Tuesday, October 20, 2015

JUST WHAT'S WRONG WITH BEING INTRINSICALLY DISORDERED? AREN'T WE ALL? ISN'T THAT WHY WE NEED SALVATION?????

John Allen has a good article in CRUX this morning (which you can read there) featuring "rockem, sockem robots" which I got as a Christmas present and yes, they can knock their blocks off! I loved mine!!!! What a great Christmas that was!  But the question turns to language the Church uses to describe the human need for salvation and that some of it might not be very helpful. I don't know, shouldn't we rehabilitate the language rather than change it?

The Church uses the term intrinsically disordered for same sex attractions and actions. Archbishop Charles Chaput says “It means that same-sex attraction is not part of God’s plan, and we can’t deny that’s what the Church thinks,” he said, stressing that whatever new language is adopted “absolutely cannot” obscure this point.

Yet Chaput acknowledged that in the court of public opinion, phrases such as “intrinsically disordered” are often a losing proposition. He said he doesn’t know what the appropriate substitute would be, but is open to finding one.

Rather than just pick on homosexuals, can't we just say that because of Original Sin, we are all disordered intrinsically and if not for Jesus Christ we would end up in the disorders of hell?

Is it any a worse disorder to be born without limbs, blind and deaf compared to the disorder of homosexuality, even if the homosexual is chaste?

Yes there are degrees of disorders. There is no sin in being disordered; think of the various levels of mental retardation or physical retardation. We all have some moral retardation.

I do think we should not call someone disordered to hurt them or marginalize them. But a doctor, psychologist and a priest need to name disorders and seek the proper remedies. For the Catholic, the remedy is Jesus Christ!

But back to the "rockem; sockem robots" and this great commercial which brings me back in time (one of the boys was the boy on Hazel who as an adult was killed in an auto accident) and describes the bishops at the synod in Rome to a tee! a tee I tell you!! Blocks are being knocked off right and left!!!

Oh, is boxing intrinsically disordered?????

48 comments:

Marc said...

While I get the analogy that you're trying to make with this, your use of physical disabilities and intellectual disability obscure your otherwise good point. We are all intrinsically disordered due to the Fall, but that is not akin to a physical or mental disability.

As a result of the Fall, we all have a tendency to focus on the creature instead of the creator, and as a result, we have attachment to the world and are pulled toward the dread of death, which causes a renewal of the cycle of sin by our failure to take proper account of God. This manifests itself in different sorts of sin, such as lust or pride.

"All of us struggle with various passions, and it is only within the Church that we find the means of overcoming these passions with the assistance of God’s grace. Acting upon any sexual attraction outside of sacramental marriage, whether the attraction is heterosexual or homosexual, alienates us from God."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

But all disorders, including the earth's disorders such as earthquakes, storms, etc are a result of the Fall.

Marc said...

But physical disorders are not categorically the same as the concupiscence that results from the Fall. Are you suggesting that homosexual tendencies are a physical disorder?

DJR said...

I received that toy as a Christmas present as well. Oops, we're showing our age here.

James said...

I can remember putting forward an argument similar to Chaput's back in the day when I was 'Who am I to judge?!' -- it didn't go down well here...

My problem with phrases such as 'intrinsically disordered', and 'grave depravity' is that it is the language of canon lawyers and moral theologians, and has no place in a pastoral document aimed at the laity. This is part of a broader problem with the CCC.

Each generation needs its own version of the catechism, not in order to change timeless truths, but to make them speak clearly and compassionately to their time.
That's why the JPII CCC doesn't use phrases like the 'sin of sodomy' which are present in earlier catechisms, but the legalistic substitutes aren't really an improvement.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I am not a scientist, but if proven there is such a thing as a homosexual gene, yes this would be a disorder related to the fall of Adam and Eve and in the same category as other physical and mental disorders.

I am not saying, though that the orientation has to lead to the acting out of an actual sin of same sex relations, although one may be oriented in that direction. Chasity is what all of us are called to live in our particular state in life.

Marc said...

Positing the idea that genetics necessarily dictates unavoidable mental characteristics assumes a level of determinism that I find to be at odds with God's gift of free will. If that were the case, such characteristics would be synonymous with physical disabilities. Of course, there is a major difference in that physical disabilities do not lead to sinful passions that must be overcome in order to achieve union with God.

Your posts seem to assume that homosexual ideation is, in itself, not sinful so long as it is not acted upon. This is erroneous for the same reason that other deviant sexual ideations (or, indeed any lustful ideation) are sinful in themselves, especially when undertaken as intrinsic to the identity of the person (which, in fact, would constitute a separate sin in itself).

