Men and men; women and women

Let’s discuss an uncomfortable subject: homosexuality and homosexual acts. We are aware that the Church firmly teaches that homosexual acts, being contrary to the natural law, are intrinsically disordered, and under no circumstances can they be approved. (Catechism 2357) We also know that they are condemned in Scripture in no uncertain terms (cf Romans 1). The Catechism continues by pointing out that we must respect those of a homosexual disposition and refrain from unjust discrimination.

Leaving aside authority, we can easily see the strength of the natural law argument. It is clear that homosexual acts (men to men and women to women) involve a mismatch between physical gender and sexual orientation. And, at the biological level, sexual anatomy shows clearly how it should be used. So why are we discussing it if the moral judgment is clear?

Over the past 50 years or so, there has been a gradual change (reflected in legislation) in our culture. This has not been universal, as the Anglican Church has discovered in other territories. Apart from a general liberalisation of sexual taboos, we have come to understand that homosexual orientation need not be a choice of the individual but the outcome of genes, occurrences in the womb and aspects of upbringing. We cannot assume that this orientation is any more chosen than heterosexuals’ choice of their orientation. Indeed the advent of ‘gay marriage’ suggests that our society believes that committed relationships should be treated, mutatis mutandis, on a par with heterosexual marriage.

On his recent return to Rome from Armenia, Pope Francis restated his refusal to judge homosexuals, and that we, and other Christian denominations, should apologise: “I believe that the Church not only must say it’s sorry … to this person that is gay that it has offended,” he said. “But it must say it’s sorry to the poor, also, to mistreated women, to children forced to work….When I say the Church (I mean) Christians, The Church is healthy. We are the sinners.”

But accepting that orientation is not culpable does not excuse approval of its physical expression. Our reaction might be that the inclination may be a cross for those who have it, but it must be borne patiently by those who are afflicted. We may sympathise, but we may not approve.

However a homosexual might take a different view. He (or she) might argue that natural law should not be confined to physical structures, it should take into account psychological structures. Whatever the, perhaps unknown, cause of his orientation, it is natural to him. He might claim, as one homosexual did, that just as I may have an instinctive revulsion at the thought of a homosexual activity, so he has a similar revulsion towards intimate acts with the opposite sex. He is only behaving according to the nature God has given him.

He might go on to argue that, although homosexuals do not as such contribute to reproduction, their contribution to human culture has been huge. It would seem that evolution provides for a small percentage of the population to be homosexuals because, on balance, this contributes to the good of society.

So how do we see this? We might confine ourselves to the words of the Catechism. Or we might claim that the mismatch of homosexuality results in promiscuity, a high tendency to spread infections and, many might think, leads to unsatisfactory relationships . Or we might argue that homosexuality is simply a minority option raising no new moral issues other than those which attend heterosexual activity.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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84 Responses to Men and men; women and women

  1. John Nolan says:

    Two of the greatest 20th century British composers (Britten and Tippett) were homosexuals. The tensions they felt as a result of a sexual orientation which was not regarded as socially acceptable (and until 1967 the physical manifestations of which were criminal) are carried over into their music and arguably enriched it. The tensions in Britten’s music are particularly acute and mark him out as probably the greatest English composer since Purcell.

    Had they lived at a time when homosexual behaviour is not only tolerated but lauded (David Cameron’s effusive encomium on the LGBT ‘Pride’ march last week made me feel a bit queasy) would these tensions have been absent or at least mitigated? Of course Britten is not a ‘gay’ composer and his genius transcends such labels; yet his musical personality cannot be divorced from the circumstances of his personal life. (Had he lived in the 18th century this would have not have mattered, but the romantic, post-romantic, modernist and post-modernist movements all stress the individual and the subjective).

    It is quite possible that the great poet-priest Gerard Manley Hopkins had a homosexual orientation – even before he became a Catholic he made a personal vow of chastity. Would his becoming a celibate priest have resolved any possible tensions? Or would a normal heterosexual male find the renunciation of sex more difficult? It’s a profound question and I would be interested to hear others’ opinions on the matter.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John, all I can say in answer to your question and that is ‘ I am a widow for over 10 years and I do not find that a problem!

    • Quentin says:

      Yes, I understand that he had a homoerotic episode as a young man. Not physical, I imagine. And one or two of his poems, some claim, reflect this. But I didn’t know about his choice of celibacy.

      I do wonder whether the marked presence of homosexuals in the arts is an outcome of their emotional resources. It reminds me of Dorothy Parker’s quip “Verlaine was always chasing Rimbauds’ said, unfortunately, in a girl’s school.

  2. G.D. says:

    I may sound naive in saying this but ……… We see sexuality as chiefly a ‘physical act’ between physical beings (people and animals) but that is only one expression.
    The ‘orientation’ of our personal desire for intimacy with a.n.other has always, it seems, been the chief manifestation of sexuality. Maybe because that is the most available obvious and immediate opportunity?
    We are attracted too and taken over by the desire to be with (ideally as the natural law states) that special person. We ‘fall into love’ ‘loose ourselves’ in the other. Desire to reproduce (create) in our own image (a natural outcome if not interfered with). (……….. Which seems like a reflection of the ‘Trinity’ to me …. )

    So …. Is not the foundation of the Sexual instinct (to create) an attempt to imitate (in our ‘fallen’ physical state) the Creativity of God? Is that the reason why chastity, in accord with the natural law, with one partner is so important?

