Homosexuality, Tolerance and Original Sin

Homosexuality, Tolerance and Original Sin

By James A. Urda
Copyright 2000-2003. All Rights Reserved.

Introduction

There are many Christians who hold the position that active homosexuality is sinful, but that we must love homosexuals. Increasingly though, taking this position no longer seems sufficient. If one does not affirm active homosexuality (at least under certain conditions) one is labeled as an intolerant, homophobe, lacking in the compassion and pastoral care of Jesus. However, compassion does not justify any and every activity, nor should the term homophobe be improperly applied to people who believe homosexual acts are wrong but, nevertheless wish to treat homosexuals with the genuine respect, compassion, and sensitivity they deserve as children of God. Homophobe is an invented derogatory term that can be used to silence opposition from those who believe in full, authentic Church teaching.

Biological Impact of Original Sin

Some suggest recent studies indicating a possible biological component to homosexuality somehow makes such behavior 'natural' and, therefore, morally acceptable, and something to be tolerated (read ŽaffirmedŪ) by Christians. However, Original Sin not only had a corrupting influence on our souls but biology as well. The Catechism does not preclude a biological component to homosexuality; nevertheless this does not make the behavior acceptable.

CCC 2357: "Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."

The homosexual condition, even if eventually demonstrated to have a biological component, is explainable in terms of Original Sin. Active homosexuality is a sin and all sin stems from Original Sin.

CCC 404: "How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man" By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act."

Also, in the Epistles.

Romans 8:19-23: "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."

See also References [1] [2] [3] [4].

What if it is discovered pedophilia has a biological component? What of individuals with a biological inclination toward violent behavior or those with a biological inclination to alcoholism ? God did not intend for man to die, but Original Sin corrupted our biology so that it is now 'natural' to die. No, God didn't make "junk" but Original Sin sure did-a-number on things - including human biological expression.

God's Created Order

Natural from God's perspective is His created order, not all the inclinations now in our fallen biology. God's created order is for man and woman as shown in Genesis and repeated by Jesus:

Genesis 1:27 "And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them"

Mark 10:6-9 "But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife. And they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

Nowhere in Scripture is homosexual activity approved. Jesus only allows the married state between man and woman (above) or the celibate life.

Matthew 19:10-12: "The disciples said to him, 'If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.' But he said to them, 'Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.'"

Notice the disciples say "not expedient to marry" - the disciples understood only two options: marriage to a woman or no marriage. Jesus does not give another option to homosexuals because of any predisposition they may have. Jesus' teaching was not focused on negatives, but on positives - what we should do. If the Bible does not condemn so-called stable, homosexual unions, as some contend, it is odd that Jesus, or the Apostles, made no positive statements about such unions. Their silence is telling.

Some homosexual advocates maintain that so-called committed, homosexual unions were unknown to the early Church; implying that if it understood them as such, it would have approved. In Romans 1:26-27 some homosexual advocates allege Paul was condemning something other than faithful, committed relationships Ů they believe he was condemning heterosexuals acting unnaturally as homosexuals [5].

Romans 1:26-27 "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error."

To simultaneously assert that Paul was psychologically perceptive enough to distinguish between heterosexual men actively engaged in homosexuality and homosexual men actively engaged in homosexuality, and yet, was unable to conceive of so called "faithful, committed homosexual relationships" strains credibility. Moreover, if this pro-homosexual interpretation is correct, why didn't Paul conversely condemn homosexuals for 'unnaturally' engaging in heterosexual activity?

Jesus, as God, certainly understood such so-called committed relationships. Though the Church could not approve, it could have also understood such relationships; to think otherwise is temporal arrogance. However, such distinctions were irrelevant because the behavior was always considered sinful.

Biblical Admonitions

Some who advocate active homosexuality say that Biblical admonitions have changed. For example, Leviticus condemns eating certain meat, wearing certain clothes and, in the same book - homosexual acts.

Leviticus 19:26 "You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not practice augury or witchcraft."

