Some Points About Homophobia And The Church

I wrote a post this week that made the following points:

  • The Magisterium of the Catholic Church says that unjust discrimination against homosexual persons is sinful;
  • A number of laws debated or passed recently in a number of countries represent unjust discrimination against homosexual persons;
  • The authorities of the Catholic Church have been, at least in some cases, lukewarm and equivocal in their opposition to such laws;
  • The authorities of the Catholic Church should be outspoken and unequivocal in their opposition to such laws.

A great number of respondents objected to the conclusion of the post, while objecting explicitly with none of the points leading up to it.

Instead, many respondents objected to my use of the term “homophobia” to describe the sin of lack of charity towards homosexual persons.

Yet, I will not only reiterate my post, but offer the following points on this topic.


  • Some people, in the words of the Magisterium, “experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex” and for many of them this attraction is “deep-seated”;
  • In the words of the Magisterium, for many of them, this attraction or inclination is “a trial”;
  • These people are children of God, and, again citing the Catechism, they deserve “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” and “every sign [emphasis mine] of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”;
  • These words about our duties as children of the Church towards our same-sex-attracted brothers and sisters are demanding; they are not to-be-sures or asterisks.

On homophobia:

  • Some people have deep-seated, irrational animus against homosexual persons because of their homosexuality;
  • The English language word for this irrational animus against homosexual persons is homophobia;
  • Historically and to this day in many communities, the prevailing culture treats homosexual persons with contempt and this no doubt contributes/ed to their “trial”;
  • Homophobia is a phenomenon that exists in the world;
  • Homophobia is a phenomenon that exists among some members of the Church;
  • Some people have accused the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or Christian sexual doctrine, or Christianity itself, of being homophobic; I view this accusation as false;
  • The fact that false accusations of homophobia are sometimes leveled does not mean that homophobia does not exist;
  • The fact that some accusations of homophobia leveled against the Church are false does not mean that there is no homophobia in the Church;
  • All members of the Church are sinners, called to repent, and take out the beam in their eye before they look at the straw in their neighbor’s;
  • The Church itself is a penitent on a pilgrimage on Earth; in this world, it is Christ’s suffering body afflicted by sin, of which it is most right that she should repent (if you disagree, take it up with Bl John Paul II);
  • Sometimes a word’s etymology can help to illuminate its meaning, but not always; etymology is not definition, that’s not how language works; when I use the word “philosophy”, nobody takes me to task for using it to refer to a very specific mode of intellectual inquiry rather than generic “love of knowledge”, because the meaning of the word “philosophy” is clearly established in the English language; you may not like the etymology of the word “homophobia”, but it is still the word the English language uses to describe a phenomenon that actually exists in the world, and it is therefore a useful word for that purpose;
  • Calling on the Church to denounce homophobia does not mean that no other sin exists and that it should not denounce any other sin; if I write a post about the evils of pornography, I don’t get comments saying “What about abortion???”; if I denounce greed, I am not being soft on sloth, or lust, or whatever;
  • This is a complicated time for homosexual persons: in some precincts of the West, homosexuality is held up as normative to the point that orthodox Christian doctrine is viewed as bigoted, but in many other places in the world–no doubt at least in part in reaction to this phenomenon–homosexual persons are scapegoated, unjustly discriminated against and, well, victims of homophobia;
  • The Good News of Jesus Christ stands as challenge and judgement of every culture;
  • There is therefore no contradiction, indeed great harmony, in the Church Catholic defending its precious doctrine everywhere; part of which doctrine includes condemnation of homophobia; this means standing up for traditional marriage where it is threatened (hint: everywhere, although not always by the same forces), and denouncing homophobia and, in particular, homophobic laws; in defending traditional marriage and denouncing homophobia everywhere, it will show that it is prisoner to no culture but instead truly the one holy apostolic Church, the pillar and foundation of Truth;
  • The Good News of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, stands opposed to every form of scapegoating; by scapegoating I mean the collective imputation of the community’s sin on a demonized, Othered sacrificial victim;
  • Scapegoating is a profound impulse in all human societies and at every time and in every place; we want to feel righteous by projecting our sin on somebody else and directing our collective anger at an isolated person (see: the Internet Outrage Machine); we can’t help having that desire, it is part of the Fall; but we can be aware of it and combat it;
  • Above all in His perfect sacrifice on the Cross as the most blameless one, but also in His defense of the woman taken in adultery, his denunciation of self-righteousness and hypocrisy, his inclusion of the marginalized, the sinner, the broken, the outcast, the Samaritan, the Publican, the Tax-collector, in the circle of God’s mercy, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has exposed the lie of scapegoating, and He has firmly instructed His followers to never give in to scapegoating and to denounce it everywhere;
  • Without a doubt, after Jesus defended the woman taken in adultery, many onlookers thought Jesus was too lenient or adultery, or had endorsed it, and they were angry;
  • If it is to mean anything, the bumper sticker slogan “Love the sinner, hate the sin” has to include actual acts of love and not just words; preferably costly ones, as our Lord’s love cost him;
  • Historically, homosexual persons, like adulterous women and teenage mothers, have made convenient scapegoats; to say this is not to endorse homosexual acts, or adultery, or unwed motherhood;
  • Globally, we live in a paradoxical situation where, in some quarters, the prevailing view of homosexuality turns Christians into scapegoats, but in many quarters, homosexual persons are still the scapegoats; to say one thing is not to deny the other; that Christians are scapegoated for their opposition to the postmodern doxa on homosexuality does not relieve them of their duty of solidarity and charity towards their scapegoated homosexual brethren; indeed, following the logic of the Gospel, it only enhances it;
  • The recent spate of homophobic laws is like blood crying out to the Lord for justice because they are so clearly instances of scapegoating, of bit-part demagogues scoring cheap political points on the back of a demonized minority; all of it is so, so foul and repulsive to the Christian mind;
  • To repeat: oh Lord, the pseudoscience: “The junk science about homosexuality that is peddled by American Fundamentalists has now found its way to Africa to do even more damage. Supporters of these laws claim that homosexuality is a Western invention foisted upon them by colonialism, and that it is a choice. They use eliminationist rhetoric. The Church of Aquinas and Bellarmine ought to vomit out this nonsense.”;
  • Charles de Gaulle was right when he said that doing the right thing occasionally just might prove to be the politically smarter bet; many people sincerely believe that Christian doctrine regarding homosexuality can only be driven by homophobia; on top of being the right thing, it would seem to me to be the strategically adroit thing to do to prove them wrong in deeds and not just words; because they are wrong; aren’t they?
  • Since we’re on the subject of political/rhetorical/apologetic strategy, the worst thing to do in a debate is to concede the terms; if we leave the “other side” with a monopoly on the word homophobia, we are handing them the reeds to beat us with; or, in the words of Lenin, “We will sell to the capitalists the rope to hang them with”; not smart, not right; the fact that the word “homophobia” has been misused is a call to reclaim it, not jettison it;
  • Dostoevsky’s Elder Zosima is right: “There is only one salvation for you: take yourself up, and make yourself responsible for all the sins of men. For indeed it is so, my friend, and the moment you make yourself sincerely responsible for everything and everyone, you will see at once that it is really so, that it is you who are guilty on behalf of all and for all.”
  • Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.

So there. I shut up now.



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  • NicholasBeriah Cotta

    I still take issue with the “no choice” thing, as if this is just an obvious fact?
    I think also authority in this article devolves from the Church in to your own interpretation of the terms of the debate and what the Church says- the first thing you do is call the catechism the magisterium as in “let me quote from the magisterium” when the catechism of the Catholic Church was never intended to represent the entire magisterium. Then after that, “for many of them it is deep seated” becomes “that it’s a choice is junk science.”
    The terms of the debate matter very greatly when deciding rationally how to approach things. How to treat someone with respect and dignity is not to just arbitrarily decide what is part of their personhood and what is not. Of course, the context behind this article are the extreme measures in Uganda- but what about everywhere else? Is this article not a general address on the topic at large? I am sure homophobia as a term is touchy on this blog because most people would say people who believe that the idea that “you were born that way” has its own set of evils and people who disagree are labeled as “junk scientists.” Where is the prevailing science that points to this again? I thought the prevailing science recognized environmental and genetic influences, and until that is decided, let’s not just cast every purview that doesn’t 100% agree with it being a choice as “junk science.” After all, deep seated does not equal inherent, and many does not equal all.
    I like that as a community we have a central authority to appeal to, but when you take liberties beyond it, how can we agree on everything else that concludes from the appeal to that authority?

    • This isn’t about the genetic/psychological/social/whatever origins of homosexuality. Stuff like THIS is garbage and lies. These are the arguments in support of these laws.

      • NicholasBeriah Cotta

        I get where you’re coming from, but you can’t have one “voice” on homosexuality because we don’t have enough information to go on. Clearly, you think it’s an easy solution to condemn the Ugandan laws – but what about the archbishop there?
        I suspect the real motivation here is:
        1. Catholic teaching is seen as too far from the culture.
        2. Peg wants to remind everyone, “You see, it’s not as far as they think from the culture if we would just follow our tradition.”
        3. Small “o” orthodox Catholicism becomes easier to meta their noia because the “actual” teachings affirm proper culture at its most basic. The message that we treasure all people is right there in the catechism! Do you see? Yay!
        I think the missing of the fundamental point that the teaching only is what it is. There is no “obvious way” to unify about what to do about homosexual culture – the catechism merely teaches us to treat every homosexual person with the respect that we’d treat any person. For the magisterium to offer a simple prescription on the rule of law is just folly. Folly folly folly.

        • You are having an argument with a person who is not me but a figment of your imagination and who says things I do not say and have not said.

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta

            I guess that’s why I said “suspect.” If I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta

            Also, if you ignore the bullet points (which is kind of a speculative straw man to mirror what I thought you did with your points), then the point still applies. The catechism is clear that we treat everyone like a human being- what else do you want? To resist the scapegoating of gay people in general? If you follow the catechism you already de facto accomplish denouncing homophobia.
            My point is that you can’t just easily chalk up anti-sodomy laws to homophobia – there can be genuine concern for moral health in them and to cherry pick Uganda or pamphlets here and there is not fair to everyone who supports those laws wherever they may be. It’d be the same as saying anti-prostitution laws employ a phobia against prostitutes. it’s a case-by-case basis, to equate homophobia with every statute is to prescribe what we render to Caesar.

          • It’s important that you should take me to task for saying every law penalizing homosexual acts is motivated by homophobia since I explicitly wrote the exact opposite.

            “The catechism is clear that we treat everyone like a human being- what else do you want? ” I want you to actually do it!

            “If you follow the catechism you already de facto accomplish denouncing homophobia.” Good. Then do it.

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta

            “The recent spate of homophobic laws is like blood crying out to the Lord for justice because they are so clearly instances of scapegoating, of bit-part demagogues scoring cheap political points on the back of a demonized minority; all of it is so, so foul and repulsive to the Christian mind;
            in this conversation.”
            Your vague description of a group of laws confined to “recent spate” is not very easy to attack, because there’s not a very clear target. If you talk in generalities, I have to respond that way. And then you just claim, “That’s not me.” Okay, well what can I do ?

          • If we were to treat homosexuals as fully human, we’d have to recognize (and treat) homosexuality as the disability that it is.

            This whole article is about refusing to do that.

          • This article is not about that.

          • Then what, pray tell, is it about, if not about ignoring sin and allowing corruption into society?

      • Stuff like that has been the truth in the past, and seems to be the entire point of gay marriage.

        • NicholasBeriah Cotta

          Ah great, let me find someone even more right than I am so I don’t feel like I am going to fall off of the end of this pew. (relieved)
          I doubt that it was ever true in the past that individuals coordinated like this. People are not like this nor do they behave in this manner. Maybe demons do, but people all carry with them the possibility of good and so to “demonize” someone means to give them powers of evil that they do not have.
          This pamphlet is true scapegoating and should be condemned.

          • The above was pretty much the tactics of the Greek Army during the Maccabean War. Though they also used forced eating of pork.

          • The pamphlet is quoting a satirical piece by Michael Swift, just for the edification of all. It begins “This essay is an outré, madness, a tragic, cruel fantasy, an eruption of inner rage, on how the oppressed desperately dream of being the oppressor”

          • The trouble being that I’ve heard similar (and worse, forced abortions for heterosexuals for the next 35 years) from Dan Savage

          • [Citation needed]

          • I think I have the video at this link

            I don’t think its smart to take Savage (or any person asked to be provocative) seriously here, but I’m certain linking this to a gay agenda requires several more leaps of logic.

          • After what happened in Oregon in March of 2004, I treat everything that happens seriously.

            I am convinced that the OPPOSITE side believes we are at war, and will stop at nothing to destroy us.

          • oregon nurse

            But it’s always the provacateur, the radical that is needed to start the social revolutions. Don’t be so quick to dismiss and discount their purpose or their effect to desensitize. These are smart people who know exactly what they are doing. They are the background against which previously socially unacceptable ideas can begin to look reasonable in comparison.

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta

            War tactics are so much different than civilian behavioral norms for one and for two, interpreting old testament scripture as literal history is tough (because those old jewish scribes were soooo hyperbolic).
            I find it hard to believe that we wouldn’t treat any Greek soldier of that army, as an individual, as though we trusted he didn’t hold those positions. The point of scapegoating is to convict someone before they act – I think the point of a law is to convict someone after they act. Be careful with your convict-ions.

          • “War tactics are so much different than civilian behavioral norms for one”

            I’m not convinced the homophiles aren’t at war. The tactics used so far, both in the court system and in the streets, strongly suggest that we are indeed at war. They’ve certainly treated the Catholic Church as if we’re at war.

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta

            See, I am uncomfortable with the term “they” here. We are not at war with anyone except the evil one and his minions – as for individuals, we are war with them for each person. Treating any person as a group of “they” is absolutely scapegoating – it’s accusing – and we all know who the Greatest Accuser is, don’t we?

          • The homophiles *are* the minions of the evil one.

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta


          • Might be silly to you- but the tactics used in this debate over the last 30 years to silence heteronormative points of view show me that it is quite serious.

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta

            Well personal anecdotal evidence might be making connections that aren’t there. The catechism, thankfully, is clear that “homophiles” are to stand unaccused.

          • Yep, that’s one reading, as well as one example of silencing heteronormative thought! Well done.

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta

            Silencing heteronormative thought is a teaching of the Church and so I do it proudly (maybe too proudly, what can I say? I’ll pray to temper my tone)- you can find it in the theology of the body by the brilliant John Paul II and again, I will point to this post as a great lay explanation of why “heteronormativity” is an invention of men, and not of God –

          • Then why do heteronormative families produce babies and homonormative families not?

