“Have your kids ever peppered your phone’s intelligent personal assistant with random questions? Mine do all the time. It’s a lot a fun when we do it together—the kids get a kick out of it, especially when they start asking potty questions.
Just last night we were having fun asking Siri a variety of questions, and I told my children to ask, “Are you male or female?” to which Siri responded, “I don’t think that really matters.”
I acknowledge that Siri is correct, since artificial intelligences don’t have sexed bodies. But her answer does give us something to consider, since it’s the mantra of the modern transgender movement. Let’s think this argument through.
Advocates of transgenderism argue that our sexed bodies have nothing to do with our personal identity, which is why they think it’s possible that a person’s identity as male or female doesn’t have to be in conformity with his or her biological sex. If a person thinks such disharmony exists, they argue, then he or she should be able to harmonize it by conforming to his or her desired identity.
It’s a form of dualism, and the idea is not unprecedented. It dates back as early as the writings of Plato and became predominant in modern philosophy with the writings of the seventeenth-century philosopher Renes Descartes. Descartes made this view so popular that it is now known by his name: Cartesian dualism.
Descartes taught that the human person is divided into two separate substances: a mental substance (the soul—res cogitans) and a corporeal substance (the body—res extensa). For Descartes, the substance that constitutes who you are as a person is the res cogitans—“the thinking self.” And rather than the body being essential to a person’s identity, as understood in the views of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, it is merely accidental (not belonging to the essence). For Descartes, the body is merely a machine in which the soul exists as a ghost—hence the phrase “ghost in the machine.”
Constructing your argument
Cartesian anthropology has seeped into the well of our culture, so to speak. Since transgenderism—which holds that a person’s sexed body is separate from the person—entails Cartesian dualism (the body is separate from the person), we have to ask, “Is Cartesian dualism true?” If Cartesian dualism is not true, then transgenderism is also not true.
Following the lead of philosopher Dr. Scott Sullivan, PhD, in his recent book Why Transgenderism is Wrong: A Critique of the Philosophical Assumptions Behind Modern Transgender Theory, we can construct the following syllogism:
P1: If transgenderism is true, then Cartesian dualism is true.
P2: Cartesian dualism is false.
Therefore, transgenderism is false.
I will focus on premise two, and to do that I’ll give two arguments that favor the view that the body is not separate from a person’s identity.
From the inside
The first is from the inside. Notice that as you read this article you sense the words on the screen and at the same time you understand their meaning (unless, of course, I haven’t expressed myself clearly enough). It’s not as if you understand the words but only your body sees the words. In the technical jargon, there is one subject of action, you, who both sees and thinks.
It is this fact of human experience that led St. Thomas Aquinas to conclude that the body is not separate from a person but is essential:
It is one and the same man who is conscious both that he understands and that he senses. But one cannot sense without a body: therefore, the body must be some part of man (Summa Theologiae, I:76:1).
If you are reading the words on the screen and sensing the words involves the body, then it necessarily follows that your body is not separate from you—like a car is separate from a driver—but your body with its biological design is you. In other words, the body that allows you to sense the words is essential to your identity as a human person, along with your rational soul that enables you to understand the meaning of the words. (Ed. upon death we understand clearly the soul leaving the body. just body left, and just a body doesn’t understand anything. it’s dead.) You are not your soul alone, nor are you your body alone, but you are both body and soul. Philosophers call this view hylemorphism(aka hylomorphism) (Greek, hyle, “matter”; morphe, “form”).
From the outside
The second argument is metaphysical—it takes a third-person point of view by looking at the relation between the body and soul. On a basic level, the soul is that which makes a thing living (ST I-II:75:1). This is the distinguishing factor between animate and inanimate beings. (Ed. the idea of “soul” as animating living creatures goes back to ancient Greek philosophy. cf Mk 12:27, Lk 20:38 )
But as we inquire further, we discover that the soul also makes a living thing the kind of living thing it is with its unique powers. If the soul of a living thing is its vital principle, which it is, then it necessarily follows that the soul is also the principle of that thing’s vital activities. And since it is obvious that there are different living things with different types of activities, then there must be different types of souls.
For example, plants take in nutrients, grow, and reproduce but do not have the powers of sensation and locomotion like animals. Therefore, plants must have a different kind of soul than animals. This is a vegetative or nutritive soul. Non-rational animals have the powers of sensation and locomotion, along with all the vegetative powers, but do not have rational powers—namely, intellect and will.
So not only do non-rational animals have a different soul than plants, they have a different kind of soul than humans. This is a sensory soul. Human beings stand at the pinnacle of living organisms, embodying all the powers of the vegetative and sensory souls plus their distinct powers of intellect and will. Philosophers call this kind of soul a rational soul.
Now, just like the vegetative soul is the principle of all the powers of plants, and the sensory soul is the principle of all the powers of animals, the rational soul is the principle of all human powers: vegetative, sensitive, and rational (ST I:76:1). As Aquinas concludes, since the vegetative and sensitive powers belong to the human body, and the rational soul is the principle of those bodily powers, the soul is the “form” of the body (ST I:76:1).
What this means is that the soul is so united to the body that the two make one substance: a human being. Converse to the idea of Cartesian dualism, humans are not a “ghost in a machine.” Both your soul and your body make up who you are as a human being.
Our sexed bodies do matter
If my body and soul together make up the one substance that I am, then it necessarily follows that my male body together with my soul makes me who I am. My male body is not an accident(Ed. philosophy, (in Aristotelian thought) a property of a thing which is not essential to its nature) to my personal identity that I can change like my hair color (that is, if I had hair). My male body is essential to who I am as an individual human person.
Although we can excuse Siri for dodging the male-female question, we cannot do so for embodied real intelligences—namely, human beings. Genesis 1:27 was right all along: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
“St. Mark Ji Tianxiang couldn’t stay sober, but he could keep showing up.
St. Mark Ji Tianxiang was an opium addict. Not only had he been an opium addict. He was an opium addict at the time of his death.
For years, Ji was a respectable Christian, raised in a Christian family in 19th-century China. He was a leader in the Christian community, a well-off doctor who served the poor for free. But he became ill with a violent stomach ailment and treated himself with opium. It was a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but Ji soon became addicted to the drug, an addiction that was considered shameful and gravely scandalous.
As his circumstances deteriorated, Ji continued to fight his addiction. He went frequently to confession, refusing to embrace this affliction that had taken control of him. Unfortunately, the priest to whom he confessed (along with nearly everybody in the 19th century) didn’t understand addiction as a disease. Since Ji kept confessing the same sin, the priest thought, that was evidence that he had no firm purpose of amendment, no desire to do better.
Without resolve to repent, sincere remorse, and resolve to sin no more, confession is invalid, and absolution, required for receiving the Eucharist, is denied.
After a few years, Ji’s confessor told him to stop coming back until he could fulfill the requirements for confession. For some, this might have been an invitation to leave the Church in anger or shame, but for all his fallenness, Ji knew himself to be loved by the Father and by the Church. He knew that the Lord wanted his heart, even if he couldn’t manage to give over his life. He couldn’t stay sober, but he could keep showing up.
And show up he did, for 30 years. For 30 years, he was unable to receive the sacraments. And for 30 years he prayed that he would die a martyr. It seemed to Ji that the only way he could be saved was through a martyr’s crown.
