Report: Catholics more supportive of gay rights than other Christians

That news will probably raise a few eyebrows.

Details:

Catholics are more supportive of gay and lesbian rights than the general public and other Christians, according to a new report released today. The new report, which is the most comprehensive portrait of Catholic attitudes on gay and lesbian issues assembled to date, also finds that seven-in-ten Catholics say that messages from America’s places of worship contribute a lot (33 percent) or a little (37 percent) to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth.

“It may come as a surprise to many that rank and file Catholics are more supportive of rights for gays and lesbians than other Christians and the public,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. “But the best data available paints this consistent portrait across a range of issues, including same-sex marriage, workplace non-discrimination, open military service, and adoption rights for gay and lesbian couples.”

Among the key findings:

Nearly three-quarters of Catholics favor either allowing gay and lesbian people to marry (43%) or allowing them to form civil unions (31%). Only 22% of Catholics say there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Catholics favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people against discrimination in the workplace; 63% of Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the military; and 6-in-10 (60%) Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.

Less than 4-in-10 Catholics give their own church top marks (a grade of an A or a B) on its handing of the issue of homosexuality; majorities of members of most other religious groups give their churches high marks.

A majority of Catholics (56%) believe that sexual relations between two adults of the same gender is not a sin.

“The strong evidence of Catholic support for gay marriage highlights the growing acceptance in American culture of the normalcy of same-sex relationships, and further showcases ordinary Catholics’ dissent from official church teaching on sexual morality,” said Dr. Michelle Dillon, a panelist on the call releasing the report and chair of the Sociology Department at University of New Hampshire. “Most American Catholics believe that one can be a good Catholic and disagree with the Vatican and the bishops on issues of personal conscience; gay-marriage has clearly become another issue, along with artificial contraception and divorce and remarriage, which Catholics believe is not core to what it means to be Catholic.”

Read more.   And the report itself is also available online.

  • Fr Chris Walsh

    I suppose it should also be noted that nearly 75% of self identified Catholics are not attending Mass either. What would the numbers be if they reported on Catholic who worshipped each Sunday?

  • Juan Rodriguez

    100% plus favoring this kind of abomination from so called Catholics would not make it less of a sin and unnatural union. The only right that lukewarm Christians and politicians are given the homosexuals is the right to spend eternity in darkness, away from the True Love of God.

  • romancrusader

    This is called Catholics who don’t know their faith! Unfortunately, many of them will never come in contact with what the Church actually teaches. This bogus, “personal conscience”, nonsense really holds no water. Heck, many Catholics today can’t even agree on what Vatican II actually says. But then again, many of these poor souls have never even read Vatican II. I don’t blame Vatican II for what happened here. If we didn’t have so many wicked pastors telling Catholics to “go get a conscience”, and such dissent in the seminaries, this stuff would’ve never happened. Paul VI had it right, when he said, “The smoke of Satan has arisen out of the sanctuary”.

    Our Bishops and priests bear the large majority of the responsibility for this huge mess!

  • naturgesetz

    “Most American Catholics believe that one can be a good Catholic and disagree with the Vatican and the bishops on issues of personal conscience …” This is the heart of the problem.

    “…gay-marriage has clearly become another issue, along with artificial contraception and divorce and remarriage, which Catholics believe is not core to what it means to be Catholic.”

    It may not have begun when timid bishops greeted “Humanæ Vitæ” with an invitation to the faithful to follow their consciences with no guidance about proper formation of conscience, no proclamation of Vatican II’s teaching about the religious assent required to the ordinary magisterium, and allowed dissenting theologians to become a quasi-magisterium unto themselves.

    We now have the difficult task of teaching the highly nuanced moral doctrine of the Church, as set forth in the CDF’s 1986 instruction and in “Always Our Children.” If the faithful understood what marriage is, they would not support gay “marriage.” It becomes increasingly urgent to present John Paul II’s Theology of the Body clearly to the faithful, so they can understand what sexuality is in the divine plan and realize how divorce, contraception, and homosexual activity abuse God’s gift and derail his plan for us.

    Meanwhile, it seems a generation has been lost on these issues. The best we can hope for, in order to hold the line against legalization of same-sex “marriage,” may be legalized civil unions.

