(Trigger warning: for the purposes of this article I will use terms like “gay,” “heterosexual,” and “LGBT” as they are commonly used for the purpose of readability and reach.)
“So, do you think being gay is a sin?”
If you’ve been asked this question, it means you have liberal friends who are being honest with you.
When I was first coming into the Church, it didn’t throw people so much that I had decided that 2,000 odd years ago, Our Lord was born to a virgin, died on the cross, and auto-resurrected before hanging out for 40 days and eating some fish, then shooting back up into Heaven leaving His apostles gaping at the sky. Oh, by the way, His Most Holy Mother was assumed into Heaven where she prays for us most efficaciously.
No, none of that was quite as bizarre to my friends as the prospect I would no longer be a consenting “ally” to the LGBT movement. The first impulse of many Catholics when asked about their views on gay rights is to try and disambiguate same-sex attraction from homosexual acts. This certainly does not fly when confronted by a secular individual who supports the compulsory recognition of same-sex unions as marriages by religious institutions.
My response to this question, learned from a witty gent at my church, is now to say being gay is sinful “only if you’re doing it right.” That never fails to elicit laughter, and perhaps acts as a smoke-bomb to avoid the discussion on their misunderstanding of the nature of sin (even an extra piece of chocolate cake is sinful) and the sensitive subject of the Church’s righteous refusal to budge on this aspect of her moral teachings.
To be honest, when I was first coming into the Faith, I didn’t think of purity as critically important. Indeed, among the seven deadly sins, the “sins of the flesh” such as lust and gluttony, are often considered less serious than spiritual sins like wrath and pride. From an outside perspective, someone who does not realise how all virtues are connected might say “charity is more important than chastity” as if the practice of chastity was not rooted in love of neighbor.
Before I’d ever set foot in a Catholic church, I was acutely aware of the abuse issues and homosexuality in the clergy, as well as a prevalence of suspiciously small Catholic families (statistics vary but most agree that the majority of Catholics use birth control, despite Church prohibitions against it.) I thought to myself “does anybody actually follow all the sex rules?” Surprisingly, although the larger Catholic community may not, in my experience most serious practitioners of the faith are making a real effort.
At the end of the day, however, being a practicing Catholic who accepts the teachings of the Church means (at least in theory) embracing a pro-life viewpoint and seeing marriage as between one man and one woman. This places us at directly at odds with the world. This division is only deepening as support of LGBTQIA+ rights becomes not only a topic of political debate, but a barometer for whether or not one is a “good person.”
So when Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence (Not to be confused with famously modernist Cardinal Tobin of Newark) took a stand, saying Catholics should not participate in Pride month, Twitter exploded with rage. He eventually issued a heavily qualified apology. Father Kevin Cusick of Washington, DC, ignited similar ire over asking women to dress modestly in the church.
On the heels of the explosion in the online abortion debate over many states restricting abortion to a near-total ban, conservative representatives of the Catholic church seem to many to be merely hypocritical morality police, as progressives decry us as “Christian Taliban.” The reticence of the Church to bend on issues of sexual morality seems particularly strange to outsiders in the wake of the abuse scandals, but that’s another topic for another time.
Obviously chastity is not the only measure of a Christian or Catholic, so it is not entirely unfair to ask questions along the line of “why are you policing what people do sexually instead of performing acts of charity?” The answer is that there are not two different groups of serious Catholics, one who shows up for homeless outreach and soup kitchens, and the morality police that attend pro-life prayer vigils, rather there is significant overlap between those two groups.
Those who take their faith seriously find themselves at odds with the world over their rejection of the new hegemony of cheap sex and LGBTQ issues. They have chosen this out of the same love for Christ that pulls them into serving the poor in Saint Vincent DePaul societies and other such ministries. Though different charisms and political beliefs mean this is not a 1 to 1 correlation, it is not two different Churches that cry out against abortion and serve the poor. Some orders such as the Sisters of Life and Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have such a dual charism.
Indubitably, charity is the highest virtue and the greatest measure of a Christian. Every child raised in the Church knows the refrain “they shall know we are Christians by our love.” Why can’t the RCC, as Fr. James Martin suggests, give equal consideration to homosexual couples, and create an environment in which a man can exchange the kiss of peace with his male partner “or soon to be husband.”
Note: James Martin, SJ, has often lamented his status as a punching bag for the Catholic Right™. As editor-at-large of America Magazine, he was appointed to the Vatican communications secretariat in 2017 and with 246k followers on twitter, he is an easily accessible bellwether for the latest pipe-dreams of progressive Catholics. So, sorry Fr. Jim, but you just make it too easy.
