On Homosexuality and Gay Marriage

I’ve said elsewhere, that I was raised Catholic and as such, was given the upbringing that such supposes. Basically, I was raised to believe that everything sexual is sinful. I really believed that growing up and didn’t really question it until I got to college. I looked for a justification for that belief for a long time, but I never did find a truly intellectually satisfying answer. Well, at least not a knock-down flat irrefutable argument that having sex was committing a grievous sin.

That said, with respect to heterosexual sex, I think an argument can be made that sex outside of marriage is less responsible than sex in marriage. But I’d have a hard time calling it evil, unlike abortion. Still, it’s not like this is even considered an issue anymore. Birth control is here, and most people have sex outside of marriage.

Then there’s homosexuality and gay marriage. Call me homophobic, if you like, but the thought of two guys having sex makes me go “ick” (Sorry, it just does). That said, it doesn’t affect me, so I don’t think I should have any say over the matter. There is one slight issue that I’d like to clarify, though: namely, that the homosexual act is an act, and as such it does fall in the category of things that could be labeled right or wrong. Because of this, I understand that being against homosexual acts is different from something like racism. Being black isn’t an “act,” it’s a property, so it doesn’t make sense to condemn it as sinful. Being homosexual implies, or at least, leads to, the homosexual act. And it is the act that the Church regards as sinful. A homosexual man who does not engage in homosexual acts is not committing homosexual sins, according to the Church—and the church has no problem with such a man. As they say, “Love the sinner, not the sin.” Most people in the West agreed with that assessment for thousands of years. It was only recently that views began to change.

As far as gay marriage is concerned, if it were up to me, I’m not entirely sure—so don’t leave it up to me. I’ve gone back and forth over this issue several times. When I was young, I was against it. Later, I was for it. Now, I recognize some of the wisdom of the against position again. Basically, I don’t think it is helping the disintegration of the traditional family. Still, it’s not my life and that’s an entirely intellectual argument and not an emotional one. Emotional arguments seem to be carrying the day, lately. No one wants their gay son or gay friend to be unable to marry the person they love. And I can understand that.

Personally, what I think we should do, is have government get out of the marriage business entirely. No Justice of the Peace. No marriage. As far as the state is concerned, it should only recognize civil unions. We should leave marriage in the hands of the religious organizations where it more rightly belongs. So, if two men or two women want to get married, all they have to do is find a church willing to perform the service. If we don’t do this, or something similar, we run the risk of entering an era of renewed religious persecution. As a Catholic, I can tell you, the Church will never change its position on this. And if you try to cram it down its throat, you will be in the wrong. I heard on the radio that in Idaho, the state is already trying to force a religious organization (a chapel run by two pastors) to marry same-sex couples. That is a violation of the constitution and freedom of religion. We don’t want to go down that path; we have to change course before it is too late.

One last point, a number of states have amended their constitutions to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Consistently, the courts have over-ruled this. Personally, I think that is an affront to the democratic process. I agree with Mark Levin: the courts don’t have the right to just throw out the will of the people. That is the beginnings of tyranny. And with Idaho, perhaps Tyranny is already here.

For more on the Idaho situation: click here.

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The Right to Food

In one of my earlier blog posts, one of the commenters suggested that the poor have the right to food. At the time, I did not argue against him. However, upon further reflection, I have changed my mind, or rather, elucidated an alternative position which I was not prepared to defend before.
Does a poor man have the right to food? A similar question can be asked about healthcare. Does a poor man have the right to healthcare? The answer to both these questions is no. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll deal only with the right to food as the right to healthcare is subject to the same argument.
To be sure, a civilized society can make food a right, if they choose. However, since the food produced is a product of another individual’s labor, a separate individual has no natural claim upon that product of labor. By making food a right the society in question will be forced to force someone to produce that food. What of that individual? Do they not have rights? What if they want to be a dancer, and not work on the farm? We need people on the farm. You must work on the farm. Essentially, the society in question must enslave (or at the very least, reduce to serfdom) the individual to produce the food for the consumption of the beneficiary. It may not be apparent at first, but sooner or later, this forced compassion leads to slavery.
Is it a good thing to feed the poor? Of course it is. But the hungry do not have the right to demand that you feed them without compensation. If you give them that right and enforce such with government, you incentivize not-working. Another way to look at this is by reversing the question. Can you arrest a man for refusing to feed a hungry individual? No. He might be poor himself, or perhaps just stingy. You can’t imprison somebody for being a jerk. Feeding the hungry should come from the heart of an individual one individual at a time. Alms should be freely given, not coercively taken. Anything else will end badly.
And now, I’m sure, everyone will jump down my throat.