    As for adoptions, my personal opinion is that there is no clear absolute answer. It seems to be a question of prudence. We have to remember that adoption comes into question only when the actual parents will not be raising the child. Clearly, a good mother and father are the best adoptive parents. But what if such a couple is not available? I think that in some circumstances, a stable home with two adults of the same sex could be better for the child than a succession of instututions and short term foster homes.

    In other words, I think the United States has reached a point where we need to order our priorities and choose our battles carefully in order to avoid wasting our efforts on lost causes and weakening ourselves for one that are winnable and more important.

  • naturgesetz

    I said “[i]t may not have begun” with the failure to uphold “Humanæ Vitæ,” but that was certainly an important element in enabling the growth of “cafeteria Catholicism.”

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    A poll like this shows the wisdom of the Church in not putting moral or doctrinal issues up for some sort of popular vote. Just look what is happening to the mainstream Protestant denominations over adopting the Gay agenda–disintegration and what may very well be the death knell of the Protestant Reformation.

    It is no secret that the mass media–especially the entertainment media is fanatically pro anything Gay. Our children have been cleverly brainwashed step by step by grossly negative charicatures of and ridicule of those who believe in traditional Christian morality. However,the Church by just staying true to its moral values will eventually overcome the polls for homosexuality is a sterile dead-end.

  • Deacon Brian

    It doesn’t surprise me. I suspect many Catholics are ignorant of their faith, as I’m afraid we have let things slip as regards practice and even in the areas of belief. Here in UK, it seems sometimes that we have let the genie out of the bottle and we don’t know how to get it back !

  • ron chandonia

    I think the Catholics who are supportive of gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples are probably very like the ones who get furious when they are told they should temporarily stop sleeping with their future spouses and abandon their plans for that never-to-be-forgotten wedding on Bikini Beach. We read an article about them here just recently. I can’t remember what that piece was titled, but it could very well have been called “Candidates for Upcoming Annulments” because the people profiled were about to say “I do” without having the slightest clue about the meaning of marriage and/or family life. Is this the majority of baptized Catholics in America today? Probably it is. Can we do anything at all about it? Not unless we are willing to have a much smaller church than we have right now.

  • ecb

    One who claims to be Catholic yet openly disagrees with or is ignorant of Catholic teaching is to me somewhat “intellectually dishonest”.

  • http://www.gerardnadal.com Gerard Nadal

    The Catholic Church has witnessed the rise and fall of entire civilizations in her 2,000 year history. So it is with Western Civilization. We’ve gone beyond the point of no return in Western Civilization, and the future of the Church for the next few centuries will be below the equator in Africa and South America.

  • Pat McNamara

    Dr. Nadal, you’re not at all wrong, and as a Church historian I totally concur. But neither I wouldn’t rule out Asia, specifically Vietnam and India, a source of so many vocations today.

  • Joe C

    Greg – It appears I am in the distinct minority here but my sense is that this survey doesn’t simply reflect CINO unchurched dissidents when it comes to CIVIL rights. The survey appears to have asked a lot of questions and one need not to endorse the gay lifestyle or all of the culture wars of the day or oppose church doctrine to be against civil discrimination against someone because they are gay.

    Anyone here believe that Catholics should support civil discrimination against gays to get a job or buy a house?

    I know thats not the only question that was asked but it is one of them.

  • Eka

    Fr. Walsh is right. Surveys of Catholics that don’t break up the stats for church going and non church going members are irrelevant.

    In any case, we are not doing a good job of teaching the faith with love and joy.

  • pagansister

    That’s jsut totally cool news! Maybe somebody in the church is listening.

  • John V
  • naturgesetz

    Joe C — That’s the sort of nuance that I was referring to in my comment. When the Church presents its teachings regarding homosexuality, it should always take care to point out God’s love and the Church’s for homosexual persons.

  • Eric

    The Catholic Pharisees are sure out in force on this issue. This is a great example of the self-righteous bullying those different from themselves. But the reality is that bullies attack those who are most like themselves. May the all-inclusive love of God reign over such bigotted and narrow mindsets that throw the Gospel out the window.

  • http://breadhere.blogspot.com/ Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    What Eric said… I am still stuck on the theme of Monday’s Gospel to be merciful. Why do we as Catholics have the hardest time doing this?

