Monday, December 14, 2009

"Intrinsically disordered" not inherently sinful

This from the December 3rd edition of The Baltimore Sun:

Cardinal draws Vatican rebuke for anti-gay talk

A Roman Catholic cardinal has drawn on an unusual rebuke from the Vatican for saying that homosexuality is “an insult to God” and “transsexuals and homosexuals will never enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the retired head of the Vatican’s Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, made the comments Wednesday to a conservative Web site, the British newspaper The Telegraph reports.

“People are not born homosexual, they become homosexual, for different reasons: education issues or because they did not develop their own identity during adolescence.

“Perhaps they aren’t guilty but by acting against the dignity of the body they will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

The comments prompted a response from Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi, who said the Web site to which Lozano Barragan spoke should not be considered an authority on Catholic thinking “on complex and delicate issues such as homosexuality.”

Current Catholic teaching acknowledges that some people have innate homosexual tendencies but that homosexual acts are “disordered.”

The Telegraph also quotes a reaction from the Italian rights group Arcigay.

“It’s true, we won’t ever get into your heaven, which is a murky and unjust place.”

That's the thing about heaven: no one gets in without wanting in. No one holds a gun to one's head. It has its prerequisites, but anybody can decline the offer; sort of like the Church, you might say.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is it safe to say, that we all have desires?
But I would rather be in control of them than controlled by them.
So in this case, does it matter what they are? Perhaps this falls under "all created equal".

Rick F.

Dave Evans said...

So, Gil, who is right in your opinion the Vatican or the cardinal?

Gil Bailie said...

The Vatican is right, inasmuch as we cannot declare someone beyond God's mercy, and certainly not for a condition such a same-sex attraction. The attempt to replicate the conjugal embrace between two members of the same sex is a violation of natural law and the theology of the body, but we mere mortals cannot set limits to God's grace and mercy. We have reason to hate the sin -- especially when it is compounded by the effort to declare it to be morally and anthropologically indistinguishable from the nuptial embrace -- but we are called nevertheless to love the sinner by commending him or her to God's infinite mercy.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Gil.

Rick F.

Doughlas Remy said...

I feel so-o-o-o comforted knowing that I may not have to go to Hell because I am homosexual. Thank you for your expressions of love.

Oh, sorry, I know I’m not supposed to mention that other “H” word. Someone might think God is some kind of monster for allowing it to exist.

But I think if your theology is going to include a Hell where billions of human beings suffer unspeakable agonies for all of eternity, then you should be prepared to look that full in the face. Here are two links that will help you with that:

Eternal Damnation: A Metaphorical Meditation, by Norma Bruns
Eternal Damnation: A Metaphorical Meditation, by Norma Bruns

Drop-kicking Sinners into a Lake of Fire
Drop-kicking Sinners into a Lake of Fire

Doughlas Remy
http://thebentangle.wordpress.com/

Anonymous said...

Doughlas, if I may, why do you place so much importance in your homosexuality? It’s not important at all to me. I’m only curious as to why, or if you’ve considered why.

Dean said...

Dear Anonymous,
Or Anonymous Rick
Or Rick Anonymous,
Or Rick Fernandes,

Why do you place so much importance on breathing?
Can't you just hold your breath for the rest of your life out of respect for those who are trying their best not to?

Remember, there's nothing "inherently sinful" about air. It's when you do something with it that it becomes a problem.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dean,
Do I know you? You sound like you know me. It's Mr. Fernandes to you, bub. Just kidding. But you sound angry. Angry like Doughlas.
Plus, I asked Doughlas my question.
Plus plus, I don't get your: air = homosexuality. Not yet anyway. But as I said, it doesn't matter that much to me.
Rick F.

Dan Florio said...

I thought we covered hell a couple of months back. Are we into re-runs on this blog? It is kind of predictable sometimes.

Gordon said...

