This is an exchange with my frequent atheist debating partner, Anthrotheist. It began in the posted dialogue, Miracles, Materialism, & Premises: Dialogue w Atheist, and I will reproduce the relevant end portion of that here. Then it continued in the combox. His words will be in blue.
One example that I have noticed is how many things in society end up being blamed on the acceptance of homosexuality in our culture; the fact is, there aren’t enough homosexuals to make that big of an impact and people who aren’t homosexuals don’t experience any change to their day-to-day life due to greater acceptance of behavior that they never engage in themselves. But because homosexuality is sinful in Christianity, there must be some negative consequence of its acceptance by society, and everything from rape culture to priest abuses are offered as evidence supporting that necessary conclusion.
All we’re saying is that there is such a thing as the natural order. The reproductive organs were clearly designed for each other and to produce offspring: either by materialistic evolution or by God or by God through evolution or some other creative process. When this is rejected and other sorts of sexuality are practiced, there are (precisely as we would have predicted) dire health consequences (an objective deleterious effect: not some religious anathema): as I have written about.
What Catholics and many other Christians oppose is a radical redefinition of what constitutes moral sex; and the notion of unisexism, or no essential, ontological difference between the genders, and the redefinition of marriage (and all of this has come about due to a consistent internal, anti-traditional, radically secularist logic). That goes far beyond only homosexuality.
As for the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church: we didn’t make it what it is. The fact is (documented in many polls and surveys), that 80% of the victims were male and usually young adults (not children). Sorry: that is homosexual sex, not heterosexual. So, for example, the former Cardinal McCarrick, who was just defrocked / laicized, went after young [male] seminarians. That’s the usual pattern. Would you have us believe that this is heterosexual excess or wrongdoing? I don’t see how. So it is what it is.
If you say, “See?! Catholics want to scapegoat homosexuals for their own problems of abuse because they hated homosexuals in the first place!”, we reply that we are simply blaming the actual perpetrators for doing what they did: priests or bishops trying to pick up young men for sexual purposes, according to the well-known phenomenon of widespread homosexual rampant promiscuity.
That’s not even blaming all homosexuals or homosexuality in general, by a long shot. If someone has a homosexual orientation, the Church says that is not a sin. They have to act upon that and engage in sexual acts that we believe are unnatural and immoral, to be blamed according to our moral theology. There is also lust before that, but I digress. I made these distinctions of celibate vs. active homosexual clear in my article, Is the Catholic Church “Against” Gay Priests?
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. If a non-Catholic like you wants to blame the Catholic Church for its sexual abuse crisis (and believe me, we Catholics are as furious and disgusted about it as any outsider), then you can’t pretend that homosexual promiscuity and practices contrary to what our Church teaches, have not played a key role in the crisis and scandal. There are Catholics who have their head in the sand and pretend that all of this is a heterosexual excess, but this doesn’t comport with the reality of what we know about the past abuse. See the documentation in my article above about gay priests.
Catholic church sex scandal and homosexuality: my argument is that you take a premise — homosexuality activity is a sin and therefore its presence will always produce problems — and use it to pin the church’s abuse issues on homosexual clergy.
This mythical explanation of what I supposedly think is not correct at all. The abuses — as I said — are what they are. We have to analyze their nature. And that nature is 80% male victims of other males: mostly teenagers and young adults. And that is clearly homosexual behavior and thus, an abuse that is part of the excesses of the homosexual lifestyle: just as there are obviously many excesses (that we would call sinful) of the heterosexual lifestyle as well.
But I am simply placing the blame on the causes as they are becoming evident in examining exactly what happened. I didn’t make these abuses homosexual in nature. They are what they are, and we can identify them as what they are, regardless of what we may personally think of homosexual sex.
So one again, I am following facts and taking an observational / scientific attitude towards them. You are ignoring the facts and trying to make it an issue of supposed bigotry and closed-mindedness on my (and the Catholic) part: as if I am scapegoating. If anyone is scapegoating here, it’s you, in implying that traditional Catholics can’t possibly have the views about sex that we do without being bigots and haters. I don’t hate anyone.
My two best friends in high school were [black] homosexuals, and that was 45 years ago. Our kids have several homosexual friends. We don’t tell them not to. They don’t “hate” them. They simply disagree with some of what they do, just as most of us will disagree with several things that individual friends and family members do or think. I’ve never been nasty or mean to any homosexual in my life. I love all people. This is what Christians are called to do, and I do my very best to live it out.
I just wanted to clarify that I am in no way implicating you as a bigot. . . . No finger pointing, no assumptions about any hating or anything like that.
Thanks for making clear that the charge of bigotry is not in play. Refreshing . . .
