compassion. We hesitate to criticize someone for homosexual activity as we would someone who was born with a gene that leads towards alcoholism. These are people who suffer greatly and the temptation/tendency is outside their control. We have not walked in their shoes. But we would still punish a drunk driver who killed someone and try to eradicate not just drunk driving, but alcoholism itself. We have seen enough of its effects to know that alcoholism affects many people besides the one who is drinking. It destroys lives and families. We don't have the data yet on "gay marriage." Maybe when we do, things will turn around--too late for many.

  15. Chris, what if I am married to man who is repulsive to me (smelly, slovenly, etc.)? What is my outlet? Adultery? No.... I am chaste. Why is a "sexual outlet" necessary for some but not for me in this case? Or, should I go and have an affair? (For the record, my husband is a babe, ha ha!)

    If you are straight it's possible to enjoy sex within Church teaching. If you are gay it is not. That doesn't mean everyone needs sex all the time, or should have it, and it doesn't mean that chastity isn't important. But there is a difference between what is expected.

    Many gay people are doing all right today, but there still exist plenty of gay teens who've been kicked out of their homes or told they're infested with demons or whatever. You can imagine why they don't really care to hear the slightly-nicer conservative Christians telling them that they're still sinners. Battles over Chik-Fil-A or cake shops have a lot more to do with privileged, middle or upper-class gay folks. But just because the TV talking heads spend more time thinking about them doesn't mean we should.

  16. Elisabeth (above at 9:13): I completely agree. We are fools to deny the unique and particular destructive power of the sin of homosexual sex. The normalization of it, and the normalization of this very warped view of human sexuality in general, is a demolishing force we'd better not take lightly.

  17. Chris, I only got about three hours of sleep last night. I am not clear on your last paragraph. Could you restate it? Thanks! (And I know that people don't "care to hear" that they are sinners, but that is beside the point, isn't it?)

  18. Trent Horn has a great blog post along these lines, called Why Am I Only Sometimes Called A Bigot?

  19. Rather than offer comments, might I suggest that you read Robert Reilly's book: Making Gay Okay (if you haven't read it)? It is, as he states, a book based on reason, not religion. It deals in facts, the roots of the "gay agenda" and liberalism in this country, and where data suggests it is heading. It is a very well-researched book, and gave me much to think on --- beyond sin and hurt feelings.

    I heard Mr Reilly speak at a conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville Ohio this spring. He is a most intelligent, and convincing, Catholic author.

  20. Chris, I only got about three hours of sleep last night. I am not clear on your last paragraph. Could you restate it? Thanks!

    Sure. You said,

    with all the adulation and applause and good press, the gay community (which is also on the average pretty well-off financially) is not an oppressed class at all.

    I responded that many gay people are not privileged at all, and many still experience oppression. In our media, we hear a lot about the more privileged ones who have the time to sue bakeries and so on, but I didn't say *they* were oppressed. I wanted to clarify who I was talking about, so I used teens who've been kicked out of their homes because of their sexuality as an example.

  21. DNBA, that is a great recommendation and I have heard good things, but haven't read it!

    JoAnna, that is an excellent article! And short. People, go read it!

    Chris, oh, gotcha! I had used the term "oppressed class" because you had used it in one of your comments about gay people. I understand the tragedy about teens being rejected by their families, but would you say overall that gays in America or the west are "an oppressed class"? If so, I would absolutely disagree.

  22. Spot on as usual. Catholics need to follow Christ in every instance, not cower when difficult. Salvation is not a spectator sport.

  23. There is a pattern of hate towards gay people that's big enough to amount to oppression in some communities. I think most of the West is pretty accepting towards them these days, so I would not say this oppression exists on a national or international level. But that doesn't mean it can't persist at a more subdued scale.

