North Star

Last night I received this comment on an old post. Read it, friends, and weep.

God loves you fully for who you are – your sexuality is an expression of the love in your soul and heart and God does not require that you repress it unless you really want that (i.e. as a monk)…brother you are trying to be accepted by the church but the true acceptance comes from God – the church’s reasons to oppose gay love are history, fear, self-repression and bigotry–the church has got it wrong and in time will correct it – in the meantime
are rejected and treated as half people – please promise you will try to talk to somebody more open – perhaps Jesuits- please realize God made you as you are and loves you—
– another Gay Catholic who is a practicing Catholic and has a loving partner.

So much compassion, and so much confusion. The author appears to assume the following things:

  • – That I don’t believe God loves me, SSA and all.
  • – That all sexual feelings are expressions of love.
  • – That the only way to be celibate is through “repression”.
  • – That rejecting the behavior of gay people (or anyone else) implies a rejection of the people themselves.

So many Catholics have been tricked into believing that they can take the parts they love about Catholicism and leave the parts they don’t. This would be the case if the Church were a philosophy, or a political creed, or a theory. The Church is none of those things.

The Church is — among other things — the instrument by which God communicates His truth to the world. Like Christ, she is both human and divine. Her humanity means that she is full of knaves and imbeciles1 as well as saints, just like the rest of the world. It means that her members, who of all people should know better, have often done unspeakable and horrific things, and often done them in the name of Christ.

But she is also divine, and because of this, there is one thing she has never done: she has never erred in her official teachings on a matter of faith and morals, Nor has she ever changed one of these teachings. I challenge you to find one instance, just one, of such an error or such a change. (Citations required, please.)

This unchangeability is our salvation. As soon as we begin to sift through Catholic moral teaching and select the ones that please us, we have ceased to believe in the Church as she has always been understood, and have replaced her with something that is designed to suit us. We have changed her foundation from rock to sand.

We have, in short, set ourselves up as the ultimate authorities. I’ve lived with myself all my life, dear readers, and by this time I know very well that I’m not an ultimate anything. Thank God for the Church, my compass, my anchor, my North Star. However far I wander, she will always leads me back to sanity; because she does not move.

Please pray for this man and all those like him, who have been led so far into the wilderness that they no longer know they are lost.

1 q.v. Hilaire Belloc: “[The Church is] an institute run with such knavish imbecility that if it were not the work of God it would not last a fortnight.”

83 Comments on “North Star”

  1. Brother B says:

    Alleluia, brother! Thank you, Steve, for telling the truth once again, and for sticking to it.
    The end of your post reminds me of something Fr Benedict Groeschel once told me, when I was “wandering” far from Church teaching and undergoing strong temptations. He used the image of the Church as a lighthouse in a storm… the waves may rise, the winds may blow, and the lightning and rain threaten to drag us down. But if we always head towards the light, we will never get lost.
    Keep the faith, brother. I am praying for you over here in Holland!
    Brother B+

  2. Lori says:

    Your post spoke volumes to me as a woman who very nearly left her marriage not-so-long-ago. Oh, how we rationalize what love is and is not; how we deceive ourselves about what God wants for us.

    Thank you Steve for yet another post filled with Wisdom that applies universally to us all. God bless you.

  3. joe says:

    What about the changes in the Church’s position on, for example, slavery and usury over the centuries?

    1. Citations, please? 🙂 Again, the distinction that always needs to be made is between the dogmatic teaching of the church on a matter and the practices of her members.

  4. Emma says:

    Lol, “talk to somebody more open- perhaps Jesuits-”

    Lol, Jesuits. I know they don’t deserve a lot of the flack they get, but… this made me chuckle.

  5. Christine says:

    I got this in an e-mail from Steve Kellmeyer, founder of Bridegroom Press, a while back. It might be useful in response to the usury issue; he as an interesting interpretation of the matter:

    “When people discuss the Catholic teaching on abortion or contraception, someone usually says something like, “Well, these teachings are subject to change. I mean, look at how the Church has changed her teaching on usury and slavery over the course of the centuries!”
    Has the Church really changed her teachings?
    The quick answer is: no.
    The longer answer takes a bit of thought.

    Usury is the charging of interest on a loan. In the early Church, this was forbidden in every instance. It is easy to see why.

    In a subsistence-level society, where stored food can make or break an entire community’s chance at survival, money is a consumable like water or food. In such a society, I can give you my bread today, but I risk having none tomorrow. Similarly, when you pay me back by giving me one of your loaves tomorrow, you can’t afford to give me more than you received. If I demanded more, you might well starve. There’s little enough to go around as it is.

    There is no such thing as investment income. Money is good only because it can be stored on a shelf far longer than that salted venison or the dried fish we caught in the spring. All of that will eventually have to be consumed or it will go bad. But gold, silver, anything that has a longer shelf-life than the consumables it can be traded for, has value.

    That’s the upside to money. The downside is, you can’t eat it.

    I can’t give you bread, and then charge you extra if you choose to eat the bread. Bread is made to be consumed. In a subsistence-level economy, money is also made to be consumed. I accept your gold for my bread ONLY because I expect to be able to spend that gold on bread for myself tomorrow. For us, money is like food, fire, clothes or any other barter material – it is consumed in the transaction. If I took your money in exchange for my food, I may very well not have enough food of my own. I will need to swiftly trade your money for more food.

    If I can’t “eat up” the gold you give me, that is, if I can’t spend it, I’m not going to give you my bread no matter how much gold you have. I would starve if I did. The gold you give me today I will spend tomorrow to get bread for myself. Gold, bread, wine, it’s all the same thing really. All of it will be stored, eaten, used up. That’s what it’s made for.

    So, I can’t expect you to repay me the loaf of bread AND expect you to pay me another half loaf for the privilege of eating the bread I gave you. Bound up with the very nature of bread is the expectation that it will be eaten. Asking for more bread than I gave you is charging for something that doesn’t exist. It’s asking you to pay for a right that is already given to you when you got the bread to begin with – with the bread, you also got the right to EAT that bread.

    Catholics aren’t allowed to charge for things that don’t really exist. That’s usury. Charging interest on a loan was, for the subsistence-level society, identical to asking for a loaf and a half back on every loaf given out. That’s just evil. I’m killing people when I demand it.

    But times changed. As societies grew beyond subsistence level, they found they had more barter stuff, that is, more gold, wheat, spice, cloth, than they really needed. What to do with the extra?

    Some smart person somewhere realized that he could use his gold to barter with people at a far distance. He could invest the gold in a caravan or a ship. If the caravan actually returned with what he had bought, he would have a lot of barter material. His ship would have come in.

