Friday, August 6, 2010

Prop 8 and the Church

Things are starting to really get scary.

One judge can apparently overrule the will of the people in the largest state in the country. Any person who has seen one episode of Law and Order knows that this hearing on Proposition 8 and its "fact finding nature" was a mockery of the judicial branch and separation of powers.

I also should say that I have long believed that faithful Catholics will one day soon be EXTREMELY persecuted for teaching the Church's stance on homosexuality and I think we are heading towards the great battle of our time. The opportunities for rejoicing in the gift of being deemed worthy of suffering are near for faithful Catholics.

As the Federal Government and activist judges continue to whiteout significant portions of the Constitution and make a mockery of the word "law", let us calmly and thoroughly look at what the Catholic Church actually says about homosexuality.

For the Church, to have a homosexual or heterosexual desire is NOT a sin. If I allow that desire, heterosexual or homosexual, to turn into lust - it IS a sin.

If I engage in heterosexual activity outside of marriage - mortal sin.
If I engage in homosexual activity outside of marriage - mortal sin.

Pretty simple. The problem a lot of people have is when the Church says that homosexual desires are "intrinsically disordered." Both words cause problems for people; let's look at the word "disordered" first. Here it is important to be clear - the Church does not say homosexuality is A DISORDER, the Church says it is DISORDERED. There is a huge difference! To be disordered means that it isn't properly oriented; it isn't leading to something good. Homosexual desire (as well as homosexual sex) is said to be disordered; not oriented toward something good. Let's be clear here, though. HETEROSEXUAL SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE OR THAT UTILIZES CONTRACEPTION IS DISORDERED AS WELL!! Having an affair with your neighbor's wife is not oriented toward something good, nor is using contraception, even within marriage.

The other word is problematic as well; let's look at "intrinsic" now. Heterosexual sex is not slapped with the label INTRINSICALLY wrong (wrong by its very nature) because sometimes (although seemingly less and less in our society) heterosexual sex can be properly oriented - that is between a man and a woman who have promised before God and community to stay together for the rest of their lives and who are entering into the marital act without reservation or the obstruction of contraception and are willing, if God allows it, to bring forth a child from that act. That's the reason homosexual activity is "intrinsically" disordered - it can never be properly oriented, whereas heterosexual sex can be properly oriented (although, again, sadly, very rarely does heterosexual activity in our society rise to the level of being properly oriented).

The question becomes this, "If you say homosexual activity is intrinsically disordered, are you saying I, a homosexual, am supposed to be cured? Should I be shipped off to a reeducation camp? Are you saying I have a disease? Are you saying my homosexuality is something I've chosen?"

If these questions were put to me by a person coming to talk, my response would NEVER be "yep, you've got a problem, and we've got to get you fixed up right now." The Church acknowledges over and over that many who have homosexual desires do not think they are choosing to have those desires. The Church says, quite rightly, that the vast majority of people with homosexual desires do not experience themselves as CHOOSING to have those desires. the way to be present to people struggling with homosexuality is through the understanding that what they are struggling with, to them, is certainly something that is beyond their choosing.

Psychologists say that between 90 and 95% of our motivations for the things we do in our lives comes from our subconscious. The subconscious is that realm of stuff that we are not aware of even when we think reflectively about ourselves. So if someone says, "I can't help the fact that I look at women lustfully (a thought I had in my high school days during boring Chemistry classes)" they may in fact MEAN that; they may in fact experience their lust to be something that they really DO NOT have power over - although, over time one may realize that their assessment of their powerlessness was in fact off base.

People bristle when they hear on Catholic radio or see advertisements for counselors or psychologists who are willing to work with someone struggling with homosexuality because people think that the Church thinks everyone needs "fixing." The Church says, however, that the first thing is to be there to support the person, whatever their state in life. You can't MAKE someone go to a psychiatrist and get "fixed" unless they want it. They have to come to the realization that what they thought was beyond their control is, in fact, not beyond their control. If someone came to me as a priest and said they were struggling with homosexuality, again, I wouldn't say, "Okay, let me give you a number of someone who can fix you." (click here to read the Church's brief but clear statement on the "pastoral care of homosexual persons," written by then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict).

This is where we, as Catholics, differ from some of our Protestant brothers and sisters who DO often take the approach that people experiencing homosexual desires need to be "fixed" as soon as possible.

For me, the Church's teaching on homosexuality, Her pastoral approach to persons while possessing the courage to stand up and label certain things as sins, both of these aspects remind me how awesome it is to be Catholic! Let's pray that the Truth will reign in our discussions on this issue throughout our country in the coming months and years, and may we work to help people understand what the Church ACTUALLY says on the issue instead of letting news outlets and activist judges do that for us.