USCCB staff criticizes ‘flawed anthropology of sexual orientation’

The staff of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage is publishing a seven-part series of blog posts in the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage.[INDENT]What the language of “sexual orientation” does, anthropologically, is separate one’s identity from one’s bodily nature as a man or woman, placing a premium on one’s desires and inclinations. The body then becomes a “bottom layer” – essentially meaningless matter – over which one’s “real” identity – comprised of desires and inclinations – is super-imposed.**[/INDENT]Catholic Culture


Thanks be to God for this apostolic guidance!

I really am becoming to have more and more faith in the USCCB. After reading about certain horror stories–which can be documented should anyone try to report me or something petty like that–from the 1990s and before, I had a bad opinion of it in general.

Glad to see this :slight_smile:

Oh! They get it! Thank God! They see the potential for idolatry of the legal identity. It separates one’s person from his being, and seeks to make it greater than his whole being, with the added judicial benefit (to the priests of secular humanism) of bringing persons into the public side of society. It leads to insane public policies that go against the natural order of things.

Thanks, Marco Polo. This was Part 4 of a series, and I found Part 5 to be quite compelling as well. What I love is that there are many highlighted links to read, which are extremely interesting in themselves!

Now, if only all parish priests would perseveringly disseminate this information to the average Catholic, whether convenient or not. We have a right to know. We all have to do our part!

Prayer and action!

“To the mattresses!”…er…I mean the kneelers…and the streets.

I would say that I have a fairly good opinion of this particular committee under the leadership of Archbishop Cordileone. They are publishing issuances that are in strict accordance with Motu Proprio Apostolos Suos.

There are still committees, such as the International Justice and Peace committee and the Domestic Social Development committee, that really like writing their issuances and the opinions of their committee chairs as being the official opinion of all US bishops.

Grace & Peace!

I read the pertinent blog post from the USCCB and it’s an interesting (and thought-provoking) thesis. The difficulty I experience with it, though, is that they don’t actually argue their thesis–they simply assert it. Consequently, I find myself trying to come up with arguments they could make to defend their thesis, but none of them seem adequate–and I therefore doubt that they’re the arguments the USCCB would make. Moreover, I find myself thinking about their critique of “sexual orientation” as re-imagining the body as something upon which an identity is imposed only to wonder if the same (or a similar) thing cannot be said of celibacy.

More on that last point: I find it interesting that the logo for the Marriage initiative is an image of St. Joseph and Our Lady–a celibate marriage. On the one hand, it seems they wish to affirm the idea that we should be taking our sexual cues from our maleness or femaleness, properly sexually expressed in marriage…but then the image of marriage they give is one in which that maleness and femaleness was not given sexual expression in marriage. Consequently, the message seems muddled–is our maleness or femaleness something we should take seriously as the bedrock of our sexual identity which is properly and sexually expressed in marriage, or is the marriage ideal to which we aspire one which is characterized by celibacy? If the ideal is celibacy, how are we to affirm the biological fact of maleness or femaleness in a manner which is natural, factual and real but which nonetheless denies the most basic natural, factual and real biological expression of that maleness or femaleness–i.e., the sexual act? Does our celibate maleness or celibate femaleness ever run the risk of becoming too abstract because it cannot be grounded in the sexual act? How are we to prevent our sexual identity from becoming an abstraction that is artificially super-imposed on our bodies (like the artificial super-imposition of “sexual orientation”)?

In the end, it sounds like a tantalizing thesis, but it seems to lack either a rigorous explication or a rigorous defense.

Under the Mercy,

All is Grace and Mercy! Deo Gratias!

One’s identity as it interacts with society is an imposition by society. As an example of what I mean, every act of answering to a name is the result an imposition by society on the being who is called. My thoughts on the Bishop’s statement center on their acknowledgement of the beings in question. They recognize that a being - along with his identity - constitute a whole person.

The Bishop’s complaint - as I see it - is criticizing the present society’s inclination to elevate a man’s person above his being. When society sees a person whose sexual orientation is placed in front of his person, it becomes the vangaurd of his person, and leads society away from his natural being as one in the image and likeness of God.

As the person (as seen by society) is elevated above the being, so too is society’s perception of personhood. This is, in my opinion, a form of idolatry, because it ignores the basic human dignity that is inherent in a man (or woman as the case may be).

The ‘bottom layer’, as they call it, is ignored, to society’s regret. It becoms nothing more than an afterthought, when in reality it is nothing less than a constituent part of the whole being. By acknowledging a person’s sexual orientation first, society loses out on the benefit of having the whole man as one of its members.

Now celibacy is a being’s internal choice, and is no imposition on society, so I don’t see how the two can be compared. While acting on one’s natural inclinations could be construed as an imposition on society, remaining celibate is the opposite behavior.

The view of Joseph and Mary being celibate and holy is missing the mark; rather they should be viewed as chaste and holy. Married couples enjoying their natural gifts in the marriage act is an expression of chastity, as is a person remaining celibate according to his vows before the Lord.

