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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Arguments Concerning Sexual Identity

I saw an argument today:

People who identify as gay (or another sexual identity) believe that the Catholic Church, and Christians in general, hate them;

Some Christians do in fact hate such people;

But in fact, Jesus loves all people, their sins notwithstanding;

Therefore, Catholics and other Christians should attend gay weddings (and other ceremonies) to show solidarity with the people involved.

And the counter-argument:

The Church (the Catholic Church) teaches that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, (CCC, 2357) that is, by their nature contrary to God's design for the body, and for human sexuality and cannot be approved under any circumstances; (stipulate to the compassion, respect, and sensitivity commanded of Christians by Jesus in CCC, 2358)

Attendance at a wedding signifies approval and celebration of the union, or putative union;

To approve and celebrate such unions would be to commit the sin of scandal; (CCC, 2284-2285)

Therefore, Catholics and other Christians should not attend such ceremonies.

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There's usually an unstated premise in the first argument that to disapprove of homosexual relations in any degree constitutes the "hate" under discussion. Indeed, it is the definitions of "love" and "hate" that are unclear in the first argument, and may even constitute an equivocation, with respect to the love of Jesus.

It seems that it is possible to question the second premise of the second argument, namely that attendance does not constitute approval and acceptance of the union (or putative union). Many have made this argument. However, other pro-gay arguments rely on this premise, (that attendance shows approval and acceptance) to show hypocrisy in other cases (e.g. divorce and remarriage). You can't have it both ways.

Scandal is a unique sin, because it need not involve participating in the sinful act itself, but it causes doubt about the sinful character of particular acts.

Additionally, particular observers may want to consider their relationship to the following premise: "All that the Catholic Church believes, proclaims, and teaches is revealed by God." One cannot realistically understand the second argument without this premise. And in fact, the first argument relies on it, too, but in an ad hoc way. The love of Jesus is unintelligible without the revelation of who Jesus is. Notice also that part of what the Catholic Church teaches and proclaims is the natural law, specifically pertaining to man and woman united in marriage. So, other Christians may agree with this part, and disagree in some matter of supernaturally revealed truth.

My general read of things is that, sentiment toward some people, and antipathy toward others, cause people not to be able to reason clearly. It happens all over, but adherents of the first argument are particularly prone to this lately, in my experience.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Public Education: Its Foundation, And The Red Herring That Obscures It

The system of public education exists philosophically and theoretically upon the foundation that the purpose of education is being formed in virtue. The good, the true, and the beautiful were once the foundation of the liberal arts, and in fact, the definition of the liberal arts.

If the common good exists as something more than a set or collection of private goods, then it stands to reason that some baseline education in the liberal arts ought to be a matter for public concern. That is to say, it is a worthy matter for significant public funding. This contention is irrespective of other arguments that could be had about subsidiarity, or parental rights and duties.

Knowledge itself is a part of the common good, because it does not diminish when it is shared. What is known to be true benefits those who do not know that a particular thing is true, and also those who take great pains to deny that a particular thing is true.

It is a red herring to use the content of public school curricula in the United States today to attack the basic philosophical foundation for public education. The content of what should be taught to children and young adults is a separate discussion from whether a significant public investment should be made.

In fact, I assert that an individualistic, technocratic, and ultimately inhuman ideology drives most of the criticism of public education today, and is itself contrary to the idea of the liberal arts. Consider how much of the "conservative" critiques are explicitly in economic terms. What is most "efficient" in terms of the market economy is not necessarily synonymous with what is best in terms of being formed in virtue. I do not even consider that a "market-based" approach is appropriate. We should be a bunch of raving socialists on this point in particular, because whether this effort costs "too much" is a function of what we are trying to accomplish. Anything that casts people in exclusively economic terms is contrary to their flourishing, and to the flourishing of all of us together.