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Our New Albigensian Age by Stephen M. Krason

SEPTEMBER 17, 2013

Our New Albigensian Age

by Stephen M. Krason

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Ruins of Holyrood Chapel (1824) by Louis Daguerre

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In an old (1950) monograph entitled The Truth about the Inquisition, Dr. John A. O’Brien, a Notre Dame history professor of the time, provides a brief but interesting exposé of the Albigensian heresy. Few people recall that that almost maniacal rebellion against Catholic teaching and, for that matter, commonsensical and civilized living was the trigger for the much-misunderstood Inquisition. O’Brien’s discussion makes one think of many aspects of our current civilizational crisis, even though the comparison could not have been so evident in 1950.

The Albigensians, or Catharists, were neo-Manicheans, regarding material creation as an evil and viewing all of existence as a conflict between evil matter and good spirit—but O’Brien says it was much more. Like all Gnostics, of which Manicheanism was a branch, they believed themselves to be the only “pure” ones and the only ones to have the truth. They were certainly a forerunner of Protestantism and even more specifically of the most ardent of contemporary fundamentalists, with their complete rejection of the Real Presence, transubstantiation, the Eucharist, and the Mass, and their belief that the pope was the Antichrist. Their teaching and practice, however, had enormous implications for marriage, sexual morality, and social and political life.

The parallels to the present are almost uncanny. While hatred for the Church is nothing new, the visceral character of the Albigensians’ hatred bears a resemblance to the ugliest side of the Reformation and today’s assaults on religion. For example, O’Brien tells us how the Albigensians were known for indiscriminately chopping down crosses and stamping on them. In America today, we see the relentless efforts by rabid, uncompromising church-state separationist groups to remove all religious symbols from public places and the heightened vandalism of crosses and other Christian monuments.

The sexual libertinism, views about marriage, and feminism of our time resemble the Albigensian heresy. While the Albigensians considered sex an “inherent evil,” it seems as if it was not so much sex per se that they rejected but the proper context for it. They utterly rejected marriage, mostly because it meant bringing children into the world. Pregnancy for them was diabolical. Their confusion about sexual matters made them believe that marriage was worse than fornication and adultery. In our time, people don’t quite make this claim, but marriage has become irrelevant as the condition for engaging in sexual activity and no judgment is made about the morality of almost any sexual practices. For many, particularly in lower socioeconomic status groups, marriage almost seems obsolete; children are routinely born out-of-wedlock. Others, particularly among the affluent, enter marriage—or what is called that—but have no intention of bearing children. While people may not proclaim pregnancy as evil, they act is if it is in our contracepting age. As O’Brien says, for the Albigensians even perversion was preferable to marriage. In our time, we witness the celebration of sexual perversion as a good thing—as “LGBT pride.” While the Albigensians wanted to abolish marriage, we have transformed it into something that they would have lauded: an association devoid of procreative intent or even, in the case of same-sex “marriage,” capability. As far as traditional, true marriage is concerned, we increasingly give it no special support or even recognition as uniquely important for society. We say that people are free to choose what “version” of it they prefer—and be officially “affirmed” in their choice.

So the Albigensians, who so rejected sex as part of their disdain for the material world and supposedly in the interest of spiritual purity, actually opened the door to sexual debauchery and the corruption of both body and soul. This was typical of Manicheans historically. Some would become extreme ascetics, and others utter hedonists.

Contemporary feminism has a ring of the Albigensian. Instead of equality in marriage, it effectively placed women in a dominant position. As O’Brien explains, since pregnancy was despised married women who were converted to Albigensianism unilaterally abrogated their husbands’ marital rights and consigned them to “an enforced celibacy.” It was considered “sinful and degrading” to even touch a woman (even if innocently and in a pure way). This almost rings of the extremes to which sexual harassment has gone in our day. It makes one think of the anti-male ethos in the statements of some of today’s feminists. The female dominance was further seen in that a religious punishment of fasting for inter-gender touching could only be imposed on a man, even if the woman did the touching.

