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Orientation isn't the issue


Pope Francis made an offhand comment yesterday to the effect that there was nothing wrong with (celibate) gay men being priests. The gay lobby here in Des Moines and at least one local television station treated this as a great breakthrough.

In one sense it was. Sort of. John Paul II, as I recall, prohibited the ordination of men with a known homosexual orientation altogether, in part because of the degree to which not-so-celibate gays had established a "network" dominating certain seminaries. But the fact is that homosexual orientation is a comparatively recent concept. Traditionally homosexuality has been thought of in terms of behavior, not psychosexual orientation.

It is in that sense- and that sense only- in which Christianity has a problem with it (this is not to say that it isn't comparatively easy to find bozos who still refuse to make the distinction- more about which in a moment). But while the Faith has always condemned lust of any sexual flavor- treating people as objects just isn't cool- the Great Tradition has never had any difficulty with the concept of celibate individuals of homosexual orientation being accepted as active Christians in good standing, struggling with their fallen natures just like the rest of us. And it certainly does not forbid their ordination on the ground of their orientation.

The confusion of orientation and behavior is a key element in the homosexualist attempt to portray moral problems with homosexual behavior as a form of bigotry. It seems to assume that people- whether gay, lesbian, or straight- are animals who cannot control their sexual appetites, and that therefore sexual self-discipline is something it is simply unreasonable to ask of us.

But they are wrong. It's precisely such self-control (coupled with repentance and absolution when we slip) which has always formed the basis of the Christian sexual ethic.

Orthodox Christianity has always treated homosexual behavior as sinful- and it always will. It's a matter of clear and unchanging biblical revelation. But orientation is simply not an issue, and those who suggest that it is one are either uninformed or disingenuous.

Picture published under the Creative Commons License Attribution 3.0 Brazil

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