On Disordered Appetites, “Hoosier Hysteria” and Original Sin

On Disordered Appetites, “Hoosier Hysteria” and Original Sin April 7, 2015

A reader writes:

I liked your thoughtful post and its many excellent points about both the left and the right. However, when I got to this part, I had to stop and reread it several times:

“But no real justice will have been done. The people who do not and never will be able to pretend that gay “marriage” is real or that homosex is not sinful will go on doing so. Power will have been exercised, but not justice. Gay “marriage” remains what it always has been: an ontological impossibility. And gay sex remains what it has always been: intrinsically disordered.”

I agree with you that people who believe homosexual activity is sinful or that gay marriage is an ontological possibility are not going to be able to pretend otherwise. They should not be forced to and they should not have to suffer for expressing those beliefs. Frankly, I have neither the time nor the desire to persuade them otherwise.

However, as an Indiana resident, involved citizen, and a practicing Roman Catholic who does not believe that being homosexual is intrinsically disordered or a choice, I am going to express great displeasure when the governor of my secular state signs a thinly-veiled law which supports that contention. I would express displeasure if my secular state enacted legislation that suggested that heterosexuality is intrinsically disordered or a choice. I believe that we are made in the image of God and find it unimaginable that some of us were created to be intrinsically disordered. Created as sinners? Yes. But God grants us the possibility of salvation through the sacrifice of His Son.

Personally, I am glad that many citizens in my state are devoting some “Hoosier Hysteria” to something much more important than a sport.

Have a blessed Easter.

You may not realize it, but you have just denied the entire doctrine of original sin.  The Church’s teaching is not that homosexuals alone struggle with desires that are disordered, but that we all do.  It’s not a question of God “creating” people to be disordered.  It is a matter of our having disordered appetites, darkened intellects, and weakened wills due to the reality of original sin.  Original sin is not something God intends for us, but is a consequence of the Fall with which we all struggle.  Homosexual appetites are but one manifestation of that.  Lots of other disordered appetites (for food, work, sleep, etc.) abound.  Some can be rightly ordered because their object is natural (say, for food).  Others are intrinsically disordered because their object is not natural (say for eating dirt, nails, household objects).  To grant the doctrine of original sin at all is to granted that our desires are, in various ways, disordered.  To grant that is to grant the possibility that some of our desires are so disordered that their objects cannot be made right objects by any stretch of the imagination.  Among these are the desire for sex with somebody of the same gender.  That’s not what our bodies–made by God–are for.

This is not to blame the person with the disordered appetite for their desires. It is to say that appetite is not destiny. The Church makes no speculations on why people have different disordered desires and in fact, goes out of its way to make clear that concupiscence (the darkened intellect, weakened will, and disordered appetites we all struggle with) is *not* sin.  It is called, in the tradition, the “tinder for sin” and our part is to struggle against it with the help of grace and to learn habits of virtue by which we enlighten the intellect, strengthen the will and rightly order our appetites.  That’s what we just spent all of Lent trying to do.  Indeed, the Church say that our struggle with concupiscence is the battlefield upon which we prove our mettle as disciples.  A person with homosexual desires who tries to live according to Christ will enter the kingdom of heaven ahead of a heterosexual who despises people with homosexual desires (and there are, as I have come to discover, no shortage of these).

That said, I am glad that you don’t want to join those who think that Christians with qualms of conscience about gay “marriage” should be subjected to force to crush their consciences.  Happy Easter to you too!


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  • Fr. Tom S.

    Mark: One of the best explanations and examples of disordered vs. ordered appetites I have read. I will use this (with proper attributes) in future catechesis.

    • Heather

      This is similar to an answer Cardinal Thomas Collins, when archbishop of Edmonton, gave to a question after a talk on an unrelated topic. I don’t remember what exactly the question was, I think it was approaching from the other direction, something to do with how especially icky homosexuality was, but I still remember then-Archbishop Collins’ response that we all have at least one disordered appetite, over ten years later.

    • chezami

      Thanks, Padre!

      • Cypressclimber

        I am giving a talk to a group of high school students later this week, and I will make use of this (with attribution) as well. Thank you.