    Please hear what I say next with the charity in which I offer it. You are my friend Deacon Greg, but I must say that when you post things like this there is an element of provocation present in your headline and wording. You would seem to set it up in order to generate the kind of comments that it does with your one sentence intro. I understand that from a certain point of view; such things will generate a lot of comments, but is it really charitable? Or even remotely helpful? Or just agitating?

    The venomous seem supported, the demeaned and the rejected are well… still demeaned and rejected.

    And we know how things went down with Jesus when dealing with both the venomous and with the rejected. Just saying. Forgive me if I seem uncharitable to you or others.

  • Rudy

    “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

    Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

    Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans, Chapter 1

  • http://breadhere.blogspot.com Fran Rossi Szypylczyn

    The truth about God for a lie is exchanged in numerous ways and to simply tie it to the sexual alone is… well that seems to be a sin, pardon the pun.

    And there is an excess of exegetical resources that point to what St. Paul meant about “shameful lusts.” Sex to be sure but power, position, prestige, possessions and so much more. The Roman temple practices alone were rife with sexual activity but it was all also related to power.

    And as I said in my other comment, and as I *struggle* to do and can do only with grace, we must be merciful to one another as God our father is merciful with us.

    Are we capable of this? I frankly think that that is a potentially more pressing issue of faith than almost all the others. Without merciful compassion in community – sure, admonition, but charitable and loving admonition and exhortation – we are not a Body of Christ but rather pieces not of the One.

  • Dave

    @Father Chris Walsh and Eka: You should read the report. There is a section devoted to the impact of attendance. While the percentage of all Catholics against any recognition of same-gender relationships is 22%, for those who attend one or more times per week the number is still only 31%. The large majority of those who attend weekly or more still favor allowing either marriage or civil unions.

    @Deacon Bresnahan: your use of the word “disintegration” to characterize the impact of adopting pro-gay measures in Protestant churches is over the top. There has been slow decline in membership, but that has been true for most denominations regardless of position on gay issues, and has been occurring since long before these issues even came up. The main impact of the adoption of pro-gay measures has been minor realignments … small percentages of congregations leaving liberal denominations, either to join more conservative ones or to form new ones.

  • Mike Malone

    Scripture and the constant teaching of the Catholic Church regarding homosexual relationships is quite clear; it is condemned. Scripture condemns homosexual relationships in no uncertain terms e.g. LV 18:22 “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, because it is an abomination.” That’s the facts and those that defy the teaching do so at their own eternal peril.

    The elephant in the room is the reason so many Catholics are wrong on this issue. It is because they are poorly formed. Why are they poorly formed you ask? It boils down to the bishops. Since Vatican II faithful catechesis has all but disappeared. No longer are the doctrines of the faith clearly stated or clearly taught by the bishops. They are responsible for the state of the Church……bad liturgies, bad music, false teachings, renegade priests and ignorant Catholics.

    Truth is charity……

  • Max Lindenman

    I’m not entirely surprised by this.

    In some ways, Church teachings on gays have always been relatiely friendly. As early as 1973, the Vatican recognized that same-sex orietnation could be inborn and unchangeable. The same notion is at least implicit in Pope Benedict’s decision to bar gays from the seminaries. There may be some Catholics who believe in reparative therapy, but I have to believe they’re out they’re out on the margins somewhere.

    This is a subtle thing, but it has always seemed to me that Catholic leaders were less willing than their counterparts in other denominations to depict homosexuality as the Tony Montana of sins, i.e., the one people can point to and say, “That’s the bad guy.” Generally, the Church’s arguments against homosexuality were free of appeals to popular prejudice — a necessary condition for being taken seriously by serious people. James Dobson could warn his flock of teh dangers posed to their spiritual health by Spongebob and Tinky Winky; I can’t imagine, say, Archbishop Chaput doing the same thing.

    Even now that certain Catholic leaders are taking a more active role in the culture war, they’re going about it intelligently. They know that few people who condemn homoseuxality on theological grounds find it particularly exotic or shocking. It will not do, in other words, to follow the example of Uganda’s Pastor Ssemba, preach that gays “Eat da poo goo,” and expect the checks to start rolling in. They have to couch their appeals in terms acceptable to people who have gay and lesbian friends and relatives; who may, at one time or another, have watched Will and Grace or listened to Melissa Ethridge or (God forbid!) Ricky Martin. That’s not as easy as it sounds, so I have great respect for anyone game enough to try.