Leviticus 11:7-8,10-12 "And the swine, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch; they are unclean to you. But anything in the seas or the rivers that has not fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is an abomination to you. They shall remain an abomination to you; of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall have in abomination. Everything in the waters that has not fins and scales is an abomination to you."

Leviticus 19:19 "You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor shall there come upon you a garment of cloth made of two kinds of stuff."

Leviticus 18:13 "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them."

Since eating meat, wearing certain clothes, etc, are no longer considered wrong, neither should certain homosexual acts - so the pro-homosexualist says. Often unmentioned by pro-homosexual advocates is the fact that this very same book condemns not only homosexual acts but also child sacrifice, adultery, incest and bestiality:

Leviticus 20:2: "Say to the people of Israel, Any man of the people of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, who gives any of his children to Molech shall be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones."

Leviticus 20:10 "If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death."

Leviticus 20:11-12 "The man who lies with his father's wife has uncovered his father's nakedness; both of them shall be put to death, their blood is upon them. If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall be put to death; they have committed incest, their blood is upon them."

Leviticus 20:15 "If a man lies with a beast, he shall be put to death; and you shall kill the beast"

By logical extension of the above argument, the aforementioned acts along with eating certain meat, wearing certain clothes, and homosexuality, should also become morally acceptable. If the laws of Leviticus no longer apply to eating meats, clothing, homosexuality, they should not apply to incest, child sacrifice, adultery, and bestiality.

In the Old Testament violating certain moral laws called forth the death penalty as punishment. An indication that active homosexuality deals with moral law is seen in its penalty - death. Obviously the seriousness of the offense is shown by the rather severe penalty.

Leviticus 20:13 " If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them."

This death penalty is not merely a cleansing ritual or isolation from the community characteristic of breaking ceremonial or dietary laws, far from it.

In the New Testament the distinctions between ceremonial laws and moral laws are increased. Though most ceremonial and dietary laws were discontinued, the moral laws were not lessened after the Redemption of the New Testament.

Admittedly, there were certain immoral behaviors tolerated in the Old Testament that were not part of God's original plan for mankind, e.g. divorce, concubines, and limited slavery, but immoral behaviors, such as active homosexuality, not allowed in the Old Testament never got permitted in the New Testament, let alone raised to the level of something considered intrinsically good. In the New Testament, Mosaic moral laws were preserved and even enhanced. In fact, the moral laws were made more strict. Jesus tells Israel to love their enemy. Jesus forbids divorce. The proper attitude of Christians toward slaves can be seen in Philemon 15-17. Paul directed a Christian master to treat his Christian slave "no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother,÷both in the flesh and in the Lord." In an Epistle to Timothy, Paul may be condemning slave traders where some translators believe the word kidnapers refers to slave traders. [6]

1 Timothy 1:9-10 "understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,"

In the New Testament it was never looked upon as something intrinsically good. The Church knew slavery could not be eliminated until enough individual hearts were changed through the growth of Christianity, since human free will is involved. In fact, primarily because of the influence of Christianity, slavery is considered intolerable in the world today - at least in countries with significant percentages of Christians.

"A final note with regards to Old Testament morality and God: "The commandments bind us and not our Lord. He is Lord over life and liberty. While we have no personal right to take an innocent life or enslave it, if God commands the death of an individual or a group or people, or commands that they be enslaved, that is His prerogative. It is good that our sensibilities are such that slavery is now unthinkable to us as Christians, but it is dangerous to attempt to bind God by what binds us. This is a slippery slope and ultimately, if we start to imagine that God has no right to take a life or enslave it in this world should He choose, how can He possibly judge a person to an eternity of hell? And there are many today, including Christians, who have set their own standard of what is acceptable or not and impose this upon God, with the charge that a good God cannot do such and such. Better for us to take the position that we are obedient to what God demands of us and not demand an account from God for what He has done in the past or will do in the future. He is perfectly just in all that He does, not to mention infinitely loving and merciful. Now that we are in a Covenant with God with Jesus as the Mediator, many of the limitations and concessions of the past which existed even with those in the Old Covenant have given way to a certain perfection, so that we can live as God intends us to, in imitation of Jesus Christ."[7]

The Bible clearly tells us, in both Old and New Testaments, that we are not to judge God's ways:

Job 36:22-24 "Behold, God is exalted in his power; who is a teacher like him? Who has prescribed for him his way, or who can say, 'Thou hast done wrong?' Remember to extol his work, of which men have sung."

