Sunday, September 02, 2012

To the Mark Shea critics: Remember that we are great sinners and that Christ is a great Saviour


After reading Mark Shea's blog over at Patheos, I'm struggling to see what all the fuss is about. Some, through social media, have claimed that Shea has "lost it" and is scandalising others to believe that homosexual activity is morally acceptable. This could not be further from the truth, and you'll get this if you actually read Shea's blog entry in its entirety rather than reading what you want it to say. But I'm not about to teach anyone a lesson of the importance of reading things in context (i.e. a text without a context is a pretext), no; instead what I'll do is ask you, my fellow Catholic, the following questions:

Can a person with a same-sex attraction live as a saint and could they even one day be recognised as a Saint by the Holy Catholic Church?

Rather than answer that question directly, let me submit the following to you:

Was not the thief on the cross beside Jesus promised the award of eternal salvation when he asked Christ, "...Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23:42)?

Was not Mary Magdalene, an alleged prostitute and adulterer, transformed by Christ when He challenged her accusers, intervened and told her to sin no more (John 8:1-11)?

Was not St. Francis of Assisi a lover of worldly delights and a typically apathetic youth before devoting himself to a life of poverty and chastity in the name of Jesus Christ?

Was not St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church and an Early Church Father, prior to him coming to Christ a hedonist, fornicator, pagan, scandaliser, in an extra-marital relationship with a woman, and fathered a child outside of wedlock?

Have you not heard it said that "every Saint has a past and every sinner has a future"?

Have you not heard it said that "the Church is a not a museum of Saints but a hospital for sinners"?

Does it not say in scripture if we are in Christ, we become "... a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)?

Now let's get a bit more Catholic on the case. This is what the Catholic Church teaches on the issue of homosexuality (CCC, pars. 2357-2359; bolded for emphasis):
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 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 fulfil God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties 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.
And let's make one thing very, very clear: it is not a sin to be "gay", i.e. it is not sinful to have a same-sex attraction.

In light of this, let us remember the words Christ spoke in Matthew's Gospel (bolded for emphasis):

"'Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.'" - Matthew 7:21

If we live according to the Father's will and endure to the end (Matthew 10:22), will we not die a friend of God? And if we sin gravely and are contrite can we not seek the Lord's forgiveness by ministry of the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

Let us not forget who our Lord and Saviour is and how the Holy Spirit can work in us to transform our lives: for without God we can do nothing; grace draws us to to God and we need it to persevere in good and to resist temptation and avoid evil. We must direct our free will to work in cooperation with God's grace. Is a Catholic with a same-sex attraction not capable of this and living a life of saintly virtue?

Remember: we are all great sinners and Christ is a great Saviour.

"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature. For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these things is blind and short-sighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall; so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." - 1 Peter 1:3-11

Amen.

3 comments:

  1. Great work mate. Only thing i'd say is that you said "friend God" in the 4 last paragraph, totally minor (just a punctuation error) should be "friend to God" i think. Could be wrong, but that's what i think

    Anyway, good on ya
    God bless mate,
    C

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  2. Do you know if the Catholic Church teaches that men or women with SSA cannot marry? There is a Mormon blogger who describes his sexual preference as with men, but he wanted a wife and children. He was open with his wife from day one and their love and sexual intimacy obviously transcends basic sexual attraction. My suspicion is that yes, that is ok in the Catholic Church, but I suppose I'm not sure. Sex is a really hard topic, and the Church (and by that I do mean all of us) really have to do a better job of upholding our virtues and supporting each other through this. Society makes us feel like it's the end game, but to a certain extent even deep within our souls is seems that way. For men and women to take a vow of celibacy and have the support of a religious community is, while certainly difficult and admirable, it's not the same as men and women who would like to get married and cannot - for whatever reason - or those who would prefer a same sex partner and thus feel they cannot ever get married no matter whom they might be lucky enough to meet in the future. There isn't a lot of support for those adults, gay or straight, and there needs to be. It's not easy.

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  3. The problem isn't with SSA that is resisted, the problem is with approving of the man having a gay companion. At one point he admits this man clearly had a "companion" and defends it claiming that the Church doesn't explicitly forbid it. Then when that is pointed out to be the ridiculous, unconvincing argument that it is, he resorts to equating the relationship to mere friendship even though the comments of his partner clearly indicate it was not platonic - may have been celibate but not platonic. Another thing defenders of Shea are forgetting is that he crowed on in his initial comments about how he doesn't know, doesn't care if the man was celibate. C'mon - if you are canonizing someone while emphatically saying you do not care if he was celibate, you are making it clear you think it would have no bearing on his "sanctity" either way. That and the fact that he used the usual rhetorical phrases liberals employ when mocking the CCC or anyone opposing immorality. His comments are scandalous and shameful.
    For the reader above - there are a lot if things that aren't easy. It's not easy to marry, be cheated on and abandoned but unsble to re-marry because of the marriage vow; it's not easy to feel trapped in an abusive relationship with no way out (which you should absolutel leave but you are struggling and scared to do so) or to get courage to leave but not re-marry until that is annulled, it's not easy to be in a lovess marriage but stay in it to honor your vows. All these are situations where the hope of a "happily ever after" with your "soul mate" is bleak or gone, do not justify sinful relationships - which lead your soul, the soul of your companion, and the souls of anyone you scandalize or persuade to "accept" the relationship in to hell. If people would look more to obeying Christ rather than the dictates of their fallen human heart then these issues wouldn't seem so impossible.

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