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IsThereNoHope? wrote:

Hi, guys —

I was raised an Anglican but in my teens became Agnostic before returning to Christianity in my 30s. I now regard myself as utterly convinced by the Christian message and have attended an array of churches, and met with a range of Anglican, Episcopalian, Methodist, and Catholic priests to discuss aspects of faith and membership.

The denomination which I feel most at home is Catholicism but I am most explicitly not a conservative. I am drawn to Catholicism because of:

  • the liturgy
  • the Apostolic Succession
  • the Confessional, etc., in short — the Christianity.

Though I am not gay myself, I have many gay friends and feel it would be a betrayal of them to join a Church which explicitly rejects them.

I have read the Catechism. I have also read the Bible. I have followed the debates online. I am familiar with scripture wars which I do not want to get in to. Suffice to say to me it is plain that the traditional position is no more relevant than stoning adulterers and is certainly not in the spirit of Christ. I have also read the discussion here:

Can I be a Catholic and still be pro-choice and pro same-sex marriage?

which appears to be definitive, and bleakly depressing, not only for its certainly, but also hostility.

  • It may be Catholic, but where's the Christianity?

Notwithstanding that a Church made up of people with such attitudes does not strike me as embodying the love of Christ, and fortunately contradicts my actual experience, my question is:

  • Does joining the Catholic Church actually mean:
    1. explicitly endorsing the full Catechism, or
    2. is it possible to join without doing so?

As one of the responders said:

  • Why would you want to?

I appear to be asking myself this same question too. Only because I am transported by the service and convinced that, in its essential sense it embodies Christianity, sometimes despite itself. Nevertheless, I equally to hold my nose and ignore other teachings I believe contrary to the Truth, and which would nullify my Christian journey.

It would be nice to think there could be a solution but I am pretty pessimistic. Still, if you have any ideas, let me know — only don't bother trying to convince me the Catechism is right on this, not least because, in time, (if maybe not in our lifetimes!), it will certainly change.

Christianity however is an eternal Truth, and it would be good to be able to celebrate it in its fullest sense and, no, there's no contradiction because I don't believe this social attitude.

  • Loving faithful relationships, yes
  • How God has made you, no

has anything to do with it.

Thank you.


  { Is there any hope that I can join the Church if I don't believe everything in the Catechism? }

Bob replied:

Dear friend,

One of my very close friends is gay, albeit he is chaste and he has never been rejected by any Catholics, myself included. Rejection may happen by bigots but is not the policy or dogma of the Church.

There is no rejection of persons, only sexual activities that violate the natural law. Surely you must agree that there are sexual boundaries:

  • Would you condone bestiality, sex with children, and orgies?
  • Where and how do you draw the line?
  • How does God inform your judgement and reasoning in this?

We live in a world with a disordered view of sex all around. All these things and more abound including auto-eroticism. Homosexual persons are not singled out for unfair treatment. We all must order ourselves toward the perfect will of God, who is pure love and has given us a context for the expression of that love in our sexuality.

We are given this gift that has an objective context, just as our alimentary system has an objective context. Just as we shouldn't bully someone who has an eating disorder, but love them, we must love those who struggle with their sexuality in any shape or form, even if we don't condone illicit activity.

You can have gay friends and be fully Catholic and witness how we are all called to chastity, whatever our sexual attraction may be.

Think on these things from an analogical point of view with respect to natural objects and appetites, and you may come to see the coherence of the Catholic position.

God bless you.

Bob Kirby

IsThereNoHope? replied:

Hi Bob,

I apologize if I have missed any other replies but I have had problems with my mail, however, this appears quite a comprehensive response.

I don't think there is much hope as such because the argument below is familiar to me and
I disagree with it.

You said:
There is no rejection of persons, only sexual activities that violate the natural law. Surely you must agree that there are sexual boundaries:

  • Would you condone bestiality, sex with children, and orgies?
  • Where and how do you draw the line?
  • How does God inform your judgement and reasoning in this?

