Tuesday, July 24, 2012

On the Morality of Homosexual Acts: Part 3

Harriet responded to Part 2 in the comments section of that post, but I've been on vacation the last two weeks so I haven't been able to respond to her until now. Also see Part 1. Her words will be indented and italicized.
Thank you very much for answering my questions. I have learnt so much more about Catholisism by reading this blog than any lesson at school (they are good lessons, but only cover the basic 'Christians believe in this' and 'Muslims believe in that').
I'm glad I could help.
I still believe that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, but hey, that is my own opinion.

I just wanted to explain some of my posts and opinion as I think I am coming off in the wrong way. Somebody commented that I was arrogant, egotistical and disrespectful and I am sorry if I am coming across like that - I just wanted to understand Catholic beliefs and explain my own.
I think the "arrogant, egotistical, and disrespectful" comment that someone left in the comments section of Part 1 was actually directed towards me since I apparently "sit in judgment on God's behalf." Whatever. I take words like that with a grain of salt. At any rate, as far as I'm concerned, I don't think you're coming across that way at all.
I think there is no physical thing that makes people gay because I believe that homosexuality originates in the soul and as God made everyone's soul then He made them gay, and therefore approves. However, this is just my own opinion.
Like I've been saying, even if God does make a person so that he is attracted to the same sex, that doesn't necessarily mean that God approves of that person's decision to act on that sexual orientation. We've seen from the bible that He obviously does not. But people with a same-sex attraction ("SSA") are not alone here. Our human nature, the way we were made, cries out for us to do a number of things. That doesn't mean we should do them. Our nature is fallen -- even though God made it -- and we often have to resist it's various demands. We are all -- homosexual and heterosexual alike -- called to achieve mastery over our fleshly desires. By the grace of God, this is possible.
Thank you for providing the Scripture passages - I hadn't seen them before and they were very interesting to read.
Please read over them and let me know if you still think God condones homosexual behavior.
As for your next point... I do believe that temptations should be resisted, however I personally believe that homosexuality is not wrong and therefore not a temptation.
I see. But, you have yet to really prove that homosexual behavior is acceptable to God.
I'm not completely sure what you mean by 'free reign to act out of that orientation'. Could you please elabourate?
Some people seem to think that the Church is placing all of these restrictions on persons with SSA but allowing heterosexual persons to do as they please. Additionally, advocates of homosexuality demand that persons with SSA be allowed free-reign to have sex with whoever whenever they please. My point is that all persons are called to properly order their sexual lives. This call is not just for persons with SSA. It is true that chastity means different things for different people, depending on their vocation in life and their sexual orientation. But, let's not pretend that only persons with SSA are called to make sacrifices or to resist the human nature that God gave them. Persons with a heterosexual orientation are called to do that too.
Personally, I also disagree on choosing to love someone. I certainly didn't choose to love the person I do and if I had any choice in the matter I would fall out of love with him. He is, well, making me very unhappy and our friendship is completely ruined. But anyway, that's off topic.
You're right, this probably isn't the place to get into whether or not love is a choice.
One the point on marriage and chastity, I think that everyone should be able to marry the one they love, regardless of gender, which is why I support homosexual marriage.
What if I love my sister, or my pet hippopotamus, or my mother, or someone else's husband or wife? Should I be allowed to marry them for the simple fact that I love them? Of course not. The fact is, love is not the only prerequisite for marriage, and we wander down a slippery slope when we say that it is.
On animal and human comparisons, I was just trying to think of an example where God has shown us of how He may have tried to show us a message. Again, my own opinion.
I understand what you were trying to do there, I just don't think it's very convincing (for the reasons I've already stated).
When I have a break from school exams I'll find a copy of the Bible and read it.
Please do! I think that would aid our discussion immensely.
I guess then that I am now deemed a sinner because I actively support homosexuality: I have voted in my country's (The UK) survey on legalising homosexual marriage.
Well, you are certainly not the only one, although I'm not sure that should be any consolation. I really do believe that souls are at stake here. I'm glad that you are asking the difficult questions and seeking to understand the alternative point of view.

