A specific instance of denying the concept of sin yielding freedom without order is with regard to homosexual acts. Homosexual acts render the purpose of sex, i.e. reproduction, unattainable. By thwarting the inherent purpose of sex, such acts are the seeking of pleasure for the sake of pleasure, which is inane.
The Words Sin and Homophobia End Intellectual Discussion
In a discussion on British TV, Piers Morgan observed that the current liberal mood in Britain judges homosexual acts not to be sins as evidenced by the legalization of same-sex “marriage” and by the passage of the Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, he then went on to claim that anyone who judges homosexual acts to be sins is endorsing homophobia; i.e., he is expressing hatred of those who engage in homosexual acts, as well as inciting violence toward them. Morgan indicated that tolerance requires the acceptance of homosexual acts as normal.
A British citizen of the Muslim faith, Dilly Hussain, presented the view counter to that of Morgan. He tried to point out to Morgan that the very idea of tolerance is the endurance of that, of which one does not approve, for the sake of a greater good, civil harmony. It would be a self-contradiction to claim to be tolerant of that of which one approves. Hussain noted that true tolerance is commonplace and is not affected by identifying that which is tolerated as sinful. The identification of an act as a sin does not express hatred of the sinner. Morgan was unconvinced. To him, the word sin was evidence of homophobia.
Not only does liberal thought, as expressed by Morgan, deny the concept of sin and thereby the intelligibility of sex as purposeful, but it also redefines words (tolerance) and uses epithets (homophobia) to end discussion.
The Role of Compulsory Government Education
Sir Michael Wilshaw concurred in Morgan’s perspective. Wilshaw cited the protests of some Birmingham parents to the schools’ teaching their children the normalcy of some children’s having two parents of the same sex. Wilshaw essentially claimed that it was the responsibility of “the schools, the Department of Education, and the local authorities,” not the parents, to determine what was to be taught to children. In Wishaw’s judgment, what was being taught by the government schools was tolerance, while the protesting parents wanted to teach their children bigotry and intolerance. From the wording used by the moderator of the discussion, it was evident that what was being taught was not social tolerance, but erroneous biology, under the guise of tolerance.
The Birmingham case involved very young children. The moderator expressed the disputed teaching as: It is perfectly normal for some children to have either “two mommies or two daddies.” Notice it is not that some children have multiple parental guardians of the same sex. It is that a child may have solely two mommies and no daddy, or two daddies and no mommy.
Mommy and daddy are expressions of normal biological relationships based on the union of a sperm and egg at conception. Acknowledging that the material norm is for a child to have one biological mommy and one biological daddy is not to deny the complexity of genetic inheritance made possible by genetic engineering. It is to recognize that such complexity is the grotesque result of placing the human will of the bioengineer above the inherent intelligibility of the material reality of human biology.
Mommy and daddy are fundamentally biological designations, not social. Parental guardian in kind and number is specifically a social designation, which as a social designation may be the subject of tolerance. Confusing biology with guardianship is miseducation, and in the Birmingham dispute, it is for the sake of freedom without order. The distinction between biological and social parentage does not diminish the generosity and love of adoptive human parents, whose heterosexual marriage is based on the intelligibility of biological material reality as are the biological identifications of mommy and daddy.
The Revealed View of Sin and Tolerance
The central theme of the Judeo-Christian revelation is the forgiveness of sin:
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered. (Psalm 130:3-4)
Although despising sin while showing tolerance to the sinner is reasonable without revelation, it is essential to Christianity and to Catholicism in particular.
Morgan identifies as a Catholic, while Wilshaw was once headmaster of a Catholic school in England. They should be fully aware of the Catholic distinction between sin and sinner, which leads to tolerating the sinner, indeed oneself as well as others, while identifying sin as inanity, the subversion of the intellect to the will. Yet they endorse the liberal view of freedom, which denies the concept of sin.
Tolerance in the Catholic Tradition
The Catholic view of sin and tolerance is repeatedly expressed in our daily prayer. In the Our Father, we pray, “Forgives us … as we forgive ….” In the Hail Mary, we ask, “Pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” Obviously, there is no room for hatred of sinners, only hatred of sin.
In the Mass, which we recognize as the sacrifice of the Lamb of God for the forgiveness of all sin of all time, we confess our sins at the start as “through my fault” and culminate the sacrifice by consuming the Lamb of sacrifice, just prior to which we repeat three times, “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” ending twice, “have mercy on us,” and once, “grant us peace.”
In Scripture, our Lord repeatedly cautions us not to despise others who sin, but rather to despise our own sins while being tolerant of others if we expect forgiveness. One parable on this theme is of the servant whose debt his master forgave, but who does not forgive a debt owed him by a fellow servant. The parable concludes, that there will be no forgiveness from God “if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (Matthew 18:23-35). Another such parable is of the prayers of the Pharisee and the tax collector. It is the tax collector who is forgiven because he does not despise others as sinners, as does the Pharisee, but humbly asks for merciful forgiveness of his own sins.
The most outstanding example of tolerance of sinners is that of our Lord in his passion. He tolerates the mockery of his creatures at their crowning him with thorns. He does not destroy them but endures their insults out of love for them. He then goes to the limit in giving his life, not simply in tolerance, but for love of sinners, thereby conquering the inanity of evil, which is sin.
The current exaltation of the human will over the intellect had its beginning in the theological error of voluntarism. Voluntarism holds that we can only know the will of God for us and that we cannot know the intellect of God either through material reality or through revelation.
We have succumbed to the propaganda of scientism, which subtly clams the awesomeness of technology as proof of its validity. We are constantly bombarded with its propaganda through the compulsory governmental education of youth, as well as through the uniformity of mass media, mass entertainment, and higher education. We acquiesce, believing that the only intelligibility in material things is of form and motion, to the extent that these are measurable. We thus identify purpose as subjective, arising from the human will. This leads to the denial of the concept of sin yielding freedom without order.
The correction to voluntarism at the theological level is to believe Jesus when he called us friends, not servants, because he has made known to us the mind of God (John 15:15), particularly in our adoption as his children (Romans 8:15). The antidote to scientism at the philosophical level is the re-Hellenization of intellectual inquiry, to recognize the inherent intelligibility of material reality, not only at the levels of form and motion but at the level of purpose. This restores the intelligibility of the concept of sin and thereby the tranquility of order to human freedom.