    But, there has always been deviations from that obviously natural physical sexuality as we now know it. (By analogy it’s possible to see physical sexuality originally as single cells joining together to create a more complex unity!).
    Homosexuality has been around in all cultures of all ages, some even accepting it as natural.
    Some personal sexual creative urges have been so twisted, so far from the natural law, that in many many ways they manifests in horrendous destruction. Not just in ‘physical sexual’ expressions, which are bad enough, but also in seeking power wealth and control for one’s self and ‘loved ones’ only. ‘My kingdom’ – the opposite oftrue creativity.
    Any creative endeavour of mankind is an attempt to reproduce some manifestation of ‘perfection’. To create in imitation of the Perfection that is ‘God’ maybe? And is prone to the ‘sin’ we all suffer from.
    Using sexual energy (urges) to create anything (music, building, art, science etc) is just as much a manifestation of sexuality – for good or ill.

    I often wonder …. would it be more in keeping with the original creation, and ‘law’ prior to natural law, to do away with physical intimacy and reproduction, and direct the sexual desire to seeking God? If one is enabled to do so of course. Is that why celibacy is seen as so ‘important’ by some?

    At least then the human race could die out willingly in one great act of creative impulse! (I jest … I think!).

    • St.Joseph says:

      G.D.
      You have written such a perfect description of the human race that the Lord made us in the beginning.
      It is not only homosexual relationships that are imperfect .
      It is prostitution etc,etc etc; not the way God wants us to live in the state he made us in the beginning.

  3. Nektarios says:

    It is important to bear in mind, that the Apostle Paul writing the Epistle to the Romans, is not writing to the world at large, but to the Church.

    Another thing to bear in mind is, the Apostle is not giving his opinion, but it is the very inspired word of God to His people. Therefore, the injunction, is not for us as children of God to argue the issue,
    it is a direct command to His people to adhere to and obey.

    In Romans 1, where the issue of homosexuality and the way they will behave, is only one sin that is mentioned. Several other sins are mentioned, then the Apostle under inspiration of the Holy Ghost
    says, ‘let not it me once mentioned among you.’

    In this sinful fallen world, rebellious towards God in all His ways, we can expect to see this sort of sexual perversion and other sinful outpouring of a sinful fallen nature going on.
    And, it is clear from Scriptures, ‘that some of you were like that.’

    To me the problem is not that there are homosexuals in the Church so much, as understanding God’s word concerning a person who was in the world, dead in trespasses and sin, and is now alive in Christ where no sin exits. The believer in Christ is meant to be full of this life, and understanding.

    If a person was a homosexual before becoming a Child of God, because he yet lives in this body of sin and death, then extracting oneself from it to live in the new life in Christ may take time. However no Christian living a sexual deviant life will be happy in it anymore.

    If a person wants to argue that they are happy being a homosexual, attribute it to the way God has made them that way, is not a true Christian, and is deluded and deluding him/herself. Worse, such make God the author of their sins.

    We are where we are today in political/ social and religious, not to mention legal acceptance of what is because of sin, a distortion in ones nature.
    Left to themselves the world can do nothing about it. But, if one is truly a child of God, then, having a new nature that is above it, see it for what it is in relation to God’s will as given to the Romans and therefore to us, ‘let it not be once mentioned among you.’

    Clearly some are not listening to what God through His Apostle is saying to us His Children, but choose to be disobedient. This is a dangerous course of action for the soul to be in, the ramification of which could make shipwreck of their faith.

  4. Hock says:

    The Church , and wider humanity, have unnecessarily tied themselves up in knots with the issue of what is termed homosexuality and practices akin to it. Eg. lesbianism.
    In fact nowhere in the bible is there a word akin to ‘homosexuality.’ This word is a man-made description first used about 150 years ago. Just like the word ‘gay’ is only a recent description of a kind of personality that finds sexual attraction in someone of the same gender.
    Had humanity not chosen to label this attraction as homosexuality and given this word to it then we would not be where we are today where we attribute certain human characteristic to homosexuals as though they were not as prevalent in the rest of humankind. Eg. Gay people have many attributes in the world of music and the arts where there sexual tastes for someone of the same gender somehow make them more talented in certain ways. This is utter nonsense.
    What the Bible condemns is men sleeping with men and women engaging in unnatural relations. It does not give them a little box all of their own in which the rest of humankind can safely place them.
    Had the words of homosexuality and lesbianism not been invented then what we would be left with what is human sexual behaviour which covers a wide spectrum that involves the whole of humanity. Some of these behaviors are sinful, some are criminal and some offend God.
    Th Church has added to the complexity of it all by adding words such as ‘intrinsically disordered’ when all that is needed is the time honoured moral stance that sex is sinful when it is not part of a valid marriage ( and of an act that is not open to new life.)

    • Vincent says:

      “all that is needed is the time honoured moral stance that sex is sinful when it is not part of a valid marriage ( and of an act that is not open to new life.)”

      Could you outline your argument for this statement, please. Being “time honoured” is an observation not a reason.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Hock.
        The same as ‘sex workers’ in employment. subject to being taxable.!

      • pnyikos says:

        Vincent,

        While “time honoured” is not a reason, it clearly refers to the teaching of the Catholic Church down through the ages. While Pope Francis garners headlines for statements that do not refer to this rock-bottom teaching of the Church, he would be rash to the nth degree to change any feature of this teaching.

        I think Jesus’s words on the indissolubility of marriage, and Paul’s words against fornication, and his comments on homosexual urges [men burning with desire for men, etc.] are sufficient reasons for this teaching. Do you disagree?