  24. One area that I think creates problems on this issue is gay priests. I call them gay priests. The Church would call them priests who struggle with same sex attraction. It has always been my understanding that the Church teaches that faithful holy men who are called to the priesthood and also experience same sex attraction can still serve the Church as ordained priests, as they take the vow of celibacy. But there have been certain dioceses where young heterosexual seminarians have objected to the "gay subculture" that is present in seminaries. In fact, I was reminded of that story when a year or so ago, Leila, you wrote about a young openly gay man cutting your son's hair and that it made your son uncomfortable. You of course treated the man respectfully and tipped him and thanked him. But you mentioned your son was extremely uncomfortable. There are apparently seminarians who feel the same way at the seminary when there are too many other seminarians with same sex attraction there. It makes them "uncomfortable." There are gay priests. There are a lot of them. And there was one diocese, I believe, where a Bishop actually stated that their seminary would not admit men with same sex attraction, because of the complaints of the heterosexual seminarians. That did not sit well with me. And yet I can understand where seminarians are uncomfortable. My last parish priest was quite obviously a gay man. Or, as the Church states, a man with same sex attraction. It made people uncomfortable, especially with their teenage sons. The Church teaches that homosexual acts are disordered and that marriage can only be between one man and one woman. I don't see the issue of gay priests preventing Catholics from speaking out against same sex marriage. But I do see the mere fact of gay priests leaching into the Catholic laity in a way that promotes more understanding and more empathy for people in the gay community. While these men presumably are examples of chaste celibate living while struggling with same sex attraction, they also seem to empathize with gay people who are engaged in homosexual acts (whether married or not). That cultural shift seems to have taken place separate from the marriage side of things. Has anyone else noticed this? Even if some of you have never had a gay priest or heard of one in your diocese, certainly the history of sex abuse by priests highlighted homosexual abuse by priests such that it was obvious that the seminary and priesthood are not immune to homosexuality. I see this as one of the impediments to what the Church is trying to do. And yet it makes no sense to refuse to ordain a priest who is celibate but happens to have same sex attraction. This issue bothers me, because gay priests seem to "go through the motions" on the Church's teaching on some things. I'm wondering if any other of you have experienced this. I know you likely have not, Leila, but I think I recall you once commenting on another parish in Phoenix that "goes through the motions" on Church teaching. Just interested in other thoughts.

  25. Pro-ACA, I am not exactly sure what you mean, but I do know priests who are effeminate, and quite possibly SSA, but who are very firm and outspoken and obedient regarding Church teaching on all sexual issues. It's very wonderful and they are great priests. I also know of at least one (in a nearby diocese) that regularly causes scandal by his anti-Church-teaching stance (and it's pretty obvious that he is SSA). However, I mostly encounter very hetero, masculine priests here (for lack of a better term), and while most of them are very faithful, there are those who are dissenters on these issues. I don't think the "SSA" or "straight" status of any priest is an indication of where he stands on the issues of truth and obedience and virtue.

    Just after I read this, someone posted the Vatican's stance on homosexually-inclined priests and admission to seminary, for anyone who is interested in that:

  26. And I will add that yes, there was a really significant problem in the past regarding openly homosexual seminarians (and a gay culture) in seminaries in past decades. That was no good, no good at all, as virtue was not the goal. Today, I think most of the seminarians, SSA or not, are very committed to Church teaching and virtue and growth in holiness, praise God!

  27. Thanks for the link - very helpful and confirmed my understanding. I still think there are priests with deep seated homosexual tendencies out there. Based on news reports of sexual crimes, there is no doubt men with deep seated homosexual tendencies are still ordained. I read within the last few years of a priest arrested for soliciting a male prostitute, and one arrested for indecent exposure while committing homosexual acts with an anonymous partner in public, etc. These are not just ancient history. With respect to those who are living a celibate life, some do as you observed, Leila, and speak the Church's teaching. Others, not always. And you are correct that priests who are anti-Church teaching can be of any sexual orientation. It seems there are extremes in most diocesan parish varieties. In most large dioceses, you will find one parish that is operating in a pre-Vatican II mode - still doing Latin Masses, etc., and then on the other end, the liberal side, lay homilists and general absolution, etc. Somehow the Bishops seem to live with both ends of the spectrum under their watch. So I'm not surprised when devout Catholics feel like the secular world is non-receptive. Church leadership itself is sometimes lukewarm on these issues because their own priests and parishes are operating barely within the lines. The cultural secular shifts are happening in the parishes, too.