    On the other hand, if he invested all his money and it was waylaid by weather or bandits, he might very well starve. There was a risk in making such an investment. A LOT of risk. It was smarter to share that risk with others. The only way to share the risk in a fair way was to share the wealth that would come if you beat the odds.

    This is the beginning of investment banking. Now gold is no longer a consumable that disappears because I have to eat. Now it is a way to assess risk and investment, it has changed to become a marker in a much larger game. If I am investing my money, putting it at risk in the hopes of greater returns for all involved, then I have a perfect right to share that risk out amongst all the investors involved. The investors likewise have a right to demand a share in the reward – a dollar and a half for the dollar invested. This is the charging of interest on a loan, but it is no longer usury, because the risk is very real.

    Now you see the problem. The Church has never changed her teaching on usury. It’s still a sin. You can’t sell something that doesn’t exist. The teaching didn’t change, but the cultural definition of “money” and “interest” did. The definition of money is dramatically different now than it was in the first millennium of the Church’s existence. Now money is an electronic cypher in a computer somewhere, a set of bits flipping back and forth, the swap of electrons on a silicon wafer.

    Prior to marriage, every consensual sexual act is fornication. But when a person gets married, he can no longer commit fornication, he can only commit adultery. Furthermore, while he can still sin sexually, he can now engage in consensual sexual acts that are not sin at all, but are actually a means to holiness. The definition of who he is has changed, and so the definition of how he can sin and how he can be virtuous has also changed.

    In exactly the same way, the definitions of money and interest changed so that what used to be a sin can be transformed into an acceptable act. What I could not do in a subsistence-level barter system, changes into something I most assuredly CAN do in an affluent society in order to assess risk.
    So, we can still commit the sin of usury, that is, we can still charge for something that doesn’t exist or charge extra for something that doesn’t deserve an extra charge, but we don’t necessarily commit that sin by charging interest because the secular definitions of the traditional terms have changed.
    Church teaching hasn’t changed.
    We have.”

  6. Dan S. says:

    Almost every time this subject is discussed, people bring up slavery and usury as examples. The assumption is that since X changed, then Y can change, or that anything can then change. Yet, I think this is a false application of logic, since the person would first have to make the case that comparing slavery/usury, whatever to the morality of homosexual acts is a valid comparison. I think that when slavery/usury is brought up, one needs to challenge the validity of the underlying premise, because, when taken a little deeper, the premise really doesn’t hold.

  7. Dante says:

    Change, as in contradiction? NO. Deeepening understanding of what the terms and the revelation mean and teach? YES. Its called the development of doctrine made better known in our times by Blessed Henry Newman. Classic example of a dogmatic teaching that has devleoped to the point where some THINK (erroneously) that it has changed is the ancient teaching, “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” of St. Cyrpian of Carthage in his “On the unity of the Church”. In modern times it became the cause celebre of the Feeneyites in Boston.

    Some of the most pertinent Roman Catholic expressions of this doctrine are: the profession of faith of Pope Innocent III (1208), the profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), the bull Unam sanctam of Pope Boniface VIII (1302), and the profession of faith of the Council of Florence (1442).

    This deeper understanding which the Church professes today (which upholds Christ as the one Savior and his Church as the one vehicle of this grace) no longer interprets this to mean that clear-cut, name-in-the-baptism-registry form of visible membership in the Catholic Church is required for salvation as Catholics once exclusively understood it to mean.

    It is theologically possible for the Church to develope her understanding of who and what the Scriptures refer to when they speak of homosexuality. It is possible for theological dialogue and speculation to begin to differentiate between freely chosen participation in these actions and those which come from a constitutional psycho-sexual composition. It is possible for orthodox theological-biblical studies to better discern the historical context and thus intended meaning of Scriptural citations, which in turn would effect magisterial interpretation and application. And if we learn from our church history it is not only possible but very probable that the theologians who seek to do this will be ostracized, forbidden to teach and slandered. But in this case they will join the ranks of the likes of de Lubac, Congar, von Balthazar and others.

    What is NOT possible is any application of the above in a manner that directly contradicts ANY condemnation of homosexuality in at least some form of its expression. Thus the kernel of the teaching is maintained. I am sure the thought of these possibilities would scare many, for we like the comfort that a solid tried and true theology brings to us in the realm of divine mystery. But we should never fear theological investigation for if it is carried out in process under the guidance of the Church we will not be led astray; it will always confirm and apply truth as it needs to be seen in one;s time and place.

  8. I think it’s important to distinguish between definitive teachings on faith and morals (those from revelation or closely tied to it) and those that are not defined. The former cannot err. The latter we are still required to hold with firm assent, but they are not considered infallible. See Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian paras 15-17, as well as Lumen Gentium 25. The history of the Church’s tolerance of torture and capital punishment is noted in this essay by moral theologian Fr. Brian Harrison.

    To say that no teachings on faith and morals have changed is simply not accurate. Some have (as Harrison illustrates). There have been no changes in dogma and other definitive teachings. These two types of doctrine can develop but cannot change (that is, be made to contradict previous teaching). Homosexual acts are clearly condemned directly in scripture and have always been condemned in sacred tradition.

  9. Chris says:

    Dante, do you include what Bill has said as also limiting “any application of the above”?

  10. Other people have covered the doctrinal angle. I just want to comment on the pernicious influence of psychobabble on our culture.

    Your well-meaning commenter speaks of “repression” as if the psychological term were the same as the political term. But in fact we have many impulses which we must repress, either continually or within certain contexts, in order to live in a stable community. Psychobabble conflates the political use with the psychological term and divides it into “god” and “devil” categories: political repression is bad; therefore sexual repression must be bad as well. Now, repressing a memory can play havoc, but that’s a different situation from repressing an impulse or a desire.

    So much of our culture’s sexual attitudes stem from the half-digested pop psychology, with a slight admixture of proto-Marxist dialectics, of forty and fifty years ago learned through the medium of psychobabble. Psychobabble gives many people the feeling that they can practically see into others’ souls, yet it’s no more reliable than phrenology; in fact, it’s almost as unscientific as phrenology, given the progress made since Masters and Johnson and the infamous Kinsey reports.

  11. Dante says:

    I am saying that this theological investigation into the Scriptural term “homsoexuality” may be likened to the way the Church once held ever so adamantly as to what the word “church” meant. There were those from pope ti pauper to held this to designate the communtiy of those baptized into the Catholic Church. Even the Orthodox Christians had their salvation seriously questioned by these people at those times. This narrow understanding of church was, as we have seen, only partially true. Yet the truth taught in “extra ecclesiam” remained and remains valid. We just have a more universla of how this is so.