    • Vincent says:

      Pnyikos, I am not disagreeing with you. Just wondering why Hock appeared to be excluding ‘intrinsically disordered’, when that is specified in the Catechism in relation to homosexual acts. Since this is based on the physical nature of the participants it might be interesting to investigate whether their psychological elements are equally relevant.

  5. Iona says:

    “Or we might claim that the mismatch of homosexuality results in promiscuity, a high tendency to spread infections and, many might think, leads to unsatisfactory relationships ”

    Statistically this is in fact the case, I believe? – at least, among male homosexuals, not so sure about lesbians.
    I appreciate Hock’s description of “a little box all of their own”. It does seem, however, that more and more people, not necessarily straightforwardly homosexual, are climbing into that box and pushing at the sides and making it bigger, and claiming that they need special consideration. The box is now called LGBT, or sometimes LBGTI or LGBTIQ,

  6. John Nolan says:

    We also have to take into account that an unnatural sexual orientation (towards persons of the same sex, towards pre-pubescent children – as identified by Krafft-Ebing in the 1880s as paedophilia erotica – towards animals) was long considered a mental illness. It is no longer deemed so.

    All the same, I would ask those who claim that there were societies which accepted same-sex relations as ‘normal’ to cite some examples. The Romans saw sodomy as a way of demonstrating superiority over conquered peoples, but it would have been unthinkable for an adult Roman to allow himself to be sodomized. And oral sex was not acceptable since the mouth (os, oris) was the vehicle of oratory and could not be contaminated.

  7. ignatius says:

    I wonder when was the last time any of you sat and talked with homosexuals who are Christians?

    In answer to an earlier question:
    “Would his becoming a celibate priest have resolved any possible tensions? Or would a normal heterosexual male find the renunciation of sex more difficult? It’s a profound question and I would be interested to hear others’ opinions on the matter. ”

    Well I don’t know John but it seems to me that the sexual drive is what it is for each individual. Men who are attracted to men seem to be so some times in quite a straightforward manner which, I should imagine, is similar for heterosexual attachments, profound infatuation having a sexual focus.
    Personally I agree with Quentins last option, that homosexual issues add no extra moral issues other than those contained within heterosexuality, in other words chastity outside of marriage (or civil partnership)
    Probably my view is informed by the fact that the prayer group I run is largely comprised of persons convicted of sexual deviancy. It might also be that, in prison chaplaincy, the luxury of a judgemental approach cannot be sustained.For whatever reason I cannot avoid the sneaking conviction that the view expressed by Nektarios below, represents nothing more or less than what might be termed those of the Christian Pharisee:
    “.. But, if one is truly a child of God, then, having a new nature that is above it, see it for what it is in relation to God’s will as given to the Romans and therefore to us, ‘let it not be once mentioned among you…”
    When we use the term ‘homosexual’ or ‘paedophile’we tend to reduce the person we are talking about to a category, an object. In fact these persons too are human beings, sinners like us, and unable to control certain aspects of their desires, as we ourselves are.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Ignatius.
      I thought Nektarios made a very accurate post as to how a Christian ought to live their life in Christ.
      No man can have two Masters! He either loves one and hates the other or hates one and loves the other!

      • St.Joseph says:

        Vincent.
        You Say ‘Husband should love their wives-wives should obey their husbands.
        This is correct in the sense that it is written- note the word ‘love’
        If a husband loves his wife and protects her as he should-like St Joseph protected Our Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus-it is obvious that his wife must obey him.
        He is expected to be head of the family.!

    • Nektarios says:

      Ignatius

      You posted, ‘ I cannot avoid the sneaking conviction that the view expressed by Nektarios below, represents nothing more or less than what might be termed those of the Christian Pharisee:

      I remind you, that this is an Apostles letter to the Church then and to all generations till the end of time.
      It is not me you are denigrating but the Apostle Paul, the Apostolic teaching and all that the Scriptures teach, all that history teaches us.

      I find it strange – you see, anyone who is truly a Christian, truly a believer in Christ, born of the Spirit of God, understands only to well themselves, that of themselves they have no righteousness of their own before God. So your sneaky conviction about me being a Christian Pharisee is not only without foundation, but a total contradiction in terms.

      • ignatius says:

        Rubbish.

      • Vincent says:

        I think we need to bring our judgment to bear on the imperatives and prohibitions of the New Testament (and indeed the Old Testament). This is similar to our understanding that the creation of the world in 6 days is not literally true, but expressed in a form which the first readers could understand.

        So we are told that husbands should love their wives, and that wives should obey their husbands; this of course fitted well with the culture of the times but would scarcely do so now. Ask my wife!

        The condemnation of homosexuality in Paul, or in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, appears to be referring to lustful orgies, not to homosexual couples who use their sexuality as a way of expressing a loving commitment. it was assumed that a homosexual act was the province of debauched people who had deliberately chosen to defy the norm. Much the same might be said today of ‘wife-swapping’ parties. Nothing of course was known at that time of the psychology of homosexuality or the role it could play in society. (Except perhaps among the ancient Greeks where it served as a way of introducing youths to manhood.)

  8. Alan says:

    Native American culture accepted homosexuals and homosexual relationships so a native American tells me.
    I wonder whether promiscuity is such a problem within cultures that aren’t, or haven’t in the past been, so disapproving.

    • pnyikos says:

      Alan,
      American though I am, I have never seen any indication that all Native American tribes accepted homosexuals and homosexual relationships. You ought to cross-examine your native American friend as to which tribe [s]he belongs to, and what other tribes [s]he has such detailed knowledge of, that [s]he can make such an authoritative claim about.

    • Alan says:

      He is Hopi pnyikos. It was a while ago that he talked about “two spirit” people and how they were viewed. Perhaps not widespread throughout the tribes, but not obviously problematic where it existed.

