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Friday, June 08, 2018

Follow-Up To Yesterday (CCC, 2357-2359)

I won't ever be a credible "gay-hater," because it's not who I am. I've probably made jokes and the like, as young men have been known to do when they lack experience. Yet my culture is one of acceptance, even celebration. I am affected by this, even as I am constrained to hold otherwise. And what gay activists would find from me and many others is a certain kind of acceptance, born of common humanity. Nevertheless, we are constrained by an anthropology--that is, that which concerns humanity's destiny and purpose--to profess what we profess. It is not a "phobia," or animus, but a fundamental disagreement about what human life actually is. Associate Justice Kennedy once famously opined that rights in this society confer the opportunity to define one's own destiny and purpose. It is at precisely this point, we part ways. I am constrained to acknowledge reality, not to create it for myself.

Suppose for the moment that the reason people are expending so much energy defining themselves is that all the ways people used to know have been shattered. Our families have been shattered, along with our sense of community, in countless ways. You have to hand it to classical liberalism: even as it takes away everything people rely on--without them realizing it--it convinces us all that these changes are the fruit of our "liberty." Liberty to do what?

Emotivism is on the rise. Emotivism may be the reason why you're not prepared to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the relevant paragraphs, giving the ideas a fair hearing. As many wiser than me have noted, take note of how often you or other people make a declarative statement that begins, "I feel..." What we intend to say is, "I think..." but we don't. "I think" is a relic from the time when truth was not "my truth" or "your truth," but something outside of us, something we either conformed to, or fruitlessly fought against. The indomitable Dr. Bryan Cross noted:

"When philosophical skepticism is the dominant background philosophy, not only is the very discoverability and intelligibility of the order by which actions are rationally judged to be ordered or disordered denied, but such rational judgments can only be seen as bigoted and emotivist, and therefore as irrational and coercive exercises of power and control over others."

We're dealing with so much more than cakes and rainbow flags, if we take a moment to reflect upon this. And I might suggest that a person who rejects truth claims when it comes to what they ought to do with their sex organs will not be so sure when ICE is taking children from their families. If you surrender the claim of truth, feelings are all that remain, and your interlocutors and opponents take the opportunity to reject those moral claims, such as they are. In the process, I find to my horror that some deny any value of feelings at all, or surrender to their worst instincts and emotional responses, as if those feelings were as valid as any truth claim.

One other thing: Some people offer the opinion that the true humanity and compassion is offered by those who profess no faith at all. Careful, now: do you offer what amounts to an emotivist claim about what others believe, and why? I'd be hard-pressed to convict the man who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop of bigotry, unless I decided that his truth claim was per se evidence of it. Before I got too comfortable in my alleged superiority, I might try to figure out exactly how I know the things I think I know.

What if "Love is love" is a conceptual house of cards? I hope it hasn't been too long since you have asked a question that shakes the foundations of how you lean into the world. It's daring to ask; it's even more daring to build upon the true truth of what you find.

Actually, We Know What Jesus Thinks Of Homosexual Acts (CCC, 2357-2359)

I saw another meme earlier. It said, "All I'm saying is, I think Jesus would bake the d--- cake." It's the perfect socially acceptable sentiment. It's also, to use a metaphor, bull excrement.

I would like to make two basic points: The Sacred Scriptures nowhere approve of homosexual acts, in either testament. That some try to marshal some texts to say otherwise is exactly why we have a Magisterium in holy Church. Second, the teaching in the Catechism harks back not only to revealed truth, but natural law. This means--no matter how fiercely one professes atheism or antipathy to organized religion--at some level, one cannot help but know that these things are wrong. So, in point of fact, this is a "religious debate" in only the most general sense. We could say that supernaturally revealed truth--presuming it exists--supplements something we're already supposed to know.

It's not my place to tell Christians bearing this unique cross what words to use in self-description, or why. In fact, Eve Tushnet, a Catholic writer who calls herself "gay," can offer you compelling reasons why one might still use such words while remaining committed to Church teaching on human sexuality. Others have a different view. That's a community discussion, as it were. My opinions and thoughts are offered as a member of a wider overlapping circle: those who defend and live what the Church teaches.

What of, "intrinsically disordered"? Isn't this provocative and hurtful language? Well, it could be hurtful, in two ways: 1. The person who hears it does not understand what is meant by its usage, and thereby imports a meaning it does not have, either objectively, or in this particular case; and 2. The person who hears it personalizes the words in a way that those using them do not intend.

What does it mean? Well, if we picture the entire created order including ourselves, and that God made all that we see, we could also surmise that every created thing has a purpose for which it's been designed. Human beings by their very nature are created to love and serve God, and remain in His friendship forever. "Intrinsically" means, "by its very nature." That which helps us love and serve God is ordered to that end. If we say something is "intrinsically disordered," that means that, by the very nature of what the thing is, it cannot be ordered to the proper end. Some acts are contrary to God's design because it's the wrong time or circumstance. Other things might be good in themselves, but they are done with the wrong motive, so they are bad acts. Intrinsically disordered acts are always wrong, even if they are done with good intentions. Or even if the circumstances are so tough or strange that a person wouldn't be fully responsible.

It's not my place also to say that homosexual acts are "icky" or strange, or that I can't imagine what all that would be like, though in that case, that's true. I don't think people who experience their sexuality this way are lepers, or bad people. In the sense that all sin is common, it's part of the human experience. Though it would be a mistake to say all sins have the same gravity, it is in fact true that we all come into this world with an unpayable debt, and it is foolish for a servant to elevate himself or herself above other servants, when the King stands ready to forgive us both. Forgive us, as we forgive our debtors.

Moreover, it could definitely be true that we need to "build a bridge" to the community of people who experience attractions to the same sex. This remains true, even if some notable clergy use the motive of outreach to curry favor with the watching world. In other words, it's possible to be right on this point, while not having the slightest clue about how to, or desire to actually build, a bridge.

On the other hand, even though "accompaniment" gets a bad rap as a kind of going soft on people in presenting the truth so they will like us, in real life, people don't understand everything all at once. Real accompaniment means walking with someone at their pace toward the truth and God's will. This is actually really hard, because you face the risk of losing sight of God's revealed will--as feared, identifying so much with sinners that you don't lead them toward the truth--or that other people think the particular struggles of your friends and neighbors aren't that hard, so they call you a false teacher or something, because people don't become conformed to God's will at the speed others deem necessary.

In the end, compassion is sharing another's suffering. I can't share in it, truly, by compounding it. Love is willing the good of another. I cannot will the good if I do not know it. And it cannot be the true good, if I determine it for myself. One thing we must all answer at some point: Am I experiencing the "judgment" of others because they lack love, or am I being accused by my own conscience? Am I running from the fragrance of the truth, and mistaking it as the fault of others?