    • Mike Petrik

      I agree. It is very well done.

  • Cypressclimber

    Very good explanation of Original Sin.

    While I don’t fault you for focusing on that, and not defending the RFRA, I will. There is nothing about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that is aimed at any one group, gays or anyone else. Your correspondent’s claim that it’s a “thinly veiled” attack on gays or anyone else is just wrong.

    • ManyMoreSpices

      Well, look: it’s objectively true that Indian’s RFRA was debated and enacted on the heels of a few high-profile instances of Christians being compelled to exercise their creative efforts in service of the celebration of same-sex marriages.

      We don’t need to be coy about the instant motivation when we defend the law. For the first time, Christians working in fields where they never thought they would have to act against conscience (pizza-making, for goodness sake!) face the prospect of being dragooned into participation in the open and notorious celebration of immorality. We shouldn’t taint the good arguments for religious freedom by pretending that gay stuff has nothing at all to do with Indiana’s RFRA.

      • You really should unpack that RFRA acronym. You misunderstand the reason why there is such a law. The left is being aggressive about memory holeing the history here. It does not serve the Church well in cooperating with that effort, even unintentionally.

        • ManyMoreSpices

          No, I know why the original federal RFRA exists. And I know that close to two dozen states have enacted their own versions of the laws since the Supreme Court held that Congress couldn’t enforce the RFRA against the states through the 14th Amendment. I practice in one of those states.

          Let’s not hide the ball here: Indiana’s RFRA was passed because some homosexual activists (it only takes two) want to force Christians to celebrate their lifestyle. The law will also protect plenty of other things, but we’re here today because of the gay stuff.

          • Peggy

            RFRA’s don’t explicitly state what types of services/goods religious people can deny customers. The law simply provides a legal framework for cases of alleged discrimination to be evaluated in a court of law. The framework does not determine the outcome. It is indeed a defensive act, as TMLutas notes.

            And as for whether living a homosexual life is a “choice” etc, Mark S did a great job. I will also note that there is no gene found yet for homosexual tendencies or for other disordered appetites such as alcoholism. (Some scientists tested twins which have exact same DNA. One was homosexual, the other not. It can’t be in DNA since only one is homosexual.)

            • Anonsters

              You sound like you’re in danger of making the mistake of thinking that there is some one gene (or even some set of genes) directly responsible for every human trait. We know definitively that DNA is not strictly determinative of all traits. Environmental conditions influence trait expression, for example. And now it turns out (quite recently) that histones can also carry heritable traits. So, (1) “they haven’t found a gene for it yet” doesn’t mean they won’t, and (2) even if they never do, it doesn’t mean it’s not in the biology, because there’s no one-to-one correspondence between genes and expressed traits.

              • Peggy

                Yes, good points.

              • DJ Wambeke

                Very good point. With regard to gender identity issues, a lot of fetal brain development is responsive to hormones, and if the wrong mix of hormones interacts with it during critical development periods it affects the outcome. A biology professor friend of mine recounted a grad school experiment on gerbils where they exploited this fact to consistently produce males that exhibited gay behavior once grown.

                Of course gerbils don’t quite suffer the effects of original sin in quite the same way as humans, so Mr. Shea’s point about disordered appetites still holds. 🙂

              • Even if it is in the biology, the problem of sin remains. Carrying a gene for violence or alcoholism or anything else which leaves a meaningful choice does not provide license.

                • Anonsters

                  Which is true, of course, but irrelevant.

          • Once the previous stable compromise rule was voided, it could have been anything that woke up the Indiana legislature to the danger of repressing religious freedom. I haven’t followed the debate sufficiently close to mind read the state legislature. I have also not seen anyone successfully demonstrate that it is all about the gays though plenty seem to be asserting it, yourself included.

            • ManyMoreSpices

              Again, I return to my point: what do you hope to achieve by arguing that the decision to enact a version of the RFRA in Indiana had nothing, nothing, nothing at all with concerns that Christians could be forced to participate in same-sex weddings?

              What do you get by establishing that proposition? Why are you spending a hot second on that?

