This is a question many Catholics (including clergy) are asking, and this topic has contributed to the revealing of an obvious divide among the people of the Church (which is different from the Church as the Spotless Bride of Christ [CCC 697]). We owe it to our brothers and sisters in Christ to draw them into a greater depth of understanding on this topic, as with any other. If we don’t, then we allow things to continue as they are, while mindsets become further stagnated, marinated in the slough of this day. Ultimately, this is about mindsets — and the souls to which those mindsets belong.
Start with the Foundations
In order for us to explore in a way that will bear better fruit (in any context), we have to be open to gaining a better sense of what we are talking about. That means that at the very basics, we must be open to growing in our understanding of the language commonly used on this topic, as well as the language used by the Catholic Church. We can think of it this way: if we fail to understand the lyrics to a song, our understanding of the meaning of the song will obviously be impaired. Well, with regard to our Catholic faith, if we are negligent in pursuing an understanding of “the lyrics to the song of the Church,” we will likewise impair our ability to understand the truths upheld by the Church. As a result, we will be in a worse position than we need to be, in terms of making decisions pertaining to morality and our faith lives overall. Likewise, we will be less able to counter the message of Catholics who teach in error.
With that being said, let us break open a few introductory concepts:
- We are all called to grow in the fullness of virtue. This is proposed by the Church, though often errantly interpreted as an imposition of the Church.
- To be open to growing in the fullness of virtue, one must be open to growing in chastity (with chastity being one of many virtues).
- Chastity is not the same thing as abstinence or celibacy. Indeed, there is such a thing as unchaste abstinence and even unchaste celibacy.
- Chastity begins with a choice in the heart to joyfully (not resentfully) strive to successfully integrate one’s sexuality (CCC 2337) — that is, to align oneself and one’s desires with what has been authored into creation (with regard to sexuality). That would include the joyful (not resentful) acknowledgement and acceptance of God’s authorship of our bodies as male or female, and that our physiological complement is a person of the opposite sex.
- The Catechism does not point us toward sin.
- Among other descriptions, sin can also be thought of in terms of rejecting truth (CCC 1849).
- There is a truth written by God into creation.
- Humanity is a subset of creation.
- Sexuality is a facet of humanity.
- Therefore, in order for us to practice chastity, we cannot reject the physiological truths of our sexuality, as written into creation.
Note 1: Chastity doesn’t discriminate — we are all called to practice it. Also, it is worth noting that even though not all examples of the rejection of chastity are to do with same-sex sexual/romantic pursuits or transgender pursuits, all same-sex sexual/romantic pursuits and or transgender pursuits are unchaste — due to the person’s desire to reject what has been authored into creation in terms of oneself and one’s physiological complementarity with a person of the opposite sex.
Note 2: The pre-existing physiological complementarity between people of the opposite sex need not imply that any particular opposite-sex relationship is chaste.
Note 3: To take into account the order of creation as authored by God is not to “reduce sexuality to genital aspects” (which is a common accusation); rather, it is to simply recognize that God’s authorship of humanity in that way is something that cannot be factored out of the conversation. Why? Because how we are physiologically authored (whether we embrace it or not) is still one of the many facets of our sexuality — and continues to exist regardless of our thoughts, desires, inclinations, or particular appetites.
Furthermore, yet again,
- Chastity is a route to joy (and the enemy of resentment).
- Where there is resentment (especially against the Church from Catholics), there is no chastity.
- Where resentment against the Church is evident, be aware of what a person’s interior disposition might likely be with regard to the promotion of chastity (especially if this person is in a teaching position or is otherwise Fa person of influence over your children).
- Though chastity can be rejected amid any type of relational configuration, where there are Catholics exteriorly promoting LGBT ideology (which encourages people to pursue same-sex sexual/romantic relationships and or transgender pursuits), there is a definite rejection of chastity, a definite rejection of the fullness of virtue, a definite rejection of the fullness of holiness, and a definite rejection of the fullness of Christ (regardless of one’s degree of knowledge).
- To be closed to chastity, the fullness of virtue, the fullness of holiness, and the fullness of Christ, is to reject all of these, which is (to some degree) to be anti-chastity, anti-virtue, anti-holiness, and anti-Christ.
It’s not that a person who is closed to chastity is the anti-Christ (even if he seems to be deeply committed to drawing people away from the wisdom of the Church), but rather that the person is clearly influenced by the spirit of deception. Often, I have found that people of this mindset do not believe they are deceived at all and sometimes feel that it is their duty to advance such mindsets within the Church.
Who Is Inviting Us to Grow?
Sadly, I have come to learn that many Catholics actively strive to steer people away from coming to understand chastity and “successful integration” on a deeper level, if at all. In fact, it might be a valuable exercise to see who is or is not open to (or encouraging of) that type of pursuit of deepening understanding. I always find it intriguing that some people are less encouraging than others, while others are outright against the pursuit altogether.
In the meantime, the lack of invitation for people to explore this topic in this sort of depth is ultimately costing souls. I should know: I was one of them. I, like so many others, was sacrificed at the altar of the groupthink-ideology of this day, ushered down into further darkness and despair, while being continuously “nudged” by our culture to take pride in a particular mindset and narrative. But that was before Jesus Christ, as found in the Catholic Church (aided by a spiritual walk with key people), cracked me open to a whole new world of hope and joy and truth. This made me desire for myself, as a result of my own pursuit of deepening self-honesty, to break free of the shackles of the prior “LGBT is who I am” mindset that kept me chained down in the pit of despair that I once was in.
Yes, We Can Sin without Knowing It
With all of that being said, it’s not that those who are closed to chastity are automatically committing mortal sins, for mortal sin takes full knowledge and complete consent (CCC 1859). It is true that people might be “indirectly” closed to chastity without even knowing it, based on their already entrenched patterns of behavior. The problem is that regardless of degree of knowledge (even if it is zero), a rejection of what God has authored is still a sin (because sin is a rejection of truth), and it would be one’s culpability that varies. Furthermore, “[d]eliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin” (CCC 1863). For that reason, even if people don’t know = they are sinning (by countering chastity), we still have an obligation to help them come to understand that. (Exactly how we do that is up for discussion.)
The point is that if we simply “go along” with things (like blessing same-sex couplings — which is different from blessing people) to appease what a person wants to hear (which may further strengthen his resolve to stay on his current trajectory), then we will be complicit to some degree, and we will be held accountable in some way appropriate to God’s infinite mercy and justice. But that is the crux of the issue: people are rejecting the Catechism and so many of us are going along with it, in favor of supporting ideas that are seemingly more comfortable (and demand less abandonment to God).
When push comes to shove, however, there will be implications that will impact not only this life, but the life thereafter. Our negligence will not help others get to Heaven, let alone ourselves.
God bless you all.
Image: www.quotecatalog.com/quotes/inspirational via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.
Hudson Byblow is a Catholic speaker and writer who presents at conferences throughout Canada and the United States. He shares his personal testimony to clergy, schools, and parishes and consults for various Catholic agencies, speakers, and educators. He focuses on his story of overcoming trauma while pursuing greater self-honesty and truth. Today he strives to elevate the conversation through clear language while revealing the joy of living chastely in his newfound freedom in the Lord. His website is www.hudsonbyblow.com.
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