It’s funny

Had I written a post called “An adulterer and murderer I consider a saint” I don’t think I would be getting all these complaints about “giving scandal”.

David was guilty of the *other* three sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance:

Wilful murder

The cry of the foreigner, the widow and the orphan, (Uriah the Hittite, whom he murdered, was a loyal foreigner, whom David utterly betrayed)

Injustice to the wage earner. (Repaying a loyal soldier with adultery and murder is injustice to the wage earner).

Some sins appear to be more equal than others. Indeed, one sin is apparently so horrible that you don’t even have to have any evidence somebody committed it to accuse them of it and ignore their grace filled life in the rush to condemn them.

But it’s perfectly legit to point out that, despite his horrible sins, God worked in the life of David because, for all his flaws, David’s heart remained open to God. I think David and Perry both understood something that many combox inquisitors don’t.

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  • Joe


    I haven’t read through the comments on the other posts you are referring to but I would just like to point out that the Church refers to Sodomy as a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance, but doesn’t single out homosexual sodomy as far as I know. Sodomy is a sin that many heterosexual couples take part in both of the anal and oral variety. People should keep that in mind when they start pointing fingers.

  • astorian

    Father Brown’s face became animated. ‘You misunderstand the man’s character,’ he said, as if he himself had known the man all his life. ‘A curious but not unknown type of character. If he had really known [that he’d gain from the death of an innocent man], I seriously believe he wouldn’t have done it. He would have seen [the murder] as the dirty thing it was.’ ”

    -G.K. Chesterton, in “The Oracle of the Dog”


    I think often of that passage from a great Father Brown mystery. It applies to many people, and to King David’s murder of Uriah, in particular.

    SUPPOSE an advisor had blithely told King David “Go ahead and have Uriah executed on some pretense, and then take his wife. You’re the KING man, you can do anything you want.” Father Brown would probably say “David NEVER would have done something so monstrous.” But he WAS able to talk himself into the same sin another way.

    There was a war going on, after all. That wasn’t David’s fault.

    SOMEBODY had to serve in the front lines, and WHOEVER served there was likely to be killed. That wasn’t David’s fault, either.

    So, he told himself, “If SOMEBODY has to serve and die there, if SOME woman is going to be a widow tonight no matter what I do… why not Uriah?”

    That doesn’t make David’s crime any less, and even David knew that. Hence, when Nathan condemned David, the King was only too quick to admit guilt.

  • Marcus

    FWIW, I thought your post was fantastic. Thank you for writing it.

  • This is a red letter day for Catholic laity!

    Mark, you know I love your writing, and now I love it even more. I would be grateful to see you expound on all that you have written today, and package it in a book regarding all the sins that cry out, and the mercy we are called to in our own. I would by it by the case and give it to everyone I know.

    Thank you so much! Your writing on Perry Lorenzo and this subject is absolutely lovely.

  • rachel

    Mark, I have been following your posts on Perry Lorenzo and I thought you were spot on. I didn’t sense that you were trying to condone any homosexual behavior and its true that homosexual acts are no different from other sins such as adultery, etc. I enjoy your blog so keep it up. Its very thoughtful 🙂

  • In fairness, Mark, I do not hear people going around asserting that murder, defrauding workers and oppressing widows are NOT sins, or that they are fine and dandy in the sight of God, so we do not see a pressing need to keep reminding people they ARE sins. But we are faced with plenty of people asserting that about homosexual acts.

  • Ted Seeber

    Funny, I see a whole ton of people claiming that defrauding workers and oppressing widows are not sins- and most of them are heavily invested in a certain market in New York City.

    • No, you see people claiming that what-Ted-Seeber-considers-defrauding-but-they-dont is not sin. You do not find people saying “There is nothing wrong with defrauding people” as they say “there is nothing wrong with gay love!” Plenty of people claim that what Mark and I consider murder is not, but that does not support “[Wave straw man] and therefore it is hypocritical to condemn homosexual behavior as sin!”

  • Dan C

    I do see people asserting that “oppressing widows are NOT sins, or that they are fine and dandy in the sight of God…”

    When we sit and contemplate that it really is “ok” for garment industry employees through Oceania to be severely underpaid in “less than optimal” work environments and discuss how much worse their lives would be without said indecent treatment and how they should be grateful to receive the scraps from our tables, well perhaps we are asserting such oppression is “ok.” Our tepid response certainly lacks the character of condemnation.

  • When I think of King David, I think of the following
    Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
    in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.

    Thoroughly wash away my guilt;
    and from my sin cleanse me.