      • pnyikos says:

        Alan,
        Your Hopi acquaintance’s claim runs counter to a factoid in wide circulation in LGBT circles, viz., that the whole concept of homosexuality was unknown until a century and a half ago. repeated by Hock right on this blog. By that time, Native American tribes were very much in decline and also very much influenced by some of the ways of Europeans. This even calls into question whether anthropologists are able to ascertain the attitudes of Native Americans towards homosexuals when their culture was still in its primitive state.

        Peter Nyikos

      • Alan says:

        Peter, you feel that we might not be able to accurately identify the nature of the relationships described in these accounts?

  9. Michael says:

    Thanks Quentin – an uncomfortable subject ?

    This might be a more “comfortable” one

    Let’s discuss an uncomfortable subject: homosexuality and homosexual acts; heterosexuality and heterosexual acts.

    Or maybe

    Let’s discuss an uncomfortable subject: humanity.

    How to frame the question is just as valuable like the recent British referendum showed?

  10. ignatius says:

    Yes, I think you are closer to it here.

  11. Nektarios says:

    Ignatius, has no argument to what I said to him, just a dismissive ‘Rubbish’ he could not be more wrong, but we will probably have to wait in vain for a reasonable and biblical argument.

    Vincent, on the other hand is like so many these days, are liberals and secularists. His comments are their positions on homosexuality. So may within the Church are apologists for the liberal and secular position.

    • ignatius says:

      Lets have it then:
      “I remind you, that this is an Apostles letter to the Church then and to all generations till the end of time. It is not me you are denigrating but the Apostle Paul, the Apostolic teaching and all that the Scriptures teach, all that history teaches us…”
      This sort of pomposity so well demonstrates a mindset which cherry picks a tiny segment of scripture claiming in it complete authority for its own myopic view. Showing complete disregard for the manifold warning in scripture against judgment: (matthew 9v13, Hosea ch 6 just for a simple start). Here we have a legalist view, picking a line or two which suits it then constructing a platform from which to hector, rant, bully and threaten. It does strike me as ironic that the great apostle Paul who never ceased to bewail and despise his former pharisaic status, should be so often misquoted thus and paraded as if it were the entire word of God. This, in my view, is a shameful use of scripture.
      As I understand it, in trying to balance mercy judgement and scripture, Catholic teaching is quite clear. Homosexual acts constitute grave sin if these acts are committed persistently, wilfully and in deliberate defiance of a fully informed conscience which is clear that the course it is pursuing is contrary to the will of God. For this reason those of homosexual orientation are urged to chastity.
      Of course it is very difficult to plumb the intention of the human heart or its condition or precondition. Only the Spirit of God is capable which is why we are warned strongly against judgement as to who is or is not a ‘child of God’ (Nektarios july 1st 1:08pm) If Pope Francis will not judge the man who comes before God as a homosexual then neither shall I.

      • Nektarios says:

        Ignatius
        If you take a biblical position as I do, then we have nothing to argue about.
        Of a truth, Ignatius, I am neither judging another nor ranting, just not my style.
        However I do take a stance between Scriptures and public opinion and where it differs
        I take my stand on Holy Scriptures.

        I am not taking one verse and picking a line or two which suits it then constructing a platform from which to hector, rant, bully and threaten. I could have gone all through Holy Scriptures on this as many other issues that plague humanity and society today, but there is not much change there, for man does not change.
        Word limitation on the blog limits somewhat what one could say.

        Lastly, while the Roman Catholic Church address its view on homosexuality as do other on the whole of society, All the Epistles in the New Testament are in fact addressed to the Church as I have said earlier.

        The world outside the Church needs the Gospel and those within need the scriptural and spiritual teaching. That is not meant to be argued over as many do, but with prayer and reverence it is not an option, but something that is to be believed by all and obey and followed by all in Christ, for God would have all His children Holy even as He is Holy.

        Lastly, a truly spiritual understanding in Christ, is far from being myopic, as it is from above, enlightening the heart and mind, and is eternal in understanding having been given by the Holy Spirit.

        Now then, Ignatius, I have restated what I said earlier, and where is the hectoring, then or now in this posting, where is the ranting, cherry-picking as you call it – it just isn’t there then or in this posting is it?

  12. pnyikos says:

    I have been thinking “outside the box” where new laws (and executive orders, like Obama’s recent one that I hope everyone here knows about) now mandate access to women’s rest rooms by transgendered people. It occurred to me a few days ago that a transgendered person who is strongly attracted to someone of the same sex could pose indefinitely as a member of the opposite sex by always using the rest rooms, changing rooms, etc. of the opposite sex.

    As long as such a person restricts sexual relations to those acts which do not expose his/her genitalia, and is suitably “modest” about not undressing fully, the charade could be kept up for a long time.

    This scenario must have occurred to others, but it takes courage to brave the almost inevitable attacks of “homophobia” that will reflexively follow from certain quarters if it is mentioned in most public forums. But let’s face it: chronic dishonesty is widespread in this world, not just among politicians and con artists. Innumerable people have in fact misled others in sexual matters, and only a naive personwould claim that such scenarios are out of the question. [The usual taunt to expect from promoters of a LGBT agenda is, “Unless you know of such a case personally, it is baseless speculation to talk about them.”]

    • Alan says:

      I don’t really understand what the concern is pnyikos. Given that homosexual people already have access to rest rooms used by the gender they are sexually attracted to, what is the additional risk of the circumstances you describe?