In 1900, when the Boxer Rebels began to turn against foreigners and Christians, Ji got his chance. He was rounded up with dozens of other Christians, including his son, six grandchildren, and two daughters-in-law. Many of those imprisoned with him were likely disgusted by his presence there among them, this man who couldn’t go a day without a hit. Surely he would be the first to deny the Lord.
But while Ji was never able to beat his addiction, he was, in the end, flooded with the grace of final perseverance. No threat could shake him, no torture make him waver. He was determined to follow the Lord Who had never abandoned him.
As Ji and his family were dragged to prison to await their execution, his grandson looked fearfully at him. “Grandpa, where are we going?” he asked. “We’re going home,” came the answer.
Ji begged his captors to kill him last so that none of his family would have to die alone. He stood beside all nine of them as they were beheaded. In the end, he went to his death singing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And though he had been away from the sacraments for decades, he is a canonized saint.
St. Mark Ji Tianxiang is a beautiful witness to the grace of God constantly at work in the most hidden ways, to God’s ability to make great saints of the most unlikely among us, and to the grace poured out on those who remain faithful when it seems even the Church herself is driving them away.
On July 9, the feast of St. Mark Ji Tianxiang, let’s ask his intercession for all addicts and for all those who are unable to receive the sacraments, that they may have the courage to be faithful to the Church and that they may always grow in their love for and trust in the Lord. St. Mark Ji Tianxiang, pray for us!”
Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, Pray for us.
Holy Virgin of Virgins, Pray for us.
Mother of Christ, Pray for us.
Mother of the Church, Pray for us.
Mother of Divine Grace, Pray for us.
Mother most pure, Pray for us.
Mother most chaste, Pray for us.
Mother inviolate, Pray for us.
Mother undefiled, Pray for us.
Mother most amiable, Pray for us.
Mother most admirable, Pray for us.
Mother of Good Counsel, Pray for us.
Mother of our Creator, Pray for us.
Mother of our Savior, Pray for us.
Mother of mercy, Pray for us.
Virgin most prudent, Pray for us.
Virgin most venerable, Pray for us.
Virgin most renowned, Pray for us.
Virgin most powerful, Pray for us.
Virgin most merciful, Pray for us.
Virgin most faithful, Pray for us.
Mirror of justice, Pray for us.
Seat of wisdom, Pray for us.
Cause of our joy, Pray for us.
Spiritual vessel, Pray for us.
Vessel of honor, Pray for us.
Singular vessel of devotion, Pray for us.
Mystical Rose, Pray for us.
Tower of David, Pray for us.
Tower of ivory, Pray for us.
House of gold, Pray for us.
Ark of the Covenant, Pray for us.
Gate of Heaven, Pray for us.
Morning star, Pray for us.
Health of the Sick, Pray for us.
Refuge of sinners, Pray for us.
Comforter of the afflicted, Pray for us.
Help of christians, Pray for us.
Queen of angels, Pray for us.
Queen of patriarchs, Pray for us.
Queen of prophets, Pray for us.
Queen of apostles, Pray for us.
Queen of martyrs, Pray for us.
Queen of confessors, Pray for us.
Queen of virgins, Pray for us.
Queen of all saints, Pray for us.
Queen conceived without original sin, Pray for us.
Queen assumed into Heaven, Pray for us.
Queen of the Holy Rosary, Pray for us.
Queen of families, Pray for us.
Queen of peace, Pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray- Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we Thy servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy everlasting happiness. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen
“The opium pipe rests in the half-open hands of St. Mark Ji Tianxiang, who looks up to heaven, as if to plead, “Please, take this away from me.”
“He holds it out in a sort of way like, ‘I don’t want this thing,’” said Erik Durant, a Massachusetts-based artist who designed a striking sculpture of the 19th-century Chinese layman who died as a martyr in 1900.
Durant told Our Sunday Visitor that he created the sculpture a few years ago after a local parish priest reached out to him. Biographical details were scarce.
“Basically all I got was the timeframe when he lived, that he was a known opium user for over 30 years and that because of the drug usage, he never received Communion yet continued to regularly go to church,” Durant said.
Father David Deston, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, saw in St. Mark Ji a symbol of hope for people struggling with drug addiction.
“His story is amazing, just absolutely amazing,” Father Deston said. “It’s one that I think should be out there more.”
St. Anne Church and Shrine
St. Anne Shrine at 818 Middle Street in Fall River, Massachusetts, houses the statue of St. Mark Ji Tianxiang. The main church was closed in May 2015 when a large piece of plaster fell off the wall during a Mass. The church ceased to be a diocesan parish when it closed Nov. 25, 2018. The St. Anne Preservation Society is raising funds to stabilize the building and restore the building as a shrine. The Diocese of Fall River and the St. Anne’s Preservation Society entered into an agreement on July 1, 2019, through which the shrine will be under the care and oversight of the society. The basement shrine reopened July 4. Masses will be celebrated a minimum of twice per year. The shrine is open Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the recitation of the Rosary, Bible study and special programs.
Denied the Eucharist
St. Mark Ji Tianxiang struggled with opium addiction for almost half of his 66 years of life. A committed Catholic, he continually confessed to smoking opium, but the graces of the sacrament were not enough to deliver him from his addiction.
“He was definitely hooked. He was hooked on what was essentially a pure form of heroin for decades,” said Michael Rayes, a Catholic counselor in Phoenix.
St. Mark Ji’s confessor — without the benefit of modern science that has revealed drug addiction to be a disease that changes brain chemistry — eventually withheld absolution because he did not believe that St. Mark Ji had a firm purpose of amendment to stay away from the opium pipe.
For the last 30 years of his life, St. Mark Ji was denied the reception of the Eucharist, but he still grew in holiness.
“He never gave up, even when he couldn’t really have a full sacramental experience,” Rayes said. “I’m sure he made plenty of spiritual communions, and that must have hurt his heart.”
Believing that martyrdom was his only way to heaven, St. Mark Ji prayed for and received the martyr’s crown when he was killed during the anti-Christian persecutions of the Boxer Rebellion.
“Here, you have St. Mark Ji, who stops receiving the Eucharist, and yet he’s still a saint who was growing spiritually,” said Dr. Gregory Bottaro, executive director of the Catholic Psych Institute, a Catholic psychology practice based in Connecticut.
Bottaro told Our Sunday Visitor that St. Mark Ji’s complicated life challenges modern Catholics to think deeper and “outside the box” about the Communion of Saints, life, holiness, the sacraments and the Catholic faith itself.
“It’s stories like his that help to recalibrate our sense of humanity and our relationship with God,” Bottaro said.
Gripped by addiction
The short official biographies indicate that St. Mark Ji Tianxiang was born in 1834 in the apostolic vicariate of Southeastern Zhili, China. He was raised in a Christian family and grew up to become a physician and a respected member of his community.
As a doctor, St. Mark Ji served the poor for free. However, in his mid-30s, he became ill with a serious stomach ailment and treated himself with opium, which was a common pain medicine, but it was but highly addictive.
St. Mark Ji soon was gripped by opium addiction, which in 19th-century China was considered to be shameful and a grave scandal. Similar to how heroin addicts today often are reviled and called junkies, opium addicts then in China were scorned.
Black-and-white photos of Chinese opium addicts from the late 1800s show they were often gaunt, with hollowed-out eyes, sunken cheekbones and the outlines of their rib cages clearly visible through the skin.
“They’re all emaciated and almost skeletal looking,” said Durant, who studied 19th-century photographs of Chinese opium addicts to get an idea of how St. Mark Ji may have looked after 30 years of smoking opium.
