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 Oh but the angry mean God of the Old Testament has been replaced by Christ, you say?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.