Today, abortion seems to have become a positive good for ardent feminists and their fellow-travelers. It’s much like the Albigensians, for whom O’Brien says “abortion was highly to be commended.”

The Albigensians anticipated today’s assault on human life in other areas, as well. Believing that the seriously ill would gain eternal bliss if they did not recover their health, they encouraged them to commit suicide. In fact, they practiced assisted suicide. The assisted suicide advocates of today are different only in that their methods are (usually) more technologically sophisticated. The Albigensians either suffocated or starved the person. Today’s practice in medical facilities of hastening death by withholding nutrition and hydration was what they did—except it took place in the person’s home. Like today, the person was supposedly given a choice: they gave him a choice of these two methods of death, today people sign living wills. Either way, the supposed choice is no real choice. In both eras, there is a coercive backstop. The Albigensian leaders forbade the sick person’s family from feeding him, or would forcibly remove him from his home if they weren’t “reliable.” In our day, family members may make a choice for death even if the patient didn’t want it or, increasingly, the medical authorities do it even when it’s against the patient’s or the family’s wishes.

The present era, prodded along by the likes of Peter Singer, pushes more and more toward post-partum infanticide. Even on this, the Albigensians were a precursor. They insisted upon—even enforced—among their followers the starvation of very sick children. To make sure their parents didn’t lose their nerve, the sect leaders frequently visited their homes to monitor them. So, the Albigensians also anticipated our era’s undermining of parental rights. Continue reading

Laborem Exercens (On Human Work) Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II

St Joseph Laborem Exercens (On Human Work)  Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II

On Human Work promulgated 14 September 1981

To Our Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, to the Priests, to the Religious Families, to the Sons and Daughters of the Church, and to all Men and Women of Good Will.

Venerable Brothers, and Dear Sons and Daughters, Greetings and the Apostolic Blessing.

Through work man must earn his daily bread[1] and contribute to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong to the same family. And work means any activity by man, whether manual or intellectual, whatever its nature or circumstances; it means any human activity that can and must be recognized as work, in the midst of all the many activities of which man is capable and to which he is predisposed by his very natures, by virtue of humanity itself. Man is made to be in the visible universe and image and likeness of God himself,[2] and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth.[3] From the beginning therefore he is called to work. Work is one of the characteristics that distinguishman from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work. Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth. Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within a community of persons. And this mark decides its interior characteristics; in a sense it constitutes its very nature.

I. INTRODUCTION

1. Human Work on the Ninetieth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum

Since May 15 of the present year was the ninetieth anniversary of the publication by the great Pope of the “social question”, Leo XIII, of the decisively important encyclical which begins with the words Rerum Novarum, I wish to devote this document to human work and, even more, to man in the vast context of the reality of work. As I said in the encyclical Redemptor Hominis, published at the beginning of my service in the See of Saint Peter in Rome, man “is the primary and fundamental way for the Church”,[4] precisely because of the inscrutable mystery of redemption in Christ; and so it is necessary to return constantly to this way and to follow it ever anew in the various aspects in which it shows us all the wealth and at the same time all the toil of human existence on earth. Continue reading

The Church’s Right to Speak on Gay Marriage, and Our Failure on Divorce by

St Thomas MooreThe Church’s Right to Speak on Gay Marriage, and Our Failure on Divorce

29 Thursday Aug 2013

First, Jody Bottum is already beginning to backtrack from his original piece on gay marriage a little bit.  He alleges people are “misinterpreting” his piece; I’d argue he just wrote it poorly.  Here’s his interview with Al Kresta about it.

Next, I thought I’d link to a month-old article by one of my old ND Law professors, Rick Garnett, on the religious liberty implications of the Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage.

Next, I wanted to address a question put to me by my friend (we’ll call him Matthias), a fellow ND grad who’s in medical school.  In response to my recent review of Bottum’s about-face on gay marriage, he says,

The libertarian in me still has trouble with the whole extension of Church teaching onto the state. I get that there are secular reasons for wanting to promote heterosexual marriage, but it seems the state does not care about those. Why should the Church still care (aside from religious liberty concerns)? Divorce is legal and the Church doesn’t seem to be bothered.  If in 50 years we end up with MacIntyre’s little communities of virtue, should the Catholic community wage a campaign against a secular community to stop gay marriage? If not, why should they now?

