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Mark Shea's Blog: So That No Thought of Mine, No Matter How Stupid, Should Ever Go Unpublished Again!
Ron Belgau, another chaste gay and completely orthodoxx Catholic, talks about transforming the conversation about homosexuality in the Church.
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I’m sorry, I literally can’t resist. Is “orthodoxx” the female version of “orthodoxy”?
I continue to believe that the mortal enemy of homosexuality is not Christianity but the media/government alliance which only focuses on and celebrates the militant “leadership” of homosexuality. Gentlemen such as Ron and Justin, since they profess their faith, are almost ignored except in forums like this.
I pray that Ron’s ministry continues to grow.
Hey, I know that guy.
I wish people would stop saying things like “the Christian belief that marriage is between one man and one woman”. Marriage as we have known it for thousands of years (obviously) existed before Christianity and (of course) before the Hebrew revelation. The sort of rhetoric I am referring to only gives fuel to the fire of who see traditional marriage as just a “Christian” thing. It’s Natural Law.
Thanks for taking the time to click on the link and read some of the accompanying discussion.
To respond to your concern, I had several reasons for talking explicitly about “Christian belief” rather than framing the argument in terms of “Natural Law.”
1. Responding directly to your way of framing the argument, the belief that “marriage is between one man and one woman” did not exist before the Hebrew revelation. The Hebrew revelation itself is full of examples of marriage between one man and several women, even hundreds of women. There are natural law arguments for monogamy (and, in fact, the Greeks and Romans seem to have arrived at monogamy sooner than the Jews). But I think you are making a historically naive appeal if you make a claim like “Marriage as we have known it for thousands of years (obviously) existed before Christianity and (of course) before the Hebrew revelation.” We do not want to endorse marriage as it existed thousands of years before Christianity.
2. There were far fewer Christians in the ancient world than there are in today’s culture. So, in a sense it would have made much more sense to appeal to Natural Law than to explicitly Christian premises. But though the Apostle Paul occasionally referenced Natural Law arguments, he did not think that appealing directly to Christian premises “only gave fuel to the fire” for his opponents. In fact, in I Corinthians, he explicitly rejects Greek wisdom and insists that he would only base his appeal on proclaiming Christ crucified.
3. If you watch the second video, during my second time speaking, I point out that some of the most important New Testament passages that deal with sexuality (Matthew 19:1-12, Mark 10:2-12, Romans 1:18-27, I Corinthians 6:9-20, Ephesians 5:21-33) reference God’s role as creator as crucial for understanding the logic of Christian sexual ethics. I spent almost 10 minutes explaining why contemporary secular assumptions make it very difficult to understand Christian beliefs about marriage and gender complementarity, and why it is dangerous to accept the demand that our arguments conform to secular presumptions.
4. Natural Law, as it has traditionally been understood in the Catholic tradition, is inherently theistic. If you look at the First Part of the Second Part of the Summa, Question 91, Article 2, Aquinas assumes God’s providential rule of the universe in his explanation of the Natural Law. There is a Natural Law for human reason to discover, Aquinas says, because Nature itself is ordered by Divine reason. But since contemporary secularism denies the existence of God, Natural Law arguments will be almost as suspect as appeals to divine revelation.
5. In a dialogue with Jürgen Habermas shortly before his election as Pope, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger pointed out that historically, “The natural law has remained (especially in the Catholic Church) the key issue in dialogues with the secular society and with other communities of faith in order to appeal to the reason we share in common and to seek the basis for consensus about the ethical principles of law in a secular, pluralistic society. Unfortunately, this instrument has become blunt. Accordingly I do not intend to appeal to it for support in this conversation. The idea of the natural law presupposed a concept of nature in which nature and reason overlap, since nature itself is rational. With the victory of the theory of evolution, this view of nature has capsized: nowadays, we think that nature as such is not rational, even if there is rational behavior in nature” (The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion, pp. 69-70).
6. In the General Audience addresses that became the “Theology of the Body,” Pope John Paul II returned to the beginning, to the creation story. It was the human person, created in the image of God, and created male and female, whom he sought to bring before the world.
I am not denying that there is a place for natural law arguments in contemporary debates about sexual ethics. But my decision to phrase this claim explicitly in terms of Christian teaching was not an oversight or a result of carelessness. I’ve been involved in these debates for 15 years now. I’ve also studied Thomas Aquinas and contemporary natural law arguments, and paid attention to the way that John Paul II and Benedict XVI have framed the issue. And it is my considered judgment that I do more good by explaining this teaching in explicitly Christian terms than by neutering it to fit within contemporary secular assumptions.
Once again, thanks for taking a look and responding. I hope this helps clarify your concerns.
I should like to point out comments 4 and 5, those by Mark R and Mr. Belgau , as a pleasure to read, and something I would be overjoyed to see more of. The last comment, particularly, was clear, respectful, and spelled out the position and the arguments for it plainly and well. Such comments are very rare, most comments are simply outbursts of emotion, and it was a pleasure to read this one.
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