            I think you don’t understand the idea very well. One set of pairings produces children. The other does not. Thus one set is in keeping with the rules of evolution as set out by God, and the other does not.

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta

            Males and females can reproduce, yes. But they can reproduce no matter what they are sexually attracted to actually. Marriage doesn’t require that you “be attracted to vaginas” or “be attracted to penises” and certainly it is not required for reproduction.
            I am a son of the Church so I think that sex within the context of marriage is the only morally permissible and that the union of one man and one woman is the only morally permissible union.
            Heteronormativity is not saying those things: it is saying that you need to be predisposed to wanting to having sex with certain anatomical objects, namely female objects.
            The Church places personhood over sexual objectifications and that is why heteronormativity is not taught by the Church.

          • Ok, then I’m using heteronormativity differently than you are.

            I’m saying that the norm MUST be the union of one man and one woman- and that all of this “homophobia is a sin” talk seems to be trying to destroy that teaching, and go with the new norm now that the culture war has been lost- homosexuality as the norm, marriage between one man and one woman as the sin.

          • Sven2547

            The “progressive 1%” would rather such “unfit” people not exist at all.

            You lie

            The homophiles *are* the minions of the evil one.

            You demonize

            so you’re heterophobic, and have a deep seated hatred of heteronormative cultures

            You misrepresent others

            They’ve certainly treated the Catholic Church as if we’re at war.

            And you stoop to absurd hyperbole.

          • Then why the abortion and euthanasia?
            The homophiles have already demonized me, I do nothing to them that they haven’t already done to me.

            And you’re a foot soldier in the war to destroy the heteronormative family.

          • Sven2547

            Then why the abortion and euthanasia?

            I’m not here to argue about those things, so I won’t bother telling you. Just go outside and ask any of the hundreds of millions of Americans who support those things. I promise the answer isn’t anything resembling ‘to make inferior people go away’.

            I do nothing to them that they haven’t already done to me.

            Have they voted to ban you from marrying? I think I missed that news report.

            And you’re a foot soldier in the war to destroy the heteronormative family.

            Back to the lying again. I don’t support anything that would damage or destroy a heteronormative family. Not one thing. Why would I? My family is a heteronormative family too.

          • “I’m not here to argue about those things, so I won’t bother telling you”

            And yet , they are at the heart of the 1%’s methods for destroying the unfit.

            “Just go outside and ask any of the hundreds of millions of Americans who support those things.”

            We were talking about the brainwashers, not the brainwashed.

            ” I promise the answer isn’t anything resembling ‘to make inferior people go away’.”

            Doesn’t matter what the answer is, that’s what those things DO. Intent in a genocide doesn’t matter one whit.

            “Have they voted to ban you from marrying? ”

            Yes. That’s exactly what happened when divorce became legal- they voted to ban Catholic marriage- and removed the presumption of lifelong marriage from the culture.

            “I think I missed that news report.”

            No, you just haven’t bothered to think about it.

            “Back to the lying again. I don’t support anything that would damage or destroy a heteronormative family. ”

            Except divorce and the new blacklist of heteronormative people, right?

            “Why would I? My family is a heteronormative family too.”

            Because you don’t realize what your politics is doing to your family, or don’t care.

          • Sven2547

            That’s exactly what happened when divorce became legal- they voted to ban Catholic marriage

            Thanks for the laugh! Have a great weekend!

          • Renee

            I don’t think people who are gay or even the those who are gay activists are ‘at war’. Living in Boston, they were and still a minority. GLBT issues were considered alternative and non-mainstream. Their interests were though heard at a state level, they received legal protections in 1988. It was when issues concerning the GLBT community transferred from social/local to corporate in the past decade, that is when things really became weird.

            Here in America, we are fed to the lions like social media entertainment sponsored by the Patricians
            of American Corporate Lobbyists. What I mean is the the push for gay marriage and any attempt to disagree is prompted with act of isolating and shaming is strongly financially backed by the 1%, not actual people who are gay.

            For instance YouTube professional ‘fangirl’ Tyler Oakley who is a constant salesmen of corporate branding has no problem telling people to ‘unfriend’ people who like Duck Dynasty or support the vocation of marriage.

            Why do corporations like Dupont (which pays no federal taxes) have an interest in marriage? They and other corporations (particularly the entertainment industry) play a big role in it in the financial lobbying efforts.

          • I know what their interest is- one more way to encourage the poor to not breed, therefore fewer non-consumers to keep feeding.

          • Renee

            Without family structure, Americans rely more on government agencies and have poorer outcomes. This creating a larger gap. My progressive friends ignore the fatherless gap in income inequality. “All they need is more government.” Many of these individuals have their own fathers, and can’t understand the ‘anger’ involved in father absence or the benefit of father. The child who comes from an intact family, and parents who were raised in intact families have greater social capital to rely and benefit from compared to generations of children relying on government supports who can’t replace the life-long connections of a biological father and his paternal kin. A child doesn’t just lose a dad, but half of his extended family.

          • The “progressive 1%” would rather such “unfit” people not exist at all. Low earning potential means not only unfit labor, but also unfit consumers. The same ones pushing for same sex marriage, are the ones pushing for contraception and abortion.

          • Renee

            I disagree. Very few of my progressive friends have/want children. They think of themselves as pretty “fit”, but they have no interest in reproducing their genes. They may have one for the experience of having a child.

          • They’re the brainwashed, not the corporations doing the brainwashing.

    • iThinkergoiMac

      Are you referring to no choice in being homosexual? I ask you, then, when did you choose to be attracted to women? Was there a day you woke up and decided “I’m going to be attracted to women, seems like a good fit for me”?

      I know I had no such experience. Given that my own attraction to women is inherent to my person, I think it’s presumptuous to assume that someone attracted to men (who is a man) made that choice specifically.

      • NicholasBeriah Cotta

        Choice is a tricky thing, and no I didn’t choose to be attracted to “women, multiple.” I think Bad Catholic is really good about how discussions like this force a binary that isn’t really congruent with Catholic thought. I urge you to read it –

        • iThinkergoiMac

          An interesting read, but it doesn’t really change my point, just some of the wording.

          That article extrapolates some ideas from the phrase “attracted to women” that aren’t necessarily being implied. I don’t mean “attracted to all women” or even “attracted to most women”. I simply mean that any person you are attracted to is female.

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta

            The point is that attraction is a silly thing to think about. Many social scientists will tell you that you can become socially attracted to many things from dead people to balloons. “Oriented” toward being sexually attracted to “things” like female bodies or male bodies is all under the same umbrella – the “who cares” umbrella. If the catechism were to say, “necrophiliacs should be treated with the utmost respect,” you would say of course, but would you then go opposing the laws of necrophilia?
            My point is that our “attractions” themselves can be warped by society itself – we don’t really understand why we’re sexually attracted to anything. The simple evidence that “i feel attracted to women” doesn’t mean anything because we don’t follow our loins to guide our notions of right and wrong, we follow God. That homosexuality is a rather large “orientation” is respected by the Church in the sense of “remember that every person is a person who is of equal dignity and standing as yourself,” not in the sense here that Peg offers that they are a special interest group that we must prove that we care for.

          • iThinkergoiMac

            There’s nothing in there I disagree with.

            You’re the one who brought up attraction when you said you didn’t get the “‘no choice’ thing”, unless I misunderstood what you were referring to.

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta

            I don’t think it’s inherent, inevitable, unchanging, out of the realm of possibility to change, a state, a thing inherent to someone’s identity. It’s not a group of people by their nature.

          • iThinkergoiMac

            It’s very difficult to have a conversation about anything when you continually address everything but the point I’m making.

            It may not be technically unchanging, but how many people do you know that change over the course of their lifetime? A few people do, no doubt, but I think the vast majority of people don’t.

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta

            Well I thought that I replied to this point,
            “Given that my own attraction to women is inherent to my person,”
            when I said the opposite – “I don’t think it’s inherent.” Even if I agree that it’s not a choice “today” or individually, it is a choice as society to open our minds to the possibility that we could change. It’s like when people say that racism is “structurally” inherent in society and in people. Do we expect people to recognize the structure behind it and try to change even though it’s not a “choice” in the microcosm? Of course we do and I think the Church’s magisterium is minimalist for this purpose.

          • Your misreading of my post almost seems willful.

            But I ask you: was it right, or not, for the archbishop of Uganda to participate in and offer public prayer at a ceremony praising a law that sentences homosexual acts to life imprisonment and sentences not denouncing homosexual acts to prison terms? What is it that the Catholic Church of Uganda should say or do about this law?

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta

            I don’t mean to willfully misread; if you think that I am, it is only because I’m a poor communicator.
            But- it’s his choice and his conscience and he’s a bishop. I think you’re blurring the lines between Church and State by saying that the magisterium supposes that we can’t make anti-sodomy laws. There is a good line of legal thinking to support them and maybe the good Ugandan Bishop thinks that good outweighs the unproportionality of the laws. Here you can read Scalia’s dissent from Lawrence v. Texas that deals with this topic:

          • What about a law that punishes adultery by death?

          • NicholasBeriah Cotta

            The death penalty as it has been applied in modern courts doesn’t fit the Church’s idea of justice and that’s because of the wishy washy nature of the justice system.

          • In certain cultures, that would be a good addition.

          • Have you asked the question of what damage *given Uganda’s culture* homosexuality and the AIDS epidemic has created?

      • “I ask you, then, when did you choose to be attracted to women? ”

        About age 4, when I decided that one day being a father was an awfully good idea.

        I had many homosexuals in high school mistake my asperger’s for homosexuality and try to derail me from this decision, but I stuck with it, and today, am a father.

  • Baroque

    A million thanks for both this post and the previous one. This ought to be a big issue for the Church. It’s a matter of charity and justice, but also of unity within the Church.

    We do not agree on everything, to me a moral doctrine that regards homosexual orientation and acts as intrinsically evil or wicked is homophobic and needs to be challenged – in a Christian way, of course. A lot of people are trying to challenge this doctrine today, within the Church, and not out of permissiveness or “spirit of the world’s” inspiration.

    (To me, the nature/nurture or innate/acquired debate on homosexuality is pure nonsense – at least within a Christian context. Nowhere in the Gospel is morality presented as a nature/nurture or innate/acquired issue. The issues are “do not cheat on your spouse”, “do not covet anyone else”, “try to know/do God’s will”, and mostly “love one another as I have loved you”, not “put-the-right-thing-in-the-right-hole-as-it-is-natural-to-do-so-since-the-foundation-of-the-world”, let alone “if-science-proved-it’s-inborn-then-it’s-good”.)

    • That’s another discussion. But thanks for your comment.

      • arcadius

        You see then how attacking “homophobia” can easily be misconstrued as an attack on established Church teaching on homosexual acts.

    • Mike Blackadder

      “to me a moral doctrine that regards homosexual orientation and acts as intrinsically evil or wicked is homophobic and needs to be challenged – in a Christian way, of course.”
      Baroque, on a personal level I don’t find myself particularly offended at the reality of ‘acts of homosexuality’, though I try to be objective concerning the position of the Church. How do you square the remark you make here with all other church instruction regarding sexual morality? If you say that the moral doctrine which suggests it is wicked to have homosexual intercourse is ‘homophobic and needs to be challenged’, then do you not also oppose (as irrational) a condemnation of pre-marital intercourse, of masturbation, even adultery given circumstances? You must be suggesting that the entire topic of sexual morality is irrational and needs to be ‘challenged’, or are you making a special case for the church’s position on homosexual acts?

      • Baroque

        I am not making a special case for the church’s position on homosexual acts… nor suggesting that the entire topic of sexual morality within the Catholic Church is irrational. But putting the “intrinsically evil” label on sexual acts within same-sex relationships, pre-marital intercourse, masturbation or anything does not look like the best way to know if such acts are indeed good or evil.

        And let’s rephrase one of your questions : “If you say that the moral doctrine which suggests it is wicked to have homosexual intercourse – even within a committed, responsible, loving, faithful relationship – should be maintained, then do you not also support a condemnation of heterosexual intercourse between married people ?” Just sayin’.

        • Mike Blackadder

          So firstly, your position of challenging the Church over morality of homosexual intercourse also applies to the broader doctrine of sexual morality; because as you say, masturbation, pre-marital intercourse, etc. are not necessarily intrinsically evil in your view, and it is simply that the Church ‘labels’ them as such.

          That at least shows that you accept the consequences of the Church coming around to accepting homosexual intercourse – that they must in the process fundamentally revise the dogma of sexual morality in its entirety.

          Secondly, you have to explain at what point the Church’s instruction on sexual morality becomes irrational, and at what point it does not. You have already said that the Church’s position on homosexuality is homophobic. Homophobia is by definition irrational. Do you say that it is also irrational to condemn masturbation, pre-marital intercourse, even adultery, or where do you draw the line if you say that you are not suggesting ‘the entire topic of sexual morality within the Catholic Church is irrational”.
          Lastly, I’ll answer your question: if the church condemns homosexual intercourse even within a committed, responsible, loving, faithful relationship then why do they not do so among heterosexuals? The answer is that church dogma concerning the vocation of marriage, sex and natural law does not validate sex simply on grounds of a couple being committed, responsible, loving and faithful. Those are perhaps the standards of morality defined by the secular world, but not the Church. The Church’s doctrine founded on the belief in God who created the world by design, and based on the dogma of fallen man considers sex against a standard of what it is supposed to be; which is monogamous, between a man and woman whose bodies (existentially) have been joined by God through marriage with openness to the outcome of creating life if that is God’s will. The Church continually guided by the Holy Spirit does not, as far as we know, have grounds to interpret that man-to-man or woman-to-woman intercourse is part of that standard of the intended design of humanity, and not a perversion arising in a world that has fallen due to sin.

          • Baroque

            This could be a very, very long debate. To be very short, let’s say 1) that the “natural law” – or at least the way we understand it – may evolve, as allowed by Aquinas himself, 2) that the Catholic doctrine of marriage has its flaws, has evolved and will evolve in the future, 3) that as the Catholic thought on sexuality has been radically challenged and transformed during the last fifty years, it seems highly presomptuous to think it will not be challenged and transformed during the next fifty years, 4) and that when and where there is a will to find grounds for same-sex relationships in the Scripture and Tradition, don’t worry, there is a way to find it, the Church has done it for many, many other things – and things so much more strange and surprising, like slavery, death penalty, and so on.

          • Mike Blackadder

            It would not be a very productive debate though. Church history according to Dan Savage is not serious and does not interest me.

          • Baroque

            So, the reductio ad Dan Savage? I lol’d.

  • Jim Russell

    There seems to be two sides to the call of the Church to address an issue such as “homophobia”–and this post identifies the first side of that call–don’t be “homophobic” and treat every neighbor in accord with our fundamental dignity as human persons.

