Catholics: Can homosexual sex acts really be commited in "invincible ignorance"?

This question was inspired by a turn in the conversation in this thread:

Catholics only: Do you hate homosexual sex acts (as we are obliged to) ?

I do not use homosexual sex acts as an example to single them out as the worst possible sin, as I know that they are not so.

I use them as an example of a gravely wrong act which we know is always and invariable the wrong choice (“intrinsically disordered”) and a choice against God, and really a choice for a form of idolatry of personal pleasure and the body, even if it is not discerned as such by the person committing the homosexual sex act.

The link above starts with a post (by a fine person I am sure, JReducation, whose good intentions I am not calling into question) which gives voice to a common belief about homosexuals and a “primacy of conscience” which I do not think exists in the way he articulates it.

So I am asking whether or not homosexual sex acts can in fact really be committed in “invincible ignorance”, and if so how would that actually happen and what would be the consequences.

Usually, invincible ignorance concerning morality is a matter of degree. It is very unlikely that a person would have sufficient ignorance so that such an objectively mortal sin would not be at least an actual venial sin. Each person has the guidance of the natural law and of reason. And most persons know that at least some other persons consider such acts to be gravely immoral. So it is unlikely that any adult with full use of his mental faculties could have invincible ignorance to such an extent as to reduce culpability to nothing.

People who reject entirely the search for moral truth, and who abandon themselves to any kind of serious sin, are culpable to the extent of an actual mortal sin, even if they did not know that these acts were gravely immoral, if they, with full knowledge and deliberation, have turned away from seeking to know moral truth at all.

Like the OP said, there’s nothing special about homosexual sins in this regard. A mortal sin is only mortal when all three conditions are met (grave matter, knowledge and consent). I have no difficulty in believing that a person could genuinely lack any of the three, including in this case a genuine ignorance of the grave immorality of homosexual acts.

For a specific example, I presume that child sex slaves have their conciences so horribly malformed that their sins are imputed on the abusers until well past the age of reason.

Homosexual sex acts are a violation of the natural law. I can’t see how one could commit a homosexual sex act in “invincible ignorance” any more than murder (also a violation of the natural law) could be committed in “invincible ignorance.”

(Now I could see that they could be committed without full consent of the will, but that wasn’t the question in this case…)

I would assume that most people in this country and especially all homosexuals are well aware of the disdain they are held in by a portion of our country. And I think its well known that that portion believes their activities are sinful. So no I don’t believe such “acts” can be done with ignorance. That being said, and assuming nearly everyone agrees, I then wonder why every homosexual who comes here seems to be immediately informed by 5-10 posters that their sexual lives are sinful. They of course state they love the sinner, so I question why they need to make this statement that the lifestyle is sinful which only hurts and insults.

What would you suggest then?

(Seriously)

Today’s society, at least the “enlightened” portion of it, has come up with ample rationalization to convince the homosexual that he/she is perfectly normal and that the one who holds heterosexuality as the biological norm is disordered.

(Note: this is not a contradiction with my earlier post. This convincing falls to the “full consent of the will” component, vice the knowledge that the act itself is gravely evil).

People, in love, need to state without compromise that sin is sin. No matter what that sin is. Because if nobody has the chutzpah to state that sin is sin, the sinner will continue in his delusion.

I grew up in a fundamentalist atmosphere. I knew many people who thought that having any homosexual desire at all was a sin. The assumption was that if you were really ‘saved’, Christ would cure you of your affliction. That is why you see some Christians argue so passionately that SSA is a chosen attraction.

The Catholic response is much more compassionate because it acknowledges that a person can have an attraction to the same sex and still be a Christian. Hearing that the sin is acting on the attraction, not having the attraction itself, is comforting to many people.

Acting on a homosexual impulse is sinful, just as is adultery committed by a straight man. Should we not tell the adultering husband that if he continues to have an affair that he is sinning? If we should inform such a man that he needs to be faithful to his wife, then why can’t a person with SSA be told that acting on their impulses is a sin?