The Validity of the Catholic Church’s Moral Teaching For the State

Obviously, it is a little difficult for the Catholic Church to apply its authoritative, infallible teaching on articles of faith onto the state in the context of a liberal democracy.  Nevertheless, the Catholic Church has authority from Jesus Christ to teach on two subjects: Faith and Morals.

The teachings of Faith are only known to us through Divine Revelation: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.  Morals are frequently taught to us explicitly by God in Scripture and Tradition, but can also be discovered by the light of unaided human reason.

Now, the truths of the natural law can also be interpreted infallibly by the Catholic Church because they are part of God’s revelation: in Scripture, in Tradition, and by His act of imprinting that law on our human nature.  Nevertheless, the principles of the natural law do not depend on specifically Christian Revelation in order to be known.  Thus, even in the context of our (overly) secular democracy, there is no reason to avoid promoting arguments from the natural law, even if those ideas are initially proffered by the Catholic Church’s Magisterium.  The Church is merely helping us to know with certainty those truths of the natural law we could come to know on our own only with difficulty and the probable admixture of error (if I may borrow St. Thomas’ line from the Summa Contra Gentiles)

We are not asking society to accept the Eucharist or the Trinity; we are making secular arguments, which society can choose to recognize or not.  Giving legal favor to a legal arrangement in which (1) new citizens are provided to the state (2) in a stable, committed setting where (3) they can be effectively raised as law-abiding citizens (4) by their own biological parents IS A GOOD THING.  The state has this interest whether her current leaders recognize them or not.  Though the state/society/the majority of voters or legislators seem not to care about these arguments, it doesn’t mean it is illegitimate to proffer them.

But why should the Church care about gay marriage when she didn’t care about divorce?

It’s kinda sad that Matthias would deem the Church as not caring about divorce.  It doesn’t reflect poorly on him; it reflects poorly on the Church.  Granted, divorce is not inherently immoral in the way gay marriage is; in fact, divorce can be completely legitimate in various situations (for example, if one spouse is abusive).  Nevertheless, the Catholic bishops in America WERE vocally anti-divorce, and certainly opposed to the modern regime of no-fault divorce–up until a little Church event that took place in the 1960′s, called the Second Vatican Council.

After the Council, the Church in the United States lost its collective mind.  With so much internal dissension on nearly every issue under the sun, with (often misguided) reforms taking place in almost every aspect of the Church’s life, and a near-total rebellion on the question of contraception, the Church was completely unable to stand as it should have against the cultural revolution brought on by no-fault divorce.  The Church doesn’t talk about no-fault divorce at great length nowadays, sadly, because it would be nearly impossible politically to overturn it.  We are fighting gay marriage now precisely so we don’t get to that point, as well as for the serious religious liberty reasons Rick Garnett talked about in the article above.

The demolished state of modern marriage is a testament to how destructive a force no-fault divorce was.  The fact that the Church didn’t do anything to stop its progress is yet further testament to how terribly the Church in the United States was stinking it up in the 70′s.

Conclusion

While I can’t really answer Matthias’s queries about MacIntyre’s small faith communities (not knowing enough about the concept to talk intelligently about it, though I can’t see what would be wrong–beyond political difficulty–with waging such campaigns to outlaw gay marriage), I hope I’ve given a clear enough explanation to justify the use of the Church’s ethical teaching in the context of public policy.  I think one could make broader arguments about the legitimacy of using theological arguments in liberal democratic public policy debates (like the leaders of the Civil Rights movement did), but that’s another argument for another day.

Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Share Martin Luther King’s Dream, It Follows Sanger’s

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Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Share Martin Luther King’s Dream, It Follows Sanger’s

by Jimmie Hollis | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 8/27/13 10:43 AM

 

Parenthood participation or support in any celebration, march or rally honoring Rev. Dr. Martin L. King Jr. is not only insulting, but a slap in the face of this great man, a smear on his dream that all life is precious, and worse of all, Planned Parenthood has the blood of millions of murdered babies, mostly black, on their hands and foreheads.

