FrMichael and Crystal have been going at it in the thread connected to “Another Fired Employee.” I don’t have a background in philosophy as such, so I don’t feel as qualified to talk about natural law and how it could or should be applied to Christian theology. My concerns are more practical, and possibly more grounded in the scientific/rational truth of the created universe. If God made gays, and God persists in allowing same-sex-attracted people to seek and desire companionship, perhaps it is our understanding of tradition that is flawed.
Or more directly, if we consider a person a sinner, is it necessary to fire the person? Clearly, some people may be kept in office for faults and offenses that actually contribute to people leaving the active rolls of the Church. What about all who give scandal, not just those who act out sexually?
Let’s turn back to Natural Law. Can we apply a hermeneutic of skepticism, and still be within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy? What does Natural Law mean, anyway?
The online Catholic Encyclopedia has an entry, which reads in part:
In English this term is frequently employed as equivalent to the laws of nature, meaning the order which governs the activities of the material universe. Among the Roman jurists natural law designated those instincts and emotions common to man and the lower animals, such as the instinct of self-preservation and love of offspring. In its strictly ethical application—the sense in which this article treats it—the natural law is the rule of conduct which is prescribed to us by the Creator in the constitution of the nature with which He has endowed us.
According to St. Thomas, the natural law is “nothing else than the rational creature’s participation in the eternal law” (I-II.94).
Is the Natural Law “skepticism” of same-sex commitments in keeping with how God created everybody? In other words, does majority rule? And can we be skeptical of taking a pattern found in the majority (or even the ruling male class) and applying it to all cases?
I reviewed Veritatis Splendor 46-50, as FrMichael suggested. Saint John Paul II’s definition:
(Natural Law) refers to (humankind’s) proper and primordial nature, the “nature of the human person”,89 which is the person (her/)himself in the unity of soul and body, in the unity of his (or her) spiritual and biological inclinations and of all the other specific characteristics necessary for the pursuit of his (or her) end.
Can I remain a skeptic? If God has made a small minority of human beings with same-sex attraction, and if he hasn’t gifted all of them with the same or similar charism of celibacy he has given those called to a particular form of religious life, are gays and lesbians not exploring the spiritual and biological unity involved with the human desire and need for companionship?
St John Paul makes an argument for his opponents in terms of what some would call a desire for a wider (or absolute) freedom of self-determination. I’m not sure I would argue that stance as forcefully as he attributes it to the hermeneutic of skepticism. I suppose I’m more interested in a chipping away at an aspect that doesn’t seem to fit most classic definitions of Natural Law. And to be sure, sexual orientation is not at the core of either Christian creed or moral theology.
I think we can’t discount biology. Are people created SSA from the beginning? If so, let’s explore that openly. But let’s not take the pattern of the heterosexual as a starting point. We can’t do that any more than we can consider a woman as a female man.
At this point, I will turn it over to the philosophers in the commentariat, sit back, and read carefully.