    The second side of what the Church asks seems to be expressed well in this quote:

    “For some persons, revealing their homosexual tendencies to certain close friends, family members, a spiritual director, confessor, or members of a Church support group may provide some spiritual and emotional help and aid them in their growth in the Christian life. In the context of parish life, however, general public self-disclosures are not helpful and should not be encouraged.” [US Bishops, 2006, “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care”]

    Wouldn’t you agree that the Church’s wisdom extends here to minimizing homophobia by counseling *against* public self-disclosure of one’s homosexuality?

    • I’d actually say that the church is maximizing homophobia while minimizing the immediate harm from homophobic persons.

      Homophobia qua homophobia is an irrational (as in, coming from emotion, not reason) loathing of something, in this case, persons who are exclusively attracted to members of the same sex/gender/gender expression (a knot I do not care to untie). Considerable evidence suggests that the best way to undo this irrational loathing is through exposure. The more a person realizes that his or her acquaintances, friends, coworkers, coreligionists and so on are in fact that thing they thought completely alien, the less power that irrational loathing has, often buoyed by the salutary but also irrational loyalty people have for one another.

      So, by encouraging a group of its parishioners to remain at least partially closeted in fear of hecklers, the Catholic Church is giving itself a serious long term headache. Which, from my place in the peanut gallery, is par for the course.

      • Jim Russell

        “Considerable evidence suggests that the best way to undo this irrational loathing is through exposure. ”
        Do you think this would be a good strategy *just* for homosexuality, or should this also apply both to other unwanted disordered attractions and other sinful behaviors?

        • I think desensitization to child abuse works that way as well.

          • Heather

            Well, yes.
            Not as in “the more you talk about it the less horrible it sounds” but as in “when you realize that other people have suffered similar hurts you feel less alone in your suffering.” And as in “the more people realize that there are people in their own midst who have this particular experience the more they are part of us instead of part of them.”

          • Evil and Good both use the same roads. You know them by their fruits, not their choice of highways.

          • And likewise, the more child abusers become normal, the more child abuse will happen.

        • I don’t agree that homosexuality qualifies as a disordered attraction, but I am not Catholic so it is also not really My Problem, as the kids say. Bracketing that whole problem, I can say with confidence that I generally believe that full integration into a community with maximal transparency is the ideal, and the only strong mitigating elements I can see at this moment are the safety of the congregation. Let me give you an example.

          Say one of your parishioners, we’ll call him Saul, murdered someone 20 years ago under peculiar circumstances, but a number of well trained and wise persons across all of the relevant secular and sacred expertises have declared Saul to not be a danger to the congregation. Yet, it seems likely that multiple parishioners would not like to associate with Saul and would bear animus, fear, loathing of an emotional nature upon this fact being disclosed.

          The degree to which Saul wishes to publicly discuss his life and nature is up to him, and no one has a right to demand of Saul that he out himself if he is not ready. But in so far as the Church has a mission to reach all, including murderers, it is best if we all take our exhortations to Christian love seriously. So yes, I think it would be best for Saul and all the murderers in the church and all of us if they were brought into the light, as terribly difficult as that would be.

          • Jim Russell

            So it’s best for the *community* if we *all* were to engage in public self-disclosure of our past sins and our tendencies toward certain sins?
            To combat the irrational loathing of adulterers, “adultero-phobia,” it would be better for all adulterers to “come out” publicly?
            Even pedophiles shouldn’t be “loathed irrationally” according to the Church–so we could combat pedophilo-phobia better if pedophiles self-disclosed?

          • Ideally, yes. The practicalities of a fallen, imperfect world frequently intercede but the Church should make it its business so that all of its parishioners (and those still not!) are welcomed and loved by not only God but His flock (i.e., all of us).

            It isn’t like when the sign of peace is exchanged it comes with the instructions “but only people you feel comfortable with,.”

            I don’t know I could feel comfortable with a pedophile, even one who has the behavior fully under control. But I know that is my problem to get over. God is Love, no asterisk.

          • “I don’t know I could feel comfortable with a pedophile, even one who has the behavior fully under control. But I know that is my problem to get over.”

            It will be in 50 years. The same white papers that were written about homosexuality in the 1960s are being written about pedophilia now.

          • Jim Russell

            But from the Catholic viewpoint, when someone publicly discloses a particular unwilled disordered inclination or a sinful behavior *without* likewise acknowledging either the sin or the objective disorder, it creates what we call “scandal”.
            So, it seems obvious, then, that anyone publicly self-disclosing their own objectively disordered inclinations or their sinful behaviors likewise have the responsibility of *acknowledging* them as such.
            Nonetheless, I still affirm with the US Bishops that public self-disclosure is not helpful. And it would seem a matter of common sense to suggest that it keeps away a lot of irrational loathing….

          • I’m having a hard time responding because I don’t really understand what you’re getting at, or how one idea links to another, so if my response is not on point, I apologize.

            Whether someone accepts that their sin is sin is their problem, not mine. I do not have the authority nor the duty to demand they prostrate before me in accepting their sinfulness. Down that path pride and madness lies. A priest may have marginally more authority to do so (I don’t think so, but my list of objections with clericalism is long, emotional and distracting), but the community does not have it either. If the Catholic Church thinks that the public nature of a sin is somehow worthy of inferior treatment (and Canon 915 suggests that it does) the Catholic Church is in grievous error.

            A Christian community is bound first and wholly by the commandment to love. If we are the body of Christ we must be, as a community, as like Christ as sensible. That includes welcoming all regardless of disability. I believe an expectation can be made for predators and other threats, especially within the leadership (another place where the Church has not done a particularly good job safeguarding the flock), and I’m not here talking setting boundaries of what counts as us and what does not. I don’t ever take communion at a Catholic mass because I am not a baptized Catholic, and I tell all my non Catholic friends to also not do it.

            No, this is something much more fundamental. We let lepers into the church, and then we wash their feet.

            I don’t think we’re just talking about a skin disease and a nice bath, do you?

          • Tom

            I’m intrigued by your comment about knowing a pedophile, and I was wondering if there could be some kind of gradient. What if this person was a family member or a close friend who told you? What if it was someone you were considering marrying (you’d have to be pretty close, as it doesn’t seem like 3rd date material)? What if they only felt them in passing? How about if they had never given in to their tendencies, even though they were constant? What if they’d given in at some point in the past, but repented and turned their lives around? Is there any point here where you think your reactions aren’t just your own, but should be universal (marriage and the reformed person seems most likely)?

          • I’m not sure exactly what your question is, so I will be as comprehensive as practical and see if I can stumble backwards into answering your question.

            I am making four intertwining sorts of claims three of which are contingent on some sort of Christian worldview. The following is not a bullet proof logical case, just the general flow of what I am getting at.

            Duty of the Church

            1. Christ’s love is radical – it reaches infinitely and eternally, drawing a red line through the past, including the past that happened moments after reading this sentence.

            2. the Church (whether a particular organization, or the whole of Christian believers) is the body of Christ and has a duty to extend that radical love within and without the church.

            3 the Church has a specific duty to bring all those outside the Church into Church as part of the body of Christ. To be saved is to be justified, and sanctified, and transfigured into something better. So get to work.

            4. All must be welcomed in the church, the body must be made to be in harmony with itself

            5. Conclusion as applied: all, even pedophiles, must be by the church (as an organization and as each part of the body both), loved and loved equally at the highest standards of Christ’s radical love.

            You’ll note I did not discuss repentance, accepting forgiveness and the like. This was deliberate, as it does not matter in this respect.

            Duty of the Christian

            1. Christ’s love is radical – it reaches infinitely and eternally, drawing a red line through the past, including the past that happened moments after reading this sentence.

            2. We are not called to mimic Christ, (please do not attempt to raise the dead and proclaim judgement over all flesh) but to follow his teachings. We must love eachother like we naturally would like to love ourselves (to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, after learning to love others, we are also permitted to love ourselves again, properly this time)

            3. When we are made uncomfortable by the imperfections in another, our duty is to love them – as they are – as we would love ourselves with those same imperfections. It is in fact best to understand that our imperfections are, before a perfect being like God, and the radical love of Christ, all the same.

            Impact of the fallen world

            1. God created/begat/divided/molded/divine-verbed the world and all that is good

            2. Yet the world is not perfect, but in fact, fallen and imperfect.

            3. That which is ideal cannot always be met

            4. Good things can happen to bad people and vice versa

            5. Many of the harms caused by actions that are Christ-ordained on paper can be predicted, or at least foreseen.

            6. Minimization of harm is an acceptable – or at least understandable – compromise with pursuit of Christ-ordained goals.

            7. Practically speaking, that means both Church and Christian may abstain from a Christ-like call to love and welcome if this stems from intractable personnel limitations, or discrete threats to the safety of others.

            Ignorance and Fear

            1. Fear and prejudice comes from alienation – the unknown, the hidden, the closeted, the only-whispered about. This is true without regard to the actual fear-worthyness of the thing itself. For example, several virulent diseases are hidden from us, and is genuinely terrifying. Homosexuality, for decades upon centuries, was hidden from most of society, or only exposed through twisted glass.

            2. Exposure lessens fear by lessening alienation. We become accustomed to the other until the other is not the other any more.

            3. Whether at at communal or individual level, this is because that the other is actually much like you. We are all special – but not that special. As much as we are all un-average in someway, humans are fundamentally like each other separated by circumstance and cultural programming that draws strong line of division that does not exist in the physical world. To wit: when I cross the border from the U.S. to Canada, the geology does not change. The geography does.

            Onto practical matters.

            I think if you are a Christian, your duty is absolute and fairly clear. I think if you are not a Christian, we’re right anyway, but you should consider the loving your neighbor thing, if in a less radical way – because it has good outcomes on individual and communal levels. I definitely believe that fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to the dark side, and that this is an observable fact.

            There is no actual up side to hating pedophiles. It just makes people feel better about all the petty evils they ignore and commit themselves. My right to exhort others is limited, and everyone has their own baggage, but as a society, we should be doing our very best to be removing ignorance and hatred from the least popular of us, even if they appear to deserve it. Individuals I think are allowed to be far more risk-adverse with their family and friends, as well as more selfish in maximizing outcomes – but at the same time they owe much more forbearance to each other.

            Hopefully I got somewhat at answering your questions?

          • Tom

            I meant it more as a personal question about your reactions than a general question about what we should do (I agree with you on what we should do, and appreciate the Star Wars reference). If I might lay them out methodically:

            1. Suppose you had a family member who admitted he had felt pedophilic tendencies briefly in the past. What would your first reaction be, and what would you try to do after you’d had time to think?

            2. Suppose you had a friend who admitted he had felt pedophilic tendencies briefly in the past. The same questions apply.

            3. Suppose you were contemplating marriage with someone who admitted he/she had felt pedophilic tendencies briefly in the past. (again, you’d have to be pretty far along, as this doesn’t seem like 3rd date material). What would your initial and delayed reactions be, and would you feel comfortable marrying this person? Especially with regard to the last question, do you think this is your own individual reaction, or that it should be universal (So I’m breaking my own rule. That’s life.)?

            4. Now imagine you had a family member who was constantly dogged by these pedophilic feelings, but never given in. Same two questions.

            5. Keeping up the template, close friend with constant, but never indulged, pedophilic temptations. Same two questions.

            6. Someone you’re contemplating marriage feels these compulsions. Same three questions (immediate reaction, delayed reaction, would you marry them), plus bonus round (Just you or should be everyone’s).

            7. Family member who acted on the feelings in the past, is now penitent. What’s your immediate and delayed reaction, after you’ve had time to think?

            8. Close friend with the same sins, repetence. What is your reaction?

            9. Someone you’re considering marrying. What are your immediate and delayed reactions, and would you marry this person? Is your response to third question just personal, or is it something everyone should do?

            Hopefully this is clear enough.

          • Ah. I see. The most accurate answer I can give you is I don’t know. I know what I’d like think I’d to do, but that isn’t the same thing.

            That of course, is also something of a cop out, so I will give you my best guess for each of these.

            1. It’d be a gut punch. I have a very small family and while we are not emotionally close, it would change everything I knew about them. Shock wouldn’t begin to cover it. As you might have guessed, I’m not often at a loss for words, but there have been a few times, and I imagine that would be one such situation. After a while? Family is family. As long as they want help, they shall have it, but I imagine with family, I’d also put myself in the position of forcing them to seek treatment. Or at least, I’d want to – I don’t know that I would.

            2. As you’ve phrased it? I’d be pretty neutrally non-reactive, for loving and purely tactical reasons. I don’t know if the impulse will reoccur, and I want them to trust me enough to tell me when it comes out. At the same time, there is too much risk at the moment to push them headfirst into therapy/treatment/spiritual counseling whatever. I’d do my very best to be compassionate, without pretending I know how to understand. I would definitely make a point of sticking around them. I think the difference between reaction in the moment and thought about it for a while would not be much different, just based on my personality in general. I make judgments very quickly and constantly revise from there. I once came up to a professor of mine by telling her she I agreed with her – mostly anyway about a point I had disagreed about her once before. It had been a year and I had been mulling it over since. I was against it until convinced I was for it.

            3 and 6. Marriage makes these questions particularly rough, because marriages do not work without compatible goals and mutual trust. I want to have kids. I want to trust my spouse to raise my kids with me or without me, come happy marriage or bad, 50th anniversary or second year divorce, whether I am able, disabled or dead. It would be hard to trust my spouse with children, even if I wanted to. And I would desperately want to. I am now married, but placing myself in the shoes of myself, but not yet married, I know I have obsessive tendencies to play the tape to the end, finish the game, even when I know I’ve lost. Dismay would be the first reaction, and worry would follow. Would I marry them? I’d need some sort of iron clad guarantee that there would be no threat to my children. Maybe I’d even sacrifice having children. Maybe I’d just find someone else. I don’t know there is a universal answer, other than all must deal with it seriously. Love is more than an emotion, it is also a power. It can be used to do great harm.

            9. I know even less here. As much as I believe in principle in the idea that to forgive is to forget – the radical transformative power of being redeemed, both in the religious sense and in a pretty pedestrian one… well there is that fallen world thing I’ve talked about. I can put myself in the shoes of someone with bad urges – even terrible ones. But to actually follow through? To create a victim on that kind of scale? And then to have a life together, forever? To start a family? I don’t know if I could do it – but I don’t know that I’d be strong enough to break someone’s heart either. To seek redemption makes one terribly vulnerable. The hatred of strangers, I think, is easier than rejection from loved ones. I’d have to think this one over a long long time – which would hurt quite a lot I’m sure.

            4, 5, 7, 8. These are all going to be close variations on the themes I wrote about.. More frequent urges or past behavior I think would make it more shocking and more urgent to demand some sort of treatment, but I think the baseline reaction is the same. Shock – recover – bond. The complication in 7-9 is that there is now an actual victim in play. If I know this victim, everything goes out the window. I don’t know what I’d do, but it wouldn’t be pretty. I don’t want to say I’d betray the trust of someone who came to me by telling their victim in order force closure and recompense. But I might.

