Blessing a Sterile Parody

Same-sex unions are not even unions, only a parody, both sad and sterile, of a relation that is not real.

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Now that the old paradigm of Adam and Eve no longer fits, woke ideology having smashed it to bits, Adam and Steve are free to enact rites of courtship and marriage just like everyone else. Can approval from Old Mother Church be far behind? Why shouldn’t same-sex couples be extended the same courtesies as now obtain in the larger culture? What good is equity if the power of eros remains off limits to all but the straight? The blessing of queer folk is long past due.  

Or so the argument runs. Indeed, so persuasive is the claim being alleged by its proponents that even the Holy Father himself, we are told—in the teeth of all the usual reactionary suspects, hopelessly stuck in antediluvian habits—appears to be fully on board with blessing same-sex partnerships. Certainly, the leadership behind the current Synod is pointing us all in that direction. Only it mustn’t be done in a way that conflates sodomy with the sacrament of marriage—or so they say.  

Good luck with that. Because the basic problem here, never mind all the noise coming out of the Synod, is that what the Church is being asked, pressured rather, to do, is simply not possible. It was never possible; nor will it ever be possible. 

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And not just because the implied behavior we are being asked to bless is a sin, approval of which the Church could never give without doing violence to her very being, her authority under God to make judgments, to uphold the moral law. But because it is not even a union, only a parody, both sad and sterile, of a relation that is not real. “A deliberate stupidity,” to quote a wise Jesuit, now dead, by the name of Bernard Lonergan. Do we really want to go along with being perverse on purpose? Are we to keep on calling green grass grey, which is how Chesterton defines a lie, and thus fall in line with Satan, whom we rightly call the Father of Lies?

How’s that going to work out for a Church committed to telling the truth in season and out? If the Church wishes to hold fast to the tradition, to the tablets issued from on high by God Himself, whose maintenance will ensure her life and integrity, then it cannot even be thinkable that the Church could bring herself to bestow such a blessing.  

So, what’s wrong with two men making love, then asking their parish priest to bless their partnership? Suppose it were shown that for years and years they had been faithful, that the record of their constancy rivaled even the straightest of married couples. Would not the Church be then moved to set aside her long-standing strictures and just go ahead and bless the partnership?  

Alas, the Church can do no such thing. Why? Because there can be no union, no relation of love—or life, which springs forth from the loins of love—unless there is already built into the experience, inscribed in its very ontology, an encounter with the other. Lacking which it is mere solipsism, a self-centered-self, pathetically fixated upon an exact replica of that same self. For unity to take place, for harmony to happen, there must be at least two elements, two distinct partners at play. There can be no union, no relation of love—or life, which springs forth from the loins of love—unless there is already built into the experience, inscribed in its very ontology, an encounter with the other. Tweet This

In a word, the trouble with homosexuality—which, until what seems only a few hours ago, the whole world understood—is that it is unnatural. There can be no real intimacy with another, no carnal knowledge of the other, unless the two are different—each obviously and essentially not the other. Just as in music: if both notes are the same, there is no song. In its unnatural straining for an ekstasis of self with one who is no different from one’s own self, it never reaches beyond its own borders, thus falling again and again into the same boring, self-centered self.

“Homosexuality,” writes the late Thomas Howard in a wonderful little book called Chance or the Dance,

fears to go out of itself in quest and exploration of the other, to give itself to the other in conquest or surrender, and to receive the same from the other. It seeks this exchange with an image that is a repeat of itself, and there is no analogy in all heaven and earth for such a thing—for significance (or fruit, or meaning) following upon the union of identicals. On all levels, there is this union of differences: of positive and negative charge, of stamen and pistil, of cock and hen, of god and goddess.

When did we decide to discard such wisdom? To trash a distinction as old as humankind itself? To disconnect our bodies from the order of nature? Because right now nature—and the order of grace which, thanks to Christ, has come along to perfect it—has become the road not taken. Confusion at that level, of which there can be none more basic, nor more far-reaching in its destructive effects, appears to have become ever more widespread. At the Synod especially, we see among far too many of its participants this other road, down which they are urging the Church herself to go. There can be only ruin at the end of that road. 

Do they not know this? Great big bishops, for heaven’s sake! It is chilling to recall that not a few of them may have actually had a hand in writing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Over a thousand bishops, we are told, responded to the initial draft, including the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, who “mastered with dazzling skill,” Joseph Ratzinger recalled in paying tribute to this man, “the often difficult business of bringing varied modes of thought and stylistic forms into accord.” High praise, indeed. 

And today he sits on the Synod in Rome. How dim his mastery has become if he now chooses to forget all that the Catechism declares about the nature of homosexual acts, that both Scripture and Tradition together condemn them as “intrinsically disordered…contrary to the natural law…Under no circumstances can they be approved” (2357). How much else has he forgotten? 

One wonders about the state of amnesia of which both he and so many others appear to be afflicted. For if they, the Shepherds of Holy Church, do not know, or care to remember, the teaching on blessings—which are sacramentals, i.e., “sacred signs instituted by the Church,” intended to “prepare men to receive the fruit of the sacraments and sanctify different circumstances of life” (1677)—then we are in a world of trouble.

The meaning of the one is to move us to the other—and such blessings are real and efficacious only because they orient us in the ways of Sacrament. This is precisely why the Church cannot bless same-sex partners. Period. Do they really not know this? Or, God help us, have they, too, been co-opted by woke ideology? Where is the Holy Father in all this? We need to know. He needs to tell us.

Will truth enter into the deliberations of the Synod, or only a Trojan horse?

Author

  • Regis Martin

    Regis Martin is Professor of Theology and Faculty Associate with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He earned a licentiate and a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Martin is the author of a number of books, including Still Point: Loss, Longing, and Our Search for God (2012) and The Beggar’s Banquet (Emmaus Road). His most recent book, published by Scepter, is called Looking for Lazarus: A Preview of the Resurrection.

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