Forgotten Doctrines

Part 2

A corrective to our ignorance is to read Pius XI and Leo XIII. Leo XIII, in his marvelous Arcanum, art. 11, writes;

The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties. For “the husband is the head of the wife; as Christ is the head of the Church. . . Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things.”

 

Pius XI in his marvelous Casti connubii, writes:

 

Domestic society being confirmed, therefore, by this bond of love, there should flourish in it that “order of love,” as St. Augustine calls it. This order includes both the primacy of the husband with regard to the wife and children, the ready subjection of the wife and her willing obedience, which the Apostle commends in these words: “Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ is the head of the Church,” 26.

 

Again, this subjection of wife to husband in its degree and manner may vary according to the different conditions of persons, place and time. In fact, if the husband neglect his duty, it falls to the wife to take his place in directing the family. But the structure of the family and its fundamental law, established and confirmed by God, must always and everywhere be maintained intact, art. 28

 

The same false teachers who try to dim the luster of conjugal faith and purity do not scruple to do away with the honorable and trusting obedience which the woman owes to the man. Many of them even go further and assert that such a subjection of one party to the other is unworthy of human dignity, that the rights of husband and wife are equal; wherefore, they boldly proclaim the emancipation of women has been or ought to be effected. Art. 74

 

This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man. Art. 75

Forgotten Doctrines

Part 1

We have quite forgotten the Church’s teaching, grounded in revelation itself, on the subjection of the wife to the husband. This is most unfortunate, for precisely in our time is this truth called into doubt. Thus, domestic tranquility is disturbed, for good men and women fail to find this truth presented to them clearly and unambiguously. It simply goes without saying that this headship of the husband is one for the sake of service. Real headship it nonetheless is. But no one nowadays wants to take leadership. Society trains everyone away from it, except the usurping kind of leadership that undermines all natural right.

In any multitude, there must be order. Now, “consensus” can work much of the time, when there is perfect practical harmony. However, it is nearly impossible for there to be perfect practical harmony all of the time. Compromise and dialogue are virtues often enough. But none of these can guarantee that stability in which the matrimonial state flourishes. For the stability of the matrimonial state, it is then necessary for there to be one ultimate authority. And this authority, revelation and the order of nature indicate to be the husbands.

For the husband is less determined by his bodily fluctuations than is the wife, whose very closeness to her bodily fluctuations is also a strength for her, since by it she is uniquely attentive to the needs of the children and to concrete persons. The husband’s glance is far off, providing for the long range needs and plans of the family. Thus, the husband has his eye on the comprehensive factors affecting the family, and the wife on the real and urgent needs of the day. Since the comprehensive factors are architectonic, are overarching, these are the principles of rule; whereas the concrete matters are determined in light of the prudential supremacy of these principles. Hence, it is natural that the husband serve as ruler of the family, with gentleness, diplomacy, for the sake of the good, and yet really with authority.

There is ample Magisterial teaching on the headship of the husband, although for the past 50 years or more, there has been an unfortunate silence, a silence not even corrected by John Paul II. Thus, in our next post, a set of Magisterial teachings on the subject.

 

Forgotten Doctrines

In a number of posts to come, I’ll be indicating various forgotten doctrines. They have been forgotten because they have not been uttered for a long time, although they have come into doubt by non-Catholics. Since they have not been explicitly re-inforced for Catholics, these too are coming to forget them as well. This is a disaster for the Church. Well, the argument from silence is nonetheless a fallacy. Just because a doctrine has not been repeated does not mean it no longer holds. It is time we recover ourselves from our delirium.

Lynch’s Comments on Homosexual Relationships

Part 7

Could such acts by holy acts? An act can only be holy if it is an act of supernatural charity. Charity is the love that God pours into the heart and that, ennobling the very being of its recipient, makes the heart pleasing to God, as a little daughter is pleasing to her parent.

Now, can the person committed to a homosexual lifestyle have that charity in his heart? Well, not if he is in the state of mortal sin. Holiness and mortal sin are contradictory states. Either you are in grace or you are in sin.

But has he committed, is he committing, any mortal sins? In all likelihood, he has and he is.

Why? There are three conditions for mortal sin: 1) the act must be gravely evil, 2) you must know or should know that it is gravely evil, 3) you give full consent to the act.

Now, constant Catholic teaching and biblical revelation is that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil. They are objectively evil. Thus, they meet the first criterion.

