Monday, May 07, 2007

Homosexuality and Apologetics

The Subjects of Homosexuality and Apologetics
Scott Windsor
May 7, 2007

Is the topic of homosexuality one we can or should talk about in an apologetics forum? First off, let me state that we should not discuss individual homosexuals – as that becomes a personal argument and as ad hominem, really would have no place in an apologetics forum. However, we can discuss homosexuality itself, as that is a moral issue which plagues society and is a topic we, as apologists, are asked about more than seldomly. We must be able to provide the Church's stance on moral issues, so yes – it is an acceptable topic for an apologetics forum.

So, what is the moral stance of the Church on this? Let's start with the Catechism of the Catholic Church (hereafter CCC):
2357 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 CCC does not come right out and condemn the homosexual acts thus far, but lets look further:
2396 Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.

In paragraph 2396 homosexual practices and fornication are equated and are considered not only "sins" but "sins gravely contrary to chastity," let us continue:
2353 Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young.

It doesn't mention homosexuality here – but we must consider that ANY act of sexual intercourse between unmarried persons is fornication as well. Let's look to another source:
fornication: consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other (source)

Looking further at the CCC:
1852 There are a great many kinds of sins. Scripture provides several lists of them. The Letter to the Galatians contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit: "Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God."

In paragraph 1852 of the CCC the warning against those who participate in such acts is quite explicit – "those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God." Again, I would reiterate, it is not up to us, as the apologists, to judge individual persons – but if we are asked, we should point to these references and allow the person asking to be convicted themselves by the voice of the Church on these matters.

Continuing, paragraph 1755 contrasts a "morally good" act with those which would be considered a "moral evil." 1755 also points out that this is an "object of the choice." 1853 emphasizes what sort of acts "defile a man." Then in 2517 we see another example of things which "defiles a man."
1755 A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end, and of the circumstances together. An evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself (such as praying and fasting "in order to be seen by men").
The object of the choice can by itself vitiate an act in its entirety. There are some concrete acts - such as fornication - that it is always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil.

1853 Sins can be distinguished according to their objects, as can every human act; or according to the virtues they oppose, by excess or defect; or according to the commandments they violate. They can also be classed according to whether they concern God, neighbor, or oneself; they can be divided into spiritual and carnal sins, or again as sins in thought, word, deed, or omission. The root of sin is in the heart of man, in his free will, according to the teaching of the Lord: "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man." But in the heart also resides charity, the source of the good and pure works, which sin wounds.

2517 The heart is the seat of moral personality: "Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication. . . . " (Matt 15:19-20). The struggle against carnal covetousness entails purifying the heart and practicing temperance:
Remain simple and innocent, and you will be like little children who do not know the evil that destroys man's life.

Matthew 15:19 For from the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. 20 These are the things that defile a man. (DRB).

So, things man (including woman) chooses to do can defile him. Let's continue with more Scripture:
1 Cor. 6:9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders (10) nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Tim. 1: 8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

Lev. 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.

Lev. 20:13 If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.
Romans 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

I believe it is crystal clear, homosexuality is an abomination to the Lord. It is a grave sin and separates man from salvation. Thus, if we truly "love our neighbor" as we should, then we do not sugar-coat the clear teaching of God on this matter. If they are participating in this immoral act, they need to stop – if they want to save their souls. They will stand before God and have to answer for their deeds and their choices. Our duty as apologists is to represent the clear word of the Lord and our Church on this matter when we are asked about it. As 1 Peter 3:15 says, we are always to be ready to give an answer. If this question comes up, we must answer it and must not give answers which may lead to complacency of the sinner – making us then complicit in their sin! Our answer(s) must be firm and straight-forward from Church teaching and from Scripture.

Homosexuality is a sin, period, however, this does not mean that we "hate the sinner." On the contrary – it should be our goal to, with the love of Christ, explain the Church teaching and help guide them and their thoughts back to Christ.
Feel free to leave a comment here in the blog, or join us in the Locutus Message Board for more discussion.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

3 comments:

  1. Q: Could you list for me the Bible passages that deal with homosexuality? I have a family member who argues that the New Testament doesn't really deal with the issue and that the passages that do depend on interpretation.

    A: The following New Testament passages deal with homosexual actions:

    "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error" (Rom. 1:26–27).

    "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9–10).

    "Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine" (1 Tim. 1:8–10).

    "Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire" (Jude 7).

    But God's displeasure with acting out on homosexuality is depicted as early as Genesis 19 in the Old Testament. Also see Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.

    Yes, interpretation is important. If interpretation were left up to us as individuals, we could make the Bible say whatever we want it to say, and our sinful natures could gravitate toward interpretations that serve our passions. That is why, ultimately, the Church reserves the right to interpret Scripture to herself. "For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God" ( Dei Verbum 12).


