Conclusion on My Posts Responding to Macklemore’s Same Love II: A Necessary Scolding for Catholics for Equality

I am assuming that a lot of people found my argument against the WBC to be, at the very least, adequate. I have sent them a copy of the post and the link if they wish to make a response, but I highly doubt that they will take that into consideration. I find it funny, in addition, that they have a list of times when “God” and “hate” are mentioned in the Bible and the only mention of that in the New Testament is in Romans 9, where St. Paul is quoting from the Old Testament (so, no original mention of “hate” in connection to God in the New Testament) and the point he is making is about the Patriarchs of Israel (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) and how Jacob was chosen even though Esau was the oldest brother. Now, if you keep reading Romans 9, the very next thing St. Paul talks about is about how God would be completely justified in unleashing His wrath on humans (because, remember, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God), but He does not, in fact, do that, rather showing His great mercy. In that context, the whole thing WBC is going for is rather awkward at best and, at worst, highly dishonest.

However, this post is not about the WBC (one can only beat a dead horse so much and the WBC’s Theology and Philosophy are as dead as the dry bones in Ezekiel before God brings them back to life). This is about the shadowy “other side” that nearly no one is talking about. Of course, we must incite this group to consider what exactly “love” means, because to love someone is to hate what is the contrary to them and the opposite of being (which comes from God) is non-being (which is the absence of God). This is, of course, nothing more than a restatement of St. Augustine’s point that you should love the sinner but hate the sin. It’s not that this is St. Augustine’s personal preference, or that it is just a “choice” to behave in this manner, or that this is a propensity reserved only for relationships between Catholics. That axiom is the only way to love someone in the way God loves them (agape). It is not an option; it is, unequivocally, a requirement.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though. In any good philosophical enquiry, we should first define our terms, so, without further ado:

1) To be a Christian means, for the purposes of this post to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the World, that He truly died on the cross for our salvation and that He rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures. In addition, it means that the Bible and only the Bible is the infallible and authoritative Scripture.

2) To be part of one of the Tradition-based (Apostolic) Churches means that you believe that the interpretation of the Bible is not up to the individual, but is interpreted by the living Tradition of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit. If you are part of this group, it is most likely that your local bishop can trace, through the chain of ordination, his succession back to the Fathers who approved the Cannon of the New Testament. Though no one Father is infallible, to be part of this group means that you believe that the interpretative Tradition of the Church, as a whole, guided by the Holy Spirit, infallibly explains the Bible (thereby receiving its infallibility from the Bible and not as a competitor to it) and that the decisions of the assembly of the whole Church (also guided by the Holy Spirit) are infallible.

3) To be a Roman Catholic means that you believe (we’ll leave off the other doctrines that don’t pertain to the subject) in the infallibility of the Pope whenever he speaks ex Cathedra or invokes Apostolic authority in addition to the infallibility of the living Tradition (the Pope, in this version, is what gives the Councils, etc. their infallible status). To be a Roman Catholic is to truly believe all the dogmas that have been declared infallible by the Magisterium.

In addition, we must consider what exactly is sinful pertaining to this case.

1) To experience same-sex attraction (most commonly termed “to be gay”) is not sinful, since, according to Aquinas (et al. as well as common sense) feelings, being by definition irrational, do not constitute sin.

2) To, however, make the conscious choice to positively respond to those feelings; to choose to have sex with someone of the same sex is sinful. Of course, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so this sin, too, is forgivable, as long as a person as the good-will to follow the teaching of God and accept the challenge to rise above their sexual attraction.

3) To be “gay” shall be referred to here (and only for the purposes of this post), as fully accepting one’s same sex attraction and believing that it is perfectly normal and acceptable to positively respond to it habitually. In other words, people who are gay are 1) experiencing same-sex attraction and 2) habitually responding to it. This is also sinful.