  28. Just a note Pro ACA--you shouldn't call parishes "pre-Vatican II" for celebrating the Latin Mass (in whichever form) as this is something that has been encouraged by the Church since Pope Benedict. Also, contrasting them with "liberal" parishes is not fair, unless you are on both sides talking about dissent. Lay homilists, etc. are not allowed. The Latin Mass is.

  29. Sorry, Connie, fair point. I'm not suggesting the pre-Vatican II parishes are outside Church teaching . . . just more conservative than other parishes. Although there are sometimes priests in those parishes that do not follow the Bishop's directives on certain things, too, like safety training and other matters not doctrinal in nature. It would not be my style to attend one of those parishes, just because I am less traditional. The more liberal parishes are sometimes outside Church teaching, as I stated above.

  30. I highly recommend Anthony Esolen's book "Defending Marriage: Twelve Arguments for Sanity". It is excellent!

  31. as I am currently reading Dante, I find his references to the subject to be interesting - Inferno, Cantos XV,XVI. Then there is this article that is also illustrative on the subject.

    And a quote from the article:

    "But Dante places sodomy in the bottom-most ring of the seventh circle, below homicide and suicide, suggesting that this sin is an even worse form of violence. The implication here is that sodomy involves an even more thoroughgoing hostility to Nature than defying the laws of self-preservation or love of neighbor; that it is a culmination of violence in being destructive to neighbor, violating self-love, and at the same time undermining family and community. Note that the suicides in the first ring damned themselves alone, while the sodomites damned themselves with others. Therefore, sodomites must run in a band forever on the burning plain. The burning sands on which they run represent their sterility. With this detail Dante shows that the intimacies of sodomy lead to a lack of posterity and put an end to one's family line. The sodomites, as represented by Dante's friend Brunetto Latini, chose continuity through fame, not through children. Brunetto points out that the men in his company were all famous scholars and literary celebrities who raised themselves in the eyes of the world by their talents while they dragged one another down into Hell. Thus, they sum up the previous rings: They were violent both to others and themselves in that they destroyed their own souls and that of one another, and they were violent to family life by their choice of sterility."

  32. Reading and re-reading all of the comments, I come away with this.....Words and more words and until one lives the reality, none of those words being thrown about make sense. At 84, when my son came to me to say he was "gay", our world as we knew a happy, loving family.... came to an end and has never recovered. That is reality. You can banter about homosexuality and all it entails but when it happens to you, as a mother, none of it matters. A priest told my son that the lifestyle was OK. Until the church and the priests are on the same page, we will never change a thing. I am a Catholic and I love my religion and I will remain a Catholic and pray for my son because I love him, but I hate the sin. So you all can argue the issue and try and come to some kind of middle ground but until you live it and hear those words from a loved one and feel the hurt and pain it brings to a mother, they are just words.

  33. Amen! U know I would rather be hated for proclaiming the Truth than loved for condoning sin.

  34. Angel--so you reject your son's homosexuality? What kind of relationship do you have with him? I don't understand what you mean when you say "until your live it and hear those words from a loved one.....they are just words" What words are just words? What is it that people don't understand until this happens to them? Thanks.

  35. To Johanne......The words I am speaking about are all of the words that have been written in the comments by those who are trying to come to some kind of agreement on the issue of homosexuality.
    In answer to your question...I have a great relationship with my son. Also in answer to the other question....when a loving parent is confronted with the lifestyle of one of their children, it changes the whole dynamic of the family. Those individuals who have never had that happen would not understand. Yes, I do reject the lifestyle because it is unhealthy and it concerns me because I love him. You, Johanne, seem to have an ax to grind, but your picking on the wrong person.

