Vital Distinctions in Moral Theology
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 three of a three-part essay.
"Choosing to be homosexual by committing oneself to the "gay lifestyle" is akin to choosing to be blind, deaf, or lame. It is asserting a physical attribute or action as a moral identity, desiring a state not intended by God as one's final state of being. It is accepting as one's fundamental existence a disposition of the mind, a craving of the flesh, and an exercise of the will entirely at war with God's design for creation, redemption, and beatitude for man. Everyone, it is to be hoped, would consider it a perversity transcending the absurd to ask to be blind, deaf, or lame for all eternity. To define oneself as being homosexual is to demand that one be refused the Beatific Vision, hear the wailings of the damned instead of the choirs of the heavenly hosts, and be shackled in the bonds of sin for all eternity."
V. The Ontology of the Homosexual
Sodomy is an outward sign of the auto-demolition of a culture. Any culture that sanctions, much less celebrates, sodomy has lost the will to live. It can not stand very long after immersing itself in such depravity. It is highly unlikely that sodomy is the only vice pursued by such a culture.
In a similar vein, the individual who submits his will to moral depravity will find destruction as well. The homosexual culture is replete with promiscuity, violence, drug abuse, mental illness, and disease. These are things that kill the body. Far more, however, is at stake.
A curious contradictory phenomenon occurs in verbal usage concerning "persons with disabilities". On the one hand is the insistence that such persons are not defined by their disabilities, i.e., they are not disabled persons but persons with disabilities. Their sense of identity emphasizes their personhood rather than their physical state.
On the other hand is a peculiar estimation that they are not persons with disabilities, but "differently able persons". These are people with strengths different from those possessed by "able-bodied persons". This mindset seeks to de-emphasize the idea that a "normal" person exists, instead assuming that all people have gifts to offer and weaknesses to overcome.
Thus, there are hearing-impaired people who refuse hearing aids and speech therapy, desiring the exclusive use of sign language. Parents of children with severe autism will take them into public places where problematic behavior is more likely to occur in an effort to treat them to ordinary life experiences. Provision was made by the Professional Golfers' Association - in compliance with a court order - to change tournament rules to accommodate a handicapped golfer, sparking a rancorous debate amongst lawyers and sports fans.
Allowances must be made on earth to assist and to protect those disadvantaged by poverty or disability. Charity demands that such assistance be generously offered, and humility requires that it be gratefully received. If this is not acknowledged by the common sense of a culture, it is surely a matter of the sensus fidei within the Church.
Eagerness to ease the plight of our beleaguered brothers on earth should not blind us to our common call to strive for Heaven. There are no poor saints, no handicapped saints, no oppressed saints around the Throne of God. All such earthly ills are healed in Heaven. "Neither slave nor free, man nor woman, Greek nor Jew", can be expanded to include "rich nor poor, athlete nor cripple, helper nor helpless". One's material possessions and physical attributes do not determine one's salvation.
At the same time, Heaven has no place for "the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted… murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars." One's body is neither damnable nor redeemable; it is the use of the body that is damned or saved. The body does not choose perdition or salvation, but the body is damned or glorified depending on how one chooses to use the body.
Some would argue that homosexuality is more than just sex. It is about commitment and mutual support and love. Leaving aside the recurring problem of a definition that defines nothing - "commitment", "support", and "love" say nothing about homosexuality that can not be said about marriage, siblings, and friends - another problem arises. Where in homosexuality is commitment to the Faith that condemns moral depravity? Where is the mutual support in sanctity that binds the faithful to help one another to remain pure in thought, word, and deed? Where is the love of God that would recoil in horror at offending the Divine Majesty by rejecting life, asserting man's will over God's, and committing abominations begging Heaven for vengeance?
Choosing to be homosexual by committing oneself to the "gay lifestyle" is akin to choosing to be blind, deaf, or lame. It is asserting a physical attribute or action as a moral identity, desiring a state not intended by God as one's final state of being. It is accepting as one's fundamental existence a disposition of the mind, a craving of the flesh, and an exercise of the will entirely at war with God's design for creation, redemption, and beatitude for man. Everyone, it is to be hoped, would consider it a perversity transcending the absurd to ask to be blind, deaf, or lame for all eternity. To define oneself as being homosexual is to demand that one be refused the Beatific Vision, hear the wailings of the damned instead of the choirs of the heavenly hosts, and be shackled in the bonds of sin for all eternity.
This, far from the gifted state proponents of sexual license would have us believe it, is the final and ultimate negation of self out of which flows the will to homosexuality. Nothing is gained by this willfulness and all is lost. The homosexual ends possessing neither God nor his countless accomplices in sin nor himself.
