Writing to free the prisoner of one idea, crossing the bridge of paradox to truth, serving the legacies of Chesterton and Lewis who defended their faith in Christ
(Disclaimer: this post has a rating of “ForthWrite”. That means its going to say some things a number of readers may not agree with but are in accord with and informed by the Bible and common sense)
This article is my response to two articles out of the New York Times:
The problem in a nutshell is this: these nuns think that love is to be an acceptance of any kind of behavior as long as the people doing it have a rationale for it. Unfortunately, this is not how God defines love. The result is something born of manipulation of one’s compassion and pity and a response of insincerity. Love expects and requires obedience to God even when the chips are down. The Vatican, on the other hand, has responded to the problem, at least according to the NYT article as an either or proposition, which it is also not. The following paragraph from the article highlights that problem:
“I’m stunned,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby founded by sisters. Her group was also cited in the Vatican document, along with the Leadership Conference, for focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage.
Now that’s a third-hand account of what the Vatican actually said to the sisters, but the point is being made to the sisters, if anything, that there is a lack of balance in how the Bible tells a Christian how to live, what to accept and what not to accept, and what they have been doing and saying as representatives of the Church. In other words, Sisters, its not up to you to decide what the solution to sin is. It’s God’s purview.
And thereby hangs the tale, my tale. You see I take umbrage when people try to address a problem, a very clear and un-debatable problem, with the wrong solution. Abortion, killing a child in the womb because you don’t want people to know you have had sex with someone or because you don’t want to courageously face the financial challenges and changes to your life plans or because you are in a “skin in behalf of skin” challenge (the mother’s life is threatened) is the wrong solution. Problem number one: A frail and/or poverty-level woman’s life is threatened by a risky pregnancy and so, you are forced to take the life the unborn child to save her? Wrong. You are not forced. You made a choice and it was the wrong one. That’s not the solution. But that’s the problem when you see the immediate dilemma only as a human and you forget you are looking at the wrong problem. That’s why you want to break God’s law to try and “solve” it. So let’s deconstruct what the real problem is.
Fundamentally, at the social justice level, the nuns are fighting for the value of the woman’s life in a society, indeed, in a world that would blame (and has traditionally blamed) her for most things going wrong. Her life is not as valued as a man’s – ask the insurance agencies if you are wondering. Study her place in society historically and culturally. This is a justifiable concern even in America. Ok, well and good. The nuns are fighting for something fair: the value of a woman’s life, her right to be loved, if you will. But who are they fighting? Are they fighting the husband who may selfishly uses his at-risk wife for pleasure knowing fill well the risks he is putting her through? Are they fighting the man who takes unfair advantage of a vulnerable girl or woman for illicit pleasure? Are they fighting the well-informed woman who just wanted to use sex merely for pleasure outside the sacrament of marriage and callously decided she didn’t want the responsibility? No, they are fighting the innocent unborn child who had no choice in what its parents decided and is defenseless and whose only protector is, well, the mother and the father, whom no one is holding accountable. Not a fair fight, is it? And its the wrong fight because its the coward’s fight. The coward’s fight is always the fallback position in the wrong solution department. The coward refuses to confront the real problem. The real solution to abortion is teaching those who do not value the life of women to start valuing women for their godly role in the first place. When you know you are valued, you can face anything – even the challenge of giving life to another in the most difficult of circumstances. It becomes then what it was meant to be: an answer to the one who is taunting God that all of us will break God’s law to solve the problems that come our way. The problem is solved by facing it, not doing away with with the evidence: the woman and the child.
So listen up, Sisters, and stop the singing for the wrong solution on this issue. Put your faith in God and be bold in speaking up to the men who need to hear your voice of nobility that urges them to do better by the women in their lives. Listen up, you men who part of this problem. You may think you are lurking quietly and unseen in the background of this debate, but you are standing in a spotlight where God is concerned. Your day will come. But it would be better if you repented now and made amends where you can.
As regards problem number two: homosexuality. This is a perennial problem and where women fit into it, more precisely the Sisters here mentioned above, is one where, described by Lewis, it is a misuse of woman’s natural gift of compassion or pity. Its again, looking only on the outside of a problem or the face of it – but he was so nice to us or she was so easy and fun to be around or look at what he/she did for me – and here’s the kicker – you feel beholden! This is how rampant homosexuality has crept into the post-modern culture to the point where its actually considered ‘evil’ to be disgusted by the behavior! The problem is they are breaking God’s law in a way that results in a mortal sin. (In case any of my readers need an explanation: a mortal sin is one defined very clearly in the scriptures as one whose unrepentant practice will permanently bar you from the Kingdom of God. Yes. its that serious and it is different from other sins. Most people know where those scriptures are located. Some even call them the “clobber” scriptures I have read. I leave you to take that up with God when you meet. Enough said.)