    The same basic dynamics may or may NOT be so for homosexuality but the inquiry would be a valid topic and in continuity with our tradition of faith seeking understanding. But it is within the realm of possibility that homosexuality as used in Scriputre and ancient Tradition could refer to a more narrow view in which there was no understanding of psychology and pyscho-sexual-emotional orientation. And even with this understanding the result might be the same BUT it would demonstrate the sincerity and integrity for truth of the Church to thr world.

    And this dialogue and understanding might even be frowned upon by hierarchy as were other theological quests that resulted in definitions we accept today as orthodox. it can take many ups, downs, ins and outs before a conclsuion is reached perhapos even centuries later.

  12. Chris says:

    Dante, you restated your argument well. I would say that this kind of development with regard to “homosexuality” has already undergone a transformation, because today we take great pain to make the distinction between SSA and homosexual acts, in ways that might be lost of previous generations.

    But I don’t believe you did more than restate what you said before, and you really didn’t answer my question. Do you believe that the current magisterial teaching on homosexual ACTS (distinct from “homosexuality” as you state) is something that is capable of development in quite the way you suggest? Or is Bill correct that future development cannot really go so far as to fully contradict that teaching?

    I’m persisting in my inquiry because, while I think we agree with one another in principle, I’m afraid some people might misunderstand the relatively small loopholes you’re accentuating and interpret them in a way that allows a Mac truck to be driven through the Magisterium.

    I respectfully suggest that it might be better if we were a little bit more clear about how far that line of thinking will NOT go.

  13. Victor says:

    As I understand it (probably poorly), in former times homosexuality was regarded to be a deliberate and malicious parody of heterosexual love. A man indulging in homosexual acts did it out of his own will, as a mockery of marital love, and thus committed a grave sin (just like a layman “playing” priest would commit sacrilege when attempting to celebrate the liturgy). Meanwhile we know that homosexuality is a psychological phenomenon, that men suffering from SSA can’t help it, and as a consequence the Church has made the distinction between the attraction and the act.
    I would argue that today, a slightly different approach is followed. Marriage is a sacrament because it is an image of God’s love towards us, which is unconditional, eternal, and fruitful (yes, I read “Theology of the Body for Beginners”). In this triple context, sexual acts are an expression of the marital love. Homosexual acts never have the potential to fulfill this triple requirement, and hence are illegitimate just like premarital sex would be for a heterosexual couple.
    Or am I completely wrong here?

  14. Dante says:

    Chris: As stated previously, development is a deeper insight that cannot contradict revealed teaching, but this development can seem to do so even to many who have been highly educated in theology. Thus we have the sad story of the late Archbishop Levebre and his dissident followers. Church understanding of who can be saved, of what the term “church” means, and of other truths (such as religious freedom) was too much for them to bear emotionally that it apparently blinded them theologically. So to answer you – NO – I do not believe development can contradict definitive teaching but that still leaves open the question as to who exactly are the subjects of this teaching by the magusterium when it uses the word “homosexuality”? And who is condemned by the Scriptural injunctions? Some scholars would argue for example that the classic passage in Romans 1 is actually dealing with men and women who are heterosexual by orientation but “exchange” or “give up” this natural sexuality for hedonistic pleasure and as false worship. Thus the Spirit has Paul using tersm such as exchange, give up, replace (depoending on translation) all of which imply the ability to be and do otherwise. But this is just one example of theologicla inquiry and is NOT a teaching.

    Victor: I agree with you that the Church’s view on homosexuality has been transformed and this in itself is one very important sign and step of doctrinal development. It is a good example of what we are discussing here. And I would agree that the Bible and acient Tradition looked at homosexuals as heterosexuals who were choosing to act immorally. it was a very rudimentary but common view of this form of human sexuality in times when people had no idea of pyschology and the physiological functioning of the human person. So they simply judged by what they observed and what they observed were people who they assumed were freely giving up normal sexuality for the sake of an aberration.

    As for the Church’s teaching on heterosexuality (theology of the body is NOT church teaching; it is simply one method of trying to get a handle on this truth) one has to ask what is meant by “inseprable” when teaching that procreation and unitive love are the two ends of human sexuality? If “inseperable” is taken at its gut value then how can the Church permit sterile married couples to continue in their sexual lives when only the unitive is functioning? This would be a contradiction. Here again we have an example of development in the teaching for we know that such married couples who are long past the age of fertility can still engage in sexual love as a moral good. Or take the approval of natural family planning. If being open to the children God wishes to send was taken as its gut value then no form of birth control, including the natural which does not obstruct but simply avoids, would be condemned, for can God not be in charge and directly send to couple only the children he wishes without us humans using any form (even avoidance of sex) to put our “2 cents” into the equation? Again I would say that this has been a development based upon scientific and medical knowledge that Catholics of prior centuries were ignorant of and would have seen as a “loophole”.

    I want to re-emphasizde that theological inquiry and dialogue does not guarantee drastic development but it is a sincere and vital form of searching for deeper truths. To ask these questions is NOT to doubt the teaching, but is to simply seek its fuller expression, one way or another.

  15. Victor says:

    We have to bear in mind that the separation of mankind into men and women is not a mere accidental phenomenon but part of our innermost identity – very much unlike factors like age and fertility. Couples that were sterile for whatever reason can still conceive at least in theory – in fact, we know at least two quite prominent examples from Holy Scripture (Zachary and Elizabeth / Abraham and Sarah). Even a woman who had to undergo uterectomy can in theory still get pregnant (I think I remember one such case where a woman had her uterus miraculously regrown).
    Whereas on the other hand I know of no example where God transformed a woman into a man or vice-versa. A homosexual couple simply cannot conceive a child ever. They lack the basic natural presuppositions, and as we know, “gratia supponit naturam”. Where there is no possibility whatsoever to conceive, there cannot be a sacramental marriage, ergo there cannot be legitimate sexual intercourse.
    Much can change in theology, but the fact that we are created as man and woman will never be changed, since it is written in Holy Scripture. It all goes back to this fundamental principle, and whoever tries to find a way around it is deceiving himself and others.

  16. Dante says:

    It is not possible to do justice to this topic in a combox nor, really, in a general audience since very speficid theological principles must eb known and applied. So I am done. But thanks for the reply. You put forth one of the classic loopholes for infertile marriage very well. Merry Christmas!

  17. Victor says:

    I am trying really hard not to regard this a complete victory… (kidding)
    I don’t claim to be an expert theologian, just an interested and informed Catholic. Still, I would be very interested in your detailed answer (even if I won’t completely understand it). If you want to, you can ask Steve for my email; I am sure he will gladly help.
    In any case, merry Christmas to you and your loved ones too!

  18. Ima says:

    I wish more people would read Cdl. Newman’s Essay on the Development of Doctrine, esp. the chapters on the “notes” of a genuine development as opposed to a corruption of doctrine.

