Your Grace, Publisher of the Arlington Catholic Herald*,
I keep seeing articles in the Arlington Catholic Herald that still refer to homosexuality as a "choice"..."a lifestyle choice" to be exact. That one's sexuality is just an "orientation" to be moved about like a swivel chair or a telescope. It condemns millions to a state of sin, one that can be rectified with the help of God: a few Hail Mary's and a trip to some camp where pseudo-psychiatrists impose a therapy no longer supported by the American Medical Association, and even outlawed in some states for it's potential to lead many of it's "patients" to suicide.
I've seen even worse: billboards pointing to fake identical twins to emphasize a fake choice one made and the other didn't, and pointing to fake (even dangerous) psychological techniques praying on the desperation of confused youths, I find morally reprehensible, intellectually bankrupt, ethically challenged, physically and emotionally dangerous, and...sinful. Shame on you, whoever put that billboard up. They cannot point to a success, because the "therapy" has had no real and lasting successes.
At one time slavery and killing one's own family, as well as so many other evil practices in the name of doctrine and religious law, were eventually found socially reprehensible and even SINFUL to the modern world. They were found by the Old Testament and to a lesser extent in the New Testament. In the Christianity I know, Jesus throws out the Old Testament and requires but two commandments instead of ten (and the entire book of Leviticus). Because of the divine simplicity in loving God and each other, we are left to eternally ponder their appropriate application to the issues of our times, praying the Holy Spirit will guide us fallible humans.
Alas, the conservative nature of the Catholic Church is the bedrock reason for its survival over two millennium. I get that. Change comes slowly to the Church, but happily it does come - slavery and killing in the name of Jesus Christ are an affront to our culture and difficult to relate to historically, for good reason. But here, now, in my opinion, the Church is facing another insidious and existential crisis point in the 21st Century. If important issues (the state of the modern family, how we accept or reject homosexuals in the Church and in society (who are sometimes our closest family members and friends), and treatment of the divorced living outside the Catholic Church), continue to be looked upon, a prior i, through the lens of maintaining traditional doctrinal purity, an opportunity to change the trajectory of Christianity and Catholicism in America and the West will be lost.
Leaving aside the fleeting nature of polls and popular trends - where "facts" are now debatable on cable news - and approaching the issue of homosexuality in particular from a purely medical and scientific perspective (please read Nathaniel S. Lehrman, M.D. -http://www.jpands.org/vol10no3/lehrman.pdf), the research points us to a genetic link, or a biochemical process within the womb, where the sex of the fetus is refined and defined, before even leaving the womb. (Please read: William R. Rice, Urban Friberg, and Sergey Gavriletshttp://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/668167). Are these people choosing their "lifestyle", choosing "sinful behavior" before they even set eyes on their parents? Silliness, of course not. So what does this mean if the research becomes conclusive? We may have to, and in my opinion it's been a while coming, accept that God has a hand in the making of these people - our family and friends.
In this light I find the Herald guilty of cherry-picking their "sciences" and facts, the equivalent of Medieval rejection gravity or a knee-jerk denial of evolution after the Scopes Monkey Trail. In other words, to maintain doctrinal purity based on a few sentences in the Old Testament and even less by St. Paul in the New Testament, and in the face of growing and even overwhelming scientific evidence the Church finds itself fighting the light of science for the sake of traditional bigotry based on those few stark biblical sentences.
The Church, particularly in North America and the West, risks much taking this course - losing millions of young people and thousands of potential candidates for vocations as they reach the age of consent, sadly as the Herald points out, after they have gone through the confirmation process. In Africa, particularly in Uganda, and in Russia, homosexuals are being victimized, persecuted and killed while the Church turns away for the sake of new members. Exciting, but at what cost?
Returning home, all denominations and religions in general are facing new questions today by a cynical skeptical but intellectually energetic youth. A generation brought up in an era of war (some may say, religious war), and economic insecurity. A failure to relate to what most say is the civil rights movement of our times and generation that has embraced it on the ground has real implications for programs like FOCUS - will it be just an example of another failed attempt to reach out to our youth? If the Church, specifically in America and more importantly in Northern Virginia, doesn't take a different approach to homosexuality, as well as the divorced, and the growing trend towards extended and non-traditional makeup of the family unit in the 21st Century, it will lose an opportunity that's just knocking at it's door - loudly.
*C2 will be mailing this in the form of a Letter to the Editor