Sunday, June 30, 2019

Do you seriously think Jesus would denounce a gay man or woman?

Christ and the Rich Young Man. By Heinrich Hofmann - Purchased by John D Rockefeller Jr, now residing at Riverside Church, New York, Public Domain, Link

In the comments section of the FB page of AdMU's Sanggunian: Commission on Gender Equality (25 June 2019), I read the following comment in response to Family and Life Update:
“Do you seriously think Jesus would denounce a gay man or woman? Seriously? Jesus? Go back and study the Bible again. Mga 300 times.”—Francis P.
This is an interesting question. Below is my reply.

REPLY

A. Studying the Bible 300 times

I don’t know how many times I have studied the Bible, because it is difficult to quantify the word “study”. Is studying the Bible equal to the number of hours you spent reading some books in the Bible? Or is it the number of times you have read the Bible from Genesis to the Book of Revelation? But even then, many of the most learned people who studied the Bible—spending hours, days, weeks, and years poring Biblical texts—may still end up as heretics, e.g. Arius (Arianism), Luther (Protestantism), and Manalo (Iglesia ni Cristo). Remember that even Satan can quote Sacred Scripture (c.f. Ps 91:11-12) to tempt Christ:
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’" (Mt 4:5-6)
The Catholic Faith rests not on the Bible alone, but also on Holy Tradition, and Magisterium (Teaching Authority), in the same way that the Philippine Government is defined by the Constitution, Congress, and the Supreme Court:
76 In keeping with the Lord's command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways: - orally "by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received - whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit";33 - in writing "by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing".34 . . . continued in apostolic succession 77 "In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority."35 Indeed, "the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time." (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

B. Would Jesus denounce a gay man or woman?

There is no clear denunciation by Jesus of a gay man or woman, in the same way as he would denounce the Scribes and Pharisees: “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees!” (Mt 23) But why would Jesus need to denounce homosexuals, because cross dressing and homosexual acts were already forbidden in the Old Testament? There is no need for Christ to repeat what is already known to be true to his fellow Jews who are faithful to the Laws of Moses:
A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for anyone who does such things is an abomination to the LORD, your God. (Dt 22:5
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, they have committed an abomination; the two of them shall be put to death; their bloodguilt is upon them. (Lv 20:13)
 Remember, Jesus said:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. (Mt 5:17-18)
If there is a confusion regarding the true meaning or essence of the laws, Christ would clarify them as what he did to the Scribes and Pharisees:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. [But] these you should have done, without neglecting the others.” (Mt 23:23)
For the case of the woman caught in adultery, Christ did not condemn her to death, as the Mosaic Law dictates (Lv 20:10), but said:
"Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more." (Jn 8:11)
Christ, the Son of Man, has the power to forgive sins (c.f. Mk 2:10) because He is also the Son of God, and sin is an offense that only God can forgive (c.f. Mk 2:7).

Many of those who quote the words of Christ in support of LGBT lifestyle and the Pride Movement focused on the first statement "Neither do I condemn you," but won't mention the second statement "From now on do not sin anymore." Cross-dressing and homosexual acts are sins. A homosexual man or woman who repents will be forgiven by Christ in the same way as He forgave the woman caught in adultery, and we can be sure that Christ will also say the same thing: "From now on do not sin anymore" and not "Persist in your sin because of your pride."

C. Christ Speaks through His Church

The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ with Christ as its head (c.f. Col 1:15). This truth was revealed to St. Paul on the Road to Damascus:
On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.c 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”d 5 He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.e 6 Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:3-6)

After His Resurrection, Christ gave the Church the power to forgive sins:
“Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (Jn 20:22-23)
Thus, a homosexual who repents of his sins and confesses them to a priest in the Sacrament of Confession will be forgiven by Christ Himself: the priest only acts in persona Christi. As the Catechism says:
1548 In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Also, before His Ascension, Christ gave the Church the Magisterium or the Teaching Authority:
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 h Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, 20 i teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:18-20)
As Christ also told his disciples:
Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me. (Lk 10:16)
That is, if you don't listen to the Church, you reject Christ, the Son of God. If you reject Christ, you also reject God the Father who sent His Son to redeem the world. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God," as St. Paul said  (Heb 10:31), echoing Christ's warning:
"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. 5 I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. 7 Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.d 8 I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God." (Lk 12:4-9
Thus, if the Church denounces homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, then it is Christ Himself who makes the denouncement of these acts of gay men or women:
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. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
This answers the question of Francis P.

D. Conclusions

The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ. Thus, if the Church forgives the sins of a repentant gay man or woman, it is Christ Himself who forgives him or her. If the Church denounces homosexual acts as intrinsically disordered, then it is Jesus Christ Himself who makes the denouncement. As St. Ignatius said:
13. If we wish to proceed securely in all things, we must hold fast to the following principle: What seems to me white, I will believe black if the hierarchical Church so defines. For I must be convinced that in Christ our Lord, the bridegroom, and in His spouse the Church, only one Spirit holds sway, which governs and rules for the salvation of souls. For it is by the same Spirit and Lord who gave the Ten Commandments that our holy Mother Church is ruled and governed.
(The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: Based on Studies in the Language of the Autograph by Louis J. Puhl, SJ, p. 160)
There is still hope for conversion for LGBT, but they must repent and believe the Gospel before it is too late to do so on their deathbed--unless they steal heaven like the repentant thief who was crucified with Christ. But such grace may be rare for those who spent their lives fighting Christ and His Church. May the LGBT heed the words of St. Paul:
Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)
Outside the Kingdom of God is Hell, the fiery furnace for the punishment of the unjust:
"The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 43  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear." (Mt 13:41-43)
Hell is real. And the thought of being sent to hell for eternity may spur a gay man or woman to conversion. Even if this conversion is due to fear and not out of love for God, this conversion is still praiseworthy according to St. Ignatius:
18. Though the zealous service of God our Lord out of pure love should be esteemed above all, we ought also to praise highly the fear of the Divine Majesty. For not only filial fear but also servile fear is pious and very holy. When nothing is higher or more useful is attained it is very helpful for rising from mortal sin, and once this is accomplished, one may easily advance to filial fear, which is wholly pleasing and agreeable to God our Lord since it is inseparable associated with love of Him. (The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: Based on Studies in the Language of the Autograph by Louis J. Puhl, SJ, p. 161)