Posted by: thebylog | November 26, 2005

Catholics & Homosexuality

I read recently in the New York Times that the Vatican is making church law that would outlaw practicing homosexuals and those who support the gay culture from entering the priesthood.

That’s good.

They also want to keep anyone from the clergy that has “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies.

Now we’re getting into a bit more of a sticky situation, into questions of definitions of “deep-seated” and such.

Questions of nature versus nurture and how that relates to homosexuality aside, I don’t think one can seriously argue that there aren’t sincere Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction. So, such feelings alone should not be enough to
exclude them from a profession/calling that requires celibacy anyway (there’s a good debate in and of itself – seems pretty obvious to me that the Catholics have it wrong there … we’re told that the bishop should be the husband of one wife …). Goodness, the temptation to homosexual sin isn’t so different from the temptation to heterosexual sin that most men face.

My point is that homosexual attraction shouldn’t be grounds to castigate a fellow-believer, just as my heterosexual attraction as an unmarried man should not be grounds to throw me out of the church. However, homosexual practice, just like fornication or adultery, is an entirely different matter. There’s a big difference between attraction and action, between temptation and sin.

It’s not entirely clear to me after reading the article whether the Catholic church means to exclude someone from the priesthood who feels same-sex attraction but, by the grace and power of God, has gained victory over the sin. I hope not.

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Responses

  1. i’m in malaysia. its nice here. we got an hour flight to medan, indonesia then most of our traveling’s done. well talk at you later.

    rande

  2. Nature vs. Nurture
    Are people inherently good or evil? This is a topic that has sparked many debates. When we look at characteristics of people such as sexual preference, people often wonder if they are born that way, or if it is learned. Instinct is responsible for a baby’s first expressed emotion: crying. If humans are capable of automatically knowing how to express themselves, there personality must already be decided.
    Many people believe that homosexuals are born that way. Some are restricted by society to “come out,” and may feign heterosexuality their whole life. Other people are married to the opposite sex for thirty years and realize they were gay all along. Whatever the answer, people should be allowed to be who they really are.
    Some personality traits are acquired, but people with mental illnesses are usually stricken with them their whole life. Sociopaths, for example, may be living in our society, but commit a crime or display deviant behavior and not feel any remorse. They are usually separated from main society and be put away in a mental institution.
    This is similar to the existence of fate. Some people believe that their lives are destined to turn out a certain way. I believe in fate, but we also have free will. A simple decision could alter the outcome of one’s life drastically. We have no way of ever proving its existence either way. It depends on one’s belief of a higher power. Some have compared it to humans and ant farms. Once you open this philosophical door of our own existence, it will only lead to further questions. There is an answer, but we may not realize it until we die.

  3. Thanks for your thoughtful blog. I was reared in a Conservative Mennonite family in Western Maryland. After living it up for some time I have been seeking out the conservative Mennonite “voice” and have found great pleasure in reading your posts as well as seeing what you have done with music.

  4. I accidentally discovered ACHQ while looking for gospel music and have listened to everything I can find that you guys did that is on the internet. I really really love to hear you(plural and single) sing. I am going to purchase the two Cds I have found still available…and wish that the “favorites” one was still in stock..it has a lot of my personal favorites on it and I know you guys would be absolutely great doing those songs. Tom got me in touch with your blog and I have read many of your postings. I find them interesting. You gotta me super smart…math and I don’t connect at all…I love history and literature. YOur comments on sexual tempetations being sexual tempetations is right on target. Tis humans who rank them. Seems we Baptist the worst…and never ever mention gluttony or gossip. A rare thing: a skinny Baptist preacher. Lol. sherman

  5. Sherman, if you’d like the favorites cd, I know where you can get one! Email me at vernlez@yahoo.com and I’ll give you the info.
    ~Lez

  6. Ha ha! Either Lez has a super-secret source or she knows someone who wants to unload their own copy!

    Incidentally, I found 2 HF tapes here in my old room in Utopia.

  7. Whoa, By! Uhh. First of all, where does homosexual attraction come from? At this point, you couldn’t force me to believe it’s genetic. If you want to go that route, we can, but on those grounds:

    Am I incorrect that homosexuality is often fueled by constant, intense, heterosexual lust? Or even not-so-intense lust? If a priest has a tendency to lust, my goodness, priesthood aught not be his position!

