Thursday, October 23, 2014

On homosexuality: how can love be a sin? A reply to Boy Abunda


In Bottomline with Boy Abunda, Abunda talked about his homosexuality and the Catholic Church:
"I am not devout, in the traditional way of defining 'devout,'" he clarified. "I am a Catholic and I am proud to be Catholic." "I do not agree to all the teachings of the Church, and one of them is saying that, 'We're okay with homosexuality, but the moment you practice, the moment you have sex, it is a sin.'" Explaining his take on the matter, Abunda continued: "Sa aking pananaw, paano naman ako magmamahal bilang isang homosexual man if I don't express sexually my love with my partner? Isa 'yon sa mga disagreements. Doon kami hindi nagkakaintindihan." Asked directly if he believes, as per Catholic teachings, that his own lifestyle as a gay man is a sin, Abunda only said: "No. How can love be a sin?" (ABS-CBN)
I have two comments regarding Boy Abunda's definition of Catholicity and Love.

A. Catholic Doctrine and Heresy

To be a Catholic is to believe the Catholic teaching whole and entire. To believe all but not one or some teaching is to be a heretic.  As the Catechism teaches:
2089...Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same.
That is why heretics are defined by the truth that they deny.  For example, in the Apostle's Creed, if you deny that Jesus is the Son of God consubstantial with the Father, then you would be an Arian, similar to the Iglesia ni Cristo.  If you deny that Jesus really died and was buried, then you would be a Docetist.

Now, the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual intercourse is a sin because it goes against the Sixth Commandment: Thou shall not commit adultery.  As the Catechism says:
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. 2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. 2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
To deny that homosexual acts is not a sin is to deny the truth taught by the Catholic Church and is therefore a heresy.

B. Four Loves of the Greeks: How Can Love be a Sin?

Love is just a vague English that has come to mean many things.  But to make distinctions, the Greeks talk about four kinds of love:
  • Agápe (ἀγάπη agápē[1]) means "love: esp. brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God."[2] 
  • Éros (ἔρως érōs) means "love, mostly of the sexual passion."[5] The Modern Greek word "erotas" means "intimate love." It can also apply to dating relationships as well as marriage. 
  • Philia (φιλία philía) means "affectionate regard, friendship," usually "between equals."[7] It is a dispassionate virtuous love, a concept developed by Aristotle.[8] 
  • Storge (στοργή storgē) means "love, affection" and "especially of parents and children"[9] It is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring.
Except for Agape, the other three loves can become disordered.
  • Storge. The love of the parent for his child in storge can become disordered if the parents wishes not to let the child go and live his own life, especially in marriage.  As Christ says: ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Mt 19:5-6)
  • Philia.  The love between friends can become disordered if we condone the sin of our friends or participate in their sinful acts, e.g. a government official excuses the crimes committed by his brothers in his Fraternity.
  • Eros. The sexual love of a man to a woman can become perverted by lust, leading to rape, fornication, adultery.  Homosexuality is also such perversion of eros.  As St. Paul writes: "Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 27 and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity." (Rom 1:26-27)
Thus, love can be a sin.

That is why, our love must always have two facets: love of God and love of neighbor.  As Christ said:
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and the first commandment. 39 k The second is like it:* You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 * l The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Mt 22:37-40)
St. John also wrote:
If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God* whom he has not seen.j 21 This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.k (1 Jn 4:20-21)
The converse is also true: if you love your brother, then you must also love God.  This then is the test if the homosexual love of Boy Abunda is true: if it is also consistent with our love for God.  But God has explicitly condomned homosexual acts in the Book of Leviticus:
If a man lies with a male as with a woman,k they have committed an abomination; the two of them shall be put to death; their bloodguilt is upon them. (Lv 20:13)
C. Mortal Sin and the Sacrament of Confession

Today, except in Islamic countries, we don't anymore kill those who engage in homosexual acts.  But the truth remains that this is a grave sin: the person may not die bodily, but his soul is already mortally dead and no amount of Holy Communion can restore it back to life, in the same way as food would not anymore avail a dead man.  As we say in Filipino, aanhin mo pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo (translation: of what use is grass if the horse is already dead).  And when a person under the state of mortal sin actually dies, he immediately goes to Hell.

To restore the soul back to life, the person must go to confession and like the prodigal son something like this:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.  (Lk 15:18-19) 
Actually, after confession, the person must say the Act of Contrition:
O my God! I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. (Baltimore Catechism)
And God will forgive the sinner and restore him back to his dignity as adopted child of God.

D. Conclusions

Love can be a sin if it does not satisfy two aspects: love of God and love of neighbor.  Boy Abunda may think that loving his neighbor through homosexual acts is true love.  But this love does not satisfy the other criterion that it must also be an expression of love for God.  To love God is to obey his laws, and God explicitly condemns homosexuality in the Book of Leviticus with a pain of death.  Homosexual acts are mortal sins because they cause death to the soul.  The only way for the soul to be revived to a new life is through the Sacrament of Confession.  But the person, after healing, must obey Christ's words: "From now on do not sin any more." (Jn 8:11
Homosexuality and the Catholic Church
Homosexuality and the Catholic Church
The History of Heresies and Their Refutation or The Triumph of the Church
The History of Heresies and Their Refutation or The Triumph of the Church
Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis
Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis
Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach
Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach
Truth about Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful
Truth about Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful
The Four Loves
The Four Loves
Four Talks on Love: Storge, Philia, Eros, Agape
Four Talks on Love: Storge, Philia, Eros, Agape
Baltimore Catechism  Four
Baltimore Catechism Four
The Gay Gospel?: How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible
The Gay Gospel?: How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible
Lord, Have Mercy: The Healing Power of Confession
Lord, Have Mercy: The Healing Power of Confession