Those popes who bear the name, "Pius," are the greatest guardians of the Church against heresy. This blog is a watchdog for modernism in the Church. In reality, outside this blog, the members of the board temper their criticisms and opinions with prudence and charity so as to help souls in their journey towards Christ. But sometimes, for the sake of their own sanity, the authors of this blog just need to blow off some steam. The result is Totus Pius.

17 October 2007

The Problem With Statements of Inclusion

First, we would like to apologize to the faithful who have long suffered our absence. We were being held prisoner for the last year and few months by revolutionary forces. But alas, we are back!

One more thing before we get started on the post: we expect correct spelling and grammar. However, often there are errors in spelling or grammar that creep into posts and comments. Although we do not condone a poor standard of writing here, we nevertheless ask that our brethren and our readers refrain from using these minor errors as jumping off points for ad hominem attacks. For instance, a comment for another post had the word "woudl" in it. We all know what that meant. Let's keep the argument to the argument. Of course, I am opposed to neither ad hominem attacks nor the critiquing of the overall presentation of an argument. Let's just, in a mutual spirit of understanding, overlook minor typos and spelling points. Agreed?

Now, to statements of inclusion. It has become very common in organizations, churches, schools, etc for the administration to formulate a statement of inclusion. These statements are in some cases very broad and general, but in others are very specific to the inclusion of persons with homosexual tendencies. Even in the broad statements, however, it is clear that the aim is to make some formal statement within which persons with homosexual tendencies can find refuge. In this post we will focus on those statements formulated by particularly Christian groups.

One of the first concessions we must make is that all persons must be treated with the dignity which is owed them as human persons. (In the discussion that follows, do not question this point or claim that we hate persons with homosexual tendencies. Such comments will not be posted.) What this statement implies, however, gets tricky. Should we say that we welcome all people? Of course. Should we say that we welcome all people, even those with homosexual tendencies. Sure. Should we say that we welcome gay people? Not so fast. To answer this question we must explore what "gay" is, and whether it is rightly predicated of certain individuals in the same way as "black," "white," or "female" might be.

For Christians, and I emphasize this, homosexual acts, that is, the sexual intimacy of persons of the same sex, is considered a disorder. It is considered in the Old Testament as one of the sins that cry to heaven and gravely offend God. Oh but the angry mean God of the Old Testament has been replaced by Christ, you say? Minime. Not at all. The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. He is merciful now that his wrath has been pacified by the sacrifice of his only Son, yes, but the laws of nature contained in the Old Covenant remain unchanged. In fact, St Paul in the first chapter of his epistle to the Romans says not only are homosexual acts disordered and displeasing to God, but that even the pagan Romans should have been able to figure this out from reason alone. (here we go): We know from revelation that everyone can know from reason that homosexual acts are disordered. Phew.

When pushed, most Christian groups will be forced to concede this. "Well of course the acts are disordered, but the tendency is just part of who someone is." Any tenable approach to ethics must conclude that any desire to committ a disordered act must itself be disordered. How can it be otherwise? If our appetites are to lead us to some good, and instead of leading us to an ordered participation in the good they lead us to a disordered one, then there must be some disorder - voluntary or involuntary - in the desire itself. The desire to drink too much, for instance, can be voluntarily habituated by a persons' choices to drink previously. This is considered an addiction. The person, at some point, chose to become addicted. However, in the same case, there is evidence showing that the desire to drink too much may actually be a genetic trait or influenced by one's environment when growing up. In these cases, the desire would still be disordered, yet it would be a disorder which is involuntary.

Similarly, then, the desire to commit homosexual acts must be a disordered desire, since it seeks a disordered participation in the good (or it seeks the good in a disordered way, whichever way you prefer). The source of this disorder may be involuntary, based on either genetics or environmental conditioning. The source may also be voluntary, not in the sense most people think, however. We do not mean that people choose at a given moment to have a disordered homosexual desire. Rather, they may, through a series of other disordered choices, choose to develop a habituated desire which seeks homosexual intimacy. In either case, be it a natural evil or a moral evil, we must understand it as a disordered and, indeed, evil desire.

So, should we formulate statements of inclusion welcoming all people, and welcoming the disorder with it? Only insofar as we pledge to help them with their struggle with the disorder. Many times the struggle with homosexual tendencies is compared to the struggle many young people experience with masturbation. Would we ever write a statement of inclusion welcoming all people addicted to masturbation? No, because the emphasis in any statement so formulated is on the disorder and not on the person.

This post was prompted by an email TOTUSPIUS received inviting us to publish information about a conference. Here is an excerpt:

"It's always difficult for a child to tell her parents she is gay, regardless of how liberal or conservative her family might be. When the daughter is part of a devout Catholic family living in a small rural community, the parent-child relationship is exposed to even greater risk.
"Are There Closets in Heaven? is a revealing first-person dialogue between a lesbian daughter, who had always dutifully tried to please her parents, and her Catholic father, an eighty-one-year-old farmer from Iowa. Through their letters and reflections, we see how courage and love made it possible for Bob and Carol Curoe to navigate the twists and turns of such a dramatic shift in their lives. This highly personal and often emotional exchange offers a gift of hope and inspiration to families who struggle with learning their child is not what they expected.

"Are There Closets in Heaven? lets us experience the real lives behind debates taking place in today's media on same-sex marriage, constitutional amendments, gays and lesbians raising children, and religion."

Now, in light of our exposition of the problem, there would be no closets in heaven because all desires are rightly ordered for the souls in heaven. All desire is at rest, because our ultimate desire for the good is fulfilled in the vision of the divine essence. Even those who had disordered tendencies to sex, drink, homosexual intimacy, etc on earth will, once in heaven, have been purged and purified, either on earth or in the fires of purgatory. And those who did once have disordered homosexual desires on earth will in heaven realize the disorder and see any efforts in their life to purify their desires of disorder as most charitable.