              There’s a certain “never give ’em an inch” attitude that some take when they’re arguing. Atheists do this when they argue that Jesus never existed. It’s a silly proposition that no reputable historian takes seriously, but they don’t want to concede a single point to Christians. And what do they lose by establishing that a historical Jesus existed? That’s still far from proving that this Jesus was God.

              Don’t do that. Forcing bakers to make cakes to celebrate same-sex weddings is en vogue right now. We’re pushing back. Argue why these laws are proper, don’t pretend that we’re not doing what we’re obviously doing.

              • First, I hope to achieve honesty, accuracy, and an improved fidelity to the truth. Let’s start with my actual position and not with your mischaracterization of my position. I am not “arguing that the decision to enact a version of the RFRA in Indiana had nothing, nothing, nothing at all with concerns that Christians could be forced to participate in same-sex weddings”. Rather I am arguing that what is at stake here is much larger than homosexuality and that no matter where you come down on this particular law, you have an obligation to forthrightly support Employment Division v Smith or to come up with some acceptable way in your opinion to undo this decision.

                Losing sight of the very existence of the original court case that started the problem alters the parameters of the discussion and makes it more likely that important points will be missed, like the following. It has been well settled law that the 1st amendment has been made binding on the states via the 14th amendment with case law going back at least as far as Gitlow v New York (a 1920s case). By unincorporating a portion of the 1st amendment, these precedents come under some doubt. This affects a large number of things, the vast majority of which have zero to do with sexuality and none of it likely to be examined at all so long as we’re distracted by the irrelevance of pizza catering at a gay marriage.

      • Cypressclimber

        I agree with that; my point was that the Indiana RFRA is not in any way “anti-gay.” Even on the matter of protecting people from being coerced into participating in “same sex weddings,” it’s not even clear it will help in those cases. But I agree that problem helped bring about passage (even if it isn’t much help with that problem).

    • Anonsters

      (1) I-RFRA passed over the objections of those who say that it needed some language that would ensure LGBT people would not be discriminated against, because Indiana state law had, at the time, no state law that prohibited such discrimination (sexual orientation wasn’t a protected class in its civil rights law). State anti-discrimination laws would shield the protected classes included therein from discrimination. So a gap opens up potentially allowing for discrimination against LGBT people.

      (2) Governor signs I-RFRA, specifically saying he will not call for, and if passed he will not sign, any attempt to include sexual orientation in state-wide anti-discrimination laws, despite the gap that the I-RFRA opened up.

      It’s not hard to see the connection. If the I-RFRA really was about other things, the governor should’ve been willing from jump street to consider new LGBT-protective language to the anti-discrimination laws. If the I-RFRA really was aimed at teh gayz, his refusal makes perfect sense.

      • Cypressclimber

        There’s another, entirely reasonable explanation:

        1. Why do you assume the objections you cite correspond to the truth of the matter? By doing so, all you do is align yourself with the perspective of one party over the other. That’s your privilege, but it is only compelling to those who share your partisan alignment.

        In other words, it’s hardly unheard of that people make accusations about a proposed legislation that aren’t true.

        The presence of sexual orientation in state law is a red herring. There is no protection for sexual orientation in federal law, either. Yet the federal bill passed nearly unanimously. Can you show where that gap has created a problem with the federal RFRA?

        Why might the opposition in Indiana have tried that gambit? As a way to get closer to passing legislation adding sexual orientation to state laws. A perfectly understandable objective. But it doesn’t make their fact-claims true.

        2. Your second point simply doesn’t follow. Can you not conceive of any reason why anyone, such as Gov. Pence (or me, or many others) would oppose adding “new LGBT-protective language” to anti-discrimination laws? Hint: it’s for similar reasons that the Equal Rights Amendment was never successfully ratified. And it has nothing to do with hatred.

      • jroberts548

        Indiana’s RFRA didn’t open up a gap. Without the state RFRA, it was legal to discriminate against gay people in Indiana. With the state RFRA, it was legal to discriminate against gay people in Indiana.

        The starting point, at common law, is that there’s no duty to provide services to anyone. This was modified through various civil rights laws, so that if you provide services generally, you can’t discriminate on certain bases. There is no federal law restricting discrimination on the basis of orientation, and, in Indiana, there is no state law. If Indiana completely repealed RFRA today, it would still be just as legal for an Indiana business to discriminate against gay people as it was before and after RFRA was passed.

