Sunday, June 30, 2013

The weak underbelly of contemporary Christian arguments about sex

A guest column today by JM, which I commend to you:
I know, I know... I remain, I realize, impossible to please on the gay issue.

But in reading all the hand-wringing over the Supreme Court decision by Catholics and Evangelicals, all I see, over and over again, is concern for the future of marriage. Oddly, few are concerned nearly so much by the hook-up culture on college campuses or the fact the living together pre-marriage is now the given almost everywhere unless you are a Traddie or Amish. Gays amount to 3 - 9 percent of the population, whereas the sexually-active-outside-of-marriage amount to what percentage? Of course sex sin has always been an issue, but it used to be a sin of stumbling or weakness. Now it is a sin of deliberation, of lifestyle. College students now bring their girl or boyfriends home as bedmates for the summer, and the parents are ... just happy to have the kids home! It is all seen as not weakness but normalcy.

To my mind what is missing in the current unrest, to the point it neuters the entire controversy from a Christian perspective -- despite arguments of a Robert P George that are downright Thomistic in their awesome expansiveness -- is simply this:

Gay marriage is the societal approval of gay sex, plain and simple. It is "I'm OK -- You're Physical Partnering is OK." And this is the natural, almost inescapable endgame of "We must make sure in every circumstance we affirm the inherent dignity of our homosexual brothers and sisters." Someone with inherent dignity can hardly be affirmed and then also taken to task or asked to deny what is part of what is their inherent dignity, right? What does it mean when the Supreme Court gives a green light to gay marriage, and the only mention of sodomy or immorality in the reams and reams of commentary from countless ministry blogs is in Judge Scalia's actual dissent? When the Evangelicals are busy worrying about how we will now interact and witness to gay people and their loved ones? When Exodus Ministries shuts down and apologizes out of respect for the dignity of homosexual believers?

Rather vaguely I think of the Liturgical Wars, and how people are wildly concerned about the loss of Latin, whereas what is more deeply at stake is just what the translations say or don't say. The Latin is important too, but really the more significant matter has to be what words are used, whether in English or in Latin. True, both ARE significant, but when you realize what was done to the content of the Mass a while ago, the question of the vernacular takes on a secondary importance to what you are or are no longer saying.

I am not sure what any of it means, except that while we think sex is very important, we also don't seem to think that our sexual choices especially matter. A commenter on First Things blog said this. It has been so long since I have read anything remotely like it I was shocked. If a Catholic leader ever said any such thing, I might have to make a pilgrimage to the remotest shrine I could find to give thanks for a miracle. Tough times, battle times, require tough talk, not grave tsk tsks. As bracing as Dolan's commentary first appears, next to this it is tepid:
The issue to which I keep coming back as the Church accommodates more and more to the secular gay voices in our society, is our responsibility to proclaim the whole gospel, even the parts we don’t like. Even a cursory reading of Romans 1 and I Corinthians 6 indicates that practicing homosexuals are in real danger of not being a part of God’s Kingdom, however you construe that. That a given “sexual-minority” person is an otherwise well-socialized member of society, perhaps even particularly caring and warm, doesn’t seem to make any difference in Kingdom membership. Whether we like it or not and whether it seems enlightened or not, Scripture, as it reveals God’s message to us, is unambiguous regarding unrepentant homosexual behavior. If we fail to warn those in danger of perdition, then we too will come under a greater judgement. The truth about the Truth sets us free and we owe those caught in sin the same opportunity we have had to find redemption and freedom.
[Hat tip to JM]



Anonymous said...

Trying to stop same sex secular marriage is closing the barn door decades after the horses have left. Divorce and remarriage is adultery. Christ taught it, as does the Church, but how often is this affirmed from Catholic pulpits? Worse, evangelicals barely pay any attention to this teaching at all. Christians can't point fingers at homosexuals for deviating from the gospels when many, many, many more thousands of "good" Christians disobey a direct teaching of Christ (reiterated in three places in the gospels!) without a word of protest from other Christians. Hypocrites don't win moral arguments. Until we clean our own house, the world will pay no attention to our condemnation of others.

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

I am currently undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, following major surgery to remove 54 lymph nodes, because of my own free will I drank the sexual revolution Kool Aid, defying God, Nature, and my saintly parents. The leading cause of throat cancer is now oral so-called sex. (Cf. Michael Douglas, who doesn't even have the good sense or decency to condemn the activity that brought on his illness.) The treatment has been harsh, but I got what I had coming. When I told a social worker that it was all my fault she replied 'Why are you beating yourself up', reminding me of: 'The greatest sin of the 20th century is the inability to recognize sin'- Pious XII.

I have a good enough memory to recall the precise moment at which I allowed the Father of all Lies, via Hollywood, to enter my already unchaste mind. Remember the film Coming Home with Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, and Bruce Dern? It came out in '78, the first post-Vietnam movie to critically examine that conflict. I took my equally unchaste girlfriend to see it and we thoroughly enjoyed both the message and the GREAT rock-and-roll soundtrack- lots of Stones. Cutting to the chase, the Dern Character has once last perfunctory romp with his wife JF, before being sent overseas: boom, boom, boom and she's left staring morosely at the ceiling. Enter the paraplegic JV, confined to a wheelchair at the local VA hospital where JF volunteers. They hit it off after some initial bad behavior on his part, one thing leads to another, and, heedless of the fact that she is married, he eventually takes care of her kneeling at the foot of the bed, sending her into complete and total ecstasy. Dern 'comes home', discovers the tryst, and drowns himself in the Pacific Ocean while the Stones play one of their best tunes- Out of Time:

'You don't know what's going on
You've been away for far too long
You can't come back and think you are still mine
You're out of touch, my baby
My poor discarded baby
I said, baby, baby, baby, you're out of time.'

Even at the time, I thought there was something incredibly mean-spirited going on there, but, hey, like I said, it was a great tune and, more importantly, I now had my sexual role model. No Bruce Dern insensitive, flop for me; I was going to be a JV type of guy.

And one more thing. There is not one sentence condemning oral sex in the JP2 Catechism, which I checked after we got married. St. Pious the 10th, of course, labeled it a mortal sin, but what does he know?

BTW, I'm going to be fine and, thus, harassing enemies of the HMC, God willing, for some time to come. But please keep me and all those fighting this wicked illness in your prayers.

Thanks in advance for providing me with the forum to make this case. It's been bottled up inside of me since my diagnosis.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Robert Allen, thank you for sharing this, and be assured I will pray for you.

Pertinacious Papist said...

Ditto. De Profundis.