Who’s Hiding in the Closet Now? What Catholics Must Do to Combat the Homosexual Agenda

21 Mar

closetThere was a time not too long ago that we would speak of a sexually active homosexual man or woman’s “coming out of the closet.” Now, as I watch the news, hear about recent court decisions, or even read the comics, it seems that homosexuality has not only come out of the closet, but has invaded my living space. In fact, those who uphold traditional Judeo-Christian values are the ones ending up in the closet.

Intolerable Accommodations

In his book Against the Grain (Crossroad, 2008), author George Weigel, drawing upon the social teaching of Blessed John Paul II, writes:

“Freedom must be tethered to moral truth and ordered to human goodness if freedom is not to become self-cannibalizing. If there is only ‘my’ truth and ‘your’ truth, but nothing that we both recognize as ‘the’ truth, then we have no basis on which to settle our differences other than pragmatic accommodation; then, when pragmatic accommodation fails (as it must when the issue is grave enough), either I will impose my power on you or you will impose your power on me.”

It occurred to me that while this paragraph speaks more generally of what Pope Benedict famously dubbed the “tyranny of relativism,” it also provides particular insight into the long-term strategy of the “gay rights” movement. When in a position of relative weakness, the movement seeks acceptance and “pragmatic accommodation.” When in a position of greater strength, as is increasingly the case today, mere accommodation gives way to the imposition of power. Every step of the way, the objective moral law is not “the” truth, but merely an opinion to be condemned as homophobic hate speech. The tyranny of relativism preaches, but does not practice, “tolerance.”

What, then, are some of the societal forces that have helped the “gay rights” movement attain its current position of greater strength?

Rise of Atheism. The Second Vatican Council (1962–65) noted that atheism in its various forms is one of the most serious problems of our time, and this problem has only become more acute in subsequent decades. This is not merely a theological or religious problem, but an anthropological and thus a political one as well. In practical terms, as Dostoyevsky suggests in his classic novel The Brothers Karamazov, if there is no God, then anything and everything is permitted. If mankind is not the creation of an intelligent, benevolent God, but rather the accidental product of evolutionary forces, then there is no objective human nature and no natural moral law on which to base human society. Rather, everything would be a matter of convention, determined on the basis of power, not rationality and love.

• Reinterpretation of the Bible. While many gay activists have embraced secular atheism, others with some religious sensibilities have taken another tack. They take the position that the Bible and enlightened Christian morality really don’t condemn homosexual activity on the part of homosexual couples who are engaged in faithful, committed relationships. The biblical arguments of Bishop Gene Robinson of the American Episcopal Church and other “gay-friendly” pastors are obviously flawed, but are enough to appeal to church bodies who want to justify the behavior.

• Inconsistent Witness of the Church. The problem within the Church community runs deeper than the crisis in Scripture scholarship. For example, in recent decades some of the most prominent Catholic outreaches to homosexual men and women, such as Dignity and the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries (NACDLGM) have been, at their very best, ambiguous in their acceptance of Church teaching. On occasion, such as in the case of Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent of New Ways Ministry, the Vatican will intervene, but the problem is too pervasive for the Vatican to “fix” without the committed support of local Churches. Further, attempts in this country to distill Church teaching in a “pastoral” setting typically result in the de-emphasis of sin and “objective disorder” and the magnification of the need for “charity” and sensitivity. The result is often a skewed, if not emasculated, presentation. If indeed sodomy is one of the sins that “cry to heaven,” and thus capable of leading to one’s eternal damnation, we certainly don’t hear much about that these days. Another aspect of the inconsistent witness is homosexuality in the priesthood. Although ample Church guidelines were in place regarding the admission to the priesthood of men afflicted with homosexual tendencies, many seminaries in the second half of the last century were not adequately diligent in their admission process, moral teaching, and human/spiritual formation. All of this mutes the Church’s prophetic voice on this crucial moral issue.

• Contraception and Infidelity. Marriage itself, the basis of family life and the building block of society, has taken a beating over the past century. In this regard, the widespread acceptance of contraception is at the root of the problem. The rise of contraception has brought about a radical change in how the marital act is generally understood, as contraception renders the act infertile and ultimately masturbatory. The inherent love-giving and life-giving dimensions of the act have been artificially separated. This has not only led to offenses against life, such as abortion, but also to offenses against authentic marital love, including homosexual relationships.

