Hemant Mehta has written a response to Robin Schumacher on this issue and I thought I’d write my own response to Hemant Mehta contributing to the discussion. Note that this is not a complex philosophical defense on the Catholic Church’s stances on these issues. I’ll write about these more in the future. First off, a challenge I would like to note to Hemant Mehta is for him to define his terms more properly in the future. When professors, philosophers, and everyone in general, don’t take their time to define their terms, well, misunderstanding happens and no one ever comes to acknowledging the other person’s views worthwhile. For now, I will assume I hold to the correct definition of his terms and hope he clarifies if I do not.
I will define the term anti based on the World English Dictionary’s definition of the adjective so that it means “opposed to a party, policy, attitude, etc”.
His first point is on whether or not the Church is anti-gay. For our sake, since he doesn’t define his term, we’ll assume he goes with the noun definition of the word “gay” on dictionary.com and contend that he means “a homosexual person, especially a male”. So is the Catholic Church opposed to gays? No.
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 of the Catholic Church, 2358)
So far things are not going well for good ol’ Hemant. But let’s be fair, let’s see how he argues his points here. He writes that “They don’t believe a gay couple is as inherently worthy as a straight couple, even when it comes to raising children.” Okay, let’s assume the entire world does not discriminate against homosexual parents for a second here (like that would ever happen) and take time to consider on our own, without any biases whatsoever, what would happen if two gay parents raised a child of the opposite gender of them, undisturbed by the horrors of an overly judgmental world. What would happen when that child goes through puberty? Would they be able to learn it from their own parents? Isn’t this a little unfair to the child? Maybe there are some advantages to a mommy-daddy parent raising than another setting. This is not to say though that children living with heterosexual parents are inherently better off especially if the parents don’t get along or mistreat the child.
Let’s examine what else Hemant also has to say. He writes that “both the Catholic Church hierarchy (including the Pope) and evangelical leaders still believe people who act on their homosexuality (even within the confines of a loving, monogamous relationship) are doing something wrong”. The problem with this assertion and maintaining that they’re anti-gay is really saying nothing based on how we have interpreted Mehta. Anti-gay means opposed to homosexual people, not to homosexual intercourse. Nevertheless, there is problems with Mehta’s response to this in that it fails to distinguish unconditional love between eros love. While eros love can be unconditional, to love a partner only for eros is objectification. This is why the Catholic Church is against contraceptives and masturbations too (are we anti-masturbater then?). Committed love isn’t the same as “having sex with pleasure”. If it is committed love, then why is there the need for this to be expressed as eros? This is what Mehta is having problems seeing.
They have fought against federal recognition of same-sex marriage and they certainly won’t allow it in their own churches. They have started to proclaim how much they “love” gay people, but treating them with respect while still working to deny them equal rights makes absolutely no sense to most millennials.
Really Hemant? Have you read Leah Libresco’s response to the gay marriage debate? Have you read what YouTuber msm1876 wrote on my blog page? I personally would say that a vast majority of Christians are for homosexual marriage at a political level yet still contend it is a sin. One of my friends at my Evangelical Covenant Church I used to go to would also agree. These Christians, myself included, view genuine marriage expressed as a sacrament. We certainly don’t believe the government helps resolve the issue of marriage or can even claim to know what the hell a marriage is in the first place. What? Abuse is marriage? Divorce is marriage? Besides, do gay marriage advocates ever find it pleasing when we call them anti-polygamists for opposing polygamy? Maybe you’re a polygamaphobe?
Moving on to his attack on the Church for being opposed to women. This is totally embarrassing for him! Most of his vents are against concepts taken totally out of context. For instance, the complementarian and egaliatarian debate. Yes, there are significant differences between men and women from a biological standpoint and to much of an extent, they reflect our will but the full nature of complementarianism is far more complex than Hemant Mehta makes it out to be. The husband is fully giving in sacrificial love all that he can to his wife and the wife responds to that love. That does not equivocate to them being unequal in marriage. If both partners attempted to take the same exact role in the relationship, there would be nothing going for the relationship. Yes, there are roles to fulfill but that does not make us opposed to women. Besides, what if the women actually chooses a submissive role? And for the record, get what it is that we believe right before attacking it.
Reproductive rights? Seriously? For the women only or just for the men? Here’s where I chime in and say Hemant Mehta at this rate is anti-men! You never here in reproductive rights discussions how a father has a say in whether he wants the kid or not. It’s all about the women and her decision. What if the father believes that the baby really does have a soul? So a father who abandons his wife and family is a moral shit but the women who receives an abortion so she can go on a ski trip is just exercising her freedoms? Give me a break! This is at the top ten of my worst arguments in favor of abortion.
Oh! Can’t forget the whole “purity” thing where women are taught to be chaste and modest in a way that Christian boys never experience, in part because men can’t help their desires. Never the other way around.