    @ http://www.catholic.com

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  2. Homosexuality

    Every human being is called to receive a gift of divine sonship, to become a child of God by grace. However, to receive this gift, we must reject sin, including homosexual behavior—that is, acts intended to arouse or stimulate a sexual response regarding a person of the same sex. The Catholic Church teaches that such acts are always violations of divine and natural law.

    Homosexual desires, however, are not in themselves sinful. People are subject to a wide variety of sinful desires over which they have little direct control, but these do not become sinful until a person acts upon them, either by acting out the desire or by encouraging the desire and deliberately engaging in fantasies about acting it out. People tempted by homosexual desires, like people tempted by improper heterosexual desires, are not sinning until they act upon those desires in some manner.

    Divine Law

    The rejection of homosexual behavior that is found in the Old Testament is well known. In Genesis 19, two angels in disguise visit the city of Sodom and are offered hospitality and shelter by Lot. During the night, the men of Sodom demand that Lot hand over his guests for homosexual intercourse. Lot refuses, and the angels blind the men of Sodom. Lot and his household escape, and the town is destroyed by fire "because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord" (Gen. 19:13).

    Throughout history, Jewish and Christian scholars have recognized that one of the chief sins involved in God’s destruction of Sodom was its people’s homosexual behavior. But today, certain homosexual activists promote the idea that the sin of Sodom was merely a lack of hospitality. Although inhospitality is a sin, it is clearly the homosexual behavior of the Sodomites that is singled out for special criticism in the account of their city’s destruction. We must look to Scripture’s own interpretation of the sin of Sodom.

    Jude 7 records that Sodom and Gomorrah "acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust." Ezekiel says that Sodom committed "abominable things" (Ezek. 16:50), which could refer to homosexual and heterosexual acts of sin. Lot even offered his two virgin daughters in place of his guests, but the men of Sodom rejected the offer, preferring homosexual sex over heterosexual sex (Gen. 19:8–9). Ezekiel does allude to a lack of hospitality in saying that Sodom "did not aid the poor and needy" (Ezek. 16:49). So homosexual acts and a lack of hospitality both contributed to the destruction of Sodom, with the former being the far greater sin, the "abominable thing" that set off God’s wrath.

    But the Sodom incident is not the only time the Old Testament deals with homosexuality. An explicit condemnation is found in the book of Leviticus: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. . . . If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them" (Lev. 18:22, 20:13).

    Reinterpreting Scripture

    To discount this, some homosexual activists have argued that moral imperatives from the Old Testament can be dismissed since there were certain ceremonial requirements at the time—such as not eating pork, or circumcising male babies—that are no longer binding.

    While the Old Testament’s ceremonial requirements are no longer binding, its moral requirements are. God may issue different ceremonies for use in different times and cultures, but his moral requirements are eternal and are binding on all cultures.

    Confirming this fact is the New Testament’s forceful rejection of homosexual behavior as well. In Romans 1, Paul attributes the homosexual desires of some to a refusal to acknowledge and worship God. He says, "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. . . . Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them" (Rom. 1:26–28, 32).

    Elsewhere Paul again warns that homosexual behavior is one of the sins that will deprive one of heaven: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9–10, NIV).

    All of Scripture teaches the unacceptability of homosexual behavior. But the rejection of this behavior is not an arbitrary prohibition. It, like other moral imperatives, is rooted in natural law—the design that God has built into human nature.

    Natural Law

    People have a basic, ethical intuition that certain behaviors are wrong because they are unnatural. We perceive intuitively that the natural sex partner of a human is another human, not an animal.

    The same reasoning applies to the case of homosexual behavior. The natural sex partner for a man is a woman, and the natural sex partner for a woman is a man. Thus, people have the corresponding intuition concerning homosexuality that they do about bestiality—that it is wrong because it is unnatural.

    Natural law reasoning is the basis for almost all standard moral intuitions. For example, it is the dignity and value that each human being naturally possesses that makes the needless destruction of human life or infliction of physical and emotional pain immoral. This gives rise to a host of specific moral principles, such as the unacceptability of murder, kidnapping, mutilation, physical and emotional abuse, and so forth.

    "I Was Born This Way"

    Many homosexuals argue that they have not chosen their condition, but that they were born that way, making homosexual behavior natural for them.

    But because something was not chosen does not mean it was inborn. Some desires are acquired or strengthened by habituation and conditioning instead of by conscious choice. For example, no one chooses to be an alcoholic, but one can become habituated to alcohol. Just as one can acquire alcoholic desires (by repeatedly becoming intoxicated) without consciously choosing them, so one may acquire homosexual desires (by engaging in homosexual fantasies or behavior) without consciously choosing them.