• Plague of Pornography. The forces of sexual immorality are difficult to combat even under the most favorable of conditions. In fact, it’s not even a fair fight. Concupiscence, or the tendency to sin, is part of our fallen human nature, and we constantly need divine grace to counter this inner brokenness. This reality is only too evident when it comes to our disordered sexual appetites. Further, this Playboy and Penthouse generation is decidedly hostile to sexual morality. The sobering fact is that pornography has become one of the most pernicious, widespread elements of the “culture of death.” The pornography industry brings in tens of billions of dollars per year. Tens of millions of U.S. adults regularly visit Internet pornography websites. We can’t even begin to quantify the devastating effects of all this on women, children, families, and public morality. The sexualizing, dehumanizing aspects of pornography lead to escalating sexual perversions and addictions, and serial homosexual encounters would be a case in point. More generally, pornography is the epitome of “anti-chastity” and works against any and all efforts to renew marriage and family life.

• Support of Scientific Community. The gay rights movement received a significant boost in 1973, when the American psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality as a diagnosis from its Diagnostic and Statistical manual (DSM), under intense pressure from gay activists. The historical record is that this unfortunate position of the APA was motivated by ideology and politics, not science. How did the APA justify doing this? Dale O’Leary in One Man, One Woman (Sophia, 2007) explains that in removing homosexuality from the DSM, the APA changed the way it looks at psychological disorders. Before 1973, a behavior was considered disordered if it arose from an irrational reaction to childhood trauma or deficits, even if the person had found ways to function successfully in society. The new criteria discounted the origins and considered only present distress, disability, and disadvantage. If the person claimed to be “comfortable” with his condition, then it was no longer to be considered a psychological disorder. If he wasn’t comfortable, then his discomfort must be attributed to “internalized homophobia” caused by societal oppression—for which the prescribed cure is “gay affirming therapy.”

• Emotional Appeal. We’ve heard for several years that homosexuality is a genetically determined trait. The cause of the condition shouldn’t affect our position, and surely when we start talking about acting on homosexual urges we are moving away from biology and into the realm of public morality and free will. Yet the public perception as to the cause of homosexuality matters greatly, as studies clearly demonstrate that people who believe that persons with same-sex attractions (SSA) were “born that way” are far more likely to favor aspects of the gay agenda as opposed to those who believe that homosexual persons developed their sexual orientation. There is no credible scientific evidence supporting the existence of a “gay gene” or some other genetic cause of same-sex attraction. We’re talking about a myth, albeit a shrewd one, as homosexual activists have used the “I was born this way” line—or better yet, “God made me that way”—to garner sympathy for their position. “Born that way” might suggest a disability or exception; “God made me that way” says it more positively and with a religious veneer.

Further, despite the cases of men and women who with therapy have been cured of SSA, activists have successfully sold the public on the lie that not only is homosexuality present at birth, but it’s also a fixed and permanent condition. If it were a correctable disorder, the public would be less inclined to support the creation of new laws to accommodate this alternative lifestyle. So the public is trained to think that change is impossible and thus to think of those with SSA as victims, as an oppressed minority that simply desires “equal rights.” (Of course, that reasoning wrongly treats marital intercourse and sodomy as functional equivalents, but most people don’t think it through that deeply.)

Another successful strategy has been the gay rights movement’s ongoing campaign to link religious disapproval of homosexual behavior with violence against persons with SSA, equating it to racism and racial violence. Every chance they get, they use inflammatory words such as discrimination, intolerance, bigotry, hate, and homophobia in referring to those who believe, on religious grounds, that homosexual acts are contrary to God’s law. Their implication is clear: Such religious zealots are the cause of anti-gay violence. The fact is that those who commit acts of violence against persons with SSA are virtually never churchgoers. Christianity strongly condemns violence against persons with SSA. In fact, persons who engage in homosexual behavior are more likely to suffer violence from gays and lesbians than from others.

The gay rights movement has made steady, incremental advances since the 1960s, some legitimate in themselves, but all agenda-driven—e.g., anti-discrimination laws, hate crimes legislation, “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies, civil unions, increased exposure to homosexuality in movies and TV, and the like. But those aren’t their goal. They want to remake society.

Advancing the Heterosexual Agenda

How are faithful Catholics to respond to this immense challenge? I’d like to offer just a few ideas.

