Michael Voris recently gave a presentation on the Catholic perspective of homosexuality, which at least in my small circle of friends, has caused no little controversy. There are problems in Mr. Voris’ presentation due to leaving some very important things unsaid. I would like to deal with this in as fair and charitable a manner as possible.
While I understand Mr. Voris’ intention, namely to highlight the compassion that should be shown to those who suffer from the affliction of homosexual inclinations, he does a poor job of explicating how this compassion should take form. Because of this he gave the impression that homosexuals and the rest of us should accept homosexuality as such, that homosexuality is actually something that makes a person holy and “more loved by God.” Allow me to make clear from the start, that I don’t think that this is really Mr. Voris’ position on the matter. However, that is for him to clarify, not me. For now I will deal with the impression he left, namely that homosexuality should be accepted as something that can make a person holy.
The Church teaches that homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity, contrary to the natural law, and are intrinsically evil, i.e. always evil under all circumstances. The Church also teaches that the inclination toward homosexual acts are objectively disordered, and that those afflicted by these inclinations, while deserving of compassion and good will, are, nonetheless, suffering from an illness. Thus, there is a distinction between the act and the inclination toward the act. Moralists are correct in making this distinction. An inclination to sin is not, in and of itself, a sin.
However, it is at this point where most modern moralists, not a few of them well intentioned priests and laymen, make a fatal error. Even though it is important to make a distinction between the act and the inclination, the Church teaches quite clearly that, not only the act, but also the inclination is disordered. The inclination is disordered, contrary to the natural and divine law, and thus it is by nature evil. A cause can not engender in its effect what it, itself, does not possess. Thus, holiness can not be caused by the homosexual inclination, which is, in and of itself, evil.
The homosexaul inclination, or to use the more correct, clinical term, Same Sex Attraction Disorder (SSAD) is an illness. One can compare it to an illness such as cancer. No one would be daffy enough to say cancer is good. In fact, it is an illness hated universally by the modern world. Billions of dollars, and countless hours and human effort have been expended in research to find a cure and more effective treatments. If there was not such hatred for cancer, we would never have made the medical progress we have in finding a cure for this killer. In no wise can it be said, therefore, that cancer has been accepted.
However, SSAD is not fairly compared to an illness such as cancer. Illnesses such as cancer afflict the body and the senses, but an illness such as SSAD, which is a mental illness, is actually far more evil. Mental afflictions, because they attack that which distinctively raises the human person above the rest of God’s creatures, and because they attack the faculties of man that make man in the image and likeness of God, are by far more evil than those illnesses that merely afflict the body. Even among the mental disorders, SSAD belongs to a category of relatively greater evil because it afflicts those mental faculties that have direct bearing on man’s moral and spiritual life. For example, a mental disorder such as schizophrenia does not necessarily impel those who suffer from it to act contrary to the natural or divine law. However, because of its very nature, those who suffer from SSAD are impelled by their illness to act in ways that are intrinsically evil, while at the same time, insidiously enough, not dimensioning either knowledge or consent.
Thus, SSAD should garner even more hatred than our hatred for illnesses that afflict the body only, or mental illnesses that by their very nature do not endanger the life of the soul. Thus, the compassion we should render to those who suffer from SSAD ought to take the form of a holy hatred for their affliction, and we should be consumed by finding a cure and ever more effective treatments. Our compassion needs also include, because this affliction is an immediate danger to the life of the soul, attention to the spiritual and moral well being of those inflicted. Admonishment needs to be forthcoming and frequent. The dangers of the depravity need to be explicated, as well as vivid reminders of the punishments inflicted by God on those who debase themselves by acts of impurity and lust.
Those who live the “gay” lifestyle are unchaste persons, and thus are like the brute beasts, chained to base passions. These people have made themselves, by their actions, unlike God and displeasing to Him, and are rightly regarded with contempt by other men. More importantly, those who suffer from SSAD need to be reminded often, that if they act upon their inclinations, they lose sanctifying grace, will be chastised by God in this life, and after death will be condemned to eternal punishment. To remind and admonish those who suffer from SSAD of these truths is absolutely necessary if we are to be truly compassionate to them.
For their part, those who suffer from SSAD must be obedient to those who would apply the treatment or cure, in addition to rejoicing in the suffering that God has allowed. In order to understand this, we must first, however, consider what Holy Mother Church teaches about the nature and purpose of suffering for the Christian soul.
