Double Standards

It is quite astounding. Young Fogey for some time has been pushing for Roman Catholicism. I thought he was quite ultramontanist in his ideas, constantly going on about the necessity of an “infallible authority”. Well, he seems a pleasant person with lots of interests and eccentricities like his love for classical automobiles and other artefacts of the “old days” from hats to razors to what gentlemen used to put in their hair to make it shine. They say – whatever floats your boat, and I have my own interests and eccentricities, including boats that float!

We can’t always be totally coherent in our thinking, balancing our beliefs with pragmatic considerations. It’s no use believing in something that has absolutely no practical application. One is brought to think of Tantalus and the water that is so near yet so far, giving rise to the English word tantalize.

My attention was brought to the following opinion by the fact it links to one of my articles.

Fr C on low-church Pope Francis. Again, if he just leaves us alone I’ll be fine. If not, if Francis turns out to be Paul VII, laymen have several options: go back to hunkering down at the lowest Sunday Novus, as for the past 40 years; Greek Catholic; or the SSPX or other irregular trads, as long as they’re not a separate church in principle. We will have the Mass. I know: what about sacraments that depend on jurisdiction? State of emergency in the church: if the local putative Catholics are really liberal Protestants, you do what you have to. Archbishop Lefebvre’s eternal Rome, not local usurpers.

Though this person speaks of the absolute necessity of being a Roman Catholic, the approach is the fairly classical theory of the traditionalists, almost a form of dissimulated conciliar Catholicism. The authority is no longer the Pope but the notion of Tradition and the consent of the body of the Church, even if an Ecumenical Council is not involved. This was precisely the disputed point between Paul VI and Archbishop Lefebvre. For Paul VI, the Pope is the living Magisterium. For Archbishop Lefebvre, the Tradition limits the use of Papal authority. This second position would certainly make sense to me, but many conservatives place the authority of the Pope as an absolute.

I simply go through a few phrases of this quote.

Again, if he just leaves us alone I’ll be fine.

This is exactly the spirit of Gallicanism or Germanic conciliarism. The Pope is a symbol of the Church’s unity, but of the bene esse of the Church, not the esse. It is also the attitude of Germanic progressives today – one can’t have one’s cake and eat it!

If not, if Francis turns out to be Paul VII, laymen have several options: go back to hunkering down at the lowest Sunday Novus, as for the past 40 years; Greek Catholic; or the SSPX or other irregular trads, as long as they’re not a separate church in principle.

I admire the courage of those who have persevered over the years. We do have to remember that far more have abandoned any practice of Catholicism. It is a frequent assumption that the numbers plummeted because of the liturgical changes. This is unlikely because even officially approved Tridentine masses remain very marginal. I won’t speculate about the causes, but the traditionalist theories are too simplistic. So, the distinction between Catholic and schismatic is not being a “separate church in principle”. This gives justification to more serious ecclesial aberrations like priests operating without episcopal oversight or becoming episcopi vagantes under some pretext of “epikeia” or “emergency” canonical situation. Quite frankly, the constitution of Continuing Anglican Churches is more healthy in ecclesiological terms than this kind of brain-twisting.

Indeed, there is the problem of Sacraments depending on Ordinary Jurisdiction – marriage and penance-absolution. Who is to be the judge of a genuine canonical “emergency” or a priest flouting Church discipline and following his own fancy? That is unless they are going to be a Church with only five Sacraments, and less than that if they have no bishops.

Perhaps our friend could come to the conclusion that it was sunny weather yesterday but raining today. Continuing Anglicanism is far from perfect, and human error makes life difficult – but we are a Church of all weathers!

Indeed, conciliar ecclesiology makes more sense…

Update – YF answers me on his blog:

Tuesday, continued: answering Fr C’s questions

Fr C writes here on this. When I met him online years ago he was a trad but not in a usual militant trad mold; simpático with me in some ways. We have less in common now he’s joined Continuing Anglicanism but his criticisms of things and people in the Catholic Church, including the trad movement, sometimes are right.