        RFRA and discrimination against gay people are completely separate things, regardless of the lies of RFRA’s supporters and opponents. Passing RFRA to protect caterers and photographers from gay weddings is stupid, because the law doesn’t do that; repealing RFRA to protect gay people from discrimination is similarly stupid because that’s not what RFRA does.

        In short, in a state with anti-discrimination laws, RFRA won’t protect someone who wishes to discriminate. In a state without anti-discrimination laws, repealing RFRA won’t protect people facing discrimination.

        • ManyMoreSpices

          Without the state RFRA, it was legal to discriminate against gay people in Indiana.

          Not in municipalities that banned such discrimination. The idea of the RFRA was to provide exceptions for those places.

          • Paul

            And it was a stupid idea. In every case in which a RFRA objection has been lodged against an anti-discrimination law or ordinance, the RFRA objection lost.

  • Matthew

    It would seem this “practicing Roman Catholic needs more practice.

    • ManyMoreSpices

      Don’t we all?

      • Andy

        I would give multiple ups if i could – that why it is called being a practicing Catholic.

      • Matthew

        Yes and no. If you mean that we all sin, of course. I sin as much as, perhaps more than, the next guy. I was more referring here to agreeing with the teaching of the Church. To call oneself a Catholic is to agree with all that the Church teaches.

        • ManyMoreSpices

          Agreeing with the Church is not a matter of getting “more practice.” It’s a matter of reading, studying, and reasoning.

          Following the teachings of the Church in your life is a matter of practice.

  • Since this is about the secular law, in your correspondent’s opinion, perhaps he could give us a way out of the sword of damocles that Employment Division v Smith (the cause of RFRAs everywhere) put over the communion practices of Catholics, Orthodox, and anybody else who uses alcohol in religious ceremonies.

    Anybody who wants to leave communion vulnerable to the litigious forbearance of militant atheists and bluestockings is hostile to religious liberty, and, I dare say, a bigot.

    • Anonsters

      Employment Division was, I agree, wrongly decided, but it’s pretty hard to dream up a scenario in which Communion would be seriously vulnerable in the way that peyote use in the case was.

      • The financial desperation of municipalities have led them to more dubious practices than seeking to enforce alcohol licensing on the Church.

    • Advocate

      Post-Smith, religious liberty exceptions exist solely out of legislative largese. To the extent we say “That would never happen,” that is only because of the political will of the day, and not because of any inherent constitutional rights as recognized by the law. That may sounds bleak, but it is the legal truth.

      • ManyMoreSpices

        Had Smith come out the other way, religious liberty exceptions would exist to the extent that someone in a black robe thought they should. I don’t see that as much of an improvement.

        • That has always been true. Judicial usurpation of a right is often more easily resisted than executive or legislative usurpation.

    • IRVCath

      And it is all the more galling that a practicing Catholic is the one who wrote that opinion.

  • Paul

    Is celiac disease something people are born with or a choice (due to consuming a diet that is not compatible with the way our bodies were designed) or perhaps the result of environmental conditions? Who knows? Does it matter?
    Asking the Church to redefine marriage because not every one is able to participate is an awful lot like asking her to redefine what constitutes the Body of Christ because not everyone can consume it.
    Good luck with that!
    Catholics do realize Marriage is a sacrament?

    • ManyMoreSpices

      Forgive my ignorance here, but I’ve never been able to discern a theologically sound reason for why the Eucharist must be made with wheat and only wheat. I’ve read some of the explanations, and all of them appear to be premised on the idea that Jesus must have used wheat bread at the Last Supper. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, given that Passover matzoh can be made from a number of grains. And it also seems a little weird to get hung up on what’s ultimately an accidental quality of bread. But what do I know?

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        Wheat is not an accident of bread, it is a substance in its own right. Since you acknowledge your ignorance, I’ve given you a starting point for correcting this particular deficiency.