The Church teaches that suffering, including illnesses of the body and mind, can result in the attainment of eternal salvation. In fact, the Church teaches that man can not attain to eternal salvation without suffering (2 Tim. 2. 5; Matt. 10. 38). Further, all suffering comes from God as a sign of His love and favor. It does not, however, necessarily follow that God loves more those who suffer more, as Mr. Voris implies in his presentation. Rather, God loves all men with an infinite love. Degrees of suffering are determined by other factors. For example, a man is given only the sufferings that is within his power to endure. God does not allow the same degree of sufferings for all men for the simple reason that not all men can endure the same degree of suffering. It must also be remembered that God sends sufferings for various reasons for each individual. He sends suffering to the sinner to bring him back to the right way and save him from eternal damnation. God also sends suffering to try the just man as whether he loves God for Himself, or for the benefits God gives. There are as many reasons as there are people who have ever or ever will live stored up in the mind of God, and “who has known the mind of God?”
However, there is no guarantee that suffering will right the wayward path of the sinner or make a man to love God for Himself and not for the benefits He gives. In short, there’s no guarantee that the sufferings allowed by God will result in good. Those who have ever worked in nursing homes or hospitals are acutely aware of this reality. For the Christian soul, advancing in perfection, suffering is relatively not an evil at all, because their wills are in harmony with the will of God. The Christian soul on the way to perfection is patient under suffering, and resigned to the will of God. However, these are the few. The majority of people are anything but patient under suffering. Indeed, suffering for those souls not resigned to the will of God are often full of bitterness, contempt, anger and fear. They curse God, and are disobedient and willful, often acting in such a manner that is contrary to their treatment and counter productive to the attainment of relief or health.
Those who bear their suffering in a Christian manner, patiently and fruitfully, are obedient not just to God, but to those who have been entrusted with their care. It is a mistake to think that rejoicing in suffering means to avoid the cure or treatment. While suffering is good for the Christian soul, it is spiritual pride to shun the relief that is equally and just as generously provided by God. This is even more true in the case of those who suffer from afflictions that are immediate dangers to the soul, such as the suffering caused by SSAD. It is bad enough that a sick man should, out of spiritual pride, refuse to eat or drink when commanded by those entrusted with the health of his body. Even worse are those who suffer from mental illnesses that incline them to act in a way that will lead to their eternal damnation, who refuse out of spiritual pride to accept the treatment and council that God provides through those entrusted with their care.
For more information about the treatment and cure, please see the excellent website www.peoplecanchange.com, and the work of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D.
It is also important to point out that SSAD and homosexuality is not just any other mental illness. It is an insidiously evil mental disorder in as much as it does not diminish either knowledge or consent. As such there is a greater moral and spiritual danger inherent in SSAD that calls for a particular treatment that address this moral and spiritual dimension. Effective treatments of SSAD must contain a moral and spiritual component.
Likewise, we need to be careful to make a distinction between those who commit or are inclined to commit homosexual acts due to SSAD, and those who commit or are inclined to commit these acts due to moral depravity. It is becoming increasingly clear that many young people who commit these gravely disordered acts are doing so not from a mental disorder, but from moral depravity, formed by the pornographic and materialist culture in which they are raised and educated. A real danger from Mr. Voris’ presentation is that it may give the impression to these young people that their moral depravity is something that can make them holy. What a perversion of Church teaching would that be?!
This final distinction highlights how grievious is Mr. Voris' flippant treatment of the issue. The homosexual inclination is no simple reality that can be easily treated or explained. We have to remain open to various possibilities for its presence, and because it is so immediately connected to the life of the soul, the will of the Evil One must be considered. We must take care to give attention to the supernatural realities that play a particular role in the existence of this affliction, namely the role it plays in Satan's grand conspiracy against man and God.
While Mr. Voris’ intentions are in the right place, his flippant treatment of homosexual inclinations doesn’t adequately address the evil nature of the homosexual inclination or its immediate threat to the life of the soul. His treatment doesn’t properly explicate the kind of compassion that must be rendered to those who endure this suffering, nor does he make important distinctions, the absence of which can lead to gravely erroneous interpretations of the Church’s teaching, and the underestimating of the role that is played by moral depravity and action of Satan to bring about the destruction of man. It is my hope that Mr. Voris will further clarify what he has presented in such a way that the salvation of souls may be served.