Given our discussion on April 4, I would like to follow up with some personal opinions supported, I hope, by authoritative sources, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Humanae Vitae, and Sacred Scripture.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Just for context, it may be helpful to find where in the Catechism the two separate issues of homosexuality and homosexual acts are addressed. The Catechism has four major parts.
So there it is, in bold print, in the section about the sixth commandment in Part Three about Life in Christ. And here are the pertinent words, the section in bold print above, in a screen shot from the Vatican Website.
So the topic occupies about a dozen lines of approximately 700 pages of the Catechism. All of Article 6 can be read at the Vatican website HERE.
I think of human physiology and the natural reproductive processes as secular explanations or defenses of the phrase, “objectively disordered,” which is certainly insulting and offensive to many of our friends and acquaintances.
HUMANAE VITAE (HUMAN LIFE)
The screen shot above is of the title of a 1968 Pope Paul VI Encyclical, and the entire letter can be read HERE in just fifteen or twenty minutes. It is worth time and attention since it addresses Church teachings on marriage, sex, reproduction, and parenthood in response to the “recent course of human society and the concomitant changes.” For those of us who lived the 1960’s, it is easy to remember the issues, and they have only become more complex and difficult in the intervening decades. (Having been staunchly Protestant during all my reproductive years, I cannot tell you how I would have dealt with these Church teachings on the subject if I had been knowledgeable about and subject to them.) Humanae Vitae, by the way, does not mention either homosexuality or homosexual behaviors.
Sacred Scripture speaks directly to the issue of homosexual acts and other sexual behaviors inconsistent with creation principles and Church teaching about sex, marriage, and family but not so much to the temptations of same sex attraction (homosexuality). One of the most famous and often quoted passages is from the first chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans whom he was preparing to visit on his last missionary journey. (It is interesting that he never made that journey as planned but was arrested in Jerusalem and taken to Rome only in chains. See Acts 27 – 28.) Below is a screen shot of that passage from the first chapter of Romans headlined “Humanity Lost Without the Gospel.”
Verses 16-23 seem to be identifying those about whom he is writing (“those who suppress the truth by their wickedness”) and the basic mistake they made (For although they knew God, they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.) Basically, they had violated the First and Greatest Commandment.
I recall a pastor of a few decades past who liked to quip that whenever we see a “therefore” in the Bible, we need to be sure to figure out what it is there for. So, verse 24 begins with “therefore” and it seems that all the sinful behaviors described in the following verses are the result of that basic mistake the people made: failure to obey the first and greatest commandment. The list of resulting sinful behaviors is interesting and worthy of some attention.
- Worship of creature rather than creator
- Unnatural sex relations
- Wickedness, evil, greed, and malice
- Envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite
- Gossiping and scandal mongering
- Hating God
- Being insolent, haughty, boastful, ingeniously wicked, rebellious toward parents
- Being senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless
- Doing and turning a blind eye to evil things deserving death.
I count 26 dangerous behaviors, though one of those seems to get a disproportionate share of attention and enthusiastic condemnation by people of faith today.
Who in the world could St. Paul have been talking about? Here are a couple of articles about beliefs and life styles of the ancient Romans, whom Paul was about to visit. There is certainly little evidence of worship of the One True God and lots of evidence of almost unbelievable narcissism and sexual misbehavior. So, perhaps it was them he spoke of.
Just to continue the inclusion of and focus on context, it is worthwhile to see what St. Paul wrote immediately following that list of sins in Romans 1. Here is a screen shot of the first eleven verses of Chapter 2 from the NABRE. Ouch.
I guess I had best keep my eye on the prize and avoid getting bogged down in peripheral issues. If we start from the center and work outward, we may largely avoid the dark periphery (and the sin of passing judgement).
Final Note: Here is a link to information about the book Paul Bartow recommended during the discussion. He comments, “It’s a great crash course on how to live Biblically as a man and as a father. It also includes some Scripture to study as well as how we men can encourage each other in our walk with Christ. I’d be happy to discuss the book if anyone is willing to read it.”
There is a possibly similar Catholic organization for men called St. Joseph’s Covenant Keepers apparently formed in response to the popular Promise Keepers of the 1990’s.