“I basically came up with an amalgamation,” Durant said. “I used my knowledge of anatomy and had a model pose for a general gesture. I basically stripped the muscle off that person in order to come up with an image.”
St. Mark Ji prayed for deliverance, but the chains of addiction were never removed from him. Still, he fought it, frequently going to confession. But after a few years, the priest to whom St. Mark Ji confessed told him to stop coming back until he was serious about stopping his sin.
“One of the elements that struck me about his story was his support system did not understand his addiction, and essentially they rejected him,” said Rayes, who chose St. Mark Ji as the patron for his counseling practice, Intercessory Counseling & Wellness in Phoenix.
Today, priest-confessors have the benefit of modern science and psychology when it comes to understanding that drug addiction is a disease. In light of that understanding, Bottaro said the Church is “constantly developing” in its application of eternal truth.
“Obviously, truth doesn’t change, but the depth of understanding matures,” Bottaro said. “And here you have a perfect example where we didn’t have the sort of human understanding of science, from brain science studies and social psychology, of understanding the effect of drugs and understanding what’s happening in the brain.”
Being denied access to the sacraments and shunned by one’s community would arguably be enough to discourage most people from wanting to be involved with the Church. But St. Mark Ji remained a practicing Catholic, even if he could not beat his addiction.
“The Church, his confessors, didn’t understand the nature of addiction, and yet he persevered in his faith,” Rayes said. “So that, I think, is a really strong example for those today who are struggling with addiction, because you can feel so alone.”
“He did what he thought was the right thing to do,” Father Deston added. “He struggled to live a good life. He attended Mass regularly. He never stopped believing in God’s mercy. I think his martyrdom just grew out of his own faith. It wasn’t a means to an end for him.”
Between 1899 and 1901, toward the end of the Qing dynasty, the Boxer Rebellion broke out in China as Chinese nationalists cracked down against foreigners and Christians. During the two-year uprising, more than 32,000 Chinese Christians and 200 foreign missionaries were massacred.
In 1900, the Boxers arrested St. Mark Ji, rounding him up with dozens of other Christians, including his son, six grandchildren and two daughters-in-law. At trial, St. Mark Ji was given the opportunity to apostatize, but he refused.
He was led to his execution with the other members of his family on July 7, 1900. He begged his captors to kill him last so that none of his relatives would die alone. As he awaited his own death, he sang the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“When we have this story of St. Mark, it’s so out there that that’s it’s almost impossible to tidy it up and make it neat and pretty for a little prayer card,” Bottaro said. “His story is so central on the messiness of his life that you can’t avoid that aspect of it.”
Pope Pius XII beatified St. Mark Ji along with 120 other Chinese martyrs on Nov. 24, 1946. St. Pope John Paul II canonized him on Oct. 1, 2000. His feast day is July 9.
In more recent years, St. Mark Ji’s life story has resonated with many who have been affected by the national opioid crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people in the United States die each day after overdosing on opioids.
For many today who suffer from drug addiction, and people who see their loved ones struggling with the disease, St. Mark Ji has become a patron.
“People would leave notes by his statue. Occasionally, I would straighten them up and read them. Many of them were just heartbreaking, where people were talking about their own struggles or asking for prayers for their loved ones,” said Father Deston, who had the statue of St. Mark Ji placed in his former parish’s basement shrine.
Durant said a priest in Pittsburgh called him and asked for a copy of the sculpture. Employees from an addiction center in New Hampshire traveled to St. Anne Shrine in Fall River, Massachusetts, to see the statue.
“I think he’s a fascinating and important character,” Durant said.
“Drug addiction, then or now, is one of the issues of our time,” Durant said. “It’s so big, affecting so many people. It affects all ages, races, socioeconomic status. It affects all of us. It’s important, whether you’re Catholic or not.”
I am a member of Al-anon, attending weekly meetings for over a year now, when not pandemic bound. The Catholic Church views substance abuse as a sin, even though a disease of the mind and body. There are many kinds of addictions. They are in conflict with the freedom of God’s children, the gift of life and the goodness of life, all created from and by the goodness of God Himself. Addicts today are not excluded from the sacraments because they are addicts. However, a sincere Act of Contrition, immediately, and the sacrament of reconciliation should be sought quickly, to remain as much in the state of grace as possible considering mortality.
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”-1 Cor 12:7-10
-please click on the image for greater detail
St Mark Li Tianxiang is called the ‘trier’ because he never gave up trying to overcome his addiction and be able to receive the sacraments again.
Nonetheless, Mark always attended Mass and lived a truly committed and devout Catholic life. It is said that he helped the sick and dying free of charge or only ever accepted what his patients were able to give him for his service.
St Mark Li Tianxiang, pray for us!!! Intercede with God on our behalf for whatever obstacles prevent us from being good servants of the Lord, particularly those sins to which we are truly addicted (pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, sloth, substance abuse, timidity, tepidity, lukewarmness in Your service, fear, etc.) or cannot rid ourselves of through His most generous and powerful grace; such is our too, too strong attachment to our sins. Jesus, help us!!! Jesus, save us!!!
WASHINGTON – “After a major scientific study found there is not a singular genetic marker for homosexuality, a Catholic theologian explained that the findings are fully in accord with Catholic teaching.
The study was published Aug. 30 in Science. It examined data from several large genetic databanks in multiple countries, and surveyed nearly half a million people about their sexual partners and preferences. Previous studies on the matter have only examined sample groups of hundreds of people.
“From a genetic standpoint, there is no single [genetic distinction] from opposite-sex to same-sex sexual behaviors,” said Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at Finland’s Institute of Molecular Medicine, and the study’s lead author.
Speaking to Scientific American, Eric Vilain, a geneticist at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., called the study’s result “the end of the ‘gay gene’” theory…
…In a commentary published along with the study, Oxford University geneticist Melinda Mills noted an “inclination to reduce sexuality to genetic determinism” in support of sociological or ideological positions.”” [Ed. to avoid personal responsibility for one’s choices? Actions? Seems to be all the rage these days, that old canard ‘The genes (or, devil) made me do it!]
“The Church’s document, The Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, notes that sexual attraction to persons of the same sex is “ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.” The Catechism uses nearly identical language: “Exclusive or predominant sexual attraction towards persons of the same sex … is objectively disordered.”…
…Before clarifying the meaning of the term it should be noted that one reason such language is received as harsh is because we live in a society that no longer sees human nature as universal, intrinsic, and immutable. Rather than recognizing an intelligible telos, or inner aim of man, today it is claimed that our human nature consists of whatever individual feelings come “spontaneously,” are “genuine” or what feels “natural to me.” Most are unfamiliar with natural law and thereby reject the traditional western and Biblical belief that as humans we have a law written upon our hearts, and to abide by that law ensures our flourishing. To flaunt that law does harm. The reaction to Church teaching in the area of homosexuality is, in part, symptomatic of a deeper and fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the human person. The misunderstanding of the Church’s teaching is further complicated by the fact that we live in a sound-bite culture, where nuanced technical terms are underappreciated. [Ed. “…hidden nuances which 99 percent of the Catechism’s readers cannot be expected to fathom.” Included in this are the phrases “objectively disordered” and “intrinsically disordered,” terms which rise from the language of Catholic moral theology and Catholic philosophy. In this usage, the term “disordered” indicates a departure from the norm and not, as usage in English could suggest, sinful, demeaning, or sickly.] Therefore, it is incumbent upon Catholics to explain thoroughly and with sensitivity the eternal truth conveyed by the language of the Church.”
