Roman Catholic Catechism and LGBTQ Reality

I was reminded that there was a time when I would suffer from loneliness in silence. Yes, I was lonely, but I was then lonely and depressed because I did not permit myself even the possibility of finding a guy with whom to share my life, due to my conservative evangelical upbringing. I was reminded of this while reading choice selections from the Roman Catholic Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding LGBTQ persons, from the brief LGBTQ Nation article, "Can the Catholic Church Handle Its Queer History?"
Basing itself upon 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 natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of love [i.e., children]. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (link)
There are of course, several troubling aspects to the statements contained herein. Firstly, the statement is derived from an interpretation(s) of Scripture and not from pure objectivity. In other words, to remark, "Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture," is to deceive the masses into thinking that the subject of homosexuality, as granted by two authors from a few millennia ago, is so very clearly the same sort of homosexuality as we understand the subject today. Not all scholars agree (as should be obvious, I think, even from texts such as Genesis 19, Judges 19, and Romans 1).

Secondly, to state that "homosexual acts" are (objectively) noted from two authors of Scripture as "acts of grave depravity," and that those who engage in those acts -- even within the framework of a committed and monogamous union -- are "intrinsically disordered," is to render a psychological conclusion from texts that will not warrant the same. In other words, the two authors who mention some semblance of same-sex sex (and they are not all the same ordered sex acts) merely mention the sex acts themselves, and not any sort of emotional or psychological state of those engaged in said acts.

Thirdly, to emphatically insist that "homosexual acts" are "contrary to natural law" is not only to transgress what the two authors suggest regarding some semblance of homosexual sex acts, but even transgresses what we know about natural law. Such is obvious from the natural and scientific fact that homosexuality exists in nature. (link)



Fourthly, to suggest that homosexuality is inherently sinful or wrong or disordered because it "closes the sexual act to the gift of love," referring, of course, to the bearing of children, one must wonder just how bitterly insulting this statement is toward heterosexuals who are unable to bear children. Would not this statement, then, render their own heterosexual union tragically "intrinsically disordered"? Insistently, yes!

Finally, the statement is inaccurate to suggest that homosexual acts "do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity." Gay men and gay women who join themselves together in a committed and monogamous same-sex relationship do so affectively; meaning, the two are joined metaphysically, emotionally, romantically, psychologically and spiritually just as are heterosexual couples. The statement, as it is, objectifies gay people and is entirely offensive (to say nothing of in complete error).

Moreover, there is complementarity even in platonic friendships, to say nothing of homosexual relationships (romantic, emotional, and psychological). Complementarity does not merely regard anatomy; to insist otherwise is to neglect the basics of all relationships. So, again, this statement is in error regardless of how many centuries Roman Catholics have maintained these very elementary (and sophomoric) errors.

But what really broke my heart, and instrumentally caused me further grief today, was reading the following from the Catechism: "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." (link) (emphases added) I often wonder at the seeming ease with which straight people construct orders and instructions for LGBTQ people without experiencing the ramifications. Imagine the horror of a straight man or straight woman, who longs to love and to be loved, being told that he or she is called to celibacy; and that, by "the virtues of self-mastery that teaches them inner freedom," they should gradually and resolutely approach perfection in this area.

Like the evangelicals, Roman Catholic Church officials perceive of homosexuality and, from all appearances, homosexuals as sex-objects: homosexuality and homosexuals, then, are a subject, a theoretical topic, and all that concerns them, truly, is sex. This ignorance must be reformed. If LGBTQ people treated heterosexuals in like manner there would be such an outcry and a protest that is unparalleled. We want love; we want lasting relationships; we want what you want: to share life and joy and God in Christ, and worship, and bills and houses and vacations and children and cutting the lawn and enjoying iced tea on the porch or the deck with our loved ones just like you do.

But such is denied us -- at least denied us by the GOP (Republicans), the Roman Catholic Church, and conservative evangelicals of the Religious Right (and they, amazingly, wonder why we refuse to vote Republican). People within these contexts have got to stop viewing gay people as objects of a sex-act they deem repugnant. We are human beings created in the image of God. In our deepest inner being we want what every other heterosexual in the known universe wants: to love and to be loved.

ABOUT WILLIAM BIRCH

My photo

My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.