I don't know about natural law but I do know about nature and that homosexuality exists throughout it. I also know that the Church has acknowledged the truth of evolution. It seems clear to me that homosexuality is simply an evolutionary variation, without wishing to be too crude, possibly developed as an outlet for when men and women were separated during long periods. This seems pretty obvious. Also that homosexuals bring alternative perspectives: creative, artistic, etc. that can also add value to communities. To be honest, I don't think there is much more to it than that. As Christians we draw on Logos and our Greco-Roman tradition, yet it seems on this, we are shackled to Jewish tribal notions that our own society grew out of 2,000 years ago.

The second clause bestiality, etc. reminds me of another argument I heard comparing them to alcoholics . . . Well, there are many activities I would not condone (and really it is as indelicate as saying all Catholics are bigots), however given that individuals are made that way and informed consent is freely given (i.e., not possible with beasts or children) I cannot see what is wrong.

As for orgies, I think in my post I underlined faithful, loving relationships. I can indeed see the arguments against promiscuity, which may be why I feel so Catholic . . . : )

This is how God informs my judgement — i.e., by enabling me to see the matter as it is, in the naked light of Truth, free, as far as I can tell, from cultural prejudice. I would be happy to hear arguments that plainly disprove my own, but the evidence seems increasingly weighed in my favour. The Church's views appear to be shaped by outdated prejudices rather than logical observations grounded in theory She Herself endorses. As I heard one (liberal) Christian podcast say that ship has sailed (although ironically it was an episode of Catholic Stuff You Should Know that obliged me to confront this issue in the first place).

Coming to your second point — celibacy, etc., Here's the rub: Given homosexuality occupies a normal place on the human spectrum, it stands that it should not be treated as abnormal.

  • You love the sinner, fine, but what if it is not sin?

In summary, I am caught in a paradox. It is very much my conviction that Jesus is the Truth which makes it difficult for me to engage with a community that casts out (albeit in a gentle way) ordinary, loving human beings for being how God made them and intended them to be. To me, this runs contrary to the spirit of Jesus and my understanding of Christianity.

  • We are all sinners, and I can carry my own sin, but how can I knowingly play a part in a community that sins in this way against others?

Having said this, because I otherwise feel drawn to the Catholic Church it would be useful to see if there was a way into the Church without being expected to endorse these views, which is why I posted my question. The more I think on it, the less likely it seems.

I suppose I am not the first Protestant in this regard, but what frustrates me is that my issue is not with the theology but with a very human set of attitudes that will inevitably change over time.



Paul replied:

Dear IsThereNoHope?

Thank you for what seems like a genuine and sincere response to Bob's response. Let me add my two cents to four points and presumptions that you have just made:

  1. You presume the Church's teaching on homosexual acts is a human and changeable one. Like all the Church's teachings on sexuality (adultery, fornication, masturbation, pedophilia, bestiality, sodomy, etc.) both of these presumptions are false.

    On matters of faith and morals the Magisterium of the Church has the gift of infallibly of which the Holy Spirit ensures the Word of God be taught by the successors of the Apostles to be pure and without error for the sake of our salvation. Also, matters of natural law literally cannot be changed. You could make the argument that desire for all of the acts above might be the result of evolution (I would say the result of original sin), but that says nothing about whether individuals having these desires have a moral right to act upon them.

  2. You have adopted the modern secular humanist ethic that all is okay as long as there is adult consent. This foundational ethic is not Christian or even theist. Adults can consent to wrong things of which they have no moral right to do. For example:
  • Is mutually agreed upon severe beatings to each other morally justifiable?
  • How about incestuous relationships of consenting adults?

Adult humans make many decisions for both children and animals such as immunizations, taking animals as pets, etc. without their consent.

  • What rational argument is there against human adults also taking them on as sex partners once you throw out the premise that sex has a natural purpose which is unitive and procreative?

The adult consent ethic ultimately is an attempt to make ourselves our own gods. We get to decide what is right and wrong, not God — see Genesis 3:5.