      • pnyikos says:

        Alan, one concern is that the person being deceived might be a Christian who has dreams of getting married and starting a family, and is under the false impression that this person with a romantic seeming interest is a member of the opposite sex.

      • Alan says:

        I see. I hadn’t realised you were talking about the possibility of deception within a relationship. Something so important to a relationship that was deliberately hidden from a partner would be entirely unacceptable in my view.

  13. Hock says:

    Having returned after many interim posters to the subject of this blog I would just reply to Vincent (above) that the ‘time honoured’ etc. statement of the teaching of the Church can be summed up by: ” Sex is for marriage which is between a man and woman, and founded on chastity before marriage and fidelity in marriage.”
    The words ‘intrinsically disordered’ as they appear in the Catechism are true if applied to many expressions of sexuality but when confined to what we now call homosexuality it just adds to the confusion.

  14. ignatius says:

    Hock,
    Yes I think this is a good point. The words “gravely” and “intrinsically” disordered are applied quite widely, masturbation for example being classed as a gravely disordered act.

  15. St.Joseph says:

    Sometimes I think that some men really are more attracted to men because they are a bit scared of females, boys will be boys. No women at home to nag them. or no responsibilities. etc.

    • ignatius says:

      St Joseph, Yes I think you are right about that !! Also it is the case that physical attraction has partly a hormonal basis which means that we are attracted to others in a manner we cannot always understand; pheromones are not always respecters of cultural boundaries. I live in a houseful of women and the college I teach in has an all female senior management team so I breathe a sigh of relief on the days I get within the ordered, calm, clearly structured regime of a mens prison!!

  16. Martha says:

    I wonder if there is any connection with the schoolgirl crushes which used to focus on older girls or teachers, and could be very intense, I don’t know whether there were or are equivalents in boys’ schools. Perhaps it was just lack of opportunities for meeting much with the opposite sex as used to be the case in the forces, and must be in men’s prisons.

    I also wonder about Platonic friendships. It was very common after two World Wars when so many males were killed, for two ladies to live together as friends. Certainly this was what we assumed, and probably that was the situation in most cases.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Martha.
      I see what you mean.
      This is where the Christian faith with the knowledge of our spiritual relationship with God, and the Blessed Sacrament. there can be no confusion between the right and wrong of a sexual relationship with same sex couples. no more can the sexual abuse of children. Also other sexual sins like prostitution (,masturbation by young boys until they mature probably understandable).
      I have only found out what dogging is, as a neighbour and her husband went for a nice ride out to be confronted by that in a beauty spot. How disgusting is that! Sorry Quentin it is in the Dictionary I just looked it up!

    • ignatius says:

      I guess most friendships are ‘platonic’ Martha. I lived in all male households for years before I married, without any hint of sexual overtone. But it is also the case that same sex attractions can co exist with what are primarily hetero sexual relationships. By which I mean that individuals who are overwhelmingly heterosexual in disposition can find themselves unaccountably ‘attracted’ to members of the same sex in the form of ‘crushes’. Mostly these things go unspoken and unheeded, but occasionally (usually after a few drinks) they are acted upon, producing only confusion and thoughts of bisexuality.

      • Martha says:

        As you say, Ignatius, unheeded, as it all might be if some practising “gay’ people were not so militant, with gay pride marches, and gay characters in so many plays and soaps, seemingly out of all proportion to their actual percentage in the population, and deliberate setups like demanding a wedding cake from a known Christian bakery.

        I think St. Joseph is right, that Christian teaching should be clear, but that does not usually mean holding people to account for breaking some of the other commandments, such as not worshipping God at Mass on Sundays. As for ‘dogging,’ I think public heterosexual activity and display is also offensive.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Martha.
        You are right in what you say about practicing Sunday obligation.
        The sins that offend society and its effects on our religious beliefs and are legal, we don’t seem to be at liberty to defend our faith on issues such as the law on same sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia, easy access to pornography, lawful prostitution etc.
        We are still a Christian country with our Queen as head of the Anglican Church, One can not watch TV now without some form of indecency coming on the screen,
        If we complain we are considered as bigots! Or unchristian!! and we should live and let live!
        Where is the law to say that we are ‘offended’ as Christians- who defends our rights to and complain.
        As long as we don’t offend others we can be offended and stay silent. Because it is the Law.

    • pnyikos says:

      Martha,

      Back in the days when I read about schoolgirl crushes, it was so long ago that there was no indication that there was a sexual dimension to the crush. The crush might have been completely Platonic.

      I had a number of crushes on girls and women with no sexual dimension whatsoever. Conversely, there were a great many girls and women that I had intense sexual feelings for, and for whom I had no romantic interest in at all, and only three whom I fell in love with. One of them is my wife.

      C. S. Lewis wrote a Screwtape Letter about this very topic, and had Screwtape strongly contrast the types of women for whom men generally have the two types of attraction.

      • Martha says:

        Thank you, pnyikos, I will look at that. Another classic which I read many years ago, and did not fully understand then, might be worth looking at again also, is, The Mind and Heart of Love, by Fr. Martin D’Arcy SJ.

  17. ignatius says:

    Final word on the subject. I’ve wracked my brains on this subject for several years now and cannot come to a settled view. This is because, pastorally, I cannot demand of another individual that which I cannot myself pursue. By this I mean that celibacy has simply not for me, chastity in marriage is the most I have been able to submit to and even in this state there have been a few close corners. So for the christian homosexual couples I know, I am unwilling to judge their state because I think, along with the Apostle Paul in his Corinthian letter, that it is better to marry than to burn. I do not think that Pope Francis seeks to set a new agenda regarding homosexuality but rather that he sees the subject as having lower priority than that of humility and trust that the God of the earth shall do what is right. By this I intend that there are many issues about which we simply cannot legislate and are emphatically not called to do so. Mostly our desire to judge reveals more about ourselves than about the objects of our judgement.

