Sunday, March 18, 2007

Does the Bible Forbid Homosexuality?

The answer to this question is clearly to the affirmative. There has been an effort by many in the liberalized media to attempt to reconcile homosexual actions with Christian beliefs. Such attempts are futile. There is clear evidence in the Bible forbidding homosexuality.

While we study this topic, it is important to remember that our actions should always radiate with charity and compassion. We should not attempt to condemn anyone, but rather to show them through logic and understanding the way of Christ. Homosexuality should be viewed the same way as we view every other sin. It is not sinful to be tempted by this sin or any other. Just as every person experiences different temptations to lust, vengeance, hate, greed, or deceit, some people experience temptations of homosexuality. Now to deliberately place ourselves in the near occasion of sin is sinful in itself. Those who experience the temptation should resist it and in doing so, they conform themselves with Christ’s will.

With charity and compassion, we now seek to understand the various places in scripture that forbid the practice of homosexuality. Consider Leviticus 18:22-30. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination.” In this chapter of Leviticus, we find an explanation, given by God Himself of the 10 Commandments, which He gave to Moses. We see from this verse that homosexuality is strictly forbidden.

In Romans 1:26-27, testimony is given against homosexuality:

“Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.”

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 shows us the gravity of sins such as homosexuality:

“Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

From these passages, we clearly see that homosexuality is forbidden in the Bible, and the gravity of this sin. Let us not be deceived. Relativism and deceit are everywhere and it takes firm resolve to defeat them. When a person claims that immoral actions are not sinful, take up that cause and in charity reveal the truth to them.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Trinity

How is it that such a fundamental concept of our faith as the Trinity is so poorly understood? Most Catholics do not really know the basic concepts of the doctrine of the Trinity. It is of paramount importance to our faith, and must be confidently held by all Catholics. Now the Trinity is indeed a very complicated subject and it is not humanly possible to fully comprehend its dynamics. It is possible, however to describe it in great detail and derive some benefit from this basic understanding. If it were of no importance to our faith, we would not have received this revelation from God.

The Trinity at first attempt is probably the most difficult component of our faith to grasp. There are three persons in one nature. The key here is to reject the mathematical approach that is normally the first route we take in examining this mystery. Three does not equal one, so we immediately can cease trying to make that connection. This excerpt from the classic book Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed helps us understand the idea:

“There is no question of arithmetic involved. We are not saying three persons in one person, or three natures in one nature; we are saying three persons in one nature.” (p. 92)

First let us state clearly our understanding of the Trinity. There are three persons in one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each of them is God, but there is one God, not three. Furthermore, each member of the Trinity is distinct from the other two persons, but not separate from them.

Now that we have a basic statement of the belief, we can begin to analyze it. By nature, we mean the essence of a thing. By person, we mean the entity which possesses the essence. Nature defines the set of actions a thing takes, while person is the thing that carries out the actions. The nature is the origin of our actions, while the person is the actor.

In humans, the nature is fully possessed and acted upon by one person. No other person has our individual nature. Indeed we all share a human nature, that defines actions every person can take, but we all possess an individual nature that differentiates our potentiality from every other person. God however has one infinite nature that is fully possessed and acted upon by the three persons in the Trinity.

We can reason that each member of the Trinity must be distinct, but not separate from the other members because they all share the one nature. If each member was separate, there would in fact be three natures, not one. There can only be one divine nature, since it is infinite in love, power, justice, mercy, and wisdom. If there was more than one divine nature, it would imply that each nature is capable of doing things the other nature could not do. This is a contradiction because to be infinite means to have no limitations.

To restate our description of the Trinity, we begin by admitting that we cannot fully understand all the dynamics of it, but we can describe it. Having asserted that, we do know that there are three persons in one God, three persons, each fully possessing the one diving nature.

For further reading on this subject, the following sources are invaluable:
Theology and Sanity – Frank Sheed
Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Trinity

Saturday, March 3, 2007

The Meaning of Human dignity

In an earlier post, I talked about the incredible amount of confusion that abounds in our world. The most blatant point of confusion is how we define human life. As Catholics, we believe that human life is sacred. It is a gift from God which we must cherish and nurture.

How can we define human life? We define it by its meaning and ends. Human beings are created for love. Our purpose is to know, love and serve God. We derive meaning in our lives by our thoughts and actions, by our interactions with God and others, and by our profoundly varying experiences.

Society has steadily moved toward defining human life by certain physical properties, such as size, age, or capacities. This is indeed a dangerous proposition. We are different from one another. Each of us has properties which make us unique. When we begin to define certain physical properties as the measure of human existence, we tread on a slippery slope.

We see many people attempting to define life by a term known as sentience, which is popularly defined as the ability to feel or perceive. This presents a moral problem, however. Let me demonstrate how this can be nothing other than arbitrary. At what point does a child begin to be sentient? Is it at 22 weeks in the womb? This is the stage at which a child was recently born. What about at 21 weeks? Is it possible that the very same child was able to “feel or perceive” at 21 weeks? How do we know? The answer is we cannot know. Just as every person is different in physical aspects, every child in the womb develops at a different rate.

Consider the fact that when we are sedated with certain drugs, such as for surgery, we lose most if not all of our sentience. We no longer feel pain, and we lose consciousness for a time. Are we less human during those times of sedation? When we sleep, are we less human? As we get older and our ability to perceive declines, are we less human?

As soon as we draw a line and define a certain level of sentience that is acceptable for classification as a human, we have lost the battle. That line can easily be adjusted by the next person who wishes to define an acceptable level of sentience.

The only way we can be assured that we have properly defined human life is by accepting it in all its levels of sentience. We must recognize that whether a person can think, play, work, make a perceptible contribution to society or not, they are still a human as long as God has fused body and soul. Each life has meaning. Some people experience joy, sorrow, anger and every other human thought, perception and emotion. Others are in some way less capable to feel, perceive or express. The only thing that is common to all humans is the gift of a soul, given by God.

How can we begin to comprehend the magnitude of this gift? The Master of the Universe, the all-loving, all-powerful, and all-good God has deemed it necessary that a soul should enter the world, fused with flesh to engage in this profound existence. How can we as mere acts of God’s will, hope to contradict His will and refuse this gift for someone else? This is the statement that is made when a child is aborted, or when an elderly person is “euthanized”. We are telling God that His gift is not sufficient enough, and we no longer desire it.

God does not infuse a body with a soul once the body can feel and perceive at a sufficient level. He gives the soul when the person is created, at the moment of conception. He does not take the soul when the person is no longer able to perceive at a sufficient level. He separates soul from body when he has deemed that person to have reached the completion of their mission.

Consider what happens when life is valued on a physical aspect such as sentience or capacity to contribute to society: nihilism. Death becomes contagious and attractive. We attempt to perfect humanity by purifying it of all defect. Nazi Germany devalued human life and began to kill based on a person’s religion, by their physical ability, by their mental ability. Consider the suffering that ensued. Consider the callous reaction to death. Truly the meaning of human life was lost to many during that time.

The meaning of human life is exclusively found in our relationship with God. It is a private relationship, known only to each person and to God alone. When we have finished our mission and our days on earth are done, we will stand before God. When that moment comes, we will answer for our actions. We will receive eternal reward and unceasing happiness, or we will suffer the bitter desolation of the soul separated from God’s loving mercy.