The reason that I blame you of leading with a conclusion, rather than considering all the possibilities, is that an alternate explanation is staring you in the face: the Catholic church is a sausage-fest. It’s all guys. How many women are there in Catholic seminaries (apologies for being crass, and it has little bearing on modern institutions, but even the word seminary comes from the same root as “semen”; obligatory joke: come on, what did you expect to happen?)? How many women are there in the churches’ rectories? What is the ratio of altar-girls to altar-boys in the average church? If there was going to be any sexual activity — and these are all human beings here, all of them fallible as we both agree — it couldn’t possibly be anything but homosexual because of the essential demographics involved. I’m not going to go down a rabbit hole of arguing that the priesthood — with all its authority, secrecy, power, and secluded access to young boys — could hardly be better designed for pedophiles if you tried, but the argument is there. Also, you notice where there are the few minority cases of women being molested by priests? It’s nuns. You know, the only women that priests have regular secluded access to. The prevalence of homosexuality in the church’s abuse scandals is better explained through opportunity than it is through a spiritual corruption from sin.
As for homosexuality and “natural order,” how can such a concept possibly be defined except through a process of biased and motivated selection?
I already made the argument in my article: the many dire health consequences of homosexual (i.e., anal) sex. And these go far beyond just venereal diseases.
Is it part of the natural order for food to be processed and cooked? Because nobody is picking SCOTUS judges based on their stance on whether Wonder Bread is ruining our diets and harming our bodies (don’t get me wrong, it is, but it still comes down to, is bread “natural”?). You know that I will refuse to accept passages in the Bible as a rational source for defining any sort of natural order, so is there something else you can offer?
I just did. It’s an entirely secular / medical argument, having nothing directly or necessarily to do with the Bible or any other sacred text.
And how do you respond to the fact that animals in nature engage in homosexual relations? It has been observed, they do it. I understand that animals aren’t moral beings like humans are, but then what exactly does “natural” mean?
You can always find any creature that will do just about anything. But in the end, I don’t see that the animals have a problem of reproducing themselves at least to the extent of replacing the existing population. Only human beings are stupid and dumb enough to do that. Most of the western, developed countries are below replacement level. This has many bad societal consequences, as has been written about. That’s because of the contraceptive and anti-child mentalities, which have the same root as homosexual sex: being non-procreative: thus going against the deepest and most essential purpose of sexuality.
Finally, you said something that caught my attention: “. . . sexual acts that we believe are unnatural and immoral . . .” That second part — immorality — kinda pins it down doesn’t it? What was the sexual revolution if not the rejection of the assertion that sex is an inherently moral act? It takes the act of sex and puts it into pretty much all other categories of human interaction: the act itself is not moral by its nature, but the morality of its perpetration is dependent upon the circumstances of its execution.
Do you agree with us that incest is wrong? If so, why?
Do you agree with us that adult sex with children is wrong?
Incest is the better argument of the two, because it can easily be argued that the child is too young to give consent. If sex is morally neutral, why in the world does it matter if you had sex with your brother, sister, mother, father, or son or daughter? Then there is sex with animals. It seems that in your view, one could have no possible objection to it.
I can’t tell if you believe that society has undergone an incestuous or pedophilic revolution; you bring those up in response to my characterization of the sexual revolution.
I think it is plausible that these things will be accepted in the future (and not too far away), since we’re at a place now where virtually anything is permissible in sexual matters except for rape, incest, bestiality, and pedophilia / other kinds of sexual abuse: such as of teenagers.
I think bestiality and pedophilia will be the first two to be accepted. In some circles, they already are. Incest will probably follow. Rape is the only thing that secular society is still firmly against, because individual rights are of paramount importance (the view being very “me-centered” and drawn largely from libertarianism).
We even allow the systematic murder of innocent, helpless, preborn children. Since torturing and killing human beings against their will is still considered to be wrong, the pro-abort has to play the diabolical rationalizing and self-justifying game of defining the child (quite irrationally and unscientifically and utterly contrary to genetics) as a non-person, as as to justify these monstrous evils that are committed against them.
Incest is an interesting moral question though; there are concerns involved. Incestuous reproduction has been clearly shown to have hazardous consequences in the offspring. The only other clear problem with incest is the issue of any power relationship within inter-generational relationships; elder family members almost always wield power over younger members, and those relationships influence the relationship into adulthood. Beyond that, rationally speaking, incest is little more than a social taboo, derived from our Judaeo-Christian history.
I see. So you would have no inherent problem with folks having sex with brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, or daughters, or with animals, since it only involves potential health hazards: which you have dismissed in the case of anal sex? It’s “little more than a social taboo”; therefore, it follows that you have little or no problem with it. Again, thanks for your honesty, and you are consistent.