    For I know my transgressions;
    my sin is always before me.

    Against you, you alone have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your eyes

    So that you are just in your word,
    and without reproach in your judgment.

    Behold, I was born in guilt,
    in sin my mother conceived me.

    Behold, you desire true sincerity;
    and secretly you teach me wisdom.

    Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

    You will let me hear gladness and joy;
    the bones you have crushed will rejoice.

    Turn away your face from my sins;
    blot out all my iniquities.

    A clean heart create for me, God;
    renew within me a steadfast spirit.

    Do not drive me from before your face,
    nor take from me your holy spirit.

    Restore to me the gladness of your salvation;
    uphold me with a willing spirit.

    I will teach the wicked your ways,
    that sinners may return to you.

    Rescue me from violent bloodshed, God, my saving God,
    and my tongue will sing joyfully of your justice.

    Lord, you will open my lips;
    and my mouth will proclaim your praise.

    For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it;
    a burnt offering you would not accept.

    My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
    a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.

  • Bryan

    I know I am late to this conversation, but here are some thoughts some (none) may find of use and may provoke some useful discussions:
    There is a pertinent question on which it seems that the Church has yet to rule. That question is whether it is morally licit and/or prudent for a chaste, non-cohabitating individual with SSA to have a boyfriend/exclusive companion. No one is saying those with SSA can’t have close friendships with those of the same sex. The key question I see concerns the liceity of the exclusivity of the friendship, rather than the fact a friendship exists. There does seem to be wiggle room here: our bishops don’t seem to have spoken on this issue. I looked at Courage’s website but did not find anything. Perhaps someone can point us to any guidelines—ought those with SSA be encouraged to form exclusive, chaste, non-cohabitating partnerships or remain in them? From Mark Shea’s comments, my guess is he would argue that such partnerships entail no sin, and to claim they are sinful would be to “lay up heavy burdens” on people akin to the Pharisees. I don’t know the answer—it’s not my job to figure it out either. For now, it seems that people can prudentially disagree about this. I don’t think either side can say the other is sinning in holding either opinion—wrong-headed maybe, but not sinning.
    I also think that part of the reason why this generated heat is due to the fact that Mr. Shea may have picked an example of an individual with whom he had insufficient familiarity to confidently state his belief that the man was a living saint. I know he was expressing an opinion, not a statement of fact. Do you think that the fact that you never knew he had a partner—even though he had one with whom he worshipped regularly for the last 13 years and was an integral part of his life—implies that you really knew very little about the man’s personal life? It seems like you knew him in a professional rather than a personal capacity and can render judgments about his sanctity only on that basis. After the Fr. Corapi affair, people get jumpy when they think this is going on—imputing sanctity only on the basis of professional rather than personal knowledge about another.
    I also would not have used the phrase “monks in love” in the obit, although the phrase itself is fascinating and quite profound. Yes, a monk implies chastity, but the phrase “in love” in normal and customary usage implies romantic love—a love that desires to express itself sexually. I do not say I am in love with my daughter, son, or friends. In fact, the only people I say I am “in love” with are my wife and my God. Monks in love actually calls to mind something along the lines of “we were each other’s forbidden fruit”. Perhaps they were. No doubt they had agape and philos toward one another, but the phrase “in love” also implies eros was present, which many find unseemly to disclose given that there is no indication that Mr. Lorenzo ever made such a public disclosure prior to passing.
    Finally, part of the flare up is likely due to other wording in the obituary, which Mr. Lorenzo likely had little control over. The wording “survived by his partner/companion” is unfortunate, because it is normal and customary usage in the United States that we list family members and spouses in the obituary, but not our best friends. Saying that Mr. Hearns survives Mr. Lorenzo implies some sort of blood or legal relationship. I think if the obituary stated something along the lines of “Mr. Hearns, Mr. Lorenzo’s best friend for the last 13 years stated…” then this would have generated far less heat. I don’t really know what the right solution is to this: those who are not blood kin or spouses or in-laws but were nonetheless of importance in the deceased’s life should be mentioned, but with terminology that differs from “survived by…” The connotation of a partner/companion in relationships implies, to me at least, an exclusivity of the heart. Friendships wax and wane and that’s morally unproblematic. However, when we speak of spouses, or, in the case of gay couples, partners, it seems to be that a wide-spread belief that there is an exclusivity about the couple that is one of moral obligation. That is, as if the partners OWE one another a special part of their heart that would be immoral to share with others. This relates to the first question I asked about whether such exclusivity ought to be encouraged (a pastoral question) and is licit ( a moral question) among those with SSA. thanks for your work Mark.