Intrinsic & Objective Disorder
The morality of the act itself = intrinsically disordered. By the very definition of the act, it is of and in of itself intrinsically sinful, by definition. There are not circumstances, extenuating or otherwise, than can make such an act not sinful.
The morality of the desire is = objectively/logically disordered, since its goal/object cannot be but disordered according to natural law and Revelation. There are no circumstances, extenuating or otherwise, than can make such an act not sinful.
Sins, such as homosexual attraction are intrinsically sinful. There is no circumstance, extenuating or otherwise, where homosexual attraction is not sinful. Same sex coitus is objectively sinful. There is no circumstance, extenuating or otherwise, where same sex coitus is not sinful.
One problem with the language of “intrinsic disorder” is that almost no one apart from theologians trained in the scholastic tradition correctly grasps its meaning. Read the WHOLE article by clicking on the link below, if you dare. (My brain hurts/is full. May I be excused, please? Medieval scholastic theologians are not the only theologians in the Church. They’re dead. But, have pride of place in Catholic theology. Remember, a theologian is one who studies the discipline of theology. Ask twelve living theologians a question, get >13 answers. lol)
“In harmony with centuries of Catholic teaching on how we should evaluate the moral character of certain actions, the Catechism affirms: “There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery.” (CCC 1756) In other words, there exist actions that must always, by their very nature – without any exception, under any circumstances – be considered as evil. Because the wickedness of the action is inherent, arising internally from the account of the very nature of the action, we describe actions of this sort as “intrinsically evil”, and hold that there is nothing that can ever justify such an action…
…Traditional moral theology holds that human actions always have some end or purpose: something that the action is for, some goal that the action is “ordered toward” obtaining. In many cases, the purpose of an action is given by nature (e.g. eating food is naturally ordered to health, whether or not that purpose is consciously intended by the person). In other cases, the purpose of an action is superadded by the human will (e.g. when “comfort food” is desired primarily because it gives pleasure or satisfaction, without any explicit concern for nutritional value). And sometimes, it can happen that the human purpose driving an action is radically incompatible with the natural purpose (e.g. when poison is consumed for the sake of suicide, which is absolutely incompatible with health)… and in these cases the action is considered to be disordered, because the natural purpose of the action has been wholly and fundamentally impeded. Note however that when moral theologians speak of actions being disordered, this refers to the moral character of the action. And indeed the Catechism is explicit on this point: “The object of the choice can by itself vitiate an act in its entirety. There are some concrete acts… that it is always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil” (CCC 1755).
In a very similar (and perhaps slightly more obvious) way, we also say that every desire has an end: something that the desire is for, something that the desire is “ordered toward” obtaining. If you desire to commit an action, we say that your desire is ordered toward that action; and if we speak of your desire as being disordered, this refers to the fact that your desire is ordered toward something bad, which you should not desire. Therefore: if you desire to commit an action that is evil, your desire is disordered; and if you desire to commit an action that is intrinsically evil (e.g. if you desire to murder your annoying neighbor), then we describe your desire as intrinsically disordered. Note well that if an action is only a sin in some cases, but not in others – if there are exceptions – then it is not an intrinsically evil action. Note also, for the very same reason, that every temptation toward sin is intrinsically disordered: because no matter how large or small the sin might be, sin (by definition) is always evil without exception.”
“It isn’t compassionate to encourage people to embrace a false version of reality.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the desire to be romantically involved with a member of the same sex is “objectively disordered” (2357). But for some, them’s fightin’ words.
Take Fr. James Martin, S.J., for example. In a 2017 interview with columnist Jonathan Merritt, Fr. Martin reaffirmed the position he took in his book Building a Bridge, namely, that this language in the Catechism is “needlessly hurtful” and should be replaced with the more pastoral language of “differently ordered.”
I don’t know if Fr. Martin still holds this view. In a 2018 article for America Magazine, he presents the Church’s official teaching on the objective disorder of same-sex sexual activity and the disorder of the desire for it. He then says, “As a Catholic priest, I have…never challenged those teachings, nor will I.”
Perhaps we could push back a bit on this last claim since he routinely celebrates events and organizations that publicly oppose Church teaching. Regardless, we still need to address the question: are romantic desires for members of the same-sex disordered or merely different?
First, to say the desire for romantic involvement with a member of the same sex is “different” is to suggest the desire is not disordered. We don’t say someone’s preference for vanilla ice cream over chocolate is disordered; we say it’s different. But to say the desire for same-sex sexual activity is not disordered entails the further claim that there’s no disorder in same-sex sexual activity itself. And there’s the rub: same-sex sexual activity is morally disordered, as Fr. Martin acknowledged in the America article.
A morally disordered act is a human act (proceeding from intellect and will) that lacks the order to its due end. In other words, it’s a human act that intentionally misses the mark, like the archer that intentionally misses the target he’s supposed to hit. St. Thomas Aquinas explains,
Sin as we properly speak of it in moral matters, and as it has the nature of moral wrong, comes about because the will by tending toward an improper [undue] end fails to attain its proper [due] end (De Malo q.3, a.1).
Elsewhere, Aquinas articulates the principle this way: “We call every act that is not properly related to its requisite [due] end a disordered act” (De Malo q.15, a.1).
But what does Aquinas mean when he speaks of a “proper [due] end” for a human act? It’s that which the human action naturally aims at: its natural end.
Consider, for example, how the due end or goal of an oak tree is to grow and to reproduce, which entails sinking its roots deep into the ground, taking in nutrients, performing photosynthesis, and dropping acorns. Such things are due or proper to the oak tree in that the achievement of such things makes the oak tree flourish as the kind of thing it is. If the oak tree were to fail in achieving these natural ends or goals, the oak tree would be defective in being an oak tree.
So, the due end of a thing is the natural end or goal of a thing and its activities: that which is befitting for the perfection of the thing, making it a good instance of its kind.
The same holds true for human actions. Some human actions have natural ends or goals that constitute the perfection of the act. For example, the human act of assertion has the natural end of expressing that which we believe to be true. So, when we assert what we believe to be true, that act is perfected inasmuch as it is the kind of act that it’s supposed to be.
Similarly, the act of eating has the natural end of nourishing the body. When we eat in a way that achieves this natural end or goal, our act succeeds in being the kind of act it’s supposed to be.
Disorder enters into human acts when we voluntarily engage in an act that is directed away from its natural end or goal (a due end or goal). Eating with the intention to vomit out the food afterward is one example of a disordered action. The act from the beginning is willfully directed away from its natural end of nourishing the body. Perversion is another word for this.
Now, the achievement of the natural ends of a human action not only determines the perfection of the act itself, but also of the person who performs the action. For the power to act belongs to a person for the sake of fully actualizing herself as a human being, or acquiring those things that are perfective of her nature.
So, when a person voluntarily prevents her act from achieving its natural end, she rejects the associated good. Since morality entails doing good and avoiding evil, to reject the good of an action is a moral defect, or in the words of Aquinas from the above quote, “sin.”
So what’s all this got to do with same-sex sexual activity? As I’ve argued before, one of the natural (due) ends of our reproductive organs is the generation of offspring. That’s an end or goal at which the sexual act naturally aims (the other being unitive love between the spouses).
And since it’s a moral disorder to voluntary prevent an act from achieving its natural end, it follows that to voluntarily thwart the use of our sexual organs from achieving their natural end of generation of offspring is morally disordered. Same-sex sexual activity does just that. Therefore, same-sex sexual activity is morally disordered.
