This was contributed by Neo Prodigy, originally posted in 2005 in his LiveJournal.
The following is my response to KC’s letter. A significant portion of the information and research I used in my reply is courtesy of cmpriest. Mad props to her and her immeasurable brilliance. Hopefully I did it justice. Hopefully I did good.
Hey, I know that I can’t talk you out of your delightlful lifestyle, but please don’t give real Catholics, ones who believe what the Church teaches, a bad name. If there is a classification for Pagan, I would suggest that is more appropriate.
This is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2357 … 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.
2359 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.
[I think you have at least 3 of these 4]
2396 Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.
1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
I appreciate your response to my profile but I cannot honor your request in classifying myself as a Pagan or any other religious faith. I am a Christian and I am a Catholic and I cannot in good faith identify myself as anything else.
Don’t be mistaken, by no means do I claim to be a paragon of virtue or the poster boy for Catholicism. I will be the first to admit that I am a sinner and a flawed man. My walk with God is an arduous one. All the more reason why I am grateful that Jesus Christ sacrificed himself for our sins. That being said, my flaws (the many that they may be) does not make me any less real as a Catholic than you or anyone else.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that making statements as to who is a real Catholic and who isn’t is very judgmental, very un Christ-like (as is asking a Christian to identify themselves as another religion), and a symptom of pride (one of those seven deadly sins we all know and loathe).
I must also caution against classifying real Catholics as those who believe what the church teaches. Like other institutions, the Church is one comprised by man and history has taught us, that institutions (such as governments or schools) comprised by man can be corrupted or manipulated for the goals of those who run said institutions.
Throughout history the Church has advocated genocide, slavery as well as the subjugation of women. Does this mean that the Church itself is evil? Absolutely not. It means that we have to be mindful as to what (or who) we follow for time and time again, there have been those who have purported to represent God and do works that are anything but his. For remember Jesus himself went against the Church and many of its corrupt teachings and practices. He called the Pharisees on their hypocrisy and their corruption which prompted them to plot his death.
To some extent, the same could be said for the Bible. While I have witnessed first hand, the positive effects of the Bible such as a crack addict becoming saved and in a year’s time find a job and establish a relationship with her estranged family; I’ve also seen it exploited and used as a tool to justify and advocate, slavery, racism, murder (despite that little Commandment Moses discussed), I strongly believe that the Bible’s purpose is to serve as a guide for our walk with God but too often, we as Christians lose perspective in the specifics; laws and customs whose purpose has become obsolete in modern society. While I do believe it to be a most Holy text, the Bible was composed by man and many books (i.e. God’s word) were excluded from the Holy Canon. Many of the supposed laws had a purpose for the time it was written; a purpose which is no longer necessary today.
“They close the sexual act to give life.”
The reasons why homosexuality and masturbation were forbidden in the Bible was because the Hebrews were a limited people, working their way through a bleak and hostile territory. Maintaining a stable population base was not an unreasonable priority for a concerned deity–thus the prescribed heterosexuality. However in this day and age the earth’s population is cresting some ridiculous digits, and anyone in a condition to be concerned might be inclined to recommend MORE pair unions that are unlikely to produce biological offspring. That verse has also been used to suggest that even man and wife should only come together in sexual union for the purpose of recreating; not even for pleasure or love between two joined in holy matrimony. That in itself is absolutely ludicrous.Just as Leviticus 11:9-12 and Deuteronomy 14:9-10 condemned shrimp, it would be ridiculous for us in today’s time to condemn someone as going to hell for a trip to Red Lobster.
In the New Testament Paul addresses the issue of homosexuality. It should also be remembered that Paul was a great misogynist who took issue with women as well–declaring that they must be silent in church and cover their hair, among other things.
Paul’s insistent suppression of women within the church and his assessment that, well, in a pinch “it’s better to marry than to burn,” suggests more than mere misogyny. The man who once was Saul received a good Greek education–and the Greeks tended to be generally accommodating of homosexuality, so he was exposed to a gay-friendly society; but no one hates a homosexual more than a man who isn’t comfortable with his own urges. No I’m not trying to surreptitiously hint that Paul was gay–I’m theorizing that he was uncomfortable with sexuality in general. Like his modern-day counterparts, he had an Old Testament canon at his disposal, whereby he could reference tradition as truth. Furthermore, by condemning a practice many Jews viewed as “Greek,” he was downplaying the “foreignness” of his background and allying himself more closely to the Hebrew tradition.
