Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sorry I took so long to respond, Phil,

I just got to reading a response from Phil regarding the topic of human sexuality. In his comments he writes:

You recycled the idea that science somehow trumps the moral teaching of the Church: “We are slowly realizing that the old ideas about LGBT's is wrong, just as we were wrong in believing the earth was the center of the universe, a band of water separates Heaven from Earth…” But this is a category error, since, in the case of the former, we are discussing the moral status of a behavior, while in the latter, we are discussing the truth or falsity of an observable physical condition. In order for the analogy to apply, the Church would had to have taught that, for example, it is sinful for the Earth to choose to orbit the Sun.

Leaving that aside, science is amoral. It doesn’t teach us how we should behave; it only characterizes how we do, and sometimes tells us why. You should consider what “science” would tell you about the relative propensity, and “normalness” thereof, of men to stay faithful to one woman versus pursuing as many hot partners as are willing.

I think this addresses another disconnect between our two world views. Most of those that say homosexuality is a sin believe that it is a moral choice. For them no amount of science is going to change their minds. For as Phil states later on, he sees it as another example of "let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." I don't see it as such.

When I use science to back up my viewpoint, it is to show that there is a natural propensity of some individuals toward same sex attraction. This is something that the biblical authors did not understand, nor did the Catholic church, where the other part of Phil's argument comes from. (I do wish I had Phil's e-mail, as I would like to follow this further with him. If anyone has it, please send it to me!) It was probably (I say probably because I am unable to converse directly with either Moses or Paul) understood that same sex attraction was a choice.

The other argument about "taking up the cross" doesn't quite fit here either. By using the argument that the "urges" should be contained and not acted on, aren't we enforcing celibacy on LGBT men and women? If their "natural attraction" is wrong, and acting upon an "unnatural attraction" is wrong, then the only recourse is not to act at all. This is where I take the most issue with Phil's argument. He uses the Catholic tradition, and yet we do not even require our priests to be celibate, as the Catholics do. So in effect, asking LGBT's to "denying themselves" in this regard is holding them to a standard we do not even hold our priests to.

I do have real questions I would ask of Phil, and anyone else who may read this and share his views. What then do you tell the man like my friend James who struggles daily with what the Scriptures tell him God wants and what he feels? How do we minster to that self-hatred? How many lives like his, Ted Haggard's and others is the Church going to destroy before we come to realize that our past views on human sexuality could be wrong? How do you minister to the loneliness that others feel, the emptiness. "It is not good for man to be alone" and yet we are telling our LGBT brothers and sisters that this is what is required of them?

Jesus also said, "Come to me all ye who are heavy laden and I will give you rest... for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." If the total OT boils down to, "love the LORD your God with all your heart, strength and mind...and love your neighbor as yourself...", then we need to carefully examine ourselves in this regard. The great Joseph Campbell put it best when he said that love thy neighbor "as if he were you and you were him." In denying LGBT Christians to have the same loving relationships we who are attracted to the opposite sex have, are we doing this? I would say no. And in that sense, it is not LGBT men and women who are the abominations, but us.

To Phil, you bring up another point I grappled with in the past:

More fundamentally, what do you think “science” has concluded about the possibility that a Man dead in the tomb for three days suddenly rose fully to life? What does your “faith journey” tell you about this Christ, Who we confess conquered death and redeemed all of creation, when any one day’s news will show you plenty of death, evil and ugliness? Wouldn’t the rational person conclude it’s all a lie? High school biology and physics alone could function, quite reasonably, as “revelations” that would make the Christian “reconsider what [he] believed.”

I am reading a very interesting book by Marcus Borg called, "Reading the Bible Again for the First Time." To paraphrase him, whether or not we believe in a physical Resurrection is not so important as whether or not we believe the truth of it. I do believe in a physical Resurrection, but I also believe in a metaphorical Resurrection. The Resurrection also happens within me each day. I crucify Christ each day with my own lack of compassion and shortcomings, and each day he is resurrected in me and I am made whole. My faith journey tells me that Christ has conquered sin and death, but that it is up to each of us to make that victory manifest. This is what I mean by a fundamentalist reading of scripture., not that you read it like a fundangelical, but that you read it looking at the facts. I do not look for spiritual guidance from a science book, so why would I look to the bible for science? My journey does not end at the Cross; it begins there.


MadPriest said...

You should consider what “science” would tell you about the relative propensity, and “normalness” thereof, of men to stay faithful to one woman versus pursuing as many hot partners as are willing.

Science would tell you, in the case of human beings, that sexual faithfulness has evolved to protect and provide for children and as a safeguard against disease. Science doesn't contradict morality, it simply provides explanations for it.

As God is creator, it would seem very perverse of him to contradict the mechanics of that which he has created.

The natural inclination of most men is towards faithfulness. I think this "hot partners" scenario is just wishful thinking on a certain person's part or perhaps he is looking for an excuse.

Grandmère Mimi said...

So in effect, asking LGBT's to "denying themselves" in this regard is holding them to a standard we do not even hold our priests to.

Jesus told each of us to take up our cross and follow him. He never said that we should lay crosses on the shoulders of others, which is what Phil does when he tell LGTB folks to deny themselves. Phil needs to concern himself with his own cross and not the crosses of others.

Jesus was furious with the Pharisees for laying heavy burdens on others and not lifting a finger to help.

IT said...

We are gifted with intellect that allows us to defeat mere animal instincts. Which means that our relationships as adults, if healthy and moral, are more than sex. Indeed, I might argue that sex is the last thing. There was a column in the NY Times by a man whose wife was paralyzed by a car accident. So much for sex. Yet their relationship, and its preciousness, was even stronger.

Does Phil think that GLBT couples don't "get" that Does he think its about SEX?

Phil would assign gays to mere animals. I would like to point out that my marriage to my wife is not dictated by sex in any way. I don't htink Phil would say HIS marriage is dictated by sex, either. But he seems to assume that mine is.

I adore my wife. Sex is wonderful, don't get me wrong. But it doesn't define, justify, or create the relationship between two loving adults. It merely offers another means of expression. And if like the man in the NYTimes, we lost it....well, it was never ABOUT that, as long as we have each other.

And they will never get it.