Lastly, let us consider the position of the Catholics for Equality. Rather than give you my analysis, I’d rather just show you what they stand for through their own material:

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 12.17.31 AMWe can see, from this document that, Catholics for Equality clearly stands in support of the same-sex marriage laws in the US. This, of course, is rather worrying if you are going to argue that you are a Catholic.

But let’s stop for a moment. Some of you, who perhaps see where the argument is going, may, at this point, say something like this:

“Modern Platonist, you old devil. What is it that you actually want? On the one hand you try to lull us with what seemed to be a very liberal doctrine, on the other you seek to institute laws affecting Christians and non-Christians alike which fit your ideology, but not necessarily that of all. What next? ‘Non-Catholics need not apply’?”

Of course, that is not what I am arguing for. As far as I am concerned, I do not see the issue of same-sex marriage as an issue on which my stance is defined by my Christian faith. Nonetheless, I would plead with anyone who on any issue stands with the Church solely through religious reasoning to not try to affect the legal structure of this or any other country, whether it be concerning same-sex marriage, or concerning abortion, or anything else. That means, if you cannot make a secular non revelation-based argument, don’t ask for any law to be changed, on any subject whatsoever. Do not campaign, do not set up rallies and so on. However, be that as it may, being a Christian requires you to believe that same-sex marriage is sinful, as is abortion, as is divorce (unless there is infidelity), etc. This means that you believe that those actions are sinful regardless of who commits them. Something that many Catholics need to understand is that non-Catholics are not, somehow, excluded from sin. When a non-Catholic proceeds to answer their same-sex attractions, they sin as much as a Catholic would. Abortion for a non-Catholic is just as sinful as for a Catholic and so on and so forth. If you are unclear about this, don’t take my non-Catholic word for it, look to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the statements of various Popes, the Tradition of the Church, etc (until recently, I’d say ask your diocesan priest, but I have refrained from saying that).

That said, the question before us is whether it is correct for any Catholic (and by extension any Christian) to say that they support people who experience same-sex attraction to be married under secular law. My analysis finds that it is wrong for Catholics specifically and Christians in general to support same-sex (secular) marriage for two reasons: 1) because (though I said before that Christians should never try to affect secular laws unless the have secular reasons for them) Christians should always believe and uphold the teaching of the Church (or at least the Bible) and 2) because Christians are commanded to love their neighbor.

First, Christians cannot argue for a position contrary to the teaching of the Lord. It is one thing to try and affect law and policy because of your religious beliefs, but it’s another thing to be asked what your stance on an issue is and to assert a view contrary to doctrine. If you are asked to vote, being a Christian, you must vote in accordance to doctrine, not because doctrine can overrule your reasoning, but because being a Christian means precisely that you believe in what Jesus Christ taught. In this case, you are not asserting your Christian views upon others, but having been asked for your own view, you being a Christian, you should show what you truly believe, which is the teaching of Christ. If you do not agree with the teachings of the Magisterium (and more than one Pope and more than one Magisterium has taught about this issue) then cease from calling yourself a Roman Catholic. If you do not agree with the living Tradition of the Church, then stop associating yourself with the tradition-based Churches. If you disagree with what the Bible teaches (and the New Testament is very clear on this matter), then be honest and stop calling yourself a Christian.

Second, and entirely more importantly, Christians have the duty to love their neighbor.  I just cannot emphasize enough how important this is within the Christian understanding. As St. John reminds us, “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8) It is important to understand that the word used in the Greek, Agape, entails that you love everyone, because the love of God is not a limited love, but a love which encompasses everyone and everything (refer to Matthew 5 if you think this is something that I made up). If, someone, then, does not love all around him (this to be distinct from some abstract love of “humanity”), then they do not know God. However, I think that Catholics for Equality (et al) would argue that they do, in fact, love their brothers and sisters affected by same-sex attraction and it is I (and others like me) who look down upon them, because we don’t want them to be happy.