    Since sexual desire is subject to a high degree of cognitive conditioning in humans (there is no biological reason why we find certain scents, forms of dress, or forms of underwear sexually stimulating), it would be most unusual if homosexual desires were not subject to a similar degree of cognitive conditioning.

    Even if there is a genetic predisposition toward homosexuality (and studies on this point are inconclusive), the behavior remains unnatural because homosexuality is still not part of the natural design of humanity. It does not make homosexual behavior acceptable; other behaviors are not rendered acceptable simply because there may be a genetic predisposition toward them.

    For example, scientific studies suggest some people are born with a hereditary disposition to alcoholism, but no one would argue someone ought to fulfill these inborn urges by becoming an alcoholic. Alcoholism is not an acceptable "lifestyle" any more than homosexuality is.

    The Ten Percent Argument

    Homosexual activists often justify homosexuality by claiming that ten percent of the population is homosexual, meaning that it is a common and thus acceptable behavior.

    But not all common behaviors are acceptable, and even if ten percent of the population were born homosexual, this would prove nothing. One hundred percent of the population is born with original sin and the desires flowing from it. If those desires manifest themselves in a homosexual fashion in ten percent of the population, all that does is give us information about the demographics of original sin.

    But the fact is that the ten percent figure is false. It stems from the 1948 report by Alfred Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. The study was profoundly flawed, as later psychologists studying sexual behavior have agreed. Kinsey’s subjects were drawn heavily from convicted criminals; 1,400 of his 5,300 final subjects (twenty-six percent) were convicted sex offenders—a group that by definition is not representative of normal sexual practices.

    Furthermore, the ten percent figure includes people who are not exclusively homosexual but who only engaged in some homosexual behavior for a period of time and then stopped—people who had gone through a fully or partially homosexual "phase" but who were not long-term homosexuals. (For a critique of Kinsey’s research methods, see Kinsey, Sex, and Fraud, by Dr. Judith Reisman and Edward Eichel [Lafayette, Louisiana: Lochinvar & Huntington House, 1990].)

    Recent and more scientifically accurate studies have shown that only around one to two percent of the population is homosexual.

    "You’re Just a Homophobe"

    Those opposed to homosexual behavior are often charged with "homophobia"—that they hold the position they do because they are "afraid" of homosexuals. Sometimes the charge is even made that these same people are perhaps homosexuals themselves and are overcompensating to hide this fact, even from themselves, by condemning other homosexuals.

    Both of these arguments attempt to stop rational discussion of an issue by shifting the focus to one of the participants. In doing so, they dismiss another person’s arguments based on some real or supposed attribute of the person. In this case, the supposed attribute is a fear of homosexuals.

    Like similar attempts to avoid rational discussion of an issue, the homophobia argument completely misses the point. Even if a person were afraid of homosexuals, that would not diminish his arguments against their behavior. The fact that a person is afraid of handguns would not nullify arguments against handguns, nor would the fact that a person might be afraid of handgun control diminish arguments against handgun control.

    Furthermore, the homophobia charge rings false. The vast majority of those who oppose homosexual behavior are in no way "afraid" of homosexuals. A disagreement is not the same as a fear. One can disagree with something without fearing it, and the attempt to shut down rational discussion by crying "homophobe!" falls flat. It is an attempt to divert attention from the arguments against one’s position by focusing attention on the one who made the arguments, while trying to claim the moral high ground against him.

    The Call to Chastity

    The modern arguments in favor of homosexuality have thus been insufficient to overcome the evidence that homosexual behavior is against divine and natural law, as the Bible and the Church, as well as the wider circle of Jewish and Christian (not to mention Muslim) writers, have always held.

    The Catholic Church thus teaches: "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" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357).

    However, the Church also acknowledges that "[homosexuality’s] psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. . . . 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 that 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" (CCC 2357– 2359).

    Paul comfortingly reminds us, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13).

    Homosexuals who want to live chastely can contact Courage, a national, Church-approved support group for help in deliverance from the homosexual lifestyle.

    Courage,
    Church of St. John the Baptist
    210 W. 31st St., New York, NY 10001

    (212) 268–1010
    Web: http://couragerc.net

    NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
    presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
    Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

    IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
    permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
    +Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

    http://www.catholic.com/library/Homosexuality.asp

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  3. Your writings bear the truth. I would like to say thank you Scott. and God bless you.
    In the final end of all things there will be only 2 places. One is Heaven and life eternal the other is Hell, darkness and death. We will be in either one of those places BY OUR OWN CHOICE. Please choose to live God's will and not your own will, which has been seriously wounded by sin.

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