Sunday, August 17, 2003

The Chicago Tribune does it again

If you look at the Perspective section from today's paper, you will see an article by Robert McClory about the Catholic Church's opposition to things gay. The article starts thus: "Much of the traditional condemnation of gay unions has been based on stereotyping, scapegoating, ignorance, and malice." Get that? If you oppose gay unions, you must be a malicious, ignorant, stereotyping scapegoater. It continues: "Thoughtful people are wrestling with their presumptions and prejudices." So if you are thoughtful, you will somehow see that homosexual unions are wonderful.

After such a beginning, one expects some sort of evidence of this malicious, ignorant, stereotyping scapegoatery. There is none. McClory gives this presentation of the opposition to the gayification of the world: "Meanwhile in Rome, the Vatican's Congregation for the Defense of the Faith, with Pope John Paul II's full approval, issued a statement declaring that gay unions are in clear violation of the natural moral law and that Catholic politicians worldwide have a serious obligation to oppose such unions and to bar gay couples from adopting because these adoptions do "violence" to the adopted children.

No debate here, no indication of any division on the matter among Catholic people, bishops or theologians, no evidence of any discussion with anyone outside the Vatican.

No, indeed. No debate, no attempt by the author to confront the evidence of scripture, the writings of the Fathers, or the true nature of the Catholic Church's reasoned opposition, which could be found in summary in the very Vatican document he mentions. McClory knows nothing of the nuptial meaning of human sexuality, of the ordination of sex towards procreation, of the inevitable exploitation of the other that occurs when sex is divorced from its procreative ordering, which can be seen in the transitory nature of most homosexual and contraceptive heterosexual unions. Rather, McClory gives this argument for his position: "The fact is, the designation of homosexuality as unnatural and intrinsically immoral has been and is being challenged by responsible experts in a variety of fields, including biology, psychology, anthropology, and both moral and biblical theology. What seemed perfectly obvious to our grandparents is not so obvious anymore." This is the famous argumentum ad aestum historiae, the argument from the tide of history: see, history is tending gay, therefore the Church should get on the side of history. If only we weren't so backward, we would see that our Church should get with the times. Thoughtful people, after all, are courageously overcoming their prejudices.

Bunk. It's all a load of feces. History is not only now tending towards homosexuality: homosexuality has been around for millenia, and was quite common in ancient Greece. In fact, as I have said elsewhere, the shocking thing wasn't that Socrates had a crush on his young male friends, but was that he never acted on these urges. This stuff is nothing new, and isn't the result of some cultural enlightenment. It is rather a regression to an early type, a type that was previously superceded by Christianity.

Furthermore, note that McClory makes no actual arguments. He mentions the great unnamed horde of academics who now think that gay sex and gay marriage is perfectly fine, but he never even attempts to show how such declarations can be squared with the evidence of scripture and the 2000 year tradition of the Church. In fact, he never mentions Jesus Christ at all and the bible only as something to be overcome.

McClory gives a list of things that the Church has supposedly changed her mind on, in order to show that the Church really isn't unchanging. He misrepresents the Galileo episode, and then speaks of "the condemnation of the Jews; the long, official approval of slavery; the prohibition against lending money at interest; and the doctrine of no salvation outside the Church." Needless to say, he never gives any citation of the supposed official condemnation of the Jews. He neglects to mention that slavery was extinct in Europe for a thousand years because of Christianity (it still flourishes in Islamic countries). Usury is still a sin, and there still is no salvation outside the Church, which is nothing more than to say that salvation only can come through Christ, something he himself said.

McClory finishes with this warning, commending the Episopal church for its recent actions: "its leaders obviously see no other choice but to take the risk. Catholic leadership at this point prefers to repeat old formulas. But that is an even more risky, dangerous course; it can only lead to intellectual stagnation and the loss of any church's most valuable asset." First, note that the Church is not merely repeating old formulas, but is carefully passing on the Tradition handed down from the apostles, who got it directly from God himself in the person of Jesus Christ. One would be lucky to be able to repeat old formulas from such a source. Further, McClory talks of intellectual stagnation, when there is never anything intellectual about arguments for homosexual marriage. The only argument ever made goes something like this: "Lots of people engage in gay sex. These people aren't so bad. Therefore gay sex is wonderful! Further, if you weren't so backward, you'd realize how wonderful it is too!" This is not intellectually rigorous.

Finally, McClory says that we risk "the loss of any church's most valuable asset." He doesn't specify what this asset is, but I will tell you what he means: the Church risks losing its standing in polite society. How gauche of it to insist that, darn it, some things really are sinful! People might not like the Church anymore. Well, Mr. McClory, the Church has never been loved by the world, but in this we follow a noble tradition. Christ, after all, was nailed to a cross. It is only right that we who follow him should suffer similar ridicule. But we do have a valuable asset that the Episcopal church has sold for a mess of pottage: we have Christ.

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