Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

11 June 2013

"The Logical and Appropriate Next Step"

A friend sent me the link to an article from the blog of GLAAD (The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination) concerning the election of the first openly gay bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), only four years after the ELCA lifted a ban on clergy in same-sex relationships.  The executive director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, Amalia Vagts, has called the ordination of Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin "simply the logical and appropriate next step for our denomination following the 2009 elimination of policies precluding pastors in committed same-gender relationships."
The above-linked article refers to "same-gender relationships," suggesting a more-than-semantic difference between "sex" and "gender," especially in light of the acronym LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender), and another expansive--and ambiguous--moniker.
The trajectory of the ELCA decision seems to parallel the movement of the Episcopal Church that most notably included the ordination of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson in 2003, as well as subsequent refusals to place a moratorium on the ordination of openly gay clergy.

Mathew Block over at First Things has noted the ELCA's membership decline since '09, in favor of at least two breakaway Lutheran communions. We already know about the "Anglican Use" that the Catholic Church has formed for disaffected C of Es; can we expect a similar Catholic expression for Lutherans who are declaring "Here I can't stand"?

I discern a parallel with the recent decision of the Boy Scouts of America to permit openly same-sex attracted boys while maintaining a ban on openly same-sex attracted adult leaders.

The BSA still considers any sort of sexual activity as unacceptable for youth.  It is likely that some same- and opposite-sex attracted scouts are sexually active; one may presume that no "witch-hunt" sort of investigations take place, and perhaps the only circumstance in which the no-sex policy would or could be enforced might be, say, a camping trip, in which any kind of hi-jinks is summarily addressed.  Eventually, a scout who is (same- or opposite-) sexually active turns 18 and no longer can identify as a boy scout.  If he wishes to serve as an adult leader, he applies and is likely accepted without any questioning or revelation of his sexual activity.

I predict that the proposed "two-tier system" of openly same-sex attracted boys and quietly same-sex attracted adults will soon be found intolerable, to the effect of the total lifting of the ban.  Perhaps the decision will occur by volunteer vote in the manner of the previous process, but it will happen in any case.  It is "the logical and appropriate next step."

Will we see increases among scout-alternative groups, such as can be found among several evangelical denominations and the Catholic Church? Girls and young women have, for example, the American Heritage Girls.  Will these organizations ever enjoy the notoriety and fiscal support of their revered counterparts? Until they do, BSA-chartering organizations like churches will not quickly pull up their tent stakes, unless BSA policy changes permit no other option.

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I deem it necessary to summarize the Catechism's already succinct presentation on homosexuality (CCC 2357-2359):

Sexual practices between persons of like sex are depraved and "intrinsically disordered" because of the lack of affective and sexual complementarity and because of the intrinsic resistance to the generation of new life. However the orientation comes about and however it has expressed itself, it is "objectively disordered," but persons so attracted are due no less compassion and should not become objects of discrimination. The Church encourages them, through every available human and divine help (prayer, friendship, sacraments) to practice chastity and openness to God's will. Thus they can and should approach Christian perfection.

In quotes I have retained the words intrinsically and objectively from the original paragraphs. I understand these words to mean "factually; unavoidably; independent of my, or anyone else's, thoughts and feelings." We live in an age that does not accept any judgment. One must not forget that the intellect is for judgment, for affirming the truth or falsity of a proposition after subjecting it to the objective truth to determine whether or not it conforms.

But the term "judgment" has come to mean "personal condemnation." The Church doesn't support personal condemnation, either; but to the modern mind, the true sense of the term judgment (determination of conformity or nonconformity to objective truth) isn't used because the modern mind does not acknowledge objective truth. Only personal condemnation remains, and to the modern mind, the Church does this in great measure.

The "objective truth" in question consists in the other word retained in quotes from the original paragraphs: disordered. Now this is the sore spot. I can already hear it: "How dare you call me disordered?!" Nobody has called same-sex attracted persons disordered, but rather the inclination, or attraction, towards members of the same sex. This inclination simply cannot be put on a par with opposite-sex attraction, because opposite-sex attraction involves a physical, emotional, and spiritual complementarity that does not exist between persons of the same sex. There is no "alternative lifestyle" to the communion of persons that joins a man and a woman in total, faithful, permanent, and fruitful self-giving--what, from time immemorial, has been known as matrimony; what, since the time of the Church, has become known as sacramental marriage.

"But that's what you say!"

After countless times around the block, we always reach an impasse. One fears that nothing further can be said or done, except to witness the unfurling of each "logical and appropriate next step," according to what modernity calls logic and propriety.

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