Homosexual identity is sinful without action in the same way that all sins of lust are sinful without action. Our passions are to be subdued and brought under the control of our reason (or, if you prefer, the nous is to be cleansed so it is in union with God instead of controlled by the passions).

There is no connection between physical disability and the sinful passions. All people are subject to sinful passions of various sorts. It is the passion itself that is problematic and not just the activity. That is why it is true to say that we are all disordered in that we are prone to miss the mark that God has established for us. We can miss that mark even if we do not engage in certain activities. We could do so by identifying our self with our passions, which is a sin of pride. Or we could do so by giving license to the passions within us even without action, which is a sin a lust.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc, the Church does not teach that the orientation is sinful (actual sin) although it is a result of Original sin of which we have no culpability. The CCC makes clear that it is the sex acts that are sinful not the orientation. But the orientation is disordered but that is not a sin!

Marc said...

Father, if someone were to lust after anyone, that is sinful. The gravity of that sin might change if the person after whom someone is lusting is of the same sex (or a pre-pubescent or a relative or a clergyman).

Marc said...

As an aside, there is a fundamental problem in identifying any intrinsic disorder as "an orientation." Some people have an orientation where they would like to engage in sexual acts with minor children. That orientation is sinful in the sense that it needs to be corrected in order to find union with God, deification and salvation. It is not different in essence, though, than a more "normal" passion such as a man lusting after attractive women. Both are disorders in the sense that they prevent unity with God.

Gene said...

James, you must really hate what Holy Scripture says about homos, then...they are an "abomination."

Gene said...

Fr, you are trying to spin this like the Pope. Homosexuality is uniquely disordered and evil because it militates against the family and is an evil caricature of male female relationships upon which the family is based. It is as anti-life as abortion because no life can come from such a relationship. But, go ahead...ride the spirit of the times, it'll feel almost as good as...well, you know.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

mortal sin is mortal sin no matter which mortal sin it is. We are speaking of sinful acts, not a disposition toward concupiscence which in and of itself is not sinful unless acted upon.

Contraceptive sex even if natural family planning would seem to fit your description even for married couples and is awfully puritanical if having sex when a woman is not fertile degrades the sex act.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Also, I think I was highly critiqued when I said there could be major mortal sins verses plain old mortal sins--each mortal sin unrepented leads to hell no?

Gene said...

The question must be asked of the church, as of the culture, why are we allowing a ridiculous minority of loud-mouthed perverts to dictate political policy and Church doctrine? We are allowing ourselves to be manipulated and the culture destroyed by enemies of the Church and culture whom we should be pursuing with prejudice. We are collectively a passive, trepidated, disgusting lot of sheep, welcoming the wolves with open arms.

Gene said...

Fr, you are deliberately misunderstanding this just like your buddy Kavanaugh. Enjoy your new Church...your pink blazer that you wear during Cherry Blossom may be required dress before long.

Marc said...

Have you ever read Casti Connubii? The Church teaches that contraceptive planning, such as NFP, is a sinful action in nearly every instance where there is not a sufficiently grave reason justifying the planning (such as a situation where a child might be killed by the state as in China). Your analogy there is misplaced.

The sinful act of identifying as someone with a homosexual orientation is, first, in identifying one's self with one's passions (a sin of pride). Second, are you suggesting that our Lord was wrong when he told his followers that someone who lusts has already sinned? While you are limiting the definition of action to something exterior, our Lord seems to place great emphasis on interior actions of the will.

So, it is the case that we are all disordered in the sense that our passions tend to lead us astray. But the exterior act is not required in order to turn our disordered passions into an actual sin.

Gene said...

If I spend all day thinking lurid and pornographic thoughts about women but do not act on them, is that not sinful? Concupiscence is more than inclination, it is the matrix in which we live and move. The state of not going to Mass or Confession is a state of mortal sin, even though I may not be actively sinning otherwise. Is it not the same for living in a state of abomination? I do not remember Holy Scripture saying "love the sinner, hate the sin." that is a modern and fallacious interpretation.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc, lust is a mortal sin (and should not be confused with passion as lust uses people for one's own needs and satisfactions, it is selfish).

So are you saying there are different grades of mortal sins. Heterosexual lust is just a mortal sin and homosexual lust is a major mortal sin????

Mortal sin, no matter what it is, if one dies unrepentant goes to hell. No?

