Is LBGTQ+ same sex attraction orientation "intrinsically disordered"?
Fr. James Martin wants it removed from the Catechism

Is intrinsically disordered a "hurtful" and "cruel" term?

In 2019, Fr. James Martin met Pope Francis to remove the term "intrinsically disordered" from the Catechism paragraph 2357. In his book "Building a Bridge" he says:

“The phrase [intrinsically disordered] relates to the orientation, not the person, but it is still needlessly hurtful. (pp. 46-47).

I was an "out of the closet", letter writing, pride marching, member of the LBGTQ community. I was accepted and loved by my secular family and friends.

Then I had an encounter with Jesus that I could not refute. I eventually became a Catholic and was interviewed on the BBC.

I have no problem with the idea that attraction to people of the same gender is intrinsically disordered. For me the term "intrinsically disordered" is freedom.

Same sex messed me up,
        the Truth set me free.
                 (As per Jn 8:31-32)

The term "intrinsically disordered" would only be hurtful if we saw same sex attraction as a good thing to pursue and celebrate, and that is the crux of the difference between the mind of Fr. Martin and the mind of the Church.

I personally experienced the Lord calling me out of the LGBTQ community. This was long before I became Catholic and before the 1994 Catechism was written. I have seen the good fruit of that decision. It is not "internalized homophobia" to abstain from unnatural sex. It is the powerful and loving hand of God. The LBGTQ community has a set of tenets which people in and around the community are obliged to accept. This vision is incompatible with the Catholic vision for a healthy life. Fr. Martin's book "Building a Bridge" leaves this critical factor out of the discussion.

Tenets of the LGBTQ community
  • Anybody with same sex tendencies should join the LGBTQ community, those who don't are in denial.
  • Same sex attracted people should have sex.
  • There are no rules of sexual conduct except consent, almost anything else goes.
  • Human sexual instinct takes precedence over external (or internal) moral values.
  • Gender is fluid and established by one's personal feelings and/or choice. It's not a God given characteristic with which we are born or with which we must reconcile.
  • An important way to raise your self esteem is to convince friends, family and society that having sex with people of the same gender is emotionally and physically healthy.
  • Never accept outside criticism of the community.
  • Anyone who leaves the community is in denial, and has unresolved psychological problems and/or suffers from religious guilt.
  • Anyone who questions these tenets publicly is a "hater" and a "judgmental bigot" who needs to be socially punished. The term used is that the "hater" should be "cancelled" from any social, or employment status.
  • Parents who attempt to intervene in their child's gender identification or choices, regardless of the child's age, are fundamentalists, abusive, should be disciplined or lose their children. (That is a law in Ontario, enacted under a Premier who left her husband for her lesbian lover.)

Unfortunately, the LGBTQ vision is incompatible with the Catholic vision for a healthy life.

Is our sexual orientation one of the deepest parts of us?

Fr. Martin says:

our sexual orientation is "... one of the deepest parts of a person — the part that gives and receives love ...”.
While our sexual orientation is a deep part of us, our spiritual orientation is much deeper than our sexual orientation. Our identity as children of God is the source of our giving and receiving of love. Agape Love is the deepest love we can experience. All the other types of love are filters that channel God's love to others. Eros (romantic love) is only one of those filters.

diagram of the four types of love, Agape, Eros, Philia, Storage.

Any disordered affections that interfere with our spiritual orientation and its call to chastity are obstacles to our spiritual journey. If Eros is disordered, then although it can be a trial, God's love can be channeled in other ways through Philia and Storage.  

By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they [same sex attracted people] can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (Catechism 2357-2359)

Did God wonderfully create people with an LBGT identity?

Fr. Martin tells people with same sex attraction:

God made you this way [LBGT]. You are wonderfully made just like Psalm 139 says you were knit together in your mother’s womb … this way. This is a part of your identity

While we appreciate that each of us is wonderfully made in the likeness of God, Fr. Martin is conflating God's active will and passive will. Our "all powerful" God allows factors (nurture and/or nature) that form our attractions just like he allows some people to have depression, etc. Life is messy because of original sin, free will, and many other factors. The purpose of these challenges is so that we may become saints through the amazing choices we make in the face of adversity. Paul comfortingly reminds us:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ... And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.(1 Cor. 10:13).

To assert it is God's active will to create someone with same sex attraction would mean that God willed something that he has forbidden in the Bible. This would make the Christian faith contradict itself. The Christian faith without the Bible or its moral teachings would neuter the Christian faith.

What does Fr. Martin want to put in the place of "intrinsically disordered"?

In a recent interview, he called for the use of the replacement phrase “differently ordered.” This would be a rupture with the Christian faith of our fathers. It could not possibly be interpreted as a hermeneutic of continuity. It would mean that God created two different orders of sexual behavior that are both good and right according to his will (gay and straight). Fr. Martin makes no secret of his disagreement with Scripture:

"Where are the Bible mentions same-sex sexual behaviour at all it clearly condemns it. I freely grant that. The issue is clearly whether the biblical judgment is correct." (Tweet by Fr. James Martin)

What does intrinsically disordered mean?

According to Merriam-Webster:

  • Intrinsic: belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing.
  • Disordered: not functioning in a normal orderly healthy way.

Putting the two together we get something like the following:

"The essential nature of homosexual acts is that they don't function in a normal orderly healthy way."