Doughlas,

If you want to know about Hell ask someone who lived there for 20 years. Okay, Santa Monica isn’t Hell, it’s what we in L.A. call “Hell Adjacent.” Yep, just go east on the 10 freeway and exit
at La Cienega: Beverly Hills, the apple of the Evil One’s eye. His loyal minions, rotting-leather skins stretched over dry bone, dark cavities hid behind Chanel sunglasses, skating back and forth from Mr. Chow to Prada in fine German automobiles, lost in everlasting self-absorption. The fires of hell are hot but at least they leave a deep all-over tan! Couldn’t you just spend an eternity at the Beverly Center?

The thing about hell is that the people who live there think it’s heaven. Oddly, those tony metropolitans who think they’re in heaven -- their waiters and bartenders will confirm this -- act like they’re dying in hell.

I know, I know, there must be a deeper ring to hell than Beverly Hills. Perhaps, but only if we believe Jesus and the Saints. Reports suggest that no deeper place exists in Hell than where Jesus descended. Therese of Lisieux and John of the Cross have seen it too, but not so much a “threat” as a “challenge,” “to experience communion with Christ in his solidarity with his descent into the Night” (Ratzinger, Eschatology, pp. 217f.). And, as Balthasar has pointed out, the saints have this tendency to prefer that they endure Hell if it will allow their brothers and sisters -- including, of course, straight, gay and transgendered -- to share eternity with God. One suspects that at the moment this “attitude” is shared by all, Hell will fall out of our vocabulary.

Doughlas Remy said...

Dan, some of us did cover Hell a couple of months ago, but Gil was not part of the conversation. And now I am hearing from Gil that I may receive God’s mercy. Unless the theological implications of this are made very explicit, it sounds a lot like the old threat of Hell. If we are really so opposed to political correctness, then let’s stop pussy-footing around Hell and say what we mean when we use phrases like “receive God’s mercy.” Is there a Hell or isn’t there? Enough with the coded language. If sinners don’t receive God’s mercy, they go to Hell, don’t they?

Yes, Dan, I believe you and I have already discussed this, and I seem to remember that you did not believe in a literal Hell. But Gil has not taken a position, and so I am asking him, “What happens to people who do not receive God’s mercy?” Is there a downside? Am I perchance experiencing it right now? Is that in any way measurable or do we just take that on faith?

Rick, why do you place so much importance on my homosexuality? Why does Gil? He brings it up several times a month. It’s like an obsession. 26,000 children die every day from hunger and preventable diseases. How many of Gil’s posts are about poverty and affordable health care? How many are about homosexuality and abortion? Why was one of the best recently-published books about addressing world hunger written by a secular humanist (Peter Singer)? What are all the Christians doing? If you want to know what the priorities of conservative Christians are these days, take a look at the Manhattan Declaration.

Doughlas Remy
http://thebentangle.wordpress.com/

Doughlas Remy said...

Gordon, your Santa Monica story is about a sort of figurative “hell.” So you could say that certain people live hellish lives because they have succumbed to greed, desire, envy, etc. I’m fine with using the word “hell” in this way. I borrow a lot of words from the Judeo-Christian tradition. I sing along with Fred Astaire as he sings “Heaven... I’m in heaven,” and I’ll describe a particularly horrific scene as “a living hell.”

But Gil seems to be talking about eschatology, God’s judgment, Judgment Day, separating the wheat from the chaff, and so on. So why is it so difficult to just own up to what we’re talking about? There is a Bible-based theology about heaven and hell, and it doesn’t depict them as “states of mind” or anything like that. They are literal places where people are either blissful or tormented. These words are not used as metaphors.

So, putting all vagueness aside, what exactly was Gil saying in this post and the appended comment? Do you understand it? Can you explain it to me?

I interpreted his remarks to mean that homosexuals may or may not receive God’s mercy, with the implication that they will be punished (for eternity?) if they don’t. Another implication, as I see it, is that God is under no obligation to show mercy. Now, let’s see. If He doesn’t show mercy, then He is not blessed, because Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful.” Or does He have an exemption? Or maybe Jesus didn’t check with Him before saying that?