Pax Christi,

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

On the Morality of Homosexual Acts: Part 2

Harriet responded to my previous post. As before, her words will be indented and italicized.
I know that no 'Gay Gene' has been discovered, but if there any proof that Homosexuality is genetic? I think that there is no proof in the physical being for if a person is gay or not.
That's my point. If there is no gay gene, then you can't really say that God "makes people gay," as in, bringing people into the world who are genetically predisposed to have a homosexual orientation.

Personally, I think sexuality is a part of someone's soul, as well as every part of their personality. I think that a person's concience, their thoughts, their feelings and love is all in somebody's soul. There is no proof that I am aware of that there is something - a gland or something similar - in the brain that makes somebody attracted to another person. I don't believe that there is a genetic reason for why I like the person I do, and I feel the same about everyone else: love and emotions like it are something so extraordinary, so precious, that they cannot be part the human body. The emotions are so incredible, so otherworldly, that a person's soul - which is an incredible, extraordinary thing in itself - can be the only thing that has the root of all emotions.
How people become gay is really of no concern to me, at least not in this debate. I think that, regardless of how a person actually becomes gay, homosexual acts cannot be condoned. In other words, I don't think it has any bearing upon the morality of the actions in question.

Secondly, do we actually know that God disapproves of gay sexual acts? Is it specifically sain by God or Jesus that He disagrees with Gay Sexual Acts?
Did you not see the Scripture passages I cited in Part 2 of the Prop. 8 debate? I will provide them again here (all passages from the RSV unless otherwise noted):
Gen 13:13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.

Gen 18:20 Then the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomor'rah is great and their sin is very grave,

Gen 19:4-7 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; 5 and they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them." 6 Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, 7 and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly (cf. Judg 19:22-23)

Lev 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination (cf. 20:13)

Deut 23:17 (KJV) There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel (cf. 1 Ki 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Ki 23:7).

Rom 1:26-27 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

1 Cor 6:9-10 (NAS) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God ? Do not be deceived ; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Tim 1:9-11 (NAS) realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

Scripture also condemns fornication and fornicators in many passages. The Greek word is porneia, which refers to "illicit sexual intercourse; adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals, etc." (see here). Sometimes it is translated as "unchastity" or "immorality" but the meaning is the same. Since homosexual acts fall under that category, the passages that condemn fornication are relevant to our discussion as well, unless the context reveals a specific type of illicit sexual intercourse besides homosexuality:
Mt 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. (cf. Mk 7:21)

Acts 15:20 but should write to them to abstain from the pollutions of idols and from unchastity and from what is strangled and from blood. (cf. vs. 29)

Rom 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

1 Cor 6:13 "Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food" -- and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

1 Cor 6:18 Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body.

2 Cor 12:21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned before and have not repented of the impurity, immorality, and licentiousness which they have practiced.

Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Eph 5:3 But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints.

Col 3:5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

Heb 13:4 Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled ; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

Rev 9:21 and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.

Rev 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death."

Rev 22:13-15 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
I think it's pretty clear from all of this God disapproves of gay sexual acts.

The thing is, I don't think that Gay people have a choice. You cannot chose who you fall in love with. I think that they are the way they are, and nothing can change that.
First of all, assuming for a moment that "they are the way they are, and nothing can change that", this still doesn't mean that it is morally good for them to act on their orientation. Persons with a same-sex orientation are called to resist temptation, just like all persons. I'm tempted to do a lot of things. But, if Scripture and the Church say that a particular action is sinful, then I should not do it, no matter how badly I'm tempted, no matter how strongly I desire to do it. My body and soul may yearn for it, beg and plead for it, but I simply cannot do it.

My orientation is towards the opposite sex. God made me that way. Does that mean I have free reign to act out of that orientation however I want? No. Why then do people with a same-sex orientation get a pass? All people are called to properly order their sexual desires. And I think it's possible, by the grace of God, to resist the urge to do things that God declares are sinful.

