Of late Papa Bergoglio has uttered ambiguous sayings on the Church’s need to apologize to homosexuals for the manner in which she has treated them. Judging from the popular brouhaha in the social media, perhaps there is confusion in people’s thinking between homo-philia, chaste friendship, and homo-eros, people who desire sex with people of the same sex
We all know of the etymology from which these phrases derive. In the Greek there are four words for “love:” agape, pure unselfish love, philia, the love of friendship, especially between brothers, storge, affection love, a deep bond usually borne of spending a long time with another and, of course, the one most familiar, eros, which is passionate, sexual love, seeking pleasure from the other.
In the Catholic view, as Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote in Deus Caritas Est, all loves must be included under agape, which is the term Christ uses, and the Church has adopted, to mean “charity--” pure, unselfish love which wills the good of the other, without necessarily seeking our own good.
Our over-eroticized culture, however, often considers “love” as erotic love. This usually applies to persons of the complementary sex, a man and a woman. But what of “love” between persons of the same sex? There is nothing wrong, and indeed much that is good, in men loving men and women loving women. True friendship between “brothers” and “sisters”is only possible, however, if the love remains chaste.
What the Church warns against in same-sex friendship, following natural law, is eroticizing this natural and healthy bond, turning homo-philia, into homo-eros, with its accompanying unnatural vices. Our culture’s fascination with homoerotic tendencies has obfuscated the natural homophilic friendships of men and women.
Pope Benedict XVI also stated in Deus Caritas Est that modernity has warped eros, not the Church and Christianity, which very early on in the Roman Empire purified eros from its pagan inclinations, so toxic for women and children, subjugated as they were and used as sexual slaves and prostitutes (a plight that threatens them today as well).
In a genuinely Christian culture, men attempt to be chaste in relating to women, or at least held to account if they are not. Women thus hold all the cards in the sexual relationship. It is the opposite in a pagan culture, cut off from Judeo-Christian revelation, Here women are objectified and sexualized, taken by force if need be. So anyone who says the Church is anti-woman knows not history, nor that Her teaching is her best defense.
So eros must be controlled and channeled, incorporated under the higher love of agape, willing the good of the other. As John Paul II and Benedict both taught clearly, this is possible only within monogamous and faithful marriage, wherein the true “gift of self” can occur, with eros ordered to the mutual complementarity and union between husband and wife and the procreation of children.
All of our other friendships should be non-sexual and non-erotic.
Yet modernity thinks that all this matters not, though there remains a seeming aversion to adultery, pedophilia and rape. Be forewarned: even these are becoming increasingly difficult to explain as we cut ourselves off from the vine of Christian revelation and reason. Just recall the idolizing of Alfred Kinsey, an entomologist who malformed himself into a “sexologist,” carrying out sexual experiments on children, depicted fawningly by Liam Neeson in the film linked above.
So we now think that any sexual activity between “consenting adults” is OK. But how to define “consensus,” with all of the obvious and implicit disetortions of power and authority, and the problem of saying who really is an “adult.” Does one measure with the yardstick of biology? Psychology? Spirituality? Who determines? Furthermore, something harmful does not cease to be harmful just because one consents to it.
As Paul VI once wrote, we must not underestimate the power of libido, and how it affects us and those around us. In a homily in 1972, which served as the basis for my book, he opined that unleashed and ungoverned eros, whose origins lie in the deeply wounded libido of Man, is at the basis of many contemporary societal ills:
· the breakdown of the family and redefinition of traditional marriage
· the epidemic of sexual diseases
· abortion,with the unborn killed daily in far greater numbers than any other modern massacre.
So we do people with a homosexual orientation, and anyone else with an inclination to sexual deviancy, no favors by supporting their disordered inclinations and actions. Rather let us render them a service in love by revealing to them the full truth of who they are, and who they are called to be, in God’s image and so loved.