            This is a hard series of questions. I may well end up changing my mind on them later.

          • Tom

            It might, in the case of someone who has sinned and repented, to compare that situation to other crimes, like murder or rape, both of which are very high on the “worst things you can do-o-meter”. What difference would it make if it were years in the past, or if they had already paid their debt to society? If they hadn’t you could certainly demand that they turn themselves in, but that applies most in the case of murder, as it seems perverse to confess to rape or abuse when the victim hasn’t revealed the crime.

          • I’m fond of saying that forgiveness – or withholding forgiveness – belongs to the victim and then to God. If someone close to me has done great sins, that does not make me the victim of it. It will affect our relationship surely, but it is not mine to forgive or not to forgive. On that score, they owe me nothing.

          • Tom

            That makes sense well enough, but you often hear about someone having paid his debt to society and that they shouldn’t be further penalized in employment or the court of public opinion (think Michael Vick, for example). Is this view wrongheaded, in your estimation?

          • Ah, you’ve caught me there. Crimes are crimes because they are wounds to society, not just to victim (that is a tort). The difference in part is that rape and murder are acts while pedophilia is well, a paraphillia – a mental miswiring. I do think that is criminal justice is to be just at all (and anyone who comes out of law school sure that it is wasn’t paying attention) serving your time has to mean something, and as a member of society we owe it to one other to accept that the debt is paid and no more should be asked. As a member of society however, I would also not hire Vick to watch my dogs, even if I would hire him for something else.

          • Tom

            Well, acting on pedophilia is a crime, the same as acting on murderous urges. Would your bit about hiring Michael Vick to watch your dogs extend to having kids with somebody who’s formerly acted on pedophilia, even if they’re both repentant and reformed?

          • I probably would not, because I am highly-risk adverse with my hypothetical children and my actual dog. and paraphillias are powerful. I would suggest however that someone with a more Christlike love than I would.

            On the other hand, the more I think about it, maybe I should hire Vick to watch my dogs – or at least, treat him no differently than any other stranger.

          • Tom

            It’s probably good practice to be risk-averse with children and pets, yes. Would this concession for Michael Vick, dogsitter, also apply to the future Mr./Mrs. Chen, pedophile? There do exist, although they’re apparently quite rare and also suffer from the same problem as sane people in mental institutes, one-time offenders, who did something awful and have since moved on. But like I said about the mental institution, it’s very tough to separate them from the inveterate offenders, because if you’re genuine or lying you’ll say the exact same thing.

          • Yeah, I dunno. Let me externalize it for a moment if my sibling were to marry a pedophile, with the intention of raising kids, or my best friend were to marry a pedophile, with the intention of raising kids – would I intervene? Would I discourage? I don’t think I would, because I trust them to make all the right decisions to avoid harming their children. So I think the “right” course of action if given the right assurances whatever those are (perhaps medical intervention is involved) is to forgive totally. At the same time, I don’t know if I have the moral character to truly trust.

          • Tom

            That’s the fun thing about being Christians. Always having to measure our loving up to Love itself, and never quite measuring up. I suppose we just have to keep remembering the Prodigal Son and the lost coin and sheep, when others sin, and the good thief, when we sin.

          • oregon nurse

            The problem with your analogy is two fold.

            1. The problem with ssa is not the fact that one has the attraction. It is the fact that one acts on it. The Church has made that abundantly clear.

            2. Saul, from your analogy, has presumably repented of his sin and is not continuing to murder people. So if he revealed his past, it would be immoral to refuse him a place in a congregation. If he is continuing to publically commit his sin and insist it be tolerated/accepted (the parallel with homosex) then he doesn’t belong in the congregation (and it has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with acceptance of sin).

          • It is probably an imperfect analogy, but I find your objections irrelevant, or poorly founded. But what if Saul has stopped murdering people, but insists well, one of the murders he commited, that one was totally deserved. Whether he thinks that outloud or in the privacy of the confessional is no moment to me. Saul was a murder, he is, by the grace of Christ, not a murderer any longer, publicly a sinner or not. Better writers than I have grappled this idea repenting:

            For quite a few people, there is something upsetting about the 100%-with-no-exceptions forgiveness that Jesus talked about. It is a feature that upsets conservatives. But it also upsets liberals. There is something in it to offend everybody. Except the person who needs it at the time.

            What proves hard to swallow is the absolute character of it. Christ’s forgiveness includes the worst offenders you can think of, but it also includes the pussycats of life – there aren’t many pussycats, but there are a few – who have done nothing wrong or worthy of blame. It is a blanket forgiveness that puts a straight red line through the past. I write “red line” because the Old Story says that Christ’s blood was shed in place of my blood. Dylan captured this on his 2012 album “Tempest”: “I pay in blood/But not my own.” It seems obvious that this is unfair. It seems to put “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966) all under the same protection. There is no distinction.

            A familiar rationalization for Christ’s universal forgiveness goes like this: “Well, yes, it is for everybody, but you have to ask for it. The offender can’t receive it until he or she asks for it. Each person, good, bad, or a little bit of both, has to do his part. It won’t do you any good if you don’t first come forward and take it.” That is a rationalization in service of explaining away the “full-service”, 24/7 gas station that Christ’s message actually is for all the cars on the road.

            Can anyone really rationalize what Christ was saying when he said that people should be forgiven 490 times per action per person?

            As they say, read the whole thing.

            I find it curious that a religion that is commanded to accept once-murders as their brothers gets upset about a person whose sin comes from a place of authentic disagreement and what else was it?

            Oh yes. A desire to love and be loved.

          • I hate to break it to you, but if you murder someone and then say a magic spell to Jesus, you’re still a murderer.

          • The Irish Atheist? I am honored to be trolled by such a personage, although I thought there was, at last counting, considerably more than just one.

            OK, cheap point out of my system. Since you’ve used me for… I dunno, whatever reason drives you to make these statements… let me borrow you to make a point as well.

            Jesus isn’t magic. Prayer isn’t a spell. Religion isn’t a basket of supernatural forces that obeys our directives if we follow the right formula, rendering change in the physical world. The closest you get to that in a healthy religion is mysticism, which is in my opinion, a large part of the reason that religious establishments are so utterly terrified of mystical movements. Along with their democratizing impulses, they also convince people to believe in sekrit magiks!!!11.

            No, the claims of religion are cultural, symbolic, psychological, ritualistic and transcendent. When someone says that the blood of Christ washes away your sin, we don’t mean that sin is a tough stain on your clothing and that Stain Fightin’ Jesus in a Bottle(TM) will have a chemical reaction with the particles.

            No, the claim is much bigger, but also much less absurd. An executive in our system can declare that you are no longer a criminal, and does reality change as a result? Certainly the layer of it we interact with the most seems to shift around a bit. Christianity claims that an even deeper level, headed by an executive with greater authority, pardons are freely given.

          • What drives me to make such statements is that your assertion that Saul wasn’t a murderer after he prayed to Jesus is patently ridiculous. And calling that out is not trolling.

          • I actually never said anything about prayer, and trolling is found in the how more than the what.

            And at this point, I’d like to ask you what exactly do you think defines a person as a murderer?

            [Edit: to be fair, it isn’t my ridiculous assertion nearly as much as it is the ridiculous assertion of Jesus, his apostles, and billions of Christians hence.]

          • A murderer is someone who offensively takes someone’s life. Anyone from a drunk driver to a war criminal. Someone who defensively takes life is not a murderer.

            And an argument ad populum won’t work here. It doesn’t matter how many people assert something, that doesn’t make it true.

          • I’m just making sure that credit is given to who it is due. And by your definition, Saul is not a murder so long as he is not in the midst of murdering, since he is not at that point offensively taking someone’s life.

            (To play with it in a different way, if I deliberately enrage someone and entice him to come after me, will I have murdered him when I shoot him dead?)

          • Oh for the love of…I never once said that a murderer is only a murderer when he is in the act of murdering. I said that once the deed is done, he is a murderer and that isn’t going to change, no matter what your god says.

            You know that, but apparently you can’t formulate a proper argument without deliberately twisting what I said.

          • This is the sort of discussion where precise language becomes very important. So, would you say that anyone who has ever committed an act of murder is forever a murderer?

  • Ok, so you’re heterophobic, and have a deep seated hatred of heteronormative cultures, or in fact, any culture that would dare claim that homosexuality might be sinful, I get it.

    I can only think that “How are you going to keep them down on the farm, after they’ve seen Gay Paris” is still at work a hundred years later in France.

  • mochalite

    Several comments … with numbers instead of bullet points! (1) One of my best friends is a deeply empathetic, perceptive Christian counselor. She convinced me years ago that homosexuality is hard-wired … no more a choice than is heterosexuality. I might not believe an agenda-monger, but her, I believe.

    (2) Just a guess, but I think people resent the term “homophobe” because “phobia” means fear. Those who object to what they see as a radical gay agenda don’t fear gays, they object to this particular social, religious, and political change … but they are labeled as “fearers.” Outright haters surely deserve a label, but it should probably be “homohasser” or something. Yes, homophobia is the accepted term, but if gay people want to contribute something positive to a very charged situation, I’d say stop using it. Words can hurt on both sides.

    (3) Your statement “…’Love the sinner, hate the sin’ has to include actual acts
    of love and not just words; preferably costly ones …” should be recited by every Christian every day. Our lack of charity and simple kindness in this matter is appallingly wrong. Thank you for reminding us of that.

    Finally, the photo of the Alan Turing statue made me tear up … so hideously mistreated after he gave so much! If you haven’t seen the movie “Enigma,” I
    highly recommend it. It’s a perpetual re-watch for me. Not Turing’s story
    specifically, but about Bletchley Park, the machine, and its role in the war. Also about conflicts of visions and loyalties the war engendered. Beautifully acted … great flick! (produced by Mick Jagger, which elevated him considerably in my esteem.)

    • Thanks for a delightful, wonderful comment—as always.

      And with regard to the lexicon issue—I totally understand that perspective, it’s just that I think that ship has sailed. “Homophobia” is an accepted word, that word describes real things, and the Gospel says those things are sins. And the onus is not on the LGBT community to come up with a word we like better. The onus is on the born-again to light the world on fire with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

      • oregon nurse

        The meaning is way too broad and has changed over time. I’m old enough to remember when the word was most often used to describe a man who was viciously antagonistic to effeminate males or overly machoistic in his demeanor because subconsciously (or so it was imputed) he feared his own sexual attraction to men. The subconscious fear was what appropriately drove the label. Now simply objecting to homosexuality being presented as normal is enough to get you the label. So it has lost any real descriptive value imo and is just a form of hate speech to throw at someone who disagrees with the gay agenda.

        • mochalite

          I agree somewhat. Certainly the word “racist” suffers now from whatever-I-want-it-to-mean meaninglessness. And the hurtfulness of “homophobic” is why I suggested it be retired.

      • mochalite

        I agree that the term is too embedded to be changed. Am I a horrible person, though, for wishing that LGBT had been GBLT so we could say “giblets?” Much more fun and unhammer-like. And, of course, I agree that Christians don’t have the option of refusing to do what God calls us to do because we’re offended by words. I just like to whine.

        • “Giblets”! I laughed!

          • No_more_Dee_nial

            For those of us on the “inclusive” side, the acronym is QUILTBAG: Questioning/Queer, Uncertain, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans*, Bisexual, Asexual, Gay. 🙂

  • oregon nurse

    Homophobia is not a useful term because of it’s broad and biased meaning. When one man’s orthodox Catholicism is another Christian’s definition of homophobia it’s no longer a useful word. Doubt my point? Read some of the Progressive Christians on Patheos.

    • Asemodeus

      That’s like saying that denying women the right to vote based on your religion isn’t sexist at all. It is just their christian faith saying that women are inferior to men and shouldn’t be in politics. That isn’t sexist at all.

      That was a actual argument by the way when the 19th amendment was being ratified. You can learn a lot about christian intolerance by looking at previous civil right battles that they have lost.

  • JohnMcG

    OK — let me take one more shot at this.

    It seems to me that if you want to draw as many Catholics or Christians as possible to oppose things like the law in Uganda, framing it as “The Church Must Speak With One Strong Voice Against Homophobia,” in this culture, is a strange way to go about it.

    As I mentioned in the other thread, being “against homophobia” in today’s culture in the US currently implies compelling Christian photographers to work same sex marriages, and hounding CEOs for eight year old contributions to campaigns opposing same sex marriage. We can’t simply wish away the meaning this word has come to represent in our culture.

    This choice of framing makes me suspicious that I’m being drafted into something more than just the egregious poster-child case being presented. That probably shouldn’t stop me, but I am careful about what causes I put my name behind. I do not want to be associated with efforts like the ones I mention in the above paragraph.

    Still, as I mentioned above, if my primary concern was attracting as much help from secular liberals to the plight of coptic Christians, I probably wouldn’t frame it as “support for religious liberty,” since I know that, to many of them, this has become a loaded term representing, employers imposing their beliefs on their employees.

    I suspect more people might be more responsive to highlighting the plight of Ugandan gays, and that this might open their hearts more to the plight of gays throughout the world.

    • JohnMcG

      In short, it seems you are inviting us to fight a two-front war against forces that have been kicking some major rear end lately. On one front, against the forces behind genuine homophobia, such as the Ugandan government, and the other front, against Western progressives who have misapplied the term homophobia to issues like same sex marriage.

      Even if we stipulate that both causes are just, I’m not certain it is prudent to try to take them both on.

    • JohnMcG

      “Homophobia” doesn’t mean what it originally or etymologically meant, — fear of homosexuality or homosexuals.

      And it doesn’t mean what it currently means in the culture — generally any opposition to policies or practices deemed pro-gay.

      So what does it mean? I guess whatever PEG decides it means. Do you wonder why people are reluctant to sign up to oppose it?

    • JohnMcG

      And if you think reluctance to sign up for opposition to an amorphous term is just so much excuse-making, let’s look at how things like the “war on terror” worked out.

    • B.J.D

      Well said.

  • Mike

    A bit of a rant but i get it i get it, where you’re coming from ;).

    But if i may i would suggest that what the Church do is this: denounce unjust and cruel punishments and laws that affect ALL people including millions of people all over the world. As insane as it may sound to people in the West not being able to express your particular sexuality is not the equivalent of nothing being able to find water to drink or shelter for your family and children.

    The RCC isn’t going to win hearts by pandering to ANY one issue BTW. It should denounce unjust laws and cruel and unjust punishment against all people.