        • ManyMoreSpices

          Can you explain why wheat is not an accident? Bread is flour and water; flour can be made from many grains (wheat, barley, oat); it is logically possible for bread to be made from things other than wheat; a Jew celebrating Passover in A.D. 33 could have licitly celebrated with unleavened bread made with any of those grains.

        • Andre B

          Giving us your best Walter Sobchak impression, well done.

  • JM1001

    The reader writes:

    I believe that we are made in the image of God and find it unimaginable that some of us were created to be intrinsically disordered.

    Mark responds:

    You may not realize it, but you have just denied the entire doctrine of original sin. The Church’s teaching is not that homosexuals alone struggle with desires that are disordered, but that we all do. It’s not a question of God “creating” people to be disordered. It is a matter of our having disordered appetites, darkened intellects, and weakened wills due to the reality of original sin.

    I am not a Catholic, but as an interested outside observer I am curious about why this misconception is so widespread. It seems a lot of people (Catholics included, apparently) are under the mistaken impression that only homosexual desires are considered to be “disordered” in traditional sexual morality, or in ethics generally.

    I mean, many ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle — who, obviously not being Christian, didn’t have a doctrine of original sin — had no problem acknowledging that our natural appetites needed to be properly ordered and regulated according to right reason; and, if not trained by the virtues, those appetites can destroy us.

    Now, most people have no problem seeing the truth of this when it comes to food (which Mark gives as an example). When our natural appetite for food becomes detached from the virtue of temperance, we end up with things like the “obesity crisis” which the news media always calls to our attention. In that context, people have no problem seeing that the natural appetite for food can become corrupted (or disordered) if it is not properly regulated by right reason. They may not put it in those terms exactly, but they seem to have an intuitive understanding that this is true.

    But when the topic switches to sex (not just homosexuality), things seem to change drastically, at least in Western culture. As long as “we aren’t hurting anyone,” people today almost get offended at any suggestion that their sexual indulgences are nonetheless morally bad and contrary to virtue and right reason. About a week ago I finished reading a book by J. Budziszewski called On the Meaning of Sex, which argues that modern society denies that sex itself — and everything associated with it, such as our sexual powers and the sexual differences between men and women qua men and women — has any intrinsic meaning at all. This would help explain why a lot of people (again, including many Catholics, apparently) are so bewildered by, or even hostile toward, the idea that our sexual desires can be disordered — they live in a culture that denies sex itself has any meaning at all.

    • ManyMoreSpices

      Well, if you want to analogize to food, the sin there would be overindulgence: eating too much, especially over a long period, to the point that it’s an addiction. There are no forbidden foods – not for Catholics, anyway – but there are several intrinsically evil sex acts.

      So I could easily see someone saying that overindulgence in sex of any type is wrong, but no sex act, engaged in with moderation, is intrinsically evil.

      • I’m not sure that this is entirely correct. If you are allergic to a particular food, eating or drinking what can kill you would likely be viewed as a species of suicide and intrinsically evil. Neat thought, though, I’ve never quite ranged into this area.

        Analogies, in general, will always break at some point. That doesn’t make them useless, merely of limited usefulness. Thanks for illustrating a likely break point.

      • JM1001

        So I could easily see someone saying that overindulgence in sex of any type is wrong, but no sex act, engaged in with moderation, is intrinsically evil.

        Hmm. So perhaps to make our analogy better, we must go further than the simple moderation of this or that action.

        The Catholic Church, if I understand correctly, holds that sex is only morally lawful if it is performed in a manner that does not frustrate the objective ends of the sexual act — specifically, the physical, emotional, and spiritual bonding of one man with one woman (the unitive end) and the generation of new human beings (the procreative end). In other words, sex is only morally lawful if it is done within marriage — the institution within which is it necessary, though not sufficient, for the sexual act to be moral. (For example, even a married couple can lose all sense of temperance and moderation, so that even if their sexual desire for each other is not intrinsically disordered, it is still disordered in some way in that it has become detached from restraint and self-control.)