Why is homosexuality a mortal sin? Remember, those that practice homosexuality are just such nice people. That’s what your experience has taught you. They may volunteer to watch your dog when your Christian brother seems too pre-occupied. Or they may offer you sympathy when your husband or wife just can’t be bothered. They seem available whenever you have trouble unlike your family. They are a shoulder to cry on, they understand distress like no other. They are jolly. They are so much fun to be with. There are so many comparisons from our experiences we can come up with that seem to indicate things just aren’t matching up with what the scriptures have steadily told us. Or can they? How can we equate that with what God calls evil?
If experience is our only teacher then there are many instances where pain would teach us to do great evil to someone else in order to avoid it. The child soldiers in some African countries can attest to that. Experience then is not the only indicator of what is right or wrong. In many cases, its not even the best indicator because our experience may skew over some pretty salient facts. A football coach may have been a great benefactor to a great many orphanages with his money but he may have also been found out to be a pedophile. That’s an example of a positive experience from one perspective skewing the overall truth of a matter. So it is with a lot of things God states as wrong or evil and we can’t see the harm in it – until its too late and our blindness is removed.
The blindness surrounding homosexuality is that seems to produce love, to perpetuate life when it in fact does quite the opposite. And God tells us so. He tells us that he didn’t make men to go together and he didn’t make women to go together. He made a woman and a man to be compatible both spiritually and biologically. Two men cannot produce a child and neither can two women produce a child. Only a man and a woman can naturally, biologically, produce a child. God is using Nature to tell us a truth right in our face that some of us refuse to accept in this instance. A child is endowed with specific genetic characteristics that cannot be taught as belonging to the parents – they, so to speak, come along for the ride and make that child unique and forever identified with that family line and that specific gender. Indeed, though it may not be fully explained, most children, even in the worst of circumstances, long to know their real parents, to connect with them on a deep level, relating to the father one way and the mother another way. Two men can only mimic the dynamic of a man and a woman – and they often do. The same can be said for two women. Why then not some original dynamic if this is good and right? The homosexual pairing is a mimic of the dynamic nature that is original. It is not original in its own right and it cannot produce life or love in any original uniqueness Its a skew of what God calls perfect in nature. That’s why it has some things that feel familiar but do not look so. So why the blind insistence that this behavior of homosexuality is inborn and isn’t a choice? Why do some of us feel that way?
Feelings are very powerful things. They can drive us to want things that even when obtained we wonder why we wanted them so much. They can drive us to do things we know are wrong even despicably evil because we don’t fight the feeling but give in to it. And once we do, its very hard to turn back. Not impossible. Just hard. Its so much easier to say: I was born this way. Or I just can’t stop it it must be what I am. Then we start looking for all the “good” things we do to justify what we find hard to resist. That’s how people can go on for years living their secret lives, which turn out to be so great a burden they want to place the blame on everyone but themselves. They may even tell people they are ‘hateful’ for not accepting the bad behavior. And that is the dilemma we have regarding homosexuality today. A strong a growing group who have taken their many good and fine qualities and defined themselves through those, excluding what God has said is wrong about their general behavior – even to the point of claiming God made them that way and loves what they are doing! Where can a person who thinks that way find a listening and compassionate ear? He or she can find it in those who are vulnerable to the misuse of their compassion and pity, who look only to their experience to tell them what is right and wrong. And here the Sisters have made another error in defending such behavior as a social justice over their obedience to God because of the deceptive lure of positive experience.
That is why I am not singing along with the nuns on these issues. I admire their fine work on behalf of the poor but I take issue with their lack of obedience and their trying to turn this into a debate about cruelty when it is not. It is an issue of seeing the truth for what it is, for being misled by appearances, and why God so wisely said through St. Paul: “I desire a woman not to teach but to learn in submission in the congregation.” Not because she is not intelligent. Not because she may even be brilliant – which she often is. But because of the way she was made and the very real vulnerability – so necessary to the nobility of the human race – a sacred vulnerability, that must be guarded to be kept safe for us all.