Yeah, of course! But don’t forget laptops and sports cars, we obviously want to marry and screw those too! Serious non-sequitur going from sex between consenting adults to bestiality. It demonstrates a lack of understanding (or conscious disregard) of what makes a sex act wrong according to liberals: consent. Mentally fit human adults are currently the only entities capable of giving consent; all but the most extreme liberals will never want to move that line (and let’s not argue from extremes, shall we? Every group has them, no group is proud of them.)
You’re the one who stated, “incest is little more than a social taboo” and seemed to me to refuse to say that incest was inherently wrong. And now you accuse me of non sequitur because I logically followed your thought? Nice tactic there . . . If you think it’s wrong, then say so and explain to me why: which was my original question (“Do you agree with us that incest is wrong? If so, why?”). But instead you resort to mocking and caricature of my argument.
These examples of incest and bestiality and pedophilia were brought up precisely as examples of sexual practices that are deemed unnatural and wrong by secularists and Christians alike. By your big reaction, you obviously agree, and so reinforce my argument. Thanks! We simply believe more categories are unnatural than you do (including homosexual sex). Who’s to say we aren’t right?
I already talked about consent. I know what liberals believe (used to be one myself). I didn’t claim that it was normative for liberals now. I didn’t deny that it was fringe, for what I actually wrote was:
[V]irtually anything is permissible in sexual matters except for rape, incest, bestiality, and pedophilia / other kinds of sexual abuse: such as of teenagers. I think bestiality and pedophilia will be the first two to be accepted. In some circles, they already are. [emphasis added presently]
What you wrote was one statement that acknowledges that the fringe is not accepted, followed directly by a statement indicating that you believe that those fringes will inevitably be accepted in the future.
Again, you distort what I actually argued and take words out of context. In the very same original sentence, I also wrote: “I think it is plausible that these things will be accepted in the future (and not too far away) . . .” Arguments from plausibility are hemispheres away from arguments for inevitability. Then (the next paragraph, which was posted in time before this comment), you see that I clarified and qualified a second time: “is there any trend at all towards things like bestiality: this was my argument.”
So the question becomes: is there any trend at all towards things like bestiality: this was my argument. And it’s pretty easy to find evidence for it. See, for example, the article, “Zoophilia” at Wikipedia, which states:
The Kinsey reports rated the percentage of people who had sexual interaction with animals at some point in their lives as 8% for men and 3.6% for women, and claimed it was 40–50% in people living near farms, but some later writers dispute the figures, because the study lacked a random sample in that it included a disproportionate number of prisoners, causing sampling bias.
It’s rather easy to find examples of men and women marrying dogs or trees or horses, etc. Just do a Google search for five minutes. Whether they have sex with them or not is perhaps debatable: I don’t know if it is implied in each case (and how one would with a tree would be interesting to find out).
Assuming that all parties involved are fully grown adults: “brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, . . . daughters, . . . animals” translates to: consent, consent, consent, consent, consent, . . . consent, . . . not consent. One of these is not like the others, one of these does not follow the pattern. Without any intervening explanation, that is a non sequitur. No variation on consensual sex leads logically to any form of non-consensual sex; my reaction is because it is a popular conservative talking point, especially in regards to same-sex marriage. Like you, I get tired of seeing the same old tropes.
Me, too. But you are not interacting with what I argued; rather, a caricature of it. I’ve explained and clarified far more than adequately.
As for Kinsey, it seems to me you must have that backwards. The Kinsey report came before the sexual revolution; if anything, it de-stigmatized many forms of sex that were apparently not nearly as rare as public perception claimed. People aren’t having more weird sex because of the Kinsey report, it just showed that people were having more weird sex than most people realized. The consideration of where the limits should be of which practices should be normalized leads us straight back to the elevation of consent as the pivotal moral for sex, just as it has always been the pivotal moral for economics and politics (at least in America).
You don’t seem to be following my reasoning chain. I have explained why I brought up both incest and bestiality. You may still not understand why, but I barge ahead. The Kinsey quote was in direct response to your classifying bestiality as follows: “all but the most extreme liberals will never want to move that line (and let’s not argue from extremes, shall we? Every group has them, no group is proud of them.)” Okay, so you say bestiality is extreme now. For most (even secularized liberals) it still is, as I also noted, but I am looking at trends and trying to predict what the future holds.