Secondly, it might be said that a person can't help which sex he is attracted to, but a person can help who he falls in love with. Love is a choice, an act of the will, as much as it is a feeling or an attraction. I chose to love my wife instead of other women. And when the warm-and-fuzzes wear off, love is a choice I will have to continue to make in order to remain true to the promises I made when I married her. I refuse to believe that persons with a same-sex attraction cannot help who they love.

Besides, if a gay person (lets call them Ashley - I'm choosing unisex names) does manage to fight against his very nature and marry someone of the opposite gender (let's call them Cameron), how can it be described as anything but cruel for the Cameron? They are either aware that Ashley would rather not be with them and would never be able to love them the way that Cameron deserves, or not know and Ashley would have to deal with lying to Cameron every day for the rest of his life.
I never said the only option was for persons with a same-sex attraction to marry someone of the opposite sex. I agree with you that such an arrangement would be a cruel lie. I call such persons, as the Church does, to chastity. I call them to take up their cross and follow Christ. This is something we're all called to do.

The point I was trying to make there, is that maybe God has created animals for a reason. He speaks to us in strange ways, often indirectly. What if He is showing us Homosexuality in animals to show us that there is nothing wrong with being a homosexual.
It just doesn't work that way. The actions of animals and the actions of humans are not comparable. It's like apples and oranges. There's no lesson to derive from the actions of animals as far as the morality of human acts are concerned. Human acts are of an entirely different category.

Are any laws universal? Leviticus also said that woman are worth 50% less to God than men are, and yet woman have gained equal rights to men. There is also lots of examples in the Bible of different groups of people being seen as inferrior - interracial marriages were banned, for example,and yet interracial marriages are accepted now.
I've already addressed this. Some of the laws from Leviticus are universal and some of them are not. The Church determines which is which, since She is the only one given the authority to do so. But, like I said before, if you don't like that argument, there's more than enough passages from other books of the Bible that condemn homosexuality.

I uses Leviticus because I know it mentioned homosexuality - Ihaven't read the Bible all the way through so I wanted to stick with the books I knew of.
I understand and I appreciate your honesty. Check out the other passages I provided and let me know what you think of those.

On a side note, what is the catholic view of people who actively support homosexuality?
People who actively support homosexuality are sinning. It is a sin to support sin. Such people are called to return to fidelity to the Church.

I'm glad I don't come across as offensive. I just have perivious experience of people taking things the wrong way so I just wanted to make sure I wasn't being offensive.
No problem. If I have taken anything the wrong way, just let me know.

Pax Christi,

Monday, July 02, 2012

Book Review: "100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura" by Dave Armstrong

Click the image to purchase
Dave Armstrong, the author of many best-selling works on Catholic apologetics, has recently added another weapon to his arsenal: 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura.

What I liked first about this book is that it doesn't take him long to begin counting down the arguments against the foundation of Protestantism. His blog posts and debates can be somewhat verbose at times, but here he gets right down to it.

He begins with an Introduction, which is short and a must-read. Whenever a Catholic makes the biblical case against sola scriptura (or "SS"), Protestants will often respond by saying that their opponent really doesn't know what SS is, that he is simply tearing down a strawman. Armstrong neutralized this objection in his Introduction by quoting from three prominent Protestant theologians (Norman Geisler, Keith A. Mathison, and James R. White) as they explain in their own words what SS is. Then, working from their definitions, he proceeds to point out its various weaknesses.

He ends his Introduction with a game plan:
It is not enough, therefore, merely to cite biblical evidence of Tradition or an authoritative Church. These things are not, by their mere mention, sufficient to refute sola scriptura (as our three Protestant proponents cited above point out). The Catholic needs to go further than that and establish, based on unassailable biblical evidence, examples of Tradition or of Church proclamations that were binding and obligatory upon all who heard and received them. Whether these were infallible is a more complex question, but a binding decree is already either expressly contrary to sola scriptura, or, at the very least, casts considerable doubt on the formal principle.
[. . .]
This is how one goes about refuting sola scriptura: by demonstrating how biblical teaching makes the Protestant rule of faith collapse into self-contradictions and incoherence. It's a death by a thousand qualifications (and worse). [pgs. 19-20]
It might be difficult at first to imagine how there could be 100 arguments against anything, let alone SS, but once you see how Armstrong lays out his arguments and progresses from 1 to 100, it becomes clear that SS is indeed riddled with self-contradictions and incoherence. Of course it helps that the author is known for being immensely thorough. If anyone can find 100 arguments against SS, Armstrong can.