    Also, when people talk about a “modern” development of doctrine (e.g. about the understanding of Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus) they sometimes sound as if the “new” idea just appeared and replaced the old, whereas in reality you can see the two understandings battling it out for a long time until the true development comes into clear focus.

  19. A Different Dan S. says:

    Another fantastic post. Thank you so much Steve. I first heard of you on Catholic Answers Live. Please keep up your great work. Just a small editing correction to your post: “she will always leads me back to sanity” should just be ‘lead’. God Bless and Merry Christmas.

  20. Daniel says:

    So first off i wanna say how much i appreciate this discussion and all that have participated. Not even 20 years ago could this level of communication or insight really be achieved.

    I just have a few hypothetical questions that i thought about while reading the above comments and i am really curious to the answers.

    If i was a paraplegic and had no movement or feeling of my sexual organ, or i had my testicles removed through testicular cancer, or i literally didn’t have a penis (it got cut or just fell or or something [sorry for being gruesome]), could i get married in the catholic church to a women?

    If any of the above conditions applied could i, as catholic, romantically love, kiss, make out, with a women if it was impossible that i could have sex?

    If any of the above conditions applied could i, as a Catholic, romantically love, kiss, make out, with another man if it was Impossible that i could have sex?

    If being fruitful isn’t a prerequisite for romantic love, than would homosexual romantic love be condemned in the catholic church?

    Can a heterosexual married couple in the catholic church perform oral sex? some say yes (including my priest), and some say no.

    And if oral sex and any use of contraception is condemned (such as avoidance) then why doesn’t the church or its members actively oppose the marriages of other religions who do allow contraception?

    I know these are a lot of questions but answering any one would suffice because i feel that they are all kinda related. I know that sex is meant for people who unconditionally love each other, who are married in the catholic church, and who can physically be fruitful and multiply. But if one is physically impossible to attain one, should anyone really say they can’t experience the other two?

    These questions come from a confused catholic man and i would greatly appreciate any insight on the matter. Thank you, god bless, and have a merry christmas

  21. Dante says:

    1. Impotence is an impediment to valid sacrament of matrimony. So no to the marriage and thus no to the making out as well.

    2. Interesting question but without the hormone-giving testes I doubt the desire to make out would exist. I am punching “no” as the correct Catholic answer to both hypothetical scenarios. Kiss couod be affectionate and not intended to stoke the flames though…

    3. That’s what some would hold. It is not catholic teaching but is more a kinda loophole, but it depends upon each case if I understand you correctly.

    4. Of course to oral sex as long as its aim is not male orgasm (but oops! sometimes accidents happen and accidents, of course, are not sins). Female orgasm is of course not directly tied to the “transmission of life” so thats another story. The couple may engage in any form or foreplay, during play or after play they wish, the main Catholic teaching is that intentional orgasm takes place in the manner intended for procreation.

    5. Oral sex is not condemned. Natural contraception methods are not condemend. And the Church only speaks about marriages within its ranks but it does speak out about Gospel of Life issues to humanity in general.

  22. Daniel says:

    Thanks for replying Dante.

    so any barren or impotent, or cancer stricken, or paraplegic can’t get married in the catholic church or make out if its physically impossible to produce children? that’s interesting

    and they also can’t romantically love anyone? and you don’t think people would want to make out without functioning hormones? and romantic love and making out is forbidden if you’re not married? i don’t get it, catholics who aren’t married make out all the time. so how long can a heterosexual kiss before it turns into making out?

    and when i say oral sex i mean to ‘completion’. It seems like some catholics have given me the impression that oral sex between two heterosexual married individuals is ok because it is a gift from god and not every orgasm needs to create life but every catholic needs to be open to life

    and if a female orgasm isn’t tied to life is it ok for women to masturbate?

    And could you clarify on your 3 subpoint? i am not sure what question that was answering or what the answer was exactly.


  23. Rayjo says:

    Barren does not bar, since there are numerous barren women in the Bible who become pregnant. But as far as miracles are concerned, God will never grant pregnancy to a man, nor virgin birth to another woman.

    If someone is so cancer stricken that they can’t get pregnant, I’d also question if they would even want sex. If they were health enough to want it and to partake in it, I wouldn’t rule out a child.

    Oral sex is immoral because it is not an act of union, it does not mirror the love of the trinity. It is NOT okay. Ideally, the couple should orgasm together in an act capable of producing life. A “sexual” act like oral sex is not fruitful, which is a key component to holy marital relations. Please look into Blessed John Paul the Second’s Theology of the Body.

    Additionally, if a couple is not married, they shouldn’t be making out. The act of making out is “starting the engine,” so to speak, and we shouldn’t be starting it if we aren’t intended on driving it anywhere, that is, moving on into sex.

    Sex is an amazing gift from God, one that must be free, faithful, total, and fruitful. When it inhabits those qualities, it won’t resemble what Hollywood or MTV would describe as love-making. Additionally, the “rules” are there to ensure the quality of the game, not to inhibit it.

  24. Mark from PA says:

    The comment that you mentioned doesn’t really make me weep. The person is a practicing Catholic with a loving partner. Since he is a practicing Catholic, he probably isn’t in the wilderness. Love isn’t a sin. I think that this man would tell you that it isn’t all about sex. If these men belonged to your parish, would you be accepting of them?

  25. Mark from PA says:

    I think that the Church probably does allow the marriages of many older people who are not capable of having children. If you have a couple in their sixties and the man is impotent and the woman has had a hysterectomy would the Church refuse to marry this couple since it would be impossible for them to have children?

  26. Theresa Zoe says:

    Daniel, just wanted to jump in on one thing you asked– it’s definitely not okay for a woman to masturbate. There are a lot of reasons why, and I don’t know that I can speak to it within the context that you asked, but mainly because masturbation divorces a sexual act from the intimacy it was intended for. As a woman, the reason I masturbated was out of a desire for intimacy and belief in a lie that I could not and would not ever have it. I’ve started writing about my addiction to and healing from masturbation on my own blog Hope this helps.

  27. Chris says:

    Impotence is a barrier to matrimony, because the marital act cannot be consummated. Conversely, sterility is not a barrier.

    The Gospel shows that physical sterility is not an absolute evil. Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord’s Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others.

    (Also, see Victor’s comment above.)

  28. Chris says:

    As for masturbation and oral sex, Dante is regrettably incorrect, as both are prohibited by the Catechism:

    Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.

    By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.”

    Dante, with all respect, please try a little less “theological inquiry and dialogue” and read the Catechism a bit more.

    1. Dante says:

      I never said solitary masturbation or oral sex (to intentional completion) were permitted, but they definitely are just fine and morally good on the part of a married couple as foreplay or whatever play within the context of the “bigger picture” of their making love as properly understood? Read “The Good News About Sex and Marriage” by Carl Olson if you want some outside info on it. Its been a while but I am pretty sure he touches on this.

