End Notes: Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah

Mr. Alnutt, captain of the African Queen, escaping down river with Rosie the spinster sister of a now-dead Methodist missionary, has cases of gin aboard. A scandalized Rosie watches him take his first drink. He continues on into oblivion. In the morning, he wakes to find Rosie pouring the gin into the river. And she gives him the silent treatment besides. Finally, having failed at all attempts to get her attention, he plays his ultimate trump: “And you call yourself a Christian.”

It is the lot of Christians in these last days of the second millennium to have their faith invoked against them. Mr. Alnutt’s remark to Rosie is one that each of us must make to ourselves often. Still it is annoying when appeal is made to our principles by those who have none of their own or who seek to twist Christianity to their own purposes.

The greatest plague on the western world is the rampant rise of homosexuality as an ideology. Sexual perversion, like so many other sins, was first transmogrified into a mental disease that could be cured. Then it became a condition as fixed in the individual as any other natural trait. It was suggested that the division of the race into two genders is inadequate. Almost overnight, homosexuality became an ideology before which politicians trembled.

Lies and misinformation about this pathetic band have been spread through society. The number of homosexuals—numbers being important to politicians—was wildly overstated. To suggest that we are talking about a perversion of the clear point of sexuality, a sin, enraged those for whom the vice had become a virtue. An infused vice, as it were. The reduction of human beings to their genitals considered as mere instruments of pleasure reaches its nadir in homosexuality.

 

That homosexuals should save their special venom for the Catholic Church is to have been expected. They have broken up worship, desecrated the Eucharist, and paraded in front of St. Patrick’s their diabolical hatred of the holy. They have denigrated high churchmen, including the pope. Having revolted against nature, they must revolt against nature’s God.

In On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, Cardinal Ratzinger unfortunately, in my opinion, introduced a distinction without a difference between those with homosexual orientation and those who engage in homosexual activity. Any human being, thanks to Original Sin, is capable of engaging in homosexual acts or any other monstrosity. What is “orientation” supposed to add to that? Perhaps having actually engaged in such acts, perhaps habitually, and then seeking to overcome it. But such an orientation is acquired, not inborn.

For whatever slim application this distinction might have, it has provided a convenient weapon for muddying the waters. Now we are told that the Church accepts as fact that God creates some people as homosexuals. But the orientation of which Cardinal Ratzinger spoke is a “grave disorder.” Are some people born to be more prone to sin than others? Or to this sin rather than that? But of course the mention of sin has dropped out of the discussion. The silly neologism “homophobia” has been coined for those who espouse the judgment of both natural morality and of Christianity on homosexuality. Disapproval of homosexuality is now treated as a vice Christians have a duty to rid themselves of. Children are schooled to see homosexuality as perfectly legitimate and its critics as immoral and mean-spirited.

It is a sad chapter in postconciliar theology that moralists have sought to obscure right and wrong in the area of sexuality, not least in the matter of homosexuality. Those of us who were raised in the well-ordered Church of yore have lived to see priests arrested for abusing altar boys, officials in seminaries corrupting the young, and even bishops speaking openly on behalf of homosexuality, using Mr. Alnutt’s hangover accusation against those who demur, “And you call yourself a Christian.”

There is little point in underscoring how selective this defense of sexual vice is. We do not hear of kleptophobia or homocidiphobia. That thieves and murderers need mercy, like the rest of us sinners, has not hitherto obscured the recognition that theft and murder are immoral. Homosexuality is a more fundamental threat to society than theft or murder. If we are cowed by the bogus charge of homophobia, we will soon be enlisted in the campaign to celebrate perversion.

It is a Christian’s duty to call a vice a vice. It is a tragic disservice to suggest to the tempted that God meant for them to sin. After all, the plangent Mr. Alnutt went on to become a hero. And to marry a heroine.

Ralph McInerny

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Ralph McInerny was a popular writer, philosopher, and teacher, as well as the co-founder of Crisis Magazine. He passed away on January 29, 2010.

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