So all in all, I think you misunderstood the Bishops’ critique, and I think I pulled a mental muscle in trying to articulate that lol.

Mark, those are interesting thoughts, worthy of better replies than I can probably give.

It strikes me that you are conflating two different things. Their comments seems to boil down to an assertion of dualism on the part of the gay activists, that the gay argument fundamentally assumes that the physical does not necessarily say anything authoritative about the spiritual. That’s an OLD assertion that Christianity has battled for 2,000 years now! Christianity has ALWAYS affirmed that the body and soul are a union and consistent with one another.

Priestly celibacy does not in any way undermine that assertion. Celibacy does not make a priest any less a man than marriage would have. There is no repudiation of healthy sexuality inherent in celibacy. Rather it is a sacrifice and a disciplinary decision in which the priest voluntarily gives up some thing good and holy as a sacrifice to God. The willingness to do this is, in fact, part of the process of discernment of a vocation. This is also why seminaries have been instructed to more strictly scrutinize applicants to seminary with a history of same sex attraction. It’s much more difficult for such applicants to discern a call since they have a moral obligation to lifelong abstinence anyways!

Similarly, Mary and Joseph’s unique circumstances do not obliterate the totality of their marriage, only the physical sexual aspect of it. Ask any old married couple which was more crucial to their marriage: sexual technique or communication skills. I know what they’ll say. The physical union is a manifestation of a much deeper reality and an aid to growing it. Mary and Joseph had that deeper union in spite of the physical circumstances that set her apart as the Christ-Bearer. They make an excellent example for our day in which people define relationships physically and stand as a rebuke to that shallowness.

The USCCB states: “What the language of ‘sexual orientation’ does, anthropologically, is separate one’s identity from one’s bodily nature as a man or woman, placing a premium on one’s desires and inclinations. The body then becomes a ‘bottom layer’ – essentially meaningless matter – over which one’s ‘real’ identity – comprised of desires and inclinations – is super-imposed.”

I don’t know anyone who argues that one should simply ignore the body and pay attention only to one’s desires and inclinations in determining our sexual orientation. The USCCB’s argument makes sense only if one understands “body” to mean one’s sexual organs – a rehash of the classical natural law approach. However, our bodies also include our brains and endocrine systems, which have a great deal to do with our desires and inclinations. Most scientists would say that homosexual desires and inclinations are very much grounded in the body – that is, they have a biological basis in our genes and the body that develops under the control of those genes. It’s a lot easier to dismiss those with whom you disagree if you mischaracterize their thinking.

The causes are not as definitive as you suggest.

What “most” (?) scientists say would have to do with some homosexuals, certainly not all.

Even in the case of “some” homosexuals, the fact that they are male or female is what determines the behavior according to the order of creation. Our desires can be disordered, and that can stem from a great number of causes, maybe one of them being physical.
Many other disorders have biological causes sometimes - but that doesn’t keep them from being disorders.

The truth that is being brought to light here is that God made us male and female, and we are His children, made to conform to His will in making us this way. Our own desires are nothing if they conflict with God’s plan for us. We all have to live chastely, and that is challenging for every state in life (single or married) no matter what our desires are.

To focus so much on our desires/temptations that we regularly identify ourselves according to them (a “gay Catholic”, “lesbian Lutheran”, “heterosexual porn-addict Methodist”, “pedophile Presbyterian”) is way off the mark as far as our being children of God.

Our sexual desires are things we share with the lower animals.

How about identifying with things that specifically make us human, people made in the image and likeness of God?

The sacramental nature of Catholicism grounds us in the truth about the body. The irony is that secular materialism that recognizes nothing existing outside of the material world does not recognize the truth that our body presents to us in a form that is available to the senses, which are the windows to the material world.

Awesome!!! This is unusually bold for the USCCB and I’m glad to see they’re doing it.

This a really timely , fantastic and helpful article with info from the director of the Courage group (the official Catholic group that ministers to those who struggle with same-sex attraction).

So very pertinent to the OP:

This is great stuff, but unlikely to be persuasive. The people with whom I have entered protracted debates over same sex marriage aren’t moved by a “religious” argument.

How does one convince a non-Catholic person who “believes” in same sex marriage that such marriages are wrong? “You can’t force your religious views on other people!”

What is needed is a good *secular *argument against same sex marriage.

I agree with this and it’s one of the first things that came to mind when reading it. I’d also add that homosexuality is not only about sexual desire, it goes much deeper. It is a part of the person. To say it’s something separate or added is kind of silly and naive in my opinion. I think they are straying too far into scientific ground.

We already have them. They have been abundantly supplied over the years on this website. I have contributed to many of them. All one need do is search.

So are you claiming that if there was a medical serum that altered whatever physical cause brought about the homosexuality, that the person would be a separate person. Would they require a new driver’s licence. Would they have to start school at kindergarten as it was a different person who graduated?

Would their family members no longer be family members, as the old person is no more and there would be a new person?

Is that what you are trying to claim?

Here are some fantastic secular arguments. The audio is bad only at the very beginning when the speaker (Jennifer Roeback Morse) is being introduced.

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