Back to the original question. I think that it is impossible to answer because we can’t get into another person’s heart and understand what they understand. Admittedly, it seems to me that most people must understand on some basic level that certain sexual acts are wrong, but perhaps matters like an abusive childhood would play some part in their understanding.:shrug:

I answered Yes. Since nearly any sin can be committed through invincible ignorance, why wouldn’t that dictate apply to the sins of homosexual activity too? You didn’t specify “Can a Catholic commit such a sin in invincible ignorance?” but even in that regard I have to suppose the possibility exists. If a Catholic has been exposed to erroneous, lifelong teachings, say in a mission area, or has been subjected to abuse by an authority within the Church, then I have to imagine that invincible ignorance might apply. In any event, these days, children are being legally raised in households by homosexual “couples” and it’s a near certainity that the frame of reference of some of these children will test high on the scale of such invincible ignorance.

Masturbation is also a violation of the natural law, yet few are aware that it is a mortal sin or gravely immoral.

As for homosexuality, I think that there are many raised in liberal environments who see nothing wrong with homosexual acts, but rather something wrong with those who oppose them.

I don’t think you need do a thing. As I said, I doubt any homosexual person in this country is unaware of what the Catholic church teaches or believes. I don’t think they buy love the sinner hate the sin any more than I do. I believe people in a certain “self-righteous superiority” actually enjoy telling others that their behavior is sinful, because it makes them feel good to do so. I don’t believe in this type of evangelization which seems to me to be akin to what you get from fundamentalists (you’re going to hell if you don’t stop that). Cleaning up the language isn’t a solution.;

When and if a homosexual person, who truly admires your LIFESTYLE, asks for advice, then give it lovingly and honestly. But I see no need to state the obvious to them. I think they already know. This is my personal belief of course. I was always taught as a Catholic we were better than that.

Saying all that, I do understand the purpose of this site. It is a reaction to just that kind of fundamentalist rhetoric except it has been aimed at Catholics (we are a cult and the whore of Babylon). However, I do not agree with return tactics that make us look as cold and meanspirited as they look, and that kind of prostylitizing (sp) does that IMO.

I recognize this and do appreciate the difference. I just think the message is out there. I don’t believe in unsolicited proselytizing.

Acting on a homosexual impulse is sinful, just as is adultery committed by a straight man. Should we not tell the adultering husband that if he continues to have an affair that he is sinning? If we should inform such a man that he needs to be faithful to his wife, then why can’t a person with SSA be told that acting on their impulses is a sin?

Sure,if you can find an adult male or female who doesn’t know that already by all means if they ask, tell them. My same answer regarding the gay person. (Do you really think that adulterous spouses don’t know what they are doing is wrong?)

Back to the original question. I think that it is impossible to answer because we can’t get into another person’s heart and understand what they understand. Admittedly, it seems to me that most people must understand on some basic level that certain sexual acts are wrong, but perhaps matters like an abusive childhood would play some part in their understanding.:shrug:

Your statement is correct. Would you view anothers spending habits as outrageous and then decide its your place to tell them that? Or their eating habits? Usually in society we wait until are advice is asked. It keeps society civil. Obviously the degree of relationship impacts this greatly. One can take more liberties depending on how strong the relationship is.

I had to answer this one. If a sinful lifestyle is exposed to us, then we become vulnerable to sin simply by not taking action. Remember, Christ wants us to act, so if we don’t point out a sin and nobody else does either, then we might in fact be held partly responsible for that person’s future sins. So we need to assess what we can from what the person posted–do they already know, or might they still be ignorant–and act accordingly.

Since the Hebrew word used in Leviticus with respect homogenital acts means “ritually unclean” rather than “sinful,” I don’t know what this discussion is all about. Looks like a tempest in a tea cup to me.