No we are human beings created in the image and likeness of God, but no longer perfect, due to original sin. But our orientation is the topic of this post. One may lust in one's heart for a teenager but never act on it. Maybe that is the person's orientation and hopefully therapy is gotten for it or at least confession for the lust.

Marc, you have to back up what you are saying with the CCC or some other document. You haven't. I can back up my points.

Marc said...

Father, I am not making the argument that there are different grades of mortal sin. In fact, I thought I was rather clearly making the exact opposite argument, but perhaps I have not been very clear in my statements.

I agree with you that heterosexual lust is a mortal sin just as is homosexual lust. Of course, as a confessor, you are aware that there are certain conditions that can change the gravity of a sin, are you not? Is it not the case that lusting after a family member, for instance, makes the sin of lust more grave?

My point is that everyone has an "orientation" that is disordered as a result of the Fall. In identifying with one's disorder, though, one engages in the sin of pride -- is it not the case that one who boasts of one's past sins compounds his sin and demonstrates a lack of repentance?

It is the case those of a so-called "homosexual orientation" are seeking to excuse their particular sin of lust by claiming that it is intrinsic to their ontological being (through a genetics argument, for example). In point of fact, all of our sinful proclivities of whatever sort are a result of the fall. Accepting that reality instead of making pseudo-scientific excuses is primarily the point with which I am taking issue.

Mary R said...

I distinctly remember when I first came across the term intrinsically disordered to describe homosexuals. I was teaching religious education in a Catholic school to 8th graders. One student wrote me a private note asking what that meant - if that's what he was, he wondered, maybe he should just give up. I consider it a horrible term to use to describe anyone. We are all sinners; we are not disordered.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc, I agree that there are unnatural sex acts that heterosexuals do as well. I would submit that it is more disordered for a heterosexual to that which is unnatural as they have the option for the natural. So there is no comparison in terms of natural sex verses unnatural. The unnatural is disordered.

Mary, I agree that a child will have a hard time with being considered disordered especially if homosexuals are singled out. We are all disordered due to Original Sin and the the only hope that child had and we have is Jesus Christ who never allows us to give up as He doesn't give up on us.

I don't know what other word can be used for disordered that have no cure in this life, be it the homosexual orientation, which if one is chaste is not sinful and one could say that the compassion and empathy that many homosexuals have lead them to heroic deeds apart from acting out sexually.

Marc said...

Well, Father, I would disagree insofar as there are only "heterosexuals" on this earth, and everyone has "the option for the natural."

The larger point, on which we seem to agree, is that all sin comes from the Fall, which left us all disordered in our passions and proclivities -- the sin is our failure to overcome that disorder and focus on God.

Contrary to Mary's point, we are all sinners precisely because we are all disordered and vice versa.

That's the whole point of the Incarnation -- the heal our disordered fallen humanity.

Mary R said...

Father,
The Benziger text book we were using singled out homosexual orientation as disordered - intrinisically disordered. While it may be true that we are all sinners and therefore disordered, I have never heard the term applied to any individuals other than homosexuals. We chose another text a few years later that did not use that term. But I have never forgotten that encounter. Several people counseled the boy, but he killed himself a few years later.

Marc said...

I agree with the idea that we should not single out any particular category of sinners as being special as a result of their particular sin. The trouble is that certain categories of sinners, among them some homosexuals, have chosen to single themselves out and wrap-up their very identity with their favorite sin.

For a couple years, I have cited the statement of the Orthodox Bishops of America, which I quoted above without attribution, as both a clear and gentle statement of the Church's regard for homosexuals. If you're interested, it can be read here. One immediately notices the clarity of expression, the gentleness of the tone, and the pithiness of the statement and cannot help but juxtapose this with the overly-wordy, often nonsensical and confused rhetoric of the Catholic bishops, who seek to equivocate more than comfort when it comes to this issue.

Gene said...

It is disordered...as recently as DSM II it was described as a "character DISORDER." Then, the liberals and bleeding hearts got control of the DSM. Would you like me to describe their disordered behavior...well, Fr. won't let me.

Gene said...

The leader of the Southern Baptists has just stated categorically that Christians should not attend homosexual weddings. Gee, where is the Pope on this?

Gene said...

Marc, not to mention that they are aggressively attacking the Church and Christian values. That sets them apart as a special class of enemy.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Marc,

I disagree that there 'only heterosexuals'. I, for one, have never felt any sort of attraction to females--zero.

In fact, the idea of having sex with a woman is less attractive than drinking my cat's urine.

And, I'm not the only one like this.

Mary R said...

