Rome’s synopsis of its synod on ‘family life’ includes 3 paragraphs (out of 58) on homosexuality which could be a cause for alarm. The bishops appear to grant ‘homosexuals’ a kind of ethnic status—homosexuals are treated as a people group whose ‘sexual orientation’ we are ‘to accept and value.’ (50) Further, ‘it must be noted’ that the supportive components of homosexual unions are to be treated as ‘precious’. (52)
This troubles me for many reasons, not the least of which is the faulty anthropology on which the bishops base their views. Persons with same-sex attraction are not an ethnicity but a diverse group of persons made in His image as male and female whose desires are disordered; ‘gay’ feelings cannot achieve the end for which God intends human sexuality.
Basing identities and relationships on homosexual desires is uninspired, at least. Of all communities, the Church can and must know better in order to love better. Relatedly, I weary of Churchman who split homosexual desires from action—ascribing nobility to homosexual desire while slapping hands for ‘acting out.’ Perhaps Jesus is a little more holistic in His approach.
And this is where the good of the document comes in. Early on in the document, we get the best of Pope Francis (and of Christian redemption) when he speaks of our decisive need to fix our eyes on Jesus and follow Him upon new paths, into new possibilities. Jesus reveals both the order of creation and redemption (12, 13), a direction profoundly relevant for persons riding the wave of the ‘gay everything’ 21st century.
I long to see that theme of redemption developed for persons with same-sex attraction. Let us as Christians embody His merciful gaze, so tender and burning with love toward ‘homosexuals’ that they are invited to cast off their old selves and follow Him into newness of life. Sadly, the small part of this document that applies to homosexuality fails to point in this direction at all. It affirms the status quo but not the call to genuine conversion. In that way, paragraphs 50-52 cannot be deemed genuinely Christian.
Over the last 30 years, I have witnessed nearly every mainline Protestant denomination lose its salt due to a failure to recognize and minister effectively to the sexually broken, especially persons with same-sex attraction. I trust that my Church will not do the same. Please join us in our 40-days of prayer for the whole Church, starting tomorrow. The Synod has given us much to pray about.
‘The Church must know the difference between order and disorder, and be wise enough to contextualize disorder with grace and truth.’ Dr. Ray Anderson
I recently had a conversation with Courage Leader Father Paul Check. He recounted a conversation with a fellow priest who asked him, ‘Will the Catholic Church ever alter its anthropology?’ (He referred to how the Church defines humanity as made in God’s image in the duality of male and female. Altering that ‘image’ could open the door to the Church blessing homosexual unions.)
‘Not a chance’, responded Check. Praise God. To uphold the dignity of sexual love within one context–one man committed to one woman—is a merciful mandate. It means that the Church calls all humanity to something higher, truer, and more honorable in human relationships than what comes ‘naturally’ in our lusts.
I recall a host of confessions I have made regarding lustful thoughts and actions. In exchange I received drafts of ‘living water’ that washed my soiled heart and renewed my commitment to loving Annette, family and others aright. Hail the holy mandate that reveals the path and clears away its debris!
The Church’s mandate makes mercy sweet for the broken. Without her clear witness of what our sexuality is for, we leach mercy of its meaning. In seminary I recall a theologian who sought to alter the meaning of God’s image: she said that ‘love, not gender, was the defining characteristic of God’s image in humanity.’ She went on to speak of loving monogamous gay unions that we can now honor on par with straight ones. She leached the light of a holy God right out of the room.
Thank God for merciful guides! Hail the words of Karl Barth who upheld ‘the radical duality of male and female as the root of all other fellowship…The command of God shows that humanity irrefutably that man can only be genuinely human with woman, and woman with man.’ Or blessed John Paul ll who declared: ‘Humanity only discovers his/her true self in a sincere offering of that self [to the opposite gender.]’ Or my professor, Dr. Ray Anderson, who wrote: ‘To deny the fundamental distinction of sexual orientation in regards to one’s own identity as male or female is to conceal the imago dei itself.’
Pity those who defy God’s call for each of us to work out our humanity in the inspired, exasperating duality of male and female. Such blind guides forfeit the mercy that could be theirs, and lead others into a similar deception. Hell on earth. Hail heavenly guides, who uphold the truth and invite us to wash our hearts and bodies in the waters of mercy.
‘The flight from one’s gender is a flight from God.’ Karl Barth
- Desert Stream/Living Waters: Pacific Southwest: California, Nevada, Hawaii, Don Sciortino, Regional Coordinator. Please pray for the new work beginning in Hawaii.
- Restored Hope Network: Pure Heart Ministries, St. Louis, MO. Jim Venice, Director. Specialty: men and groups for parents; also professional counseling for women. Help4Families, Waynesville, NC. Denise Schick, Director. Specialty: transgender and SSA youth, men and women.
- Courage: Healing and conversion for all priests and ministers struggling with SSA and relational issues.
- Cor Project: Please pray that we have the spiritual resources necessary to fulfill our mission.