With this in mind, let’s go back to our original question: should we start calling the desire to be romantically involved with a member of the same sex “different” instead of “disordered”?
No, we should not. Either we encourage people to embrace a false version of reality by telling them their romantic desires for members of the same-sex are natural and good, or we stick with what’s true and invite people to live in accordance with reality.
I don’t know about you, but I’m all about leading people to the truth and helping them experience authentic human happiness. I don’t see anything “needlessly hurtful” about that.”
“Last month I was going for a jog in Balboa Park here in downtown San Diego when I noticed the park was more crowded than usual. I headed toward the sounds of music and noticed more and more rainbow flags as I neared Cabrillo Bridge. “Maybe, just once,” I thought, “this will be a festival celebrating God’s covenant with Noah! (rainbow)”
Not so much.
It was San Diego’s 40th annual “Gay Pride Parade,” which this year boasted 300,000 participants who marched through San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood (known for its LGBT flair) to Balboa Park for a concert.
The participants were joyful and carefree—until they walked by a group of Christians protesting their event. The Christians, who I assume were conservative Evangelicals, held signs that said things like, “Jesus is the only way to salvation” and “Love is self-giving.”
They weren’t doing anything I considered offensive or outrageous, but I also thought their approach would not be very effective—and I was right.
An unexpected springboard
As the Christians preached through bullhorns, most of the LGBT festival-goers walked by laughing or saying things like, “You know you’re probably gay!” or “God is love!” They also said a lot of other things I can’t repeat without diving into indecency.
Others stopped to yell at the Christians or even just plead with them. One woman said, “There are real sinners down at the county jail. Why aren’t you there?” The Christian responded, “I go to the jail all the time. Lots of Christians do that, too. I’m here today to help you people.”
As the police stood warily nearby, I watched and observed alongside the festival attendees, getting a feel for the whole situation.
Suddenly I had a flashback.
Deja vu all over again
After college I used to travel the country with a pro-life group named Justice for All. We would setup exhibits with large pictures of unborn children before and after abortion and talk with college students about the pro-life worldview.
During those outreaches I would sometimes walk around and act like a student on campus. I wouldn’t lie about who I was, but I also wouldn’t immediately say who I was with, either. I would just ask students looking at the pictures, “So what do you think of this big ugly thing?” Pretty soon we were off to the races having great conversations.
So I wandered around the pride parade asking people who were staring at “the big, ugly Christians” a simple question: “What do you think of those guys over there?” I ended up having several conversations about the Bible, same-sex morality, and faith in general.
One young man, whom I’ll call Greg, was especially memorable.
What does the Church say?
I asked him what he thought of the Christians, and we began to talk, along with his two male friends. All three of them identified as being gay, and they asked me what I was doing at the festival. I said that my wife was out of town and I decided to go on a jog through the park until . . .
“Until the gays showed up!” one of the young men interjected.
“Something like that,” I said.
I explained that I worked for an organization called Catholic Answers and that my job is to explain and defend the Catholic Faith. One of them then asked, “So what does the Church say about me being gay?”
I was nervous but also felt the Holy Spirit giving me the right words and tone.
“Well, the Church makes a distinction between someone’s desires and someone’s actions. We can’t control our desires, and so they shouldn’t be central to our identity. You also can’t say someone is sinning just because they have certain desires because, like I said, you can’t control them. I wouldn’t say that I’m straight or that you’re gay, but that you and I are men made in God’s image with different desires for sexual intimacy.”
Wrong even for straight people
They nodded, so I continued.
“So our desires don’t define us, and they don’t condemn us. But our actions do define us, and we can be held accountable for them. Or, as Batman would say (switch to guttural Batman voice), “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.”
We shared a laugh.
“It’s actions, not desires. This is important, because the Church teaches that we shouldn’t use sex for a purpose it wasn’t intended for. That means it’s wrong for anyone to engage in same-sex behavior, even if they’re straight.”
They raised their eyebrows at the unexpectedness of what I said, and I went on.
What is sex for?
“For example, if a straight guy has been in prison for a long time and he just wants sexual release, he might have sex with a man, even though he says he’s not gay. But that would be wrong, because sex isn’t just for satisfying your urges. For me, the big question I ask when I think about tough issues like same-sex attraction is: What is sex for?”
To my surprise, one of the young men said, “Procreation?”
My eyes lit up.
“Yes! I mean, that’s not the whole reason, but for me it makes sense to say that sex is ordered towards making babies and uniting men and women for their good and the good of any babies they might create. That’s also why as a Catholic I’m against contraception, because it goes against what sex is for.”
Rather than be offended, the three young men pondered what I said and seemed to appreciate the reasonableness of it, as well as the fact that I didn’t just quote a Bible verse and rest my case.
A pebble in the shoe
We talked a bit more, and then Greg and I talked one-on-one for a while. We discussed his religious background and his decision to leave the Mormon Church (which was motivated by his same-sex attraction but also by critical examination of the Book of Mormon).
As our conversation came to a close, I encouraged him to visit the website of Courage, which I described as a nonjudgmental ministry that helps Catholics who have same-sex attraction lead chaste lives. I said, “They really try to meet people where they’re at. They’re not about ‘praying the gay away.’” Greg said he was relieved they weren’t “like that” and said he’d check them out.
We parted ways, and I walked back to Balboa Park across the Cabrillo Bridge, remembering that conversion happens slowly, bit by bit. Sometimes the best we can do is plant a “pebble in their shoe” or a thought in the mind that will roll around until the person has an “epiphany moment.”
As I walked I also thought about how amazing it would be to take two dozen Catholics, well-formed in their Faith and trained to engage people in civil and compassionate dialogue, to an event like this. It would be a time to not try to win arguments but to win people and show that, even if we disagree about sexual ethics, we can still treat each other with respect and kindness.
Jesus would attend a Pride parade in June. He would eat and drink with sinners. Even as He does each and every Sunday with us. Jesus’ love was made manifest in His public ministry by His desire to seek out the lost and not abandon them to sin.
“Jesus began his ministry by proclaiming, “The kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15), and He didn’t sugarcoat His message about the sins of which people needed to repent. For example, He publicly called the religious leaders of His day “fools,” “blind guides,” and “hypocrites” who were like “whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:27).
When the Pharisees criticized Jesus’ decision to dine with notorious sinners such as prostitutes, Jesus did not chastise these religious leaders for being “judgmental.” Their error was not in caring too much about sin but in not caring enough about sinners. Jesus reminded them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mark 2:17). According to New Testament professor Robert Gagnon:
“What was distinctive about Jesus’ ministry was not that He refused to make judgments about the conduct of others, or even that He lowered his moral standards. On the contrary, in many areas He elevated those standards. What was distinctive was His incredibly generous spirit even toward those who had lived in gross disobedience to God for years. He expended enormous effort and exhibited great compassion in the search for the lost. Jesus did not wait for the lost to come to Him. He went looking for them (The Bible and Homosexual Practice, 212).”
There’s no reason to think Jesus wouldn’t look for the lost in a place like a pride parade. I attended San Diego’s LGBT Pride parade several years ago and engaged in peaceful evangelism with three men who described themselves as gay. But Jesus would never encourage people to celebrate any sin, especially grave sins that separate us from the love of God.
Some people claim that Jesus “never said anything about homosexuality,” but the self-professed gay Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson admits, “One cannot extrapolate affirmation of such relationships from that silence.” Robinson instead claims that all “we can safely and responsibly conclude from Jesus’ silence is that he was silent on the issue” (God Believes in Love, 83-84).