What Kinsey wrote supports what I am arguing far more than it does your view. Bestiality is not only practiced in alarming numbers now, but (if Kinsey is right) has been for a long time: which is precisely a refutation of your view that it is merely fringe and “extreme.” I would submit that if bestiality was that common even over 65 years ago (the Kinsey Reports were published in 1948 and 1953), it certainly is more so now, in our wacky, “anything goes” sex-crazed age. But I’m not asserting it; I simply strongly suspect it, as an educated guess. Its here already; and likewise, I predict that pedophilia and incest will also be more accepted in the future, because virtually all the trends are opposed to sexual moral (in our society, mostly Christian) tradition.
Acquiring property is not an inherently moral act, but wrongful acquisition is the moral wrong of theft. Killing a person is not an inherently immoral act, but wrongful killing is the moral wrong of murder (I’m actually a pragmatic pacifist, and I don’t agree with that, but it is true according to our laws). The sexual revolution said that having sex is not an inherently moral act, but wrongful sex is the moral wrong of rape. So then what is the argument in favor of sex being an inherently moral act? I consider myself a pacifist, but what is the argument for a “celibacist”?
We think certain sexual acts are inherently immoral: having to do with being non-procreative (homosexual sex, masturbation, heterosexual sex with contraception, orgasm separated from intercourse). We think that sexuality in its very essence has to be for the primary purpose of procreation, and that one must be open to a possible life being conceived.
The argument for priestly celibacy is not that sex is bad, but that the priest voluntarily gives up what is a good thing as a matter of heroic sacrifice, for the sake of “undistracted devotion” (as Paul in the Bible says) to the Lord and to his spiritual flock.
This is not an unknown principle in many areas of life. For example, soldiers undergo all kinds of sacrifice for the sake of fighting for their country and for what they believe in (freedom, etc.).
I’m not fundamentally opposed to sex being a moral matter, given its complexities and consequences, but my understanding of the primary reason for de-moralizing it (so to speak) was to overcome the unjust inequalities and stigmas that traditional sexual morality imposed singularly upon women. What does gender-equal sexual morality look like, or is that even the desired result?
For Catholics it is selfless love directed towards the other, expressed in moral sexual ways, too, where appropriate. We don’t make anyone a mere object of our lustful desires (not saying all desires are lustful). We value women (as men) as equal to ourselves and to be cherished and honored and loved in the full sense. They are not mere objects for our pleasure.
I think this is why polls consistently show (as I recently noted on my blog) that devout Catholics have the best sex lives of anyone: because we understand these basic principles of what will make both men and women happy and fulfilled, in marriage and in their sex lives.
I think that we’ve gone ’round with this before, but the secular/medical argument against homosexuality would necessarily place any advocacy against its practice in relation to other dangerous voluntary activities. Is it morally wrong to skydive, based on the secular/medical fact that it is a highly hazardous activity? What about driving? I assume that you acknowledge that your primary contention with homosexuality is the Christian proscription against it? I don’t have any problem with you finding non-religious reasons to oppose an activity, but surely you aren’t claiming that your original opposition was due to health concerns.
You make a decent analogy as to risk-taking activities. Of course, we do many things that involve risk all the time, and very few (including myself) would argue that we shouldn’t.
My argument regarding anal sex is a little more subtle than that. We’re told by secularists and sexual radicals that all kinds of sex are equally “natural”. My reply is that anal sex is not nearly as natural as heterosexual vaginal sex, because the latter is “designed” (either by evolution or God, or God via the means of evolution) for male and female sexual organs to work together and be complementary. I don’t need to get into minute details.
The anus / rectum is not at all designed for sexual activity; and because it is not, therefore all kinds of negative health repercussions occur when this activity takes place (we see massive and tragic examples of this in Africa, for example, where most of the anal sex is heterosexual). The argument then states that these factors are arguably consistent with what we would expect to find if something went against nature or natural law. The argument for it being morally wrong would have to be further (or more strongly) established by separate criteria.
Let me break down the argument that I am making. My assumption/assertions are:
1. You believe that homosexual activity is sinful.
2. You believe that sin is in some manner corruptive or corrosive to good people and deeds.
3. The increased acceptance in society of a sinful activity will surely and inevitably corrupt or corrode society’s goodness.
4. Therefore, homosexual activity is an underlying cause of bad things.
. . . If my assumption/assertions are incorrect — if for example you don’t believe that the presence of sin is deleterious to the goodness of people — then please address that.
Also, you claim that I am ignoring facts, but you seem to be ignoring that opportunity is a necessary antecedent to any abuse, and that almost all opportunities for abuse in Catholic churches exclusively involve males.
I strongly deny that the mere existence of an all-male group of any kind will produce increased homosexuality. The only place that really occurs is in prisons, and that’s because the possibility of heterosexual sex is physically not available (save for the rare allowed conjugal visits).
