The Law and homosexuality

This is a pretty controversial topic so I fully expect some strong disagreement which is welcome. Moderators please feel free to move this thread (I didn’t see a hot topics section) or even delete if you feel you need to. I won’t be offended.

I’m working on a coherent Christian theology that upholds the old Law/Torah observance not as salvation but as an indentation for sanctification, faith in action, and discipleship.

However the Torah forbids homosexuality pretty clearly in Leviticus. You could argue Paul does as well.

It is my opinion that the church spends way too much energy on this topic. How wonderful it would be the church was up in arms about the other moral commandments. Though in fairness this a strength of the Catholic Church that they have been a champion of the poor, the refugee and the disenfranchised. The baptists not so much :slight_smile:

I also think that condemning homosexuality in individuals and forbidding them from service I the church does a lot of harm. This is my opinion but I have seen the real pain in gay friends and in gay clergy (I’m espicopalian).

By the way, I’m heterosexual and married with kids. I’m a democrat but not a extreme liberal by any means.

So if I talk about Torah observance, I’m necessarily condemning homosexuality unless I specifically address the issue in order not to.

Here’s my argument. Someone’s sexual orientation and moral conduct in general is ultimately between God and them. Our observance of the commandments is personal and not an open invitation to judge the lives and faiths or others lest we become Judaisers.

Condemning homosexuality in and of itself (rather than specific issues such as sexual exploitation not specific to one sexual orientation) would be causing psychological harm and be unloving and would violate other commandments to love your neighbor, not to shame others, etc.

Finnaly, committed homosexual relationships are opportunities for fulfilling other commandments and could be forced for good and compassion. A foster child without a home would be lucky to have a functional, loving family that happens to be have two parents of ten same gender. Same sex spouses can encourage each other in their vocations and faith commitments.

Okay, I know I said some stuff you may strongly disagree with. Feel free to help correct my understanding

Shalom,
Fred

Spoiler alert: It may take awhile, but your search for a coherent Christian theology will end with your conversion to Catholicism. Everything you’re looking for is found in the Catholic Church. Everything.

With regard to this specific topic, everything you are looking for is found in the Theology of the Body.

Any immoral conduct in general is an offense against the Church not just God.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

1440 Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church…

1468 “The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.” …

1469 This sacrament reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members.76 …

76 Cf. 1 Cor 12:26.

Fred, you’ve really opened yourself up to strong criticism. Some words of advice: listen respectfully, reply if you must, but do NOT try to persuade anyone toward your point of view. It would be a futile task, especially on this topic. Just take a deep breath and perhaps a stiff drink.

My criticism is of a different order, to wit, that it is debatable among the movements of Judaism whether the Hebrew Scriptures actually condemn homosexuality, despite the virtually never-applied death penalty admonition. That is to say, the prohibition might be culturally specific and specific to family members rather than strangers, etc. Even within Orthodox Judaism, the prohibition is not entirely devoid of discussion although only to a minor degree. For example, the commandment to marry may be best served under the guise of same-sex marriage rather than not at all. The Babylonian Talmud does prohibit the latter, however, but only for men. In fact, the Law says NOTHING explicit about female homosexuality, only the prohibition against copying the ways of foreign lands. This omission is important since it has raised speculation as to why it is not mentioned: are women not believed to be homosexual, are they simply of less concern than men, or might they have permission to engage in such behavior?

The Church (and Christians in general) has a responsibility to tell people when they’re living in sin. We can’t tell people that they shouldn’t commit adultery or murder or theft, and then ignore their homosexuality (or any other sins). It’s dangerous to not try and correct someone. The eternal fate of their souls is at stake. We can’t hide behind the idea that “because it might hurt their feelings, we don’t have to (and are not allowed to) tell them what’s wrong with what they’re doing.” Fear of hurting someone’s feelings doesn’t absolve us from our duty to lead them out of sin.

This—> " However the Torah forbids homosexuality pretty clearly in Leviticus. You could argue Paul does as well."

Why are you trying to convince yourself otherwise???

Hahaha. You may be right. I don’t know if you are basing that off just this thread or my other posts. But I continuously come with a bone to pick with Christianity but then have to correct myself “oh not catholism, just prostants”. We’ll have to see but you may be right.

You all make a good point. I shouldn’t compromise God’s commandments because it would hurt someone’s feelings. Also it’s a bit strange of me to believe we are commanded to not eat pork for no other reason (not hygiene, not ecology) than because God commands it, yet I downplay this other commandment.
Also I have no personal experiences telling me homosexuality is not sinful in my own life. In fact I think it would be a grevious sin for me since I’m married and would be a sin, for me, even if I was single. I’m more afraid of being seen as bigoted and intolerant.
I suppose it comes down to a pastoral question of how do we address the topic rather an abstract theological stance. I believe Pope Francis has addressed that as well. Any links or info there would be helpful.

One thing is that Jesus actually releases that law which was in large part so the Jews knew they were set apart from the Gentiles. I don’t remember the passage, but finger around Matthew and you’ll find something along the lines of (I’m accounting for different translations) “What goes in does not make you unclean, but what comes out, for what comes out is from the heart.” Same sex sexual acts however do not have such a lifting and the fact it’s still a practice during St. Paul’s letters is evidence towards that.