We must treat all men with charity, but charity demands that we treat homosexuality like alcoholism and drug addiction, and not like race and ethnicity; statements of inclusion should not focus on welcoming a disorder but, just as the kingdom of heaven and the period of purgation which often precedes admittance into it, should focus on healing it.

6 comments:

Paul said...

Bingo -- "homosexual" describes a tendency or an inclination, whereas "gay" connotes acceptance of or almost revelry in the acceptability of acting on that inclination and, in many ways, the social agenda that lobbies for such acceptance. I think there should be a Core Council for Students Inclined to Fornication, which could put out statements supporting ITF students without ever mentioning the moral nature of fornication itself. That would be entirely different from the current arrangement . . . or something.

Papa Pius XII said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papa Pius XII said...

We would like to commend Our predecessor for his masterful lambasting of these false statements of inclusion and for his explanation of how we are to act toward those with homosexual tendencies.

We will, however, allow Ourselves to make one important amendation. Homosexual tendencies, while they can, in some sense, be compared to alcoholism and the desire for fornication, actually go beyond these disorders. In fact, homosexual acts are not just outside of the proper moral order but outside of the natural order altogether. They are unnatural rather than simply disordered. Turning to the Angelic Doctor, We read in Secunda Secundae Partis, Q 154, A 11 (newadvent.org):

"Wherever there occurs a special kind of deformity whereby the venereal act is rendered unbecoming, there is a determinate species of lust. This may occur in two ways: First, through being contrary to right reason, and this is common to all lustful vices; secondly, because, in addition, it is contrary to the natural order of the venereal act as becoming to the human race: and this is called 'the unnatural vice.' "

The first category of lust (e.g. fornication) is "contrary to right reason" and includes those lustful acts which are simply disordered. The second species of lust is "contrary to the natural order." We duly note that masturbation is also included in this category as an unnatural act and not merely a disordered one.

Now, Blessed Pius could argue that all unnatural acts are, by definition, disordered acts also, and he could, in this way, free himself from any charge of error. While he may be correct, We think specificity is to be encouraged. We hope he will not begrudge Us this point.

This amendment alone withstanding, We again praise Our predecessor for his brilliant writing and his dissection of these numerous problems.

Papa Beatus Pius IX said...

You are not begrudged at all, friend.

This is an excellent point, and is a difficult one to make clear. For although alcoholism and any addiction is contrary to the natural order insofar as it is a disorder, they are nevertheless simply excesses of goods which do lie within the natural order. Same with fornication, which is contrary to right reason but is nevertheless an act which is natural.

My only concern would be when taking a pastoral approach that it be approached in the same way as alcoholism or drug addiction is approached, in the sense that there is a real healing that must take place, a healing of a disorder for which the person has become (at least to some degree) helpless in the face of. The fact that the desire itself is for not only a disordered end but for an unnatural one makes the need to approach it from a healing perspective all the more necessary.

So, the disorder is that much worse because it moves one to an unnatural end, yes. As you say, "all unnatural acts are, by definition, disordered acts also." My post was not intended to detail the gravity of the disorder, but simply to point out that it is a disorder. But as you rightly say, precision in these matters is most preferable.

Thank you for the clarification.

Anonymous said...

It is all very well saying God told us not to be gay, but that doesn't go very far as to explaining why? why is it so wrong/disordered/however you want to put it?

As i understand it, there are passages in the OT that give instructions on abortion should your wife be unfaithful, advice to stone cheeky children, and rules concerning menstruating women and pigeons sacrifice. How come we don't do that stuff anymore, but still bang on about homosexuality?

Also, you make it sound like we all get castrated at the gates of heaven!

Good blog, glad i discovered it.

Papa Beatus Pius IX said...

Thanks for the comment, Anonymous.

We would like to first respond to your last comment: that we make it sound like we are castrated at the gates of heaven. It is true that we do believe in the resurrection of the body, that at the general resurrection all of our souls will be reunited with our bodies in heaven or hell, whichever the case may be. However, in heaven these bodies will differ from those we have on earth. They will be glorified bodies. This means they will not perform the regular tasks that they performed on earth. For instance, we will not eat or drink - at the very least not in the same way - as we do here on earth. Christ himself is posed with the question of what marriage will be like in heaven. He says that there will be no marriage or giving in marriage in heaven. Since in a Jewish and Christian context, sex and marriage are one thing, and sex was not conceiveable (at least not licitly) outside of marriage, we know that as a result there will be no sex in heaven. (Mt 22: 23-31)

As for why homosexual acts are disordered, suffice it to say that the end and goal of the sexual act, clear simply from a scientific examination of it, is for procreation. There is pleasure involved, yes, and that pleasure is good, yes, but to separate the sexual union from even the possibility of procreation is a real problem.

True enough, many of the rules of the OT have been replaced by the new covenant. However, in the case of homosexual acts, we can know they are wrong from a study of nature. It is simply against nature for a man to be with a man or a woman to be with a woman. What is more, we know from revelation - the revelation of the new covenant - in the letter of St Paul to the Romans, that we can know homosexual acts are against nature. St Paul says that even those to whom God chose not to reveal himself previously, even they could know that homosexual acts were against nature.

So, it just so happens that we should liken the teaching on homosexual acts found in the old testament to the teaching on stealing or murder or unfairly treating laborers rather than the other precepts you mentioned. We are confirmed in doing this because we can know that the former are wrongs by reason alone.