He uses the following outline to present his arguments:

PART ONE: The Binding Authority of Tradition
  • Biblical and Apostolic Tradition Contrasted with the False and Corrupt Traditions of Men (#1-12)
  • Oral and Deuterocanonical Tradition (#13-21)
  • Continuing Christian Adherence to Jewish (Pharisaical) Tradition and Mosaic Law (#22-35)
  • Prophecy and Proclamation: "Word of God" and "Word of the Lord" (#36-39)
  • The Alleged Perspicuity of Scripture and the Necessity of Authoritative Interpretation (#40-53)
  • General or Miscellaneous Arguments Relating to Sola Scriptura (#54-60)

PART TWO: The Binding Authority of the Church
  • New Testament Evidence for a Hierarchical, Visible Church with Strong Authority (#61-67)
  • Biblical Indications of Apostolic Succession (#68-71)
  • The Jerusalem Council and Its Implications for Subsequent Catholic Ecclesiology (#72-74)
  • Biblical Analogies for an Infallible Church (#75-83)
  • The Biblical Prohibition of Denominationalism, Theological Relativism, and Indifferentism (#84-86)
  • Counter-Arguments Against Alleged Sola Scriptura Prooftexts (#87-100)
There's also a Conclusion and a section for Endnotes.

Of all of these sections, my favorite is the very last one. As I was reading the book, I was thinking to myself, "Yes, yes, I know where support for the Catholic rule of faith can be found. But, how do I respond to the passages that Protestants use to defend their rule of faith?" This is where arguments #87-100 come in. They are very helpful and the book would have been incomplete without them. Do you know what to say when a Protestant quotes 2 Tim 3:15-17, or 1 Jn 2:27, or Rev 22:18-19? If you don't, get this book.

I should close with a few words on the best way to approach this book. While the armchair apologist may be tempted to turn to the particular section that deals with the arguments the Protestant debater is throwing at him, I think it would be much better to first read the book from start to finish. Armstrong's 100 arguments are really one huge argument that organically and systematically develops as one progresses through the book. If you read a single argument or section of arguments in isolation, then it may be difficult to see how that argument or section is relevant, or how it really refutes anything. But, once you're aware of where Armstrong has already been and where he's headed, then you can see how each argument fits into the larger whole. I don't think any single argument in the list will destroy SS all by itself. It's the cumulative weight of all 100 arguments that does the job.

To read all 100 arguments may seem daunting at first, but Armstrong's book is really a brisk read. He doesn't spend any time waxing poetic, or reflecting on his debate experience (which is extensive), or berating Protestant apologists, or anything like that. He just gives you the facts, with just enough commentary to explain why each argument or section of arguments is being used, and then he moves on to the next one.

Bit by bit, Armstrong methodically dismantles SS until, by the end, there's nothing left. Much like a house built on sand, the edifice is eventually reduced to rubble as wave after wave pounds against it. I really see no way around this. I'm sure that Armstrong will soon be greeted with a hearty round of diatribes and ad hominems and similar flailing about as his usual opponents try desperately to come up with anything in their favor that he hasn't already refuted. This will be the first indication that Armstrong has struck a nerve, and rightly so, for SS is the very foundation of Protestantism. When that goes, the only thing left is the sure foundation of the Catholic Church.

Armstrong has always been Her worthy defender, and I wholeheartedly recommend his book. His previous works are excellent as well:
For more from the ever-prolific Dave Armstrong, see his blog: Biblical Evidence for Catholicism.

Pax Christi,
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