What is God’s reproductive design (in so far as age is concerned).
Age of puberty.
Ah. Do you mean the bodily capability to reproduce is a sign that marriage from this point is permissible? Or stronger than that - desirable upon or soon after puberty? I’m trying to understand why you say deferring marriage into the 20s runs counter to god’s reproductive design. @buffalo?
It is indeed obvious. People outside the Church (and, sad to say, many inside it) generally find a way to do what they want to do.
I’ve got to pull you up on this, HSD. It’s the other side of the coin that says that without God you can do what you want. People on ocassion often do what they want instead of perhaps what they should do (I’m going to play golf this morning as opposed to painting the window frames) but as regards morality, people generally do what they think is right. Or at least they know it’s wrong when they don’t.
So you don’t need to have a belief in God to hand in a lost wallet for example. Although some will risibly suggest that as an atheist there is nothing to stop you keeping the money (or killing the other atheist on the island as in Buff’s risible scenario). It’s not like Moses came down from the mountain with the commandments and everyone looked at each other, stunned, and said ‘Wha…? We’re not supposed to steal and kill?’ People generally tend to do the right thing anyway. It’s the exceptions that prove the rule.
So if someone enters into a gay relationship, they do so not believing that it’s wrong but they’re going to do it anyway (they’re going to ‘find a way to do what they want to do’). They do so because they see nothing wrong with it in the first instance.
Thank you for providing some much-needed nuance to a very broad statement on my part. Let me refine my comments to reflect what I actually meant to say.
People generally tend to do the right thing when it is not going to cause any great sacrifice on their part. However, when it is a “hard saying” —
“because your wife will probably die if the two of you have any more children, and her periods are notoriously irregular, the two of you will have to practice total abstinence until she passes the menopause, and she’s just in her mid-thirties right now”
“your husband left you for another woman, but there is no way the Church can find your marriage invalid, so you have to stay single until he dies, even though you have a large family to raise on your own”
“your sexual orientation means that you like men instead of women, but you cannot have sex without sinning mortally, so you have to stay celibate for life”
— the natural reaction is to say “oh, no, it can’t be so, isn’t there any way I won’t have to live like that?”. Did not even Our Lord beg that this cup might pass?
The orthodox teachings of the Church say “no, there’s not, you will have to consider that this is the cross Our Lord fashioned for you to bear from the beginning of time, you can either accept it and bring yourself (and possibly others) to great sanctity, or you can reject it, and lose His Grace for all eternity”.
There is no shortage of voices in this world that will tell them “you don’t have to live like that, it is no sin”. Non-Catholic Christians began believing that contraception is no sin… oh, about the time that somewhat reliable means of it came into existence, and there is always sterilization. Somehow, marriages evaporate no later than the moment that the civil judge lays down his gavel and dissolves the vinculi. Liberal churches such as the Episcopal church are able to tell a gay Catholic “come over here, we’ll marry you, you will have the Body and Blood of Christ, we welcome you”.
In short, the message of the world is “can’t live by Catholic teachings? — then find a religion that you can live by”.
I would be interested to know whether there are any non-Catholics who, when confronted with circumstances where accepting the sinfulness of something means that they have to live the rest of their lives with grave inconvenience, accept this state of affairs, or find some way not to have to “take up that cross”. Orthodox Jewish women whose husbands will not give them a get (rabbinical divorce), thus making them “chained wives”, are the only examples I can think of.
That might well be the case for some people. But the way I see it is that one should approach the situation from a neutral position. That is, you are not aligned to a particular denomination (or even religion) but you feel something within you that is drawing you towards God. You are not looking for moral guidance as such but more looking for a means of getting closer to God.
What are your options? Well, there are three main religions from which you could choose and numerable denominations (especially within Christianity - which could be an interesting thread on its own). You are going to tend towards the religion which aligns most closely with your personal beliefs. You are hardly going to select the nearest church/mosque/synagogue because it’s the most convenient and ask them what you should then believe.
If you are certain that Jesus is the son of God then that at least narrows the field. And if you really believe that there is nothing wrong with gay marriage then it narrows yet again. What someone obviously wouldn’t do if they were in a long term gay relationship is look to find God via Catholicism.
Actually this scenario rarely pans out because most people are born into a religion and see no reason to change. Unless they feel that their beliefs that develop over the years are growing apart from those of the church. A church that in the vast majority of situations was not chosen by them in the first instance but which was an automatic result of where and when they were born. In which case they have never consciously decided that the Catholic church is correct in all matters.
I presume that you’d have no argument with someone who was brought up as an Episcopalian and turned to Catholicism because they disagreed with their church’s position on homosexuality. If so, then it should be a lot easier for you to understand someone moving in the opposite direction. Or taking that option as an initial step.
There is certainly such a thing as “picking the church that lines up most closely with what I believe in the first place” — many if not most people, in search of a religion, do precisely that — but there is also such a thing as becoming persuaded that a certain religion is true, regardless of whether I already “like” or “believe” XYZ, and becoming convicted that if I am to please God, I have to take what this church teaches, make it my own, and alter my life accordingly. I just have to throw up my hands and admit that “I was wrong all those years”. I absolutely can understand why someone would stand before Catholicism, Orthodoxy, fundamentalist Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or Mormonism, and saying “I’m convinced, this religion is the truth, it’s going to require some changes in my lifestyle, thinking, and attitude, but it’s either that, or live a lie by staying out of it”.
My point simply is, embracing Catholicism, when the demands it makes on some people (depending on their lifestyle and circumstances) force them to alter their lives radically, is a heroic step that many people would shrink from. Thinking “yes, I’m pretty well convinced it’s true, but lifelong celibacy (or singleness, or whatever demand is made) is just too much for me to do” is perfectly understandable, and it is entirely possible that someone “on the edge” like that would succumb to human weakness, find an easier religion that is “almost Catholicism” (such as Anglicanism), and try to squash that conviction.
