Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Homosexual Acts Always Condemned

Thus, from Genesis to Ephesians 5, the marital union of one man and one woman is confirmed as the one sexual relationship intended and blessed by God. Nowhere is there any approval of homosexual unions.

Although a number of biblical texts (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:27; Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10) have always and everywhere been understood by the Church as condemning homosexual practices, some modern studies have tried to dismiss or reinterpret these passages in favor of a new gay morality. Two passages Robert Gagnon explains at length are Romans 1:26-27 and Genesis 19:4-11. We can review these very briefly.

With regards to the first, Romans 1:26-27, the text reads: "That is why God abandoned them to degrading practices: why their women have turned from natural intercourse to unnatural practices, and why their menfolk have given up natural intercourse to be consumed with passion for each other, men doing shameless things with men and getting an appropriate reward for their perversion." As Gagnon shows, St. Paul is condemning homosexual acts by men and women who have deliberately rejected the God of revelation. Contrary to certain radical gay interpretations, the Bible is not merely condemning homosexual acts by heterosexuals or homosexual acts done by those who have already repudiated God. Rather, the "degrading practices" (homosexual acts) themselves are being criticized and identified as violations of the moral order.

A second passage to be considered is from the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:4-11). Recently, it has been claimed that the sin of Sodom was not homosexual activity (hence "sodomy") but inhospitality toward Lot and his angelic visitors. Derrick Bailey, an Anglican scriptural scholar held to this view. To anyone reading the passage, however, this interpretation of inhospitality does not make sense. It is to make nonsense of the rest of the story. As. Dr. Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse observes, "If the men of Sodom had no sexual intentions toward Lot's visitors, why would Lot have replied, "I beg you, my brothers, do no such wicked thing. Listen, I have two daughters who are virgins. I am ready to send them out to you, to treat as it pleases you. But as to the men do nothing to them, for they have come under the shadow of my roof." Genesis 19:7-9 (Homosexuality: A Symbolic Confusion, 180). Rejecting the "inhospitality alone" interpretation, Robert Gagnon shows that homosexual conduct by the residents was widespread in the culture and that "three elements (attempted penetration of males, attempted rape, inhospitality)...combine to make this a particularly egregious example of human depravity that justifies God's act of total destruction." We also have "the horror of the double offense of such behavior towards angels", as Lot's guests are revealed to be (The Jerusalem Bible).

An English Jesuit priest, John Mahoney, notes that the effort to weaken the force of the Sodom narrative is unsuccessful. "There can be little reasonable doubt that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah expresses a judgment, however dramatic, of divine displeasure upon the homosexual behavior of its inhabitants, and in so doing only serves to echo the explicit condemnation of such behavior in the Holiness Code of Leviticus" (The Month, May 1977, p.167).

(Source: Same Sex Attraction: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Practice by Fr. John F. Harvey, O.S.F.S.)

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