LETTER TO THE EDITOR
A Response to Rhianna LaValla’s Article
Published: Monday, November 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, November 25, 2013 13:11
In reading the article/response by Rhianna LaValla, it was good to see an atheist article wherein the author meant to be respectful rather than attacking people. I would like to respond in kind: addressing the ideas presented without intending any type of personal attack.
First, her largest issue with the Catholic Church is that it labels members of the LGBTQ community as non-human. To answer this, first note that it is man’s intellect, or ability to reason, that distinguishes him from irrational animals and is therefore the key part of what it means to be human. Some people in the earliest stages of development (i.e. embryos) are denied the social status of personhood for the very reason that they don’t seem to display signs of intelligent life.
However, from the moment of conception, these embryos begin a uniquely human operation—namely growth into a human person! By necessity, there must be some underlying principle, which orders the matter into a human, and not something else like an oak tree or a dog. This underlying principle, or soul, cannot bestow the power of the human intellect if it does not already possess it. Hence, the embryo must necessarily possess a rational soul from the moment of conception if it is to grow into a human. It is therefore fully human from that very moment of conception, even though in its current state it is unable to use those human powers; e.g. a sleeping person is also unable to use their reason, but they are no less human because of it.
The Catholic Church therefore holds that a unique new person comes into existence from the moment of conception, and that their intrinsic human dignity is irrevocable, regardless of their future lifestyle. Consequently, the notion that Catholics consider individuals of the LGBTQ community as non-human is patently false. The idea most likely springs from a misunderstanding of Catholic teaching or a refusal to honestly and thoroughly investigate it. The Catholic Church has consistently taught that such individuals must be, “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church Article 2358) Note, however, that acceptance of the individual does not imply that we condone their actions—this leads to the next point.
Something needs to be said regarding behaving in an unnatural way, which is where I think Ms. LaValla actually takes issue. From the point of Philosophy, an action is judged morally right or wrong based upon whether or not the action is reasonable: i.e., in keeping with the nature of the action as determined by reason. Now an action can be wrong because the circumstances make it unreasonable (laughing in itself is OK, but not in the context of someone telling you their mother just died). An action can also be wrong because the purpose for which it is done is unreasonable (giving someone a gift is OK in itself, but a gift for the purpose of bribing is wrong). Finally, an action can be wrong because the very thing done is unreasonable in itself (torturing an infant is unreasonable in every circumstance and for any purpose). Since reason is the power which distinguishes man from animals, acting contrary to reason is to act contrary to human nature. Hence, committing an immoral act, as outline above, is acting contrary to our human nature. This is probably where Ms. LaValla misunderstands Catholics as considering the individuals to be non-human, when we are actually referring to the LGBTQ acts themselves as being contrary to human nature.
Reason sees the end for which things are made and act, such as eyes are for seeing, ears are for hearing, and reproductive organs are for reproducing—hence the name. Additionally, there is a natural way these faculties function in order to bring about new life. Therefore, any use of these organs for any other end than the creation of new life, according to their natural design, is to act in a manner contrary to reason. Since LGBTQ sexual intimacies cannot bring forth new life, such unnatural use of the reproductive faculties are unreasonable in any circumstance, and therefore immoral.
Too often today, people make sentiment the basis of morals rather than reason. When a friend claims to be a part of the LGBTQ community, it in no way follows that these actions are therefore moral and praiseworthy—they are not perfective of human nature but remain contrary to it, and therefore only serve to undermine it.
It is really tragic that people want to define their humanity by their sexual appetite—there is so much more to being human than sex. Yet there is a constant battle cry from the secular world for sexual liberation, thinking that such physical pleasure is the highest good in this life. But in reality, living by physical pleasure/pain as the measuring stick of life belongs to the existence of animals—not humans. Individuals that cry for such a life are thereby asserting that they see themselves as sub-human. The Catholic Church, in contrast, is saying, “No. You are so much more than an animal, and ought to live in a manner worthy of your human dignity.”
Coming back to the idea of acceptance; hopefully most people have experienced a good parent or mentor figure in their life who loves them with their faults. A true guide does not let you languish or encourage you in your failings, but attempts to build you up. The same holds true for the Catholic Church. Just as in the example of a parent, the Catholic Church recognizes that LGBTQ behaviors are objectively disordered, harming the individual, and in no way constitute the love and happiness for which these individuals long. Consequently, the Catholic Church seeks to correct their false notion of happiness by bringing them to a deeper knowledge of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, so that they might grow in virtue, and love for their fellow man. It is here, wherein the beginning of true happiness lies.