Prayer

Perhaps I’ve mentioned this before, perhaps not, but I’m Catholic (well, I was raised Catholic, anyway). I’m not as well-versed in the faith of the Catholic Church as I’d like to be, and I’m certainly not an expert on prayer. But today, I’m going to talk about prayer, pretending that I have something important to say.

First off, in the Catholic religion, there are a lot of prayers. We are awash in them. There’s the ‘Our Father,’ the ‘Hail Mary,’ the ‘Glory Be,’ the ‘Act of Contrition,’ and more. There are prayers dedicated to saints; and prayers dedicated to angels. I don’t know most of them. I am most familiar with the above four, as they are the four essential prayers to the Rosary as well as the various Mysteries (which I couldn’t recall if you paid me). Anyway, I’m sort-of of the mind that the only prayer we really need is the ‘Our Father.’ After all, that’s pretty much the only prayer given to us by Jesus Christ himself. And it pretty much covers everything anyway. For those unfamiliar with it, here it is:

 

Our Father, Who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done.
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil. Amen.

 

There it is in all its glory. The only prayer I know that Jesus Christ gave to us directly. It asks the Father for world peace (and more), daily sustenance, forgiveness, and clear paths. What more do you need? Like I said, the Catholic Church is awash in other prayers, almost as if to give their priests something to do. When you read religious texts, there’s a different prayer on every page. But I don’t want to beat up on Catholics over their enthusiasm for prayer.

Anyway, back to the subject of prayer in general. How do you pray? I generally pray by rote. Strict memorization. I whip off a few Our Fathers, Hail Marys (what is the plural of Mary?), Glory Bes (or Be), and Acts of Contrition. That’s probably not the best way to do it, but I’m really just getting back into the practice. I’ve also started to just talk to God; I used to do that when I was younger, and now I’m trying to get back in the practice. And by the way, He’s only talked back once. I’ve also, inspired by something Glen Beck said, started praying for ridiculous things. Things only God can accomplish or things we need God to accomplish. Like peace in the Middle East or eased tensions with Russia. It can’t hurt.

One comment I want to make concerns prayers to other entities besides God. For example, some people pray to St. Anthony when they’ve lost a keepsake. I’ve tried that a few times, and it seemed to have worked, although that’s not something you can really prove. Anyway, some people think this is idolatry. That you are worshipping St. Anthony instead of God. However, I’d like to point out that no one who prays to St. Anthony is confusing St. Anthony with God. They are asking St. Anthony for a favor. That’s it. They aren’t engaged in out and out worship. It’s more like a long distance phone call to a friend. Besides, I’m kind of the mind that the real God wants love, not worship, anyway. But who am I to say?

Anyway, what is the point of prayer? To get stuff? Well, maybe if you’re praying to St. Anthony it is, but generally no. The point of prayer is to draw closer to God. You’re supposed to work on your relationship with God; on your end, of course. I’m not sure I fully understand what that means, but there it is. That’s the actual point of prayer.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

On Martyrdom

I recently read a book entitled Jesuit Saints and Martyrs (copyright 1984) by Joseph N. Tylenda S. J. It was a long book considering the subject matter; I mean, how many times can you read of a disembowelment or something equally horrific before it becomes routine? Anyway, I’m not going to review the book. I’ll just say, reading it has instilled in me certain thoughts and inclined me to ponder martyrdom in the Catholic Church in a general sort of way. My first observation is that the Catholic Church has a long string of martyrs. The book I read was some four hundred pages long, and I think about three hundred of those pages, if not more, were devoted to martyrs. And it was just Jesuit martyrs. Realizing that the Jesuits have only been around for a handful hundred years and that they are but one religious order of many in the whole Catholic Church, was a very humbling and enlightening experience. It made the plenitude of martyrs more real to me. So, I’m going to comment on some of the things I noticed.

The first thing that struck me as I read the book was just how horrifically these people were treated. Reading about slow burning, peeling flesh, the removal of fingernails, etc… was another thing that made the reality of martyrdom more concrete. After only a few such examples, it was obvious that the martyrs were very strong men although the religious will probably say that they were only as strong as the indwelling Holy Spirit made them. All that said, I think some of them could have and should have been saved.

Basically, I made another observation as I read the book: many of these individuals went out of their way to become martyrs. Sometimes they were given a choice between being a martyr and some other action. Sometimes this other action was against their religion and martyrdom was the only real choice. Other times, though, the other action did not impinge upon their beliefs and it seemed to me that they were giving away their lives too easily. They could have continued their service, but chose not to.

I don’t think Jesus would want an individual to walk willingly to their own death unless it was necessary. Was martyrdom necessary? Perhaps it won converts. If so, one could measure the success of a martyr by the converts he won. Perhaps it serves to show the strength of religious conviction. Whatever the case, I am grateful I’ve grown up in the west and more specifically the United States. It’s nice having freedom of religion built into the government.

Anyway, those were my few brief thoughts on martyrdom.