Matthew

Typically I don’t go around telling anyone that they are sinning unasked. If someone asked my opinion though I would tell them what the Church teaches. Hopefully, I would be compassionate with my answer and come off humble not judgemental.

I have homosexual family members who I’ve never had any religious discussion with at all. It just has never come up in the short time that I see them.:shrug: I do pray for them often though.

The New Testament says that homosexuality is a sin also.

I doubt anyone has to worry about being “vulnerable” to homosexuality. It seems more a genetic issue than anything else. I’m not sure we are called upon by Jesus to act as you put it. Jesus told those who condemned the adulterous woman to go away unless they were prepared to state they were without sin. She was aware of her sin. Jesus simply told her to sin no more.

Just because you are standing next to a homosexual you are not in danger of 'aiding" their homosexuality by being polite and minding your own business. As I said, I disagree with the over-emphasis here on “correcting others”. This seems to just become gigantic here, and now includes telling on nuns, priests, and just about anyone we “think” is doing something wrong. It will lead to some very sad outcomes I’m afraid. Remember Jesus also reminded us to search out the plank in our own eye before we condemned the splinter in our brother’s. The problem is that everyone can find a bible verse somewhere which upholds what they want to do.

Living one’s life in a certain way has always been the BEST testament to Jesus. Preaching how others should live can often be more in line with the Pharisidic approach.

I agree with your approach. I do exactly the same myself.

The OP failed to mention that I also stated several times that I was raised and trained in Franciscan and Mystical Theology. The theology of Francis of Assisi, which was sanctioned by the Church, was very simple. He preached conversion from sin. He preached that people should embrace the cross. He also preached peace. Contrary to popular belief, his was not a ministry to the poor. He did not found a ministry to the poor nor was this his intent. He loved the poor and took care of them, because it is the duty of every Christian to do so.

Francis embraced poverty, because he deplored all things that attached humans to pride, power, and lust. He also embraced poverty, because of his love for the poor and crucified Christ. And he reminded people of two essentials for salvation, first, conversion and second, the mercy of the Crucified Christ.

In his teaching to his brothers and sisters he always called them to bring sinners back to God through example, not harassment or humiliation. Because when he looked at Christ he saw a humble God. He also reminded his followers that Christ’s last words on the cross were, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” Anyone who has heard Mother Angelica, who is a Franciscan, has never heard her humiliate or embarrass others.

In his mystical theology, which the Church not only accepted, but for which the Church gave him a title that has never been given to any other Christian, The Mirror of Perfection, Francis embraced conversion from sin for himself. He embraced the teaching of conversion and he also embraced humanity as Christ embraced it, without the fundamentalist rhetoric. He embraced the cross and the message of the cross.

Neither in his writings, nor in his preaching did Francis ever tell a sinner that they were going to Hell. What he attempted to impress upon sinners the love that God has for us and how to respond to that love with detachment from everything that is of this world, including the pride that many have because they are “saved” or “Catholic.”

Francis did many beautiful things, but there were two that speak to this issue of conscience and sin. First, he travelled to Morocco to preach to the Muslims. When he arrived he sought the sultan to ask for permission to preach to his people. The sultan was so impressed by his humility that he granted it. Francis preached and left. He witnessed to the beauty and humility of the Crucified Christ. So much so, that the sultan said, “If all Christians were like this, I would convert tomorrow.”

The second event that is recorded in history was an invitation that he made to one of his brothers to go preach in a town that was steeped in sin. As they walked through the town, Francis ordered the brother to say nothing to anyone until he (Francis) gave him permission. This was interesting, as Francis was a layman and the other brother was a priest. Obedient to his Father, the brother kept his mouth shut. They passed many churches. As they exited the town the brother asked him where they were to preach. Francis answered, “We just finished.”

