Homosexual Rights, RevisitedWhat is a Can of Worms post?
Much like with abortion, my thoughts on what I wrote about here and here have changed somewhat, or to use the politically-correct term of the day, they have evolved. These thoughts actually evolved quite a while ago, and I can say that with confidence because Alison can back me up if need be, as she has the proof in writing. (An aside: She has the proof in writing because when I asked for a letter of recommendation for my current job, she asked directly about my thoughts on this issue to be sure it would be appropriate to write the letter of recommendation.)
I also want to explain a bit why I haven't broached this topic sooner. There is one main reason: I honestly haven't felt emotionally up to defending my thoughts on this topic; as anyone who has read here regularly knows, my emotions have been bared in this space and it has become a safe, encouraging community on which I rely. I haven't wanted to risk seeing comment notification emails and feeling dread rather than encouragement. That said, I bring it up now because it is in the news, because I'm feeling rather confident as I've decided to put one step forward, and probably a little bit because it's not CD1 or close to it.
Finally, before I delve into this further, I also need to make something very clear as I write this: I am writing this here, on my personal blog in a capacity as an individual person. I am in no way writing in my capacity as an employee of our diocese. While my views are in line with church teaching, I do not pretend to be a theologian or apologist, and in fact, as you read, you may be surprised at the lack of faith-based reasoning behind my views. For official, Catholic Church teaching and resources, not just the writings/thoughts of me, please visit the USCCB or the Vatican or Catholic Answers.
Ok, I think it best to go over these, as I did with abortion, in a bulleted list with the before and now. How/what I used to think is in bold, followed by what has changed, how I currently think in italics.
1. Homosexuality is not a choice. Thought for 2 reasons: 1) I do not choose to be heterosexual, I just am. 2) Why would anyone choose a life that will subject them to ridicule and cruelty? I continue to agree with this. I do not think any person wakes up, attracted to the opposite sex in the morning and sometime over lunch decides to be attracted to the same sex. This may beg the question, why does God the Creator, create a creature that is homosexual. I honestly, do not know. What I know is that he creates us all differently and that we all have our struggles and crosses to bear in this life. For some, that is infertility, for others it is same-sex attraction, for others it is physical disability, for others it is mental disability, and on and on and on.
2. I strongly agree that homosexuals should receive protection under the equal rights act for hiring, housing, etc. and not be discriminated against because of sexual orientation just as someone should not be discrimianted against for being a woman or black. Yep. Still agree with this one. I don't really care whether you are attracted to men or women; whether you are black, purple, or green; or whether you are Catholic, Hindu, or Athiest as long as you can do your job well, are the best candidate for the position, pass a credit check for a mortgage, or pay your bills on time then by all means you should be hired, given a rental agreement or mortgage and be allowed to live and work just like everyone else.
3. We're skipping marriage for a second and going to homosexuals in the military being an okay thing. Again, as it relates to #2, if you have same-sex attraction, but are an awesome snipper or intelligence officer, go for it. I think "don't ask, don't tell" was a bad idea and am glad it's gone. Personally, I think it shouldn't even be an issue. There are rules against fraternization within the military that should prevent an sexual activity from occurring. Of course, we know rules are often broken, but whether you break the rule by having sex with someone of the same sex or the opposite sex, you are still breaking the rule. As I do not want to misrepresent Catholic Church Teaching, I do want to say that I know the Archbishop of the military diocese has spoken out against this repeal and what I understand his main concerns to be were 1) that military chaplains would be forced to violate their conscience as it relates to service (wo)men wtih same-sex attraction and 2) the repeal would be used to push forward an agenda violating Church teaching. If either of those are occurring, I agree, it is a problem but IMHO it is a problem of misuse of the repeal, not the repeal itself.
4. And we have arrived at the biggest current hot topic, and where my thoughts have changed. Previously, I thought that secular or civil marriage should be legal for same sex couples. Now, I do not feel it should be legal, or frankly that it is even possible for it to be legal. To touch on Faith for a second, I do still know that Jesus taught love, forgiveness, respect and tolerance. He taught to love one another and to forgive our enemies. BUT, he also taught us to pick up our crosses, to follow him, and to repent. It is in this area that I feel our society has lost all touch with our Judeo-Christian roots - frankly both secularly and within our churches. There is much to be gained and learned from sufferring, from desiring something we can't have, and from obedience to a great power and a willingness to follow natural law.