Second, Catholic moral tradition indicates that homosexual acts are evil is something that all men should know. Human reason can discern that they are contrary to natural law and thus evil. Further, all Catholics should know that they are evil, for the true religion of Jesus Christ proclaims their wickedness in the Bible and in the magisterial teaching. And of course, all men are obligated to seek the good and avoid the evil. They are obligated to find out what is good and what is evil. To inform themselves. Those who pursue immediate goods and neglect even the search for truth, neglect formation, they are culpably ignorant. They have already put themselves in a state of culpable ignorance. If they then do things that are objectively evil and which they could easily have known to be such had they tried the most basic investigation of truth, then they are guilty of all such acts. Could there be an actively gay person who is not culpably ignorant that homosexual acts are evil? Given the above, it would be unlikely, though our cultural rot might have captivated some. At any rate, whoever is not living life so as to seek what is good, and the higher things, has sinned already in this most basic order of negligence.

Third, do the men give full consent? In all likelihood. Giving “full consent” is not some “existential throwing one’s heart without reserve into sin”. It is much simpler and easier than that. Giving full consent simply means embracing the act consciously. That’s all it means. It does not mean “wanting all that comes with the act, even hellfire.” It simply means you were awake and wanted it. If an adulterous woman snuck into bed with you and aroused you from slumber and what not, it could be the case that you did not consent fully, though you engaged the act. But if you go and consult the adulterous woman about her wares, well then, you have had your fill of consent.

Net result: In all likelihood, those who are living in a homosexual relationship are committing mortal sins.

What’s more, they are staking their daily lives towards the commission of mortal sins. Thus, they are in all likelihood in a constant state of unrepented sin.

Hence, there is  little chance that they have repented and truly embraced the grace of God. If they did, they would be like all who search for the truth and begin to think twice of their present and past activity. Hence, there is little chance that they are holy. They have the chance, however, of repenting and “at length” coming to the life of Christ (Lumen gentium, art. 16).

Hence, it is unlikely that any of their acts are holy acts. If they should repent, they should have a chance. Thus, the holiness of their acts depends on their awakening to the truth.

 

Lynch’s Comments on Homosexual Relationships

 

Part 6

And yet we did note that the members of a gay couple are working on certain relational skills in their evil relationship. Here is the subtle nuance, which (a) should be considered but (b) should not obscure the clarity of what has preceded.

Presently, those in a gay relationship are utilizing these skills for evil. They are ordering these skills to their relationship as homosexual, which is contrary to divine law and right reason. But since what is contrary to divine law and right reason is evil, so is this relationship.

Conceivably, they could leave this relationship and take out of it the skills developed, just as the Jews despoiled the Egyptians. That is, they could order these skills for an end other than the evil of homosexual acts. Perhaps a good end, such as chaste wedlock or penitential life in a monastery (I am reminded of Sebastian in Brideshead Revisited) or dedication to the poor or dedicated work in the world in any number of employments and as a single person, etc.

Recall how instinctively revolted we were by the gay prostitute. His lifestyle involved so few relational skills. By contrast, the gay couple develops some of these skills. Thus, we are less revolted. On the other hand, the concrete development of these skills is by no means a neutral thing. They are used for evil whenever ordered to the relationship as homosexual. They are such things as, however, could conduce to a good relationship.

But no homosexual relationship is a good relationship.

Hence, these skills are as it were mere “raw materials” which are presently actually ordered to evil, except when the members undertake acts which are not ordered to their relationship as homosexual. For instance, one of them might be very understanding of his secretary at work, because she is very stressed in her home and has a troubled child, etc. Thus, the man might have compassion on her, might commit a number of acts which are not ordered to his relationship with his gay lover, as gay. Again, when one of the members is in great pain, the other might be taken with a grief which is not that of one who is losing something for himself but which is truly concern for the other. Such acts can be free from the sin of the gay lifestyle. Of course, concretely producing such an act, free from ordering to the relationship as homosexual, would probably be very difficult of attainment.

Could such acts be holy? Next post

 

 

Lynch’s Comments on Homosexual Relationships

Part 5

A second cause of confusion is the ambiguity in “something else”.

Just what are we comparing those in a committed gay relationship to? Are we comparing them to a gay prostitute who not only seeks money but seeks pleasure in a series of sexual encounters? Or are we to compare them to the man who has a very bad day and commits the evil of sodomy, but repents immediately? These are two very different comparisons!

The gay prostitute who seeks money and serial sex has very little about his activity that could be “usable” in a real and virtuous relationship. He does not develop conversation, sharing, giving, compromise, etc. Instead, he has contractual relationships centered on pleasure. This is very far removed from any form of virtuous friendship or marriage. We are instinctively revolted by such a person’s life.