Job 40:1-2,8-9 "And the LORD said to Job: 'Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.' Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be justified? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?"

Romans 9:20-23 "But who are you, a man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me thus?' Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory"

False Love and Compassion

Today it is popular to make love the justification for many sinful actions. However, human love can interfere with God's plans. Jesus instructs us not to love anyone more than God. To do so is sinful.

Matthew 10:37 "He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me"

Two people engaging in adultery may very well believe their love justifies their actions, but it does not. Jesus said if we truly love Him we will keep his commandments. Love is defined as the desire of good for another person. Since active homosexuality can lead to loss of salvation, true love of the other person is to educate that person and offer assistance to allow them to avoid eternal punishment.

Nor should we be seduced by 'moving experiences' during sponsored events supporting homosexual unions, but heed Scripture's warnings "But if we or even an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other then that which we preached to you , let him be anathema." (Galatians 1:8). Also, "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings" (2 Timothy 4:3).

Sadly, some of these sponsored events are held within Church buildings.

Pastoral concern in regard to sin is to offer compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation, but only for repentant sinners. Implying that no forgiveness is needed - only compassion and understanding after listening to 'story telling' - is an emotional manipulation of Church teaching. The world will grow colder as the need for forgiveness and compassion diminish as sin is defined away.

Tolerance

Today tolerance is touted as 'the' moral principle that must be upheld. However, this "tolerance" has been redefined by man. We are asked to accept redefined moral principles even though they have components that go against Scripture and Church teaching. Those who establish such redefined morals have rebelled against a lesson of Original Sin. Just as Adam and Eve had attempted to be like God by determining for themselves what is good and what is evil , likewise today man is defining for himself what is good and what is evil and does violence to God's revealed truth to justify sin.

CCC 407: "The doctrine of original sin, closely connected with that of redemption by Christ, provides lucid discernment of man's situation and activity in the world. By our first parents' sin, the devil has acquired a certain domination over man, even though man remains free. Original sin entails "captivity under the power of him who thenceforth had the power of death, that is, the devil."  Ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action and morals."

An oft-heard phrase when discussing active homosexuality with pro-homosexualists or those indifferent to active homosexuality is: "You should not judge". Judgment too has been redefined by man to suit certain agendas This judging Jesus refers to pertains to people's eternal salvation, which is based on the state of their souls, something only God can know. It does not pertain to determining if actions are right or wrong. Although Scripture instructs us not to judge, it also instructs us to discern and admonish. Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, but then He told her "Go and sin no more." Admonishing the sinner is a spiritual act of mercy and should be practiced.

Justification by Silence?

Some lesbians justify their activity saying Scripture says nothing about lesbianism. An argument from silence is the weakest of arguments, so I don't put much stock in someone asserting lesbianism is acceptable because the Old Testament makes no explicit reference to it.

Biblical Hebrew society was patriarchal. Feminist always remind us of this for their own reasons. However, given that this patriarchal society is a fact, this fact allows for an interesting explanation for why women were not mentioned. The Patriarchal society's Levitical laws and regulations focus on the purity of the sacrificial system; but it also put the responsibility for teaching morality on the men. Men bore the direct responsibility for revealing the character of God through their lives and relationships with other human beings. However, both men and women have equal responsibility for revealing the character of God when it comes to their relationships with animals (and creation in general).

Genesis 1:27-28: "God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying: "Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth."

