Saturday, February 14, 2009

Homosexual orientation is not sinful. However, any acting upon that orientation is gravely, objectively sinful?


Beginning this discussion are several quotations about ignorance, which must mean ignorance of the truth. My comment is a question: what is the theology of homosexuality? Officially, as presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a homosexual orientation is not sinful in itself (#2357 Chastity and homosexuality). However, any acting upon that orientation is gravely, objectively sinful. Evidently the Church hierarchy or the theologians who represent the teaching authority of the Church see no contradiction in those two statements.

Would someone please explain why God creates or at least permits the psychosexual development of a large group of people to be oriented toward sin, why he allows them to be oriented a certain way, a way acknowledged by the theologians as truly existing in this world in many human beings? In an area of life so crucial as sexuality--as human love--is there in fact a group of people destined to live either as complete celibates or, if they choose the evil that somehow they are "oriented" toward, to live in what the hierarchy defines as grave sin? What kind of theology is that? It sounds so much as though the theological authorities want to be seen as modern and scientific and cognizant and educated in human nature, yet at the same time, in a fiercely unscientific, unrealistic way, they consign so many thousands and millions of human beings to a struggle not of their choosing and, it seems, not entirely a matter of will.

Saint Augustine wrote (Confessions, VII, 16) that iniquity (a word associated for centuries with homosexual desire and action) is not a "substance" in the ancient sense. It is a lack, a minus sign. He called it the perversity of a will turned away from the highest substance, God, and turned instead toward the lowest, toward evil. So, an act of will is critical! Where is the act of will in the homosexual orientation? If the theologians say the orientation is not sinful, there is no act of will in possessing it or being affected by it. The people are innocent of the desire they feel. Sin comes with the act of will, the choice to do something other than pray, fast, live the life of a monk or a nun. How can this reasoning make sense?

To repeat, why is the official teaching so harsh and so incomprehensible? Why are so many people set apart? Why is only the Cinderella story of a Catholic virgin woman and a Catholic virgin man marrying at Mass free of sin? Desperately, the theological world needs to come to an understanding of human nature. Ignorance about human nature, about need, desire, and love, is a fearful thing.

Written by Madeline Wright, Ph.D., M.S.

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