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Realizing Catholic view on homosexuality

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, March 25, 2004

While the March 23 letters by Michael Yaksich, Hristo Hristov and Brittany Sajbel are each commendable and well-written, each contains untenable assertions that must be rejected by members of our truth-seeking Notre Dame community.

Mr. Yaksich and Ms. Sajbel’s appeals to Christianity to justify homosexuality are unfortunately off base: Christ calls us to Himself and His truth – His truth is that we are sexual beings, called to live our lives as male and female. This sexuality has tremendous implications for our spiritual lives. See John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.”

I thank Ms. Sajbel, furthermore, for directing us to John 8 – but unfortunately she is overly selective in her quotation. Jesus, in verse 11, states, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.” Christ loves her too much to let her go back to her old life.

I respond to Mr. Hristov’s “scientific defense” with a philosophical proposition. Homo sapiens have the unique position on this earth as being the only organisms with free will. Unlike the other animals, we have the capacity to trump pure instinct with our rational capacity and free will. We choose how we act. Hunger strikes, for example, are possible for us, while inconceivable for our pets. Regarding Mr. Hristov’s letter specifically: it seems that much is speculative, as no one truly understands the causation principles between genes and human characteristics – as admitted by Mr. Hristov – yet worth our attention nonetheless.

Even if we grant Mr. Hristov’s proposition that an orientation favoring homosexual activity is as “natural” to some people as gripping with the right hand instead of the left at age one, that does not mean that homosexual actions are to be embraced as natural or good. Unlike the hand example, not all “natural” inclinations are harmless or lead humankind toward our rightful end. It is undisputed that some people are born with inclinations toward activity harmful to themselves or to others. Instead of allowing these inclinations to dominate the person, though, society has determined that it is preferable to help these individuals: to work with them, in love, to overcome harmful inclinations.

This is possible because, again, we all have the freedom to choose rationally. Free will is a great gift and a great burden, because we have responsibility for our actions – see “The Grand Inquisitor” in Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov.”

Here comes the fun part: through our natural reason, even without appeals to Church teaching, we can all reach the conclusion that the homosexual act is not in accord with mankind’s rightful end. It’s the natural law, shaping our worldview since time began, and it’s not going away.

All of this said, our emphasis must be on loving and supporting each and every member of our community. I have my own struggles. I have difficulty living my own life as I should, and I need to tend to the plank in my own eye. Official “recognition” of a GLBT-endorsing club, however, amounts to endorsement of the activity itself, and, for the benefit of this community itself, Notre Dame cannot comply.

Dan Hessfirst yearLaw SchoolMarch 24