This would explain why both men and women are mentioned in Leviticus in reference to bestiality, but only men in Leviticus in relation to homosexuality. Also, active male homosexuality within Jewish culture was probably very minimal (because of the death penalty) and lesbianism was essentially unheard of - so lesbianism was not a problem in pre-industrial society Jewish culture where marriage and bearing children was of great importance.

More commentary on the "argument from silence" using biblical examples.

When Nadab and Abihu employed žprofane fire,Ó i.e., fire not taken from the altar of sacrifice, they were destroyed by God.

Leviticus 10:1: "During this time Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers and, strewing incense on the fire they had put in them, they offered up before the LORD profane fire, such as he had not authorized."

Fire therefore came forth from the LORD'S presence and consumed them, so that they died in his presence. Why? Scripture said they offered žsuch as he had not authorized."

Jeremiah was instructed to stand in the gate of the temple compound and urge the nation to žReform your ways and your deeds." What was one of their transgressions?

Jeremiah 7:3: "In the Valley of Ben-hinnom they have built the high place of Topheth to immolate in fire their sons and their daughters, such a thing as I never commanded or had in mind."

Note that God says "a thing as I never commanded or had in mind."

The Levites were to bear the Ark by poles, which were passed through rings on the side of the golden box (Exodus 25: 12-14). David, however, had borne the Ark on a žnew cartÓ (2 Samuel 6:3). Was such a thing wrong, inasmuch as the law was silent respecting the matter of carts? Yes! David confirmed this when he later said:

1 Chronicles 15:11-15: "Then David summoned the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab, and said to them, 'You are the heads of the fathers' houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, so that you may bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it the first time,  the LORD our God broke forth upon us, because we did not care for it in the way that is ordained.'  So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel. And the Levites carried the ark of God upon their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD."

St. Paul writes clearly:

Romans 1:26-27 "Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity."

Some have speculated that the women engaging in unnatural sex were engaging in bestiality, and not active homosexuality, but it is difficult for me to believe this given that the immediate context clearly involves male active homosexuality. It is also difficult to believe any significant number of women would engage in bestiality.

It would seem odd that lesbianism is acceptable, but Leviticus without qualification, says male homosexuality is wrong. It is also odd that if lesbianism is acceptable and, although the bible in several places condones same-sex love between women (Ruth/Naomi), and men (David/Jonathan), it never condones same-sex sex between women (nor between men). Although unclear in today's immoral society due to the blindness of sin, love is not sex.

The bible also does not explicitly prohibit bi-sexuality, so I suppose that is acceptable also? St. Paul says it clearly enough in Romans (above) that unnatural relations are those other than between men and women.

Silence has no authority.

Some Final Points

Some pro-homosexualists argue that because Jesus does not specifically condemn homosexual activity it may be proper. He neither specifically condemns incest, rape, bestiality, pedophilia, or slavery. Does that make the activities proper? Certainly not. Jesus tells us to obey Him and His Church. Furthermore, God's Word is not limited to the Gospels. There is much more to God's Word and homosexuality is condemned there.

However, we also know that in Vatican II Dei Verbum, the Bible contains the very word of God. Even though Jesus did not directly repeat what was already condemned in the Old Testament, the fact remains that Truth without error is presented.

Dei Verbum #11. "Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself. In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted."

"Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).

Church teaching on the sinfulness of active homosexuality is not subject to revisionist's interpretations allowing homosexual activity for the Church is the preserver and interpreter of truth [8] [9]:

1 Timothy 3:15 "if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth."

Even if biology does play a role in the inclination towards homosexuality, sinful activity is nevertheless strengthened by habit and cognitive conditioning and is ultimately an act of will.

The proper response to homosexual sponsored events, in particular, those held on church grounds, should not be inflammatory placards, rather, kneel and pray near where such events occur.