Lets look at Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Louise (Higgins) Sanger. She is considered the “mother” of the birth control movement in America by establishing various health clinics. Her efforts would eventually lead to today’s Planned Parenthood. All of her work in the area of birth control was during a very contentious and racially charged time in America, dating from the Reconstruction Era well into the ‘50s. Some of her thoughts and beliefs reflected the attitudes of the time concerning Negroes, and she made decisions and assertions that many have construed as racists.


I have studied the life and history of the Planned Parenthood founder for many years reading accounts and reports by those who admire and support her as someone who did not have a racist bone in her body. Other reports and studies reflect just the opposite citing her endeavors as purposely racist as demonstrated by her work on her “Negro Project” and from quotes in her letters that she penned on the subject of birth control and the Negro.

For myself, I am in the latter camp of thinking, but arguments can be made about the following:

1. Sanger said her concern for controlling births of Negroes was more about the economic consequences that their uncontrolled and prolific births presented to the nation’s economy especially in the South as they (Negroes) were the poorest and less educated. They were also the least desirable, like human weeds, having negative effect on the South’s economy as they multiplied. (Smith College, The Margaret Sanger Papers)

2.  Others say that the purpose of her Negro Project was to infiltrate the black community by presenting birth control as a “health option” for women to kill off black babies to reduce black population. In a letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, Mrs. Sanger stated, “We should hire three or four colored ministers to sell the Negro Project because they would be well received by the black population. We do not want the word to get out to blacks that we want to exterminate them. The Negro ministers could stop those kind of thoughts by any of their more rebellious members.” (The National Black Prolife Union)

3. Sanger wrote that she was helping Negroes to control their birth rate, reduce their high infant and maternal death rate, and to maintain better health standards. In other words giving Negroes the opportunity to help themselves. (Black Americans for Life)

4. Yet the patriarchal racism of the times guided many of the social policies regarding the fear of an exploding black underclass rather than promoting the health and sexual liberation of black women. Sanger and many of her friends and partners exhibited strong racist sentiments, some of them arguing for and even carrying out compulsory sterilization only on black women because they were considered to be low intelligence, behaviorally deviant and therefore not capable of choosing not to control their fertility. (Margaret Sanger Papers)

There is strong argument on the side of those who think of Sanger as a racist who had dubious intentions toward Negroes given the times in which she lived. The Reconstruction period after the Civil War increased hatred and racial division. Most whites were not sympathetic to blacks and looked upon them in an unfavorable light. Not even white women in the South at that time were given concerted health attention from local and state clinics. Given that, it is hard to believe that Sanger and her people would focus on the best interest of black women fresh out of slavery.

Rev. Dr. Martin L. King Jr. once said, “The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety. How can the ‘dream’ survive if we murder the children? Every baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother and she should decide his or her fate.” (Alveda King Papers).

LifeNews Note: Jimmie Hollis is a resident of Millville, New Jersey.

 

The Great His­to­rian of Cul­ture: Christo­pher Daw­son by Russell Hittinger

The Great His­to­rian of Cul­ture: Christo­pher Daw­son

by Rus­sell Hit­tingerChristo­pher Daw­son

A Historian and His World: A Life of Christopher Dawson by Christina Scott. With a new introduction by Russell Kirk, and a postscript by Christo­pher Daw­son: “Memories of a Victorian Childhood.”

Christo­pher Daw­son was the most il­lus­tri­ous Catholic his­to­rian of our cen­tury. He was per­haps the last of a breed of free­lance schol­ars and writ­ers (e.g. Hume, Gib­bon, and in our time, Rus­sell Kirk) whose great­ness was made pos­si­ble in large mea­sure precisely be­cause he avoided the nar­row and often petty con­straints of pro­fes­sional, aca­d­e­mic in­sti­tu­tions. Daw­son did not hold a full-time aca­d­e­mic post until he was nearly sev­enty years old, when he ac­cepted the Still­man Chair of Roman Catholic Stud­ies at Har­vard, where he lec­tured from 1958–1962. This bi­og­ra­phy, com­pe­tently and beau­ti­fully writ­ten by his daugh­ter, Christina Scott, is a fine ac­count of Daw­son’s life and thought.