I wonder if Robinson would likewise say, “All we can safely and responsibly conclude from Jesus’ silence on idolatry, incest, bestiality, and child sacrifice is that He was silent on those issues.”
He likely wouldn’t, because Jesus’ affirmation of the Old Testament’s prohibitions on, for example, murder, show He would never have supported child sacrifice. To claim otherwise would be absurd. Likewise, Jesus’ affirmation of the Old Testament’s prohibitions on sexual immorality show He would never have supported sexual activity between people of the same sex or any kind of behavior that violated the universal moral law.
Jesus’ sexual ethics weren’t based on the modern idea that consent is the only ethical norm for sexual acts and relationships. Jesus grounded His teaching in what God had revealed to humanity from the very beginning of Creation. After citing Genesis’s description of how “God made them male and female” and “the two shall become one,” Jesus bluntly declared, “whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:11-12).
If Jesus would not approve of divorce because it violated the permanence of God’s design for marriage, then He would never have approved of same-sex relationships that violate the sexual complementarity of God’s design for marriage.
Some people try to diffuse the force of Jesus’ teaching by saying that He was trying to be ironic, since wives weren’t allowed to divorce their husbands. But although wife-initiated divorce was rare in the ancient near East, it was not unheard of. Exodus 21:10–11 describes how a slave married to her master can leave him without paying any sort of penalty if he fails to provide for her needs, including “marital rights.” A second-century divorce certificate (in Hebrew, a get) addressed to a husband from his wife was discovered in the Judean desert in 1951. According to David Instone-Brewer in his study on divorce and remarriage in the Bible:
“Normally women would not write a divorce certificate such as this one, but they would ask a court to persuade their husbands to write one. Perhaps this nonrabbinic practice was influenced by the Greco-Roman world where women could initiate divorce, as wealthy Jewish women in the first century are known to have done” (Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible, 88).”
Jesus did not teach that what mattered most is finding happiness through our bodily desires. After saying lust was itself a kind of adultery, Jesus advised His hearers, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matt. 5:30). Jesus’ hyperbole is not a recommendation of mutilation but of mortification: the disciplined subjection of our bodily desires so that they serve our heavenly destiny.
Our bodily desires are strong, but the grace of God is stronger, so anyone who struggles with disordered sexual attractions (no matter their object) should not give into despair and hopelessness. We all feel the “war in our bodies” (Rom. 7:23) tempting us to reject God’s will for us, and so we should look to Christ, not as a heartless judge but as a compassionate savior Who allowed His body to be abused and killed so that our bodily desires would not condemn our eternal souls.”
“We tend to equate lust with physicality—with the flesh. But it’s actually mental as well. That is, sexual vice harms the intellect. After all, humans are composite creatures: an irreducible unity of body and soul. Therefore the bad choices we make will damage them both.
The impact of lust upon the mind is something Shakespeare captures with typical genius in a poem known as “Sonnet 129.” What the speaker of this poem offers is a sustained reflection on the experience of submitting to unruly sexual passion:
Th’expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action, and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoyed no sooner but despisèd straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had,
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad:
Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe,
Before, a joy proposed, behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.
Essentially the speaker here is contrasting the anticipated pleasure of lustful desire, which compels him to pursue it, with the emotional and moral havoc it wreaks. As soon as it is enjoyed, it is despised.
Depictions of this dynamic can be found in plenty of other literary works. But in this poem there is something more going on. Shakespeare just gets it. For he is showing how lust is actually all about irrationality. Lust is “past reason.” That is, lustful deeds are,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had,
Past reason hated…
There’s the desire before and the dejection afterwards, all because one allows passion to overrule one’s better rational judgment. Lust is frustrating and demoralizing because it robs your reason of its proper role in ordering the passions. Passion wins, and therefore I lose. It’s a flummoxing paradox. Having enjoyed what you thought you wanted so badly, you just sit there, befuddled intellectually and feeling empty emotionally. Why did I do that? It’s supremely regrettable to succumb to passion in this way. As an ancient Latin maxim puts it: “Post coitum omne animalium triste est”—After sex, all animals are sad. If it’s not real sex—that is, virtuous sex—then yes.
Lust makes one sad. Until it doesn’t anymore.
Indulged in long enough, lust instead leaves one stupid, as the philosopher Edward Feser puts it. Recall what reason does for us: it affords us the power to understand reality. To understand truth and goodness. Drawing on Aquinas, Feser explains that if you take pleasure in something that’s actually unhealthy or a false good (“Past reason hunted”), this dulls the mind’s capacity to recognize what is authentically good and true. To habitually indulge one’s lustful appetite, Feser explains, “will tend to make it harder and harder for one to see that [this indulgence is] disordered.” Lust makes you impervious to what’s really going on. You’re absorbed in a false good (one that delivers intense pleasure), refusing to admit any problem, blind to reality.
Lust has the power, in other words, to stop making you feel sad. So it is no longer “past reason hated.” It’s not hated but rather embraced, wholeheartedly and unthinkingly.
The speaker in “Sonnet 129” claims “the world knows well” the phenomenon he’s describing (even if people still struggle to resist lustful urges). But does that seem accurate for us today? It would seem that plenty of people don’t know what Shakespeare is describing. Many are self-satisfied slaves to lust. Hey, do whatever feels right!
The situation was more or less the same in Shakespeare’s time. (You don’t need to read a whole lot from the English Renaissance before realizing that.) And that phenomenon of shamelessly embracing lust is in fact at the heart of Shakespeare’s moral project in “Sonnet 129.” This poem gives marvelous voice to the sense of shame that ought to be there. It is seeking to make lust identifiable and intelligible as such. It is a light cast on lustful blindness of mind. The reader finds himself going along with the self-admonishment and disgust right from the first line of the poem.
A crucial step in the process of developing the virtue of chastity is developing a revulsion to the idea of enjoying false sexual pleasure, since you begin to see it for what it really is. When you realize how stupid you’ve been, you’re already getting smarter, Shakespeare is saying.”
““Love Is Love.” It’s the new mantra of our culture, the moral wisdom of the age. It’s the battle cry of a movement led by those not so wise as a sage. (Channeling my inner Dr. Seuss.)
Joining the fray, the Coca-Cola Company has launched its “Love Is Love” campaign in Hungary. Peppered throughout train stations, on billboards, and on their Hungarian Facebook page, their ads feature both opposite-sex and same-sex couples with the hashtag #loveislove. The campaign came days before this year’s “Love Revolution”-themed Sziget Festival, a week-long music-and-art event held annually in Budapest.
The message of this slogan is a no-brainer: “Male or female? Who cares? Love is love, and it’s all good!” As Coca-Cola stated in a recent e-mail, the ads “do indeed try to convey a message . . . our belief that everyone has a right to love and that the feeling of love is the same for all” (emphasis added).
Kudos to those who developed the slogan; it has rhetorical force. It appeals to something innate: the desire for romantic love. In particular, it proposes love as the foundation of a sexual relationship, which is noble and worthy of praise (something we can’t say about the motivations behind the “hookup” culture).
But when you think it through, “Love Is Love,” the way it is used in this slogan, simply can’t be true.
Consider, for example, that when the slogan is used, “love” is rarely defined. And when it is defined, it’s usually called a “feeling,” as Coca-Cola Co. did in its defense of the ads. (Not too different from “Taste the feeling!”)
