Vital Distinctions in Moral Theology
Part Two: The Depravity and Devastation of Homosexuality
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 part two of three parts.
"Homosexuality, conversely, is a matter of willed decisions. Either one chooses to act on sexual temptations or not. Either one gives into impure thoughts or not. Either one elects to be identified with morally perilous behavior or not. When the choice is made to act immorally in a public setting, the family, the state, and/or the Church have a moral obligation to teach, to warn, and if need be to punish those who disobey the moral law."
III. Homosexuality as a Manifestation of Concupiscence
Perverse connections have been drawn between the current crusade to legalize and normalize homosexuality, and the civil rights movement of the 1940's-60's. Homosexuality, so goes this argument, is not to be discriminated against. The dignity of man requires that all people be treated equally regardless of their sexual behavior.
If immorality can be criminalized - such as theft, perjury, or fraud - then the only argument that can be sustained to justify the decriminalizing of sodomy is that issues of morality do not pertain to sex. It is merely a matter of the body and its consensual use. People go to jail because they violated someone's rights. Homosexuals are expressing mutual love, harm no one, and do nothing different from what heterosexual couples do.
"We all are sexual beings" has a partner in its crime of refusing definition. "Consensual sex", i.e. "What people do in their own bedrooms", gives carte blanche to a whole host of behaviors that one prays would still be found deplorable by most people. Associations exist to legalize the sodomizing of boys by men, "marriages" between three or more people, and the practice of polygamy. One assumes that all of these are examples of "What people do in their own bedrooms". Why should they be forbidden but homosexuality permitted?
Well, before that question is answered, one must ask for a definition of homosexuality. It is oddly appropriate that "gay rights" advocates attempt to co-opt the civil rights movement. Both suffer from an unwillingness or inability to define just whose rights are being defended.
Over the years certain people in the United States of America have been referred to as "darkies", "niggers", "colored people", "persons of color", "blacks", and "African-Americans". Efforts to define this class of people have made of them a mere 3/5 of a person, or have rendered anyone with 1/16 of his blood from a tainted source as a full member of the group. Although skin color plays a large role in determining this classification, the colors in question range from white enough to "pass" to skin so dark as to have a blue cast to it. Hispanics, some Caribbean islanders, and some Asians have skin colors that fall within this range, but are not considered part of this group. There is an "enlightened" understanding of this issue in which correcting past wrongs is sought, but no distinction is made between one member of this group who is a multimillionaire in the suburbs, another who is a middle-class professional in a small city, yet another who is incarcerated for gang activity in a big city inner-city, and a fourth living in third-world squalor in the rural Old South.
What makes a "black" person who he is has never been adequately discussed, much less defined. Is it skin color? Is it family of origin? Is it racial discrimination? Is it government description? Is it cultural? Is it because a rights organization says so? Is it some secret algorithm incorporating these and other considerations?
In a like manner, no one has explained what homosexuality is. Is it an inclination? Is it a set of actions? Is it one act? Is it a subculture? Is it being an effeminate man? Is it being a masculine woman? Where is the line between "effeminate" and "sensitive", between "masculine" and "tom-boy"? Is it genetic? Is it learned? Is it a continuum or an absolute?
Because of this ambiguity, many would say that all the more we should not discriminate because of "sexual orientation"? There are so many factors involved that none can be blamed for why he is as he is. Aside from reducing the homosexual to a non-moral agent incapable of choosing whether or not and how to have sex, this leaves society in a state of confusion. What behavior is being protected by gay rights?
Is it the bathhouse scene where AIDS is being incubated in thousands of host organisms? Is it the media juggernaut recruiting our young people to tolerate then celebrate then adopt this "alternative lifestyle"? Is it the abomination of church and state recognizing a "marital union" between same-sex couples?
Oh, wait. We should not get so upset over "What people do in their own bedrooms".
A person belonging to a racial group - whatever one can make that mean - has very little control over his inclusion therein. One's skin color is not a matter of choice. It is the height of injustice to inflict punishment on someone because of a physical attribute.
Homosexuality, conversely, is a matter of willed decisions. Either one chooses to act on sexual temptations or not. Either one gives into impure thoughts or not. Either one elects to be identified with morally perilous behavior or not. When the choice is made to act immorally in a public setting, the family, the state, and/or the Church have a moral obligation to teach, to warn, and if need be to punish those who disobey the moral law.
And remember: what makes any sex act immoral is its disobedience to God's will toward human increase through Holy Matrimony. Homosexual acts are unnatural in their use of sex toward sterile ends. Thus, there is no such thing as "marriage" between homosexuals, no context in which homosexual sex is ever licit. Homosexual acts deny the family, weaken the state, and offend God and His Church. Far from protecting people so that they can commit homosexual acts, it is the duty of charity to decry the acts, to define them as sins, and to lead their participants to repentance.
IV. Homosexuality as a Depraved Assertion of the Will
"Nature versus Nurture" is an age-old argument about the cause of homosexuality. Are homosexuals born or are they made? Does the homosexual become so over time, or does he discover his nature as it has existed from birth or before? Can one be homosexual and not know it? Can homosexuality be cured?
If indeed homosexuality is not a matter of moral choice, if one is merely born so, then there can be no talk of recruiting, accepting, or curing members of the group. Remove morality from sex and it does not matter how sex is engaged or with whom. Most people who adopt this position would ask only that parties involved in sexual acts be consenting adults.