So God may not show mercy to the recently elected lesbian mayor of Houston? Or to my district’s two representatives in the state legislature? Or to Peter Thiel, the out gay billionaire who bankrolls the foundation on whose education committee Gil’s second-in-command, Randy, serves? And God may not show mercy to Catholic theologian James Alison, who is also gay and lives with his partner? (James, Gil, and myself are all members of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion.) I find it shocking that Gil would spout such nonsense and that he continues to describe homosexuals as “intrinsically disordered” after every mental health and medical association in the U.S. has stated unequivocally that homosexuality is not a disorder in any sense of the word.

Doughlas Remy
http://thebentangle.wordpress.com/

Gordon said...

“What happens to people who do not receive God’s mercy?”

There is no such person.

Anonymous said...

“Rick, why do you place so much importance on my homosexuality?”

>>> Way to answer my question there, Doughlas. I believe I covered I don’t place any importance on it. I was curious why you do. But hey, I learned my lesson: don’t ever ask. Not even once.

Why does Gil? He brings it up several times a month. It’s like an obsession.

>>> I know something that’s like an obsession. Take a guess. Rhymes with: Luke Blog Stalker.

26,000 children die every day from hunger and preventable diseases. How many of Gil’s posts are about poverty and affordable health care?

>>>I don’t know. I also don’t know why Gil can’t have his own blog. Why can’t he have his own blog? Does anybody know? I’d like to know. That doesn’t seem fair at all.

How many are about homosexuality and abortion? Why was one of the best recently-published books about addressing world hunger written by a secular humanist (Peter Singer)?

>>>Never heard of him. What I know about world hunger wouldn’t take a whole book: Inject capitalism. Happily ever after.

What are all the Christians doing? If you want to know what the priorities of conservative Christians are these days, take a look at the Manhattan Declaration.

>>> I don’t believe that was my question. Sounds like your question. I know what this conservative Christian’s priorities are. Apparently it’s wasting his time trying to discuss a topic with another guy who keeps changing the subject. Spin the wheeeeellll!

Rick F.

Gordon said...

"Why was one of the best recently-published books about addressing world hunger written by a secular humanist (Peter Singer)?"

That would be the same Peter Singer from Princeton who considers it morally acceptable to kill an infant up until his second birthday -- if, say, he's become inconvenient.

Doughlas, 80% of charitable food transfer to Africa is from Christian charities. My parish builds schools there.

Gordon said...

"Why was one of the best recently-published books about addressing world hunger written by a secular humanist (Peter Singer)?"

That would be the same Peter Singer from Princeton who considers it morally acceptable to kill an infant up until his second birthday -- if, say, he's become inconvenient.

Doughlas, 80% of charitable food transfer to Africa is from Christian charities. My parish builds schools there.

Doughlas Remy said...

OK, Gordon, assuming that what you’ve said about Peter Singer is true, I’ll change my question as follows: “Why was one of the best recently-published books about addressing world hunger written by someone who believes in euthanizing children?” That’s even better, actually.

I am fully aware that Christians are giving money to alleviate world hunger and improve medical conditions. But 26,000 children are still dying every day, so obviously much more needs to be done. Since that is the case, why is same-sex marriage identified by the Manhattan Declaration as one of the three principal concerns facing modern Christians? Poverty, hunger, homelessness, and health care are given short shrift. Somehow, my getting married has become a cause for greater concern than the deaths of 26,000 children per day? It seems pretty obvious to me that someone’s priorities are a little skewed.

Doughlas Remy

Dan Florio said...

"Yes, Dan, I believe you and I have already discussed this, and I seem to remember that you did not believe in a literal Hell. But Gil has not taken a position, and so I am asking him, “What happens to people who do not receive God’s mercy?” Is there a downside? Am I perchance experiencing it right now? Is that in any way measurable or do we just take that on faith?"

