Monday, May 23, 2011

Love, Capital Sins, and Being Catholic

I ran into an online advertisement today that showed two cartoon characters talking. One said, "it must be hard to be Catholic and gay." The other replied, "it's easier than...." The rest had to do with the ad's sponsor.

If you're waiting for a rant: that's not gonna happen. The ad reminded me of something I haven't discussed for a while, and gave me a pretty good way to get started.

Capital Sins and Me

First, it's hard to be Catholic and be quite a few sorts of person. Including, but not limited to, a:
  • Cheating spouse
  • Mass murderer
  • Glutton
That last is uncomfortably close to home. If I lost a hundred pounds, I'd still be overweight by some standards. Does that mean I'm a glutton? Maybe. It certainly means that I need to lose weight to stay (or, rather, get) healthy. Which is a process that I started about a week ago.

Should I be worried about gluttony? Yes, I think so. My behavior - and physique - suggest that I act in a gluttonous manner. And gluttony is one of the capital sins:
  • Pride
  • Avarice
  • Envy
  • Wrath
  • Lust
  • Gluttony
  • Sloth
    • Also called Acedia
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 18661)
Why call them "capital" sins?
"...They are called 'capital' because they engender other sins, other vices...."
(Catechism, 1866)

Hating People Not Allowed

Do I hate myself because I'm fat? No.

I'm a Catholic, so I'm not allowed to hate people. (Catechism, 1033)

Since I'm a person, a human being, made in the image of God (Catechism, 1701-1709), I don't think it makes sense to hate myself. I'm not too crazy about some things I've been doing: but that's another topic.

Lust is a Sin? So, the Church is Against Sex??

Cultural assumptions notwithstanding: Lust is not sex; sex is not lust. (Catechism, 2351)

Sex is Okay?

Sex had better be okay. God told us to be fertile and multiply: and sex is the method He gave us to carry out that instruction. (Genesis 1:27) (also see Catechism, 2331, and following)

I realize that Genesis 1:27 involves a whole lot more personal responsibility than has been fashionable for a while: but I'm not going to tell God 'you can't do that.'

Don't Catholics Hate Gays?

Individual Catholics may hate homosexuals. Or adulterers. Or gluttons. That's not what the Church teaches, though. As a Catholic, I am not allowed to hate people. Period.

As for homosexual urges? The Catholic Church is pretty specific on this point:
"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."
(Catechism, 2358) [emphasis mine]

Hate the Sin - - - You Know the Rest

Maybe it's corny, but "hate the sin, not the sinner" makes a lot of sense. It's also what the Catholic Church teaches. (John 8:1-11; Catechism, 1465, 1846; for starters)
"...Teach us to hate sin, but not the sinner. Give us the strength to be your witnesses. Do not allow us to become vain, petty and barren...."
(Appendix / Prayers-Hymns, Program for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (January 18-25, 2002)

Behind It All: Love

The Catholic Church has a reputation for having rules. Lots of rules. There's something to that.

Over the past two millennia, the Church been dealing with folks who are not perfect. I think quite a bit of this apparent over-abundance of rules comes from efforts to explain, in detail, what a pair of very simple principles means: when applied to everyday life.

Somebody asked my Lord to name the greatest commandment. He named two: Love God, love your neighbor. (Matthew 22:36-40)

"Love," in this context, isn't the same as "approval." Which is what the 'friends don't let friends drive drunk' ads were about.

And I've posted about that before. (April 26, 2011)

Related posts:

1 What's with all those references to the Catechism? I've said this before: I've got the authority of "some guy with a blog." The Catholic Church operates under the authority of Peter, who got his commission from my Lord. (Matthew 16:18-19)

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.