Francis reminded the Church of the importance of the Crucified Christ, which is still lived by millions of us who follow his ideal 800 years later. Preach conversion, but make sure that you preach love of Christ, for if one loves Christ, the sin eradicates itself. Also, we do not now the hearts of men. The only thing that we know is what our eyes see. Therefore, in preaching conversion, we must speak about Christ, the love that flows from the Cross, and the grace of living the mystery of the resurrection.

As to conscience, moral theology says many things about conscience, but it does not say that we should berate anyone. In one of the threads on this forum there is a list of outstanding bishops. Among them are two of our brothers, Archbishop Chaput and Cardinal O’Malley. Both have spoken in public on this many other sins. Neither has ever walked up to an individual and pointed the finger. They speak to the masses. Individual pastoral counselling and guidance is for the private arena, when someone asks for help.

I presented my idea in a manner consistent with Franciscan mysticism. This may not be the theology of the OP. So be it, but do not take it out of its Franciscan context. Francis hated sin, but refrained from judging the sinner. Because this was not the way that Christ did it. Christ’s admonition was to “sin no more.” It was not, “Caught you!” He preached to the masses or did one on one ministry, such as the Samaritan woman or the woman in adultery, when the opportunity was available.

Some people want to go on a campaign against homosexual sin. What about sins against human life (i.e. Abortion and capital punishment)? Where is the thread that asks “do you hate murder?” or “do you hate barbarism?”

Look around and you will find them. Right now, there are three threads regarding abortion and three threads regarding war/death penalty.

This is what I think you are missing, dear friend.

Everyone has a vocation. Some folks called to a particular ministry. You have made it very clear what your particular approach is to your Christian vocation and it appears that you apply this unilaterally to a wide range of needs. That’s awesome. You are obviously quite good at multi-tasking!:thumbsup:

Some of us, the OP included, have experienced this particular sinful lifestyle first-hand. We have lost many friends and family members who continue to walk in darkness. We are zealous because we have seen what this particular sin can do to the human person and what it continues to do in our Church and our culture at large. If we did not put these personal experiences to work for good within the Church as well as society, we would be quite remiss in our Christian obligation.

It is awesome that you have found so many glorious saints to study and follow. Some of us are looking to those we consider to be modern “saints-in-the-making”, like Father John Harvey, Fr. Eutener, and B16. They speak with clarity on the issue of homosexuality because clarity is desperately needed in this time of upheaval and radical change.

it does not say that we should berate anyone.

No one has berated anyone. Please do not extrapolate erroneous conclusions and turn them into accusations.

Anyone who has heard Mother Angelica, who is a Franciscan, has never heard her humiliate or embarrass others.

Nor has anyone here humiliated or embarrassed others. BTW: You can’t use Mother Angelica as an example with the OP: He is OBSESSED with her and I daresay, knows every word she has uttered and what tone she has used!

without the fundamentalist rhetoric.

Could you point me to the “fundamentalist rhetoric”? I must have missed it.

Neither has ever walked up to an individual and pointed the finger.

Oh come on. Now you’re just being silly. Who has pointed the finger? :rolleyes:

They speak to the masses. Individual pastoral counselling and guidance is for the private arena, when someone asks for help.

And while CAF is not individual counselling, it is a place for Catholics to come when they have questions, concerns, or confusions. Someone asks for help, they get it. Someone asks for an argument, they get that to!

It was not, “Caught you!”

Is that how you view the Catholics on this site?

Francis hated sin, but refrained from judging the sinner.

And this is just a strawman. Sorry. The other thread specifically asked about “homosexual acts.” Isn’t that the sin? Where, on that thread, did anyone suggest Catholics should hate the sinner?

Also, we do not now the hearts of men. The only thing that we know is what our eyes see.

And that is all that has been discussed. What I see with my eyes, hear with my ears, and read on my computer screen. Do I know where people will go after they die? Of course not. Do I know what sins might get them there? If I am a Catholic, then I’d better know.

You sound very angry. That’s unfortunate. Inner peace and inner silence are key to a healthy spiritual life.

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