  • Infallible authority doesn’t necessarily mean ultramontanist. Roman Catholic doesn’t either. The last Pope, for example, wasn’t ultamontanist and never was. In a way his abdicating teaches a lesson he’s taught all his life as a professor and priest about the limits of the papacy (the man’s fallible; the office ex cathedra not). I understand Vatican I actually put the brakes on ultramontanist opinion by clarifying what papal infallibility is not. All more or less Catholic groups believe in a kind of church infallibility: the Eastern churches for example, and I think the Union of Scranton believes something like high Anglicans about the consensus of pre-‘Reformation’ churches’ belief, expressed as the Vincentian canon, being the source of doctrine. Catholicism believes the Pope’s a subset of church infallibility; an essential part of the church, but only part of the church. Tradition’s guardian, who can’t change doctrine.

  • Trads do have a lot in common with old Western conciliarists such as the Gallicans and old Germans, and with the East in this regard: papal minimalism, or the traditional Catholic religion largely runs itself.

  • Today’s German progressives, like mainline Protestants, want to change doctrine to fit secularist culture; we don’t, and can’t anyway. Even the Pope can’t.

  • No to going to priests operating without episcopal oversight, unless there really is no other option (exactly what the church teaches). Being under a bishop is Catholicism 101 right out of patristics.

  • Continuing Anglicanism’s not an option, because while ’50s-high-Episcopal-style churchmen like Fr J. Gordon Anderson are great, very close to us, I’m afraid they’re wrong about classical Anglicanism; it’s not Catholic.

Just a couple of words from me. He is right to make the vital distinction between those motivated by fidelity to Tradition and progressives who fit in with modern culture and political correctness. As for Continuing Anglicanism not being an option, I have myself discussed the problems of basing everything on a Reformation “default”, something that does create a big difficulty between, for example, the Anglican Catholic Church and, for example, the school of men like Rev. Peter Toon.

If Anglicanism is “English Gallicanism” or “English Conciliarism” that would solve many contradictions, but I can only speak for myself, not for others. Some problems between those claiming to be Roman Catholics, traditionalist or otherwise, are as serious as if not more serious than between “old high-church” Anglicans and Anglo-Catholics.

Perhaps I was a little “binary” in my criticism of YF, but he can also be very binary in his writings. We both need to be subtle and nuanced.

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29 Responses to Double Standards

  1. Father Gregory says:

    I met the Young Fogey a number of years ago after Mass at St. Clement’s Philadelphia. A group of friends (me included) went from Seminary (New York) to see what Anglo Catholic looked like (all of us except one) were Orthodox and had no clue. The Young Fogey, if I remember correctly was attending an Orthodox Church at the time. He is indeed a very pleasant, intelligent man. It was nice to have met him and to get a feeling for the person behind the blog.

    Gregory +

    • He has always been very good with me in correspondence. If I allow myself to “prod” him a little, it is not ad hominem but purely on what he writes. As his ecclesiology is clearly “conciliar” placing Tradition above authority (when the two clash), we find ourselves in agreement.

  2. Stephen K says:

    Well, I read some interesting posts after following your link to YF, and I came across what I believe cannot help but surface in discussions about the ‘true church’ – namely, the distinction between ‘Christians’ and ‘Catholics’ (or, name your denomination). Read what YF said in response to a reader:

    “Catholicism believes in an attenuated branch theory that keeps the church’s claim to the only true one: the criterion for inclusion seems to be valid orders (real bishops). There seem to be three requirements for that: creedal orthodoxy……., an unbroken claim to apostolic succession, and uninterrupted true teaching about the nature of the Eucharist……. If you have all that, you’re a church. If you don’t, if you’re Protestants, then you’re not a church; you’re a group of Christians (‘ecclesial community’ in polite Vaticanspeak, meaning ‘not a church’).”

    ‘Nuff said! YF’s summary seems to be effectively, if unintentionally, articulating where true church claims cul-de-sac ends: not merely a distinction of flavour between a follower of Christ (who is not a Catholic or whatever) and a Catholic (or whatever) but an essential difference. It effectively comes down to this: if you’re not a totally conforming (consciously or unconsciously doesn’t seem to matter) believer in every official Catholic proposition and you do not attend liturgy or receive sacramentally from an approved priest serving an approved bishop and your denomination has taught the same thing about the Eucharist from the time of the first Eucharist (would that be around May-June 33?) then you’re not a Catholic etc which means, at heart you are not a REAL Christian.