Daw­son was born at Hay Cas­tle, in Wales, on 12 Oc­to­ber 1889. Built in the twelfth cen­tury, the cas­tle stood in a town that still had a Welsh-speak­ing pop­u­la­tion. From his mother, the daugh­ter of an arch-Protes­tant An­gli­can cler­gy­men, he learned a pietas to­ward the Welsh cul­tural and re­li­gious tra­di­tion. From his fa­ther, an An­glo-Catholic mil­i­tary of­fi­cer, he in­her­ited a re­spect for the Catholic tra­di­tion, to which Daw­son would con­vert in 1914. He would later write of his early child­hood in Wales: “In fact it was then I ac­quired my love of his­tory, my in­ter­est in the dif­fer­ences of cul­ture and my sense of the im­por­tance of re­li­gion in human life, as a mas­sive, ob­jec­tive, un­ques­tioned power that en­tered into every­thing and im­pressed its mark on the ex­ter­nal as well as the in­ter­nal world.”

Even in these early years we find one of the most dis­tinc­tive traits of Daw­son’s mind. Un­like many of the lights in the fir­ma­ment of the Catholic re­vival of the 1930s—e.g., Mar­i­tain, Gilson, Rous­selot, and Ronald Knox—Daw­son es­chewed ab­stract phi­los­o­phy and sys­tem­atic the­ol­ogy. Of course he re­spected these as im­por­tant ex­pres­sions of in­tel­lec­tual and sci­en­tific order. From the very out­set of his life, how­ever, Daw­son was drawn to the cul­tural, his­tor­i­cal, aes­thetic, and even mys­ti­cal el­e­ments of Chris­tian­ity. For ex­am­ple, we learn from the bi­og­ra­phy that his first lit­er­ary com­po­si­tion, writ­ten at the age of six, was an al­le­gor­i­cal story about “The Golden City and the Coal City”, which de­scribed a strug­gle be­tween Chris­tians and hea­thens. We also learn that when he went up to Ox­ford in 1908, quite for­tu­nately tak­ing as a tutor the Aris­totelian scholar Ernest Barker, Daw­son chiefly de­voted him­self to the study of lives of the mys­tics and saints rather than phi­los­o­phy.
Noth­ing, how­ever, was more for­ma­tive dur­ing his Ox­ford years than his read­ing of St. Au­gus­tine’sCity of God. Daw­son was im­bued with an Au­gus­tian­ian sense of his­tory as a moral and spir­i­tual drama. It was this sen­si­bil­ity, when com­bined with his train­ing in so­ci­ol­ogy and in the best meth­ods of his­tor­i­cal re­search, that ac­counted for Daw­son’s ge­nius. His two well-known es­says on St. Au­gus­tine, “The Dying World,” and the “City of God,” re­pub­lished in En­quiries into Re­li­gion and Cul­ture(1933), are, in my es­ti­ma­tion, un­sur­pass­able—both in terms of their sense of St. Au­gus­tine, and in their Au­gus­tin­ian sense of his­tory. If it is still pos­si­ble for some­one to be an Au­gus­tin­ian, Daw­son was the real item.

Dur­ing Easter va­ca­tion 1909, when he was nine­teen, Daw­son vis­ited the church of the Ara Coeli in Rome. Sit­ting on the steps of the Capi­tol, in the same place where Gib­bon had been in­spired to write The De­cline and Fall, Daw­son vowed to write a his­tory of cul­ture. Re­turn­ing to Eng­land, he even­tu­ally mar­ried Valery Mills and was re­ceived into the Catholic Church on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan­u­ary , 1914. Then began a lonely four­teen years of study in prepa­ra­tion for his pro­jected his­tory of cul­ture. It was a dif­fi­cult pe­riod be­cause Daw­son worked with­out a full-time uni­ver­sity post. In­deed, his first bid for such a po­si­tion, at the Uni­ver­sity of Leeds in the early 1930s, was re­jected be­cause of his Catholi­cism.