    Perhaps you’ve had extensive exposure to this, where I have not, and have seen sincere Christians struggling with same-sex attraction, I don’t know. But I have an extremely difficult time viewing homosexuality in such a way as to make any iteration of it remotely acceptable, particularly in a clerical position.

    Wanna discuss genetics?

  8. Nic,
    Lust of any sort is wrong, and certainly homosexual lust falls into that category. And of course, any candidate for the ministry should not be living in habitual sin (e.g. lust).

    I guess the question is what is meant by “homosexual attraction” or “homosexual tendencies.”

    I don’t have any personal experience with gays, and my opinion is largely shaped by someone whom I respect who has had interactions with gay people and who believes that it’s a struggle for some people, even those who don’t WANT to struggle with it.

    I can’t discuss genetics ’cause I don’t know much about them. Feel free to enlighten me.

  9. Really, I don’t know genetics, either, but I’ve formed an opinion about genetic mutations.

    People actually believe (as close as I can tell, James Dobson is one of them) that homosexual attraction can come as a result of genetic mutation. I know, it sounds serious, but it’s a common thing. Genetic mutations make us humans prone to certain sickenesses, some more than other, varying between individuals. You and I are, because of sin, essentially mutated from the original state of physical human existence.

    But this can be approached phylosophically, I believe. How could God, who clearly speaks against homosexuality, allow a genetic mutation, (i.e. and unavoidable situation) to bring an unnatural tendency into a human? God originally created man and woman, to be as one, and as such, I can’t possibly believe that he would allow an “unavoidable circumstance” to contradict that.

    I have no idea what part God played in putting into motion the genetic mutation, or if it came of itself, but that aside, how could we possibly believe that homosexuality is a genetically aquired “trait” which the person in question has no control over? Or are we to accept that homosexuality is a genetic thing, and expect all “victims” to adapt celibacy or to go against their own “natural tendency” in a hetereosexual marriage?

    Really, I’m trying to affirm what I believe, personally. Please note that I’m only trying my own idea.

  10. Well, Nic, some of this discussion about genetics might also need to include a discussion about hormones and human development in the womb. Genes dictate the production of proteins which are either structural or functional, such as enzymes which catalyze various reactions. Basically all babies start out as females, but in the ones that have the Y chromosome, the gene products result in production of hormones that then result in the development of male characteristics which continue after birth at various times, too. Can there be inappropriate hormonal action at various times in development (or lack of it)? Yes. Are there babies born that it is very difficult to tell anatomically whether they are male or female? Yes. Do I think that genetics could predispose certain people to struggle more with homosexuality than others? Yes. I didn’t used to think that, but I do now. It’s easier to be black and white and cut and dried, but that’s not always accurate. Some people seem to have a life-long struggle with loving to eat too much. Others have heterosexual temptations. Others have anger problems. Others are inappropriately shy. Some struggle with attraction to the same sex. I am entertaining the thought that for some people it might be a struggle that will be with them all of their life, perhaps for various reasons which may include genetics, environment, and childhood experiences. I do have some exposure to gay men and women, in case you are wondering. While some have an aggressive political agenda, not all do. And I will never forget the testimony of a lesbian classmate who told of “Christians” screaming at her that she was going to hell and others things worse. Our hands are not clean. Miss