  29. Mark from PA says:

    Chris, we have a pamphlet for parents at our parish and it said that masturbation and “wet dreams” were normal and nothing for young people to be ashamed of. It said that parents should tell their teens that there is nothing wrong with them. Telling young people that they are gravely disordered or are “sick” or abnormal because of this is not healthy.

  30. Theresa Zoe says:

    Mark, my parents were given that same information (and from a pediatrician as well) and I ended up addicted and very much worse for the wear because of masturbation and the toll it takes spiritually and emotionally. There is a difference between the desire to masturbate– which is a desire for pleasure and intimacy, two goods– and the actual act of doing so which robs the person of the intimacy he/she craves and leaves him/her with nothing but empty pleasure. It is not the person who is gravely disordered but the action itself.

  31. Chris says:

    Mark, I never said anything about wet dreams – since they are not consciously sought, and beyond the ability of most of us to control, they are not considered sinful:

    I’d like to know exactly how the part about masturbation is worded, because I have to hope you’re reading into it something that they aren’t really implying. That said, it wouldn’t be the first time literature ended up in a parish pamphlet-stand that was heterodox. It might also be helpful to know exactly who published it.

    Regardless, which are you going to trust, that pamphlet – whoever might have printed it – or the Catechism of the Catholic Church? What I posted is directly from the Catechism, as shown by the links.

    I must echo what Theresa has said; it is a pernicious habit that is highly addictive and morally and emotionally corrosive. It may be difficult to discuss with a young person, but the answer to the problem of sin can never be to condone or endorse it. If it’s nothing to be ashamed of, why do our consciences scream otherwise?

  32. Chris says:

    LOL, I thought I broke the blog – all the comments other than my latest were gone! Then I finally saw the “Older Comments” link at the bottom of the page. I guess we talk too much. 🙂

  33. Daniel says:

    Rayjo, good comments. When I said cancer I mean like testicular cancer where testicles are actually removed so they can’t produce sperm or children. Not like that they are sick and don’t feel like having sex.

    Theresa Zoe, I know that a woman shouldn’t masturbate. The way Dante phrased his response made me think he thought otherwise. I know it’s an addiction and a very difficult cross to bear and I’m glad you are working through it. You will be in my prayers

    As for everyone else’s comments, thanks for contributing, you all have very respected opinions.

    So are we all in agreement that the Catholic Church holds that paraplegics or testicular cancer patients shouldn’t get married if they can’t produce a child or are impotent? Chris says impotence is a barrier to matrimony and sex and I believe him. But those individuals can still experience romantic love right. If a couple got married but a month after their wedding, one of them was paralyzed from the neck down, I like to think that they would still love each other and stay married, and kiss and make out or whatever. I know this is convoluted but I guess I’m just trying to separate the sex and the love part. I feel like someone can romantically love someone and not have sex. I kinda like what Mark from PA said. I don’t think being a homosexual just denotes where someone wants to put their “you know what” or whatever. I think it also means that they just romantically love people of the opposite sex. So which part of being a homosexual does that church have a problem with? Probably both, but it just makes me think. I guess what I am trying to say is that if the church didn’t like two men loving each other, they probably wouldn’t like two people in a wheel chair loving each other or two people who had their genitals mutilated loving eachother or something.

    Im sorry, re-reading this post makes me sound idiotic. But if anyone kind of gets what I am trying to say please feel free to clarify or refute. God bless.

  34. Not a Canon Lawyer says:

    Daniel – I’m not a Canon Lawyer, but I think this is the way your scenarios would be viewed.

    As I’m sure you know, in order for a marriage to be sacramental and indissoluble, the marriage must be consummated. This is because intercourse is the act which unites the couple. If they can’t unite, then they can’t unite.

    A couple that does not unite physically isn’t indissolubly married. Because of this, impotence, no matter what the reason, is an impediment to marriage, but the Church does not inquire whether or not the party is impotent at the time of their marriage. The way that this “impediment” would be investigated is if the parties sought an annulment. If a man was paralyzed, he could still enter into marriage based on the hope that he would be able to be cured at some time. The Church would assume that the couple is capable of unity, and doesn’t go fishing around to make sure everything works properly.

    A couple who is impotent could still experience Romantic love and could still attempt to unite themselves through things like making out, however the Church teaching is pretty clear that mutual masturbation and oral sex can’t replace unity… they can only be used to try and attain unity.

    I get what you’re trying to say about comparing a homosexual couple to a heterosexual couple that has mutilated genitals or some other obstacle towards their union, but therein lies the distinction. The impotent heterosexual couple has an obstacle in the way of their unity, whereas the homosexual couple simply cannot attain physical union based on the very nature of the act.

    Do you follow?

  35. Daniel says:

    i also think its funny that my last name starts with an S and so there are like three Dan S ‘s writing in this comment box. i kinda want to change my name to “the other other Dan S”

  36. Chris says:

    Daniel, you seem to be conflating several different things, so let’s go over it again.

    The Catechism is explicit that for a marriage to be consummated, the couple has to be able to engage in the marital act, and that during that act they must be open to both the unitive and procreative aspects of it. They must “become one flesh” and be open to making a baby in the process.

    So, first: if an engaged couple cannot physically engage in sex, that’s not going to become a valid marriage. If a man is impotent or is a eunuch because of testicular cancer surgery and cannot (…shall we say…) “sustain” himself to engage in sex, he cannot marry. If BOTH the man and woman are quadriplegics who cannot physically “couple” that’s also not going to work. Again, I’m talking about people who aren’t married yet, and these are really extreme examples you’re not going to find come up often.

    If a couple can still engage in the marital act, but it seems like they can’t have children – total infertility, hysterectomy, etc. – that’s not a bar to marriage as long as they are open to the possibility of new life despite that seeming obstacle. So for example, they shouldn’t say, “We can do whatever we want because the wife can’t get pregnant.” That’s avoiding the point of marriage.

    “Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.”

    But what about your example of getting into an accident a month after the wedding? As long as they consummated the marriage before the accident, you’re right, they can live out a life of romance and continence – that marriage is assumed to be valid.

    What’s not valid is a “romance only” marriage where the couple can never or chooses never to have sex. You can’t totally (as you put it) separate sex and love, it’s part of the whole package deal. This includes an extremely old couple – though I live in Florida, and trust me, I’ve never seen a couple that had this problem. 🙂 As long as they can attempt the act, the fact that pregnancy is seemingly impossible is not an issue (see above).

    Lastly, relations that aren’t both unitive and open to being procreative (e.g. homosexual acts, oral sex) are sinful and illicit.