By contrast, we look at the long-lasting and committed gay couple and we see persons who are developing skills of conversation, sharing, etc.

Now let us discern this second confusion in light of the first. I think we may begin to see our faulty reasoning, Bishop Lynch’s faulty reasoning. We are saying to ourselves: Isn’t the gay couple better than the gay prostitute? Well, if the gay prostitute is the “something else,” it seems a case can be made for the gay relationship as “less evil”.

But note: Less evil; not “better”. Not “more good than”. Why? Because the relationship is still contrary to God’s law and right reason (as Catholic teaching indicates). But what is contrary thusly is evil. Now, when comparing two evils, I don’t call the lesser evil “good” or “better”. If one person murders and the other only assaults, I do not normally say, “To assault is better than to murder”. No, I say, “To murder is more evil than to assault”.

Similarly, considered in itself, the gay relationship is less evil than the gay prostitute lifestyle. In short, “Less evil” but not “more good”, not “better”.

On the other hand, insofar as the gay relationship is an avenue of recruitment and propaganda for a lifestyle intrinsically evil, it is a scandal far worse than that of the gay prostitute.

 

 

Lynch’s Comments on Homosexual Relationships

Part 4

There is prejudice in Bishop Lynch’s comments. It is understandable in today’s climate, yet it is also contrary to reason. It is the prejudice to find a “long-lasting, committed homosexual relationship” to be better than something else. This prejudice is at the source of much of the confusion in our evaluations of the evil of the homosexual relationship.

Just what is that “something else”? And why is such a relationship better than it?

First, I suspect that the attributes “long-lasting, committed” are used by way of analogy with a true sexual relationship, that is a hetero-sexual relationship. When we think of a heterosexual relationship, we can compare true marriage with promiscuity. Now, true marriage is a real good. But it is a complex real good. It is (a) sexual and thus open to life [note that I have argued that homo-sexual is actually an oxymoron; the a-sexual is what does not involve difference in reproduction; the sexual is what involves difference in reproduction; hence, the sexual is the heterosexual] and (b) a union of only two, and (c) indissoluble. Heterosexual promiscuity runs contrary to the second and third aspects of marriage, but not to the first.

The deception, the confusion, about “gay marriage” or “gay relationship” is this: Conceiving it by analogy with what alone is marriage. Why? Because the very heart of a gay relationship is contrary to what Catholic teaching and right reason (as Catholic teaching indicates) declare to be true sexual relationship. True sexual relationship is by definition heterosexual. A “union of two” in such a relationship is good only because the heterosexual union itself is good. And “indissolubility” is good only because the “union” is good. But if the very sexual relationship is contrary to right reason and God’s law to begin with, then its “union of only two” and “indissolubility” will not make it any less contrary. But what is contrary to God’s law and right reason is evil. Hence, the relationship as homosexual just is evil.

In short, our prejudice to find two gay men in a long-term, committed relationship to be ”better than something else”  is a matter of confusion. We have tried to make an analogy with marriage. But an analogy could work only if the very relationship to be defined were good. For instance, in virtuous friendship, there is a good relationship. And such a thing will be marked by “for the long haul” or “committed,” else it will not be virtuous. So, we can say that a person who quickly makes and breaks friendships has fallen away. The person who is committed to virtuous friendships is better than the person who is not committed to virtuous friendships.

But we cannot do this with an evil relationship. We cannot say, “The person who is committed to an evil relationship” is better than “The person who is not committed to an evil relationship”. Now, Catholic teaching is that homosexual acts are evil; thus, what is ordered to them are evil; since homosexual relationships are ordered to homosexual acts, they are evil.

Recall that someone might have a very bad day and commit the evil of sodomy, but repent immediately after doing so. But those who are committed to it are more mired in the evil. Hence, being in a homosexual relationship is all the more contrary to God’s law than committing on an occasion the gravely sinful act of sodomy.

Lynch’s Comments on Homosexual Relationships

Part 8

As Paul says, who can come to the truth without a preacher? Thus, what is most incumbent for all who love those in a homosexual relationship is an awakening to the truth through a loving preaching of the truth.

The loving preaching of the truth must have two edges. It must be frank about the predicament of man without God, of man opposed to God: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth” (Rom 1:18).

Second, it must preach his mercy. Not in such a way as to dissolve sin. But in such a way as to encourage repentance: “Do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Rom 2:4f). And this is a teaching Paul describes as “according to my GOSPEL” (Rom 2:15f).