  1. You seem to have also adopted a second popular contemporary error which holds that all acts attempting to express feelings of tenderness should be considered love. This does not take into consideration that feelings and desires can be disordered and it would also justify all the disordered acts mentioned above. There must be something objective and independent of our feelings and desires to indicate whether acts in themselves are loving and if it is moral to act upon particular desires.

    That objective criteria is human nature or natural law and it is additionally underscored in the Word of God and teaching of the Church for the faithful. Both recognize homosexual acts as being intrinsically disordered and never good for those that would indulge. Hence they could never be considered acts of love because they are objectively abusive — despite any feelings of tenderness that may accompany them.

  2. The bottom line question for anyone who loves God is this:
  • Am I willing to die to self for the love of God and His Truth?, or
  • Will I go through the typical, selfish, psychological defense mechanisms of denial, rationalization, seeking popular consensus, [and/or] creating my own image of God in order to justify myself, etc. etc.

That is the ultimate question for all of us when it comes to the strong disordered inclinations and desires we all have in some form or another due to original sin and related influences on our nature.

Peace and Happy Advent,


IsThereNoHope? replied:

Thank you Paul,

I had to look up a few of the things you mentioned to fully understand their meaning, and I will come to them, although it is more for discursive purposes. They don't really answer my central question, although implicitly I think they do — that I would have to sign up in agreement to these teachings if I was to join the Church.

  • Of course I could just ignore them, but that would not be much help if we are all agreed this is about salvation, right?

On your specific points:

  1. I'm not so sure I am in error. The current Catechism was drafted in 1985, presumably it can be re-drafted.

    • You place homosexuality in with adultery, but you're talking about acts, right?

If homosexuality was redefined as a normal expression of humanity then adultery would still be beyond the pail. I also read this (from the Wiki) about the Catechism:

American Catholic bishops have stated that, though theological opinion was not intended to be a part of (CCC) Catechism of the Catholic Church, [18] it in fact "does not distinguish between matters of faith and theological opinion." [19]

A commentator, quoting Pope Paul VI to the effect that the Catholic Church has made a conscious attempt to adopt "a more humble and fraternal attitude ... that of a search for the truth", [20] claims that CCC displays a shift away from presenting dogma as fact and toward presenting the Catholic faith itself as a search for truth. Referring also to the statement in the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum that "the contents are often presented in a new way in order to respond to the questions of our age," he claims that the "new catechesis…attempts to produce existential reactions rather than intellectual conviction." [20]

In 1992, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) noted: [21]

"It clearly show[s] that the problem of what we must do as human beings, of how we should live our lives so that we and the world may become just, is the essential problem of our day, and basically of all ages. After the fall of ideologies, the problem of man — the moral problem — is presented to today's context in a totally new way: What should we do? How does life become just? What can give us and the whole world a future which is worth living? Since the catechism treats these questions, it is a book which interests many people, far beyond purely theological or ecclesial circles."

  • So what is the status of the Catechism?

The key point I am asking is:

  • What do I have to believe in to be a part of the Church?

because I believe in everything except its view on homosexuality (and I am not homosexual anyway). I take your point about infallibility, but plainly infallible views change (at some point I'm sure the punishments of the inquisition would have been viewed as equally proper).

  1. I was talking about informed consent, which requires adulthood, and I think is consistent with the Golden Rule. but I don't want to split hairs.

    • What rational argument is there against human adults also taking them on as sex partners once you throw out the premise that sex has a natural purpose which is unitive and procreative?

    To this I would say - love and fidelity, the two being intertwined. I disagree about being our own Gods. I think it is when we are fully adult we are able to make truly free decisions, which is why we were granted free will.

  2. Here I come back to my position on evolution, which the Church has endorsed.

  3. Yes, at the end of the day we agree on this. Because to me Christianity is not a lifestyle choice, although perhaps choosing a Church is — by which I mean my day-to-day Christianity is driven by the hope of salvation, with a deep awareness of the religion and its ontological depth. Faith, sin, suffering and redemption.

I am drawn to Catholicism because the services and the structures take me to that holy place.