  • Fiergenholt

    Naturgesetz, in Post #4, mentioned the American Catholic Bishops’ Statement “Always Our Children.”

    Has ANYONE in this blog-stream actually read that document from beginning to end? I suspect there are a fair number of responders who claim to be Roman Catholic but who are really perfect examples of the “Cafeteria-Catholics” that they so readily condemn!

  • naturgesetz

    Yes, I have read it from beginning to end. Everybody should.

  • RomCath

    The Church teaches that homosexuals should be treated with the same respect and love that any person deserves as a child of God. The Church has also said that they should not be treated with any kind of discrimination or violence.
    The Church also teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman. I think that most Catholics would agree that gays must always be treated with respect and love. However, if they support the so-called “right” to same sex marriage they are sadly misinformed or just plain confused. There is no ambiguity on the Church’s teaching on this.

  • diakonos09

    No matter who the person or what their political agenda is, Jesus is quite clear on how we are to treat others. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, that you do to Me.”

    So when someone is in prison, do we visit them ONLY if they are there innocently? Or do we minister to the guilty and the worst of the criminals? “I was in prison and you visited Me.”

    If someone is ill, do we care for ONLY those who have innocently contracted their disease or do we tend to all the infirm with equal compassion? “I was sick and you took care of Me.”

    If someone who homeless and hungry, do we only feed those who have found themselves on the street by no fault of their own? Or do we also feed the drug addicts and the mentally ill who refuse to take their medications that would restore them to some normalcy? “I was hungry, naked, thirsty…you did it to Me.”

    So why is our ancient Christian duty and privlege to minister to the needy, the outcast, the suffering not extended to the homosexual? I am not talking of supporting a militant politicla cause. But the responses above that fling Bible passages and condemnations at people because they are gay are not worthy of a believer who calls himself ‘Catholic’. Wouldn’t some of us be surprised to hear Jesus say to us one day, “I was homosexual, and you refused to welcome me.”?

  • wineinthewater

    Fran,

    There is, of course, always an issue of how things are said. When it comes to homosexuality, authentic Catholic teaching is not often expressed with the teaching’s innate charity.

    But I think we should be careful here. If the Church’s teaching is correct, then it is a tremendously merciless act to deny it. We do our fellow sinners no favors by telling them that their sin is not sin. It is a profound lack of charity to do so. To abandon our brothers and sisters to sin is no kind of love .. no matter how much our culture has dressed it up as love.

    We must act with love and compassion, but that includes refusing to affirm other people in their sin. It can be a difficult line to walk – to balance refusal to pretend that a sin is anything other than a sin and refusal to deny people of the freedom even to sin – but we must walk it. And we must recognize that it is just as merciless and uncharitable to fail to one side as it is to fail to the other.

  • Max Lindenman

    Diakonos:

    That’s a good question, but there’s a good answer. Once you start telling people that generosity to gays is a corporal work of mercy, you’re basically telling them that homosexuality is a disease. For a number of decades, American psychiatrists believed just that. It was only in the early seventies — 1973, I think — that “homosexuality” was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Most gay people, I think, would tell you their position in society has improved markedly since then.

    I agree that “intrinsically disordered” is not a particularly ennobling term, but I’d prefer to be called that than a cripple or a maniac.

  • diakonos09

    Max,

    I do not believe welcoming homosexuals as Christ denotes that they are diseased. My point is that we extend charity and compassion to people who suffer, to those who are outcast. THAT was what I was thinking. Thank you, thpugh, for pointing out that possible connotation. No one knows the genesis of homosexuality. NO ONE except God. As for me at this time I accept my homosexual realtives and friends as having a different “internal wiring” when it comes to the God-given innate human need (not just desire) to love and be loved. To find ways to satisfy that need while remaining in fidelity to the Gospel is, indeed, a challenge that requires honesty and courage. As I was once told, “The purchase price of the faith is a much more expensive thing for me and guys like me, but its the pearl of great price.” Yeah THAT wisdom and humility came from a homosexual Catholic man.

