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Where the pope gave ground on 'gays'
Posted By Scott Lively On 08/01/2013 @ 7:40 pm In Commentary,Opinion | No Comments
The Bible instructs that “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). And it warns “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Thus there is no such thing as a “Thief Christian,” an “Adulterer Christian,” or a “Drunkard Christian.” There are only Christians whose lower nature leans toward those or other sins of the flesh. We do not define ourselves by the sins that tempt us. There is no such thing as a “Gay Christian.” The very notion is anti-biblical.
The concept of “Gay Christians” originates in sexual-orientation theory, an ideological invention of the homosexual movement designed to advance the idea that homosexuality is “immutable,” meaning unchangeable. It was adopted as a legal and political strategy of the American homosexual movement in the 1980s to try to make homosexuality appear to meet the requirements of civil rights case law. U.S. Supreme Court rulings in that era required members of a group to have “immutable traits” to qualify for minority status under civil rights laws.
Thanks to homosexualist Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote four of the last five opinions relating to homosexuality, “gays” no longer need to prove that. But sexual-orientation theory turned out to be a boon to the “gay” agenda in innumerable ways, so it continues to be advocated. More accurately, it serves as an unstated and unchallenged assumption at the foundation of all “gay” arguments.
Until recently, the church had not embraced sexual-orientation theory but always distinguished conduct from personal identity. “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” is the most recognizable shorthand for this idea. But in the past decade or so, an increasing number of formerly Bible-centered pastors and churches have been changing their theology to accommodate sexual orientation presuppositions: “gayness” is innate, “being gay” is equivalent to being black, “being gay” is the way God intends some people to be, etc. The members of the so-called Emergent Church Movement are the chief culprits in this trend, but it is spreading fast.
This week, Pope Francis appears to have, at least in part, subtly embraced sexual-orientation theory in his comments about homosexuality in the Catholic Church. He said:
“I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good. They are bad. If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge that person? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this point beautifully but says, wait a moment, how does it say, it says, these persons must never be marginalized and ‘they must be integrated into society.’”
Clearly, Pope Francis is NOT endorsing homosexual conduct as so many in the liberal media have dishonestly claimed. He affirms the Catholic Catechism, which is explicit on that point.
My concern is about his use of the phrases “a gay person” and “the fact of that person being gay.” Saying “a gay person,” instead of “a person who struggles with homosexual temptation,” or “a person who defines himself as homosexual” is on its face a major concession to sexual-orientation theory when used by a church leader about Christians.
Further, in the context of the sentence, it implies a softening of church policy that those with a deep-seated homosexual identity, even if celibate, are unfit for the priesthood. The 2005 “Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocation with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders” forbids “those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”
What is “gay culture” if not the association of people based on a common self-identification as “gays”? Pope Francis has, wittingly or unwittingly, affirmed “gay” culture by his terminology, even while lamenting (and implicitly confirming the existence of) a “gay lobby” in the Vatican.
If the pope has conceded that “gayness” is an acceptable basis for self-identity, that suggests he is willing to integrate people into the priesthood who define themselves by their sin, rather than as sinners washed and transformed by the blood of Christ. When identification with sin is a present-tense basis for your identity, you are unrepentant about remaining unwashed and untransformed. That’s very dangerous for the priests themselves, and in the church community virtually guarantees that the “gay lobby” will continue.
Of all the secular media coverage of this story, I think the Wall Street Journal was most accurate. It said in an article with the perhaps overstated title “Pope Signals Openness to Gay Priests” that “Pope Francis reaffirmed church teaching by referring to homosexual acts as a sin. But he wielded his formidable bully pulpit to shift the tone of how the church regards homosexual orientation at its highest ranks.” Indeed, the problem is the view of “orientation.”
The story also quoted Cardinal Dolan of New York who said, “My worry is that we’re buying into the vocabulary that one’s person is one’s sexual identity, and I don’t buy that and neither does the church.” Dolan obviously “gets” what Pope Francis seemingly does not. Dolan’s phrase “… and neither does the church” looks to me like an attempt at damage control by one who recognizes the hazards of sexual-orientation ideology infiltrating the church.
It is possible Pope Francis did not intend to convey what his terminology implied. I understand better than most how one’s off-the-cuff comments sometimes imply things we really don’t mean. But in the full context of his remarks that day, and the still larger context of his tolerant and compassionate nature and style that is so admirable on the whole, I’m afraid he may have become (like an increasing number of evangelical leaders) ensnared in the subtle sophistry of sexual-orientation theory.
I hope I am wrong. I’ll be the first to applaud if Pope Francis clearly shows he does not recognize “gayness” as a legitimate basis for self-identification. At this point, however, the evidence points the other way.
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