  11. Being a Sodomite doesn’t come from genetics… it comes from our sinful nature. I’ve heard it many times said ‘each to his own’. That is WRONG and it is often that ‘Christians’ say it. How digusting, I’m glad that I hadn’t heard any ‘Christian’ say that it was simply genetics that made people be sodomites and lesbians before I was saved. If I had I most likely wouldn’t have dropped the Lord then and there. Lesbians/sodomites have no excuse just like the rest of us when we stand before God. The worst sin in the world is not being a sodomite, not being a murderer, no it’s the first commandment and no one has ever been not guilty of that sin. Loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind… the first comamdment that I am guilty of not obeying everyday. I have yet to meet a person who thinks that they haven’t broken that law at sometime during their day. The best thing we can do for the ‘Christians’ who say that ‘it is simply genetics’, or ‘it’s just the way they are’ I have to say that those people are in more danger than the sodomites and lesbians. Why, because they know what is right and what is wrong and they think that since they go under the name of ‘Christian’ they are safe. How wrong, how very wrong. They are the ones who are blind. I once heard of a sodomite who said that he had asked his chaplain why living the way he was, was wrong. ‘Who say’s it’s wrong?’ asked the chaplain, “Well the Bible that you’re supposed to be preaching said that it was wrong, I read it myself.” replied the man. “That bible is too old fashioned, we have new laws now, why since you said that prayer last Sunday and come to church regularly you are a brother in Christ.” said the chaplain.
    See what I’m getting at. That chaplain, was lying. Perhaps in his training he was taught to say that and yet that same sodomite that was talking to him left and went to another preacher, this one told him that ‘yes according to the Bible’ the sodomite was sinning. The sodomite became a Christian under the influence of the true preacher, he recieved the blood of the Lord washing over his soul and cleansing it. He said later that he couldn’t understand that he (as a known sinner) knew more about how wrong he was than the chaplain did. How sick, that a professing Christian would say that he was brothers with a sodomite. I am getting rather angry with this subject but I will add one more point.
    If we as Christians don’t smarrten up real soon the whole world is going to be ruled by the sodomites and lesbians simply because Satan is not slow in making his plans work. Either we buckle down and take the sword of the spirit and fight Satan by witnessing to every lost person that we meet or we will be slowly but sure pushed down in the dust. NOW is the time to fight Satan, not soon but NOW.
    I can’t write anymore on this or I’ll go nuts. How I wish that the professing Christians would actualy get down and work.
    I hope that I was able to wake up some of the Christians that read this blog. Sorry By if I ruined your addience. But it is a problem of the HEART not of the genes that makes people sin.

    I am praying for you.
    Miss Carrie A.

  12. Carrie A.,

    I don’t think anyone in this conversation is saying that homosexual activity is morally acceptable – it isn’t. Sodomy (if that’s what you want to call homosexual sex) is clearly a sin.

    The question, though, is whether those tendencies – the temptation to sin homosexually – is inherently wrong.

  13. Anon I,

    Wow, your writing on genetics was amazing. I’m very impressed. I did know about the transition from female to male in a fetus, and I can see where you’re coming from. I do, however question the likelyhood of the senario you’re presenting. It seems to me that this would not be so probable, and would certainly not be probable to account for even half the gays in the world.

    Anon II,

    I appreciate your passionate dissertation. We don’t dissagree, not by a long shot. There does seem to be something intrinsically gross about homosexuality. However, as close as I can tell, none of it is rooted in anything other than cultural acceptance, and therefore, the question still stands: Is homosexual temptation inherantly wrong?

  14. Oh, I’m not at all saying that genetics causes all or any homosexuality tendencies in people. I’m just saying that we are complicated creatures and that there could be a genetic component that increases the predisposition to be tempted along those lines. We could even perhaps lose our credibility if we choose to dogmatically not even consider the possibility. I firmly believe homosexual behavior is wrong, but there are many people who struggle with the temptation and I think we should try to gain some understanding of their issues even if it isn’t one of our issues. Recently I listened to a lesbian speaker who teaches about gay/lesbian issues. We would disagree on certain points. However, she asserted that most homosexuals don’t want to be that way which echoes the words I heard from a gay guy a year or so ago. Now I can hear others instantly responding that they don’t believe that statement, i.e. that homosexuals really don’t want to be homosexuals. But how do you know? What if that really is true? Then what? Miss

  15. You all might want to read the book by Anita Bryant and her husband Bob Green… At Any Cost.
    Good book and really helps explain the problem. Sorry to have offended any one, but this subject is very hard for me to stay calm with. I suppose the problem might be with my up-bringing.
    And you were right (Byran) that no one said that sodomy was right. Sorry to have made that assumption.
    Carrie A.

  16. You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head but you can keep it from making a nest in your hair. And if you keep the bird from nesting in your hair enough times, the bird will probably not come around as much. The initial homosexual attraction is not sin, struggling with it is not sin, but feeding the temptation is wrong.

