Pope Benedict used his Christmas address to teach that “homosexuality destroys the essence of the human creature,” “a person’s gender identity is God-given and unchangeable,” and same-sex marriage is a “manipulation of nature.” The US states of Maine, Maryland, and Washington endorsed gay marriage in November, joining six already permitting same-sex marriage. Efforts to legalize gay marriage are also being pushed in Europe. Spain, a largely Roman Catholic nation, already allows it. Britain and France soon would.
President Obama after saying a few years ago that he is personally not for gay marriage, has recently reversed himself. Surely we in Sri Lanka will face the question in the next few years. It is therefore good to think about it.
To write on homosexuality is dangerous because of social trends. Upholding traditional marriage is seen as fuddy-duddy. Yet I do it to show that the Christian position is thought-through. To explore the situation properly one needs to be explicit; my apologies to anyone offended.
The Christian Position
The Christian position is laid down by Jesus Christ himself in the Gospel according to St. Matthew:
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” [St. Matt., 19:3-6].
The marriage standard is one man to one woman for life. Although this like many other laws was violated by Christian individuals, it has been the law in Christian countries. Christian nations having ruled the world, this became the law throughout the colonies. Thus polygamy was prohibited in Sri Lanka although it was once our norm. Divorce began to be permitted slowly as the Church’s power waned. But laws against homosexuality were retained. Ironically, in many non-Christian countries like India and Sri Lanka, Christian marriage is upheld better than in many Christian countries insofar as we remain married to one person for life and homosexual marriage is not countenanced.
Laws within the Church – the Faith Community
The Church is a faith community, the Bible being the divinely inspired basis of faith. Some argue that science shows homosexual tendencies to be real. But the Church responds that a believer’s life of obedience to God requires Christian restraint and having physical urges is no reason for giving in to them.
Since sex is permitted only within monogamous heterosexual marriage, any contrary physical attraction must be resisted. Thus just as a man attracted to a woman to whom he is not married must ignore and even suppress any attractions to her, the Christian calling is to ignore prayerfully any homosexual attraction, and the drive to act on such attraction.
That is the faithful’s life. We have divinely ordained rules. If we are naturally tempted to act contrary to those rules, we must suppress those temptations. What then are homosexuals attracted to persons of the same sex to do, when they burn with desire? The Christian answer would be the same as to a young unmarried man burning for women: it is an illegitimate feeling so suppress it with God’ help.
The believers’ life offers no free licence to act out feelings like anger, acquisitiveness and sex, and reaches its zenith when these feelings can be controlled to align us with divine will.
The Church teaches that divinely ordained marriage laws are good for us and make us mentally healthy. The Church believes that Christian marriage is good for us and our children. The Pope is therefore entitled to assert these laws.
Who is a Homosexual or Lesbisan?
Despite claims that homosexuality is a natural estate to some, the inescapable fact is that the male principle needs a female principle for sex. There is no natural match between male and male organs, or between female and female.
This means that the so called natural inclination to homosexuality is based on masturbation or sex toys or non-fitting body parts. It is unnatural. Then, if a heterosexual school child at a hostel gets another to masturbate or do whatever they do, is he or she naturally homosexual because of enjoying the experience? I think not.
What of same sex friends living together without sexual intimacy as many unmarried women do in Sri Lanka, sometimes bringing up a child? They are no homosexuals and outside the subject of this article.
Counter Arguments Driving Change
A counter argument was used by Obama: that he has seen “loving [homosexual] couples who are committed to each other, raising kids, and are just outstanding people.” But we see many “loving [polygamous] couples committed to each other, raising kids and are just outstanding people,” and that is no case for polygamy because it puts down women and the symmetry between sexes. A case can be made that man is naturally polygamous. Even so, it makes no case for him to be polygamous.
Obama’s argument on homosexuals raising children is particularly weak because there is no data on how socially adjusted such children would be. Because mutual masturbation or other unnatural intercourse can be engaged in by any two children and enjoyed in the short run, it is not clear what parental example would do to such children and whether they would be naturally maladjusted in their own marriages later (A study in Social Science Research – 41(4), 2012 – of such children shows them to suffer disadvantages).
Similarly when a couple ages and a spouse becomes unattractive or boring, being attracted to others is never a sound argument to cheat based on “love” and “natural inclinations.” This is why the faith community holds that controlling natural inclinations makes for a happier marriage and a better adjusted society where children have a secure environment within stable parental marriage
Likewise I have seen men claiming to sexually love children but that makes no case for child sex.
Outside the Faith Community
What is being played out in the US and Europe is because many no longer share the faith of the Church. Can the Church then impose its laws on people who do not believe? This is the current tussle between the Church and the non-Christian segments of society.
While one can argue that the Church’s marriage laws should not be imposed on those who are not members, it is equally possible to argue that the laws are good for everyone in society (especially children) and therefore must be imposed on everyone – just like the polygamy laws and child sex laws of the Church are imposed on non-believers on grounds of being violations of the rights of women and children respectively, regardless of their religion.
This is why we see some faithful Christians supporting gay marriage – not necessarily as the right thing, but arguing “If that is what they want to do, who am I to say no when no third party rights are suppressed as with polygamy and child sex?”
The Pope believes gay marriage destroys the essence of the human creature and the family as an institution providing a stable healthful environment for children – both Christian and non-Christian. As the leader of Christendom, it is his duty to preach and canvass his views.