February 16, 2004
vol 15, no. 47

Vital Distinctions in Moral Theology

    Part One: The Antithesis of "Be fruitful and multiply"
by Father Lawrence Smith
      Editor's Note: The following piece was written so eloquently by Father Lawrence Smith this past Fall and is so needed to be said today especially when Massachusetts, California, and Texas are in the process of celebrating sodomy through legislation and judicial fiat. It is getting to be unendurable. Father lays out so clearly the arguments every Catholic should know in standing uncompromisingly against this sin that cries to Heaven for vengeance. The logic and syllogisms Fr. Smith provides is totally Catholic and any thought or concession to anything less is totally non-Catholic. There is no such thing as tolerance for sin nor celebrating the diversity of evil. Following is the first of three installments with the second on Wednesday and the third and final one on Friday this week.

    "This divorce in the understanding of many between a man's actions and his ontological state has resulted in a denial of the existence of sin; a misunderstanding of the nature of sin when it is acknowledged; a diminishment in the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance; a cultural mindset rejecting the possibility of damnation; and, ultimately, the refusal of many to positively seek the Kingdom of Heaven in righteousness. From brazenly indulging in sin to encouraging others in sin to maliciously attacking sanctity, individuals and the society at large have embarked on the journey toward utter moral depravity."

I. Introduction

   Do the good! and Avoid evil! are the two moral imperatives given the faithful through the natural law, the Magisterium, and divine law. Through obedience to this dual admonition to seek sanctity and reject sin, the faithful cooperate with God's plan of salvation. In His plan God's activity is creation and redemption. Man's activity results in God's creation either being damned or glorified. What a man does is his contribution to the project of establishing what he is for all eternity.

   Each of the two moral imperatives must be engaged in man's life in the world. "Do the good," is a relative command. "Avoid evil," is an absolute command. Between birth and death man is given ample opportunity to obey these commands and thus be saved. Free will gives him the power to choose, but the power is dependent on the choice. Man's free will is increased in choosing righteousness; it is diminished when he chooses sin. The saint is truly, fully, and eternally free as a son and heir of God. The sinner dies in perpetual slavery, bound forever to his sin, entirely incapable of asserting his will to happiness, which he falsely sought by disobedience to God on earth.

   A man is able to do only so much good. His responsibility is limited by his very being. God alone can do all good. Man participates in the infinite goodness of God. It is divine grace and mercy which deigns to extend the infinite good of God to the finite man. Doing but a little good is rewarded with endless beatitude. In giving God His due, man receives infinitely more than is his due from God.

   There is never an instance in which evil may be done. No sin is ever permissible, and none can be attributed to the divine will or imputed to the person of God. Sin belongs utterly to the world. Each man's sins are uniquely his own. Although God gives the saved full portion of His life beyond their just desserts, the perdition of the damned is solely his own work and the fruit of his own demerits. Grace in its very being is a sharing in love; sin and its wages death are confined to the guilty soul and makes impossible any communion on earth or in Heaven.

   Being, in keeping, with the divine will, is inherently good. God's original creation received His benediction six times before he declared His work Very good! (cf. Genesis 1:1-31) This truth has been confused by many to mean that good attaches to the human person regardless of how he exercises his free will. It is a commonplace to hear a man's sins related with the summary judgement, "But he's a good person." Man may have begun good, but original sin, concupiscence, and sinful actions disfigure that goodness in time and, potentially, destroy it for all eternity.

   This divorce in the understanding of many between a man's actions and his ontological state has resulted in a denial of the existence of sin; a misunderstanding of the nature of sin when it is acknowledged; a diminishment in the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance; a cultural mindset rejecting the possibility of damnation; and, ultimately, the refusal of many to positively seek the Kingdom of Heaven in righteousness. From brazenly indulging in sin to encouraging others in sin to maliciously attacking sanctity, individuals and the society at large have embarked on the journey toward utter moral depravity.

   Such a path is as old as Eden, but post-enlightenment man suffers not only from the pagan will to self-destruction, but also from the peculiar ill of the baptized who forget repentance - apostasy. A pagan in sin is in a deplorable state from which he can only rise; apostate Christians have fallen lower than satan, have become salt without flavor, and in their wretched example are in peril of an eternal millstone. The state of man baptized falling back into sin is worse than when he knew nothing of salvation; indeed, seven devils have replaced the first.