    PS We should also be careful about politicizing the RCC’s role; here’s what i mean. Should they also start denouncing particular pro-choice laws, maybe particular politicians? No i don’t think so and they don’t. Should they start denouncing specific gay marriage laws in specific countries? Maybe take on California but not go so hard on France? No i don’t think so. This is perhaps better for us the laity to tackle and you’re a good start.

    PSS Great blog, keep going!

  • arcadius

    This is a list of assertions, not an argument. For example, “they are so clearly instances of scapegoating.” Are they? Do laws against theft then scapegoat thieves? What is the difference? Why are homosexuals but not thieves a protected class that no one can ever say anything bad about?

    And “oh Lord, the pseudoscience.” You didn’t even give an example of this, much less explain what makes it pseudoscience. Human beings exhibit sexual dimorphism. Heterosexual sex is therefore more natural in a fairly obvious way than homosexual sex. That’s basic high school biology.

    These are the sort of things that would be involved in convincing someone like myself who doesn’t already agree with you. If you want to write a “rally the troops” type piece, go ahead, but don’t expect to convince people of your position without providing logical arguments and evidence and anticipating counter-arguments. That’s what distinguishes a discussion from a shouting match.

    • Chant

      In the interest of fair-balance, I think because something is common, doesn’t make it natural.

      • arcadius

        That’s true. It’s natural because it follows nature. Even if you don ‘t believe in God, it’s pretty clear that heterosexual sex serves an evolutionary function, reproduction, that homosexual sex doesn’t. That’s what makes it more natural.

        • Chant

          I don’t disagree with what you say about the expression of homosexual sex. But, I”d say that something isn’t natural because is follows nature, but because it exists in nature. What happens from there is truly phenotypic expression.

          • Ray

            Ok, let’s try a biological argument. The sex organs were designed for basic purposes: waste elimination and reproduction.

            Any use outside of those functions is, by definition, unnatural.

          • Sven2547

            The sex organs were designed for basic purposes: waste elimination and reproduction.

            Any use outside of those functions is, by definition, unnatural.

            Add something else to the list: pleasure.

          • When we’re talking nature, the word “design” gets you into a lot of trouble.

            For that matter “natural” gets you into plenty of trouble too. I wear glasses. They “correct” my eyesight, but I assure you, they are deeply unnatural and a sin before God a great boon in my life.

          • Ray


            The restriction on sex is still applicable to unmarried people of either persuasion. Celibacy is the rule if you’re not married. Not saying it is easy, but whether I like it or not, that is the rule. You can either choose follow the commandments or ignore them, but it is at your own peril.

          • Sven2547


            Therefore the “natural” argument is bunk.

            You can either choose follow the commandments or ignore them, but it is at your own peril.

            If we only had the choice! I, for one, would happily take my chances if all I have to fear is God’s wrath! Unfortunately many Catholics want to impose the Church’s commandments on everyone, including non-Catholics, by the rule of law. Why can’t the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth do his own dirty work? It speaks to a profound lack of faith, if you ask me.

          • Ray

            You can’t have things both ways. You wish to come and argue at a Catholic website over why we can’t accept the heresy of redefining marriage and then claim we’re trying to impose our will on everyone.

            Nobody is imposing their will here other than the gay community. If they wish to redefine marriage secularly, then fine, but that isn’t enough. Now, anyone who disagrees with that has to be blacklisted, fired, and sued.

            So if a Catholic baker doesn’t wish to bake a cake for something he morally disagrees with, it isn’t enough for the gay Nazis to simply move on and find another baker. That baker must now be destroyed.

            Or if a photographer doesn’t wish to express support for gay marriage by using his/her photography at a gay “wedding” then that photographer must be blacklisted, sued, and destroyed.

            There is not live and let live for the gay Nazis who can’t understand the difference between tolerance and endorsement.

            And don’t start with the argument about refusing service based on race. There is a distinct difference between refusing service based on an outward superficial appearance versus being forced into endorsing a behavior (chosen or otherwise).

            In a free market, people coexist, they don’t have to agree. Then, the market dictates who lives and who dies (business wise).

          • Sven2547

            You wish to come and argue at a Catholic website over why we can’t accept the heresy of redefining marriage and then claim we’re trying to impose our will on everyone.

            The difference is that nobody’s out to ban Catholic marriage. You’re entitled to your beliefs, others are entitled to theirs, and, crucially, neither is allowed to ban the other.

            Nobody is imposing their will here other than the gay community. If they wish to redefine marriage secularly, then fine

            They’ve been trying. The Roman Catholic Church has fought that tooth and nail.

            Now, anyone who disagrees with that has to be blacklisted, fired, and sued.

            Strawman much?

            So if a Catholic baker doesn’t wish to bake a cake for something he morally disagrees with, it isn’t enough for the gay Nazis to simply move on and find another baker. That baker must now be destroyed.

            We had this argument in the 1950s. If you believe that discrimination is okay, then come right out and say it. I, for one, don’t believe the Civil Rights Act was a Nazi bill.

            There is a distinct difference between refusing service based on an outward superficial appearance versus being forced into endorsing a behavior (chosen or otherwise).

            Interracial marriage is a “behavior”, is it not? Yet businesses rightly cannot discriminate against interracial couples any more than they can discriminate against gay folks.

            In a free market, people coexist, they don’t have to agree. Then, the market dictates who lives and who dies (business wise).

            The Free Market didn’t end slavery or Jim Crow. It actually supported it.

          • Ray

            Interracial marriage is not anywhere near the same comparison since skin color does not in any way impact the natural order of marriage and what it is intended for.

            My issue isn’t either gay sex or gay marriage. My issue is that gays don’t understand the difference between tolerance and endorsement.
            I am not permitted to endorse anything or participate in anything that leads someone else to sin. Doing so makes me complicit in that sin. So if I’m a baker, and someone comes in wanting a divorce cake, or an abortion cake, or a gay marriage cake, I can’t, in good conscience, participate in that.

            Gays can’t accept that answer. They want the Christian baker sued and run out of business. You say it is a straw man argument. It isn’t. This is actually happening. Christian bakers have been demonized, sued, fined, driven out of business, etc. All because they don’t wish to be a part of an activity that is in every way against their faith.

            It’s complete and total BS to compare this issue to the struggle and injustice of black Americans. One is an outward feature that the person has absolutely no control of. The other is an action based on a desire or attraction.

            A cake is a work of art. Forcing someone to bake one in support of an event they oppose is fascism. Forcing a person to photograph an event they oppose is fascism. Both are a form of speech.

            It’s the equivalent of telling a black owned Laundromat that they MUST wash the clothes of the Klan or they will be sued.

            The amazing irony in all of this is that the gay movement can’t see their own hatred. They say it is ok, for example, to refuse service to the governor of a state for her views on marriage, but it isn’t ok for someone else to do the same to them.

            The gay demand here is “Submit or be destroyed.”

            Support traditional marriage? Then you should be fired.

            Catholics aren’t running around suing gay businesses for their views.

            It’s the thought police and it is fascism and the backlash against it will be HUGE because you’re now encroaching on people’s faiths.

            And your BS argument regarding interracial marriage is exactly that. It is BS. The Catholic Church has never restricted marriage on racial grounds given that we are a world wide Church made up of every single race and nationality that exists.

          • Sven2547

            Interracial marriage is not anywhere near the same comparison since skin color does not in any way impact the natural order of marriage and what it is intended for.

            How is that relevant? Providing different reasoning behind the discrimination doesn’t magically make it okay. Foes of interracial marriage argued that it was “unnatural” to “mix races”.

            My issue isn’t either gay sex or gay marriage. My issue is that gays don’t understand the difference between tolerance and endorsement.

            Hello Pot, name’s Kettle

            I am not permitted to endorse anything or participate in anything that leads someone else to sin. Doing so makes me complicit in that sin. So if I’m a baker, and someone comes in wanting a divorce cake, or an abortion cake, or a gay marriage cake, I can’t, in good conscience, participate in that.

            Ohhh, you’re not permitted?

            Question: if the religious imperative that is FORCING you to discriminate against gay folks wasn’t there, if it were not a tenet of your religion*, then would you still discriminate? In other words, is Catholicism forcing you, against your will, to discriminate?

            One is an outward feature that the person has absolutely no control of. The other is an action based on a desire or attraction.

            Again: interracial marriage is an action based on attraction. Your failure to invalidate this direct parallel example continues.

            Support traditional marriage? Then you should be fired.

            Everyone supports traditional marriage. Traditional marriage is not under attack and it’s not going anywhere. Not one person in the history of the United Stated has been fired from any business for supporting traditional marriage. Eich was fired not for his support of traditional marriage, but his funding of opposition to marriage equality.

            Catholics aren’t running around suing gay businesses for their views.

            Nobody is being sued “for their views”, they are being sued for their discriminatory actions. You are entitled to your views. You are NOT entitled to commit ACTIONS such as wanton discrimination in a business that serves the public.

            Further, if a gay-owned business discriminated against Catholics, they would rightly be sued and I would be the first to line up in support of that lawsuit. You aren’t hearing such stories, however, because gays aren’t discriminating against Catholics.

            And your BS argument regarding interracial marriage is exactly that. It is BS.

            How so? An explanation is still lacking.

            The Catholic Church has never restricted marriage on racial grounds

            So what? You’re still rehashing the arguments the segregationists used in the 1950s.

            * Refusing to sell items to homosexuals was NEVER, repeat NEVER a tenet of Christianity up until a couple years ago.

          • Ray

            If I participate in an activity that is a sin, it is a sin because of the laws of God, not the Church.

            Refusing to participate in such activity is an act of love, not discrimination.

            That’s something you will never understand since you wish to have endorsement of your sin. I don’t expect you to endorse my sins and support me.

            Yes, forcing someone to participate in an activity that is contradictory to their faith is fascist and is not the same as an interracial marriage. Even when those laws were revoked, however, nobody was forcing those opposed to attend and participate in those weddings. HUGE difference when forcing a Christian to attend such weddings and be part of them in any way.

            I have no desire for you to endorse my faith. I ask you to respect it. If you come to my business and I say that I can’t support your wedding, I simply expect respect for that viewpoint and for you to take your business elsewhere. I do not come and force you to attend my services. I invite you to go, but I don’t force you to go under threat of lawsuit.

          • Sven2547

            Refusing to participate in such activity is an act of love, not discrimination.

            Orwell is rolling in his grave

          • Ray

            Yes, clearly. Refusing to participate in a murder is an act of love. Not aiding in the commission of adultery is an act of love. Not helping my brother steal is an act of love. Telling my Christian brothers and sisters to not embrace heresy is an act of love.

            Your argument that there are Catholics that support this abomination neither surprises me nor changes the facts of the argument. The Church bases its dogma on the laws of God, not the desires of men. So the fact that there are Catholics who murder, steal, kill, fornicate, commit adultery, embrace the murder of innocent children as a right, and accept the heresy that a person can marry someone of the same gender does not in any way shape or form mean that those things are correct.

            As I stated before, we are all called to be chaste until we marry. That applies equally to men and women, heterosexual or homosexual.

            Choosing to disobey that is done at ones own eternal peril.

            If the secular world wishes to reduce marriage to a legal declaration of love, then so be it. But disagreeing with that on principled reasons, whether driven by biological science or religious grounds is just as valid as godless grounds.

            You claim that Catholics can’t be fired for being Catholic. Just give it time.

            I’m pretty sure that Protestantism will cave on this issue, just as it did with contraception, but the Catholic Church will never change its doctrine or teachings because those come from God, not man.

            Now, you come to a Catholic website to troll and argue with Catholics who choose to follow the faith as part of their lives. You do so either because you don’t understand Catholic teaching or because you wish to argue that your heresy should be accepted as truth and that we should all defy Christ’s own definition of marriage.

          • Sven2547

            You claim that Catholics can’t be fired for being Catholic. Just give it time.


            I’m pretty sure that Protestantism will cave on this issue, just as it did with contraception, but the Catholic Church will never change its doctrine or teachings because those come from God, not man.

            The Catholic Church “caved” on geocentrism just fine. Eating meat on Fridays used to be verboten, but that doctrine changed too. The doctrine of Papal Infallibility is an invention roughly as new as the escalator. The Vatican’s tacit approval of antisemitism vanished around the same time as the fall of the Third Reich. I expect the Church to whine and complain about same-sex marriage too, but it will come around in time.

            because you wish to argue that your heresy should be accepted as truth and that we should all defy Christ’s own definition of marriage.

            Now you’re just lying. I’m not saying EVERYONE should be FORCED to “defy Christ’s definition of marriage”. By all means, keep marrying members of the opposite sex! As a straight man, I promise I’m all-for that!

          • Ray

            Your comment above shows your ignorance about the Church and its practices. The Catholic Church has never changed its views on issues dealing with faith and morals. It has changed disciplines, such as abstaining from meat on Fridays. That is NOT a moral or faith issue.

            Your accusation about anti-Semitism is itself a sign of your lack of knowledge given the extensive list of books written by Jewish rabbis regarding the work of the Church and Pius XII in saving Jews, not to mention the martyrs who died alongside Jews in the camps.

            Papal infalliability, again, is something you clearly don’t understand.

            “It will come around in time” like what? Like it has on contraception? Oh, never mind, that doctrine has never changed and never will change. It’s the only Christian Church that has held steadfast to that doctrine because it is the truth and it will never change.

            Protestantism caved on that starting in 1930 with the Anglicans. Prior to that, they objected to contraception on Biblical grounds. Suddenly, they all caved. Why? Because they have no authority? They are not concerned with protecting the deposit of the faith as given by Christ when he established his Church.
            The geocentrism thing, again is misunderstood history, twisted by anti-Catholics.

            Regarding your dismissal that it is just a matter of time before Christians are persecuted, you’re obviously ignorant of the news. It’s happening. The Little Sisters of the Poor can tell you about that.

            What about the Christian bakers that have been driven out of business? What about the attacks on Christian CEOs and the vandalism of their businesses?

            What about the Christian photographers that just lost in the Supreme Court?

            Care to say they’re not being persecuted?

            What will happen when Catholic Universities, schools, and hospitals refuse to provide contraceptives? They’re going to be fined out of existence in the current plan. Give it time. They’ll be jailed eventually or have their businesses raided.

            What about the gays that disrupt religious services? Or who throw water on bishops?

            The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear about homosexuality. It will never change that view and will not suddenly start endorsing sin and disordered behavior as acceptable. It will not defy Christ’s words on marriage and suddenly start marrying gays.

            If that ever happens, then Christ will be proven a liar, since the gates of hell have indeed conquered his church.

          • Sven2547

            Papal infalliability, again, is something you clearly don’t understand.

            …go on? Oh, you’re done? You think just “you don’t understand” is a substitute for fact-based argumentation? It wasn’t defined dogmatically until 1869.

            the work of the Church and Pius XII in saving Jews, not to mention the martyrs who died alongside Jews in the camps.

