Conversations with God about Homosexuality


You can't help who you fall in love with, but you can decide to afford them dignity proper to their created reality. Are we missing the point when we discuss homosexuality? Is it, in fact, a question about authentic love?

What constitutes 'love' between two people? What is the most authentic expression of love you have experienced? Does true, deep, meaningful love necessarily require a genital expression? Has that genital expression become so conflated with what modern society calls 'love', that we've forgotten what real love is? For example, isn't real love sacrificial?

I think this has been one of the longest running conversations I have had with God. The concepts involved have puzzled me since I was a child. I have felt confused about what the Bible says about homosexual acts, and I have felt an equal amount of confusion about what society says about them. Over the last few years I have began to understand the issue a bit more I think, though I have definitely driven some of my fellow students and tutors half crazy with questions and arguments.

My two faced dilemma looks, basically like this:

1). My problem with the position which commonly purported to be the Christian one, (and, no doubt, is the position held by some Christians) is that “God hates fags” is, itself, the abomination.

The God who sent his son into the world to die does not hate but loves the world. Including his gay image-bearers. Basically, as James Alexander Langteaux states in his book Gay Conversations with God, "God loves you. Believe this and go from there."




2). My problem with the secular position, which is particularly strongly proposed by the media and society in general here in the UK is that I'm not gay and I don't even like the idea of homosexual relationships. Sorry. Let's not be silly, I don't mean in a "urrrrghhh" sort of way, just in the way that nipple clamps don't appeal to me either, and I don't see how that means anything more than what it is, although I do feel that society would like to portray it as 'homophobia', or some such similar label. Society also has a 'LGBT' paintbrush, with which it attempts to simplify our complex sexuality and paint the debate in certain clear terms. From what I've read, the reality is that there is, in fact, a broad spectrum of attraction. Many people experience a range of sexual attraction before they settle down to a preference for one gender or the other (or not, in the case of bisexual people). Of course, sexual preferences do not effect ones gender, which is determined on a genetic level, although this never seems to be an element in any discussion.

Of course, this whole issue constitutes a very provocative question for Christians today. The trick is relating a God who loves to what many see as what amounts to an exclusion of homosexual persons. My position is that surely we are reducing relationship to merely a genital transaction when we think that homosexuals are somehow “excluded” from anything. Love & relationship doesn’t rely on anything so basic; have we become so seduced in modern society?

There are some realities in this debate that need to be acknowledged. Even though homosexual persons possess an inherent procreative capacity, the reality of homosexual relationships means that, in the circumstances of a homosexual relationship, they are unable to enter into the biological norm for our species, that is, one which speaks to our physical reality, without making excuses, acknowledging the complimentarity of our bodies and the good of the sexual inclination we experience.

Through these realities, a husband and wife, as sexually differentiated beings, are able to unite themselves to one another in the deepest way possible in the conjugal act. Not merely biologically, but in all that they are as persons (bodily, sexual, rational, spiritual beings), and in all that they are as spouses. The religious dimension means that this same act is unique, because it is also the only act they could perform together in which and by which they could become co-operators with God in the possible transmission of new life.


A person in a homosexual relationship is necessarily psychologically and spiritually limited from bringing that aspect of themself to fruition through the unification of themselves with a member of the opposite sex.

It may be that the couple have a unifying intention behind any sexual act. Irrespective, the reality is that they do deny that generative aspect of themselves from their sexual partner. Ultimately, this renders the sterile sexual acts of homosexual persons to nothing more than mere mutual masturbation.

If we consider the evolutionary, biological, and psychological dimensions of their being, which are driven towards procreation, we must consider that these are automatically denied from them. Could this lead to a kind of scarring – an intrinsic moral disorder within the acts unable to fulfil their designated purpose.

To use theological language, those with same-sex attraction possess an inherent ‘natural’ moral disorder and a social disorder – it’s non-normative and non-categorical – it cannot be universalised, because that would, necessarily lead to extinction.

In an effort to reach out in compassion, many Christians have decided that the Christian tradition is in fact, in error with regard to homosexuality. I strongly identify with this outreach and acknowledge that the love two people of the same sex may feel for each other can be as valid as the love between heterosexual couples. Common sense and my own experience tells me that true love does not necessarily respect the boundaries of gender. We fall in love with people, but not all those relationships are marked by genital expressions of that love; it is frankly ridiculous to think that this is the case.

I am far from a biblical literalist, but do see scripture as an essential record which contains a great deal of wisdom revealed to us by God. The fact that this has to be studied and often teased out, only adds to its value in my estimation. The biblical record is clear & consistent on the fact that homosexuality is a destructive choice which will fail to lead us to fulfilment and happiness. In Genesis 3, we find that the truth about persons being an image of God has been obscured by original sin. There inevitably follows a loss of awareness of the covenantal character of the union these persons had with God and with each other. The human body retains its “spousal significance” but this is now clouded by sin. Thus, in Genesis 19:1-11, the deterioration due to sin continues in the story of the men of Sodom. There can be no doubt of the moral judgement made there against homosexual relations. In Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, in the course of describing the conditions necessary for belonging to the Chosen People, the author excludes from the People of God those who behave in a homosexual fashion.