  18. St.Joseph says:

    Ignatius.
    Yes it is so much easier to stick our head in the sand and ignore that which is sin , however we understand as Christians-we love the sinner and hate the sin.
    Jesus told His Apostles to go and preach the Gospel to the whole world!
    How else will they know if we do not tell them? We will be ‘judged’ by God if we do not evangelize.

    • ignatius says:

      Hi St Joseph,
      I don’t think its a matter of ignoring sin. Put on a clerical collar, say you are a catholic and you will find no one in any doubt about what the church says about the various issues of sexuality.

      What should I do St Joseph, what pragmatically speaking would you reccomend? How do you think I should go about ‘loving the sinner but hating the sin’? I will tell you this simple thing and you can judge for yourself. Most people who practice their homosexual orientation know the Catholic view, they are not, as far as I know, fools or retards but ordinary people in ordinary jobs etc who believe their relationships to be as honest and loving as I believe mine to be with my wife. What should I do St Joseph? go to their houses each morning and shout through their letterboxes? Perhaps I should refuse to associate with them? ..maybe I could walk inn font of them down the street with a placard draped round my neck “repent” painted on it in large letters?

      You see St Joseph I am not much interested in abstract religious thinking, I don’t value it very much. But I am concerned with action, both of the heart and of the deed. My choice is to talk about these subjects if and when appropriate but otherwise not to judge at all and to leave these things to God, I’m happy to be judged on that when the day comes.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Ignatius.
        I think that putting on a Clerical Collar doesn’t confirm our Catholic faith so much since the scandals of paedophiles.
        The remarks as to what you say ‘asking me what you should do’, is rather a little far fetched .
        Go Ye Forth and ‘teach’ all Nations’,! Each to their own calling! Laity included!
        You obviously know yours as I know mine , however we don’t speak for others as if it is not the Lords Will.! We all must pull our weight on the plough, it is needed more so now than ever also with prayer which is so important something we can all do if nothing else;

  19. Hock says:

    Judging others whilst not judging ourselves seems an obvious conclusion to arrive at, and hypocritical too !
    However judges who are inevitably sinners like the rest of us sit in judgement and we recognise that they need to do so to protect society from criminality.
    It is no different for the Church. Its many failings and those failings of its adherents, do not remove the need to give clear teaching on matters of moral behaviour.

    • ignatius says:

      Hock,
      Thats right. The Catholic Church does give clear teaching on moral behaviour, the catechism is a marvellous document of morality with enough guidelines for most. I recently ran a course for prisoners on Holiness, Sin, Righteousness and Goodness, based almost entirely on material drawn from the catechism. The point about judgement of one another is that we are simply not called to exercise a judging faculty at all, unless that is, our role in the church calls for it.

      You or I, are unlikely to ever have to decide who shall or shall not be barred from Eucharist, excommunicated or indeed disciplined in any way on matters of Church discipline. It is frankly not our business as not many of us should seek the offices of teacher apostle or judge, these are given by others.

      What is our business, Hock, and what speaks very loud and with crystal clarity from practically every page of scripture is that we should act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with our God whom we must love with all of our heart all of our mind and all of our soul then love our neighbour as ourselves. In loving our neighbour as ourselves we remind ourselves that love is patient , love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

      So then, when we have managed to act this way to others from the heart, we can be sure that we are faithful servants, not masters or judges. Pope John 23rd had a daily decalogue which he tried to observe, I have it on my wall and number two reads thus:
      “Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself..”
      Pope Francis has these things in mind, I suspect, when he refuses to judge on the issues under discussion in this thread, many would call this weakness, I would not.

  20. Vincent says:

    The Gospel to day makes it clear that homosexuality is a lesser sin than rejecting the Good News of Christ. The 72 disciples sent out by Jesus are told that where they are not welcomed, “it will not go as hard with Sodom as with that town.”

  21. ignatius says:

    Vincent, Yes, I noticed that too when I was reading it. A good example of the way scripture speaks on subjects across a very broad field and how an overall orientation is not gained by simply majoring on two or three texts to support a doctrinal issue.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Ignatius and Vincent.
      We have a sermon from the priest to explain the Gospel as it is easy to misinterpret it.
      Sodom had not heard the Gospel, so therefore they would be less punished than when Sodom did hear it. Then when they do they will be judged for not heeding it
      There is no teaching in scripture that says homosexual acts between same sex is not a grave sin.

      • Vincent says:

        Strictly, St Joseph, homosexual acts are not grave sin — just grave matter. Full knowledge and full consent are needed to turn it into a grave sin. I daresay that many homosexuals do not sin at all — believing that their acts are good or, at least, not evil.
        I was not attempting to make a big theological point — I was just suggesting that our human judgement of the seriousness of potentially sinful acts does not necessarily conform to God’s view of the matter.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Vincent ‘exactly what I was referring to’. Homosexuality in itself is not a grave sin unless accompanied with acts of sexuality with same sex relations.
        There are lots of people who do not believe in the Gospel as we read it but those who have the opportunity to ‘now’ read it and turn their back on it. God will judge them in His own way.
        That does not mean to say that we as Christians should believe in every word that the wind blows in against it! We as Christians have an obligation to ‘reveal’ the Gospel to all the four corners of the earth!
        Trying to excuse Gods Word to those who do not listen, we do not have to love them less by telling them the Truth, that is what True love of God first and our neighbour as our self.
        Do others as would be done to us.
        The first and second Commandment!