The four­teen-year pe­riod of ges­ta­tion bore ex­cel­lent re­sults. Be­gin­ning with his first pub­lished work, Age of the Gods (1928), a stream of pub­li­ca­tions would fol­low, in­clud­ing: Progress and Re­li­gion (1929), The Mak­ing of Eu­rope (1932), Spirit of the Ox­ford Move­ment (1933), En­quiries into Re­li­gion and Cul­ture (1933), and Re­li­gion and the Mod­ern State (1939), to men­tion only a few of the more promi­nent books. In these books, the gen­eral con­tours of Daw­son’s pro­ject be­came ap­par­ent. He con­tended (i) that re­li­gion is not a by-prod­uct of cul­ture, but is rather the an­i­mat­ing form of cul­tures world­wide, (ii) that the ca­reer of Eu­ro­pean cul­ture is to be ex­plained by a com­mon re­li­gion, that al­lowed the var­i­ous tribes and eth­nic in­ter­ests to tran­scend the ma­te­ri­ally lim­it­ing pres­sures of race, lan­guage, and prop­erty, and (iii) that mod­ern Eu­rope, hav­ing re­jected the Chris­t­ian re­li­gion, has de­volved into a racial and tribal mael­strom, con­trolled only by the ma­te­r­ial forces of tech­nol­ogy, eco­nom­ics, and armed force. Continue reading

Facebook Apostles – 2013: Catechesis & Apostolate in the Digital Age

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August 15, 2013

Dear Friends in Christ,

I have eagerly awaited this day, August 15th and the Feast of the Assumption of Mary to share with you our new music video, Facebook Apostles – 2013.

Work on this new video began this past Mother’s Day, the third successful Anniversary in operating and expanding all our Facebook Apostles Social Networks.  This short promotional video has been created to provide you with an update of our many works and as an informative overview about FBA for sharing with others.

Our new video focuses on how all Clergy can integrate FBA’s content into their own Parish or Diocesan Web and Facebook Pages, and through their own use of the various Social Media platforms.  Facebook Apostles asks all its members to particularly share our video widely with your Deacons, Priests, Pastors, Catechetical and RCIA Leaders, and your Bishops.

On a personal note, I would like to share with you that I am both very proud and very humbled by the final result achieved by Facebook Apostles – 2013   My time has been a real, three -month labor of love.

After many late-night hours, I feel that our new film highlights the best of what FBA has to offer to all serious inquirers of the Catholic Faith.  I am happy (finally) and proud with the technical aspects this project and how Facebook Apostles – 2013 turned out.

After watching the final edit something strange happened to me.  In stepping back from the film I suddenly and uncontrollably started to cry.  I saw God’s hand in all my work and in the new film I tried to create for Him.  I saw His many gifts and talents at work in me, his poor and unworthy instrument.  I saw God’s beneficence and wisdom in preparing me for His task evangelization–, and most of all the Spirit’s holy inspirations over the last three years.  I bow down to the Holy Spirit in all Humility to Him, who is responsible for this work.

I hope you will enjoy and learn a bit more about us by this new film, I also hope and ask Mary, Queen of Apostles that you will become more involved in the Catechesis and Personal Apostolic opportunities to learn more about the Faith and by sharing what we offer to others.

Thank you all for sticking with FBA and for helping to make our sites the successes they have become!  I offer this work in honor of my parents, Nicholas & Frances Haros in Heaven, in thanksgiving to them for their gift of life to me.

Pax,

nic

Interesting Letter from C.S. Lewis on Homosexuality by Mark Shea

images-1Interesting Letter from C.S. Lewis on Homosexuality

by Mark Shea Friday, August 09, 2013 12:01 AM 

Elsewhere I have mentioned that Lewis (I think in his intro to The Screwtape Letters, but I may be wrong and it may be in Surprised by Joy) remarks that he refrained from offering moral counsel on homosexuality and gambling, since he never experienced temptation in these areas and resented officers who had never fought in combat telling troops on the front line how to run their lives.

