Monthly Archives: November 2012

But, You Really DO Hate Gay People!

As I figured I would be, I’ve been called out on this post.  A blogger named Jessica Sideways insists that I really do hate gay people and seek to deny them rights.

The whole post in which she does this is, frankly, a waste of the bits and bytes used to store it on her server.  Those could have been used for something far more worthwhile, like a nice virus or maybe another iteration of a Socially Awkward Penguin meme.

Before I respond, an open note to Jessica:  I have a feeling I know how this back-and-forth is going to go.  Therefore, this post only will be in a Minimal Sarcasm Zone.  Only truly inane points you make will be subject to scathing, ironic humor.  If you choose to respond and show the same remedial grasp of philosophical issues I’ve already seen, you will be subject to sarcasm that will make you think of J.P. Holding as a nice guy.

You’ve been warned, now class is in session. Read the rest of this entry

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Must Catholics/Christians Hate Gay People?

I put a link to this article on my Facebook page.  I wondered why people who hold beliefs antithetical to Christian doctrine would want to be Christians.  One of my friends responded:

so you have to hate gays to be catholic or christian? if you in don’t agree with everything the church tells you then you can’t be christian or catholic? not trying to debate the issue just making sure I’m clear that’s what you mean by NOT for you a little intrigued by your post for some clarification of your point of view that you mean if you think like this you can’t involved in church? courious

I hear this again and again: Christians hate gay people, and we’re not allowed to disagree within ourselves because if we disagree then what we have isn’t from God.

No and no.  Let’s lay this out:

  1. Homosexuality is a sin.
  2. Marriage is between a man and a woman.

These are both eternal truths defined by God clearly in Scripture. These truths are to be upheld by the Church, and therefore the membership of the Church.

To be Catholic, you cannot be in favor of same-sex marriage. That is not the institution of marriage that is spelled out in Scripture by the Lord himself. The long and the short of it is that we humans don’t get to define marriage or church sacraments — God, who is eternally and perfectly good, is the one who defines those things.

Our nature is fallen from grace, and therefore we don’t really understand what “good” is or what it looks like. God is who we need to look to for that, not ourselves. If we look at homosexuality as something innate to us and think that is somehow “good,” then we are missing the mark by a lot. Remember — we are not good by nature; we are sinners by nature. What we do or what we are cannot be the standard for “right.”

When we use ourselves as the standard for “right” or “good” or “fair,” we will never get to the essence of those terms because no one consistently treats others “right” or “fair.” No one is consistently “good.” Better to ask instead, “What standard are we using for good?”

Every time we judge something moral or immoral, right or wrong, good or bad, we use some kind of standard. The standard cannot be society, for society changes far too often. Opinions and social mores are up for grabs, and differ every generation. Worse, this prevents us from judging any society as “wrong” or “immoral.” Implications?  The Nazis were on solid ground when they did the Holocaust!

For reasons I’ve already discussed (fallen nature), the standard can’t be what is in our own nature.

Therefore, the standard is God.  God is outside of ourselves, and therefore not subject to a fallen nature.  God also is not a part of society, and therefore not caught in the sweeping changes of morality we see as a society.

Read God’s Word — homosexuality is condemned throughout. Read Catholic doctrine — again, homosexuality is condemned throughout. Early Church Fathers were divided on many, many issues — but this was not one of them.  (See some selected writings here.)

Homosexuality is a sin, but not everyone in our pluralistic society shares the view that sin is a problem.  Does that mean we seek to deny them equal marriage rights using our religion?  We deny them nothing.  They have the right to marry a member of the opposite sex, just as I do. Men can only marry women; men joining to men or women joining to women is not marriage. Homosexual “marriage,” therefore, is the homosexual community asking to change the entire sacrament of marriage, thereby perverting its original intent.

Fine, homosexuality is a sin.  Homosexual marriage isn’t marriage, so it’s not a denial of a right.  Does that mean I hate gay people?  On the contrary, I have gay friends (one of whom owns a lesbian bar and is the founding member of Toledo Pride), I’m a huge Elton John fan, and I’ve been to a lesbian wedding (such as it is; gay marriage is still illegal in Ohio).  Where’s the disconnect?  Well, most people are tired of this expression, but I’ll say it anyway: Love the sinner, hate the sin.

“But I was born gay! If homosexuality is a sin, and if you hate the sin, then you hate me!” Absolutely right! I’m not even going to deny that.  But I’ve already covered this: Sin is innate to all of us, and we’re all sinners.  However, each of us are susceptible to different sins. The challenge as a Christian is to learn to hate that part of ourselves, to crucify it with Christ, and live in a manner worthy of our calling. Is it hard? Yes! I’ve heard it said that Christianity isn’t tried and found wanting; rather, found difficult and left untried.

Could someone in favor of homosexual marriage become involved in church? Could gay people become involved in church? Absolutely to both!! Hopefully through church they will learn that homosexuality is a sin and that it is something that they need to put to bed (no pun intended), not a part of themselves they should explore. No different from any other sin. We wouldn’t exclude adulterers or murderers from our congregations, but Catholic priests would certainly deny sacraments to ones that remained unrepentant.