I was mostly trying to inject much needed humor into these posts with my comment about hell "re-runs." I didn't really say way back when that I don't believe in a literal hell in the sense that I'm convinced it's a non-concept, a total non-reality. But I definitely do not believe God "made" a place of torture for those those he deems "evil" in the end. My only conclusion is that God is a wooer, a lover, a seducer, calling all of us gently--but God is not a rapist. Which leaves the possiblity of the wooed, the beloved, the seduced, to say "No."

How that works, who would say no in the end, what it all means--I don't know.

Also, I want to say this: I have gay friends and relatives. I love them. I still defer as best I can to the Church--the "collective mind" of the magisterium in tandem with all the faithful--not out of blind obedience, but out of a sense that no one man can know the whole truth or see the whole picture. The Church is there to help us with the limits of our spiritual eyesight. Having said that, probably very few people in the history of humanity have lived up to the Church's teaching on sexuality. While it's one thing to commit an act and repent and another to commit an act and justify it, I must say, when it comes to sexuality, nearly all of us have been, at one time or another, "disordered."

I know that won't satisfy you, and I understand that. But we are ALL sexual beings gone astray to some extent, if the Church is right. Or, as someone on Saturday Night Live put it some years back, "Whoever has a free hand cast the first stone!" (more humor)

That's not to say there isn't chastity in the world; only that most of us, if only during certain phases of our lives, have fallen far short of the Church's teaching on sexuality, whether we're attracted to the same or the opposite sex. I offer that in a spirit of compassion, at least.

Mike said...

Doughlas,

First of all, I apologize if I any of the following was covered months ago.

I once heard Gil say that over the last 2000 years, the Church has venerated many, many saints, yet it has never condemned a single person, not even Judas.

The mercy of God is an interesting thing to contemplate. If mercy is offered to everyone, how can there be a hell? Wouldn't everyone want mercy?

C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce is a book that helped spell this problem out for me. The characters get off at a bus stop and discover that they have died and they are at the bottom of a great mountain. They meet people they know who tell them that heaven awaits them at the top of the mountain. Unfortunatley, many of the characters are so attached to their earthly lives, they cannot "divorce" themselves from them and choose not to go up the mountain.
One character finds out that a relative who was aweful in life is in heaven and decides not to go because of it. Another character became so identified as a mother who had lost her son that she refuses to go to heaven because she is afraid she will lose her identity. Even knowing that her son is at the top of the mountain waiting for her is not enough to make her let go. All of them are given mercy, but many decide that they don't want it. Apparently, there are more pressing things than eternal happiness.?

Somewhere along the line, I heard an analogy that I think is insightful, unfortunately, I can't remember who said it. The image is of God's love being like a fire. The same fire warms the one who is walking toward God, and burns the one who turns away from God. God's love is constant, we are free to receive or reject. We decide whether it warms or burns.

This reminds me of my childhood. I was fairly tempermental. One Christmas, I got angry about something and lost my temper. My parents told me to go to my room with the invitation to come out when I was ready. I was convinced that I could wait all day long, so intent was I to ruin everyone's Christmas. A funny thing happened though, Christmas went on without me. As I put my ear to the door, I could hear my parents and my brothers enjoying every moment. Yes, the sun would rise and set, even if I was not there to allow it. It was very humbling and I am very grateful for that lesson. Now I know how it must have hurt my parents to provide it. But it was the very joy that my family was experiencing that burned me when I was away from it. Why didn't I immediately come back into the room? Why did I sit there for an hour before I came to my senses? I couldn't let go of my pride.

I very much believe that hell is real. At this point, I am struggling to understand the eternity of hell.

Here is a question for contemplation. Do you think if Jesus could ask for forgiveness for those who were killing him that he might ask for forgiveness for someone like Adolf Hitler? How many people would be willing to enter heaven knowing that Hitler was there?

Anonymous said...

…why…from a post this very day on our after-life/death/hell/heaven situation…

“Let's return to Father Rose's account of the after-death situation. We've been greeted by the two angels at the terminal, who grab us by the astral body and conduct us... where? Why, to court, of course. Everyone is entitled to deus process and their deity in court, even terrorists and other mass murderers.