Bear in mind that if homosexuality has a biological component, heterosexuals should understand that the temptation to act may be strong and more difficult to resist in homosexuals; heterosexuals should not assume an air of moral superiority. Indeed, the homosexual resisting this temptation may be using God's given will power to a greater extent than the heterosexual, and be further on the road to sainthood than your typical heterosexual.

This article is to be followed by a second article addressing some specific biblical texts dealing with homosexuality and the Bible's overall view of marriage.


REFERENCES

[1]
Cortese : Homosexuality and the Old Testament - http://www.ewtn.com/library/HUMANITY/homo3.htm
[2]
Catholic Answers: Homosexuality and Chastity  - http://www.catholic.com/answers/tracts/homosex.htm
[3]
EWTN Q&A Forum on "Genetic evidence that says homosexuality is biological?"

EWTN Q&A Question on 03-26-1998: 
Dear Jean, I consider myself a pretty good catholic, I attend mass regularly, I pray the rosary and try to live a good catholic life. I want to say at the start that I am not sexually active, although I have had some confusion surrounding my sexuality. I am taking a college biology course and the professor made a statement that goes along with some recent studies that has shown that there is a possible link to homosexuality and differences in brain structures and the thoughts are processed. I am not a science major and I probably don't have all the facts but the professor said that " it may be necessary for some people to be homosexual in order for the world to evolve" I am paraphrasing of course. But if it is biological. how come we can be condemned for something that we have no control over. If God made us a certain way? Why is it wrong? Are the scientists a group of liars who just make this stuff to confuse us even more. I need to understand this?

Please help me have some consolation that my soul is not doomed

God Bless

EWTN Q&A Answer by Jean-Francois Orsini, Ph.D on 03-26-1998:
I would like to congratulate you for leading an upright life as well as for the desire to learn. There are indeed some scientists who have tried to show that homosexuality is genetically pre-determined. Scientifically nothing is established. We need however to think about it. It is part of the stain of Original Sin that we are predisposed to sin. Because of the first sin of Adam and Eve the whole of nature but also our own nature is flawed. Our charity and our will can redress this situation. Indeed, it is known that alcoholics are genetically predisposed. But drunkenness is a sin even if alcoholism is a disease. Naturally alcoholics who are way down the slippery slope have a very difficult time to get back up but the gravest sins were committed when they were still only at the top of the slope and knew they were drinking too much. All human creatures are pre-disposed to sin one way or another either in their body or their mind. What counts in the eyes of God is not the type of the sin it is the gravity of the sin. Also - on the positive side - what counts is the grace we can have and the greatness of that grace (which is all free for the asking; but it takes quite some training to learn and ask properly). God bless. Jean-Francois Orsini, TOP, Ph.D. President - St. Antoninus Institute http://www.ewtn.com/antonin/antonin.htm
[4]
Commentary on Romans 8:18-23, New American Catholic Edition of The Holy Bible, Confraternity Version, page 166, New Testament section. "Paul, in this passage, in a mystical poetic conception, thinks of the whole world as groaning in subjection to vanity, that is, to corruption, change and death, as a result of man's fall and yearning to share in the glorification of the sons of God at the end of time. St. Peter tells us that there will be a new heaven and a new earth. (2 Peter 3:13). St. John in vision saw 'a new heaven and a new earth.' (Apocalypse 21:1)."
[5]
The Truth About Homosexuality, Fr. John Harvey, Ignatius Press, pages 139, 251, 255
Page 139: "The specific biblical condemnations of homosexual behavior are made to appear irrelevant to the situation of homosexual persons in contemporary culture. Genesis, for example, is concerned with inhospitality and homosexual rape; Leviticus is interpreted as seeing homosexual acts as evil when they are part of a pagan cult; and Romans is understood as a condemnation of heterosexual men performing homosexual acts."
Page 251: "Stott, surprisingly, allows himself to be persuaded that the classical texts of Leviticus (18:22) and 20:13) refer not to ordinary homosexual acts but to acts done in the rites of idolatry. Many scriptural scholars do not agree with him. He also dismisses Romans 1:26-27 too easily as referring only to promiscuous homosexual behavior, and thus not applicable to loving, faithful same-sex unions."
Page 254: "Stott also argues well against the spurious argument that when Paul condemned homosexual acts in Romans 1:26-27 he was referring to heterosexual men performing homosexual acts for pleasure."
[6]
EWTN Q&A Scripture Forum on "1 Tim 1:9-10 kidnapers/slave traders"