      • St.Joseph says:

        Vincent.
        Perhaps you did not read Romans 1. That Quentin wrote in his opening post.
        I think that speaks for its self.

      • Vincent says:

        Yes, historically that passage has led to great cruelties in this country, and ,still today, to great cruelties in other countries. So you must be wondering why Pope Francis refuses to condemn individual homosexuals, and the Church requires us to respect them and to avoid unjust discrimination. Is it possible that we now know somewhat more about homosexuality than 2000 years ago?

      • St.Joseph says:

        Vincent.
        Yes you are right as I said before ‘we love the sinner but not the sin.
        That is not saying that we have to agree, that is not Gods Will .
        We all have human temptations of one sort or another, it is not always easy especially for those who do not ask God for the Grace to save us from our sins.
        Other wise Jesus and His Apostles died for nothing It was for our sins He died
        .
        The Holy Father’s comments sometimes are very controversial and they are very easy for those who like to interpret it to suit themselves as to what he is saying!!

  22. ignatius says:

    St Joseph,
    I think it is good that putting on a clerical collar shouldn’t carry the full burden of righteousness, otherwise who could stand?
    But you may be pleased to know that when I walk around the highly popular local Stately home, lake and gardens wearing my clerics I am rarely scowled at or spat upon or called “Paedo”

    Mostly it is a huge pleasure to be able to walk around with a smile for everyone and to see a genuine happiness in some for visible evidence of the Church. Joy in the gospel has by no means departed our land St Joseph!

  23. Hock says:

    Vincent makes a massive leap by linking today’s Gospel reading to homosexuality and some kind of hierarchy of sinfulness. It has to be read in its entirety to elicit the meaning of it and it has nothing to do with same sex relationships.

  24. ignatius says:

    “Yes, historically that passage has led to great cruelties in this country, and ,still today, to great cruelties in other countries. So you must be wondering why Pope Francis refuses to condemn individual homosexuals, and the Church requires us to respect them and to avoid unjust discrimination..” (Vincent July4th 11.27)

    As Vincent intimates Romans 1, if applied unchecked leads to atrocity..perhaps we should join in and throw all who offend our sensibilities from the tops of our cathedrals?
    It is worth noting St Paul on obedience to authority in Romans 13:

    13:1 Let every person be submissive to the governing authorities
    13:2 For (gavr) there is no authority except [that which is given] by God and those who are appointed by God.
    13:3 Consequently (w{ste) the one who resists authority, opposes the institution of God, and those who do so will receive judgment on themselves.

    The governing authority here has outlawed any discrimination against homosexuality and so to air the views expressed here constitute our ‘opposing the institution of God ‘ and thus render us liable to judgement ourselves.
    I make this point simply to underline the absurdity of trying to pull rulings from a couple of verses of Romans in order to justify ourselves, our thoughts, the attitudes of our hearts or, indeed, our behaviour.

  25. John Nolan says:

    Ignatius has made some excellent points on this thread, but I’m somewhat confused by his last comment. The ‘governing authority’ only acts legitimately if it acts in ways not contrary to natural moral law. We recently had a thread about Church and State in which I was at pains to point this out.

    ‘Discrimination against homosexuality’ is what most of us do; we choose not to go down this path. Discrimination against practising homosexuals is more problematic – the Church quite rightly will not consider them for ordination, and the same would apply to a man who was a heterosexual fornicator. In recent times an army officer who committed adultery with the wife of a brother officer would have been required to leave the regiment, and it is lawful for a Catholic school to discriminate against those whose private lives are not compatible with Catholic teaching. This would apply to those in legally recognized same-sex unions.

  26. ignatius says:

    John,
    Yes, the point I was making was really to do with the way we interpret scripture and the need to contextualise. So that if we just take bald statements from the Book of Romans , or any other book of the bible and try to apply them literally then we come up with results to suit ourselves.

    So if I wanted to put a literal spin for today on to scripture then I could interpret Romans 13 to support the current ruling of our governing institutions regarding homosexuality If I had said:
    “..The governing authority here has outlawed any discrimination against homosexuality..”

    then the point would have perhaps been clearer made. I think the good thing about this discussion is that it is beginning to broaden out our thinking beyond a literal focus on a couple of well known texts.

  27. G.D. says:

    Interesting word ‘discrimination’ . Is it ‘prejudice’ or ‘discernment’? – it can literally mean both.
    What does it actually mean in practice?

    Is it unjust treatment or recognition of difference?

    Can either literal meaning stand without the other, or do they make a nonsense (literally) of the word? And therefore of the meaning(s) of judgement (assessment or verdict) as we understand it.
    Or is it a whole different concept; despite either of the ‘literal’ meanings placed on it?
    As with scripture!

    • G.D. says:

      Just throwing that into the discussion to try and judge what is morally right for me to do?
      Or should i say discern what is correct?

      And, is there any difference?

      Or should i not bother with either and just and just ……

      …. Live as i believe I should, allow others do the same. Respond to the consequences as i believe i should. Accept any prejudices without acquiescing. Not accepting verdicts of condemnation, and not retaliating from my own verdicts? … Ad infinitum.
      All with peace and love of course.

      Nah, it’s easier to judge and be right!