    I think some men have a tendency toward being homosexual because of no initial fault of their own. Why? A mix of nurture and physiology.

    Does God allow physiological differences that promote same-sex preference? Consider a model of individuals not motivated by a sinful nature — i.e. animals. 8% of rams demonstrate a preference for the same gender. This may be due to insufficient aromatase (which modifies testosterone in the brain to promote male reproductive behaviors). (cit. Roselli of OHSU) God allows that aberrant development even though it is not in line with his initial plan. It is feasible that a similar condition may exist in human males.
    Of course, men are not animals and must choose to oppose homosexual inclinations. But the initial inclinations themselves are not sin.

  17. Wow By, Looks like you hit a nerve on this one!
    Just a couple of comments. First, a look at the book of Leviticus shows that in sexual matters, sodomy (and that IS the biblical term) is the only one that is listed as an “abomination”. Bestiality, incest, fornication and adultery all are wrong and have their specific punishments listed. However, having said that, I don’t think that those who practice sodomy are worse sinners than others. Jesus said to his disciples after they questioned whether certain people died because of their sinfulness, “Unless you repent, you will all perish.”
    On the idea of genetic mutation, we must remember that God created man perfectly in every way. It was sin that marred that perfection. So, while God permits the effects of sin to function in us, we must be careful not to ascribe evil to Him.
    jmark

  18. Indeed, temptation is not a sin. Yielding to it is sin. James 1:14,15. Here is a wonderful verse that has never failed yet if recited OUTLOUD when facing a temptation: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I Cor. 10:13. Isn’t it comforting to know that the temptation isn’t unique to you, but others have experienced it also (common to man)?

    This morning I picked up an old, old Bible of mine and discovered this info from a radio preacher scribbled on a piece of paper.
    The Sequence to a Stronghold:
    thought
    consideration
    attitude
    action
    habit
    stronghold

    What more needs to be said?

    Louise

  19. Indeed, temptation is not a sin. Yielding to it is sin. James 1:14,15. Here is a wonderful verse that has never failed yet if recited OUTLOUD when facing a temptation: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I Cor. 10:13. Isn’t it comforting to know that the temptation isn’t unique to you, but others have experienced it also (common to man)?

    This morning I picked up an old, old Bible of mine and discovered this info from a radio preacher scribbled on a piece of paper.
    The Sequence to a Stronghold:
    thought
    consideration
    attitude
    action
    habit
    stronghold

    What more needs to be said?

    Louise

  20. Please pardon the double posting. Thanks. Louise

  21. RE: AnonI’s first post

    I realize what you are saying in this post, and I realize that you are not advocating homosexuality. But I am wondering how you think the genetics thing works with lesbians?

    Quote:“Basically all babies start out as females, but in the ones that have the Y chromosome, the gene products result in production of hormones that then result in the development of male characteristics which continue after birth at various times, too.”

    How does it work for females? Do they stay female, i.e. keep all the X chromosome produced hormones? What about a lesbian? Does she have some hormones that get produced by a Y chromosome? Where does that Y chromosome come from?
    Another set of questions… Is it true that a Y & Y chromosome make a male, an X & Y chromosome make a male, but only a X & X chromosome make a female? If so, I can see where men men could have homosexual tendecies brought about by the X chromosome… but where does that leave lesbians?
    Do certain chromosomes/hormones cause a man to have a very strong sexual appetite (even toward the “proper” sex)?… If so, that would put them in the same class as homosexuals. Because it would be “how God made them”…. So now we couldn’t put rapists in jail, because that’s just how they are….

    I’m no professional on genetics, but I think the genetic code we have now is badly messed up. JMark is “on the mark” when he says that God created man perfectly and sin marred that perfectness. We should remember that everyday….