    On the other hand, as long as a man and woman in a valid marriage consummate it and are open to new life for a time, it’s a prudential decision how much they engage in continence. The example of Blesseds Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi is a good one:

    “Then Maria together with her husband, Luigi, undertook a programme for their total response to any call from God, which in the end was the ‘difficult vow of the most perfect’, offered to the Lord in humble obedience to their spiritual father. As is well-known, this vow means the renouncing of marital relations, which the two decided together after 20 years of marriage [and the birth of several children], when Luigi was 46 years old and Maria 41.”

    Luigi died at 71, so do the math. They lived the last 25 years of their marriage without sex. In 2001, they were the first married couple to be beatified together.

    If you have more questions about marriage, you might try:

    For everything else:

  37. Chris says:

    That’s it for me on this thread. If I do any more, Catholic Answers is going to have to pay me.

    1. Heh. Would you settle for a portion of the MASSIVE amounts of google ad revenue I’m generating?

  38. Victor says:

    What a pity “wet dreams” and masturbation still get confused by some. A sin is a sin only if it is condone voluntarily – it’s that simple.
    Daniel: It is not the question if they should or shouldn’t get married. An impotent person CANNOT get married, because for a marriage to be valid, it has to be consummated (a legal term). If the wedding couple haven’t had sex at least once after their wedding, they are not validly married. It is as easy as that.
    It follows logically that when the newlywed husband gets impotent a week after the wedding, the couple are still sacramentally and indissoluble married – it is the one night that counts.
    As for the “I read it in a pamphlet” argument – nobody would get away with “I’m sorry, your honour, I didn’t know it was prohibited to rob a drugstore – you know, I spoke with that lawyer before that said it was ok, plus I read this pamphlet I found before a police station.” Why do people think common sense does not apply in Church?

  39. Sarah says:

    This comment discussion was awesome. I, of course, have nothing else to add. 😛

    But seriously, reading it answered a lot of questions I had. Steve, I think you have a monopoly on smart and civilized readers.

    1. Isn’t that great? They are taking all the heavy hits for me.

  40. Christine says:

    I just want to make one minor correction to what some people have been saying about valid marriages needing to be consummated.

    For a valid marriage, the possibility of consummation is necessary. So a couple who are physically unable to have intercourse cannot enter into a valid marriage.

    From the Code of Canon Law:

    Can. 1084 §1. Antecedent and perpetual impotence to have intercourse, whether on the part of the man or the woman, whether absolute or relative, nullifies marriage by its very nature.

    §2. If the impediment of impotence is doubtful, whether by a doubt about the law or a doubt about a fact, a marriage must not be impeded nor, while the doubt remains, declared null.

    §3. Sterility neither prohibits nor nullifies marriage.

    On the other hand, a valid marriage does not need to be consummated. So Mary and Joseph’s marriage was valid, but not consummated. A valid but not consummated marriage can be dissolved, but it is a valid marriage.

    From the Code of Canon Law:

    Can. 1061 §1. A valid marriage between the baptized is called ratum tantum if it has not been consummated; it is called ratum et consummatum if the spouses have performed between themselves in a human fashion a conjugal act which is suitable in itself for the procreation of offspring, to which marriage is ordered by its nature and by which the spouses become one flesh.

    Although this canon does not say directly “a valid marriage does not need to be consummated,” it assumes the possible existence of marriages that are valid and not consummated.

  41. Victor says:

    Thanks Christine – I actually knew that but somehow forgot it. Good to have alert co-readers 🙂

  42. Dan S says:

    Bummer, I haven’t logged on in a few days, and it says there are 44 comments, but i can’t read the earlier ones, only about the last 15 or so.
    Steve, is there an issue with the Com-Box, or is it just me?

  43. Victor says:

    Dan S: Just go to the very end of this site. There should be a link marked “Older Comments” with a little arrow to the left. 🙂

  44. Dante says:

    TOTALLY OFF TOPIC but since many are reading this thread I thought I would ask: since this is a blog about being “gay, Catholic, and fine”…how many of the posters/readers ARE gay? Obviously most are Catholic and I would have no clue about the “fine” part.

    NOT that I expect you have to be gay to be here…it is just that I get the sense that most (or at least many) seem to be str8 and especially str8 ladies. This would also explain the overall pathos that tends to show up…just curious…any way the blog can take a poll?

  45. Victor says:

    Yeah, because gay men are totally pathos-free… 😀

    I am a Catholic male, I have SSA and I feel fine most of the time…

  46. Dante says:

    Um…”pathos” means a personal quality that a person has developed based on actual life experience….

  47. Sarah says:

    Yeah, I take a little bit of issue with the “pathos” generalization regarding straight women.

    Anyway, if we’re polling, here, I’m a Catholic, heterosexual female who struggles with chastity like most people. That’s why I love this blog. I don’t see it as primarily a blog for gay Catholic men (though I imagine it must help them, in particular, immensely) so much as a continual support for every Catholic who’s trying to practice the Church’s teachings about sex.

  48. Dante says:

    Sarah – pathos means someone has an understanding from personal life experience about a topic (in this case – catholic, gay and fine) so I do not see how in the world you can take issue with it. For example, I cannot have – in any way, shape or form – a “pathos” for anything that is intrinsically female. I would have to be female to do so and have such.

    1. Victor says:

      Not that it’s infallible (after all, it is not the Pope – ha ha ha), but according to Wikipedia, Pathos “represents an appeal to the audience’s emotions. Pathos is a communication technique used most often in rhetoric (where it is considered one of the three modes of persuasion, alongside ethos and logos), and in literature, film and other narrative art.”

  49. Dante says:

    BTW – and only Steve can answer this – I do not think this blog is about sex. I think it is about being gay (which is way more than the sexual component) as well as being Catholic and feeling fine about it all.

    1. Sarah says:


      I’m just saying, his posts about chastity and practicing the faith are extremely helpful. This is starting to feel like a silly argument, since it IS Steve’s blog. And you’re coming off as a little hostile.

  50. Sarah says:

    I guess I’m not sure what kind of life experiences you’re talking about, then.

    When I hear “pathos,” I usually think of some kind of emotive, pitying response.

    I’m just confused about what you mean in the context with which you used it.

  51. Gabriel Austin says:

    Somewhere in the history of the Church are references to married couples who live together as brother and sister. Marriage does not depend on the consummation to be legitimate.