If you were right, then we would have seen rampant homosexual activity in the military (up till recently, when it was all or almost all men), or on sports teams. That is not the case. At least parish priests are dealing with women all the time: half of their flocks and many of the workers in the church: oftentimes a majority.
Monks and nuns (at least the secluded ones who choose to be away from the world, for their spiritual purposes) would be a much more controlled and restricted environment, and in those cases, there can be a potential for homosexuality to take root. It happened among many thousands of our nuns: most of whom also left the religious life alongside their sexual descent.
What has happened in the Church is, in my opinion (and that of many observers) due to self-consciously active homosexual men joining the priesthood, with no intention of following the sexual restriction required. It was dishonest and subversive. So they did their thing and here we are today, with everyone bashing the Church, while ignoring the long-term causes of what brought it about.
In a nutshell, the sexual revolution infiltrated and corrupted the Catholic Church. Everything in human history would suggest that this was going to happen. And so it did. But the Church’s moral teachings are what are protected by God, and they have not changed (as you and everyone else are well aware).
The vast vast majority of priests and bishops do indeed remain faithful to their vows. We just have to clean house, is all.
So, I chuckled a little at the comparisons you make here.
Prison: all-male population where there is no possibility of heterosexual sex
Priesthood: all-male population where there is no possibility of heterosexual sex
The only apparent difference is that one is forcibly confined to its limitations, while the other group is expected to willingly confine themselves to limitations.
Priesthood: male adults in positions of absolute authority over male children
Military: male and female adults in positions of absolute authority over male and female adults
Sports teams: male and female adults in positions of limited authority over male and/or female adults or children
The sports team is the closest analogy, and there is a vast difference in authority; and given the prevalence of stories of sports coaches abusing their players, there seems to be a reasonable parallel.
And honestly, I didn’t pursue the argument that priesthood is a perfect position for pedophilic predators because I worried that it was too harsh a criticism of the nature of Catholic clergy. You apparently don’t have a problem with it, claiming that most of the abusers were disingenuous fakers taking up the collar expressly to do wrong. . . .
Beyond that, I conjecture about the nature of the Catholic abuse scandals, but I can’t and won’t push too far into any assertions about its nature. At the end of the day, I don’t have a horse in that race; the beginning and end of my concern is that the victims receive justice where and when they can. I may believe that it would be better if statutes of limitation were extended or that clergy became mandated reporters, but I claim no expertise about it and trust that more qualified and interested parties will pursue such considerations.
. . . I do strongly object to your character assassination of secular sexual liberals by indicating that being a lying predatory pedophile makes you a “good” example of one; that would be similar to claiming that being an abusive and secretive pedophile predator makes you a “good” example of a Catholic priest. It’s inaccurate, unseemly, and in my opinion beneath the dignity of our usual conversations.
This is a point well-taken, and I have removed my brief allusion to that as unwarranted.
On the other hand, the deeper point I was trying to get at was that there is an extreme version of secular (“liberated”) [in this instance, homosexual] liberalism, which would countenance extreme promiscuity: even up to and including sex with children or older minors, and young men above the age of 18.
It is precisely this sort of excess (that many secular liberals would agree with us is wrong) that took place in the Catholic Church and is the primary phenomenon that has created the huge and disgusting scandal at present. As I have noted, most of the cases of sexual abuse among Catholic priests were not (technically) pedophilia, but rather, ephebophilia, or, “the primary sexual interest in mid-to-late adolescents, generally ages 15 to 19” (Wikipedia). That this is common and perhaps normative among many homosexual men is hardly controversial. For example, an article in Psychology Today (not exactly a traditional Catholic rag, or morally traditional), by a psychologist, matter-of-factly stated:
[S]tudies by Michael Bailey, by my own colleagues, and by other researchers repeatedly find that homosexual men are most attracted to men in their late teens and early twenties, . . .
The third odd thing about homosexuality is the quantity of homosexual men’s preferences, as compared to those of homosexual women. Homosexual men are famously promiscuous, a fact that became well-known with onset of AIDs, when studies of gay men who were HIV positive revealed average numbers of partners in the hundreds (and even though gay men who were HIV negative had much lower numbers, the average for them was still dramatically higher than the average numbers for heterosexual men). . . .
Homosexual men are inclined toward promiscuity, attracted to youth and good looks, and uncaring about status . . . (“Homosexuality: A Queer Problem,“ by Douglas T. Kenrick, 6-10-10)
I wanted to take a moment and express how enjoyable this conversation has been. We will never agree on certain points, some of them fairly significant, but this dialogue has been engaging and enlightening.