No, I’m not talking about animated sex, I’m continuing with a shot animated summary of the debate about merits of the Catholic Church, the point where Stephen Fry turned to homosexuality. The speakers for the Church did not address this in the short and I don’t remember them saying anything particular in the rest of the debate either, so let’s try to make sense of it as presented. It’s not like Catholic Church has a definitive answer to homosexuality anyway .
Fry then quoted the then current Pope, Benedict XVI, who they, incidentally, always addressed by his civilian name, Joseph Ratzinger. Fry said the Pope called homosexuals disordered and morally evil while all he was trying to do was to fulfill his sexual destiny. He said that to achieve and receive love is a struggle and one certainly doesn’t need Pope to tell you how to do it and one certainly doesn’t need Pope to tell you that you are evil. With 6% of teenage suicides being gay teenage suicides we certainly don’t need stigmatization and victimization that leads to playground bullying when people tell you you are a disordered, morally evil individual. It isn’t nice.
Okay, sexual destiny is a powerful argument. Gays do feel natural attraction to people of their own gender, this has to be acknowledged, they are wired this way by their previous karma and they have to live it out. That does not describe the whole picture, though. First of all, only a small percentage of gays are truly hardwired, for most of them sexuality is fluid, most of them had times when they lived in heterosexual relationships, and then there are bisexuals, too. These people might object that their sexuality is a choice but the fact is that they can choose how to express it on each particular occasion. Most of the time people choose NOT to express it at all – on the streets or in the office, for example, and wait to the opportune moment instead. Eventually their sexuality would force them to act but they can always put up a struggle. To fight or not to fight is the choice, and they choose not to fight but embrace their sexuality instead.
This choice is morally evil – the choice to give up control over one’s sexual urges. Fry might say that he controls himself just fine and doesn’t masturbate in public but that is not enough, civilized human beings must impose tighter control over their sex lives, be they Catholics or Muslims or Hare Kṛṣṇas. Even procreation must have limits, as Śrīla Prabhupāda often mentioned “once a month”.
Sex orientation might be wired but sex indulgence is a habit, and it’s a bad and evil one. Fry might disagree but he is judging it by his experience, not by the Bible, and not by the standards of previous ages. He can, of course, find some examples of profligate kings and sexually uninhibited commoners in history but are they they examples we should aspire to? Why should the church look up to them instead of the lives of their saints? Fry himself, being a self-professed thinker, should probably choose better standards to aim for.
The point is that “morally evil” label is not spurious, people like Fry have to reflect on it and see whether it has any truth in it. Of course we know that in modern society homosexuality is not evil anymore, Popes, however, do not speak about modern norms but eternal spiritual obligations of every human being. There ARE standards by which homosexuality is evil and it’s not Fry’s place to impose his own instead.
The bit about receiving love is lost on me. Mundane love between two people probably doesn’t need Pope’s intervention but love as is understood in Christianity certainly needs a mediator – the Pope, your local priest – Catholics are big on proper succession, as Fry himself acknowledged. He can reject Pope’s authority, of course, but then he should also kiss good-bye to love of God and and not worry what Pope has said about people like him at all. Fry is an atheist so rejection of God is given but then what’s the point of him participating in this debate? If he rejects any spiritual dimension to Catholic contribution to the world then his view is incomplete. It’s like judging bank assets value by coins in bank teller’s drawer. Christians would also say that love of Christ enriches their love of their husbands and wives, as it should be.
The bit about teenage suicides is misguided. In modern society homosexuals comprise more than 6% of the population, that’s what they love to tell us, so it appears that proportionally speaking gays are less prone to suicides then straights. Probably a good point for homosexuality but that’s not how Fry presented it an no one called him on that, or simply didn’t have the time.
Schoolyard bullying is a problem and it is possible to blame it on the Pope but how many bullies cite Papal encyclicals in their taunts? Repulsion to homosexual behavior exists(ed) in every culture in the world regardless of their religion and it’s this repulsion that gives rise to bullying, ascribing it to the Catholic Church is simply intellectually dishonest on Fry’s part.
There was a part in the debate, not included in the short, where Fry defended his appeal to emotion, ie rhetoric, because the Church is all about saving souls and love, so emotional appeals are fair. Not true. When the Church debates atheists in public it does not preach love of God and does not try to open people’s hearts. It plays by the atheist rules – reason and logic. It’s a shame for atheists like Fry to abandon them then and battle for the hearts and minds instead. He just wants to be a better preacher, not a better thinker. He might have succeeded on this one occasion but that’s how he will be remembered and treated forever – as a shameless propagandist. Atheists would love to hear his propaganda, of course, but serious thinkers would never take him seriously, he is a bit of a clown. Of course serious thinking will not lead one to God realization but it’s the only thing going for atheism, really, Without commitment to logic and reason it has nothing, just a temporary sense indulgence, when things go bad it would be of no help whatsoever. It won’t be able to explain suffering and help people to get through, as true knowledge is expected to.
There were more arguments about sex in that debate, but use of condoms, for example, is better left for another day. I would just quote Catholic Anne Widdecombe on this:
“He [Fry] says that the Church is obsessed with sex. No, its critics are obsessed with sex. There’s no sex in the creed, there’s no sex in Lord’s prayer, there’s no sex in the liturgy, but when the critics start on the Catholic Church all they can talk about it sex.”
This is how atheists approached this debate in general – take a small part, blow it our of proportion, and declare the church evil. Intellectually dishonest? Yes, but what do they care as long as they win?
Hmm, there’s no honor among thieves, as they say, and all atheists are thieves by their very nature – īśāvāsyam idam sarvaṁ – everything in this universe belongs to the Lord (Iso 1), and there are more verses in Bhagavad Gīta describing the demoniac nature – pride, arrogance, conceit, etc. All we need to do is look beyond their veil of civility and realize that atheists can’t be trusted. People should know this, too, and exposing their devious thinking is our duty. Śrīla Prabhupāda never missed the opportunity and neither should we.