The official Catholic doctrine is that homosexual conduct, including non-sexual, romantic behaviour, is immoral. The Catholic church writes and defends this view. The Catholic church preaches this to their members. And the Catholic church teaches this to students.
On my view, this is hate speech. The Catholic Church is not alone in this endeavour. But they are alone in receiving tax dollars to teach our citizens that homosexuality is sinful. I think that should stop.
“Homosexual orientation is less sinful than homosexual behaviour”
In order to best understand the official Catholic doctrine on homosexuality, we need to distinguish between a gay orientation and gay conduct. Apparently Catholics are okay with gay impulses. These aren’t sinful. Guys can be aroused by the thought of giving head. We can even dream of giving head. But if we fail to actively resist the impulse, or if we actually commit fellatio, then we are committing a sin against God in heaven and are acting immorally.
Of course, it’s not just fellatio. It’s also romantic behaviour like hugging, snuggling, holding hands, smooching, sweety-pie texting, sexting, fuzzy gift giving, winking, or bum patting. If you do this with someone of the same gender or sex, then it’s gay and it’s bad.
Of course it’s not just small romantic gestures that are immoral. It’s also gay marriage, gay commitment and gay parenting. These are all sins and are all immoral. But don’t worry, if you quit the behaviour and pray for forgiveness, forgiveness will be yours. Just don’t do it again.
According to the Catholics, there’s lots of bible to back this up. The Catholics take doctrine seriously. They have millions of words spanning thousands of documents; they have commentary and commentary on the commentary. The Catholic intellectuals take intellectual rigour and sound reasoning very seriously. They even use footnotes. 1
“Hate the Sin, not the Sinner”
There are actually two version of this old idea. There is the weak version: hate the sin, not the sinner. And there’s the strong version: hate the sin, love the sinner.2 Catholics use both the weak and strong versions to try to preach tolerance and to defend themselves against those that say the Catholic Church preaches hate.
“We love homosexuals,” say the Catholics. “We just hate homosexual behaviours, acts and choices.”
This fails as a defense against the charge of hate. Catholic doctrine may preach love for homosexuals. But the Catholic doctrine also preaches hate for the homosexual acts that the rest of human-rights-loving-folks do not think are immoral.
So instead of teaching children how to have healthy heterosexual and homosexual relationships, the official Canadian Catholic Church doctrine claims, among other things, that:
A relationship between two people of the same sex is not marriage, of course, and therefore it is unable to be a sacrament in that traditional sense.
The bottom line of Church teaching on gay sexual activity is simply: Don’t. Ever. This is called lifelong abstinence, or a celibate lifestyle.
– Jim Auer, from the Halton District Catholic School Board Policies
We are, in part, what we do
The choices we make and the acts of love that we commit ourselves to are very much who we are. It’s not our totality. But it’s an important part of who we are. Our character is defined, in part, by our actions. Contra the Catholics, acting on the love, arousal, admiration or attraction that one may feel for another of the same gender, or the same sex, is not immoral.3
Believing that homosexual conduct is immoral is an uncomfortable right that we grant to free thinking Canadians as long as it doesn’t impact the way they hire, offer services or treat those that have homosexual behaviours.
But teaching this belief to children is problematic. And receiving tax payer dollars to teach this in schools is wrong.
“But our deeply held religious beliefs are protected by the charter”
Only some religious beliefs are protected. Seeking safety under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for all ideas deemed religious doesn’t work. If Catholics had a deeply held religious belief to hate black folks, everyone would agree that their beliefs are not protected by the Charter. Similarly, if Catholics had a deeply held religious belief to hate the conduct of Jews, the Charter would not protect them. Even if the Catholics said, “we hate the Jewish behaviour, but we love the Jews”, folks would cry foul and the Charter would offer no refuge.
The state protection of religious doctrine is not infinitely elastic.4
Also, in this series:
[posts-by-tag tag=”church-and-state” date=”true”]
- See, for example: http://acbo.on.ca/englishweb/publications.htm, or http://acbo.on.ca/englishweb/publications/sexualmaturity.htm,
or http://acbo.on.ca/englishdocs/Pastoral%20Guidelines.pdf, or http://www.hcdsb.org/Board/Equity/Documents/Forms/AllItems.aspx ↩
- There is also the extended version: hate the sin, love the sinner, but not in a gay way. ↩
- I assume of course, that the actions are always safe, sane and consensual. ↩
- As I am publishing this, Bill 13 in Ontario has been passed mandating that public and Catholic schools need to make space for Gay Straight Alliances. Catholic Churches might challenge this legally. Should be interesting. ↩