  • Max Lindenman

    Naturally, I agree we should extend charity and compassion to gay people — and, of course, appreciate and respect them for their gift and talents. I was just afraid that putting too much emphasis on their unfortunate-ness could approach condescenscion. Obviously, your attitude is anything but condescending.

    You know, I’d like to see more people like you, who take into account exactly how hard it is to face life when there is no possibility save permanent continence. Here, I’m thinking less of the absence of sex itself than the absence of intimacy. Let’s face it, sex is unitive — and the Vatican would be the first to say so. Without it, your social contacts might not be superficial, exactly, but I have a hard time believing they can achieve such depth as married couples enjoy. (Of course, by that same token, a failing friendship won’t cost you as much, in terms of emotional serenity, as a failed marriage. Thank goodness for small favors, I guess.)

    I’d like to get your friend’s opinion on romantic friendships, by which I mean relationships that are nearly as close as marriages, only chaste. For quite a while, they were a bit of a tradtion in Catholic circles. John Gray, the poet-turned priest who may have partly inspired the character of Dorian Gray, had one with Marc-Andre Raffalovich. Cardinal Newman lived with and was buried in the same grave with — whatshisname, can’t think of it offhand. Even Hildegarde of Bingen had a longtime companion.

    My question to him would be: do these stand any chance of making a comeback? I have a feeling many Catholics would be suspicious of them at first. (“Oh, right, like those two are really sleeping in separate beds! It’s Batman and Robin all over again!”) But it’s certainly a more attractive option than living alone with a Havanese.

  • diakonos09

    Max, I would be glad to continue this conversation privately as a blog comment forum is not the place to do so…however, I do not know how to get my email address to you without giving it to all.

    The magisterium of the US Bishops has dealt with this sort of topic in its 1973 “Principles for Confessors on Questions of Homosexuality” wherein they encourage a gay person to form a stable friendship with another gay person in order to provide one another with the support, human affection, etc. which combats the dread pitfall of isolation. They go on to inform the confessors that if such friends OCCASSIONALLY fall they are ot be absolved and encouraged to get back up and maintain the chaste friendship. They state the the overall interpersonal and moral benefit of such a friendship outweighs an OCCASSIONAL fall. ONLY if the falls become very frequent or primary is the friendship to be abandoned.
    Interestingly, as far as I could read, no mention is ever made in this document as to “lesser of 2 evils” or “occassion of sin” in describing such a friendship. It is described as a positive moral choice. Unlike some other things that came out of the USCCB in the past and were “reformed” by the Holy See, this one neevr was an stands as solid Catholic pastoral practice.

    Before anyone here starts howling, the bishops and confessors are talking about and dealing with CHASTE healthy intimate human relationships with ALL human beings need in order to love and be loved PROPERLY.

  • Max Lindenman

    Now, that’s what I call a very sane and wise and far-sighted document!

  • diakonos09

    Amen to that, Max. I think the biggest obstacle in such a friendship wouldn’t be the potential fall(s) but enduring the gossip and stares. I have even seen such friends INTENTIONALLY ostracized by some significant parishoners to the point of leaving the parish in order to find Christian community elsewhere.

  • Max Lindenman

    I have to confess, I’ve been as guilty of that as anyone else.

    I first learned the term “romantic friendship” from a female friend of mine. She’d had a very close, non-physical, relationship with a lesbian. The woman had, in fact, wanted to sleep with my friend, and over time, fell head over heels in love with her. That pretty much ended the friendship.

    Its loss devastated my friend; it actually drove her to take a temporary job out of state. By the time I met her, eight months had passed since the breakup, if I may use the word, but my friend still spoke of it as one of the defining events in her life.

    Since my friend’s own sexuality was somewhat ambiguous, I took a very cynical view of the whole affair. I thought she was not only repressing her natural inclinations but denying them outright — an act that struck me as cowardly. To my way of thinking, the adult thing to do would have been consummate the relationship. The whole idea of romantic friendship struck me as a queasy half-measure; I defined it less by what it wasn’t than what it was.