  36. @Angel. I have no ax to grind whatsoever, I'm sorry if I gave that impression. I just didn't understand your post. When you say "would not understand" I'm not clear what you're saying people don't understand. That's all. I still don't exactly understand what you're need to explain further. So sorry I seemed confrontative. Not my intent.

    1. I apologize for being impolite in my reply. When the subject of homosexuality is discussed, I become overly sensitive. I probably did not explain in the proper manner.....sometimes my emotions get in the way. As I read all of the comments it all became a blur to me and all I saw were just "words". I keep wanting to resolve the issue of homosexuality. There is no real way to resolve the issue. I become angry because the gay community are a strong group and they have made that lifestyle inviting to those out there who may be confused or lonely, like my son. AS a Catholic, I want priests to stand in that pulpit and shout it out about the sin and how it can devastate the family structure but I never hear them ever speak of it. Most people are becoming too tolerant and those, like me, are the ones who are left to look at with pity. There has been a complete turn around and the world I once knew is no more. I feel I understand it more now because of my son. And those mothers who have sons and daughters who are gay would understand my plight, whereas those who don't have children who have same sex attraction, have no idea of the pain and hurt it can cause. It practically consumes my life and that makes me sad. I hope I explained a little more clearly.
      As I said, I am 84 years old. I found out about my son 15 years ago. It came as a complete shock to me and my whole family. He and I have a great relationship, but my other son barely speaks to him and there always is that elephant in the room. It did destroy my beautiful family and I am left trying to pick up the pieces. Therefore, when I read comments about the issue, I do get emotional and I apologize if my emotions got the best of me in my reply.

    2. How difficult this must be for you, Angel. Sin affects and hurts everyone, doesn't it? I'm so sorry that this causes you suffering and pain. You're a good and loving mother! Prayers for you and your family.

    3. Angel, This is a tardy reply, but the US Catholic Bishops have issued a
      Pastoral Letter to Parents of Homosexual Children: (I realize it's merely 'more words'; nor is it the same as from the pulpit; and while it may not bring solace, take from it what you will).

      (Periodically it should be a bulletin insert, unless I've missed it in the past.)

      Also, if you live in a large city, perhaps there are diocesan support groups such as this:

      I do appreciate those sharing their personal journeys from varied vantage points in this post-thank you.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. I get the premise. But I also get gradation of sin. Do we treat murder differently than swearing? Of course. Heterosexuality, when misused, is still part of the created order. Homosexuality, never is. That said, the pervasive acceptance of homosexuality never would have taken hold if it weren't first for the acceptance of heterosexual fornication. After sex was accepted as primarily recreational, and only incidentally procreational, it was only a matter of time before the logical question was asked, "Why should your desire for free heterosexual be considered any better than my desire for free homosexual sex?"

  39. Nice point on premarital sex, Sage Antone. Premarital sex is largely accepted by Christians as well as society, often with the excuse that the parties involved "plan on getting married" someday. And so many of us sinned in this area that often we are left feeling unworthy of commenting on it.
    and for the other Angel - God bless you. You have had a difficult path, and I pray for you and your family.

  40. What is also unfortunate is WHY don't we hear anything from the pulpit about the
    sin of homosexuality? (not the person, the ACTIVITY) I NEVER hear a sermon
    about it.
    Who is leading us over the cliff ?

  41. As I considered the life of St. Justin this day, my thoughts were (strangely) drawn to this posting, and so I returned to see the progress being made.

    St. Justin was a philosopher, a wise man who sought the truth. His discussion with Rusticus, the Roman prefect, was a calm back and forth, a discussion on the truths of life. These two wise men could not agree, and power settled their debate: Justin was beheaded.