      • St.Joseph says:

        Martha made the comment on July 2 at 7.29pm. which shows how same sex relationship fell into dispute within the public eye,
        They brought on any discrimination on themselves with the Gay Pride marches .
        Also their Gay Masses in Warwick St London. Also the way they treated the Cardinal in New York pulling him from his pulpit during his sermon at Holy Mass.
        I don’t think many discriminated against homosexuality any more than other their private way of life.
        Scandals were caused by the way the actions of the meeting in Parks and toilets, so perhaps the law was right to change.
        So one or two bites of the apple turned into eating the whole apple and continued into civil union , ok no one said much about that, then of marriage which did then interfere with the marriage between male and female- then 2 fathers and two mothers,
        I was in the Licensed Trade and where we were in the company of same sex partners many friends and friends off spring ( question Ignatius asked). They were treated the same as any person would who acted indecently in public, and if violent were barred,
        We ought not to be surprised when homosexuality partners are considered to be the same as a Christian marriage it goes all against the believe of the way God made marriage in the beginning. That is not discrimination.

      • Martha says:

        G.D., accept without acquiescing, thank you for this. It is a wonderful phrase which is useful and relevant to many situations which we have to deal with in our personal relations with people in our lives, especially in our own families. In political matters, such as trying to influence our MP’s, and the media, in my own case very slightly, just little drops of water adding to the stream, acceptance is more in question.

  28. Martha says:

    St. Joseph, your remarks about the way God made marriage in the beginning seem to be reinforced by a recent report from Public Health England.

    Today’s Daily Mail, (apologies to those who dislike this source of information, this is facts not opinion) quoting from this report, gives alarming statistics showing increases in STI’s in the gay population between 2012 and 2015, syphilis up 76% and gonorrhoea 53% and other figures shown in charts.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3674847/Soaring-numbers-gay-men-diagnosed-gonorrhoea-syphilis-25s-worst-spreading-chlamydia.html

  29. John Nolan says:

    The Church’s moral teaching is quite clear. This might make a lot of us feel uneasy, myself included. However, I would not suggest that the doctrine has to be changed in order to encompass my choices. Ignatius – we don’t, as Catholics, interpret Scripture in the way that Protestants do. Should you wish to dwell on certain texts and give less emphasis to others, you are entitled to do so as a matter of opinion. But your opinion, or mine, is of no consequence whatsoever.

  30. ignatius says:

    Yes, and that’s quite a liberating thing I find, John. You’ve hit on something quite helpful there. I don’t really need to have an opinion about the colour of the tarmac and nothing I can do will change it, but I do have to stick to the road. It is an underlying truth which is really helpful when discussing otherwise tricky issues with people; thanks for that
    .

  31. G.D. says:

    As i said when commenting on ‘discrimination’ …. ‘Or is it a whole different concept; despite either of the ‘literal’ meanings placed on it?
    As with scripture!’ ………..

  32. pnyikos says:

    Today, I received an e-mail from someone who naively sent a letter to Pope Francis encouraging the Pope to change the teaching of the Catholic Church by declaring that homosexuality is not a sin. I sent him the following reply which I hope will be of help to him:

    You are making a category mistake owing to an ambiguity in the word “homosexuality”. It is only active sexual behavior between people of the same sex that is considered to be sinful by most Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic. And it makes no difference what the orientation of the person is, otherwise all cases of sodomy in prisons by otherwise “straight” people would be examples of “homosexual behavior.” And gays specifically disavow such sodomites as one of their own, while Christian denominations condemn their behavior.

    Homosexual orientation is not sinful, it is only considered to be a source of temptation to sin, just as heterosexual orientation is a source of temptation of unmarried people to fornication, which these denominations also consider to be sinful; it is often also a source of temptation of married people to adultery, which is specifically forbidden by one of the ten commandments, while just the planning of adulterous acts is also forbidden by another one of them.

    Unfortunately, you almost never see these facts laid out on the internet. Most of the LGBT bloggers find it convenient to ignore them, while most of the people arguing against them are homophobes who are ignorant of these facts.

    Best wishes,

    Peter Nyikos

    PS Thank you for sending me this; it gave me the stimulus to compose a little essay that I can use again in the future. I hope it also helped clarify things for you.

  33. St.Joseph says:

    pnyikos.
    Thank you for sharing that.
    I don’t know if you are aware of the Catholic Organisations who help homosexuals to live a chaste life. ‘Courage’ is one of many.!
    The Lord does not leave us wanting!

  34. ignatius says:

    I once had a friend who worked for ‘Courage’ This link makes interesting reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courage_UK

  35. St.Joseph says:

    pnyikos.
    Don’t look at ‘COURAGE UK’ it should not be confused with ‘COURAGE INTERNATIONAL’!!!!!!!! See that one if you want the RC one!!

  36. ignatius says:

    Aaah! Yes, Courage international is much better…Courage UK must have joined it after they got kicked out of the Evangelical Alliance when they ceased to toe the Evangelical line that homosexuality can be ‘cured’ by ‘holy living’.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Ignatius.
      Courage International is approved by the Pontifical Council for the Family.
      It is not to be confused with Courage UK!!Which I believe has no connection with Courage International!
      Have a read and tell me what you think!

  37. ignatius says:

    Spent an hour reading it, very good, might join! Courage UK, according to wikipedia are now a Catholic organisation too, can’t quite believe that but,as I say, they did give up on trying to change orientation several years ago now. Its not inconceivable that whoever runs it, converted to catholicism, but I just don’t know..I knew a guy who worked for Courage UK some 20 years ago now, so have stayed loosely interested in the organisation.

  38. St.Joseph says:

    Ignatius.
    The info for the UK International says to contact the late Ken Platt, who my late husband and I knew very well . I don’t know who organizes it now.

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