It turns out that, when Sheldon Vanauken asked him about how to respond to homosexuals of his acquaintance in a private letter, Lewis wrote him back. He still is obviously leery of telling homosexuals themselves how to live, but he feels an obligation to give Vanauken something to work with.

The resulting letter is interesting for a number of reasons, but in particular what I like about it is his conviction that behind every disordered appetite is some kind of warped virtue and that the ticket is to search for the virtue and help foster it. He anticipates the entire gay marriage debate and dispatches much of the simplistic rhetoric swiftly while making some interesting points. I also like the judiciousness of his approach. He knows he is flying blind due to his own lack of temptation in the area and so relies, as best he can, on the experience of gays he knows. It’s also interesting that, without trying, he makes it clear that his own personal reaction to homosexuals was such that he tended to engender trust from his gay acquaintances rather than the alienating sense that he was outraged or repelled by them (remarkable for his time and class since forced sodomy by upperclassmen on lowerclassmen was a commonplace in the schools he attended as a boy, as he discusses in Surprised by Joy). This fits with the general sense that Lewis was just a big-hearted guy who liked the company of human beings of all shapes and sizes.

Anyway, heres the letter (oh, and gay readers: don’t get bent out of shape by his use of “homo.” Lewis, as you will note, tends to abbreviate lots of words in his personal correspondence (v.=very; wd.=would, etc.)):

Letter from C. S. Lewis regarding homosexuality, quoted in Sheldon Vanauken’s A Severe Mercy, pp. 146-148, in response to a question about a couple of Christian students of Vanauken who were homosexual and had come to him for advice:

I have seen less than you but more than I wanted of this terrible problem. I will discuss your letter with those whom I think wise in Christ. This is only an interim report. First, to map out the boundaries within which all discussion must go on, I take it for certain that the physical satisfaction of homosexual desires is sin. This leaves the homo. no worse off than any normal person who is, for whatever reason, prevented from marrying. Second, our speculations on the cause of the abnormality are not what matters and we must be content with ignorance. The disciples were not told why (in terms of efficient cause) the man was born blind (Jn. IX 1-3): only the final cause, that the works of God shd. be made manifest in him. This suggests that in homosexuality, as in every other tribulation, those works can be made manifest: i.e. that every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, wh. will ‘turn the necessity to glorious gain.’ Of course, the first step must be to accept any privations wh., if so disabled, we can’t lawfully get. The homo. has to accept sexual abstinence just as the poor man has to forego otherwise lawful pleasures because he wd. be unjust to his wife and children if he took them. That is merely a negative condition. What shd. the positive life of the homo. be? I wish I had a letter wh. a pious male homo., now dead, once wrote to me–but of course it was the sort of letter one takes care to destroy. He believed that his necessity could be turned to spiritual gain: that there were certain kinds of sympathy and understanding, a certain social role which mere men and mere women cd. not give. But it is all horribly vague and long ago. Perhaps any homo. who humbly accepts his cross and puts himself under Divine guidance will, however, be shown the way. I am sure that any attempt to evade it (e.g. by mock or quasi-marriage with a member of one’s own sex even if this does not lead to any carnal act) is the wrong way. Jealousy (this another homo. admitted to me) is far more rampant and deadly among them than among us. And I don’t think little concessions like wearing the clothes of the other sex in private is the right line, either. It is the duties, burdens, the characteristic virtues of the other sex, I suspect, which the patient must try to cultivate. I have mentioned humility because male homos. (I don’t know about women) are rather apt, the moment they find you don’t treat them with horror and contempt, to rush to the opposite pole and start implying that they are somehow superior to the normal type. I wish I could be more definite. All I have really said is that, like all other tribulations, it must be offered to God and His guidance how to use it must be sought.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/mark-shea/interesting-letter-from-c.s.-lewis-on-homosexuality#ixzz2blpFHkpX

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