It should be added that anyone morally "tolerant" of homosexuality, though not necessarily a practitioner thereof, receives the same judgement as the homosexual. One who receives the prophet because he is a prophet, receives the prophet's reward; one who accedes to sin is willing sin, and receives the sinner's punishment. One can not believe that homosexuality is good and believe that Christ speaks only the truth. They who believe that Christ lies about homosexuality are doing not Christ's work, but the will of the father of lies. To will homosexuality for oneself or another is to will not salvation but condemnation.
But to the wicked, God says:
"What right have you to recite my statutes,
or to take my covenant on your lips?
For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
If you see a thief, you are a friend to him;
and you keep company with adulterers.
"You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother's son.
These things you have done and I have been silent;
you thought I was like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you."
VI. Charity and Homosexuality
All sexual immorality is ultimately a matter of sinning against charity. The unchaste are also uncharitable. It is loving neither to God nor to neighbor to indulge in acts of disobedience to the divine will, oriented toward a creature rather than to the Creator, and willfully exclusive, either physically or mentally, of the increase of life.
Acts of sexual immorality of any kind are entirely incapable of establishing a communion of souls in love. What is asserted instead is the satisfaction of appetites, addiction to carnal pleasure, and participation in human relationships referent only to man and in denial of God. Charity's greatest sign is the giving of life. Sexual immorality is essentially sterility - of body, of mind, and of soul. Such is decidedly not of God, not of God whose very being is love.
The person, heterosexual or homosexual, who predicates love on having sex is thoroughly in error. Love can be and must be expressed in a multitude of ways, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Were this not the case, filial piety, fraternal sympathy, and sanctity would be impossible. One loves one's parents, friends, and God not primarily without sexual relations, but exclusively without sexual relations.
Within Holy Matrimony, conjugal love is expressed through sexual relations with the understanding, the desire, and the intent of cooperating with God in bringing new life into the world. Where this understanding, desire, and will are absent, sexual relations are illicit. Expression of conjugal love can and must take other forms. Those who insist that the conjugal bond is not sufficiently engaged without sex (as distinct from the conception of children) as its primary expression, lack imagination, limit their human interaction with their spouses, and probably are not praying.
Not every act of sex will result in conception, but every act of sex is for procreation. If couples are not trying to make babies, why is the sexual act being engaged? Surely, sex without mutual desire for love is forbidden. Equally inconceivable should be the thought of sex without a mutual desire for life.
God finds even the heavens wanting when He judges creation. The moral standard within Holy Matrimony is exceedingly high, befitting the sublime call of married couples to play such an integral role in creating life in the divine image. It sounds impossible - and so it is for man, but with God all things are possible.
Charity expressed by the Cross of Christ is the motive force behind the conjugal bond. Christ giving up His body for His Bride the Church brings many children into being, adopted by God the Father through water and the Spirit. Husbands and wives, too, sharing the Cross, die to self as the two are made one, and give rise to new life offered for the glory of God the Father. This goal, not their affection on earth, is the purpose of their union. All marriages end with death. The fruit of holy marriages, children of God, have an eternal destiny. It is an inadequacy bordering on the insulting to reduce such an exquisite reality to the level of carnal desires.
If the heavens will be found wanting on Judgment Day, and married couples suffer nothing short of Calvary to effect God's will in them, then the plight of the obstinate homosexual is most perilous. He is not open to life. He is disobedient to God. He craves human pleasure over pleasing God. What is to be done with him?
"Love your enemies, do good for those that hate you, bless those that curse you, and pray for those who abuse you" (St. Luke 6:27-28). It is not charitable to consign someone to hell through failing to warn him of his sin (see Ezekiel 3:16-21; 33:1-16). It is not kind to lead someone to believe that his depravity is somehow commendable (see St. Matthew 18:6-9). Such warnings are not for people who are inclined to agree at first (see St. Luke 5:31-32), but must be given whenever and to whomever they are needed (see 1 Timothy 1:8-10; 4:6-16; and 2 Timothy 4:1-5). In the end it matters not that the message is despised and the messenger reviled (see St. Matthew 5:11-12), only that God's will is done (see St. John 17).
Those who claim to love God must also love their brothers beset by sin. The best expression of love for a sinner is to help free him from his sins. To know Christ and His righteousness requires sharing that knowledge. One can hardly say that he loves his brother while leaving his brother languishing in the ignorance of sin. Those who walk in the darkness of sin are in infinite need of charity expressed through the light of faith offered for the forgiveness of sins.
St. Augustine writes about the necessity of the faithful to draw the sinner out of sin - especially when the sinner refuses repentance. St. Paul tells of the compulsion in Christian charity to preach the Gospel, to proclaim forgiveness in Christ, and through that forgiveness to set aside the old ways of sin and take on newness in Christ. Jesus speaks of a zealous, passionate, burning desire for His Father's house, to ignite the world in love, to offer Himself that the Kingdom may be established. Such sentiments must motivate the effort to bring sanctity to bear on matters of physical intimacy. The rejection of sin is but the prelude to embracing the law of love.
Homosexuality is a veritably demonic inversion of the natural order. Where Holy Matrimony is the union of man and woman in communion with the divine will to bring forth life, homosexuality is the unnatural combination of two persons of the same sex in utter disobedience to God in the midst of acts entirely devoid of fertility. Homosexuality denies the supernatural orientation of man, is sterile on the natural level, and degrades man through its unnatural carnality.
One might be tempted to ask why anyone would choose to be homosexual. The fundamental answer lies in the rejection of the good, of the true, of the holy, in short, a rejection of the Faith. Once a person abandons sanctity, mediated by the Sacraments in the Church, he will find himself open to every temptation.
It is the mystery of iniquity why any one person chooses to succumb to a given sin. Only God knows the full motivations of the human heart. What is certain is that all sin flows from a proud, disobedient refusal to seek God and His good. The only defense against any and every sin is the humble submission to God with the whole of one's heart, mind, soul, and strength.
The gravest ill of homosexuality is more profound than the fact that in itself it is an abomination. Homosexuality is so wrong and so evil because it is part of a larger and more insidious attack on Holy Matrimony and the divinely ordained order of things. Homosexuality represents the war of the evil against the holy.
Evil, however, can not conquer good. But good can yield to temptation, wallow in sin, and deny itself by becoming evil - unless the created good is wholly united to God's infinite goodness. Alas! man can abandon the search for the good.
Holy Matrimony is in peril because man the modernist has denied its true end. This denial is most graphic among sodomites, but the first and worst culprits are men and women united in marriage. Where contraception is allowed, marriage is destroyed. If children are not the natural end of marriage, then sexual unions that accomplish the other, the secondary ends of marriage are made licit. If sex is not for making babies in heterosexual couples, then fornication will lead to abortion, recreational sex will include sodomy, and all will preclude the traditional and natural definition of marriage as fertile, permanent, and social.
Contraception begins a direct progression where marriage need not produce children, becomes fluid and indefinable, and a matter of private rather than communal concern. This utter rejection of the natural goods of marriage results in the impossibility of supernatural good being sought or received. To avoid evil is not necessarily to embrace good; to reject one good results in the final rejection of all good.
It is rationally impossible to maintain that sex can be a matter of recreation among heterosexual married couples, but not among sodomites and fornicators. Either sex is an absolute openness to God's gift of life in the family, or it is a relative invitation to be accepted or rejected according to merely human considerations. Sex rendered sterile is either a moral evil or a relative good, and if it is a relative good it does not matter whether the source of sterility is a contraceptive intent, contraceptive devices, or acts of sodomy. The argument that sodomy is unnatural is met by the equal truth that the prevention of conception in the act of conceiving offends both nature and nature's God. The whole of the moral order is ultimately denied by contraception and the contraceptive mentality.
Married couples differ from fornicators in their use of contraception in only one way: fornicators are consistent with or better than their morals, whereas married couples are hypocrites. For each day that a contracepting fornicator maintains his illicit relationship with his companion, he is treating her better than their morals deserve in their fraudulent imitation of marriage. A husband contracepting with his wife is treating her no better than a fornicator treats his mistress. Both relationships, hard experience and hard statistics strongly predict, will come to an unhappy end.
Political correctness in the world frowns on telling the truth about sodomy: promiscuity, disease, mental illness, child abuse, and offense against God's Majesty. Another kind of political correctness forbids denouncing contraception for what it is: dehumanizing, deceitful, ineffective, medically perilous, and mortally sinful. Sodomy and contraception share a common principle: that sex is not a natural cooperation with divine grace in the context of Holy Matrimony for the purpose of increasing life both for earth and Heaven; but is instead a mere matter of physical pleasure among consenting parties - even children.
The divorce of the natural bond between man and woman from the supernatural reality mediated by the Church through her Sacraments has led to the woeful state of affairs self-inflicted upon modernity. Fornication, teen pregnancy, abortion, disease, self abuse, and divorce are the foul fruit spring from the tree of sexual "liberation" rooted in the depravity of married people abandoning fidelity to the divine order. If married people will not insist on the sanctity of the conjugal act, it is not to be expected that anyone else will come to the defense of human chastity.
Sins against nature have not become common ex nihilo. They are the corruption of the great good of Holy Matrimony. This wretched condition should not surprise anyone. It is the direct outgrowth of he half-millennium apostasy into which what once was Christendom has plunged itself. As G.K. Chesterton said, when the supernatural is rejected, one gets not the natural, but the unnatural.
What is wanted is not an offensive against homosexuality so much as a crusade in favor of Holy Matrimony and its purpose of life conforming to the divine image and likeness. The problem is less that people want to be homosexual than that they do not want to be married, they do not want to be holy, they do not want to be obedient to God, they do not want to be Catholic, they do not want to go to Heaven. Our goal is not to effect a society that merely rejects the abomination of homosexuality, but to establish a society that rejects depravity in favor of desiring only God's will. Or to end as we began, our task is to avoid all evil by doing only good.
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