  52. Daniel says:

    Hey ya’ll, thanks for clearing up a lot of stuff for me. I’m a 21 year old gay catholic man from utah and im also feeling fine. Its nice to be be able to talk about this sort of stuff. And i guess since we’re sharing i guess i’ll just say whats on my mind. Like Dante, or Steve, or Matt from PA have said, being homosexual is a lot more than the sexual aspect. its also just about being romantically attracted to the opposite sex. so sometimes i think i could live a single/celibate life like steve, and sometimes i think i can’t. I pray about all the reasons i have been told homosexual relationships are bad and none really stick. If I am not going to have children anyway, whats the point. what my previous posts have been trying to say is that even if two people can’t or don’t want to have sex, there is still a romantic love that will never go away. i know the catholic church will never allow a homosexual marriage which makes perfect sense and is great; more power to her i guess. but whats so wrong about romantic love between two men? I’m sure, plenty, but thats what i am struggling with. Anyway, i like how dante kinda wondered how many of the people posting are hetereosexual and how many are homosexual. It’s really hard to truly understand homosexuality if you aren’t gay. Heck, its really hard to understand homosexuality if you are gay. I guess im fine with the no sex part. its the, not loving another man part, that im struggling with. I don’t expect any answers from this or anything. just your prayers. god bless and happy holidays

  53. jp says:

    “…what’s wrong with romantic love between two men?”

    why call it “romantic” if it’s not sexual? why not call it friendship? My guess is because there’s still a sexual element to being “romantic”. otherwise, it would be just friendship, wouldn’t it?

  54. jp says:

    think of the best of male friendships, something like the friendship between David and Jonathan. nothing sexual between them but they were the closest of friends. would this be considered “romantic”? says who?
    i think steve posted something a while ago to this effect: some men love each other too much to treat each other as sex objects.

  55. Sarah says:

    Also, wouldn’t it be hard to have a romantic partner with whom you could never, ever fulfill a relationship?

    As a straight woman, Daniel and Dante are right that I don’t really understand. But judging from my own experiences with love, I think it would be hard to have a close, intimate, and in all other ways romantic relationship with a man who I knew I could never have sex with. Close friendships, sure, but the underlying physical attraction that comes with romance I would think would be very hard to deal with emotionally, and would take its toll on a person.

  56. “As a straight woman, Daniel and Dante are right that I don’t really understand. But judging from my own experiences with love, I think it would be hard to have a close, intimate, and in all other ways romantic relationship with a man who I knew I could never have sex with. Close friendships, sure, but the underlying physical attraction that comes with romance I would think would be very hard to deal with emotionally, and would take its toll on a person.”

    Speaking as a straight man, Sarah, I know where you’re coming from. I have had very intimate friendships with women that were never consummated; while they had their own bittersweet compensations, they were difficult to deal with. At the same time — and, inspired by this post, I just blogged on this — part of it is that we’re needlessly injecting sexual tension into every relationship possible and darn near demanding that the tension be resolved, rather than just letting the relationships have their own value and rewards.

  57. Dante says:

    Hey Daniel, nice into and post. My prayers are with you. Keep close to Jesus in Mass, Confession and daily prayer from the gut…He’ll lead youon. Have a Merry Christmas!

  58. Daniel says:

    Ya thanks everyone. I think it might be tough to be in a relationship with a man and not have sex just like it would be tough to be celibate in a single life, but it obviously is possible if a couple were married, and then all of the sudden a partner was unable to have sex, the love would still be there. its that type of love im talking about. like jp said some men love each other too much to treat each other like sex objects and Anthony said, some relationships would be better if there was no sexual tension. i feel like if my partner in i were committed to each other and committed to not ever have sex, or masturbating, having “your other half” or someone in the same boat as you loving you along the way might be easier. I feel that if you are fulfilled emotionally, the need for sex would diminish. but thats just me

  59. Victor says:

    No, it is not just you. I hope for the same thing actually…

  60. Mark from PA says:

    Theresa, thanks for sharing your thoughts. If it was an addiction then that is not good. I don’t really know much about this as it pertains to women. From what I understand 50% of teen boys have wet dreams and 98% masturbate. So it would seem that the number of boys who are physically pure are negligible. I didn’t know what either of these things were until I was 17. I went to Catholic school and such things were not discussed. The disorder word rings a bell with me because when I had wet dreams I thought I had some kind of a disorder and that something was wrong with me. I dreaded these occasional accidents. I mentioned here before that a priest told me when I was 18 that most boys masturbated and that it was normal. So I didn’t feel as bad about that as I did about the wet dreams. It made me feel better about myself because I felt that I had control over my body and then didn’t have many accidents.

  61. Mark from PA says:

    Daniel, your posts are good. It is not wrong to love a man. You can still have a soul mate but not have sex with that person. Don’t struggle with thinking that there is something wrong with romantic love between two men. That can be something beautiful. Don’t feel that there is plenty wrong with that. Using someone for sex is one thing but truly loving and caring for another person is something else. When we talk about gay people we talk about a variety of people who are not all the same. I would never refer to myself as a homosexual but realize that I am more gay than straight. But I am not open about it, I live a straight life and until a few years ago I never discussed this with anyone, not even myself. I feel that I was born the way I am. God made me this way. I have never been in a physical relationship with a men or even dreamed about being with a man in that way. When I was a teen I liked girls better but didn’t have a strong sexual interest in them. In all high school I never even kissed a girl and have never kissed a guy in a romantic way. I wasn’t really exposed to much in the way of homophobia and I didn’t know a lot about gay people. I remember when I was a teen I thought magazines like Playboy were disgusting and didn’t like the way women were portrayed in them. I thought it was because I was a good Catholic. Well, it wasn’t that, I was just different.

  62. Chris says:

    You guys are making me break that promise to give up this thread. Maybe we can beg Steve to put up a new post that’ll break our train of thought?

    Btw Steve, I’d accept your offer, but I don’t think I have enough silver in my pocket to provide you with the proper change. 😉

    For the curious, I’m a heterosexual Catholic man, civilly divorced and trying to live chastely since I’ve never gotten an annulment. (For the record, divorce was her idea, and I raised our two kids myself.) So with the exception of who I’m attracted to, I’m pretty close to being in the same boat at the faithful men and women here with SSA. Some may take exception to the comparison, but frankly I’m unexpectedly surprised how much I seem to have in common with you all.

    I’ve been trying to parse my way through the comments about male-male “romance” without sex, and I have to agree with JP. You can have deep, meaningful friendships, but once you start considering something “romantic” you’ve really drifted over the double yellow line.

    “The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.

    Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy….

    (at 2359) Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

    For comparison, let’s remember that in my situation, I can’t date because it would be enticing another woman to commit adultery.

    “If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself.”

    I think the Catechism uses “approaches” intentionally, because of the Lord’s teaching that “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mat 5:28)

    Even if you could say “there’s nothing wrong with a man romantically loving another man,” in itself, i.e. if there’s no sex involved (and I don’t think you can – see above), there’s the fact that it’s a near occasion of sin. You’re tempting each other to violate the chastity you’re called to. Add to it that it’s a scandal, because other members of the church don’t know you’re trying to live chastely. Though again, you can’t say it’s chastity if you’re only avoiding sex. You have to put a governor on the lust as well.