EWTN Q&A Question on 03-25-2000:
Dear Fr. Echert, I have heard a possible translation of the word 'kidnaper' in 1 Tim 1:9-10 is slave trader. Is this an accurate translation or meaning for the word? thank you,

EWTN Q&A Answer by Fr. John Echert on 03-27-2000:
As recorded in the RSV, St. Paul wrote to Timothy in his first letter:
1:8 Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, 1:9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 1:10 immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 1:11 in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

The root of the word is a compound, meaning literally, "to catch a man by the foot." As such, the word can function to mean a slave-trader or kidnapper (not limited to the stealing of a child, but a person in general). To determine the uses of such a word, one needs to consult classical Greek literature, wherein both meanings, slave-trader and man-stealer (kidnapper) can be found. However, more often it refers to slave-trading, especially as spoils of war which was somewhat common in the ancient barbaric world. In modern times, barbarians are more often found in the form of kidnappers.
[7]
EWTN Q&A Scripture Forum on "Slavery"

EWTN Q&A Question on 03-07-2000:
Hello Father Torraco: This question encompasses both Scripture interpretation and Moral Law. It is regarding the First Reading on Sunday, March 5, the 9th Sunday in Ordinary time. The reading is from Deuteronomy, and in the reading it is recorded that the Lord commands his people to observe the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. God goes on to specify who shall not work, including "your male or female slave". Since God was laying down the very detailed intricate Mosaic Law, why did He not just abolish slavery? Or was the "slavery" of those times different from our current understanding? Thank you.

EWTN Q&A Answer by Fr. John Echert on 03-14-2000:
I am not convinced that slavery is intrinsically evil, but it is a consequence of original sin. God did not create man and woman to dominate each other but to respect the equal dignity of the other. And while it was tolerated by God in the OT, even then the Lord introduced controls which regulated slavery which moderated the practice in many cases; but we are no longer in primitive and unredeemed times. With the Incarnation and Redemption won by Jesus, Christian dignity is such that it is intolerable to treat a fellow human being as a piece of property without regard for his own dignity.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the seventh commandment forbids acts or enterprises that for any reason÷lead to the enslavement or human beings, to their being bought, sold and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard for their personal dignity (#2414). It makes reference to St. Paul's letter to Philemon, in which St. Paul directed a Christian master to treat his Christian slave "no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother,÷both in the flesh and in the Lord."

So what do we say of the practice of slavery in OT times and the seeming lack of a formal condemnation of this practice by Jesus and the NT, for even Paul used persuasion rather than command with regards to the situation of the runaway slave at issue in Philemon. Along the lines of what our Lord did by going back to Genesis in speaking of the issue of marriage and divorce, I would do the same for slavery. In the beginning, as God created man and woman, He did not intend that one would enslave the other. But God tolerated certain things and moderated certain aspects of human life, such as allowing divorce within Judaism under Mosaic Law because of stubborn hearts, even though He created the two to become one inseparably. Similarly, the enslavement of one human being by another was a consequence of original sin and reflects our moral failure. But God did bring in controls regarding slavery as practiced within Judaism and made distinctions and set limits which moderated Judaism in the face of the practice of other peoples of the time. Jews were sometimes commanded by God to wipe out foreign peoples who did not worship Him and were not in covenant with Him, so enslavement of such foreign peoples should not surprise us, though even there were God imposed controls upon the treatment of slaves. And for Jews who were servants of fellow Jews, usually as indentured servants, there were more strict controls and one Jew was never the property of another. As time passed, even within Judaism there was less use of foreign slaves (much because God's people were themselves dominated by others) and as to Jewish servants, there were conditions which eventually brought about freedom from circumstances. And in the unfolding plan of salvation God has arranged it that sinful humanity arrive at a point at which slavery is no longer acceptable at all, and we are at such a point now in the life of the Church. Christianity, which conferred equal dignity upon all, made slavery incompatible with Christianity; that is, the manner in which Christians treat others. St. Paul might have simply commanded Philemon to release his slave who was now Christian rather than use persuasion, but he had to maneuver and finesse with Roman law over which he had no control and particular circumstances. But under the strong influence of Christianity, slavery in the world today and most especially among Christians is no longer tolerable. We may not have control over the behavior of non-Christians, but I would say that no Christian may enslave another, in disregard of their personal dignity. This does not preclude such things as the hiring of servants or restricting a person's freedom, such as society has the right to do with prisoners.

