|St Paul: 'Fornication - bad! Homosexual acts - good! You all got that?'|
'There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.' (Galatians 3:28)
A reader of this blog is currently entertaining the idea that, based on these words of St Paul, in which he mentions nothing about homosexuality whatsoever, that this Pauline phrase could in some way 'back' same-sex marriages.
This seems rather unlikely because, of course, when St Paul does mention the issue of homosexuality, he mentions it in relation to an 'unnatural' 'inflaming' of lust, between men and other men and women with other women.
'For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.'
In the first phrase St Paul mentions nothing of homosexuality whatsoever, but, let us imagine that he did. Would St Paul be schizophrenic or would the Saint so enlightened by the Holy Spirit intend to go deeper into our being than just our sexual inclinations?
I do not mean to offend any readers who may, like myself, carry the Cross of 'same-sex attraction', but I believe that what St Paul would say to the homosexual is that in Christ there is no 'homosexual' or 'heterosexual' for 'you are all one in Christ Jesus'. This does not, of course, mean that St Paul thinks homosexual acts are just fine and dandy - the opposite in fact, since whatever is sinful St Paul condemned in his Epistles - but that in Christ and in His Church your 'sexual orientation' or even your gender is not the main affair, nor is it the central focus of your identity as an adopted child of God.
In the Mystical Body of Christ, the community of believers are called to different vocations or missions, with all our weaknesses, into relationship with the Blessed Trinity - called to be living witnesses to the Resurrection - all called to sanctity and holiness - all called to be made into 'other Christs'.
The truth is that I live in Brighton and in Brighton's Catholic Churches you will find heterosexuals and a high percentage of homosexuals. Most homosexuals that I know struggle with chastity, loneliness, but a great many strive with the help of prayer, the Mass, the Sacraments to live a faithful Catholic life.
Going to a coffee after Mass in Brighton is always a good reminder that the Catholic Church is a Mystical Body of believers of different hues. In many ways, the Catholic Church in Brighton is like the rainbow that the militant homosexual movement took as its emblem. Believers are different in a variety of ways - there is real 'diversity' - but 'we are all one in Christ Jesus'.
The Church is at the same time the Hospital of sinners and the School for Saints. St Paul was quite clear that different vices would preclude sinners from entering the Kingdom of God and is kind enough as to even go so far as to give us a list.
'Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: Neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers: Nor the effeminate nor liers with mankind nor thieves nor covetous nor drunkards nor railers nor extortioners shall possess the kingdom of God. And such some of you were. But you are washed: but you are sanctified: but you are justified: in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God.'
In other words, it sounds like a proportion of the Early Church were homosexuals to whom the Church taught chastity and called to sanctity. I recall a man after Mass at a Catholic Church in Brighton once saying to me, when this was the reading, "Well, that's just about all of us covered, then!"
Just because we all fall short of the Glory of God, however, does not mean that we should renounce the Faith of Christ and go into our habitation of sin and revel in it. No, we are called always to renounce rather our sins, to go to Confession, to seek Absolution, to repent, to do penance, to pray, to seek God's grace through prayer and the Sacraments and to strive with God's grace to live lives of holiness and sanctity.
Why did St Paul write so much on what constitutes the 'good life' - on what aids the Christian life and what kind of behaviour constitutes ungodly living that impedes our spiritual progress? The answer is that since the beginning of the Church 'dissensions', misunderstandings and those advocating an 'easier way' have been all too ready to put forward ideas and philosophies that are damaging to the life of Grace and which can endanger the Salvation of souls.
'Now this I ordain: not praising you, that you come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all I hear that when you come together in the church, there are schisms among you; and in part I believe it. For there must be also heresies: that they also, who are approved, may be made manifest among you.'
In other words, the only good thing about heresies or 'dissensions' and the clamour for change in doctrine is that they arise so that the virtuous can dispel the imaginings of the heretics and enlighten Christians as to what constitutes the path of Salvation. St Paul, being a Saint and all, was very good at doing this and at urging the Early Church - and the Church today - to reject all that is contrary to the Gospel and to adhere to the Sacred Teaching passed on by Christ to the Apostles and their Successors. St Paul himself urges those with the sacred duty of defending the Church's doctrines to be swift to do so, especially in ties in which men and women will close the ears of their hearts to the Church's message of Salvation.
'Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry. Be sober. (2 Timothy 4:2)'
If the truth about such issues as homosexuality could be anything other than what the One True Church says it is, why would St Paul call upon those in authority to 'rebuke in all patience and doctrine'. It sounds rather like the Church, since Her beginning, was a Church with clear 'doctrine' which could be defended and which must be defended, especially by those charged with care over the flock of Christ.
The Heart of God, God's ways are mysterious - how much mystery there is in God - how inscrutable His ways - who can comprehend Him?! That does not mean, however, that the Lord Jesus wanted us to or ever wants us to live in confusion as to the Truth that sets us free. Whoever is hoping for the Church to change Her teaching to make the narrow road broad is waiting in vain. Let it not be that God should wait in vain for us to repent and amend our lives and for those who doubt to believe the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Glory of God in His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church!