Mary Arline (queen_of_kithia) wrote,
Mary Arline

Preliminary look at the Catechism

So, here's an interesting observation I have made: there are three sections in the Catechism that talk about homosexuality, 2357, 2358 and 2359, but the only one anyone ever talks about is 2357, i.e. the one that's most condemnatory. I'm not going to quote it; you already know what it says, and if you don't, you can look it up. There's just one thing about this section that I feel is important to point out because a lot of people misrepresent it: it condemns homosexual acts, NOT homosexual inclinations. It only expects people to be exert restraint over their actions, not over their feelings, and while we may disagree with the strict constructionists on exactly which actions are sinful, the general principle is sound and sensible, as well as being much more generous than a lot of other denominations.

2357 is the go-to section both for the strict constructionists in the Church trying to justify their intolerance and by people who criticize the Church from outside. They all quote freely from this section but ignore the section that comes right after it: 2358, i.e. the section that urges compassion and acceptance. It goes a little something like this (with my emphasis):
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.
And it goes on from there; again, you can look it up. It's easy to see why people choose to ignore it. It's pretty darn inconvenient both for the strict constructionists and the outside critics, messing up each respective thesis.

Unfortunately, this section is problematic as well because, while it states outright that gay people are not to be discriminated against, it throws in a weird qualifier: "unjust" discrimination is to be avoided. It's possible that this was done for amplification; this sort of usage is not common in English, but I don't believe the Catechism was originally written in English. Therefore, it may also be a translation idiosyncracy. The unfortunate implication, however, that there's a kind of discrimination that is just. But we know that that is not true because discrimination is unjust by its very definition.

In any case, one line stands without equivocation: "They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity." Not "should," but "must." This isn't enough to undo the damage done by the previous paragraph, but when looking for reconciliation, this is a good place to start. When I began my journey of faith and reconciliation, I took this as my cardinal precept and it served me well; for the first six years of my journey, it was sufficient.

Granted, I was doing some selective reading myself; by contrast, I was ignoring 2357 in favor of 2358. Unfortunately, you can only ignore 2357 up to a point; although, happily, this suggests that there's a point to which you must stop ignoring 2358. But 2357 will always get in the way until you can deconstruct it, and in order to deconstruct it, you have to go back to the Scriptures and put them into context. That is what I plan to do tomorrow.
Tags: church, faith, family, ideas
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