I recall reading the article “Against Heterosexuality” a few years ago. The title is a misnomer; the author is not opposed to heterosexuality as a practice. His thesis is that the idea of sexual orientation as an identity or as a way of labeling persons is a rather recent social construct, not a real category of being.
But you keep implying that people look for an ‘easier’ religion. But I don’t think that’s a valid view. Well, OK…it might well be for some people I will grant that. But surely most people who are genuine in their beliefs look for a religion that they think is true.
From my perspective, having known a couple of work colleagues who were strict Muslims, Islam seems a much tougher road to follow. So I could well imagine either of those two guys would consider someone selecting the Catholic church as looking for the easier option.
People choose to follow various religions for any number of reasons, some because they are convinced Religion X is The Truth regardless of how hard its demands are, some because of a desire to have a religion but one that’s not too hard, some for social reasons, some to have unity of faith and worship within a marriage or family. I think it’s fair to say that many (possibly most) people who choose a religion other than the one they have hitherto embraced, do so from a combination of a certain degree of sincerity, a natural liking for the religion being considered, and one that doesn’t make any demands that they would consider “over the top” or which would require them to rip their guts out (figuratively speaking).
Think of it this way — are there a whole lot of people who would choose Catholicism, if they “knew going in” that they would have to practice unwanted celibacy possibly for a lifetime (in the case of homosexuals), for an extended period (in the case of the couple for whom a pregnancy would mean almost-certain death for the wife), or would have to stay single possibly for life (in the case of the abandoned spouse whose marriage cannot be annulled)?
For what it’s worth, one reason — one of many — that I do not embrace Orthodoxy, is that their fasting and abstinence demands are very extreme. With no disrespect intended towards our Eastern brothers, it seems almost like fasting is an end in itself. I know it’s not, but it comes across that way. I hate to say it, but it even seems a little cultish — weakening and slowing down one’s body through eating of less-nourishing foods for extended periods. But in all honesty, if that were my only reason for not embracing Orthodoxy, that wouldn’t be much of a reason. I have far more serious, and far more defensible reasons for not embracing Orthodoxy, prime among those ceasing to be in union with the Roman Pontiff. Pope Boniface VIII had some pretty strong words about that, way back in AD 1302.
I think that there may be two scenarios.
In the first, someone might not have reached firm decisions on what comprises a moral life but they come to accept that Catholicism is true and that they will have to adjust their lives to comply with the teachings of the church.
In the second, they compare what they believe is the morally acceptable way to live a moral life and therefore conclude that Catholicism hasn’t got it right.
There is always the option of saying “despite what I’ve always thought, I guess I’ve had it wrong all these years”.
Many people have no more profound reason for what they believe, other than “this is what I’ve always believed” or “this is what I was always taught”. In and of itself, that doesn’t mean jack. “Back in the day”, when a Catholic was attacked for his faith, if pressed on a matter of doctrine, they’d just fall back on saying “the priest told us this, and that’s what you go with” or “I don’t know, I’ll have to go ask my priest”. Not a very convincing argument. That is why we have to know our Faith backwards and forwards, and be able to defend it against all comers.
Present company excepted, there is a lot of that about. To the detriment of the church.
Jumping in late here, after being away for the weekend.
I’ll attempt to answer the argument, if it helps any:
The first point, which I think we can agree on , is the question of consent.
I think it’s pretty easy to see the difference between the adult gay couple in the supermarket, or down the street, and a man abusing a child.
When the question of same-sex marriage was being debated in the U.S., one of the arguments made by some conservative Christians was the slippery slope argument that it would lead to child marriage, marriage to animals, maybe even marriage to inanimate objects. Obviously it didn’t, because of something called consent. A child can’t consent; an animal can’t consent; and certainly a toaster can’t consent.
The second point seems to be about the exact age of consent. You could try to make the argument that if an 18-year-old can consent, why not a 12-year-old or a 10-year-old.
To which I’d reply; as a society we have to draw a line somewhere. It may be, a 17-year old may have the maturity to consent and a 19-year-old may not. But there’s no practical way of determining whether specific individuals have the maturity or not. So we set an arbitrary age.
We do this for other things. Someone under 18 can’t enter into binding contracts. Someone under 18 can’t write a will. Someone under 21 can’t buy alcoholic beverages. Now surely, some people over 21 abuse alcohol and drive under the influence and cause accidents. And I knew 18-year-olds (when the drinking age was 18) who went to nightclubs and acted like young ladies and gentlemen. But we have to draw a line somewhere. We can’t say no one can drink because there are some people over a certain drinking age who would abuse alcohol. And we can’t say all 16-year-olds should be allowed to drink because some 16-year-olds were taught responsible alcohol use by their families.
So I hope that explains why I believe that the same-sex couple down the street shouldn’t face criminal charges, but the man abusing a 16-year-old should.
That’s exactly the problem with this whole discussion. The framing of “sexual orientation” and sexual attraction into categories accepts the possibility of changing the object of attraction, and therefore different kinds of sexuality. In that case, live and let live, right?
Topics like these show clearly how the irreligious drift away from natural science (which many of them otherwise claim to uphold in some superior way) into their own personal preferences, which is mere subjective psychology. Sexual intercourse is obviously only physically possible between the sexes (literally, intercourse), and impossible with two individuals of the same sex. There is no biological “fact” of either heterosexuality or homosexuality. These are applied descriptions and interpolations of observed behaviour.
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