    I’m finally getting to the point where I can appreciate my friend’s restraint as the mature decision of a self-aware person.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Max, I read a detailed account about that meeting and it was very obvious that the change made was not because of some breakthrough in genetics or psychiatry but because of old-fashioned political log-rolling of the type that goes on in every organization when decisions are being made on matters that are not irrefutable fact.
    If being Gay is not genetic, and not a mental illness, then it is a choice. And every person has a right to criticize what they believe are bad choices or vote with their feet.
    It is interesting that the recently completed census shows that many normal families are still fleeing the most Gay city in America–San Francisco because they feel they are the ones who don’t belong there any more. This has become a huge problem for the city according to the news article and for a decade have tried to turn things around but have not succeeded.

  • Max Lindenman

    So what are you saying? Is it a choice or is it a mental illness? You don’t take a stand either way. Frankly, you con’t seem to care, as long as it’s something really, really bad.

    Anyway, you’re setting up a false dilemma. The Church has been good enough to create a unique category for homosexuality — one that refers in no way to mental illness, and which acknowledges that choice is informed by “a more or less strong inclination.” Or were the authors of the Catechism engaged in political log-rolling, too?

    Finally, I hope you never minister to any gay or lesbian friend of mine. Your contemptuous, dehumanizing tone — “They’re bad for ueban development, those people!” — puts you, in my estimation, only a couple of notches above Fred Phelps.

  • Dave

    @Deacon John — you do start with a false dichotomy. You may not agree with the current consensus of a large majority of mental-health professionals, but this is a fair summary of what it is: Sexual orientation is determined by the complex interplay of genetics, intrauterine environment, and early-childhood environment. It is largely set by the time one leaves early childhood, and so is not a choice on the part of the individual. Homosexuality is not a choice.

  • Dave

    Continuing (since this site’s spam filter kept blocking my comment for some reason): Orientation exists along a spectrum ranging from strongly homosexual to bisexual to strongly heterosexual. Homosexuality is not a mental illness, but is instead part of the normal range of human characteristics.

  • anthony

    it seems impossible that anyone who has counseling and/or pastoral experience can believe that homosexuality is a choice.
    One’s orientation is not a choice, but specific acts or to choose a certain life style…that is different and we are responsible for the actions we freely choose.

    Henri Nouwen and the recently deceased Fr Matthew at Gethsemani Abbey both we open about their gay orientation and can serve as role models for gay men looking to live a healthy and fruitful life.

  • diakonos09

    The Church in her humility and honesty confesses that she has not been granted competence by Christ in any areas of life beyond faith and morals. She looks to the sciences and other areas of expertise realizing that religious and scientific truth all come from and lead to the same One Source. So the Church acknowledges along with science at this time that no one knows the exact cause of homosexuality and that it may be different for various peoples. But all, including the Church, seem to agree that there is one thing that it is not: a personal free choice.

    As to choosing to act upon these desires, I agree that here there is room for personal choice. But the Church also agrees that the innate sexuality which forms a significant part of our personality can be overpowering and the human vocation to love and be loved do great that one’s total freedom might be compromised and one’s personal culpability minimized or even absent.

    It is interesting that the more compassionate approaches of the Church (stable friendships, realiztic view of freedom and choice, etc.) are so often ignored by the zealous preachers of the hardcore “right”. Can it be that they are afraid of the truth when it touches upon things which they personally do not like or agree with? We certainly found this to true in some areas of social doctrine so it wouldn’t surprise me to find it in the arena of homosexuality as well.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Even if someone is not making a totally free choice because of some sort of psychological trauma from the past (instead of the disproven gene cause), that does not make acts based on that trauma moral, they are still sinful– but it lessens the person’s moral culpability. If someone is afflicted with what is termed
    “pyromania” doesn’t make the act of arson any less of a sin or suddenly moral. A compulsion to commit immoral acts doesn’t make the acts suddenly moral or not sinful.

  • anthony

    deacon John,

    have you read the posts on this topic? has anyone said same same sex attraction is “just” a genetic condition? do you really believe it is a choice? then state your case and prove your point.

    One of the most traditional and orthodox priests who has studied this issue is Fr Harvey (the founder of Courage) and he would totally disagree with your statements. (he has a few books you might want to check out). As he shows in his books, the church cannot ignore the findings and insights of depth psychology in the area of sexuality. it is not just a moral issue, but is rooted in the whole mystery of a person and his struggle to grow in greater freedom and love.

    after 30 years of counseling, i have not found that heterosexual men have any greater insight or track record on the problem of LUST. and that is the real issue, not ones orientation but growth to the freedom of purity and overcoming lust.