   Any who doubt this description and estimation of man's degenerating plight need only consider the modern proclivity not only to engage in sin, but to preach it, legitimize it, and in some cases mandate it. Married couples are encouraged to violate their Sacrament through contraception. Divorce is endemic to the point of being typical and thought nigh on inevitable. And the national policies of the United States, Russia, and China have turned abortion into a form of "family planning", economic stimulation, and legal obligation. The Church and the woefully small numbers of non-Catholics who dare decry this foul environment of license and demonic disobedience are alternately insulted, ignored, and imprisoned.

   Perhaps nothing illustrates how entrenched the will to evil has become in mankind better than the juggernaut of the media, popular opinion, and legislative activism seeking to propagate homosexuality as a moral good. The not-so-subtle progression of the last forty years has taken us from a plea to tolerate sodomy to decriminalizing sodomy to encouraging sodomy to assuming sodomy as an unremarkable human activity to giving sodomy legal sanction on par with Holy Matrimony.

   A diabolically clever tactic to impose sodomy as a morally neutral element of human being has been to equate the state of homosexuality with the nebulous condition of race membership. This appeals to a bent toward sociology in the apologists for sodomy. Behaviorists among the advocates of sodomy would have us believe that the sin is no more to be criticized than other learned behaviors, such as how one learns speech from parents, socializing from peers, and taboos from society. Materialists of various stripes suggest that the inclination to sodomy is merely the physical manifestation of evolution, carried on the genes along with eye color, height, or the possibility of Down's syndrome.

   In each of these instances, the homosexual person is robbed of his humanity. He has no will in his condition. He indulges sodomy because of social conditioning or family psychology or biological disposition. He has no choice in how he manifests his intimate interactions with other persons. There is no moral element involved, for the causes of his nature are beyond his control.

   Such must be the conclusion of the arguments advanced by those who insist that sodomy is natural and normal, without reference to the Creator's will or the creature's obligation to imitate His will. This utter inability to cooperate with the divine will or to effect the human will is the telltale symptom of sin. It is the slavery that comes from denying grace. It is the final separation of man from God, mankind, and life. It is sin's wages fully reaped: the death and destruction of the man.

   There is one other attempt to make homosexuality palatable as a human activity, the theological. Recognizing that free will is essential to the human person as a moral agent, shameless theologians, or charlatans making use of theology, proof-text Holy Scripture to support their desire to bring sin into the mainstream of the Faith. They would go so far as to aver that homosexuality is a true good, even a gift from God. Far from blaming God or anyone else for this proclivity to sin, these advocates of sodomy would thank the Lord for creating them in that way. Untold blasphemies against Jesus Christ Our Lord have been suggested in keeping with this depraved set of ideas.

   A variety of explanations accounts for this plague of words and deeds in defense of sodomy. An obvious one is that many desire the vice. Others indulge in other vices and find allies for themselves among sodomites. Certainly a large number of people are confused, both by the irrational rhetoric of the sexually licentious and by the urge to deal kindly with the sinners in their acquaintance. Political power and financial gain surely motivate many of those demanding the "right" to sodomy. It can not be discounted that these disparate groups and rationales have in common behind them, explicitly or unwittingly, the machinations of satan. Not that these people necessarily desire allegiance with satan, but he definitely desires them to preach and commit sin.

   What follows is an examination of how homosexual advocacy attempts to normalize these sinful acts. That is contrasted with the initiative of God to bring grace to bear to effect His will to save all sinners. The counterpoint between man's will in time and his final state in eternity forms the heart of this argument against sin and its advocacy. Homosexuality is not a matter of environment, genetics, or social policy, nor is it a morally neutral choice for human expression. It is an act of the will that, unrepented, effects damnation and the complete degradation of the human being.

II. The Natural Aspects of Sexuality

   There is a modern penchant for propagating confusion in matters of morality, particularly in regards to sexual morality. A popular though never explained aphorism is, "We all are sexual beings." Either this is an entirely unhelpful platitude as meaningful as insisting that we all are living beings or spiritual beings or beings with appetites; or it is an assertion about man that reduces his identity to an exceedingly narrow aspect of his experience.

   To describe mankind as "sexual" is to suggest that having sex makes the man, or that gender determines one's psyche, actions, and sense of self. Given that most people most of the time are not having sex, it would appear that the notion, "We all are sexual beings," is not referent to sexual activity. However, modernity's shrill cries for the equality of the sexes seems to betray a disavowal of that charming saying, "Vive la difference!" If men and women are the same, then it seems odd that anyone finds it revelatory to claim that sex constitutes a defining element in human being.

   A definition delimits, excludes, and distinguishes between things. Man as a sexual being either defines all things human as meaning sex, or sex as meaning nothing in practical terms. Man is a sexual being, a carbon being, an earthly being. O.K. So are petunias, manatees, and the neighbors' cat. Stating the obvious is a peculiarly human attribute, true, but it is hardly useful as a tool in understanding the human.