    Or perhaps I mean a round-about: because once you start slicing off Christians for not being ‘real’ or ‘full’ or ‘authentic’ etc, like the man in the delicatessen store, you end up with a smaller and smaller salami. Alarmingly, the other destination of this sort of claim is to effectively say that a ‘Christian’ is not as good as a ‘Catholic etc.’ That some people end up not only saying such things but actually thinking them is undeniable in my opinion.

    YF was talking directly about ‘churches’ not people, but to my way of thinking, you cannot impugn the churches people make up (the people as a collective) without impugning the people as individuals, eventually.

    I just don’t think it makes sense to ever conflate one jurisdictional entity with what is a mysterious concept – the ekklēsia of humble and contrite hearts. Gal. 3:26-28

    • Stephen K says:

      I hope readers will forgive my mix and mash of metaphors and scripture!

    • If we were to take all this stuff literally, I could really have fun (with a pair of devil horns and red make-up on my face) construct an argument to deny the validity of Novus Ordo ordinations and episcopal consecrations using Apostolicae Curae. Then I could use the arguments of Cyprianic theology to deny the validity of all independent traditionalist groups as not having the “power of jurisdiction” Then deny Orthodox Sacraments from a Roman Catholic point of view and vice versa – the two “true churches” thus cancel each other out. Then the Old Catholics ordain women, and that scrubs them out too. No valid Sacraments anywhere! Oh dear!

      Clearly, the sacramental life of the Church depends on something deeper than the “integrity” of rite or complete hierarchical compliance.

      Another thing to consider is that computers and the internet attract people with Aspergers Syndrome, a degree on the autistic spectrum that predisposes affected persons to be brilliant in an extremely narrow aspect of life and think in very “binary” terms in other aspects. The stereotype is the “geek” whose intellectual functions are extremely compatible with computers and sometimes forgets how real life works. I’m not judging YF who openly writes about having this condition, which I am sure causes him suffering, but this does come into it. I know others who also bash away on their keyboards and show a highly “schematic” notion of the Church that tends to neglect the mystical and sacramental dimension.

      So we have to relativise these reflections and help them to work at compensating for their handicaps and living much more normally. Asperger’s Syndrome can’t be “cured”, but a person can learn to live with it by “compensating” and live a very normal life. One thing is to work on one’s capacity for empathy and considering people and not only “systems” and “machines”.

      This blog is a function of a machine and an electronic communication system (the Internet), but we who bash away on our keyboards are humans, and that’s easy to forget when looking at a screen and “printed” writing. Perhaps a part of my blog ministry is to remind people of this human fact. Men run machines and not the other way round like in The Terminator!

      • StephenUSA says:

        Well Asperges Me!

        A poor pun, sorry, couldn’t help it.

        One has to think that these sort of debates have gone on since time immemorial in the Church. But our ancestors approached it all with great caution and circumspect, for to declare oneself – or to be declared – outside the Church was recognized perhaps more easily back then by one and all for its gravity. I always loved the phrasing of Church councils that spoke to this caution by using the negative affirmation, the anathema. They knew that it was within the Power of the Church via the Spirit to say what was NOT a part of revelation, but were far, far more hesitant to declare what was most definitely within. “We will put a fence around that which is so disruptive to the tradition and life of the Church as to merit the fence, to protect the Body from the virus that it is; but the rest will remain free to roam in the Garden, with only a few defined, the bulk undefined.” So one could tolerate uniqueness, and local variation, from the devotions of the Sacred Heart so foreign to the East, for example, or the considerations of the evil eye or toll-houses uncommon in the West.

        Our ancestors exercised deep humility; in contrast, our generation seems able to only engage in deep hubris. I chalk it up in large measure to the super-abundance for so many, and the complete lack of asceticism/fasting and ignorance of the interior life.

      • … our generation seems able to only engage in deep hubris. I chalk it up in large measure to the super-abundance for so many, and the complete lack of asceticism/fasting and ignorance of the interior life.

        Do you include yourself in this category, or are you above such mundane things? Perhaps your house has been foreclosed and you have no credit – then you are really out of the “super-abundant” category. If you have no money, you are sure to fast really well.