Indeed, many parishes have taken a “pastoral” approach to this issue. Sunday, June 30th, will mark the second annual “Pride Mass” at the church or Our Lady of Grace and St. Joseph in Hoboken. Ironically, this is within the diocese of Cdl. Joseph Tobin (not be confused with the more orthodox bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island.) Priests who are openly (or at least obviously) homosexual are not uncommon, regardless of the Vatican II proscription against ordaining men of such “deep-seated” tendencies. Pope Francis even promoted such an individual to an important position in the IOR (Institute for the Works of Religion, i.e the Vatican bank.) It was in defense of this appointment that he famously pronounced “who am I to judge?” when speaking of gay men who “earnestly seek God.”
The pontiff’s oceans of mercy in overlooking transgressions of his appointees could consume an entire post or more, so let’s leave that where it is and dive into the Vigano accusations another time. Although Pope Francis’ declination of judgement echoed throughout the world, the Holy Father has by no means been up to progessive standards (Trigger warning: LGBTQ blogger) on this subject. In fact just a few months ago His Holiness reaffirmed the importance of marriage as between one man and one woman and the natural family resulting from such a union. This was a repetition of a 2014 statement in which the Pope repudiated the idea of same-sex marriage but left the door open to legal recognition and benefits for same-sex and opposite-sex cohabitants.
Perhaps the most dramatic stand against the LGBT agenda that this pontificate has taken is the 2016 statement in which Pope Francis described transgenderism as “the annihilation of man” and blamed “ideological colonization” financially backed by hostile foreign actors. How can this come from the same mouth as “who am I to judge?” The simplest explanation is that “LGBT” fundamentally signifies four different conditions and they were not always as united of a front as they are presented in 2019.
Lesbian women and gay men clash frequently, and bisexuals (or pansexuals, to use the modern trans-friendly term) are often on an uneasy middle ground, as like Miley Cyrus they can eventually settle into heterosexual marriages, thus escaping “oppression” while still trying to claim a queer identity.
Within the last decade or two TERFism was the norm, with campus Gay-Straight Alliances (this was a thing before LGBT) trying to distance themselves from what they saw as a bizarre transgender movement that they did not want to be lumped in with. The idea of taking the statement “trans-women are women” literally has resulted in girls track competitions (along with wrestling and some women’s body building events) being dominated by transgender athletes when they choose to enter. Recently, tennis star and lesbian activist Martina Navriatilova expressed her dissatisfaction with this state of affairs, saying it was “insane” for transwomen to compete in the same division as cis (biological) women.
To make blanket proclamations about “LGBT people” or “LGBT Catholics” equates a range of sexual behaviors (some of which are flexible and change over time) with the idea that a female soul can inhabit a male body or vice-versa. The stakes are higher than sporting trophies and scholarships, of course. In lieu of (conspicuously absent) rational arguments or scientific evidence as to why these behaviors could somehow be compatible with Catholic theology, the refrain is that if we do not take a “pastoral” approach and discard the hard truths of our faith, souls will be lost to separation from the Church, and lives will be lost to suicide. What do our squabbles over restrooms and changing rooms matter in the face of lost souls and lives?
This is akin to someone holding a gun to their own head and demanding you deny your faith or they will pull the trigger. However, the question must be asked: if everyone is a sinner, why can’t we cave in just a little bit? If for no other reason, wouldn’t that be good optics? For some, the temptation to allow for gay marriage and legitimization of the transgender epiphany may come from a place of misguided charity.
The biggest and clearest problem with this would be that the Catholic definition of a valid marriage includes an “openness to life.” Theology of the Body, as taught by Pope St. John Paul II details that all sexual acts even within marriage must also be ordered in such a way as they could be naturally ordered towards creation of life as well (many traditionalist Catholics consider even this to be lax, to put it mildly.)
The entirety of Catholic sexual morality is centered on the notion that the creation of life is not an accident of the pursuit of pleasure, but rather that the joy that comes from the union of man and woman is an echo of the incredible beauty of participation in God’s creative power. This joy also cements a lifelong bond that supports a natural family (or perhaps a spirit of adoption.)
To condone gay marriage would be to pull out the bottom blocks of the Jenga tower and collapse the entirety of Catholic social teaching. Those who wish to do so anyway are basing their view of marriage in the secular idea that marriage is simply two individuals who are contractually bound to support one another, perhaps temporarily. Marriage is seen as a step above roommates, and in our oversexualized society the Catholic notion of marriage as “free, full, faithful, and fruitful” is seen as wishful thinking in a culture that so often fails at it.
Transgender identity is a separate issue altogether. While supporting gay marriage is understandable if you only see marriage as a civil contract, that has nothing to do with the idea that someone is truly a different gender than they were “assigned.” The elephant in the room, of course, is that we believe that we were assigned our characteristics by God. For the sake of argument, lets explore this issue as people argue that perhaps God created people transgender.