Christ came to heal the sick, which is why he is sometimes called the Great Physician. The unrepentant sinners among us are the ones who need Christ’s love the most, and therefore they need church involvement that much more.  We should never deny church attendance or involvement to a sinner, because then no one would qualify for membership.

I’m not saying I’m perfect. There’s a lot for me to work on. A lot. I don’t practice what I preach here, so trust me this applies equally to me as it does to any gay person.

The point is that we all have our challenges with living as Christ did, and this life is about that journey to becoming more Christ-like. God promises to get us there, and he works differently on each of us. Homosexuals have their challenges, as I have mine. Church is about giving each other that accountability. It’s about helping each of us on the journey. That’s the point of fellowship.

But, before we can offer the needed accountability, we have to be clear on what constitutes a sin, which is (in my view) the real reason the young man in the article was denied confirmation. If you give approval to those who practice a sin, then you aren’t modeling Christ for unbelievers. Worse, you’re inviting the same judgment on yourself.

I hoped that would clear things up for my friend.  She’s a dear friend and I’d hate to lose her over what I would actually consider a non-issue.  Fortunately, she enjoyed that treatment and said she learned some things.  So kudos for remaining open-minded to other perspectives!

Mega-Facepalm!

Sometimes, some things are so stupid that I don’t think they really warrant a serious reply.  Case-in-point:

Then I remember the horrid truth.  Most people have so little discernment that stuff like this would actually convince them that the critics of religion have made some kind of point.

Does that crucifix qualify as making a god out of cast metal?

In one sense, yes.  Jesus is God, and the maker of the crucifix has manufactured an image of Jesus out of cast metal.  Therefore, he has sinned.  But does that feel right to you?

The passage forbids us from making a god out of cast metal.  The real Jesus, of course, is cut from the same cloth as the Father and as the Spirit.  He’s not made of cast metal, but this crucifix is a symbol designed to remind us of the Savior.

So, what this passage is actually forbidding, for example, would be me designing an elaborate Staunton-style chess king out of brass with some custom engraving and decorations.  Then naming it George.  Then worshiping George as an all-powerful God of Chess, who has endowed me with both the interest and the acumen to play the game of kings.

Get it?

This passage is forbidding inventing a god out of workable materials.  God isn’t a being you manufacture from earthly things, he is one that you seek through heavenly things.  God is to be sought, not invented.

Surprise: Atheists Don’t Lack Morals!

Did I say atheists have no morals? I don’t THINK I said that…

Atheists really like to fight against us ignorant theists who say they have no morals.  We’re the backwards hicks who take instruction from a book written by ignorant goat-herders who believed the earth was flat and that the sky was a dome that contained the sun, moon, and stars (all of which circled the earth!).  What do we know about morality?

Atheists are so enlightened that they’ve thrown off the shackles of God-belief and are doing the right things because they’re the right things, not because some ancient patriarch shakes his finger at you from 1,000 years ago and says, “Do it or I’ll spank you!”

So of course they don’t lack morals!  In fact, they’re more moral than religious people — the vague statistics quoted above don’t lie!

Sensing the sarcasm yet?

I hope so.  Because I don’t know how to lay it on thicker than what I just did.

Atheists are not immoral.  They are amoral.

Difference?

Immoral means acting contrary to established morality.  It is a question of ethics, not ontology or epistemology.

Amoral means lacking morals.  It is a question either of ontology or epistemology, not ethics.

Morality represents the essence of good behavior.  Ethics represent the execution of good behavior — in other words, the pudding that the proof is in.

In Plato’s dialogues, Socrates asks the good priest Euthyphro what piety is.  Euthyphro comes up with several examples, which Socrates says were good but that only covers pious acts.  Socrates wants to know what piety is.

By giving him extensive examples, Euthyphro wasn’t actually answering Socrates’ question.

The above graphic does the same thing — it only shows that atheists behave more ethically than religious people.  But why do they do that?

They can’t tell you — there is no ground for morality given atheistic naturalism.  That’s where the difficulty starts.  Ethics can change; sometimes dramatically.

It was once legal to bet on (or against) your own team in professional sports.  Professional sports also allowed the use of steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs without batting an eyelash.  Now, both practices are deemed cheating in most professional sports.

What we need is something to ground our ethics in; something immutable that we can return to to see what goodness looks like.  That way, when we find something new, we can create a code of ethics for it patterned after that which gave us the example of good ethics in the first place.

If morality is an immovable anchor and ethics are a boat on the rough, unforgiving seas of our culture, the boat is free to move about within the radius of the anchor.  It might go adrift, it might even do something unacceptable, but it will remain in the range of the anchor.  Conversely, without the anchor, the ship is free to be tossed around the sea of possibilities, moving unflinchingly into uncharted, dangerous waters with nothing to bring it back to safety.

The nature of God is that immutable ground of ethical behavior for the theist.  The atheist has none.  We are the boat that will return to safe waters, they are the one that will be tossed out to sea without a guide.

I have no problem with considering atheists ethical; the above examples show they are.  However, they have no ultimate ground for the morality that informs their ethics and that means they will go seriously adrift.