Marc,
I have no problem calling a homosexual act as intrinsically disordered. But the text described the homosexual as disordered. What would you as a 13 year old boy who has only started to realize that he was sexually attracted to other boys think if you were told you were disordered? The book went on to say that we needed to treat homosexuals with compassion. But that did not diminish the fact that this child -- before he had even thought of acting on his desire -- learned that he was disordered. And that was the problem.

Marc said...

Flavius, I think it is difficult for me to explain what I meant by what I wrote, although you certainly took it as I wrote it. I can't convey really what I have in mind. For the sake of clarity, let's just say that my thoughts mirror those of the Orthodox bishops in the statement to which I linked.

Mary, I agree it's a problem in need of a pastoral solution (in the true sense of pastorally leading the person away fro, the disorder and toward deification). I'd say that what I am reacting to is partially the insistence on making it a political issue instead a psyhological-religious issue, which is the thing that leads to a lot of the problems in terms of suicides and what not. It's a sensitive subject for sure. It's also a subject that demands clarity. Again, I think the statement I linked to is a good balance of those concerns.

Michael Kavanaugh said...

Earthquakes are the result of the sin of Adam and Eve? Things here get curioser and curioser....

George said...


From Pope St. John Paul's Catechism:

CCC 2357. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law.”

The Catechism passage cites Romans 1:26-32 in the footnotes.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. 29 They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
32 Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve those who practice them.

As far as what you say above Mary
When,how and at what age you teach these things is of the utmost importance. The Catechism draws form Scripture which is the Revealed Word of God. A young person killing his or herself is always a tragedy of the worst order, and if the Church can teach the truth in a way that will prevent something like this, I'm all for it. But teach the truth it must.
Unfortunately we live a time where you have young people killing themselves over something that was posted on Facebook. This is the way of the world, not God's doing.


Flavius Hesychius said...

Marc,

I don't really disagree: however, the statement made by the Assembly of Bishops makes sense in an Orthodox context, but not in a Catholic one. Although the Catholic Church tries to use the same language, it does not practice what it preaches. Within Orthodox parishes, those with same-sex attraction are not specifically excluded from the life of either the parish or the Church as a whole. They are not excluded from the possibility of either monastic or clerical life. They are not excluded from being in ministries. Whilst I recognise this may be due to the fact Orthodox parishes are much smaller than their Catholic counterparts, and thus are unable to be picky about whom they allow to partake in these ministries, I wonder if the accusation often levelled against the OCA by traditionalist Latinoi (that the OCA is 'gay friendly'--whatever the hell that means) stems from an unwillingness on the part of the Church's hierarchy to specifically exclude 'homosexuals' from public roles within the Church simply on the basis of whom they are and are not sexually attracted.

Within the RCC, however, it has been my experience that anyone not actively professing sexual attraction to the opposite sex are treated like lepers. The situation is sugar-coated by the language used in the CCC, but really is only a token statement to whitewash the reality of the situation. The language of the CCC belies the fact that many Catholics seem to prefer an 'out-of-sight, out-of-mind' approach to non-heterosexuals. For many, there is nothing wrong with this mindset, but there are two problems with it: one, it totally fails at showing both the compassion demanded by the CCC and the love we are commanded by Christ to show; two, it never takes into account the receiver of this mindset.

You are right--it's a pastoral issue that needs a real answer, but in my opinion, Rome has rendered itself unable to address it. Most Orthodox and Catholics in this position (including myself) recognise that they can either have a love-life or follow the teachings of their respective Church. But, Rome has gone further and made it impossible for them to have any sort of active life in a parish. They can neither marry, nor enter monasteries, nor enter clerical life. Often, the reasoning behind these decisions is defective, and only makes the situation worse (like, for example, B16's nonsense about 'gays don't want to marry anyway, so therefore they'd make bad priests.')

So... where do they go? To work, then to Mass, then to an empty home for the 80-100 years they're alive? The sad part is, it's married people or people who've chosen celibate life who say, 'yes, that's right.', as though they were competent to make such a declaration. If such a life were desirable, then why did they marry or enter the priesthood?

Flavius Hesychius said...

For further consideration, I'll repost here what I posted a few weeks ago on this thread, as a response to some of the inane comments therein:

'I'm always amazed by discussions like these. They almost always suggest that there really isn't a place in parish life for those with same-sex attraction. And, it's not just here. On other places in the Catholic blogosphere, there's a similar attitude. Those with same-sex attraction are pretty much supposed to go to Mass and then go home, as though they were lepers.