    The key point is that these were not stupid men, yet they could not understand each other. And while certainly there are some who accept/promote the homosexual agenda only because of the sensual pleasures they derive --- or some even, perhaps, because of some genetic disposition that they can’t overcome --- but most, I have found, are like Justin, or Rusticus, or me. They have, in one way or another, found a truth they can believe, consistent with the eyes of their being, and so they must live in it (or at least accept it in others). Mere argument will not convince them otherwise, nor will asking them “Why” they believe as they do give US satisfactory, convincing answers --- or even enhance our understandings; the answers are not simple --- but “Why” IS the right question. Why do they THINK as they do (not as we do) --- for whether there is some sensual or physical compulsion, there is also a mental side to their acceptance of homosexuality.

    Some great men once wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident” ---- for many, they are not anymore. Why? And even among “conservative” Catholics, why do some treat homosexual sins differently than other sins (as asked here)? And why have we reached the point where (even as in Roman times) only power can settle the debate: the constant bullying in the public arena of those who believe homosexuality to be a sin, i.e., you MUST believe as I do?

    People promoting the gay (and liberal) agenda have an underlying philosophical foundation, why they believe they have found their way to the truth – and it is compelling and not easily disputed. The questions here seeking to answer “Why do they believe this particular point”, the validity of homosexuality or gay marriage or the acceptability of homosexual acts will only be answered satisfactorily when we seek to understand WHY they see this as a truth. Then the real discussions can begin. Until then attempts at reaching a consensus will likely fail, and the frustrations of not understanding each other lead to more heated debates, and power struggles. I earlier offered one book as a path to start on, to begin to understand their basis for truth. There are many others.

    Until then, we can disagree with others who don’t see (or no longer see) the full truth of Jesus Christ, but we do not judge them, nor in truth easily understand them. But they are not stupid people. All we can do is live the truth as we know it, plow the soil, and plant some seeds.

    I admire this blog and its discussions, and pray for its ultimate success, for some, of planting the seeds of truth in them.

  42. "The reaction to the simple and clear teaching on homosexuality is so visceral, so violent, so dark, that even otherwise outspoken and proud Catholics are gun shy on this particular issue, telling me that they are afraid to say anything, nervous to be labeled as evil and heartless, preferring to stay silent."

    In my experience as a gay Catholic, for many years, Christians, including Catholics, have discussed homosexuality as an abstraction. By reducing it to an abstraction, they erased the very real, flesh and blood, person who always exists at the heart of the matter. Unfortunately, the recent language of the Church regarding homosexuality encourages this. Reducing me to an “objective disorder” and inclined to evil is unspeakably dehumanizing. The terminology is heartless. No other person or group of persons is enshrined in the Catechism as a disorder, only homosexual men and women. Unfortunately, these words have become weapons, and some Catholics, in an attempt to display their own orthodoxy, are more than willing to throw “disorder” at me and others without a second thought.

    What makes this so cruel and nauseating is that I am celibate and, to the best of my ability, chaste. Yet some Catholics, in their haste to highlight their own faithfulness, are happy to throw me under the bus by making uncharitable assumptions about me and my private life. So I end up treading a narrow path between the sins of despair at my Christian bothers and sisters who cast stones at me, and giving up the fight, finding a partner, and letting go. I’m not sure which sin the Church would prefer less, but it needs to do more than reductively label me and other homosexual men and women as “objectively disordered”. The Church has so many richly affirmative things to say on couples, marriage, and family, but very little on singleness. While most faithful Catholics grow up anticipating the thrills of love, dating,, marriage, children, and parenthood, young gay Catholics often have to unpick this dream the Church has woven for them and discover another life for themselves. Looking in the Catechism for support yields very little besides a few icy paragraphs on disorder and prohibitions. For some gay Catholics, they will remain faithfully single; for others, they will transfer the Church’s language of love to a same-sex partner, however erroneously, and try to live their faith in this manner. I can understand why they do this and I empathize with them: very little is said about celibacy these days, and it strikes most people as the runner-up prize when marriage fails to materialize. Marriage conveys social respectability; celibacy does not.