Why consent and adulthood are so insisted upon is never fully explained. Inconsistency in this argument is betrayed in the existence of laws against adultery and statutory rape that are rarely enforced; the lamentations over teen pregnancy accompanied by the distribution of contraception to minors; and the warped homoeroticism marketed to youth in the mass media paralleled by the aforementioned refusal to prosecute statutory rapists in the face of near-hysteria over homosexual pedophilia. Where confusion reigns, satan rules.
On the other hand, if homosexuality is a learned behavior, one influenced by environment, then the ranks of homosexuals would increase dependent on home life, societal taboos, and moral considerations. A lack of vigilance against sodomy by the Church with a concomitant offensive by social forces in favor of sodomy would result in rising numbers claiming affiliation with the homosexual "lifestyle". A culture in keeping with Church teaching on the moral law would have few examples of homosexuality manifested, would experience repugnance at the notion that sodomy is normal, and would enact civil laws reflective of the moral law against acts of sodomy.
Modernity prides itself on its "enlightenment" regarding sexual morality. Many would maintain that a significant number of homosexuals are present in any population. Repression by Church and state sends homosexuals underground; tolerance allows "gays" to "come out of the closet".
Were they in the closet because they were born homosexual and came out at the first safe opportunity? Were they leading heterosexual lives until they learned a new sexual "freedom" from an enlightened culture? Is a repressed homosexual who does not act on his inclination truly a homosexual? Can a person choose his sexuality depending on his circumstances?
Immigrants to the United States face an oft repeated dilemma: does one cling to the culture of the mother country or should one become an "American" as soon as possible? This raises questions about what constitutes culture, the nature of American citizenship, and how American culture might be defined. Is being an American a legal reality, a matter of postal address, or a state of mind expressive of convictions one holds about freedom and democracy? Americans have argued about this quandary since there has been America.
Regardless of how such dilemmas are resolved, or not, it is clear that being an "American" is a matter of volition unlike citizenship in any other nation. One can not choose to not be of Japanese descent if one's ancestors on both sides of the family going back five generations all lived in Nagasaki. Americans, however, can choose to flavor their sense of heritage with ethnic considerations at remote removes from where they stand now.
An Irish-American's great-grandparents may have fled the Famine, but he embraces their Celtic heritage as if he himself had just gotten off the boat. African-Americans rarely know from what geographic part of that huge continent their forebears came, much less what tribe or language group, but insist on a recognition of their long-lost homeland as part of their definition of self and a sense of place in America. Hispanics yet observe national holidays of their countries of origin, wear traditional clothing, and maintain language and cultural customs in family and civic life as closely as possible to the manner in which they are practiced south of the border.
Being an "American" is far more a matter of citizenship than of ethnicity. An American citizen can celebrate or ignore the ethnicity of his ancestors, but he can do neither without an effort. An Englishman in York need think not at all about how to manifest who he is within his native culture. A New Yorker, however, might be "Sicilian" to his family, "Italian" to the clerk renewing his library card, "white" on the census form, and a "Yankee imperialist dog" on vacation in France.
The human person acting on his sexuality has some decisions to make as well. Will he heed God's call to holiness? If so, he will discern a sexual life solely in the context of Holy Matrimony open to life. This person is analogous to the man who has received his ethnic heritage and sense of identity from his ancestors in their native place. He knows who he is, where he is from, and how he is to live: a child of God, begotten of water and the Spirit, called to perfection like unto God his Father.
Unfortunately, the United States of America acknowledges neither slave nor free, man nor woman, Greek nor Jew - and rejects God and His Church as the source of his identity. Thus, America and Americans are confused and confusing. America has abandoned the natural source of identity that comes with ethnicity, and has abandoned the supernatural source of identity that comes with the Faith. The United States does not recognize that they are God's people, nor do they have a unified sense of what is meant when they say, "We the people…"
Homosexuals want sex without reference to life. Their actions reject and ignore their responsibility to God and His Church. They are joined in this dynamic by users of contraception, practitioners of self abuse, and supporters of divorce. These are moral stances not only within America, but they are embodied by America itself. America is a conglomeration of atomistic, individualistic, and hedonistic persons who can not and will not choose to be a people or to be people of God.
To the extent that other nations embrace the American antipathy for a received and communal morality (allied to a love for moral and legal positivism), those nations cease to be a people as well. A country that rejects communion in faith with God will find that they lose not only God, but their nationhood and themselves. Religious wars are not initiated by the faithful, but by the irreligious. Faithful Catholics do not assault faithful Catholics, but the faithless will attack anyone and everyone, including themselves.
Homosexuality is not the cause of the dissolution of nations and cultures; it is a symptom thereof. The nation or culture that rejects God will indulge homosexuality and innumerable other morally depraved acts. Homosexuality is not a choice, but the result of a choice to reject God. Homosexuality is predicated on the negative, it is from the will against life, against nature, against God. Homosexuality is a rejection of the good in order to do evil.
One can not fall into such depravity. One must assert oneself, one's very being in that direction. Society might make homosexuality easy, but it can not make homosexuality necessary or inevitable. The homosexual is neither born so nor made to be so. The homosexual wills himself away from the source of birth, the power to create life, and the Author of true freedom.
Father Lawrence Smith
17 September 2003:
The Impression of Christ's Wounds on the flesh of St. Francis of Assisi
Guesthouse Inn, Lincoln, Nebraska
FRIDAY: Part Three The Ontology of the Homosexual
For the first part of this three-part essay, see Part One
For past articles in FOCUS, see FOCUS ARCHIVES