And please, don't dare tell me it's not this way. I don't think anyone here or elsewhere would want even a chaste same-sex attracted person participating in any sort of role in a parish. When this is brought up, the response by supposedly-loving Catholics is 'well, that's your cross to bear'. Whatever.

On this blog (as well as other blogs— FrZ's being the most egregious) commenters have named off several roles that SSA people should be excluded from, including lector.

God forbid they should publicly read a lesson on Sunday morning!

But, I guess it's easy to just write off such people when you've never been, say, 20 and had to think 'Well, I'll live the next 60-80 years and never be married or know any sort of romantic or sexual intimacy'. And, no, it's not the same as choosing to take clerical vows.

Given that most people on this blog have indicated in previous posts that they are either married or are priests, one wonders about the competency of the commenters here to judge matters concerning people who don't get such a choice. '

--FH, 6 Oct. 2015

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

MK the falleness of everything is taught by none other than +RWL, so take it up with him.

Gene said...

Kavanaugh, RE: earthquakes and tornadoes. Scripture tells us that the entire Creation is "groaning and travailing" awaiting the redemption. The entire creation is disordered due to Adam's sin. If Eden was a paradise, it is reasonable to assume that there were no earthquakes and tornadoes. The earth is broken and Greenpeace and the Sierra Club cannot fix it...nor the Pope nor Al Gore. Too bad. Don't let your tears stain your" Little Red Book."

Gene said...

Compassion is great and we should be tolerant of gays, etc, but they should not have active roles in the Church. Homosexuality should be treated as an undesirable life style that is disordered.

Marc said...

Flavius, I think have several really interesting points. I wonder if the juridical nature of Cstholicism has resulted in the difference in ability for it to handle the issue of same-sex attraction competently. I can see some connection between the lack of focus on theosis (with a substituted emphasis on juridical status) as a possible explanation. What do you think?

I think that both churches would be right in excluding public sinners from public ministry -- as a medicinal punishment and to avoid scandal. That should go for all public sinners, regardless of their particular public sin. And that's why I think this issue of not treating particular categories of sinners specially is important. We are all wounded, and if we are working out our salvation, the Church should be there guiding us and feeding us.

Honestly, I am surprised to learn some of the things in your post about how people are treated. And I was unaware the OCA had any reputation about homosexuals. Anyway, I guess my thought is that all sinners are somewhat equal in needing assistance from the Church. Again, though, that certain classes of sinners have identified themselves with their particular sin raises other issues that demand a response both as medicinal way to bring about recognition and repentance and to avoid leading others to sin.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Gene, I'm really not talking about people living active homosexual lifestyles. I'm talking about the men and women who, in trying to follow authentic and traditional Christian teachings, live lives almost totally isolated from the rest of either other people or their fellow Catholics.

You may not have a problem with this--how convenient then, that you should be (or have been, whichever it is) married with children and grandchildren.

Marc, I think you might be on to something there. Sometimes I feel like Catholicism is more focussed on fulfilling the bounds of law than moving towards the point of the law, and I think these discussions (not necessarily your comments, but some of the others herein) sometimes highlight this. (I personally think trying to codify these things into law is *the* problem. It creates categories and grey areas that don't otherwise exist. When I was locked in a juvenile facility, I saw this all the time; 'assaulting' a guard sometimes meant hitting one in the face, other times it meant looking at one the wrong way)

As for public sinners, you're right; however, I'm not really talking about so-called 'active' homosexuals. I'm talking about the men and women who are not attracted to the opposite sex, but follow the Church's teaching and remain celibate. Those people who have sexual relations with people of the same sex are totally outside of my scope--I have little compassion for them, as they have chosen the easy path of self-indulgence, whilst I and others continually suffer because of their actions.

These people cannot possibly be called 'heterosexual'. They fail to meet the basic definition. Thus, they are labelled 'homosexual' by everyone, regardless of whether or not they actually are, or even identify as such. It happens to me all the time, so it can't possibly be a unique thing. The only alternatives to just accepting this outsider-applied label are either fighting it (not really worth the time, as this thread shows, since it'll always be applied anyway) or saying that you're not sexually attracted to anyone, which no one believes. Most of these people wish everyone would just stop using labels for sexual behaviour and attraction. So, I don't think it's as much them 'identifying themselves by their sins'

These people are not public sinners; if anything, they often are paragons of true 'continual repentance'. Most of the time, only their closest friends (and maybe family, but many times not) and Fathers of Confession know. So, it fails to meet the definition of 'public'.