        Otherwise this kind of moralising is just, to use an expression of an English judge on summing up when a paedophile bishop was found guilty at the Old Bailey in the 1990’s – sanctimonious cant.

        An explanation of your current status would be welcome (be careful what you say since you are moderated).

      • ed pacht says:

        … our generation seems able to only engage in deep hubris. I chalk it up in large measure to the super-abundance for so many, and the complete lack of asceticism/fasting and ignorance of the interior life.

        Actually, I think this is a fair assessment of our generation, as well as a challenge to each one of us. Even classic capitalism (a la Adam Smith) posited enlightened self interest as the economic driver. Here in the USA (U can’t speak for other places) I am constantly hearing philosophical expressions justifying a naked self-interest and disparaging altruism, and more often from professed, and even enthusiastic Christians than from others. Excess and wastefulness are so very often glorified. Fasting is generally more an attitude than a heroic asceticism, an intentional letting go of the material, at least to the extent of willingly doing without some of what one wants.. I see the converse in myself, and, though I am far from a heroic faster, I do often find it necessary to say NO when I don’t want to, for the good of soul and spirit. How many do so? How many are even aware that there is an interior life to be pursued?

      • I would agree with you, but it depends on who’s making the criticism. For example some of the most fervent Socialists here in France have been caught in big-time tax fraud – not little sums but millions!

  3. So YF is now RC, eh? I wonder if he’s moved off his ancap libertarianism and is now beginning to take RC social teaching seriously.

  4. James Morgan says:

    I have lately been reading Fr. Martin Thornton’s “English Spirituality”. I kind of grew up in that kind of milieu, at St Mary of the Angles, Hollywood CA in the late 50s. I think that kind of approach to a spiritual and ascetic life is about gone, gone, gone, except perhaps in a few stratispheric places. What do most Christians, let alone ‘catholics’ of whatever ilk, do regarding an ascetic life? Even the RCs have done away with fasting for the most part. Only the Easterners give it a pause now. But they say the Devil fasts all the time, he just doesn’t pray, and give alms, so perhaps two out of three ain’t so bad…

  5. StephenUSA says:

    I would dare say that the poorest of the poor in our day is more than a few notches above those in that category in previous generations; but fussing and tut-tutting about cant, sanctimonious or otherwise, is to let the anecdotal serve as a diversion from the mean. And only those who have never really starved can imagine any nobility in it, nor can they understand the focus of those who have been there to never return.

    The point is yours – where is the Church, where is Christ? How does one know, how does one develop the capacity to know Christ and His Church? That is where fasting comes in.

    • You’re improving.

      How does one know, how does one develop the capacity to know Christ and His Church? Normally by prayer and fasting, or the experience of the meaninglessness of life. Or perhaps by listening to the sales patter of new converts to their “true church”.

      I fussed and tut-tutted about you, though I don’t know anything about you other than that you live in the USA (or at least operate your computer from there). There is always something obscene about rich people moralising to the poor, but perhaps you are poor. I don’t make such remarks myself because I don’t consider myself a good Christian but a sinner, and I believe in someone practising asceticism in secret as Christ in the Gospel exhorted us to do – “go into your room, close the door”, etc.

      If anyone wants to become Orthodox or Roman Catholic, or Anglican or whatever, they don’t tell me or you that they should. If we are happy with our own choices, we don’t need others to be forced to justify them.

      • ed pacht says:

        You know, if I could only preach what I have attained, I’d have precious little to say. I’m a sinner, deserving nothing good, but called from the Cross to receive what I have not earned. I most certainly can point out the flaws of others, PROVIDED that I remember, when pointing, that three of my fingers point back at myself. Like Paul, I know myself to be chief among sinners, but, like him, I have a message for “them” and for myself. It’s not for me to judge, but to call myself and all the others to repentance and to grace.

      • Stephen K says:

        That’s how I feel, ed.