        So, much like the objective ends of the sexual act are unitive and procreative, I suppose one could say that the objective end of eating is nutritive. And any act that frustrates this end is, you could argue, intrinsically wrong. The Catholic Church may not forbid certain foods. But given the Church’s natural law tradition — with intrinsically wrong acts defined as deliberately frustrating certain objective ends — it could be argued that if someone ate a rich meal just for the pleasure of it, and then induced vomiting so that they did not derive any nutrition from it, they have done something intrinsically wrong. In other words, they have gone beyond simple immoderate consumption, and have frustrated the objective end of eating itself.

        Even if they can’t explain why, most people seem to intuitively understand that, say, binging-and-purging is a special species of disordered action, as opposed to someone who just can’t resist chocolate cake. The latter is just someone who lacks temperance; the former is someone who lacks temperance, and is acting in a way that is contrary to the function of the act itself. There is an intuitive sense that these two things are different, even if people can’t explain why.

        The challenge, therefore, is to convince people that sex has objective ends; and frustrating those ends constitutes an action that is intrinsically wrong. And as I noted in the last paragraph of my post above, J. Budziszewski’s excellent book does a good job explaining why that argument tends to leave people baffled, since our culture seems to deny sex has any intrinsic meaning at all. And if it has no meaning, then it can have no objective ends to be frustrated, as natural law says that it does.

  • Willard

    If two obese heterosexuals walk into my shop wanting to purchase a wedding cake, can I turn them down because I don’t want to “support” their sin of gluttony?

    • Matthew

      Um … No since you do not know whether their consumption of the cake will be gluttonous our not. We know for a fact that what two men/women do in the bedroom is immoral.

      • MarkK

        Yes but it’s a much bigger conceptual leap from a cake to a bedroom than from a cake to gluttony.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          Its a much smaller leap from a wedding cake to the bedroom than from a wedding cake to eating the whole thing while sobbing under the stairs.

          Please improve your sophistry.

          • Markk

            No, I stand by what I said. The connection between a cake and sex acts is very morally remote at best and requires several steps and assumptions to connect. Biased panicked symbolic associations is all you have. Whereas a cake at least naturally implies eating, and gluttony is merely a distortion of that.

            • D.T. McCameron

              Isn’t the issue at hand that there are several connotations attached to wedding cakes that are not attached to other cakes?

            • orual’s kindred

              I may be misunderstanding something. When an engaged couple is ordering a wedding cake for their wedding, how can the connection to sex acts be described as remote?

              • Markk

                Um, because all you have is a white tiered cake.

                They’re not having sex on the cake or with the cake. The cake isn’t ennabling or encouraging their sex acts in any way.

                All you have is vague symbolic associations.

                But when the connotations of vague signifiers became a matter of morality, I don’t know.

                Next you’ll be telling people they can’t wear pink, or can’t wear a mustache, or any other objectively neutral thing, because of some pharisaical fear that someone will think it means something bad (even when you explicitly don’t intend it to mean that).

                • orual’s kindred

                  I was under the impression that we were discussing wedding cakes, which is a shorter term for ‘cakes baked explicitly for a wedding’. However, you actually seem to be saying that a wedding cake is completely indistinguishable from generic cake. You certainly don’t seem to think it’s a celebratory token for and of a (soon-to-be) married couple. It doesn’t seem to at least figure as a focal piece of a wedding for you. Maybe there is no such a thing as ‘wedding cake’ in your framework at all.

                  Interestingly, all this contradicts what you say later about things that people don’t explicitly intend to mean. What wearing pink and/or mustaches has to do with the topic at hand, I don’t know. But since you bring that up, I would think some people that wear them attach no meaning to it, while some do. And some of those that do attach a meaning to it attach an explicit meaning to it. Whatever that explicit meaning is, it’s explicitly that meaning. Yet you would say that there is no significance in cakes made specifically for weddings.

                  And this rather weakens the argument of those protesting the ruling in Indiana. Why should it be offensive when a bakery chooses not to bake a cake that’s only a vague symbol, the meaning of which no one even actually intends? Surely a white-tiered cake, vaguely symbolizing nothing, can’t also be a symbol of gay marriage? Conversely, it increases the malice of the opposition directed at the O’Connors. Why would their refusal to provide food for a gay wedding be considered to heinous if it there is no meaning or significance attached to it?