Really? That’s what Christian men are taught? On the contrary, most of the time in my non-denominational Church we emphasized that the girls should help the boys fight against their temptation but that the boys had to eventually man-up and overcome our own selves. In our Eastern Christian Formation class we learned that Adam was the one responsible for the fall because he fell to his own passions. Eve was at fault but only because Adam misled her. Your classes in purity education classes in Church were clearly deficient.
Onto his next argument. Christians are anti-science. Scince he doesn’t really define science, we’ll assume he is referring to definition one of the term presented on dictionary.com.
Intelligent Design, irreducible complexity, and the fine-tuning argument are the sorts of things they teach you in Jesus Camp, but no real scientist takes them seriously. They’ve been debunked repeatedly.
Are you serious? Do you live with your head in the ground? On the contrary, there are scientists who do take these things seriously and have experienced education in the sciences. Hugh Ross, Michael Behe, and Fazale Rana. I’m not saying these scientists are among the norm, in fact, they are in the extremely low, possibly 0.6% minority of scientists at best, however to simply dismiss their arguments should not be done if the evolutionist side of the debate (which I agree with) happens to be taken seriously either. Until these minority scientists are taken seriously in my opinion, the entire intelligent design vs. evolution debate isn’t going to very far at all. Note that in order for intelligent design to be true, abiogenesis must be dogmatically falsified. I would assert that Michael Behe does establish a lot of evidence that can’t be easily dismissed by the anti-intelligent design crowd (where I would group myself). Whether or not evolution can be affirmed by adherents of creation ex-nihilo, Fr. Aidan Kimel has gone to work on philosophicating right now.
Creation ex-nihilo, in and of itself being unfathomable (since this teaching would outright oppose a literal Genesis 1 right off the bat), cannot be easily contested against by modern scientists. Why? Because if creation out of nothing is true, then how could God even speak the world into existence? This would be creating the world out of nothing. There are other complications to trying to humanly understand this theory as both arrogant materialistic scientists and arrogant intelligent design scientists are failing to grasp in their arguments back and forth with each other (well, at least the intelligent design scientists are engaging with their opponents, the materialistic scientists are not).
He then cites David Kinnaman. I think David Kinnaman is spot-on for the most part. Christians are leaving the Church because of science and a lot of Churches are forcing such decisions on Christians. However, it is quite rare to see this happening and it happens in the more fundamentalist churches that don’t encourage a firm basis in anything other than the Bible. That is, churches that encourage more of a traditional base for their beliefs have less people leaving than churches that don’t. And it really shows that even if some of these very strict Bible-based churches permit evolution, people leaving the Church will probably not come back. I think a more fierceful integration of theology and not just accomadationalist theology but historical theology is needed to fix that. Pointing out fundamentalist groups like AnswersinGenesis doesn’t help your cause, Hemant. Instead, interacting with Patristic fathers such as Origen will.
Now who is there, pray, possessed of understanding, that will regard the statement as appropriate, that the first day, and the second, and the third, in which also both evening and morning are mentioned, existed without sun, and moon, and stars— the first day even without a sky? And who is found so ignorant as to suppose that God, as if He had been a husbandman, planted trees in paradise, in Eden towards the east, and a tree of life in it, i.e., a visible and palpable tree of wood, so that anyone eating of it with bodily teeth should obtain life, and, eating again of another tree, should come to the knowledge of good and evil? No one, I think, can doubt that the statement that God walked in the afternoon in paradise, and that Adam lay hid under a tree, is related figuratively in Scripture, that some mystical meaning may be indicated by it. (De Principiis IV, 16)
His next assertion is that the Church is anti-sex-education. Let’s assume we all agree on what sex means as intercourse between two people. Let’s also assume that by education, Mehta means “developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life” based on definition one. Using this definition, Catholic sex education is definitely a different style, but one cannot seriously contend that the Catholic Church is anti-sex-education. How exactly is teaching that sex should have responsibility taken to it as the Catholic Church teaches anti-sex-education? It certainly isn’t opposed to developing mature life by preparing people intellectually and developing reason and judgment in the area of sex. Now, holding to the position of “Have sex with contraceptives!” and “Just don’t give people AIDS!” turns people into sex-addicts. I’ve known a lot of sex addicts in high school. Trust me, they aren’t considered mature by their peers or their instructors. So the conclusion is that Hemant Mehta’s position on sex-education is actually more opposed to sex-education than the Catholic Church could ever even dream of!
His final argument is that the Church is opposed to doubt. We’ll let Mother Teresa speak for herself on that one.
Well, I probably butchered his definitions, but as it turns out, the Church is apparently neither anti-sex-education (although Hemant Mehta might be), anti-gay, anti-science, anti-doubt, or anti-women. We’ll see if he devlops more on his argument.