Friends (even homosexual ones) encourage me to overlook aspects I do not agree with, but it's a real problem for me because it is an existential choice, not about just having a spiritual experience or feeling good about myself.

That is why I am looking for a way forward, one that (for me) does not attempt to justify the unjustifiable, but makes it possible for me to enter what feels like my spiritual home without a feeling of betrayal.



Bob replied:

Dear friend,

I just wanted to add to my previous response with points that may be clarifying.

I used the alimentary analogy to show the objectivity of the system. We eat to fulfill something objective, hunger is an appetite meant to stimulate consumption of something to nourish the body. If the appetite was for something that could not nourish intrinsically, such as talcum powder or anti-freeze, we would recognize that as disordered.

Likewise we may see an excessive appetite with subsequent bingeing and then rejection if the consumption via vomiting as disordered, along with other numerous variations. We can measure what is ordered and disordered by the purpose of the system and behaviors and actions that are in harmony with its nature: the object of the system. If you divorce the action of eating from the ingestion of the food you are disordered (vomiting/bulimia). If your appetite cannot be regulated you have a disorder which leads to either anorexia or obesity. Almost all disorders fundamentally lead to death unchecked.

Sex is intrinsically ordered toward reproduction. We understand that we have a biological system ordered to making new people. Our system relies on the intercourse of a male and female, who are complimentary to one another in this. The object of ejaculation is to release sperm toward an egg for which it may copulate and become one with it's Genetic material and create a new person, whom God infuses a soul therein. Our appetite for sex is naturally ordered to this end, and any attempt to do otherwise is disordered, because there is simply no other possible object for the sperm. It has one purpose by its own nature.

  • Now if the object of sex is procreation, does that mean it is merely utilitarian?
  • When God devised eating did he deprive us of the pleasure of food and it's many flavors?

No, on the contrary, eating is a pleasure and was intended to be. Disordered eating may still be pleasurable but violates the order God intended and leads, not to life, but death. So it is with sex.

We know that sex is intended for procreation by its design. We also know that procreation involves new people that must be cared for and developed into persons capable of sustaining life independently. This is where:

  • common sense
  • science, and
  • faith meet harmoniously.

God gave us a context for this called marriage.

Let the two become one flesh, he said, and children were conceived and lovingly raised in the context of the family, which mirrors Gods own divine family: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This was His plan — to have us share in His divine life in a tangible reified way.

So, the Catholic view is that when it comes to our appetites we must keep them in order, recognizing the harmony of nature as God made it.

Homosexual persons have the same burden that heterosexual persons do: regulate your appetite to its natural order. Eat what is consumable and not to an unhealthy excess, nor deprive yourself of what is required for sustenance. Likewise, regulate your sexual appetite to avoid activity which violates its natural order and object. Have sex with a spouse so you can lovingly conceive a new person to mirror Gods divine love and raise them to love, know God, and make it on their own.

In this way we can see the boundaries naturally imposed by natural law:

  • don't have sex with someone you are not married to
  • don't thwart the natural end of the act (contraception — akin to vomiting food consumed).

These fundamentals connect the procreative and unitive (bonding power in the context of marriage). When both sides of the equation are intact, we have loving harmony as God intended.

You may be thinking:

  • Does that mean we are suggesting that in every act we must be trying to get pregnant? <No.>

Just as when you eat sometimes you do it for the pleasure, you can still keep it in context (you don't vomit what you consume). You simply remain open to life by not thwarting the act in a disordered way.

Unmarried heterosexual people have the same urges that gay people do, but the Lord and His Church call them to chastity. Sex is reserved for a spouse, who must be complimentary sexually.

This is how:

  • reason
  • the science of biology
  • faith, and
  • morals align.

All Catholic teaching emanates from this coherence.

Lastly, there is nothing in Revelation that indicates God changed His original plan and made same-sex sex His intention so until He gives us further notice, we must obey.


Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Dear IsThereNoHope?,

In your last reply to Paul you quoted from Wikipedia as follows:
American Catholic bishops have stated that, though theological opinion was not intended to be a part of (CCC) Catechism of the Catholic Church, [18] it in fact "does not distinguish between matters of faith and theological opinion." [19]


  • So what is the status of the Catechism?

