Homosexuality and effeminacy: Roman Catholics vs. Presbyterians...

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The man at the top of the Roman Catholic Church calls himself "Francis," and since he assumed the Papal throne he's done everything possible to show himself a man of the people, a populist. Soon after his election he was questioned about a mafia of gay priests in his castle, the Vatican,1 and he responded, "Who am I to judge?" Perfect pitch among the postmoderns.

Francis's predecessor, Benedict, spoke very differently about lesbianism and sodomy. It wasn't his thing to ingratiate himself and pander to the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah, but rather to love them; to pastor them, calling them to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Prior to being elected Pope and changing his name to Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger was the cardinal presiding over the Vatican's Congregation for the Sacred Doctrine of the Faith. In that capacity he issued the very helpful Christian witness concerning homosexuality...

titled "Letter to the Bishops of the [Roman] Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons," and here are some excerpts:

Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

* * *

Genesis 19:1-11 [is] the story of the men of Sodom. There can be no doubt of the moral judgement made there against homosexual relations. ...in I Cor 6:9, [St. Paul] lists those who behave in a homosexual fashion among those who shall not enter the Kingdom of God.

In Romans 1:18-32, still building on the moral traditions of his forebears, but in the new context of the confrontation between Christianity and the pagan society of his day, Paul uses homosexual behaviour as an example of the blindness which has overcome humankind. Instead of the original harmony between Creator and creatures, the acute distortion of idolatry has led to all kinds of moral excess. Paul is at a loss to find a clearer example of this disharmony than homosexual relations. 

...when [homosexual persons] engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.

* * *

Even when the practice of homosexuality may seriously threaten the lives and well-being of a large number of people, its advocates remain undeterred and refuse to consider the magnitude of the risks involved.

The Church can never be so callous.

* * *

It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. ...But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.

* * *

Just as the Cross was central to the expression of God's redemptive love for us in Jesus, so the conformity of the self-denial of homosexual men and women with the sacrifice of the Lord will constitute for them a source of self-giving which will save them from a way of life which constantly threatens to destroy them.

...we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church's teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church's position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.

Splendid, isn't it?

Sadly, though, Pope Benedict is gone and Pope Frances has replaced him, speaking "Peace, peace, where there is no peace."

Again and again as I read this pastoral letter years ago, and then twice today, I found myself dreaming of years past when Evangelicals (which is to say Protestants) had pastors and bishops and elders capable of such clear Biblical thinking. Who knew, as Ratzinger does, that true love for God and man never abandons souls to their bondage to sin and idolatry, but calls them as Jesus called Lazarus, to rise up and come forth!

Recently, a Presbyterian pastor gave me a copy of another pastoral statement on homosexuality, this one written by the teaching and ruling elders of a certain presbytery of a certain denomination in these United States. Their proposed statement was about the same length as Cardinal Ratzinger's statement, but beyond that, the two pastoral letters had little else in common. Where Rome was clear, the pastors and elders equivocated. Where Rome was perceptive, the pastors and elders seemed slightly dim-witted. Rome loved and cared for the lost with Biblical integrity and compassion while the pastors and elders seemed most intent on apologizing for not loving and caring for the lost allowing them to walk away with a clear conscience while likely still lacking a commitment or plan to start loving and caring for the lost who call themselves "gay."

It reminds me of the tens of thousands of pastors who flew from the wealthy suburbs of Chicago, Denver, and Detroit down to Atlanta where they attended the pastors PromiseKeepers rally which was about nothing much more than racial reconciliation. They were led in prayers of repentance for their racism. They beat their breasts over their insensitivity and white privilege. It was hugely cathartic. Women were not around, so they cried. Lots.

Then they went back home and the cycle repeated itself. Except that now we've moved on from racism to sexism and homophobia.

The most noteworthy thing about this second pastoral statement was the writers' express belief that the homosexuality and effeminacy the Apostle Paul explicitly warned the Corinthians to forsake is not in their congregations today. It's the world's sin but not the church's. It's out there but not in here.

Here are the words the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church as a pastoral exhortation inspired by the Holy Spirit:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [the ESV removes this word from the text of Scripture], nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1Corinthians 6:9,10; NASB95)

Every church has precious souls within their congregation who are tormented to be the effeminate and homosexuals. Sadly though, many pastors and elders can't or won't see them. Within their churches, homosexuals and the effeminate are the sinners still banished to the closet. Yet today, they are the sinners who dare not confess their repentance and faith.

Should not the church love sinners as our Master did?

  • 1. "Bottom line: It's no secret there are gays in the Vatican, and it's reasonable to think officials would be concerned that insiders with a secret to keep might be vulnerable to various kinds of pressure. The issue, in other words, isn't so much their sexuality, but rather the potential for manipulation anytime someone serving the pope is leading a double life." (National Catholic Reporter, June 12, 2013; accessed 12/13/14 at http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/vaticans-gay-lobby-round-two.
Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

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