    1. [Continued from above]

      Where the Church sees disorders and problems, the secular world sees human beings. It’s difficult being caught between the two worlds, as I would like the Church to see me as a human being too. The secular world has employed me as an educator among socially disadvantaged children, allowing me to give my time in the service of others (and since I’m single, I have a lot of time). The Catholic world, on the other hand, would hastily make deeply uncharitable assumptions about me and probably not let me near children. Unfortunately, Catholic circles swirl with profoundly ungracious and scandalous assumptions concerning gay men and women – that they (we? I?) are, among other things, pedophiles, pederasts, have an average of one hundred sexual partners per year (I have had zero - ever), are compulsive addicts (try visiting the nearest nightclub on an average weekend to see compulsive heterosexuals), suffered childhood abuse (no, my staunchly orthodox parents did not abuse me), etc... As long as gay men and women are distant figures, out there, rather than within the Church, they easily remain abstractions. And it is easy to speak coldly of abstractions. It is easy to let the ungracious assumptions swirl. As the commenter named Angel says above, it’s very easy to throw around words until you learn that someone you know and love is gay. The problem facing the Church is how to fashion a pastoral framework for men and women enshrined, from the outset, as disordered in its recent Magisterial texts, and to whom a cocktail of uncharitable assumptions are attached among lay Catholics.

      So, why do we treat homosexual sins differently from other sins? Well, I’m not sure that we do. It’s that we treat the very homosexual inclination itself as something different, something utterly abject and unhuman. And then we transfer the merciless terminology of the abstractions in the Magisterial texts onto real people. The Catechism is clear that “sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.” A homosexual man or woman reading the above words in the light of “disorder” sees something very different to a heterosexual person. My “intrinsically disordered” sexuality affects all aspects of me; it concerns my affectivity, my capacity to love, my incapacity to procreate; and it concerns my ability to form bonds of communion with others. Disordered to the marrow, in a way that affects all aspects of my humanity, I am, following this terminology, little better than an animal.

      In short, the Church’s teaching on homosexuality might be “simple and clear” – if you are not homosexual. But it is gravely undignified and heartless if you are. I can understand why some Catholics have reservations about wielding these deeply destructive words against their gay brothers and sisters. Many Catholics, including me, can condemn adultery, fornication, abortion, surrogacy, etc. because these are one-off acts which, for better or worse, and can be left in the past. Condemning homosexuality is condemning a person, everything from their acts to their attractions, which follow them everywhere. I can’t “cast off” homosexuality, like an adulterer can leave adultery behind, or a contraceptor can leave contraception behind.

      Rather than pointing out, negatively, that I am disorder through and through, why not share with me, positively, the joys and virtues of singleness. Rather than assuming the worst about me, that I am an animalistic, compulsive, cognitive-affective disorder, why not assume the best about me, that I am one of God’s creatures and not a mistake.

  43. viscacha90, I really appreciate your words, and I am sorry for all the pain you have experienced.

    But I have to correct one huge misrepresentation of Church teaching that you have woven into your words. The Church does not (repeat: does NOT) say that you are disordered. That your are a disordered person. That you are disordered to your marrow. The Church never, ever says anything like this. Never.

    The Church says that the inclination or attraction is disordered. Just as if one had a disordered attraction to food, or to alcohol, or to anything. In fact, the ones who say that homosexuality is inherently an "identity" (who you are) is the gay community. Never the Church. The Church does not identify you or any sinner with his or her disordered inclinations. The Church says you are a person with dignity, made in the image of God.

    Have you see this?

    The Third Way. It's hopeful, helpful! Gay Catholics speak.

    You are made in the image of God, you are not your inclinations.

