Looking at this story about Anne Hathaway leaving the church I simply shake my head realizing how lucky we are she didn’t head for holy orders, as she is very unclear on the nature of sin. So lets review a little:
First lets remind her of what the church actually says about homosexuality…
Chastity and homosexuality
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,140 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”141 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 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.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
As is clear, the church differentiates between homosexuality and homosexual acts. What the church doesn’t accept is the sin, not the orientation.
And that is no different than the church not accepting breaking one’s wedding vows, or spreading calumny about another, or shoplifting, or not honoring father and mother or rejecting God, or drunkenness, or porn, or any of a bunch of other sins that the church has always talked against.
One mistake that people of religion often make is the “holier than thou” bit. There are people who never take a drink that burst out into anger at the drop of a hat. There are people who are absolutely faithful to their wives who dip into the till at work, there are people who are drug dealers, who wouldn’t think of missing mass, and there are people who would happily swindle their partner but wouldn’t ever think of gossiping about a neighbor.
The bottom line is we all have our own sins to deal with, that’s what confession is for. If people obsess about homosexuality but ignore their own sins it is their souls that are in danger.
One week at confession I mentioned to the priest that I was frustrated because I seemed to be repeating the same sins week after week. He had an interesting answer:
What do you want to be committing new sins?
Anne’s brother like everyone else has a particular sin that he is vulnerable to, by removing himself from the church and the sacrament of confession he instead of confronting his sin chooses to celebrate it.
Tell me Anne, if your brother liked to steal, if he enjoyed it, would you leave the church because the church refused to “accept” his thievery?
Your brother’s homosexuality is something he has to deal with, but the real dangerous sin that both he and you are dealing with is PRIDE. The departure from the church is a sign of narcissism, it’s the same mistake that Andrew Sullivan makes, instead of doing one’s best to fight one’s sin (and no matter what the sin is, it can seem to be a losing battle believe me I know) they choose to re-define what sin is and condemn the Church. And with the number of denominations out there you can always find one that will celebrate whatever particular sin you want to keep doing without guilt.
Thus does sin multiply. Christ was pretty explicit about this on two occasions:
He said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” Luke 17:1-4
There is a warning to those who lead others to sin, but also a reminder to those that we MUST forgive sin when one asks. Both ARE explicitly said by Christ, If Anne ignores the first two verses and those who condemn her ignore the second two then both are in danger, but remember the words “if he repents” those words actually mean something.
And remember this applies to any type of sin. Those who try to use this only against homosexuality are deluding themselves as it was said in the Screwtape letters #12:
You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,
However there is an even more explicit message that Anne and her family might want to take note of:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’ “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39
Anne you may realize that there are some differences between the Catholic Bible and the one that the Episcopal church uses, but none of those differences are in the New Testament.
If you and yours decide to discard your cross rather than bear it you will be celebrated. You will be feted at the best parties. The media will love you, it will lead to prestige for you in Hollywood and everywhere on the talk show circuit. And if you choose to keep on this path, when your obituary is written the style and media writers will mention how brave you were to defy the church. The media will celebrate you for all the rest of your days…
…after that you’re on your own.
I’ll say a rosary for you, I invite others to do the same or whatever prayers you prefer.
Update: Linked by Adrienne’s corner. Thanks