But a final note with regards to slavery and God in the OT. The commandments bind us and not our Lord. He is Lord over life and liberty. While we have no personal right to take an innocent life or enslave it, if God commands the death of an individual or a group or people, or commands that they be enslaved, that is His prerogative. It is good that our sensibilities are such that slavery is now unthinkable to us as Christians, but it is dangerous to attempt to bind God by what binds us. This is a slippery slope and ultimately, if we start to imagine that God has no right to take a life or enslave it in this world should He choose, how can He possibly judge a person to an eternity of hell? And there are many today, including Christians, who have set their own standard of what is acceptable or not and impose this upon God, with the charge that a good God cannot do such and such. Better for us to take the position that we are obedient to what God demands of us and not demand an account from God for what He has done in the past or will do in the future. He is perfectly just in all that He does, not to mention infinitely loving and merciful. And now that we are in a Covenant with God with Jesus as the Mediator, many of the limitations and concessions of the past which existed even with those in the Old Covenant have given way to a certain perfection, so that we can live as God intends us to, in imitation of Jesus Christ. And I recall not instance in the Gospels in which Jesus enslaved anyone; far from it, He was Himself the Servant who told us to be servants to others.

Thanks
[8]
EWTN Q&A Scripture Forum on "Greek translation of 1 Tim 3:15"

EWTN Q&A Question on 11-28-1999:
Dear Father,
A Calvinist whom I have been in dialogue with claims the Greek word for "truth" in 1 Tim 3:15 stands for a "community of believers." Any truth to this? Thanks

EWTN Q&A Answer by Fr. John Echert on 11-30-1999:
St. Paul wrote to his coworker, Timothy:
3:14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, 3:15 if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. 3:16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

The issue here regards the subject of which is said "the pillar and bulwark of truth." So the first thing to note is that one should not separate out "truth" from the rest of this phrase, to determine the subject of the phrase. It would appear from the context that the Greek intends this to be said of the Church ("ekklesia"); hence, "the Church ÷ (is) the pillar and bulwark of the truth. God is truth, as Paul well knew, and the Church is a pillar and bulwark of this Truth, or truth that has been revealed. With regards to the interpretation of the Calvinist with whom you are in dialogue, the deeper issue may be with his view of the Church. Paul is not speaking simply of an assembly of believers, but the Church in its broader and more mystical sense. The word in the Greek, "ekklesia" can be used to refer to a particular community of believers, the Church as a whole, and the Church as a mystical reality (such as the Body of Christ, or Bride of Christ). Paul uses this word in all three senses, but clearly here he intends the Church in her mystical universal sense, and not merely an assembly of believers. I suspect that the Calvinist does not recognize or accept these various senses of Church, but they are quite biblical and necessary to make important distinctions. The bottom line: the two of you have radically different ecclesiologies, that is, views of the Church (and that is just the start)

By the way, this text gives Scriptural support to the nature and importance of the Church.
Thanks
[9]
Church Authority and Infallibility - http://catholic-scriptures.homepage.com/CAUTHOR.HTM "

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