  22. Genetics are not simple. Occasionally there are babies born that anatomically look like females. They grow up, get married and are unable to have children. Chromosomal studies are done, and behold they have a Y chromosome and no ovaries. Now is that person a male or a female? What makes you male or female? What should be told to that person who always thought she was a female? Now does this happen often? No, but it does happen. So can you say that the presence or lack of a Y chromosome is the defining element in male or femaleness? Sometimes the Y chromosome exists, but for other reasons, male and female hormone levels are not normal. Certainly male and female hormones cause alterations in sexual drives and are used to treat some of those problems and are misused by some who wish to to have characteristics of the opposite gender. And to further complicate matters, males have both male and female hormones and female also both male and female hormones, but obviously the proportions are different. It’s a complex system with many different places in the system where things can go wrong. I guess my point is that these are complex issues with few cut and dried answers as much as we would like them. God gives grace to behave appropriately, but some of us have to deal with things that others don’t and part of it may have to do with imperfections in the mechanics of our bodies. Miss

  23. Dually noted, Louise. 😉

    I’m particularly enamored with your series of actions to a stronghold, I like that. It goes particularly well with “The first step to a particular sin is to laugh at it in a fictional setting.”

    To strangequark (strange=wierd; quark=a fast ailing, and not-so-user-friendly graphic design application)(joking), I appreciate your insight, but I’m only slightly prepared to accept your position. Aromatase deficiency: are we to assume all gays/lesbians have the mental equivalence to physical incontinance? I can go with that!

    a.riehl (a.riehl=cool guy with a cool screen name) I don’t think you’re quite right, although I could be wrong, too. I think all females are X & X and all males are X & Y. Y & Y is not possible because both male and female have X chromosomes, and gender is decided by whether or not the male Y has “dominance” over one of the female X’s. Again, this is my understanding, I may be incorrect.

    Miss, in regards to your last post, if a “female” is lacking ovaries, given the aforementioned groundwork that essentially all female organs have a male counterpart, had that person been a male, a singularly indespensable organ would not have been present for the reproductive process, right? Where does that put that person, in a gender crisis, or a lacking-bodily-organs crisis?

    I’m going to go to bed before this gets gross. Never mind. Too late.

  24. I think my comments about the X & Y chromosome were incorrect. I think Nic has a more correct idea…. although I surely don’t understand it all 🙂

  25. hmm… i understand where yall are coming from, and I’m not going to condemn your beliefs. I’m just gonna ask a few questions here (keeping in mind that i am a STRAIGHT roman catholic ok?) Can you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that homosexuality in humans is NOT natural, given the positve proof that homosexuality can be found in almost EVERY species on earth? Can you honestly be following God by condemning gay people for their sexual orientation, while God specifically tells everyone NOT to judge? If God is love, and God gives us love, and all love comes from God since God is, well, God, how can you say that the love between two people of the same sex is wrong, and against God? And lastly, if it wasn’t for that oh so evil “sin” called ‘lust’ it’d be really impossible for men to ejaculate, therefore leading to procreation, therefore end of human race. Oh and um, God gave us lust too, just so you know

  26. I certainly can’t prove that homosexual tendencies aren’t “natural” in some people, but having pre-marital sex may be “natural” too – doesn’t make it right.

    I think we may be working with two different definitions of “lust.” In the way I’m meaning it, it doesn’t mean just a “strong sexual desire.” I think of lust as “wanting something that’s not yours.” You don’t lust after your wife, by this definition. You can also lust for a bigger house or more money or fame or … God created “strong sexual desire,” nothing wrong with that. Of course, He set up parameters – a monogomous relationship between a man and a woman for life within the bond of marriage. That’s the problem with homosexual sex, and the problem with premarital sex, incest, bestiality, etc. All could result from “strong sexual desire,” but they’re all wrong because they are clearly outside of God’s will for human sexuality (as communicated in the Bible).

    One more thing: “Judge not, that ye be not judged” gets misconstrued. We’re actually told to judge righteously in another place in the Bible (John 7:24). If Scripture is our guide to faith and practice, and someone is clearly living outside of those bounds, we don’t need to condemn them because Scripture already does. That’s not the “judging” that is condemned by Jesus. If I judge someone’s motives or intents, that’s another story.

  27. Lemme clear something up. Embryos do NOT start out all females!! Rather, they start out as a neuter, then as the levels of estrogen/testosterone are increased and decreased, the second X, or the Y, chromosome are distinguished, and the sex of the baby is then determined. This is in the very early stages, and has nothing to do with the idea of all-female embryos. FYI


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