  • Dave

    @Deacon John – You obviously feel quite free to totally dismiss the strong consensus regarding origins of sexual orientation among mental-health professions, so I won’t belabor that point.

    I did want to comment on your analogy between committed same-gender relationships and pyromania. That analogy may hold if you take a very literal approach in interpreting scripture, without consideration of context. Many Christians, though, view scriptural passages pertaining to law and sin through the lens of Christ’s own definitional statements in Matthew 22. Jesus defines sin as the failure to love God and failure to love others with a selfless, self-sacrificing love. Hate, lust, greed, pedophilia, murder, pyromania(!!), etc. are all sin because they are destructive behaviors/attitudes grounded in self-focused desires for self-gratification. Failure to turn the other cheek, give your life for a friend, and care for the poor and sick is also sin for much the same reason.

    The same-gender couples I know, however, have relationships that mesh as well with Christ’s call to love God and others as well as the best straight marriages I know. And when I look at passages like Romans 1, and consider the fact that Paul wrote to a culture where same-sex activities were often conducted in the context of temple worship, prostitution, and pederasty, the relevance of such passages to the kinds of relationships being discussed here becomes very questionable.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Well, we have already seen one excuse for homosexual activity–promoted strongly in the media for years–a genetic determinism which turned out to be more gay propaganda than fact. So the media starts promoting the next set of bogus rationales.
    The real issue, however, is not what causes a person to become actively homosexual–but the sinfulness or immorality of the acts. And the Church has always held that ANY sexual activity outside the marriage bond is a sinful act. Noone’s picking on homosexuals —just opposing what they are demanding. It is just that there is no big propaganda campaigns by adulterers and fornicators to have what they do considered moral and not a sin by the Church or society.
    This whole movement to get the Church and society create something as absurd as Gay marriage–or civil unions– is nothing but a campaign to gain acceptance of the unacceptable–and therefore brings out opposition from people who have a right to strongly disagree.

  • Dave

    So basically same-gender couples should not be allowed to get married because their relationships are sinful. And the reason they are sinful is because they aren’t married.

  • diakonos09

    Let the one without sin be the first to cast the stone, unless he is too busy trying to get the plank out of another’s eye…

  • Mike

    It’s pretty simple: if you oppose civil unions for same-sex couples, you’re immoral. I certainly wouldn’t want you anywhere near my children, as I’m raising them to oppose bigotry. Yes, you’re bigoted. Deal with it.

  • Fiergenholt

    Deacon John: Let me quote your post #42:

    “Even if someone is not making a totally free choice because of some sort of psychological trauma from the past (instead of the disproven gene cause), that does not make acts based on that trauma moral, they are still sinful– but it lessens the person’s moral culpability.”

    That is not entirely accurate. The acts you might cite here are still moral evil but it’s sinfulness depends completely and solely upon the amount of human will the person committing the act of evil brings to the equation.

    That is why Vatican authorities (in contrast to a lot of local church officials) has always stated that abortion is a “grave evil” but never declares that it is an automatic sin. No one this side of God can decide whether the human factors making up that decision to commit that evil act constitute an act of free will.

    Someone — in one of Deacon Greg’s earlier blogs — used the legal term “willful and wanton misconduct” to describe a traditional mortal sin. The issue here, in my mid at least, is not whether homosexual acts are “misconduct” (I believe they are because they violate “Natural Law”) but what do the qualifiers of “willful” and “wanton” bring to the table? That’s where the real definition of sin emerges.

    “Evil” — no question here: “Sinful”– that’s not your decision to make.

  • Diakonos09

    Amen to the distinction between “evil” and “sin”. And let’s remember that in theological language as per this issue ‘evil” means “not oriented toward the natural end” and it is not as if homosexuals are seeking evil as in the ruin of socrity and the end of the world. Like every human being they are seeking affection and love.

    So to put it in perspective, a gay couple may be choosing acts that are not “normal” to the majority of the human race but they may also NOT be personally guilty of sin in doing so.


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