I know this personally from our sufferring with infertility. Our society tells The Man and I that we want a baby, so we should go demand a baby and make one any way possible. We've decided to honor the way God created us and how He wants us to create new life and have lengthened our sufferring as a result. But, you know what, we have grown and benefitted in so many ways as we've born this sufferring. No, it's not easy and on the days that the sufferring is the greatest, I feel it is all very unfair and I get quite angry. Yet, I see the fruits and the growth and the benefits of being obedient and willing to follow God's plan and natural law.
Which moves me to my non-faith understanding of why same sex "marriage" is impossible. When we look at a man and a woman, side by side and look at their biology, their objective design, it is clear what they were designed for - how they fit together, quite literally. It is clear from this fitting together how future humans are created. It is clear that a man's pe.nis was designed to deposit sp.erm into a woman's vag.ina and for the sp.erm to meet with egg to create a new life. Is this a pleasurable act? Absolutely. Is enjoying the pleasure of this act bad? Absolutely not! However, when the order is replaced and the pleasure is placed ahead of the purpose we have begun to violate natural law. We have reproductive organs and parts so that we can, in fact, reproduce. The pleasure is the bonus; the side effect if you will.
Philosophy describes it like this: the per se end of sexual intercourse is reproduction and the per accidens end is pleasure, bonding of the couple. While both are equal and legitimate ends, it is reproduction that is the essential end, while pleasure follows. In our society, we have made pleasure the purpose of pretty much everything we do, and specifically with our sexual lives, we have completely flipped pleasure and reproduction - in fact, removed reproduction in many instances. If something doesn't bring us pleasure or make us happy, we don't do it. Period. We have lost sight of the natural way of our creation and replaced it with our desires. When we separated sex from babies we lowered ourselves from a higher-order thinking creature to that of an animal; to that of a creature without self-control driven solely by pleasure and survival.
Often I hear the argument that same-sex attraction and actions are seen all throughout animal species, and I do not disagree with that, it is true. Yet, are we not different from animals? Are we not rational beings with self-control and higher-order decision making abilities? Do we not pride ourselves on our ability to think, to reason, and to discern? We, when considering objectively how male and female humans were created, are able to see that we were made to fit together, to become one, to marry and to reproduce; looking objectively at two men or two women does not yield this same conclusion. Does this sound cruel? Maybe. And this is where I return to the idea of pleasure and sufferring. In our society, sufferring = bad and pleasure = good. This is an absolute we have come to accept, and given this absolute and belief system, then it makes sense why same-sex "marriage" is ok to some. And yet, if we allow ourselves to embrace the sufferings in our life and to grow and learn from them, we can see a more fulfilling life than we ever imagined possible when only focused on pleasure.
Finally, I will return to my argument of faith, because, ironically, that is where I rooted my previous point of view. No, Jesus never said there was a limit or exception to His message of love, forgiveness, and acceptance and I am not, in any way, shape, or form suggesting we not love, forgive, and accept those with same sex attraction. Yet, if we are to accept that message, must we not also accept that we are sinful and that He told us to go forth and sin no more? Must we not also accept that our desires and that feels good may not be what is best for us? Are Adam and Eve not proof of this? Had they denied their desire for the forbidden fruit, none of us would be experiencing this fallen world. Jesus never said, if it feels good, do it. Instead he said to lay down our life for our friends; for a man to leave his mother and father and cling to his wife; that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven; that whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will perserve it for eternity.
I will end this on the idea that tolerance does not equal agreement. One can be tolerant and kind without agreeing. While I do not think we can all agree all of the time (or even part of the time), I do think we can look for similarities and then work from there rather than focusing all of our energies on differences and why we are right or wrong. I have more to say on the difference in my own life and how I approach things between when I first wrote on this topic and now, but that is for a different post.
This Can of Worms has been opened. What do you think? (And a reminder, you certainly do not have to agree with me, but I do ask that you only leave respectful comments, especially replies to other commentors. If you wouldn't say it directly to the person's face, then you shouldn't type it here :).)
Edited to add some much needed paragraphing in #4 :).