The problem is that it is so easy to hijack the word “love” and justify almost anything. The grotesque North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), for example, does just that. It seeks to justify sexual acts between adult males and young boys in the name of “love,” stating on its website,
NAMBLA’s goal is to end the extreme oppression of men and boys in mutually consensual relationships by . . . educating the general public on the benevolent nature of man/boy love (emphasis added).
Adopting the same reasoning as the Coca-Cola Co., NAMBLA appeals to the rights of all to express love through their bodies: “We support the rights of youth as well as adults to choose the partners with whom they wish to share and enjoy their bodies.”
Every bit of so-called wisdom that “Love Is Love” embodies—the feeling of love is the same for all and that everyone has a right to express that love—justifies the abuse that NAMBLA promotes.
Now, someone will inevitably respond, “What NAMBLA promotes isn’t true sexual love. Minors aren’t in a position to understand what’s involved in a sexual relationship. Therefore, they can’t really consent. The slogan ‘Love Is Love’ is meant only to express the idea that biological sex is irrelevant to romantic love and its expression in sexual activity among consenting adults.”
A member of NAMBLA, however, could counter and say sexual relationships with minors are consensual, as indicated in the above quote. But that aside, when push comes to shove, those who live by “Love Is Love” don’t really think all sexual love is equal. For these people, some things rob sex of its power to express true love, such as young age.
But if biological age has something to do with determining appropriate or inappropriate expressions of sexual love, perhaps biological sex does as well? Why should we think biological sex is exempt? Perhaps sexual activity among members of the same sex is not a legitimate expression of sexual love.
The only way we can know whether this is true or not is to know whether same-sex sexual activity involves willing what’s good for the beloved concerning his or her sexual powers, since the essence of love is to will the good of another (Summa Theologiae I-II:26:4; II-II:23:1). [Editor: In the natural order, and according natural law, the good, the fruit of sexual intercourse, is children. Sexual intercourse was designed by God to unify a married couple and to further participate in God’s ongoing creation, and for NO other reasons! Using human beings as a means to an end is abuse, not love. The end never justifies the means, ever! Although difficult, there is always a holy option however difficult it may be. Seeking pleasure for the sake of pleasure reduces human existence to a piece of entertainment only to be thrown away when it no longer gives us a thrill.]
If same-sex sexual activity is not a good use—but an abuse—of our sexual powers, as traditional sexual ethics claims, then to engage in it is to reject the order of the good inscribed in the nature of human sexual activity. It would be an expression of contempt to use the good of human sexuality against what is good for the human person, as if the latter is a kind of evil to be supplanted or an obstacle to be removed.
The perversity of such behavior would be akin to a doctor who engages in her activity of healing as a doctor only to make someone ill. In such a scenario, the doctor positively rejects her good as a doctor—namely, healing— as an evil to be avoided. For a doctor to reject the order of a good doctor can only merit the charge of being an evil doctor.
Similarly, if same-sex sexual activity is an abuse of our sexual powers (which this author proves it is), then it entails a rejection of the human good for sex.
But actions that entail a rejection of the order of the human good cannot possibly be expressions of authentic love, even if they are done in the name of love. Such actions would be directly opposed to love, showing disdain for the other rather than appreciation. In the words of Karol Wojtyla (Pope St. John Paul II), such a love could only be called an “evil love.”
In light of this, it becomes evident that the “Love Is Love” slogan is a smokescreen that distracts us from the real question: does same-sex sexual activity will the good of the other?
If it does, then the slogan is a true bit of moral wisdom. But if it doesn’t, then the slogan’s wisdom just ain’t “the real thing.”
Who wants a mantra that’ll come back to haunt ya?”
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”– Mt 5:17
“Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.”– 1 Cor 6:9-10
“Whenever the topic of homosexuality and the Bible comes up, it doesn’t take long before someone says, “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality!” In a 2012 interview, former president Jimmy Carter essentially did that when he said:
“Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born, and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things—he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.”
Some go a step further and claim that Jesus affirmed homosexual behavior. For example, one pro-gay Christian website claims that the centurion who sought Jesus’ help to heal his servant in Matthew chapter eight was actually in a sexual relationship with that servant. Their primary evidence for this comes from the centurion’s use of the term pais to describe the servant, which they say refers to a male lover. From this they conclude, “Jesus restores a gay relationship by a miracle of healing and then holds up a gay man as an example of faith for all to follow.”
Regardless of what Jesus said or didn’t say about homosexuality in the Bible, this counterfeit Christ would never condemn homosexual behavior today. He would instead affirm such behavior as part of healthy relationships that are morally equivalent to marital love between men and women.
But how can that be true if . . .
…Jesus Never Affirmed Homosexual Behavior
Just because Jesus healed someone it doesn’t follow that Jesus affirmed everything that person did. When Jesus healed ten lepers, only one of them returned to give God glory for his healing, but that doesn’t mean Jesus endorsed the religious laxity of the other nine (Luke 17:11-19)
Similarly, even if the centurion and his servant had a sexual relationship, does it follow that Jesus’ miracle meant he affirmed the practice of older men purchasing younger male sex slaves? I doubt the revisionist critic would say, “Jesus restores a master-slave relationship by a miracle of healing and then holds up a slave-owner as an example of faith for all to follow.”
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus shows compassion to people in spite of their sins, and his healings and deliverance from harm are invitations to further spiritual salvation. For example, Jesus saved the woman caught in adultery from being executed, not so that she could return to her sinful ways, but so that she could repent of them. That’s why he said to her, “do not sin again” (John 8:11).
That said, there is no evidence that the centurion and his slave actually were involved in a sexual relationship. New Testament professor John Byron writes:
“The Greek noun pais is used in the New Testament twenty-four times and has a range of meanings that include “adolescent,” “child,” and “servant.” [In the Greek Old Testament] it appears numerous times and it always refers to a “servant.” There are no occurrences of the term anywhere in the Bible that can be interpreted a referring to the junior partner in a homosexual relationship.”
Other attempts to tease out of Scripture hidden pro-homosexual meanings are similarly dubious. It’s no wonder, then, that the arguments for a “gay-affirming” Jesus are usually arguments from silence—arguments based on what Jesus did not say. They claim, in so many words, that since Jesus never condemned homosexuality he must not have seen anything wrong with it.
But we actually don’t know if Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, because Jesus said many things that are not recorded in Scripture (John 21:25).
For example, when Paul was in Ephesus he spoke to the elders of the churches there, exhorting them to provide for the needs of the Church in Jerusalem. He then said to them, “In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Even though Paul relates this saying of Jesus in a way that suggests it’s well known, nowhere is it recorded in the Gospels. This is one indication of how some of Jesus’ teachings were not written in the accounts of his life but were passed down through oral means (what Catholics call Sacred Tradition).
Since there is an unbroken tradition of Christians condemning same-sex behavior from the beginning of the Church’s history, we can safely conclude this tradition comes from Jesus and the apostles. Indeed, it would be downright bizarre if Jesus approved of homosexual behavior only to have all his followers teach the opposite—including Paul, whom Jesus chose as an apostle and inspired author but who clearly condemns homosexual behavior in his own writings (Rom. 1:26-28, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, 1 Tim. 1:10).
The Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson is in a legal marriage with another man, yet when it comes to Jesus’ silence on homosexuality he admits, “One cannot extrapolate affirmation of such relationships from that silence.” Robinson instead claims that all “we can safely and responsibly conclude from Jesus’ silence is that He was silent on the issue.”