Woe to the man who obscures Paul’s words to the sinner! Woe to him! For he is choking off the sinner’s last chance of breath. He stands as “mighty god” before the poor sinner, creating and annihilating universal norms ‘ex nihilo’ for him. He is playing the great Satan before a sinner.

For, if those committed to a homosexual lifestyle are constantly told that they are “not sinning”, that their actions are not to be judged, how will they ever come out of their real confusion and enter a true way of life? If anyone keeps blocking these sinners from the truth and grace of Jesus Christ, how shall these poor men and women locked in the evil of homosexual relationships ever repent and come to life? Why are some locking them out of the kingdom of heaven?

To obscure the truth of the Gospel before the little ones is scandal. And those who cause scandal will be the more severely judged by the one who indeed has the right, and will exercise the right, to judge the living and the dead.

Lynch’s Comments on Homosexual Relationships

Part 3

We have established that living in sin is the worst state of any sinner. Now, it is evident that someone living with another in an illicit relationship is living in sin. Why? Because by living with that other one has determined all one’s practical activity around this relationship. If the relationship is illicit, then one fits the description of someone firmly committed to the sin, of someone “living in sin”.

Thus, if there is any adulterous pair that is “shacking up,” they are living in sin. If a man who is dedicated to wife and family has a terrible fall one day and commits adultery, he is not living in sin. He has happened to sin. He has sinned mortally and possibly ruined his marriage. But he is not living in sin. Hopefully he repents. But the couple that shacks up for adultery is living in sin.

Similarly, if two men decide to live together in a homosexual relationship, they are living in sin. They are in a terrible state. A state much worse than the very unfortunate man who one day decides to search for another man to have homosexual sex one night, but regrets it and departs from the sin the next day, seeking forgiveness. But those who commit to the evil act commit themselves to evil; they live in sin.

We have noted the degrees of commitment to sin: Some commit the occasional mortal sin and repent immediately; some still long for it, await it, welcome it when it comes, but are nonetheless regretful at the same time, they waffle; finally, some live in the “dung and death” (T.S. Eliot) of sin.

What we see with these three degrees is a direct proportion between one’s commitment to sin and one’s distance from holiness. Why? Holiness is a state of (a) intimacy with God, which (b) necessarily entails distance, separation from sin. Hence, just as the adulterous couple that lives together is farther from holiness than is the man who falls grievously one day, so the homosexual couple that lives together is farther from holiness than is the man who very grievously falls one day.

Our conclusion seems to be exactly the opposite of what Bishop Lynch implies by his complex statement. Why is this?

 

Bishop Lynch’s Comments on Homosexual Relationships

Part 2

Can those who are in a homosexual relationship be holy? Recall the definition of homosexual relationship: A relationship ordered to homosexual acts. Since such acts are per se evil (always and everywhere, regardless of the intentions or circumstances, evil), such relationships cannot be good.

Now, Catholic dogma holds that a freely acting person is either holy or evil. There is no middle ground. One is either in the state of grace or not in the state of grace. All who are in the state of grace are holy. No one who is not in the state of grace is holy. Indeed, every freely acting person who is not in the state of grace has committed a mortal sin and is dwelling in the state of mortal sin.

Now, some who commit mortal sin repent immediately or very quickly. They do not “dwell” in the state of mortal sin. In order to repent effectively, one must with a firm purpose of amendment will not to commit that sin again. And one’s act must be motivated by supernatural charity. Only such a self-distancing from the sin, a hatred of the sin because of the love of God, will do. Anything short of that will not produce the holiness without which one cannot be saved. All who die in a state of mortal sin descend immediately into hell to be punished forever (Dogmatic Definitions of Lyons II and Florence).

Unfortunately, some are very slow to repent. They still enjoy their sin, love their sin. “The swoon of sin” as S. Dedalus describes it. Such persons are very unfortunate. Like Gollum or Smeagol – they don’t know who they are. They waffle.

Far worse are those who dedicate themselves to sin. These dive into their sins as into dwellings of dark mire. This state of commitment to sin is called “living in sin”. Among the public version of this is taking up illicit relationships. For instance, a man is living in sin who leaves his wife and shacks up with his mistress.

“Shacking up” = Living in Sin.

These are far worse because their resolve to engage the sin that is their treasure is utterly firm. It is so firm that it anticipates the eternal impenitence of the damned. Their lives foreshadow damnation. How marvelously does the BBC portray this in its production of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. Serious food for thought for anyone committed to any lifestyle of sin; worth a watch before we turn, at last, to our controversial topic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtQoUs1rVz8