            I’m not saying all Catholics were antisemites, but The Vatican was largely mum on the subject until 1965, with the release of its Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions.

            The geocentrism thing, again is misunderstood history, twisted by anti-Catholics.

            It’s not twisting history. Galileo was tried and sentenced by the Inquisition for, and I quote, “the heresy of Copernicanism”. Eppur si muove

            What about the attacks on Christian CEOs and the vandalism of their businesses?

            Vandalism is vandalism and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

            What about the Christian photographers that just lost in the Supreme Court? Care to say they’re not being persecuted?

            They are not being prosecuted any more than the restaurant owners who had to start serving blacks at their lunch counters. Try having your marriage banned. Now that’s persecution.

            What about the gays that disrupt religious services? Or who throw water on bishops?

            Disturbing the peace and assault. Prosecute the offenders. What makes you think I would support such actions? Have you ever bothered to actually try to understand the pro-equality position, or will you keep painting this cartoonish caricature?

            And since you bring up contraception, consider this: They’re not even TRYING to legally ban its use anymore. They discourage it, sure, but they’ve already cut it as a loss. After all, something like 89% of Catholics use it. It’s the best means of preventing abortion, by the way (oh that pesky LOGIC…)

          • Ray

            No, it is central to the proliferation of abortion. It has bred a culture that has this false belief that sex is consequence free. There is a huge link between cultures that generally accept contraception and a large number of abortions. It has led to greater incidences of divorce, infidelity, abortion, pornography, and objectification of women.

            “Try having your marriage banned”: Again, a false equivalency. Gay simulations of marriage aren’t marriage. A homosexual has a right to claim the definition of marriage as much as I do to being called a lesbian. Screaming loudly that I’m a lesbian doesn’t make it so.

            But the part of this that you can’t seem to accept is that I or any other American can not and should not be compelled into participating into an activity that violates their faith. Forcing someone to bake a cake for a gay wedding and to photograph one is NOT freedom. You or anyone have no right to my forced labor.

            A person in this nation has the right to declare who is and is not welcome in their business. Starbucks stated that I wasn’t welcome there. I didn’t sue. I didn’t start boycotts or vandalize his place. I didn’t seek financial damages based on religious persecution.

            I have simply chosen not to buy coffee at Starbucks. That’s it. They have a right to their view and I have a right to mine. That’s how things are supposed to be.

            You want to claim that these simulations of marriage are equal to real marriages. Fine. You have a right to that viewpoint. You don’t have a right to redefine my faith and tell me what is or is no longer valid in my faith and what I may or may not choose to adhere to. That isn’t your place and I can tell you right now that I would take a bullet to the head or imprisonment over forced participation in a mortal sin. It is one thing for me to fail in my faith. It is quite another to be told I must defy it, deny it, and embrace a demonic attempt to redefine a sacred institution.

            You feel its fine. I don’t. Quit trying to use the jack booted thugs of government to force me to participate in activities I object to.

            On your other points.

            Papal infallibility:




            I may as well be speaking to a wall, since you have no respect for anyone of faith and feel that pointing guns at business owners to force them to comply is somehow ok in pursuing this. It isn’t, no matter how hard you try to mask it as equivalent to denying a fellow human being food based on the color of their skin. One is a superficial feature that a person can do nothing about. The other is a behavior that a person chooses to participate in. Forcing others to endorse it is nowhere near equal to the other.

          • Sven2547

            No, it is central to the proliferation of abortion.

            I can’t even take someone seriously who is this drunk on kool-aid. How does the prevention of pregnancy lead to abortion? Explain how that works. Vague proclamations about “culture” and the straw-man position that people think sex is “consequence free” aren’t arguments, just proclamations of ignorance. Nobody thinks sex is consequence free. If your position is right, you shouldn’t have to lie about it.

            The Galileo link doesn’t refute the fact that “Copernicanism” used to be considered heresy. The Papal Infallibility link doesn’t refute the fact that it wasn’t dogma until the 19th century.

            Forcing someone to bake a cake for a gay wedding and to photograph one is NOT freedom. You or anyone have no right to my forced labor.

            It’s “forced labor” for a baker to sell a cake? It’s “forced labor” for a photographer to take pictures? No more than it’s forced labor to serve a person of color when they come to my lunch counter.

            Starbucks stated that I wasn’t welcome there. I didn’t sue.

            Was it because you were the bigger man, or was it because you were doing something disruptive or destructive? Let’s get the whole story and see whether your comparison is even remotely valid. Your lack of details is suspicious at best, and damning at worst.

            I may as well be speaking to a wall, since you have no respect for anyone of faith and feel that pointing guns at business owners to force them to comply is somehow ok in pursuing this.

            I thought I told you to stop lying? Nobody said anything about point guns at anybody, and I never said I have no respect for religious folk. In fact, I already cited pro-equality Catholics earlier in my posts-you-seem-incapable-of-reading.

            I was a Christian most of my life, and it was never a tenet of my religion, not even once, to refuse goods and services to people just because they’re different. It wasn’t a tenet of Catholicism either, until a couple of years ago. The fact is, it’s not about religion. You’re using religion as a smokescreen for your personal bigotry, and you’re cheapening it as a result. Look at what you’ve become: a champion of Jim Crow 2.0. It what what Christ taught? ‘Suffer not the gays to buy cakes’?

          • Ray


            Regarding Papal infallibility: Defining a dogma that has existed for centuries is not inventing it. Declarations such as this are consistent with defining dogmas in contention or that are being challenged. The word infallibility came into use in the 19th century. The concept existed well before that.

            I will admit that the Starbucks information was based on a false story. But I actually agree with the Starbucks CEO’s statement. It is a (supposedly) free country.

            That means that I (supposedly) have a right of free association.


            And the question to you is very simple. Why should people be forced to participate in events which they oppose? You really can’t see the tyranny there? Are you that blind?

            And your equivalence to race, again, is an invalid comparison. This is not refusal to provide a service. It’s forced participation in an event. There is a BIG difference.

            Before you go accusing Catholics of having no heart for homosexuals, we were the first to have hospitals to treat AIDS patients when the rest of the nation was rejecting them.

            And you still don’t get it: Because some Catholics embrace sin doesn’t mean that faithful Catholics must be forced to comply.

            This is a free country. If I walked into a gay owned barber shop and they didn’t wish to provide me service because I’m Catholic, then fine. I take my business elsewhere. They have the right to dislike me, hate me, refuse me service. If they don’t wish to cater my, “Support Biblical Marriage” rally, then they have that right. I don’t go and use the power of government to make them provide me a service.

            One approach is liberty. The other approach is tyranny. You choose the latter. I choose the former.

          • Ray

            And yes, the CEO of Mozilla was essentially fired for his views on gay marriage. The mob spoke and he had to step down BECAUSE OF HIS VIEWS.

            I’m already preparing myself for the day when I will be told I’m a member of a hate group because I’m Catholic and I’m a faithful Catholic that believes in the teachings of Christ.

            We’re on that path and you’re leading the charge.

          • Sven2547

            The mob spoke and he had to step down BECAUSE OF HIS VIEWS.

            His ACTIONS. His funding of anti-gay groups.

            I’m already preparing myself for the day when I will be told I’m a member of a hate group because I’m Catholic and I’m a faithful Catholic that believes in the teachings of Christ.

            Spare me your lamentations that you’re being oppressed over your devotion to your faith. I know plenty of Catholics who love their faith, love their church, and strongly support marriage equality.

            States where you can be fired for being Catholic: 0
            States where you can be fired for being gay: 29

            States where Catholics are banned from marrying: 0
            States where gay folks are banned from marrying: 33

            States where businesses can refuse Catholics: 0

          • Excellent point SVEN. I believe that a woman’s ability to achieve an orgasm, which is not needed for either waste elimination or reproduction, proves your point.

          • -1 … wrong.

        • Asemodeus

          This usual gibberish that gay people cannot procreate is really adorable.

          • Ray

            You’re right, it is gibberish. They can procreate with members of the opposite sex, just as their bodies have evolved to do.

        • weareallhypocrites

          Is holding your wife’s hand unnatural because it does not result in children? Humans do a lot of things for social reasons that do not result in procreation that are perfectly natural. Even most religions accept that sex is done for pleasure as well as procreation. By your twisted attempt at logic, most of us should die shortly after our children become independent and we are no longer able to bear more.

          • Ray

            Biologically, you’re essentially correct that that is what happens. Though there is a scientific theory that we live long enough to help with grandchildren as well.

        • Sven2547

          Voluntarily celibacy isn’t natural, nor does it result in reproduction, yet the Church happily supports it.

      • Chant

        My apologies, the only natural variant.

    • cajaquarius

      Lemme give this one a try~

      [This is a list of assertions, not an argument. For example, “they are so clearly instances of scapegoating.” Are they? Do laws against theft then scapegoat thieves?]

      Nobody is saying a law against homosexuals is scapegoating them as it is functioning as it is supposed to. Scapegoating comes in the form of blaming us for molesting kids, recruiting kids, spreading AIDs, causing disasters by inviting Gods wrath, and so forth.

      [What is the difference? Why are homosexuals but not thieves a protected class that no one can ever say anything bad about?]

      My falling in love with another man and forming a relationship with him doesn’t actively harm other people in the same real sense as a thief harms people. And before the obvious retort of us endangering each others souls, you will have to give me some peer reviewed evidence of the “hell” you speak of before I buy that.

      [And “oh Lord, the pseudoscience.” You didn’t even give an example of this, much less explain what makes it pseudoscience.]

      Sure, I can give some. Let’s go back to the “homosexuality causes higher rates of infection with many STDs including HIV” canard that seems to be popular again. This claim is put forth by the Family Research Council and NARTH. It is also completely untenably and illogical, drawing correlation where no causality is implied. It would be like be buying a new water battle when I go running and then, a week later losing extra weight than normal then turning around and claiming the water bottle caused me to lose the weight. There is also the claiming that gay men are caused by not having dad figures and that they are narcissistic people by nature who are selfish in their relationships. Our visibility in general life as but the breaks on that particular little game. Then you have Scott Lively trying to blame the Nazis on the gays, completely fabricating lies that were later completely decimated by actual historians. Hard to believe you are losing the kids to us, what with the great argumentation put forth,.

      [Human beings exhibit sexual dimorphism. Heterosexual sex is therefore more natural in a fairly obvious way than homosexual sex. That’s basic high school biology.]

      Nobody ever argued any of those things, they argued that some of us fall in love with same gendered people and there was pseudoscience they tries to back it up with (see previous response where I wreck a bit of it).

      [These are the sort of things that would be involved in convincing someone like myself who doesn’t already agree with you. If you want to write a “rally the troops” type piece, go ahead, but don’t expect to convince people of your position without providing logical arguments and evidence and anticipating counter-arguments. That’s what distinguishes a discussion from a shouting match.]

      I am glad I could provide you arguments and evidence.

      • Ray

        If we are arguing this on religious grounds, then there is no debate for heterosexuals or homosexuals. Sex outside of marriage is forbidden and a grave sin. Anyone (myself included in that crowd) that engages in those activities outside of the sacrament of marriage is guilty of committing a sin.

        We are called to be celibate until we marry. We are not hostages to our sexuality. We are not a walking set of sex organs that are slaves to said organs.

        We’ve been given free will and natural desires. We can either choose to follow God’s commandments, or we can choose to disobey them. The consequences are ours to deal with.

        • cajaquarius

          Fair enough. I can agree to that. I am monogamous by nature. That said, if I meet someone I fall in love with I will marry him. If not legally then in terms of swearing myself to him. I will also continue defending my brethren where I can.

          Whether God accepts that or not is up to God. His supposed followers routinely depend on lies and obfuscation, though, so I have yet to feel I am in the wrong. If I am and am damned it will be by God’s failute to inspire someone capable of convincing me they serve anything greater than man made tradition.

          I wash my hands of it in any case.

  • Asemodeus

    That was one long and pathetic excuse in order to distance the churches long and detailed history of gay bashing from our growing tolerance towards gay people as a culture over all.

  • ve6

    all this brouhaha about 3% of the population. aren’t there more worthy issues in the world today?

    • weareallhypocrites

      All these attempts to minimize the percentage of the population indicates why there is such brouhah. I know the standard figure kicked around is 10% and who knows how close that is to the truth. I’m sure in a word that has countries that make it punishable by death to be openly gay, odds are better that homosexuality is under-reported than over-reported. 10 may not be right but probably closer to the truth than 3. In any case, even if your figure was correct, that would still mean there are over 240 million people simply trying to be treated equally.

      • Sven2547

        It’s tricky to nail down an exact number because it varies based on the question asked. “Have you ever has a consensual homosexual encounter?” “Are you currently attracted to members of the same sex?” “Do you currently engage in homosexual activity?” “Do you fantasize about homosexual activity?” and so on will all yield different percentages of the population. The 10% figure comes from an older study which has been largely discredited for having a flawed methodology. Modern studies generally end up with a range varying between 3% and 6%.

        All that said: your primary point is spot-on. No matter how many or few, they do not deserve to be treated like second-class citizens.

        • Mike

          By some standards of definition everyone is gay or bi, by others no one bc no person can “be” gay like they can be “male” they can only have permanent erotic fantasies or whatever for some particular sex or whatever but that doesn’t make them that thing just as having only a preference for blondes doesn’t make you into a different kind of person.

          • Ray

            @The Irish Atheist: You are correct that the marriage sacrament isn’t the sole property of the Catholic Church, which is why we honor the marriages of Protestants that marry validly.

            I’m not screaming about anything. I find it ironic that an atheist wishes to troll a religion website and then disparage a religious discussion.

            The secular world has its own values which embrace a culture of death and sin.

            Sadly, many of us followers of faith often fall to the temptations of that world and to its deceptions.

            Luckily, there is redemption for those that repent.

            But wanting something to be true which isn’t doesn’t make it so. Claiming that marriage between two people of the same sex is possible is like me claiming that I’m a lesbian because I like women. I can scream it till the day I die, but I’m missing some valid requirements to be able to be called a lesbian.

            Legislating something untrue doesn’t make it true either. Congress could outlaw gravity tomorrow and have it pass unanimously, but we would still have the truth that gravity exists even if our government chooses to outlaw it.

            So it is with the fallacy that homosexuals can be married. If you wish to reduce marriage to a legal declaration of love and nothing more than that, then by all means. But that’s not what marriage is for and it is certainly not what Catholics believe marriage is for since we view it as a sacrament and as a covenant.

            It was also clearly defined in scripture by Christ himself.

            But the religious arguments matter not to an atheist, which is fine.

            Logically, and biologically, the sex organs were designed for reproduction and waste elimination. I apologize, I should say “evolved” not “designed.” Use outside of those purposes is, by definition, disordered.