The truth is just the opposite. St. Irinaeus tells us that the glory of God is a life fully lived. However, we should ask ourselves what that means. What does “a life fully lived” actually mean? It, again, has to do with what sin means. A life fully lived is a life without sin, because to sin is to separate yourself from God, which means you are separating yourself from Life. The Greek word which means sin, hamartia, literally means missing the mark. Of course, if you know that Christ is considered the Perfect Man under Christianity, then it should not be obvious to understand how a fully lived life precisely does not include sin. Sin, then, is not just an offense to God, it is an impediment to ourselves. Sin invites bondage. It is precisely out of the slavery of sin that Christ uses His own precious Blood to rescue us. To call someone out of sin, then, is not to hurt them in any way, but to save them. Those who have argued against same-sex marriage love our brothers and sisters affected by same-sex attraction truly, because we, rather than choosing to instantly please them, hope that they will see the light.

Let’s consider this scenario. You are a doctor and you have a child. Your child is addicted to prescription medication, specifically medication for which you are authorized to fill prescriptions. It is not your job to go and actively pursue to end all abuse of prescription drugs unless you have a particular reason for it (i.e. that’s your job and you have the expertise in the matter), but if your child is asking you to fill out for them a prescription for these drugs and you love your child, it follows that you will not fill out that prescription. Quite the contrary, if you did not love your child, you would most likely give them the prescription, because it would look to them as if you loved them (and they’d probably be much more thankful to you for it), whereas by not giving them what they want, though you know that they might hate you for it, it is more important for you to ensure the well-being of your child (with the hope that, at some point, they will understand your motivation for denying them what they want and understand that you love them).

The issue with same-sex marriage is the same. We Christians, being certain in the truth that Christ preaches, knowing the reality of the Last Judgment and believing that we should pursue for ourselves and help others to reach the Kingdom of Heaven, which is to say to pursue perfection, should, when it is our time to speak, always argue against (in this specific case) same-sex marriage, knowing that homosexual relations are sinful. By doing this, though our brothers and sisters who struggle with same-sex attraction may see us as their enemies, as hateful, we do all we can to help out in their salvation. Surely, if we persist in our prayers for these our brothers, then hopefully some of them will see that what looked liked opposition and oppression was really love, but tough love.

Of course, perhaps they will never change their minds, however, if we state our views respectfully and nicely and showing that we are, before everything else, whether they are ready to accept the teaching of the Church or not, always ready to be a shoulder for them to cry on. We must be a friend and a sibling for them and they will hopefully not see us as hypocrites or as their enemies, but rather see us as people who, despite having very different opinions, are people with whom they can coexist not just peacefully, but lovingly. Remember that Christ did not stay with the priests and the Pharisees, but made it a point to engage the most ignored members of society. He showed them love and mercy and was always willing to address their questions and concerns. Christ did not use any fancy arguments to change Zacchaeus’ mind by fancy argument, but by coming at his house for dinner. If only we followed Christ’s example.

However, “Let him without sin cast the first stone” is not completely unless you add the infinitely less popular “Go your way and from now on do not sin again.” Let us not confuse preaching the Gospel with our whole selves as opposed to simply our mouths with enjoying ourselves. Christ, for all his love and mercy, got a crucifixion as his reward. In fact, not just most of his followers, but eleven of the twelve Apostles He chose left Him. One among them betrayed Him, another one denied Him. The other nine forgot all He said and went back home as He was being tortured. The one who remained, St. John, did so because, being the youngest of the Apostles, he probably did not understand how close he came to his own execution. Picking up your cross and following Christ is not a move that will gain you popularity. Most likely, it will gain you opposition, ridicule and hatred, but Christ already warned us of this. He said, “if they have hated Me, they will hate you; if they have persecuted Me, they will persecute you.” If any Christian is not prepared to endure ridicule and opposition and much worse for his faith, then let him repent, because whoever is ashamed of Christ, Christ will be ashamed of in the Judgment.