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In a column the Denver Catholic Register published online yesterday, Archbishop Charles Chaput offers a faithful, common-sense defense of the archdiocesan policy that led the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish school in Denver to exclude children being raised by two lesbians from continuing their education at the school beyond the current year. The gist of his reasoning is simple: “Our [Catholic] schools are meant to be ‘partners in faith’ with parents. If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible.” He takes great pains not to disparage the lesbian couple involved, concluding simply that “Persons who have an understanding of marriage and family life sharply different from Catholic belief are often people of sincerity and good will. They have other, excellent options for education and should see in them the better course for their children.”
In any previous epoch, the archbishop’s clearly reasoned and politely articulated statement would be taken for what it is – the understandable declaration of a policy consistent with the tenets of the Catholic faith and necessary for the integrity of a Catholic pedagogical institution. But we live in an era when elite forces are pushing with calculated zeal to consolidate what Nietzsche called the “transvaluation of values.” And they do so with the very attitude that characterized the insane but insidiously mesmerizing rants of the German immoralist Hitler found so inspiring. It is an attitude of deep antipathy toward a “straw man” caricature of Christianity, one wholly indebted to the stunted, petulantly adolescent insistence that there is no God because we are not Him.
The normalization of homosexuality constitutes the cutting edge of this anti-Christian revisioning of right and wrong. It represents the utter rejection of the notion that we exist as part of a God-ordained whole whose nature has authoritative relevance to our understanding of the form and substance of human community. According to this view, such natural features of human existence as the bodily distinction of males from females have no more significance for moral understanding than other merely physical aspects of human appearance, such as skin color or the shape of one’s eyes.
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On this account religious schools can have no more right to discriminate against children being raised by homosexuals than they have to discriminate against children from black or Oriental backgrounds. And the contention by a Catholic bishop that religious tenets justify such discrimination has no more validity than the similar claims once made by leaders of South Africa’s Dutch Reformed Church that their religious beliefs required racial segregation.
Archbishop Chaput’s internally logical, consistent exposition of church policy, however respectful of persons, does not address this fundamental challenge to the church’s position. He argues that the church’s policy is required for Catholic schools in his archdiocese to provide an education consistent with the tenets of the faith. But what the proponents of homosexual normalization continue to insist is that the tenets of the faith are inconsistent with the requirements of equal justice, in light of which supposedly discriminatory actions, based on merely physical differences, do not arise from a religiously based moral judgment, but from an immoral prejudice. They argue that, like racial and ethnic prejudice, such actions should not be tolerated in any decent society.
But the Christian moral understanding that insists on a concept of family that respects the functional, procreative purpose of the distinction between males and females does not arise from some questionable interpretation of verses here or there in the Bible. It is connected with the Bible’s understanding of the relationship between human beings as such and the Creator God, as well as what it presents as the first premise and authoritative purpose of human existence. “And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. … And God blessed them: and God said unto them, be fruitful and multiply. …”
The first premise of human existence (“in the image and likeness of God created He them”) asserts a substantive connection between the way God is and the way human beings appear to be. But without Eve, Adam was not complete. The male and female forms of human being are thus essential to the fulfillment of God’s intention, which is that human beings represent the image and likeness of God. The male-female distinction is therefore not an incidental aspect of human appearance. It is a statement about the way God is – quite literally the theological premise of human existence.
To demand that people of biblical faith disregard the substantive import of the male and female forms of human being is therefore to demand that they surrender what the Bible presents, as it were on its first page, as the first premise of the unique relationship between God and humanity. This is not just an attack on religious freedom, it is an effort to cut off the Christian faith at its root and set it on the path of inevitable extinction. Insane as he ultimately was, Nietzsche would be pleased to see the fulfillment of his most prized intention.