• Spiritual Battle. Above all, this is a spiritual battle. As such, fervent prayer and reception of the sacraments is the single most important thing we can do to be “part of the solution.” And this prayer should be the prayer of the tax collector, not that of the Pharisee who thinks he has it all together and looks down his nose at all the sinners “out there” (cf. Lk. 18:9–14). Rather, our own personal renewal must be the starting point.

• Families, Be What You Are! When marriages are lived well, it’s then much easier to discern a “real” marriage from the counterfeits that are being thrust upon us. Let’s face it, adultery, divorce, and contraception are widespread problems. Not only do they afflict individual marriages, but they subtly affect our perception of the institution of marriage as a whole. When, conversely, our own marriages bear witness to the fidelity, permanence, and fruitfulness that are an intrinsic part of marriage, it is easier for society to recognize the value and goodness of marriage. In addition, children from strong, Catholics families are more likely to undergo a healthy psychosexual development that will lead them to esteem traditional marriage. The family as a school of virtue prepares children to respond generously to the Lord’s call, which may even include the countercultural witness of consecrated virginity or celibacy.

• Expert Witnesses. Faithful families are a powerful witness, but, with apologies to St. Francis, sometimes we do have to use words. Building our own solid knowledge base is particularly important in this area, especially since there are so many myths and so much misinformation out there. We should know the Church’s teaching on this subject, which is summarized in Catechism, nos. 2357–59. In communicating this information to others, though, three especially convincing sources of information are (1) personal testimonies of those who have left the homosexual lifestyle, (2) reputable scientists, and (3) the “other side,” quoted fairly and not out of context. The news and entertainment media have been indispensable allies of the “gay rights” movement, and for the most part they have gone unchallenged. The movie Brokeback Mountain was but one notorious example of using one’s craft to advance pro-homosexual propaganda. Courageous Catholic communicators, such as journalists, screenwriters, and producers, must be encouraged to respond with media that communicate the good, the true, and the beautiful.

• Theology of the Body. The best defense is often a good offense. Not that we should emerge from the “heterosexual closet” with the same obnoxiously antagonistic tone as our counterparts. Rather, what I’m encouraging is a proactive presentation of the sublime beauty of God’s creation of men and women in His image and likeness, and how the complementarity of the sexes built into our very nature teaches us about God and His loving plan for us. This profound truth provides the blueprint for happiness as well as the context for our opposition to distorted perspectives of human sexuality. One of the greatest legacies of John Paul II’s papacy was his elaboration of the “theology of the body.” Its dissemination on a popular level would provide a solid philosophical framework on which to build a civilization of life and love. The challenge is always to present such teaching without unwittingly falling prey to the same irreverence and immodesty that characterizes the secular approach to sex education.

• Community Standards. While a good offense is important, defense wins games. Several states have approved amendments to their own state constitutions to protect traditional marriage, which is something we should support in every state. Even more, we should not give up on an amendment to the federal constitution, as we urge our representatives to make it an issue every election season. More typically, though, we must direct our energies locally, opposing laws that incrementally recognize homosexual activity as a basic civil right. We must be especially vigilant when it comes to our local school districts, which in some places implement sex education programs which, beyond the perennial problems associated with such programs, serve to indoctrinate our children such that they will “tolerate” homosexual activity as normal and good behavior. We need to fight pornography and other blights on the sexual mores of our communities. We seem to think we are powerless in this area, but courts are supposed to apply a “community standards” test when it comes to obscenity, and we should be clear as to what our standards are! When it comes to porn, we should have the mindset of NBA star Kevin Garnett, whose aggressive defensive style says to opponents, “Don’t bring that trash in here.” We need to use blogs, letters to editors, personal conversations, and whatever other influences and contacts we might have to help mold public opinion. And we should support those individuals and organizations that are trying to help.

• Charity in All Things. In reaching out to our hurting world we need all the virtues, especially charity. When our charity is directed toward those who are mired in serious sin, it should be expressed as mercy and compassion, not as disdain. We are always striving to lift up, not put down. We can have all the scientific evidence, philosophical arguments, and convincing sound bites, but if we don’t have charity, nothing is gained.

Make no mistake about it: This is the make-or-break issue of our generation. We need to bring our “A game” both spiritually and intellectually if we’re serious about defending traditional marriage. Otherwise, let’s start getting used to the closet.

One Response to “Who’s Hiding in the Closet Now? What Catholics Must Do to Combat the Homosexual Agenda”

  1. Michael F. March 21, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    How the French are turning the tide on traditional marriage:


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