Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Discussion Continues

Here is part of the reply I received in a Catholic forum to a message I recently posted there and reposted in my previous blog entry.

I don’t think we have the same understanding here. The Catholic Church doesn’t teach that homosexual couples are incapable of experiencing deepening feelings of love and commitment through sexual “relations.” Of course they are capable of feeling that. Any two people can feel deepening love and commitment that may be associated with sexual pleasure, kissing, cuddling, or even handholding. The argument is not that homosexuals are not capable of feeling this -- the argument is that a true “marriage,” in which a couple truly become “one flesh,” requires a physical union of two complementary sexes that complete each other sexually and together comprise one whole – a union of which is always ordered toward the generation of new life (whether new life is actually generated or not).

Now, scientifically it can be shown conclusively that two males engaged in sexual activity DO NOT share the totality of human sexuality (they lack the female component in both physiology and capability) – and therefore can never comprise a complete union, which is marriage. To put it bluntly, just sticking one part into another does not make “union.” Marital union is achieved by uniting two incomplete, different yet complementary expressions of humanity into one complete whole. And it is not MERELY the sexual organs we are talking about here. It is all the physiological and psychological differences that are unique to male and female – that together comprise the totality of what is human (and the total image of God, by the way). THAT is what unites into an organic whole. The physical act of sexual intercourse brings all of this into unity, and only that complete union is CAPABLE of creating LIFE ITSELF – propagating the human species, and sharing the very power of God, who is the Creator of life.

That, and only that, is what human sexuality exists for. It is a perfect design. It needs no modifications or alternatives. And that is why a true marriage can ONLY be achieved by one man and one woman. Anything else falls short of this perfect unity in completeness – and can never be held up as equal to that perfect design.

And here is how I replied:

Thank you for showing me that I had previously misunderstood part of your and other people’s representations of the Church’s arguments against homosexual relations, and I’m pleased to see that the Church doesn’t necessarily teach that homosexual relations can’t have a unifying or deepening psychological effect on a homosexual relationship.

However, it still seems to me that if homosexual couples can love and commit to one another deeply in ways that are virtually indistinguishable from what we can see in the best of childless heterosexual marriages, and if sexual relations can foster such relationships in homosexual couples, then, while the Church may never view a homosexual marriage or partnership as being on equal terms with a heterosexual marriage, it could follow St Paul’s advice that “it’s better to marry than to burn” and accept homosexual marriage as preferable to the highly probable occurrence of damnable sin committed by homosexuals in whom the human need for physical as well as psychological intimacy is too powerful for there to be any realistic expectation that it will be resisted on a widespread basis. This would be a compassionate application of empirical human psychology to morality in place of a morality that tries to conform all human behavior to what I’ve previously called a “Procrustean Bed” of abstract theological ideals that ignore concrete human reality. The Church now confronts homosexuals who want to remain within its good graces with a terrible choice: Either they submit to the earthly torture and disfigurement of the Procrustean Bed, or they refuse to submit and figuratively or literally burn in hell. Or they can relinquish belief that the Church’s teachings about morality and hell and almost everything else have divine authority, which, so far as the Church is concerned, is likely to plunge them into hell. It just seems to me that a supremely loving, just, and merciful God and a Church that truly represents and serves him, would take all of this into account and permit homosexuals to marry.

And even if the Church could not go that far, I fail to understand why it not only refuses to marry homosexual couples within the Church, but also actively opposes civil marriages outside the Church. For it’s one thing for the Church to say that you can’t be a homosexual Catholic in good standing with Church teachings and marry someone of your same gender with or without Church blessings, but it is quite another and different thing for the Church to use the full weight of its influence to prevent secular society from performing and recognizing CIVIL marriage involving Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

If the Church could produce conclusive evidence that such marriages would seriously victimize innocent people on a scale that would cause grave harm to society, it might have a case. Yet, it seems to me that the only case the Church can make is that an alleged God allegedly says that homosexual relations and a marital legitimization of them are wrong because only a man and a woman can form a metaphysical union of “one flesh” that is “open” to “propagating the human species” even if a given heterosexual couple’s capacity to do this is nullified by physical impossibility.

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