            Strictly speaking from a secular level, men and women are designed with the natural abilities to reproduce without artificial interference (assuming no medical problems, of course). The law recognizes this natural state of things and protects that union for the purpose of procreation, property rights, and medical crisis. The latter two can be handled through contract law or general laws that can protect things such as civil unions.

            But to change the definition of marriage into something it isn’t and hasn’t been for thousands of years for all cultures on earth means that there will be a large body of people who will disagree with changing such definitions simply to meet the demands of a vocal minority who wishes to legalize the unnatural.

          • weareallhypocrites

            the whole natural vs unnatural excuse fir bigotry is laughable. Green food coloring is unnatural but perfectly legal.

        • Ray

          The fallacy in the logic that they’re “second-class citizens” lies in the fact that they are not equals to heterosexuals when it comes to marriage, whose divine purpose is procreation.

          The Church’s responsibility is to teach the truth. The fact that people don’t wish to hear it is irrelevant. It is still the truth.

          • paizlea

            I am constantly amazed at how many Christians are willing to give the state power over the marriage sacrament. Why do you support this?

          • Because the marriage ‘sacrament’ is not the property of the Catholic Church, and screaming that it is does not make it so.

          • weareallhypocrites

            um..because we don’t live in a theocracy. It’s not the “sacred” part of marriage that is being disputed. It’s the legal aspect with is purely secular. When people get divorced, no lawyer fights over theological issues but purely secular things like property, custody and money. Plenty of gay people can already find churches that are perfectly willing to marry them.

          • paizlea

            I’m just trying to point out the many flaws in the arguments against gay marriage. Most anti-SSM folks argue that the state shouldn’t grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples because “it’s against God’s will.” Which leads me to ask why these religious people want the state involved in a religious ceremony at all.

          • The divine purpose of your chosen idol has no bearing on the marriages of my loved ones.

          • Sven2547

            This stupid reproduction claim again.

            If you could ban infertile people from marrying, would you? Yes or no.

          • weareallhypocrites

            If the divine purpose of marriage is procreation then infertile people should not be allowed to marry by your logic.

  • The English language word for this irrational animus against homosexual persons is homophobia;

    This is not exactly true. The word was coined by George Weinberg, a gay-rights advocate in order to assert that opposition to same-sex intercourse and attraction is a mental illness, rather than same-sex attraction itself being a diagnosable psychological condition. The term has continued to be a term of advocacy ever since, and the argument that it is a mainstream English word is itself an advocacy position.

    While I agree that persons with same-sex attraction must be treated with the same dignity and charity as the rest of God’s children, advocating for the normalization of same-sex attraction and intercourse is not consistent with the Catholic faith.

    • Jose Soto

      And this is why we must oppose the Catholic faith everywhere due its meddling in the sexual affairs of people who don’t share the same beliefs or are members of the church.

      In order to secure our well being we must combat against the Church, ridicule it, expose it, until it ceases to exist.

  • tyler

    THANK you~ Certain Christians are so concerned about being “associated with” any kind of pro-LGBT stance that they have absolutely no problem with being associated with every homophobic sentiment ever (you know, kind of like how Jesus was so worried about being associated with sinners that he always stayed at minimum 20 feet away from them with a megaphone to shout “You’re going to Hell!” over and over). It’s rare to find a Catholic that unequivocally condemns this sort of thing (well, on Patheos at least :P)

  • Pofarmer

    “In the words of the Magisterium, for many of them, this attraction or inclination is “a trial”;”

    Everything that comes after this, and stems from this, is nonsense.

    • oregon nurse

      So, are you saying that every time we hear a comment to the effect that gay can’t be a choice because no one would choose to be gay, i.e., it has to be inherent, we should all call BS on it? I don’t see how you can have it both ways.

  • Yonah

    So. I have a question.

    A good many don’t want to put an I on the end of LGBT…I suspect there’s a good bit of indifference to B & T as well.

    So. If we think about the level of animus which makes for homophobia in the world, what does that mean for the intersex person? Does that person just have to conclude “not in my life time”? Does it mean that the dead silence must continue for them?

  • RPlavo .

    Well, since homosexual activity is so unnatural, why don’t we hear more from the Magisterium and the pulpit about straight people engaging in unnatural sex which by definition is sinful?

  • Yonah

    While I am generally offended that no one has responded to my intersex question…it is not an academic one…one out of 1500 kids are born with some form of intersex condition, it is my conviction that the reality of intersex, when pressed against the haters, will generally serve to reveal their complete moral and intellectual vapidity on the subject of sexual orientation generally…and for that, intersex kids deserve more respect and care than the zilch they get now.

    For I would put to the magisterium the question as to why they would not be concerned to enact rules as much if not more for intersex than gay.

    • Frank McManus

      Perhaps there is no reason to be offended; the conversation simply seems to be over. But I think you make a good point. However, as long as Christians want to feud about being gay, the other stuff will not get much attention.

      • Yonah

        Perhaps. But, I will maintain my offended status out of duty to my intersex family member and others I’ve dealt with. In my view, an authentic Jesus tradition would go first and foremost to the most marginalized.

        • Beth Turner

          When instructing about marriage, Jesus tells the disciples that no one should divorce their wives and re-marry, because this is equivalent to adultery. The disciples conclude that no one should marry because the demands of fidelity are so great.

          Jesus then goes on to (I think) address your question. He affirms that it is hard. He also draws on our experience regarding a variety of other kinds of people who bring with them various impediments to marriage. “Eunuchs from birth” might include homosexuals, intersex individuals, those who are severely ill and close to death. Some also make a sacrifice of marital intimacy so that they may devote themselves more fully to the service of God (priests and consecrated religious have “made themselves eunuchs” for the kingdom).

          This is from Matthew 19, if you’re interested to read more.

          • Yonah

            As a former Lutheran pastor with an M.Div., I am quite aware of Matthew 19. What the text means is one thing. How your interpretation of it affects your view of ethics regarding intersex people is another thing. You evaded the question. So. What is your position? Should the marriage of intersex persons be illegal? Would you challenge the legality of an existing marriage between an intersex person and another? There is case law on this…in one case an insurance company tried to deny survivor benefits by challenging the legal validity of a marriage involving an intersex person.

          • Beth Turner

            I would say it depends upon whether or not the intersex person has legitimate impediments – biological, spiritual, emotional, relational, etc. – which make it impossible for him or her to fulfill the duties, demands, responsibilities, purposes, etc. of marriage. It would be the same criteria as with any other person who had biological, spiritual, emotional, or relational impediments to marriage.

            I guess what is revealing to me about the Matthew 19 passage is that Jesus specifically identifies people who are impeded from marriage through no fault of their own (those made eunuchs by men, or those who are eunuchs from birth, specifically), and admits that it is a hard teaching.

          • Yonah

            Your use of Matthew 19 appears to assume that intersex is a default male category…that no intersex person is to be allowed into a female category. That seems to me to be a completely arbitrary construct, and certainly contrary to the fact that many intersex persons have chosen to identify as women. Your use of Matthew 19 thus goes nowhere.

            On your first paragraph, I assume that you have already determined that gay people do not have the biological, spiritual, emotional, relational, etc. (please define etc.) requirements to properly marry other gay people…leaving aside the issue as to whether they have the requirements to marry straight people. So. Who determines this for intersex people? You? The government? The church? You seem to evade the legal issue. You want to legally ban gay marriage. Would you also put legal restrictions on intersex marriage?

            How would you determine that a intersex person is qualified for marriage…what would be your process of this determination? And then, what if the intersex person just flat out violates your standards? Do you then have a position that such a person should legally be banned from legal marriage….or in a case where the marriage has already taken place legally…that you would think it correct that the government legally annul the marriage?

          • Beth Turner

            It seems to me that “eunuch” in this passage includes anyone impeded from entering a marriage arrangement – from birth, by other people, or by choice. This conclusion I draw based on the fact that the disciples, in the verse right before, have concluded that the Lord’s teaching on marriage is really hard, maybe it’s not possible to fulfill?, and it might even be better for people not to do it. So the disciples have begun to question who should enter marriage, and whether anyone should do it at all. Jesus then responds by talking about people who cannot or do not enter marriage. He states that there are even some people who have impediments to marriage from birth, through no fault of their own.

            It seems that “intersex” is a broad category, though, which refers to many conditions. Some of them may not be impeded from fulfilling the responsibilities and demands of marriage. Therefore, I don’t think the ethics of sexuality and marriage – much less legal policy – can be spoken of simplistically towards such a group of people.

            That’s part of the reason I wasn’t more specific about legal policy towards intersex individuals. But also, what drew my attention was your provocation that “none of the haters” had ever thought about the intersex question.

          • Yonah

            The context of Matthew 19 is wholly Jewish in-house legal debate. The background was that there had NEVER been any settled Jewish law on divorce. Thus, Jews in theological debate…which is a normal Jewish activity since there has never been any central Jewish theological authority…will and always have challenged each other as to opinions on unsettled matters. The eunuch reference was a side point in passing in response to another side point that maybe marriage isn’t all that great after all (over against the typical Jewish assumption that marriage is preferrable). In the course of the main discussion on divorce, and then the tangents…all of those are focused on men alone. You have chosen not to deal with the fact that intersex people cannot, by definition, be put into a “man alone” category.

            You use the word “impede” but you refuse to attach that verb to a noun. Impede by what? You don’t say. You seem to want Matthew 19 to work for you which it cannot do. Matthew 19 cannot make decisions for you, or me, or for an intersex person.

            It seems to me that “thinking” on either gay, bi, trans, or intersex is typically arid and done on an us/them basis where the “them” do not matter as to what their lives are actualy about…how they actually go. That’s the thing that gets me…how easy it is for “some people” just to NOT matter. A great religion ought to be able to understand the false bravado in political rhetoric and not get bent out of shape by “We’re Queer and we’re here”. If you would really think of it, in the context of real human pathos, every human being has the right to say “I’m here”….”I exist”. Over against that human right, so many politically and legally and culturally just want to make those people go away…Go back into silence….Go back into whispered about sub-cultures….Go back into obscure places that the vast majority don’t ever talk about or even think of. That certainly was the gay story….and it still is the intersex story. Intersex people aren’t real…in the cultural opinion. They don’t matter, What they think about themselves doesn’t matter. What they might want doesn’t matter. What matters is that the sexual dominant majority feel safe and insulated from variance.

            There are more intersex than Jews.

            Consider the life of an intersex child. They bear that reality alone because there is absolutely no cultural resources for people to even talk about it…let alone develop common sense constructive guidance. There is no standard of care. None. And none is wanted. THAT is hatred.

          • Beth Turner

            I’m not sure I entirely understand your reasoning about Matthew 19, but I will try to clarify my own thinking. I still think the term “eunuch”- especially when Jesus speaks about those “born” that way – can refer to male or female or any intersex individual with ambiguous sexual identity. It seems that he is speaking of anyone who has been rendered sexually sterile: from birth, by others, or by choice. Jesus begins his teaching on marriage by clarifying what ought to be the Jewish position on marriage (perhaps providing clarity to what was, among the Jews at the time, a confusing teaching). The disciples are shocked and beginning to discuss what this means. Jesus follows up by describing a variety of people who are not capable (from birth, by others, or by choice) of engaging in one of the essential activities of marriage – the bearing and education of children. I don’t think the discussion of eunuchs coming immediately after the discussion about divorce and re-marriage is merely a random set of teachings that happened to be thrown together this way. I think they are related because of how they deal with the essentials of marriage – fidelity and procreation.

            An impediment to marriage is anything that keeps you from fulfilling the purpose of marriage. In the case of an intersex person, it could be the inability to engage in the marital act (that is, the procreative one). They are born this way, and its through no fault of their own, so it’s hard and sad to tell them that they cannot enter marriage legitimately. This is, I think, part of the reason why Jesus says this teaching about “eunuchs from birth” is hard. But I’m sure not all intersex individuals have such an impediment, either. Other impediments: in the case of a person who has already been married, the impediment is an existing promise/vow they made to a person who is still alive. In the case of a priest or religious, the impediment is the exclusive vow they made to serve the kingdom of God and spiritual, rather than physical, children. Is that still too vague about what I mean when I speak of impediments to marriage?

            I am aware that I know little about intersex people. I’m not trying to ignore them, I just don’t know anyone with an intersex child, nor do I know any intersex adults. I’m trying not to make broad, specific ethical prescriptions about intersex people as a varied group with varied conditions, experiences, etc., because I don’t know enough. All it seems to me that I can say is that Jesus anticipated the existence of some people who may fall into this category (“eunuchs from birth” – not necessarily male, but anyone rendered sexually sterile through no fault of their own), and his teaching seems to imply that they are in a category of people for whom it is impossible to marry. I’d be happy to learn more about intersex individuals, their experiences, their confusion and pain, etc. if you have a suggestion about where to start.

          • Yonah

            On “impediment”, you finally went where I thought you were coming from. The notion that heterosexual functionality toward procreation is a requirement of marriage is a Catholic doctrine or doctrinal attitude with which many on the planet just refuse to subscribe to. More to the point, I highly doubt there shall emerge some Catholic campaign to legally restrict heterosexuals not able to procreate from marrying, nor even those who are able but have no intention of having children, but still wish to marry.

            What I find also problematic is the apparent assumption that certain sexual functionalities determine identity…or should. In my view, you are reading the penchant of Catholic culture’s habit of prescribing “hard” things upon folk into Matthew 19. This is similar to Chris Hitchen’s critique of Mother Theresa’s habit of telling the suffering that their suffering is a “gift” which makes them closer to Jesus. Not true. I once had this discussion with a Catholic seminary student most sure of himself. In response to the intersex question he said, “Hard cases make bad law.” As a Jew, I say if the Law is not for those with hard cases, who is it for?”

            In my view, there seems to be a continuum of prejudice on sexual orientation ranging from intersex to gay/lesbian…and that political battle is set upon the gay/lesbian because of two things:

            1) Only gay/lesbians have mustered an effective political assertion, whereas Bi, Trans and Intersex have not

            2) The nature of Heterosexual homophobia, apparrently, is based on outward appearances and factors…what gay/lesbian couples look like in public…and whether or not they are able to procreate…which I suspect is the lesser concern, but used as a convenient excuse to deflect the reality that there is just plain fear of gays being gay in public…not that different from irrational fears of whites of black males…clutch your purses and lock your car doors if you see one.