                  Perhaps you suppose that these attempts at rationales actually prop up your claims. Either way, I can’t say any of it is true, logical, or honest. You (wrongly) presume readily to tell me about what things I would presumably tell you, after all. As such, I don’t think there’s a lot more to discuss here.

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              Yes, it’s quite a bias to associate Matrimony with the sex act, especially in this culture crawling with Josephite marriages. But its the epitomy of reason to assume an obese couple are going to split a 4 tiered cake in one go.

              Some folks are just beyond parody.

    • chezami

      No. Because you don’t know they are gluttons.

    • AquinasMan

      No, because eating is not an intrinsic evil. On the other hand, mocking God is intrinsically evil, and no one can be justly compelled by anyone to be a remote cooperator in the blasphemy of homosexual nuptials.

    • Dave G.

      You may not have to. There are plenty of initiatives aimed at marginalizing and even correcting people who are overweight, whatever the reason. It’s just homosexuality that is off the table and that nobody is allowed to draw a line between it and anything potentially negative; able to suggest it might be wrong isn’t even worth discussing.

    • Cathy R.

      Sure if that is what your conscience leads you to. They will just find another baker.

  • MarkK

    Not exactly, Mark. People try to pull this one, but it’s clear enough that the catechism intends to treat “homosexual inclinations” as categorically different from heterosexual ones.

    And if by “homosexual inclinations” you just mean the lust for gay sex specifically, fair enough, as long as you admit a lust for heterosexual sodomy is likewise objectively disordered (remember, it’s the acts which are intrinsically disordered; the inclinations are called “objectively,” ie in their object).

    The problem comes when people read this idea through the lens of accepting a construct of “sexual orientation” according to some notion whereby the “object” in question (in “objectively disirdered”) doesn’t refer to specific acts, but to the abstract general idea of a sex/gender, or whereby the general and very broad emotional experience moderns have constructed as an “attraction” or “orientation” to this or that sex…is understood as bootstrapped to the desire for sex acts or essentially defined thereby, as if orientation is some teleological funnel leading only ultimately towards sex acts, and such that, thus, anything gay is morally tainted by some sort of alleged psychological connection back to immoral acts or the disordered desire for those acts.

    This is all very Freudian and non-Catholic in terms of its understanding. It’s also bad theology, as it amounts to admitting something like that “homosexual orientation” does have an “essence” and that it does have a single natural/instrinsic determinate behavioral telos, albeit a dark or disordered or intrinsically depraved one.

    But Catholic theology admits of no such thing. There is no essentially bad telos. If gay sex really is the essential end of homosexual orientation, we’d have to admit it was good. On the other hand, if it’s not good, then we cannot posit it as the essential end of some alleged homosexual appetite. There is no such appetite, even if society constructs it that way. The affective experiences interpreted as implying that must also admit of good interpretation.

    Lust for gay sex acts specifically is objectively disordered. “Homosexual orientation” considered broadly is not, and cannot be interpreted as somehow essentially tending towards gay sex acts unless we admit of an incoherent theology.

    • D.T. McCameron

      “There is no essentially bad telos.

      Is…is this so? Is the notion that there is some good in even the most wicked end/purpose/goal?

      If gay sex really is the essential end of homosexual orientation, we’d have to admit it was good.”

      I don’t think we have to admit that a disordered act in pursuit of a disordered appetite leads to a good end.
      If an appetite be disordered, the only good end would be a sort of reordering towards God, the telos of man.

      • Markk

        The issue is that you can’t define being gay (or straight) as about sex acts.

        If I’m a wine-lover, that doesn’t mean I’m a drunkard. It DOES mean that IF I got drunk it would probably be on wine, not beer, but in itself it is not an inclination to drunkenness. Wine-lover does not mean alcoholic.

        Likewise, being someone who is “attracted to” (a concept that needs serious unpacking) men or women, in the way society currently constructs as “homosexuality” or “heterosexuality,” is not reducible to a specific desire for sex acts (and certainly not any particular sex act).

        There is no essence “gay” (and probably no essence “straight”) that natural tends to sex acts outside the more specific desire for a specific act.