Rose quotes St. Ignatius, who wrote that "A judging and distinguishing are required to define the degree of a Christian soul's inclination to sin, in order to define what predominates in it..." Here, the elaborate veils of self-deception and self-justification are stripped away, and your true motives revealed. In that sense, God doesn't even have to say anything, for the problem becomes obvious: "Oh. I get it now." This is very painful, the pain depending upon the distance between the lie and the Truth, rationalization and Reason.”

…from the blog, One Cosmos.

Rick F.

Gordon said...

Doughlas,

I’m gonna try to address your questions.

“Why was one of the best recently-published books about addressing world hunger written by someone who believes in euthanizing children?”

You’ll have to ask him. His whole ethical shtick works from the Pleasure/Suffering binary. This is his argument for helping the poor and hungry: “if it doesn’t cause you to suffer, and it alleviates the suffering of others, then it must be done.” Since a few bucks a month to a poor person in Africa won’t break your bank, he lives. However, the infant daughter who came just about the time you realized your marriage was on the rocks doesn’t come out so lucky. You and your ex would suffer enormous expense caring for the child, and the child would, no doubt, suffer from growing up in a broken home, not to mention being unloved. So, according to Singer, the law shouldn’t stand in the way of killing the child.

But you’re point seems to be: why aren’t these Christians who wrote the Manhattan declaration writing about feeding the poor instead?

But how many books do we have to write? From the words of Jesus “what you have done to the least of these brethren you have done to Me” (Matt 25:40), to endless Catholic encyclicals, things like the “Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern” back in 1973, to modern books like Ron Snider’s “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” (it sold 350,000 copies and has been in print since 1977). The very idea of organized outreach to the poor and sick began with Christianity -- the pagan Valusianus famously accused Christians of weakening the state by introducing traits like “mercy.” Again, 80% of the food transfer to the poor is from Christian Churches and organizations. Singer’s book is ranked #16,554th on Amazon -- what percentage of food to the poor has he generated so far? Well, I hope his intended audience listens and ponies up a lot.



“I am fully aware that Christians are giving money to alleviate world hunger and improve medical conditions. But 26,000 children are still dying every day, so obviously much more needs to be done. Since that is the case, why is same-sex marriage identified by the Manhattan Declaration as one of the three principal concerns facing modern Christians?”

Let’s make some distinctions. The absolute obligation to protect the rights of homosexuals is in the Catholic Catechism. Beyond that I’d suggest that not just most, but the vast majority of Christians support extending whatever cluster of rights the state gives straight couples to gay couples.

Gay marriage is a very different issue. And to understand what that is, look at the other parts of the Manhattan Declaration:

1. the sanctity of human life
2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

These all have one thing in common: a push-back to state encroachment. To the point, the right to life is not a right granted by the state. Another Declaration says “inalienable” rights attach to man because of his Creator. So also, Marriage as an institution precedes the state. The joining of a man and woman leading to life was not some clever idea we came up while writing the Federalist Papers. And, third, once the state establishes morality... well, let me quote Senator Diane Feinstein: "...if congress passes a law requiring taxpayers to fund abortions it is everyone's moral obligation to support that law." Morality is established by the power and whim of majority. As Obama said, “we won.”

So, Doughlas, if it was declaration picking on gays, I’d suggest something a little more colorful than “go feed the poor” instead. Since many of the friends I love most are gay, it hurts me to see this very complex set of issues bundled in with the cause of absolute state power and eliminating those unworthy of life. I’ve seen numbers that suggest you could go back to all of those states that rejected Gay marriage and you’d get a clear majority supporting a set of partners’ rights.

Gunter Weltschmerz said...

Wow -this post gets oodles of comments and the others nil or little. Two subjects that jettison propriety and raise the emotional instinct in mixed company according to Mr. Kreeft: sex and Jesus. Why is that?

Anonymous said...

Because some will accept the Truth no matter if they like it or not.