      • Michael Frost says:

        ed, I agree; however, I do think we have to be discerning about the state of Christendom around the world. There are at least two groups (though we know there are really a lot more). The first try to take the Gospel seriously as they know it, and they know there is Goodness, Beauty, and Truth as seen from God’s perspective, not ours. So whether that is EO, RC, PNCC, CA, LCMS, etc., they try to worship God respectfully and realizing their own sinfulness. Yet the second wants to use the church to curry favor and fit in with the culture. These destroy both church and culture. We see it in the wreckage of those formerly Christian groups that now either tolerate or promote evil as good. And between the two groups there really can be no dialog. The second are to be avoided for to work with them is to court disaster. Guess it goes way, way back. To the Didache and earlier. The light and the darkness.

      • Stephen K says:

        I’m afraid I can’t agree with your binary characterisation, Michael. The way you have expressed it puts all virtue (or all vice) in one “group” not the other.

        We are all, even Jesus, accustomed to talking in terms of light and darkness, good and evil, goats and sheep. It creeps in to our discourse when we are trying to say something we think is the moral character of a particular act or acts. It’s always from our own point of view. We can make claims about the intrinsic morality of different acts or concepts of acts all we like (e.g. murder) but in the end we have to determine forensically and taking into account all substantiated facts whether x or y in this case was such an act. Similarly we might be inclined to say that reconstructions of liturgy or changing doctrines are “destroying the church” but in the realm of faith where seven days is 4 billion years, and the days of Man are like the twinkling of an eye, nothing can be so certain.

        I would not agree that it is fair or accurate to describe or imply that non-traditionalists or liberals “want to use the church to curry favour and fit in with the culture”. Rather I think many of them sincerely think that the church needs to change to serve the demands of truth or justice or charity etc, no differently to the traditionalists or conservatives whom you have said “try to worship respectfully” etc.

        I think this way of looking at the challenge of Christian life, and the concept of Church, misleads us into a ‘them-and-us” mentality which is antithetical to understanding what we each personally must do to show and do to bring about the kingdom. We have to come to terms with loving the un-loveable (in our eyes); if none of us are sinless, we dare not pick up stones. Many of us generally shrink from embracing the physically leprous, unlike St Francis or Jesus – yet even more, since Jesus was concerned for the spiritually leprous, we shrink or demonise those with whom we disagree. This is the natural way!

        But I think the way forward is to first realise that it is not the Christian way. I don’t say this from a point of view of mastery: I am a blackened pot. And there is nothing to prevent us from working or seeking to persuade to a particular vision; indeed, we are obliged to answer to the truth we each see – for truth’s sake – as we try to do here in this blog. But I do not think any of us can say we see the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

        The reconciliation of what I think is the Gospel challenge with prudential and principled engagement and assertion in the practical political, social, economic arena where one policy rather than another can have disastrous effects or another can bring greater benefits, and where we have to work out solutions promoting peace, freedoms, justice etc is a very difficult and life-long task, at the same time that it is an imperative. So I do not argue that we cannot disagree (we will and must), nor argue strongly for our value; I simply argue that we cannot be black-and-white about motives and character in the collective, or exclusively align virtue or vice with party memberships.

      • Michael Frost says:

        I’m talking about clear moral evil. These aren’t gray areas. Groups that promote homosexuality as a valid lifestyle choice. Or are pro-abortion. Tolerant on euthanasia. Open to human cloning. When you start advocating immorality as a church, Paul’s words ring loud and clear today like they did then. Some things cannot be compromised. Not then, not now. So I”m not talking about viewpoints on the real presence or apostolic succession or vestments or whether you need an epiclesis or whether Tobit is in the OT canon.

        Sadly, the number of groups willing formally, officially, and publicly to fight the good fight on clear moral issues seems to decline each day. Take prominent evangelicals who don’t want to alienate anyone or try to appease everyeone. But what did Christ say about the luke warm?

      • Stephen K says:

        Michael, you’re demonstrating how easy it is for us to mischaracterise people, not ideas. No doubt there are those who market homosexuality as a choice; but my understanding is that the demands for same-sex marriage or for acceptance and such things are demands for justice because homosexuality is not a choice, anymore than one’s race or parentage.