        Conservative Catholics nowadays have come to romanticize “heterosexuality” (and correspondingly demonize homosexuality) as if that whole pervasive, constant, and very broad pattern of emotions is some sort of essential experience created by God and ordered towards marriage and the marital act. Freudian notions of this overarching disposition towards “the opposite sex” being healthy and an analogous disposition towards the same sex being dysfunctional are layered onto this in a big philosophical muddle.

        This ignores the fact that “romantic love” is not a consistent historical category across time and cultures, and that constructing emotional experience through the lens of “orientation” to same or opposite sex is a 19th century creation.

        • D.T. McCameron

          Could you expand on your third paragraph?

          “as if that whole pervasive, constant, and very broad pattern of emotions is some sort of essential experience created by God and ordered towards marriage and the marital act.

          What do you mean by essential? And do you mean to say that our sexual natures were not ordered towards marriage and the marital act?

          Freudian notions of this overarching disposition towards “the opposite sex” being healthy and an analogous disposition towards the same sex being dysfunctional

          Stopped clocks and all that.

          • Markk

            What I mean is that the sexual appetite strictly so called is a lot narrower than people would imagine who interpret life through the lens of “sexual orientation.”

            Sex, in the sense of both male/female and reproductive intercourse, was made by God and is natural to human beings. So is marriage.

            But the whole apparatus of romanticism and the whole social script of psychosexual maturation and of putting all ones intimacy eggs in the marriage basket…is not, and is actually very recent.

            Let’s remember that in many cultures men’s primary emotional and intellectual bonds were with other men. They had wives. They mainly stayed indoors weaving and men kept them mainly for sexual release and bearing children. A whole paradigm of defining ones emotional life and the arc of ones development in terms of them and revolving around ones interaction with them would have been inconceivable.

            Call this “homosociality” rather than homosexuality if you will, but to me that’s specious: let’s remember that the homo (“same”) in homosociality is still referring to sex (homosociality is about same-sex sociality, of course, not same age or same race), and also that the “sex” in homosexuality is referring to sex in the sense of male-female, not in the sense of intercourse.

            To capture this concept in a more pithy manner, I once heard someone say (in response to one of those hubbubs over same-sex prom dates that’s come up every so often): “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and his high-school prom date Amber.” Or, “Marriage is sacred. Adolescent rites of initiation into adult sexual socialization via aping short-term heteronormative courtship rituals contingent to post-WWII America…is not.”

    • “People try to pull this one, but it’s clear enough that the catechism intends to treat “homosexual inclinations” as categorically different from heterosexual ones.”

      Yes. Under sins against chastity, 3 paragraphs are devoted to homosexual inclinations. 97 paragraphs are devoted to heterosexual inclinations. Certainly the heterosexual ones are WORSE.

  • radiofreerome

    The doctrine of original sin is based on solipsism. Suffering doesn’t befall people solely because some people have been evil. Suffering usually befalls people because we live in a universe which affects our lives whether or not we understand it and whether or not we choose to deny how the physical universe works.

    People die in cyclones (hurricanes and tornadoes) because cyclones are a consequence of physical laws. If one combines conservation of mass, momentum, angular velocity, etc. into the Navier-Stokes equations, one can see from these equations that rising air driven by heat will always create cyclones. Human suffering is usually the result of the very rationality of the Universe. Denying this no better than attributing the death of every farm animal to the influence of a witch.

    • Mark

      Suffering is not pain or obstacles, though. It’s an attitude *towards* pain or obstacles. This is rooted entirely in how the self constructs itself. A truly self-transcendent person doesn’t suffer in a hurricane, and Christ had the Beatific Vision even on the cross. It’s heaven all the way to heaven. Nothing external destroys the essential happiness of the virtuous man, for he is at peace with whatever may happen because he has transcended his own ego.

    • chezami

      You seem to have no idea what the doctrine of original sin is. It is not an explanation for tornados and cow death. Do over.

      • radiofreerome

        You seem to think it’s legitimate to move goal posts in the middle of a game. Sin has routinely been used as an explanation for trivially explainable physical phenomena. You’re using the supernatural to explain phenomena which are likely have a mundane basis.

        • Eli

          Um, no he isn’t. Read again.