   What is really operative in the modern mindset is a mania for materialism. A description of man that begins and ends with sex completely preempts any discussion of the moral aspects of sexuality. The animals perhaps are free to do what comes naturally, but man without reference to the supernatural will gravitate toward things at which Mother Nature would blush - and then mercilessly punish her erring children.

   It is curious how angry many become at the suggestion that AIDS is a judgment from God. Never considered, it seems, is how nature judges the unnatural. The wages of sins against nature meted out by nature are infertility, disease, physical deformity, sexual dysfunction, and indeed death - among many other things. Promiscuous, licentious, amoral people who disbelieve in the wrath of God must still contend with the fury of Mother Nature scorned.

   Man is both physical and spiritual. A human being does not have a body and a soul; a human being is a body and a soul, an embodied spirit. It is true, and laughably obvious, that one can not discuss human being without acknowledging his physicality, including (but not obsessing on) his sexuality. It is far truer, however, to discuss human being beginning with that which is higher than the animals, definitive of his relationships with other people, and, most importantly, most like his creator, God.

   If one is to understand man, and by extension his sexuality, one begins with God. For man is made in God's image and likeness. God has more to say about man's identity than any amount of studying man, animals, and biochemistry can conceive.

   God is love. God is good. God creates. These simple truths reveal the motive, the content, and the purpose governing man's existence. Why God does anything is predicated on the divine attribute of charity. How He does His will flows from His infinite goodness. What He does is to offer being reflective of His own being, the highest form of that on earth being man, a corporal being endowed with a rational soul capable of knowing, embracing, and imitating the divine will.

   Thus, man can love. Man can be good. Man can create. The natural basis for effecting the supernatural task of man imitating God is Holy Matrimony. Man and woman can will mutual love. They can do so in obedience to the moral law. Through that obedience, they cooperate with God in bringing forth new life like themselves able to be like God.

   Man as a sexual being must be a moral being if he is not to do violence to his very being. In the very act of carnal knowledge, man must be endeavoring to know God, serve His will, and obey Him in love. Failing this, man is less a sexual being than a depraved being.

   Either one is obeying God or one is sinning. Men and women are called to discern God's will for them to cooperate with Him in procreation. The only licit context for this is within Holy Matrimony, whose primary purpose is to beget and raise children for the glory of God. Contraception, self abuse, coitus interruptus, and sodomy (in which heterosexuals can engage as well as homosexuals) deny the proper end of marriage, destroy the sanctity of the persons committing such acts, and degrade the human person. Far from assertions of sexuality and human being, these sins unmake the divine order of things. Man does not effect his being through sex, but through obeying God in all things.

   Here one sees that the fundamental distinction in human sexuality is not heterosexual versus homosexual, but obedience versus disobedience. One can obey God's will in many ways through heterosexual acts, but not in every instance. There is never an instance in which the divine will is obeyed through homosexual acts.

   Furthermore, obedience to God's will is a broader category than defining which acts of sex are licit and which are forbidden. Obeying God's will can involve continence in married couples, the vow or promise of celibacy among those with religious vocations, and the responsibility to be fruitful and multiply for married couples. God's will in love is not so much about what one must not do as it is harkening to God's call of what one is created to do in keeping with divine Providence. Some are called to be eunuchs for the Kingdom; some are called to raise up sons of God born not of flesh or the will of man, but the will of God; and some are called to help people the earth.

   No one is ever called to thwart, deny, or eliminate God's gift of life to men. There is no such thing as a sexual being or a sexual act not meant for the increase of life on earth with the goal of life in Heaven. Though there might be natural obstacles to fertility, none may ever impede the possibility of conception through action, inaction, or intent of the will. If one seeks to love one's spouse through the conjugal act, then one must first love God - and His will to life - with one's whole heart, whole mind, whole soul, and whole strength. Hatred of God's will to life manifested by the use of latex or chemicals, the abuse of the physical act itself, or the refusal of the will to accept the nature and meaning of the marital bond for procreation, is gross disobedience, destructive of the human body and soul, and potentially damning.

WEDNESDAY: Part Two - Homosexuality as a Manifestation of Concupiscence and a Depraved Assertion of the Will.

Father Lawrence Smith
17 September 2003:
The Impression of Christ's Wounds on the flesh of St. Francis of Assisi
Guesthouse Inn, Lincoln, Nebraska

For past articles in FOCUS, see FOCUS ARCHIVES

    February 16, 2004
    vol 15, no. 47