Recently, the Vatican published a document signifying they have no such intention of plunging down into this abyss of a rabbit hole. This set off a firestorm of raging emotions, still tellingly devoid of actual explanation as to why gender is in thoughts and feelings instead of biological expression. A refrain of indignation about the Catholics (of all people) doing this during Pride month reverberated through the left side of the internet.
Conversely, The Church of England recently authorized a ceremony of renewal of Baptism as a signifier of a gender transition. Declining attendance in mainline Protestant churches suggests that such a move in the Catholic Church would not bring people running back into the pews.
Those who suggest that simply abandoning our sexual mores and embracing the LGBTQ+ movement would increase attendance are short on evidence and common sense. If a moment were to come where we were to apologize and reverse our sexual norms, it would not matter. The admission we had been wrong in the first place would only be used to attack us for “historical oppression.” Apologizing to the Left only emboldens the mob. Caving in would not bring more souls into the churches, it would only cause us to cease being the Church, and as in mainline Protestant churches, a spiritual emptiness would soon be followed by empty pews.
Even with Fr. James Martin publicly dissenting from the Vatican’s document (it is far from an infallible dogma) and broadcasting the secular LGBT dogma with his collar on, even with the media amplifying Pope Francis’ ambiguous statements while ignoring his orthodox ones, even with a second annual “Pride Mass” with no consequence in sight, the secular humanists still deride us. Their objective at this point is no longer tolerance or acceptance. The corporate embrace of the rainbow flag would mean victory if it was. The goal of the LGBTQIA+ movement and third-wave feminism at this point is simply the destruction of Christianity as we know it.
Perhaps they believe that if the Church were to capitulate it would mean they would finally find peace with themselves and the world, a peace we know can only come from Christ.
Yesterday it was “tolerance” of gay marriage and the attitude that “if you don’t like one, don’t get one.” This was of course before they gained leverage, and began suing and otherwise destroying those who felt religious obligation not to participate in such ceremonies. The corporate/Hollywood pro-LGBT zeitgeist has since come into full effect. Today, mandatory acceptance of “pride” is the norm. Tomorrow it is loss of parental rights for refusal to go along with the program. It’s already happening in Canada.
How the transgender explosion is being inflicted on children is worse than any right-wing propaganda from the Obama era could have predicted. “Drag kids” Desmond Is Amazing has been heavily featured at a Pride parades from the young age of 8, and his family received a visit from CPS when it was reported he was performing for money at a gay club. He has been photographed alongside a nude man in a pose not entirely innocent.
Vice magazine tweeted a video of other such children describing them as the “next generation” of drag. They are not only future drag queens however, they are being used as entertainers in the present. The recruitment and normalization of this practice is being proliferated by performers such as “Annie Christ” (yes that is the drag queen’s real name) performing readings for children at public libraries at “Drag Queen Story Hour” events, and often the coverage is focused on the “bigots” protesting the indoctrination of children with the new gender ideology.
The litany of exploitation is long and could consume a post (or several) of its own. The point is that we are far from being morality police breaking down bedroom doors. The gender revolution at this point is demanding tribute from our families, and access to young minds to turn them into their version of a “good person,” and that is someone who has a view of sexuality completely anathema to Christianity.
We cannot, however, lose this fight against an overtly satanic influence by overreaction or purity spiraling against our brothers and sisters in Christ who experience same-sex attraction, even those who fall and act on it. We have an unlikely allies in those who, like Milo Yiannopolis, believe that the Church is right even though they persist in sin. Church history is full of colorful, even knavish individuals such as Andy Warhol and Oscar Wilde who recognized the truth even as they struggled to live it. They are more common than you might expect.
What can we do, though, as the family is under attack and children are confused and even abused? Calls to charity, prayer, and fasting ring may ring hollow as churches are desecrated and the faith condemned in the public square. Saying “take care of your own, and build large, beautiful families” doesn’t protect the children who are being sexualized and warped. Yet as our fruitless social media arguments daily prove, conversion comes not from being correct but from God Himself.
Saint Thomas More was persecuted for his silent refusal to endorse the lesser madness of his time. Although we may be persecuted for silence sometimes, we must have faith it its power, and that Christ will ultimately, inevitably win, whatever we must suffer before His return. Patience and prudence are virtues we will all have to grow in, at least for a generation or two as this fire burns itself out. Political correctness runs in cycles, as eventually a precocious child will cry out that “the Emperor has no clothes.”
In the meantime, defend the Church as far as is possible. We must stand fast to practice our faith, and not a hollow secular echo thereof. If “Pride Mass” comes to your parish, vocally oppose it. Rebuke false shepherds that scatter the flock. Do not offer even a single grain of incense to the altar of Pride.
We don’t do the regular pride, let alone the LGBT kind.