This is objectively true:

  • The Biblical evidence: cover to cover the Bible presents gay sex as a problem, which is why there has been so much work by activists to try to re-frame the Bible, or worse make it illegal.
  • The historical evidence: Saints, mystics, and the fathers of the Church, throughout history are consistent about gay sex. Many gave their lives in the defense and pursuit of truth, and had no good reason to "toe the line" with the Church or their culture.
  • The biological evidence: "Natural Law" says that things in God's Creation should be used according to their purpose. (i.e., Gay sex does not follow any natural or biological law.) Same sex activity closes the sexual act to the gift of life. It does not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. (CC 2357) William Shakespeare wrote "unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles" in the play Macbeth. That may be universally true.
  • The ecclesiastical evidence: Christian charity is to try to help people overcome obstacles to spiritual growth for their own eternal good and for the good of those they influence. That's the Church's mission as commanded by Christ, and whenever and wherever the Church drifts from that mission, it suffers.
  • The statistical evidence: A coalition of LBGTQ members filed an human rights complaint (pg 3-4) where they provided current health statistics. It paints a bleak picture of life expectancy, addiction and health of sexually active members of the LBGTQ community. The scientific community says discrimination alone does not account for the entire disparity in rates of anxiety, depression, suicide, substance abuse, intimate partner violence.

How does the scientific community explain same sex attraction?

Dr. Lawrence Mayer, professor of psychiatry and statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University and Dr. Paul McHugh, psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore from 1975 to 2001 wrote a series of articles called Sexuality and Gender. The Journal – The New Atlantis, (August 23, 2016).

Dr. Mayer testified in dozens of federal and state legal proceedings supporting equality and opposing discrimination for the LGBTQ Community. He says this study is an objective review of scientific inquiry. The report, which reviews over 500 scientific studies, determined the following were not supported by scientific evidence:

  • The belief that sexual orientation is an innate, biologically fixed human property – that people are “born that way”.
  • The belief that gender identity is an innate, fixed human property independent of biological sex – so that a person might be a ‘man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’.
  • Only a minority of children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behaviour will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood. There is no evidence that all such children should be encouraged to become transgender, much less subjected to hormone treatments or surgery. 
  • Non-heterosexual and transgender people have higher rates of mental health problems (anxiety, depression, suicide), as well as behavioral and social problems (substance abuse, intimate partner violence), than the general population. Discrimination alone does not account for the entire disparity.

Dr. Mayer was alarmed to learn during his review of over 500 scientific articles that the LGBTQ community bears a disproportionate rate of mental health problems compared to the population as a whole.

None of the researchers involved in studies such as "INAH-3" by Simon Levay, "Twins and Other Brothers" by Bailey & Pillar, "Xq28 Genetic Markers" by Dean Hamer claimed that their studies prove the born gay theory. Reputable researchers admit there are many problems with these studies such as small samples sizes and inconsistent results. What the studies have shown, however, is that some people, such as identical twins, who should have been gay based on the theory, were not gay. These days, the LBGTQ community would not want to be boxed in by studies that say we have a predetermined gender and sex identity when we are born.

Dr. Lisa Diamond is co-author-in-chief of ‘the American Psychological Association (APA) Handbook’ of sexuality and psychology. She is professor of developmental psychology and health psychology at the University of Utah.  She is a lesbian activist who said during a lecture at Cornell University that abundant research has now established that sexual orientation – including attraction, behaviour and self-identity – is fluid for both adolescents and adults for both genders.

What is the solution?

The most effective protection against the adverse effects of an active same sex life is chastity, but that is generally ridiculed in the LGBTQ community as denial, repression or religious guilt. We think chastity and community are the answer. We cannot have community without a serious commitment to chastity. The statistics in the LBGTQ community are evidence of that. We hope the Church of the future will be welcoming and challenging to anyone with same sex attraction who want to find answers to life's problems in the Church.

Bishop Fulton Sheen describes the normal and abnormal (disordered) mind

Here is a classic Fulton Sheen talk about a normal and abnormal mind.

...the normal person is governed by reason and will. The abnormal person is governed by instincts, impulses and also he believes that the subconsciousness is the determinant of his life ... [he] live[s] in a world of dreams,... [that] have tremendous meaning and they are for the most part unfulfilled sex desires ... [its an] exaggerated belief in the sub consciousness as the determinant of rational beings ...

The normal person believes in repressing the excesses of the lower instincts in order to express reason and will and his potential for divine grace.

There is also a repression for the abnormal [mind] but the repression here is not of the lower instincts it's rather a repression of the reason and the will in order to give an outlet for the lower instincts....

There is never a repression without an expression never an expression without a repression ... [To suppress reason and will to express the subconcious lower instincts] one might just as well say the way to overcome a complex about committing suicide is to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge ...

It is wrong also for people to think that we are to get rid of all conflicts of life. There certain conflicts that are inevitable in human nature simply because we're composed of body and soul, matter and spirit. Therefore there's always a struggle, there's a cross that is at the very center of human life. No man is ever really happy on the inside until he's at war with himself ... Our Lord said I came not to bring peace but the sword. Not the sword the points and thrusts outward to destroy the neighbor but the sword that thrusts inward in order to destroy one's egotism, one's lust and one's avarice and all the things that destroy peace of mind. The greatest Cross in the world is to be without a cross.

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