Your quote from Wikipedia is an error. Thank goodness Wikipedia is not infallible as I would question the source or context of this quote. In the official, Vatican-approved, Catechism of the Catholic Church in the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, the introduction, that is in the front of every Catechism of the Catholic Church you read, it states, Pope John Paul II speaking:

3. The Doctrinal Value of the Text

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I approved 25 June last and the publication of which I today order by virtue of my Apostolic Authority, is a statement of the Church's faith and of Catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion. May it serve the renewal to which the Holy Spirit ceaselessly calls the Church of God, the Body of Christ, on her pilgrimage to the undiminished light of the Kingdom!

The approval and publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church represent a service which the Successor of Peter wishes to offer to the Holy Catholic Church, to all the particular Churches in peace and communion with the Apostolic See: the service, that is, of supporting and confirming the faith of all the Lord Jesus' disciples (cf. Luke 22:32 as well as of strengthening the bonds of unity in the same apostolic faith. Therefore, I ask all the Church's Pastors and the Christian faithful to receive this catechism in a spirit of communion and to use it assiduously in fulfilling their mission of proclaiming the faith and calling people to the Gospel life. This catechism is given to them that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms. It is also offered to all the faithful who wish to deepen their knowledge of the unfathomable riches of salvation (cf. Ephesians 3:8). It is meant to support ecumenical efforts that are moved by the holy desire for the unity of all Christians, showing carefully the content and wondrous harmony of the catholic faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, lastly, is offered to every individual who asks us to give an account of the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Peter 3:15) and who wants to know what the Catholic Church believes.

You said:
The key point I am asking is:

  • What do I have to believe in to be a part of the Church?

In the Catholic Church, you have to be in a Common Union with Her Teachings and Her Teachings on sexuality are one of Her core teachings.

Based on what you have said with Paul and Bob, I would suggest that you ask the Lord to show you the truthfulness of His Teaching in this area and even though you are not a Catholic, stop by an Adoration Chapel to pray and contemplate on the issue. As you do, strive to separate official, logical, common sense teaching, from bad, scandalous behavior within the Church from the past. (i.e. the Inquisition)

Though it's not taught from the pulpit as much as it should, when Catholics receive the Blessed Sacrament every Sunday, whether they know it or not, they are saying they are in a Common Union with the Teachings of the Church.

We'll keep you in our prayers.

Hope this helps,


IsThereNoHope? replied:

Thank you everyone for your responses.

I appreciate their fullness and sincerity.

I remain genuinely torn on this issue and will have to wait, see (and yes, pray). I don't doubt the accuracy of what has been said (particularly about the position of the Church) and I noticed I came a long way toward the Catholic position through our discussions (i.e., moving from a principled could not to a cautious could I?, which is where I now sit). Some days it seems more likely than others — my problem, as I said at the outset, being my absolute conviction in the theology, and personal engagement, but then have grave doubts about how the human institution treats others. I will be thinking — maybe I should speak to a priest again, but then I hear that the Church has been handing out anti-gay marriage leaflets and then the very same cardinal (in Scotland) who has opposed gay marriage, resigning for gay sex abuse himself!

To me, gays are simply God's creatures like us and part of evolution — I agree on sexual continence outside marriage but denying them marriage (or a form that would enable a loving faithful union) is wrong, and also, albeit unintentionally, adds to the suffering felt by children made that way, as God intended, and the bullying they get as a result.

Presently, it is the [human/divine] question I am asking myself.

  • Could I join such an imperfect human institution if it enables me to get closer to God?
  • Would this be consistent with the Truth as I understand it?
  • Or, am I just being selfish — denying what I know to be true for my own benefit, which would be very un-Christian?

These truly are questions I must ask God.

To be honest, I wish I had been baptized Catholic. At least I could then wrestle with this from the inside!

Anyway, thanks again and Happy Christmas to you all.


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