I wonder if Robinson would likewise say that “all we can safely and responsibly conclude from Jesus’ silence on polygamy, incest, bestiality, idolatry, and child sacrifice is that He was silent on those issues.”
He likely wouldn’t, because Jesus’ affirmation of the Old Testament’s prohibitions on, for example, murder show He would never have supported child sacrifice and so it is an absurd question to ask. Likewise, Jesus’ affirmation of the Old Testament’s prohibitions on sexual immorality show He would never have supported sexual activity between people of the same sex, or any kind of behavior that violated the universal moral law.”
“October 11th was “National Coming Out Day”, and even if you haven’t heard of it, chances are that if you have teens in a public (or even a private) school, they were aware of it.
What does a teen do when faced with acceptance of homosexuality by his or her peers?
What do they say?
In 2017, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines released an ad that went viral on social media, but not for the reasons the company wanted. In an attempt to celebrate “gay pride” month, the ad displayed three sets of “rainbow” airplane seatbelts: one with male and female ends, one with only female ends, and one with only male ends.
The tagline? “It doesn’t matter who you click with.”
The irony of this statement was not lost on social media users as they correctly pointed out that it does matter if your seatbelt can’t actually click to restrain you in an accident. As countless jokes flew across cyberspace, it was good to see people have a moment of clarity in the midst of “gay pride” propaganda.
Everyone knows what a seatbelt is for, and where the parts go, just by looking at it. If you misuse it, you can be seriously injured or killed.
Likewise, we know what our genitals are for and where “the parts” go just by looking at them. And, like seatbelts, if people misuse these parts of the body (including through homosexual behavior) they risk grave physical and spiritual harm.
Both love and reason demand that we not be afraid to defy a wayward culture, and that we use logic to graciously explain why God’s design for our sexuality is the one we must embrace.
Right and Wrong vs. Nice and Nasty
The toughest challenges your teen will face are interactions with friends who either have same-sex attraction or know someone who has those feelings.
Even popular depictions of TV and movie characters who identify as gay or lesbian can reinforce the following idea in your teen’s mind: “I like these people and they’re gay, so I guess being gay isn’t bad after all.” This often leads to the belief that only “haters” or “bigots” would say that these nice people are doing things that could doom their immortal souls.
Even if your teen does believe homosexuality is wrong, he or she may not want to publicly admit it, because that might offend their peers or teachers. That’s why we have to remind our children that everyone struggles with sin, including people we truly like.
An action is not right or wrong because a nice or nasty person committed it. It’s rightness or wrongness comes from whether it corresponds to the natural law (and so it’s right) or it contradicts the natural law (and so it’s wrong).
Here is one of the most common objections that proponents of homosexuality use against natural law arguments – something that your teens are bound to hear:
Claim: “Homosexuality isn’t unnatural, because people don’t choose to be gay. They were born that way.”
Fact: We don’t know exactly what causes people to have same-sex attractions, but genes are not likely the key. Among people with same-sex attractions who have identical (same DNA) twin siblings, it’s common for their twin to be attracted to those of the opposite sex.
But whatever the cause, the belief that same sex attractions are innate (not chosen) does not mean they are natural. You could say, “You know, lots of men feel like they want to have sex with more than one woman. It feels very natural to them, and they may have felt this way that since puberty. But does that make adultery or polyamory natural, or morally right, for humans?” And what of other “sexual orientations” besides just “same sex” or “opposite sex”? I say this delicately, there is a danger in the claim that having a particular sexual desire or orientation means we are “born that way” for some serious (if little talked about) reasons.
When we use our minds and examine the human body, we can see what it is for. Some humans (those with a disorder called pica) have an innate feeling or desire to eat things like glass, hair, or paint, but that doesn’t mean this behavior is natural or healthy.
The digestive system attached to our mouth and throat only makes sense if eating is designed for food. Likewise, the reproductive systems attached to our genitals only make sense if sex is for the “one-flesh”/procreative union that only man and a woman can achieve.”
“In a recent debate on my Facebook page, a woman stated her view on sex: “There is no universal purpose, beauty, or reason to sex—that is up to the individuals to decide for themselves.” Trent has also seen this attitude in a recent documentary he filmed that asked college students, “What is sex for?” The most popular answer was: “That’s up to each person to decide for themselves.”
This is a common belief of millions who claim that sex isn’t “for anything” in particular. Sex can be for pleasure, or recreation, or stress relief, or even a cure for boredom. It can be no more significant or meaningful than eating ice cream!
The best way to get past this “feelings-based” approach to sex is by applying the natural law principles we learned in chapter two.
Remind your teens that they should ask what sex “is for” and use the answer to that question to guide their moral decisions.
Designed for Marital Love
If sex is “just for pleasure,” then why do so many people become distraught when their “significant other” has sex with someone else? This pain—universally understood and documented in literature, songs, and poems throughout millennia—is a huge hint that sex isn’t as casual or meaningless as some people claim it is.
Others say that sex is the way we express a deep emotional connection with another person. But we can have a deep emotional connection to many different people (friends, siblings, parents, children) with whom it would be wrong to have a sexual connection.
So, what distinguishes sexual relationships from all other kinds of human intimacy?
The answer is found in the design of the body.
When we look at the body, including the sexual faculty itself, we see that sex is ordered toward a life-long consequence, i.e., the conception of a child. This truth is like a signpost that men and women should not engage in sex before they’ve made the life-long commitment (marriage) that provides the foundation for the fruit of that act (a baby!).
Of course, many people will say that these consequences can be avoided by contraceptive use (which we will address later), rendering sex outside of marriage “no big deal.” But even if contraception didn’t fail often (and boy, it does), pre-marital sex would still be morally wrong with grave consequences. Why? Because it turns people into liars of the highest order.
Let me explain.
Deceptive Body Language
Your teen will probably agree that, in general, the words we speak should be honest and truthful. But we can also “speak” with our bodies to express ideas. For example, a handshake can mean “pleased to meet you” and a hug can mean “I am here for you.” When people use their bodies to communicate what is not true, they often experience discomfort.
Think about the uneasiness you feel when you’re forced to stand too close to a stranger on a bus or subway. Your bodies are expressing the language of social intimacy because they are so close together, but that intimacy is a lie—you don’t even know each other!
Similarly, sex outside of marriage expresses the intimacy of a permanent one-flesh union, but in a relationship (no matter how long it’s been going on) that has no such commitment.
It is a lie, told through the body, that speaks louder than words.
So, when it comes to sex, a teen girl may feel this discomfort when she doesn’t want the guy to see her naked. She may want to “get it over with” in hopes that sex will lead to a fulfilling relationship. Or, she may be sexually willing, but feel crushed when the boy does not contact her again. Boys, on the other hand, may resist being affectionate after sex or even refuse to talk to the girl they’ve slept with, because they don’t want to express with their hearts the deep, marital love they expressed with their bodies.
This discomfort is not some culturally induced guilt from a bygone era; it’s a strong signal that this type of vulnerable intimacy is only appropriate in the safety of a life-long, exclusive commitment. Sex outside of marriage is wrong because the body turns a beautiful truth (“I reveal and give my whole self to you in an irrevocable gift”) into a selfish and harmful lie. When your teens ask, you can give them a simple, reasonable answer:
Sex exists for the expression of marital love. Sex outside of marriage uses the body to express a permanent, fruitful union of love that doesn’t exist between unmarried couples. Sex outside of marriage is a lie, and we must never lie to the people we claim to love.”
Love & truth,
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine