Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fletch Homophobia, Hate Speech, The Church, and Natural Law

Andrei's post below about the firing of a teacher because of "hate speech" and Lucia's post made me decide to post a few thoughts I'd had on this subject for a while. I hope I can put forth my ideas here without offending anyone, but it may happen, unfortunately (which is why I have had this post sitting in draft form for the last couple of days).

So, anyway, let me kick off with what is sure to be a controversial statement: Homosexuals can't have sex together. I mean this in the strictest sense of COITUS. Yes, they can do all kinds of 'things' but life-giving genital intercourse is not one of them. I am not saying that a homosexual couple do not have feelings of love for each other, or desire to show that love to each other; however, it is this physical conduct that the Church frowns upon (not the persons) because it goes against Natural Law. I am not an expert on Natural Law, but it basically comes down to "functioning according to nature or design". It is not based on popular opinion.

I will try to illustrate this with an example.  Let's say that a group of people in society decided that instead of eating food orally, that they were going to sniff it up their noses. Does anyone see anything wrong in doing that? Some food may make it's way around the nasal passage to the throat, but I'm sure it would be wholly impractical and would cause untold problems (both in the cost to personal health and to society in fixing these problems medically), primarily because food is not supposed to be taken this way (although it may technically be able to be done). It is against the way that is "normal" - ie, not following the form and function of Nature.

In the same way, I believe that homosexual conduct is not following Natural Law, and there is danger in the practice and in the promotion of such.

This is Aristotelian logic – a belief in empirical observation and logical deduction which he called “teleology”. Teleology assumes that all things have a purpose and that the purpose of each thing can be discerned from its design and function. Anything that deviates from that design and function is therefore not normal.

Secondly, I want to touch on this "hate speech" thing: just because someone doesn't agree with your action, doesn't mean they hate you. I am sure that Vegetarians do not think it is moral or right to eat meat, but do they hate the people who do? I do not think so. And, generally, those who do not agree with homosexual conduct do not hate or fear homosexuals. The word "homophobia" is used as a weapon. Dr Scott Lively puts it this way -

As a rhetorical weapon, homophobia is unequaled. It serves first to define anyone who opposes the legitimization of homosexuality as a hate-filled bigot. The universal inclusion of all opponents as homophobic is of course not emphasized. Homosexual activists publicly associate this label with violent “gay bashers” and hateful fanatics. When they use the term they want people to think about the killers of Matthew Shepard, but in conventional practice they include every man, woman and child who believes homosexuality is abnormal or wrong.
People do things all the time we don't agree with, but that doesn't mean we hate them. The term Hate Speech is being used too generally these days, as a catch-all description for when someone makes a statement about the actions of someone else that they don't agree with. And yet if someone says something derogatory about the Catholic Church it is deemed perfectly acceptable. As another author wrote, anti-Catholicism is the "last acceptable prejudice".

And what does the Catholic Church say about homosexuals and their conduct? In the Catechism it states -

Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."  They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
 Doesn't sound like the language of hate to me. Society also has a funny view of "discrimination", which is often used as an excuse to legally prosecute someone for giving their opinion, or taking (or not taking) an action based on whether the person considers it moral, eg, not allowing a church hall to be used for homosexual meetings. If a vegetarian was to not allow duck hunters to cook and have a banquet in the vegetarian's hall would that be discrimination? I do not think so. It is personal preference.

15 comment(s):

Lucia Maria said...

Good post, Fletch!

All of this needs to be reiterated, as our position is subtly in some respects, but in consequence totally different on this issue compared to how we are normally portrayed.

Psycho Milt said...

...not following the form and function of Nature.

I hate to tell you this, but a huge amount of sexual activity between men and women doesn't have much to do with the form and function of reproduction either. Most of us don't have any trouble identifying it as sex, though.

Ciaron said...

would you not say the amount of terminated pregnancies, (about 1 in 4 now isn't it?) suggest that regardless of the "fun factor" conception is the function of sex?

For goodness sake, it's like saying you only mow the lawn for the exercise, in fact, you like to set the mower high so you can get your exercise without trimming the lawn.

Lucia Maria said...

Ciaron, LOL on your mowing the lawn analogy!

Seán said...

Great post IM Fletcher. Thanks.

Stripe said...

Much easier to just speak the truth than to try and hold people's hands through it. Homosexuals are a perversion and they will wind up regretting their rebellion against God for an eternity unless they repent.

I sat on this draft for all of 3 seconds. :)

Lucia Maria said...


It's really important to distinguish between the persons and the acts. So the persons (homosexuals) are not "a perversion". Like every other human being, they are made in the image and likeness of God. It is only the homosexual acts that are perversions. Which a big part of Fletch's post if you read the Catholic position on homosexuality.

MK said...

I agree wholeheartedly, homosexuality is not natural, but i don't hate homos, neither do i fear them.

And i don't understand why people choose to smear people like me as homophobes, perhaps it's because they know i'm right.

Stripe said...

There is absolutely no need to distinguish the sinner from the sin (apart from general grammatical correctness).

Yes, God loves all people and wants to see them all come to salvation, but neither a murderer nor an adulterer benefits from being disassociated from their crimes. Nor does the homosexual and nor does the thief.

The law is in place to show Christ to the world in that if you fail according to the law you are in need of a saviour. Telling people that their actions are separated from who they are only tells them they do not need Christ to forgive them.

The truth is that it is people, not sins, that get thrown into hell. Suggesting some separation of sin and sinner removes half the motivation toward Christ that all people recognise from their conscience.

Stripe said...

By the way, I don't mind admitting I'm a bit homophobic. But I figure people should just tolerate me. I was born this way, afterall...


I.M Fletcher said...

Stipe, hmmm, I'm not sure about your statement of "separating sinner from sin". Everyone still has to be held to account for what they have done, right or wrong.

The relationship of God toward man is, in one respect, similar to that of a Father toward his children (we call God 'Our Father'). I'm not sure if you have kids, but if you do, you'll know about the difference between a dislike for something one of your kids may do, and that of disliking the actual child.

If your child disobeys you, or does something else wrong, isn't it true that although you may hate the action, you still love the child? That is not to say the child will not be held to account for his actions and may even be punished for them; nevertheless, you, as the parent still love that child.

And, if you are God the Father, you will send your Heavenly son (Jesus) to take the blame upon himself for that wrong done by that earthly child, as long as that earthly child will only accept Jesus and His sacrifice on his behalf.

This is all the answer I can come up with at 1:30 in the morning, but someone else may be able to answer better.

Stripe said...

Hi, Mr. Fletcher.

I'm not sure you've understood me correctly. I was referencing the comment of the good woman Lucia Maria when she said, "It's really important to distinguish between the persons and the acts."

I see no reason to distinguish between the sinner and the sin and I agree wholeheartedly with your statement that, "Everyone still has to be held to account for what they have done, right or wrong."

So I'm a little confused about your post because you then go on as if you believe sinner should be considered apart from his sin.

If I had children I would have zero qualms about stating an appropriate level of dislike for them when they acted in a manner not up to my standard. My dislike for them, though, should not then interfere with my obligation to love and protect them. And I would still choose to love and forgive them as well.

I think our actions (yours and mine) toward our children might play out very similarly even given our different terminology. We would discipline according to their actions and love them as unconditionally as humanly possible, right?

Our only divergence seems to be on this point of separating sinner from sin. I see no need to suggest such a compromise toward homosexuals. We should have no qualms about calling a murderer a murderer, an adulterer an adulterer, a thief a thief and a homosexual a homosexual.

Do you not agree?

Anonymous said...

"Telling people that their actions are separated from who they are only tells them they do not need Christ to forgive them."

In my view, it is the other way around. It would be the responsibility of whoever was talking to these people to make sure they understood how they coemt o have a choice; of god asking people to come to him of their own free will, rather than threatening them with death if they don't. This is where denominational styles diverge. The bible is full of carrots and sticks and depending on your mood the interpretation will change. Focusing on reconciliation, rather than division and difference, supplies a unifying interpretation.

Separating act from person leaves the door open for repentance. Once you brand the person as the act, there is no possibility for redemption. As stated in the original post, the Catholic church allows a role for homosexuals within it's rules. It denies the act, but welcomes the person who will transcend that part of themselves. It doesn't say, ok, homos are welcome, here, do and be anything you like.

Lucia Maria said...

Hi Stripe,

This part of what you said made me wince: "If I had children I would have zero qualms about stating an appropriate level of dislike for them when they acted in a manner not up to my standard. My dislike for them, though, should not then interfere with my obligation to love and protect them. And I would still choose to love and forgive them as well.

Although it is human to greatly dislike a person when they have done wrong, it is nonetheless something we must fight against with all our might, especially when it comes to our children.

Children are very perceptive and will pick up on this dislike directed towards themselves when they do wrong, and they will hold onto it even when the thing has been forgiven. This is not good. Really, really not good.

If you think about it, when Jesus walked among us, He could have distanced himself completely from all of us because of our unworthiness, yet He did not. Because if you think about it, no one (except for His mother) was worthy. And the difference between us and Him is far greater than the difference between us and those who engage in same-sex acts.

Big Boar summarises it well when he says: "Separating act from person leaves the door open for repentance. Once you brand the person as the act, there is no possibility for redemption.

The person will think there is nothing they can do, that is it themselves that is hated, not their acts. This way of thinking is very close to what people think when they commit suicide.

Stripe said...

Mr. Boar - I never suggested you "brand a man as the act". Your first paragraph is all over the place. You recognise the bible as being capable of using both the carrot and the stick, but you'll not recognise the sense in my doing likewise.

Your second paragraph is just plain wrong. Repentance is for sinners. If you've separated the act from person there is no need for repentance.

Miss Lucia - you should not cringe at what I said. We dislike people all the time because of their actions. That's perfectly natural. We should then communicate our dislike. And we should remain open to forgive them if they repent of their actions. This is exactly the process Jesus described for proper forgiveness.

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