            In the case of Bi Trans and Intersex, politically these are all more closeted and silenced, Intersex the most silenced. In the absense any real social thought or engagement, there is then the void…where dominant sexual majority heterosexuals imagine that the closeted sexual orientations’ identities are contained and limited to certain sexual functionalities. In the case of Intersex children, this leads to terrible pyschic trauma wherein adults, on their own volition, subject intersex children to judgment/diagnosis to be remedied with imposed surgery and/or chemical treatment…toward assignment to one sex or another…with no imput from the child…nor consideration of those factors beyond sexual functionality and body parts which develop pyschologically as a result of an intersex existence. For while most Intersex people end up choosing a predominant male or female identity that is not without retention of their other “part” in some measure. You cannot ask people to erase their life hard drives. And you cannot discount that there is a certain mixed bagness to making the move to a certain identity because that move is always shaped and conditioned by an ever present pressure from the larger culture to conform to its wishes…”if you know what’s good for you”….the “convert or else” scenario that Jews know so well. More to the point, there are some brave Intersex people who refuse to make the move….and claim a third sex. There are currently a few countries offering that as an official option for children. The country that seems to be the most developed on these issues is Austrailia.

            In regard to gay marriage compared to intersex marriage:

            If an intersex person is married…and one looks male and the other female in public…by what I deduce from this discussion, the Catholic Church et al is not going to mess with them…because, by outward looks, things don’t look out of order.

            But, if an intersex person is married, and the two look both male or both female, then there would be a problem…because it looks gay…but, it’s not….but by the outward appearance criteria…same difference. Well, that’s not worthy of a highly thoughtful great religion.

            You wouldn’t want the world making a decison about you based on your exteriors. Hence, my word “haters”. For Jesus quoted Hillel:

            “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn”.

          • Beth Turner

            If you dismiss Catholic doctrine simply on the basis that it’s Catholic and many refuse to subscribe to it, it’s possible our discussion about marriage impediments may be coming to a close. It’s also a shame that someone would dismiss a Catholic doctrine simply because it’s Catholic…after all, the Catholic Church teaches many things you would probably agree with.

            But it still seems that you might acknowledge that there are some things which might impede one from marrying legitimately? Perhaps, in the case of coercion or deceit or an existing marital vow? I would encourage you to think through whatever you find to be impediments to legitimate marriage (you probably already have).

            The Catholic Church’s prohibition against acts of sodomy are many things, but not fundamentally a function of prejudice and malice. It has far more to do with the purpose of sex and the purpose of marriage, and the tradition is very rich on these points. Your assertion that the silence has to do with hatred or intellectual vapidity may be true of individual Catholics, but it is certainly not true of the tradition itself. I certainly hope and pray that it is not true of myself.

            With respect to the intersex individual, I would guess that the Church’s silence is owing to 1) lack of knowledge of various intersex conditions, since they are somewhat uncommon and rather varied, and 2) lack of understanding that many Catholics have with their own religious tradition (myself included).

            I actually agree with you that the hard cases help to elucidate the meanings behind the teachings, in contrast to what the seminarian told you. I have learned a lot about the Catholic Church’s teaching by examining and reflecting on hard cases.

            But absent an actual hard case of an actual intersex person with an actual condition and a proposed marriage, I have a hard time making any argument about an ethical judgment or legal policy recommendation regarding any intersex person at all. Intersex people are not all the same, and therefore sexual ethics cannot cover them all as a single category. I would repeat: the Church’s silence probably has more to do with a lack of familiarity with the facts on this point (and I would imagine Catholics are not alone in their lack of familiarity about these matters), and her reluctance to make a specific judgment without sufficient examination of the realities – not intellectual vapidity or hatred.

          • Yonah

            In terms of any dismissal of Catholic doctrine on my part that was in the context of what I am sure you will confirm…that the Catholic Church cannot take its doctrinal notions about procreation into the secular legal arena and command all others to subscribe. Your Church simply doesn’t even think to attempt that…so, I am pointing out that institutional behavioral reality. What the Church teaches generally is not all portable to its own institutional behavior politically. Yes, the Church can find many allies on abortion, but the assertion that procreation is a requirement for proper marriage for anyone is simply not politically viable. Again, the institutional behavior of the Catholic Church is such that it is NOT going to pursue policies in the secular arena pertaining to heterosexuals who are married, but not able to have children. Come on now. When I was a social worker in a public health clinic, I had a high functioning Down Syndrome client who worked full time at a local sheltered workshop…along with his wife…also Downs. So. One day, he needed me to give him a ride home from the clinic. So, I drive to his apartment building and he invites me up. I walk into this incredibly swank upwardly mobile looking apartment…very yuppy looking…bright polished hardwood floors…in the kitchen two shiny his and hers fancy bicycles…all the decor just so…there was a fireplace with mantle and so he immediately takes me to the mantle to show me their wedding photo….these people were more together than I was. But, procreation was not on their agenda…so, uh…who’s is gonna mess with them? Really?

            My father was Catholic…raised by Dominicans from an early age to high school as my grandfather abandoned the family during the Depression and Dad was sent away to private Catholic schools. From Dad, I inherit his pro-life attitude which makes liberals of all stripes mad at me. But, to me…and my Dad…we both have been very serious about that concept of a seamless garment of pro-life ethic. You have to have the highest regard for the human being in the most trouble…especially those counted as numerically insignificant. And if the Catholic Church, which has great universities (I took my Masters in Education from the University of Dayton) can be found wanting in terms of scientific knowledge on intersex…what is the chance the same can be true of other sexual orientations?

            Here is a case study. I would be interested in how you would envision the Catholic Church attempting to craft public law and policy for Max:


          • Beth Turner

            As for Max, his story is very illuminating, painful, and thoughtful. I’d like to give his specific situation some more thought, if you don’t mind. It’s abundantly clear, however (and you mentioned this several times), that this is a problem for these kids from birth – long before the question of marriage ever even becomes one for the child.

            I think part of the Church’s reluctance to address and insist upon the procreative aspect of marital union is twofold. First of all, politically speaking, there are bigger fish to fry, like people who actively bring about the deaths of others through abortion and euthanasia. These matters – dealing with violations of the fifth commandment, rather than the sixth – are more grave and the sins more serious. Second, most male-female marriages DO contain the possibility of bearing children. The couple could use contraception, but they may stop at any time. The couple could engage in any number of sexual acts that do not permit procreation, but they may return to the marital act at any time. The couple may be infertile at one time, but returned to health after treatment. The Church maintains hope that these individuals will turn from evil and seek good, or that they will be healed of their affliction – and therefore does not attempt to “mess with” their unions in the legal, policy sense.

            The difference between male-female marriages and homosexual marriages is that in the first, the couple may at some times engage in illegitimate sexual behaviors, or be prevented from procreative activity through no fault of their own. Such a couple, however, at least has the possibility of engaging in legitimate sexual behaviors. Accordingly, I think it makes sense for the Church not to meddle too much in formal legal policy towards specific male/female marriages. (Although she does have a duty to publicly oppose the use of contraception, believing as she does that it reduces sex to something less than what it ought to be). But according to Catholic teaching, homosexual arrangements NEVER provide for the proper use of the sexual faculty. It’s possible that some intersex marriages also preclude procreative possibilities, but since these cases are often unclear towards the very people who are afflicted (as in Max’s case), I think an abundance of caution and reluctance to pass judgment in formal policy and law is most prudent.

            Nevertheless, should a priest become aware that a male-female couple has no intention of being open to the creation of children, or that an intersex individual who is permanently sterile or of ambiguous sex is married or intends to marry, he has a duty to gently work through the factual realities of the situation and the moral/ethical teaching of the Church with the couple or individual so that he, she, or they may choose rightly for themselves – even if the law permits their union.

          • Yonah

            The thinking you have shared I have been aware of. I am concerned with institutional political behavior…as in the Catholic Church working to ban civil gay marriage. Since apparently it is equally hard for both you and I to imagine how the Church would do the same toward intersex marriage…of course, my question would be: What is the difference in terms of variance? I would hasten to say that I know of only one rare intersex condition where a predominately male person is fertile. But how the Catholic Church runs its own house is none of my affair. And then, as you allude, there is an inbetween zone where the Church speaks publicly and acts to defend its interests as in the issue of contraception.

            Should gay marriage be temporarily banned in some jurisdictions, my advice to those couples is just to claim intersex until a younger electorate guarantees the inevitable universal legalization of gay marriage.

          • Beth Turner

            To recommend that gays call themselves “intersex” so as to obtain legal recognition for their sexual relationships makes liars out them. It also spreads further confusion about a different condition which is already not well-understood (the intersex).

            Under that schema, I’d say both groups lose.

          • Yonah

            It’s an old Jewish tradition. When the Nazis are after you, tell them you’re Catholic. It worked for Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger.

            This all goes back to Jacob and Esau. I’m pretty sure Jacob was not Esau’s wife’s favorite in-law. “You gave him WHAT!???”

        • Hieronymus_Illinensis

          Did your intersex family member ever get a karyotype test?

          • Yonah

            Yes. Why do you ask?

          • Hieronymus_Illinensis

            Because as a zygote, no one is intersex: either he has a Y chromosome or she doesn’t. If development does not proceed normally, so that the organs don’t correspond to the genetics, then the person is to the faculty of sex what the man born blind in John 9 was to the faculty of sight. Now, what does the Gospel say Jesus did for the man born blind? Gave him sight. Which suggests what he would have done were he to work a miracle for an intersexed person.

            Now maybe you don’t think the miracles reflect “an authentic Jesus tradition.” Without the miracles, and the Divinity behind them, there is much less reason to follow him.

          • Yonah

            I say, the miracle is the intersex person. God don’t make junk.

  • Frank McManus

    Very good post. I can no longer figure out why the Church teaches that homosexual acts are wrong, but if I’m to understand the teaching at all, it will be because of writing like this, not the usual implicitly homophobic arguments that defenders of the Catholic teaching use.

    • Ray

      It’s actually rather simple: Any sex act outside of the sacrament of marriage is a grave sin. Marriage, as defined by Christ himself in the Bible, is the union of a man and a women for the purpose of procreating as part of God’s plan for men and women.

      Single people, whether homosexual or heterosexual, are called to live a chaste life until married.

      The fact that today’s sex crazed, contraception loving society makes this sin “normal” doesn’t change the fact that it is still a sin (sex outside of marriage).

      • Frank McManus

        Okay, it’s all perfectly clear to me now. Thank you.

      • Yonah

        Under your rubrics, would you morally forbid marriage to an intersex person? How would you regard an intersex person who has already married?

      • Hold up. You stated “the sacrament of marriage”. Are you restricting that to Catholic matrimony only? Or just sufficiently Christian ceremonies in general? What about all those multiple marriages of the Patriarchs?

        Also, where exactly do you find support for the proposition that “any sex act” (kissing? heavy petting? covetous glances?) is not only a sin, but a grave sin? I’ve searched the canon law high and low, and it isn’t so clear to me.

      • Daniel

        Did Christ say anything about governments legislating against sex acts outside of marriage?

  • Here’s a brief list of moral issues that the Roman Catholic Church has gotten wrong over the years:


    But please, continue explaining how you got so much wrong but are totally correct when it comes to gay people.

    • jay

      How about the Jews? The church built ghettos for them! Priests blasted hatred venom from their pulpits for hundreds of years. Then, boom, they changed their position. And thank God that they did. Now we have the homosexual issue. I hope and pray that soon the church will see the similarity and back off from it’s current position.

      • Zeke

        While we don’t know when they will change their position, we can guarantee that their statement will begin with “As the Church has always taught….”

        • Michael Kocian


          Because you don’t understand the rationale, doesn’t mean the Church doesn’t have it.

          This teaching that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and morally wrong cannot and will not change.

          • Zeke

            Cannot change? Like its moral position on slavery didn’t change? Like when Pope Francis explained that even atheists can get to heaven, despite centuries of Popes declaring otherwise? Cue Catholic legal mumbo jumbo about speaking ex-cathedra or some other nonsense in 3, 2, 1……
            Besides, the Church ceded the moral authority to preach about homosexuality long ago, after the umpteen-thousandth case of child rape was discovered.

      • Michael Kocian

        The priests spoke out against those who rejected Christ, the belief of the Jews, not the blood line of the Jews. Rejection of Christ is a major problem, bad for the individual and for society in general. It’s right to speak out against rejection of Christ.

        The problem is when people like you confuse the rejection of Christ with rejection of the person, and you come up with the wrong conclusion.

        The Catholic Church is and and has been from its inception in 33AD the greatest force for good on the planet… bar none.

        People who aren’t Catholic are either ignorant of the truth of Christ, or don’t love Him.

    • Michael Kocian

      Please explain your accusations. I believe you are confused about this and your “definitions” and examples of such are not valid. Come out in the open with your claim, rather than making veiled nebulous slanderous remarks!

      The atheistic position is based completely on false assumptions and rejection of truth… it’s really all you have.

  • Mike

    Your stance and insistence to use emotionally charged sentiments of homophobia has now run straight on and caused loss of freedom of speech. We now have though and speech police who scream Homophobia when ever one takes a contrary position with this issue. All you have to do is look at the actions of Mozilla this week. Your position and statement here has created another turn toward a new fascism. Thanks

    • Mike, exactly how do you draw a causal line between this blog post and what happened to Eich?

      • Mike

        Read the next blog post

        • I did, and I still don’t see it.

    • Yonah

      “freedom of speech” aka “speech I wanna speak without you shaming me over”

  • Beth Turner

    I’m curious about this, too. If homosexual acts, adultery, abortion, etc. are immoral, how do we go about deciding what a just punishment should be? Or whether criminalization is appropriate? Or whether any kind of response is necessary, or we should just live-and-let-live like the libertarians say we should do? I don’t like the Ugandan death penalty idea, but then what instead?

    For example, the woman caught in adultery is poor and oppressed in a way that, say, my wealthy, adulterous lawyer-uncle who had several extramarital affairs before leaving his wife of 30 years and four children is not. The former induces pity, the latter makes me angry – even though their behavior is one and the same.

    Similarly, the gay man who turns holy things into dirty jokes or who mocks a struggle for purity as evidence that others are just sexually repressed prudes who need to think for themselves/enjoy life/give in to pleasure is very different than the teenager who senses attraction to someone of the same sex and isn’t sure what to do about it. The former makes me angry, whereas the latter induces pity – even though (assuming the teenager begins experimenting sexually) their behavior might be the same.

    How can we hold both “sodomy” and “oppression of the poor” in mind as “sins that cry to heaven for vengeance,” when sometimes the people who commit acts of sodomy are the poor ones? And how can the justice system we have reflect that adequately?

    I dunno. It’s complicated. Do you think the bishops are wrong for the specific penalties they are supporting, or do you think they are wrong for supporting penalties at all? Do you really think that all gay people are oppressed and poor, or do you think it’s possible some of them are actively promoting behaviors and ideologies that estrange people from the source of eternal life?

    • Yonah

      Since you first assert fidelity to stringent rejection of homosexuality, YOU have the resposibility to muster the courage of your convictions and state YOUR position…rather than beg somebody else to do the dirty work for your. Where is your work ethic?