        Similarly, no doubt there are some who think abortion should be compulsory and hence, properly speaking, “pro-abortion”, but my perception is that the “pro-choice” lobby generally argues that women and medical practitioners should not be penalised for having abortions and wish to preserve laws that protect their ability to have one within those laws; moreover, my understanding is that those Christians who support the permissive laws do so because they disagree about the moral equivalence of abortions and murder, argued by their opponents; if they are ‘pro-abortion’ it is in that sense and context. There may be flaws in their reasoning but their desire to alleviate women’s situations where giving birth leads to various personal and social hardships if not deaths cannot in itself be faulted. In the nature of things, men are still going to make demands of women, inside and outside of formal marriage etc. The spectre of backyard abortions, penury, prejudice etc cannot be simply ignored. If there is a cogent and coherent argument to criminalise all abortions, it must be argued better than it has been.

        Euthanasia – the ‘good death’ in Greek – is yet another moral minefield where what I am saying is that irrespective of your own position about the problem, one has to be cautious about casting out as evil those who hold the different position, or all of them.

        You see, one of the problems about seeing ideas or values as belonging to “the world” (as opposed to say, ‘the Church’) is that it blurs responsibility and is unreal. Without wishing to embrace a kind of Berkeleyan idealism too far, I still think it’s salutary to think there would be no values if there were no humans. The ‘world’ is in many senses of the term a concoction of our own making, both individually and collectively. Real individuals make up both world and church and in fact at many points they are indistinguishable. The widespreadedness of particular ideas at any time is a testament, not necessarily to the final or complete truth of them but to the force or cogency of them. To me, that means we cannot stamp our feet at them but must pause to reflect on why this is so and what must be understood better about them and the position we may already have taken.

        It is not a question of compromise, if that stands for changing one’s belief out of unwillingness to engage or persuade others. There is such a thing as conscientiousness. Rather it is a question of recognising that we just might be wrong, or rather, not completely right. And it is certainly a question of reminding ourselves over and over again, that we have no standing, even if we happen to perceive a particular truth or set of truths, to conclude that everyone else is evil (even though we habitually do so).

      • Stephen K says:

        I should add, for the avoidance of doubt, that I think the juxtaposition of the homosexuality controversy with abortion and euthanasia questions is unhappy and misleading: I think the first is of a substantially different category from the other two from several angles and that it is unjust to speak of them as if they were the same, with the same kinds of considerations. It may be easier to adopt an absolute position regarding the latter two; I have not yet seen a completely satisfactory argument to justify one regarding the first.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Stephen K, I’m writing as a confessing, believing Christian who uses the OT & NT as a foundation for dogmatic belief in areas of faith and morals, and relies on the traditional understanding of Christendom. There is nothing gray/grey about homosexuality in scripture. As crystal clear as it gets. Same for murder (suicide, abortion & euthanasia). We don’t get to play God or go against His expressed moral law. Human cloning is an attempt to play God. These are moral evils. They cannot be justified. And any church that justifies them is engaged in moral evil. Guess you can blame God for bi-furcating behavior into sinful and not sinful? Anything sinful is not to be promoted or accepted or praised or overlooked.

    • ed pacht says:

      However, Michael, there are two very sizable groups as well: those who hold truth in an unrighteous attitude, in harsh judgmentalism and condemnation, thereby ignoring the Beatitudes and the fruit of the Spirit, and embracing large parts of the works of the flesh (are these any more worthy of fellowship than the outright heretics?); and those who have accepted many errors but are willing to reach out and perhaps to be changed (and can we refuse fellowship with them?). Who of us are qualified to make these distinctions?

      I think we need to tread very carefully indeed, lest we proclaim truth, and even work miracles, and yet find at the last that He never knew us. It’s just not simple.

      • StephenUSA says:

        Stephen K, if you do not know it then you should – there is no scientific, medical or any such evidence to support the claim that being homosexual is the same as the color of your skin. You may have anecdotal things to support this position, but it is urban legend to speak of humans as having some genetic component to being gay. It just ain’t there.

      • ed pacht says:

        Stephen USA, neither is there any scientific, medical, or any such evidence that there is no genetic component to being gay – none. Scientifically the origin of homosexual attraction remains an open question. Where do desires come from? Are all desires equally good?