  44. And this is an interview with one of the Courage priests, who addresses the many challenges you bring up:

  45. viscacha90, as a gay Catholic myself, I can certainly empathize with how you feel. I myself have felt the same way. To make a long story short, I had the Catholic Church call DCFS (Department of Children and Family Safety) on me because of what I told them about my struggles with same sex attraction. As can be imagined, I was extremely hurt by this. I felt very betrayed to have such harsh claims made against me.

    With time, I learned to forgive them. I tried to look at the situation from their perspective. Do I think they should have acted as they did? Certainly not. But I see that they did what they thought best, even though I believe it to be ill informed.

    And that's where the Church is right now: they're still trying to get a grasp on this topic. And as you and I both know, it can at times be very confusing and hard to understand, especially for those you do not have same sex attraction. This process of the Church trying to understand it is going to be very messy. It is going to be riddled with wrong assumptions, hasty conclusions, and misunderstanding.

    We, as gay Catholics, need to be more charitable and understanding as our fellow brothers and sisters as they try to make sense of something we experience everyday. We definitely need to correct people when they may be in the wrong, but with charity and insight. The more we try to understand and see where people are coming from, the better we can both mutually educate one another.

  46. Tom, thank you for your thoughtful comment! It is very wise.

    I hope you don't mind my asking if the reason the Church had to call the DCFS was because of the very stringent guidelines now in place to keep children safe? So that even anything that might seem like a "violation" or a "danger" is required to be reported? In many cases now, if the Church doesn't report something, there will be lawsuits and huge repercussions. It's sort of overkill on one hand, but then again, considering the past, we have no choice but to be MORE than cautious. It's a terrible situation all the way around, and it's a Catch-22 for the Church. (Sort of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.)

    Of course nothing from the confessional can be revealed, so I am guessing you worked for or in the Church or youth ministry?

    Anyway, thanks for your comment. It is important to hear what you have experienced and what you have to say. What did you think of the Third Way video?

  47. To protect all of those involved, I would rather not share the details of my DCFS incident. I can say this much: it was due to stringent guidelines (I believe). Knowing that made forgiving them a tad easier. But being the recipient of such harsh judgments still stings tremendously.

    As for The Third Way video, I haven't seen it in awhile, so I can't offer specific critiques. However, I can offer general comments. I think it is a good introductory video. It gets at the main concept that there is a loving middle ground between radical acceptance and radical rejection/hate. And instead of just discussing matters in the abstract, it puts some faces on the issue with the use of the personal testimonies.

    However, it is just the surface level. The issue of homosexuality is much more intricate than the movie presents (from what I can remember). We need to be open to delving into the often uncharted world of the intricacies of homosexuality.

  48. Leila, I believe the reason it's treated differently is that too many people have bought into the lie that there are "gay people". And the Catholic community has bolstered that concept by using those same words, like in your post above calling people with same sex attraction "our homosexual brothers and sisters". This was the activists goal to get people to self-identify, and get the rest of us to go along with the idea that "gay" is who they are, therefore they cannot change and "God made them that way" etc. with that presupposition we cannot address their activity without simultaneously speaking to their person. It's like saying someone did something stupid and they say "don't call me stupid'. It's been set up so any critique of the activity or lifestyle is seen as an attack on the person. We don't see this anymore with other sins as much like adultery - though you may recall "The Scarlet Letter". You bring up the point about pedaphiles, and I already see references to that being so ingrained that it's who they are. I can see them being "protected" in the same way at some point.
    Another reason is that many have also bought into the lie that nobody is harmed by homosexual activity, mostly because we are thinking of this world and not the next. Eternal damnation IS harmful, and it's ETERNAL! Whereas living a chaste life, while it may be difficult, a true struggle, is merely a temporary inconvenience in comparison. We, as Catholics, need to watch our words so as not to bolster the lies or we will only add to the confusion that the devil has sown upon the earth. (I'm tired, too - I hope this makes sense) peace be with you and may you grow in faith hope and love!


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