    I have to say, I can’t parse out the idea of “lust” from “romance”. When I’m attracted to a woman, and imagine being in a romantic relationship with her, no matter how noble and pure I might want the courtship to be, my mind is going to drift into the idea of physicality. It’s not right for me to go there unless the endgame is a legitimate possibility.

  63. Dante says:

    Mark – thanks for the post. It was real nice and i bet your experience is not all that uncommon.

  64. This has been a really good discussion!

    If I have a problem with describing a chaste male relationship w/ a homoerotic component as a “romance”, it’s not because I’m straight but because I’m a bit of a semanticist and know-it-all jerk. “Romance” implies adventurous pursuit towards a goal; in old-fashioned terms, the goal was the altar and then off to the new adventure of family-building. But here such a goal is by definition denied and no pursuit possible. As I say, though, this is semantics; I don’t know what else you could call a situation where SSA is not honestly deniable yet resolution is set out of bounds.

    As far as maintaining the relationship, the one thing I definitely do not recommend is living together! I did that once; while the young woman and I never got beyond hugs, it was still very difficult for me, and I swore I’d never do it again. Talk about your near occasion of sin! And there’s the problem: once there’s an admitted attraction, how do you maintain sufficient distance to keep from … er, resolving the tension? Sometimes the best way is literal, physical distance; I live almost fifty miles away from my closest woman-friend.

    Chastity is difficult enough when you don’t have any sexual experience; once you’ve had a few bites of the apple, it’s very difficult to just set it aside. Especially if you set it close enough to where you can pick it up again; you’re just daring yourself to break your promises. Here endeth the lesson.

  65. Daniel says:

    ya i know steve already posted another blog, but wanted to say something else. Everyone is tempted to sin everyday. you can’t live 50 miles away from your right hand. its about self-mastery

    Furthermore, when one person in a married couple becomes physically unable to have sex (like in a car accident) the romance is still there even if it is not reaching towards a goal

    no one is really answering this example. romance can happen without sex.

  66. Chris says:

    Daniel, let’s spin it another way. Sure, you CAN have romance without sex. But if there isn’t at least the most subtle desire to have sex, can it really be called romance?

    I think the closest I can imagine to saying yes would be the romance held by an elderly couple who have been married a long time. It’s possible they just don’t have any sex drive left, and yet they can still undoubtedly be in love. But even there, I can’t imagine them not wishing they had some sex drive left to fool around with. Doesn’t that amount to the same thing?

  67. Daniel says:

    everyone has the desire to have sex. but desire isn’t the sin. with romantic love, sure the desire to have sex would come up. its whether you act on that desire or not.

  68. Chris says:

    Daniel, as I’ve already pointed out, that’s not what Jesus told us in Matthew 5:28. And the Catechism reinforces the idea that a proper view of chastity requires us to interpret it that way. How is an orthodox Catholic supposed to respond to your assertions otherwise?

  69. Dusky says:

    Yeah just curious, and possibly related to Daniel’s point, suppose if we have a married couple who are unable to perform the marital act (due to an accident), then it’s still alright for them to kiss, hold hands, cuddle, to date, etc (basically all the trimmings of “romance”) However, these acts are considered sinful when two guys do it, even with no sex involve.

    So now the question is, what makes the romantic activities of one pair alright, and the other pair not ok, even without the sex (whether because they are physically unable to, or they just decided not to do it).

    I’m not actually disagreeing, but I feel that there is a certain sense of inconsistency here, so I would appreciate some clarifications. Thanks!

  70. Daniel says:

    ya dusky, good post. i think you got my point across better than i could.

    and i thought we just decided that its that desire to have sex with a guy or a married man is just the near occasion of sin. sometimes we could lust for people walking down the street. but i think thats the difference with romantic love – it wouldn’t be lust, but love. and as long as no one is acting on their desire and actually having sex, then they are being chaste and have attained self-mastery

  71. Mark from PA says:

    Dusky, I don’t think those things are sinful if men do it. Suppose a guy takes a girl to dinner and then they go to a basketball game. No sin there. If a gay man takes another gay man to dinner and then to a basketball game that is not a sin either. For two men to show affection to each other is not sinful. For a man to force himself on another man sexually or pick up a guy just for sex, then that would be sinful.

  72. MAMaK says:

    One thing which has always helped me was told to me by a very near friend and support. “You know, no one is married in Heaven, no one has that ‘special someone’ there.” Acts are not what send us to Hell. Sins are not the problem. Sin is. This may sound contradictory, but think about it. Going to Hell is a choice that we make; no one “sends” us there. We go by our own free will.
    Each individual sin we make can be forgiven very easily. God is all-powerful. It is nothing for Him to say, “your sins are forgiven.” That’s how powerful He is. So the act is not the worst part of each sin. The problem lies in the hardening of hearts.

    Everything we do trains us to continue in that direction. That direction is either forward or backward. Toward God or away from God. So the “romance” between two guys while each act may not be sinful (movie, baseball game, dinner, etc.) the overall effect is very harmful. If we are constantly trying to get as close to the line as possible without crossing it, then our ultimate momentum is toward the line. Eventually our human strength will be much too weak to combat such great momentum. We will cross the line. We will choose Hell.

    Each bad act (sins) pulls us toward a state of apart-ness from God (sin). We must ever keep fighting away from that line, never trying to get close to it, but always trying to be as far from it as possible. So, having a romantic relationship (without sex) with another man may not be sinful in that you may not actually commit ‘sins’ (hard to do with a romantic relationship with another man), but it is sinful in the fact that it is leading you toward a state of ‘sin.’

  73. Laura says:

    “another Gay Catholic who is a practicing Catholic and has a loving partner” *sigh* Good job describing how you don’t get to nitpick what you believe and what you don’t

  74. Susan says:

    Somehow I stumbled upon this post. I don’t understand how people who have love for the same sex could be judged. If they love and are committed to their partner for life, how is this different than a heterosexual relationship?

    I’m not a lesbian, so I don’t have a personal objective with my response. It just made me think of an email that I received some time ago.

    When you say “we have ceased to believe in the Church as she has always been understood, and have replaced her with something that is designed to suit us”, I disagree. I don’t mean to offend by posting what I received via email. It’s just that people don’t realize how things have changed so much since the bible was written.


    In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura,

    Dear Dr. Laura: Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination …. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them. 1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians? 2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her? 3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness -Lev15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense. 4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord -Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them? 5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it? 6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexual ity. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination? 7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here? 8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die? 9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves? 10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14) I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

    Your adoring fan, James M Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia (It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian)

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