There are many aspects to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. However you view the Christian story though, one feature has got to be pre-eminent: the self-sacrifice on the cross and the associated resurrection. It follows then that this comprehensive self-giving is one essential characteristic of the followers of Christ, the Christians. The CDF states, entirely without substantiation, that as gay men and lesbians, we lack this “essential self-giving” that is a mark of Christianity.
When I came across this assertion in “Homosexualitatis Problema”, I was puzzled. Other than self-giving in sex for procreation, I could not see any sense of self-giving that necessarily excluded gay men and lesbians. Research and anecdotal evidence in fact, is the exact opposite gay men typically are far better represented in the altruistic service professions of nursing, teaching, social work, librarianship and the priesthood itself than straight men – and markedly under-represented in the self-centred, greed-based professions of finance and business. Puzzled by the CDF claim, I wrote to several priests and former priests with greater knowledge of the Gospels than I, to see if I have missed something in the Gospels that might justify the CDF statement. I have already reported James Alison’s response (which I repeat below). I also liked the response of the priest who calls himself “Bart” on these pages, for its citing of the Gospel texts that elaborate on the meaning of “self-giving” – and its demonstration that these simply do not apply in the way that the CDF intends:
John 15:9 – “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
If I may say so, this sentence is the key to our understanding of love in the NT. It is the Father’s love for the Son (and vice-versa), and the love of the Son for each and every human being, that is the model for Christian love and self-giving, including marital love. By what logic has marital love become the model of Christian love I fail to understand.
John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends”
No allusion to marriage here!
Ephesians 5:22-33, of which I will quote the following “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … ” True, Paul talks of husbands and wives, but that does not mean that only in the complementarity of the sexes can one achieve that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. It is a logical non-sequitur and therefore false logic. The love of husbands for their wives should reflect the love of Christ for his Church; that is the point Paul is trying to make. It does not follow that the love between husbands and wives becomes the model upon which Christ shows his love for his Church, if for no other reason because in the second case there is no sexual expression of that love, simply one of self-giving.
Romans 12:9-10 – “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.”
Again, no talk of marriage or heterosexual love, rather it is about philadelphic (love of one’s brother) love.
Romans 12:8 – “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.”
So much for heterosexism!
1 Peter 1:22 – “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.”
So Bart confirms: the CDF reference to “self-giving” as somehow excluding gay men and lesbaica, is entirely irrelevant and unjustified:
don’t allow yourself to get tied up by the pain of having to deal with nonsense! Sometimes nonsense is just that, and should be left alone.
James is right once again. Don’t waste your time on the CDF documents: they are irrelevant
- Put Christ Back Into Christianity: The Body of Christ (queering-the-church.com)
- WWJD? Something Different Than Papa Bear (andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com)
- This Christmas, Let Us Put Christ Back Into Christianity (queering-the-church.com)