As an interesting aside, though, there is a theory postulated by a number of Christian feminists re: Paul vs. women. Many people fail to keep in mind that the Biblical canon as we know it is a fairly recent conglomerate of texts. Early Christians included a great number of other documents that are presently regarded as apocryphal–i.e., the Book of Enoch, which provides an extensive discussion of angelology. “Enoch,” like some of the other early, widely-accepted works, goes into greater detail regarding the passing reference in Genesis to “giants” who walked the land, the monsters who were the offspring of fallen angels and “the daughters of men.” Most of these books were tossed out during the church controversy over whether or not heavenly beings had physical bodies. The Catholic conclusion: no, they do not, and any texts that contradicted that decision were summarily dropped and deemed heresy.
But according to some religious historians, for many hundreds of years the whole of Christendom believed strongly and literally that fallen angels walked the earth in physical form, seeking to seduce and procreate with mortal women. if one chooses to give Paul an ounce of credit, one might suggest that his admonitions to cover hair and keep quiet in christian gatherings might be viewed as a precautionary measure, intended to protect women from these rapacious “monsters.” Women’s hair and voices are commonly referred to in apocrypha as the elements that initially lured the giants, so by this rationale his warnings have merit as something other than the rantings of a he-man woman hater.
In any event, it is clear that you and I disagree on the issue of homosexuality but that doesn’t make either one of us more or less of a Catholic.
Contrary to what you may believe (and even my posts for that matter), homosexuality is by no means a “delightful lifestyle.” It is not a choice that I or most people would choose. Some people believe that homosexuality (or any sexuality) is based on genetics, environment, psychological makeup, etc. All of which are possible because it appears frequently throughout nature. Whatever the case may be, it is a Hell and a struggle for many men, women and children who are trying to understand who and what they are in the midst of being oppressed by a hateful and spiteful world. Contrary to popular belief, many of these men, women and children are faithful and devout Christians burdened with the unenviable crisis of reconciling their fate with a key part of their identity.
It never ceases to amaze me that rather than reaching out to these prodigal brethren and witnessing to them through understanding and compassion, they are often treated with scorn that even non-Christians wouldn’t show.
Might I suggest that if you genuinely believe that homosexuality is a sin and you wish to be a witness for Christ, rather than passing judgments, how about witnessing through example and by action. Show through words and actions Christ’s love in a nonjudgmental capacity and express that even if you don’t agree with the “sin”, you still embrace them as a fellow brother or sister.
I’ve never drank, smoked or have done drugs and don’t agree with those who do. But rather than turning my nose up at those who partake in said activities, I express my beliefs in a respectful manner, am tolerant of theirs and serve as an example that you don’t need booze, nicotine or narcotics to function in life.
On a final note, I would like to add that I strongly believe that this email was a portent from God. A few hours prior to reading this, I had a discussion with my mother (a most devout Christian) regarding the issue of my sexuality. While I’ve always strived (with considerable success I might add) to be the ideal obedient straight-A student, model son who has always sought to please his parents, upon finding out about me 9 months ago (I told her the truth when she asked), I was vehemently attacked and told that I must’ve thought this was a big joke and that she felt like killing herself. During the discussion, she basically attacked me once again and I had to tell her what she wanted to hear in order to appease her. Shortly after reading your email, I was informed by a friend of mine that someone close to him committed suicide on Monday night. His name was Ian. He was 19. A devout Catholic (ironic isn’t it), an aspiring photographer, and a special and genuinely caring person. The reason this wonderful young man took his life was because he was never able to reconcile his sexuality with his faith and from what I understand, his parents didn’t exactly help matters. Perhaps he would still be alive today if he was shown love and understanding in his time of need from his parents at the very least. I’m not suggesting they change their stance on homosexuality but at least express their love and support for him through his period of crisis. Perhaps if more Christians didn’t judge (again I’m not suggesting they change their stance) but witnessed through compassion and example, maybe there would be a lot less cases such as Ian’s. In any event, my mother’s call, your email and Ian’s suicide exceeds mere coincidence.
While we may differ on many views I thank you for sending me this email. Reading it and pondering on it placed a lot of things in perspective for me. I hope that God will show me the path he wishes for me to take. Though I pray to reach heaven, I understand there is a possibility that I may not as is the case with everyone else alive on the planet. But if I am to be judged, it should be by God and God alone.
Thank you for your response and God bless,