I think you and I agree here--all sinners should be treated as sinners, regardless of that sin. Catholic praxis, though, does not do this. Gene's comment is a perfect example of this, and on this issue his comment isn't even extreme. It's fairly normal. Mary's point makes sense in this light, as 'homosexuality' (using by above definition, as an unwanted label), regardless of whether or not the person in question has even ever had sex, is treated as some sort of special sin that Satan himself couldn't devise.

Consider: I'm told all the time about how deviant I am (NB: I do not know that I have a sexual orientation, but I am certainly not heterosexual), but adulterers never hear about their sins 'all the time'. They might hear something once or twice. Why is that? What makes the lack of normalcy so bad, whilst people who literally harm others (which is exactly what adultery does) are not so bad? It's absurd.


Equality of sinners is ideal, and I think the Orthodox Church does a great job of ensuring that (treating everyone's sins on an individual basis certainly helps, I think).

Flavius Hesychius said...

Honestly, I've tried finding out the sources and examples of the OCA's 'reputation'. Like 'deaconesses', the examples are all 'someone told me, who was told by someone else', and usually it's GOARCH people who do it. So, take it with a large grain of salt. I've seen (like on Fr.Z's blog) people quote these same online posts. (Many of these cases are vague and took place 'in the 70s'... convenient it's really before the internet, no?)

It's really interesting none of this was a problem until relatively recently. Traditionally, people would have married anyway, but I think we have a greater appreciation of marriage as a Mystery than in previous times. Just like one wouldn't receive the Eucharist without being properly disposed, one shouldn't marry without proper disposition. Ironically, unmarried persons had more options in the past, and no one questioned the motives of people who chose celibacy.

Marc said...

A couple of really excellent posts, Flavius. I am especially interested in the way that the delineation of "the law" works (or doesn't work) in Roman Catholicism. The setting aside of the notion of theosis in favor of juridical statuses has left a vacuum in which moralizing prospers.

It seems as if Catholicism wants to precisely define the contours of the law. That has two effects -- first, it leads to those who want to come up with loopholes (as we are seeing with this synod), and second, it leads to a forgetfulness as to the entire purpose of the law (as you point out).

Is the moralizing avoidable, though? Salvation in Catholicism really boils to the moment of death -- are you in the state of grace or not. So, it is intrinsically status-based in that way. Since that is the focus, there is nothing to do but carefully define the law as to who is in which category. That is a rather unhelpful moralizing and legalism for those who remain living in search of deification. And it has other effects too, such as the focus on the substitutionary atonement of Christ instead of the Incarnation as healing event, among many other possible effects.

But, if you think about it, Catholicism deals with static categories: one is either married or not married and it cannot change; one is either a priest or not a priest; sacraments are either valid or invalid... think of the particular definitions, such as the "elements" necessary to render a papal statement infallible. These are all legalistic categorizations that prevent flexibility and demand exactness -- once done they are permanent in that status.

Gene said...

I am not sure what Flavius means by "moving toward a point of law." That is not where salvation history leads. Anyway, there should be absolutes, and there is nothing wrong with static categories. RE: Substitutionary atonement...I am unwilling to give this Calvinist understanding up. To say that the Incarnation is a "healing event" is all well and good, but there must be punishment for sin. If we received our just due, we would be spiritually destroyed ("If thou, O Lord, should mark iniquities, who could stand.") Christ is the only Sacrifice worthy of the Holiness of God the Father. He is the substitution, even Catholics call Him the Lamb of God.

Marc said...

I don't think it's the substitution part that is problematic. It's the penal aspect, as well as the idea of a wrathful God the Father taking out divine vengeance on His Son.

George said...

"...the idea of a wrathful God the Father taking out divine vengeance on His Son."

That is definitely not a Catholic understanding of Christ's redemptive Sacrifice.

Gene said...

Well, the better way to look at it, rather than Divine vengeance on the Son, is the unforced obedience of the Son who, knowing our plight, gave Himself freely as a sacrifice. The Divine vengeance idea has some non-Trinitarian implications. The harmony and unity of there Trinity were not broken or disturbed by the Sacrifice. God's wrath was aimed squarely at us and Christ stepped in front of the train, so to speak.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Gene,

Please notice, you quoted me wrong. I said, "toward the point of the law"—the point of the law is salvation. It is not an end to itself. Following the law for the sake of following the law is Judiasm, not Christianity.

Gene said...

Flavius, I get it...if we understand Christ as the New Torah, a la Pope Benedict. Thanks.