Against the background of this exposition of theocratic law, an eschatological perspective is developed by St. Paul when, in I Cor 6:9, he proposes the same doctrine and lists those who engage in a homosexual acts among those who shall not enter the Kingdom of God.

In Romans 1:18-32, still building on the moral traditions of his forebears, but in the new context of the confrontation between Christianity and the pagan society of his day, Paul uses homosexual behaviour as an example of the blindness which has overcome humankind. Instead of the original harmony between Creator and creatures, the acute distortion of idolatry has led to all kinds of moral excess. Paul is at a loss to find a clearer example of this disharmony than homosexual relations. Finally, 1 Tim. 1, in full continuity with the Biblical position, singles out those who spread wrong doctrine and in v. 10 explicitly names as sinners those who engage in homosexual acts. The Bible makes love a moral adventure invested with metaphysical grandeur. It turns marriage into a sacred covenant. The Bible is not against Eros but adultery, not sex but infidelity, not beauty, but betrayal. Without religion and culture, society is nothing more than biology. If we reduce our relationships to mere biologism we buy into a dystopian nightmare: sex without love, promiscuity without limits, love without commitment, fatherhood without responsibility, predatory males, females often left to bear the burden of childcare alone; in short, the sexual habits of the higher primates. Faith constitutes a consecrating biological instinct which etches it with the charisma of moral beauty.

"...we inhabit a culture in which talk of a normative sexual ethic is as politically incorrect as it is possible to be. But this I know beyond doubt: that it was the strength of its families and its consecration of the love between husband and wife, parent and child, that made Judaism what it is and gave it the passion and resilience it has always had." Dr. Jonathan Sacks, The Chief Rabbi, The Great Partnership (London; Hodder & Stoughton, 2011), p. 165.

To chose someone of the same sex for one’s sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator’s sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.

As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one’s own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God.

The authentic Catholic position, in my opinion, recognises the genuine and deep love same sex couples can share while emphasising appropriate, authentic, communication and sharing of that love; this applies equally for same sex couples and heterosexual couples, and perhaps this is what is missing. An authentic understanding and pedagogy of heterosexual acts may lead us to properly understand homosexual acts.


Comments

  1. Ended well after a poor start! Arguments against homosexuality based on disgust are a poor framework for discussion. The Church is not Westboro. Homosexuals are not some strange & alien other, we are human too.
    You have tentatively introduced as a golden rule only universalisable acts as righteous. This is hardly Christian, let alone Catholic.
    Any heterosexual sexual act which take place outside of the strict time limits of a woman's fertility may just as easily be regarded as a "mutual masturbation" yet such interpretation is would be regarded as silly and undercutting human love.
    There are a host of old testament moral judgements not followed, there seems to be little point in a selective agenda unless you can justify it in some way. Until then I trust single you will kill witches, stone adulterers & wear garments of single thread?
    I am not theologian enough to write a satisfactory answer, I can only tell you I am as God has made me: gay from my earliest age in a rural, Irish,Catholic family. I have struggled all my life to reconcile what I am with the teachings of the Church, abandoning faith in a God I felt had abandoned me for a long time. I only know I am capable of love because I have loved. I know from that experience to distinguish love from lust.I also know that I was made despair & abandon faith by righteous & merciless men in mitres who went to the irish Supreme Court to argue for the retention of 1867 offences Against The Person act. That I was abandoned & driven to despair might well be regarded as an act of absolute pastoral failure.
    We believe God made man in his own image then I too am made in His image & by His divine will. Evolution is His method in the world He made so we can only be led to believe that homsexuality played some evolutionary role. That is not a claim that homosexula acts are licet, merely a warning against evolutionary justifications for arguing that they are not.
    CS Lewis said he never wrote on homsexuality or gambling as he had been tempted by neither. he may have had a point.

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    1. He may have indeed! Thanks for your insight Paddy. I certainly do not set out to relativise the moral law of the OT, just approach the subject from an honest and compassionate angle, as it is something that has troubled and confused me. I hope that makes some sense?

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  2. it does, like all your writing. I'm just prickly on the subject. OT abjurations carry weight but and I know the Christian problem with the issue but I am all too aware that there is not a choice for gay people. Homosexuality is inherent, it is who I am even if it is not all I am.
    The challenge for gay people is to develop a Christian morality that includes them because I'm fairly sure the ones on offer that abjure sexual acts are humanly impossible for most of us- at least in the sense of having us both reject our deepest feelings.
    I wish I understood better, I merely know myself. Nothing compares to love of another human or the abandonment of self with them. Lust is the pale shadow of love, its substitute when we abandon the search or belief in love itself.

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