Yes I have seen your other posts and have become something of a fan. You’re on the right track. :slight_smile:

:popcorn:

The first thing that strikes me is your phrase “homosexuality in and of itself”. That may seem a small detail to point to, but the noun homosexuality means both the homosexual orientation and homosexual sex. Hence I wonder if we shouldn’t just try to avoid that word since e.g. the sentence “The Catholic Church condemns homosexuality” is true or false depending which meaning of the word is intended.

That’s an interesting application of that teaching here. One I wouldn’t agree with :slight_smile:
I’ve been thinking more about it and you have the right approach. We take the OT law but then we need to see what Jesus says.
But Jesus as far as I know doesn’t address homosexuality directly but there are other teachings about sex and marriage that I think clearly apply.
The woman at the well: Jesus knows she has been unfaithful with five husbands and living with a man not her husband. He names the sin and doesn’t make light of it. He’s famous for his condemning one liners. But He still offers her eternal life and living water.
The stoning of the adulterous woman: he says let he who is sinless cast the first stone, but he also tells her to go sin no more.
Let no man put asunder: Jesus tells us that God ordains marriage and it is God and before couples are joined. It is not a human institution to do with as we like without respect to the creator of marriage.
And… the refusal to ritually wash hands: Jesus does say it is what comes out of you that makes you unclean. How I intreprate that is not a denial of the commandment to purify yourself before meals and prayer, but a statement that other commandments of love and teaching and inclusion are of greater weight. Jesus was among non-observant Jews and it was a greater deed to be in thier presence than to honor the ritual. He also wanted to make a clear message that being observant was more about compassion than legalism. So back to homosexuality, this applies by saying Jesus might condemn homosexuality but we are still called like to the woman at the well to treat all people with love and to share in the invitation towards righteousness.

So I think overall Jesus takes a compassionate, moderate approach. I think you all are right that He wouldn’t agree with my original post. He would call sin sin, but He still invites all people to Him and His commandments. I’m not going to disagree with Jesus!

And… I found the quote from Pope Francis I was thinking of:
A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being."
Exactly what I was thinking a pastoral way to approach it.

Love the sinner. Hate the sin.
It is that simple.
God bless.

I wish it were that simple. Too many people confound the sin with the sinner and look at the sinner as the embodiment of the sin. There is often a cognitive and emotional judgment taking place with regard to the sinner himself even if this indignation does not necessarily translate into observable behavior.

Further, in Judaism it is also not so simple because even though repentance is importance, the sin itself is not to be hated. Why not? It is because we are born with the potential to do good but also a tendency to veer away from the mark. In other words, G-d has given us the free will to sin and we are no strangers to exercising that free will, given we are only human and not perfect. Merely hating the sin leads us to feelings of unworthiness, shame, and guilt, all of which may stymie us from seeking to improve our behavior as well as learning to control our emotions and not always act upon them without thinking first. Thus it would be better for our own sake NOT to dwell on hating the sin but instead focus on changing our behavior by turning away from the sin, that is, repenting. Jesus Himself said to the adulteress “Go and sin no more.” He did not tell her to spend her time and energy hating the sin she committed, bemoaning her fate, or feeling guilty or ashamed of herself. The call to action in a more positive, constructive direction is what Jesus demands.

I like how to put that the focus needs to be a positive direction. I’m deeply inspired by Chabad’s “mitzvot tanks” or buses driven by Rabbis that pulled over asked “Are you Jewish?” And if so would have Tefflin ready, free Shabbat/sabbath candles ect. The goal was to increase observance of any Jews, regardless of past observance or sect. The Rebbe of Chabad stressed starting with any observance and to follow as many of the commandments as you can. Not to try to do it all at once or lay any big guilt trips.
chabad.org/therebbe/timeline_cdo/aid/62178/jewish/1974-The-Mitzvah-Tank.htm

Absolutely. In my posts on CAF I often write “a homosexual person”, even though technically I could just write “a homosexual”, because I want it to be remembered that we’re talking about a person.

Another reason I tend to avoid the word “homosexuality”.

This was the teaching of the great Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson: no judgments and repent in small increments. He stressed kindness and compassion through good deeds.

Incidentally, when Bob Dylan was contemplating returning to Judaism after his dabbling with Evangelical Christianity, he met with Rebbe Schneerson. I can’t imagine an odder couple and wonder what they might have spoken about.

That is a nuance which does sadly seem to get lost all too often. Too much do we see a dichotomy of you can either condemn even the orientation, creating a need for conversion therapy or that you must embrace the acts with open arms. Both of which divert from the middle way. It seems like you’ve given thought to this and I do wish you well as you continue to explore ideas within Christianity. The writings of past popes in addition to Pope Francis can be helpful too in finding your way too.

Thanks for sharing this. It’s always interesting to get the perspective of our Jewish brothers.

And thanks to Zenfred and Meltzerboy for sharing about Rebbe Schneerson. He sounds like a holy man.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.