        Stephen K raises a vital point in saying, ” I still think it’s salutary to think there would be no values if there were no humans,” but, I think, loses his way in applying the thought. Animals, it would appear, do not make moral choices as do humans, and therefore do not sin. Humans, however, were made in the image of God, with free will, and with the obligation to make free choices in accord with God’s expressed mortal principles. The desire to do otherwise is clearly labeled in Scripture as “temptation”.

        Temptation is not sin – Jesus was tempted but did not sin. Do we want what we should not have? Of course we do. This is true in economic matters, in sexual matters, and in every other part of life. What married man does not find himself attracted to a woman other than his wife? What teenage straight boy is not attracted to the girls around him? Is it therefore right to go ahead and have sex with anyone to whom one is attracted? If so, it is also right to take whatever of another’s goods one may desire.

        Morality is not, in a Christian view, something humans have invented to serve merely temporary aims. but is the expressed will of God. We have questions as to where certain desires originate and why they exist, but Scripture and Tradition are extremely clear as to what constitutes moral sexual practice.

        Why is it that I find myself attracted to my own sex? I have no idea, nor do I really need to know. Are there good and moral uses God may make of such an inclination? I believe that there are. Does that therefore make actual sexual relations between those of the same sex acceptable? Whether I want to think that or not, it is simple fact that Scripture is very definite in the matter. Therefore I am called to be celibate However, there is no license for any Christian to judge another on the basis of which temptations he is subject to.

      • Michael Frost says:

        ed, Very well said.

        As regards your thought–“Scientifically the origin of homosexual attraction remains an open question. Where do desires come from? Are all desires equally good?”–from a theological standpoint, the origin of all sin, no matter how big or small, results not from God but from the falls of angels and men. And the impact of those falls on physical man was unfortunately for us both extremely terrible and reverberates until the resurrected, ascended Lord returns in all his glory.

        Since this is a religious blog based on Christianity and Christendom, Christ and his Gospel must be our foundation. I know I’m NOT talking about these issues from a scientific, legal, or political basis. We trust in the Gospel and in Christ to save us from our sins. There is no other person, place, or idea upon which to build.

      • Stephen K says:

        There are different things being said here and all of them are attempts to express truth and present faith and convictions. I won’t add to the exchange further other than to make clear two things: (1) in saying that values are human things, I don’t wish it to be thought that I think they are either meaningless or equally good or bad: after all, then they wouldn’t be “values”. Actually I was saying, to be precise, that I thought it salutary (i.e. beneficial) to think of values as human things, because I thought that it might make us less ready to be sure of the completeness of our own “truth” or faith etc, and thus improve the character of much of our human relations. I did not intend to make an absolute epistemological claim that would invalidate or diminish the worth or truth of particular values; (2) in saying that I thought many pushing for same sex marriage and related issues did so because they thought that, having no choice, it was a matter of justice, not life-style choice, I was not asserting independently any claim as to whether homosexuality itself was a choice or not, but rather, pointing to the validity or sincerity of such a motive (to achieve justice) on the part of those supporting such a proposition. Thus my point was that, however we might regard the good or bad character of this or any other issue, or action, we have to be more circumspect about how we regard – and talk about – the good or bad character of the people. However, these clarifications/distinctions aside, I say no more on the matter.

  6. Patricius says:

    I take the words of St Paul very seriously when he says ”I would not that ye have fellowship with devils.”

    • ed pacht says:

      And yet Jesus was scornfully called “friend of sinners” and had fellowship with those the religious held in scorn. He calls not the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Our job is not to judge but to submit to His judgment, and to accept and share His mercy.

      • Michael Frost says:

        ed, Think the key in what you wrote is: He calls sinners to repentence. So it is important for all of us to know both what is sin (God’s determination) and what is repentence. The problem in our post-modern, secular, materialistic world is first that we’ve chosen to ignore what is sin and then decided we no longer need to repent. But, of course, that makes sense as if there is no sin, why would there be any repentence? So instead of sin we get evolutionary science and modern psychiatry/psychology that tries to explain everything as issues in brain chemistry, upbringing, genetics, or environment, or any combination of same.

        Now you’ve got me thinking of Melanchthon’s 3 uses of the law and the Reformational views on Law and Gospel. But knowledge of both is critical. And sadly knowledge of both is so sorely lacking in so many of our churches and pews?

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