The terrain upon which a well-formed Catholic can comfortably discuss the LGBTQ issues in today’s intellectual and moral climate is almost non-existent. The faithful Catholic has a very narrow road upon which he can tread. To the left there is a deep valley of ideology comprised of inverted notions of freedom, rights, laws and love. To the right there is a valley of intolerant, legalistic and rigid moralism.
The seeking Catholic cannot find a middle ground or a compromise between the two valleys, but we must instead strive for the way that is above both vicious alternatives. We reject licentiousness and lawlessness. We also reject an uncharitable adherence to rigid rules. Our duty is to speak the truth with charity and in doing so we fulfill our commitment to love God and neighbor. Yet still, to covey the truth with charity is an ever more perilous proposition.
LGBTQ Issues and Church Teaching
Our job is to learn how to defend the Faith by defending the truth. We can’t do this if we don’t know Church teaching in the first place. Before one can initiate a dialogue with an opponent of the Faith, first one must know something about the different possibilities of possible positions.
Admittedly, there seem to be many possible positions on the issues swirling around gender and sexual morality. Those in and of the world would contend that there are as many positions as people, but this is absurd. As it adheres with the first principle of all reality, there are only two possibilities; either one possesses a correct understanding of the LGBTQ agenda or one does not. Those who embrace a false notion of the issues asserted by the agenda appear to have many different positions, however, they are unified by their error.
Both misguided groups to the left and the right of the properly formed Catholic mistakenly believe that a personal opinion qualifies as a proper position on an issue. This is simply a nod to the Dictatorship of Relativism and has no bearing on objective reality. Before a true dialogue can begin, let the truth-seeker know that there are ever only be two possibilities for any position: either one understands reality rightly, or one does not. Our opinions are meaningless unless they correspond to the principles of truth and reality. Ironically, even the ideologue who claims that every opinion is “valid” will disagree with Catholic Truth, thus contradicting his own claim. However, the ideologue never lets self-referential incoherence get in the way of his narrative.
Basic Prerequisites to Dialogue
Before any authentic dialogue can take place there are certain prerequisites without which a profitable discussion is impossible. First, we must make sure that our interlocutors are persons of good will. No real conversation can take place unless there are two participants willing to energetically engage in the dialogue.
To acquire an understanding requires great energy and focus. Both participants must have as their primary goal, not victory in argument, but the acquisition of truth. In good faith, both participants must respect and take one another seriously as human persons. If an opponent does not have good will, is not willing to energetically engage in the pursuit of answers, is seeking victory instead of truth, or does not respect his opponent, then there is no hope of a fruitful dialogue.
Secondly, we must recognize the difference between the big questions and the small questions that come from those big questions. Unfortunately, in today’s halls of education, small questions usurp the place of big questions and infer assumptions about those questions.
Concerning the LGBTQ agenda, three big questions that are largely ignored are: What is justice? What is freedom? What is love? The big question of justice, which requires many small questions, is replaced with notions of equality, tolerance and fairness. The big question of freedom is replaced by notions of licentiousness. The big question of love is replace by lust and desire. If your interlocutor does not share an understanding of the nature of justice, freedom and love, this is the first order of business to clarify. If you cannot find common ground on at least these three issues, an authentic dialogue cannot take place.
Know your audience
There are at least three basic kinds of opponents: the youth, adults defending the LGBTQ agenda while not participating in it, and adults defending the LGBTQ while participating in it.
Concerning young people, that our youth have been inundated by propaganda flowing out of the cesspools we call the modern school, mass media, and pop-culture is a nearly universal phenomena. Our youth are bombarded with constant messages of sexual license, non-judgmentalism, equality, relativism, and subjectivism. They have been so thoroughly taught by external influences that the most strenuous efforts to elucidate Catholic teaching on the LGBT agenda is likely to be met with apathy at best and hostility at worst.
Adults who do not live out the LGBTQ lifestyle but yet vociferously defend it are an intractable and ossified version of our indoctrinated youth. The benefits to supporting others in their sin and subjectivism is a type of ignorant bliss concerning one’s own sins. A false sense of self-esteem flows into the darkened heart of the ideologue who pats himself on the back for his intolerance. A profitable conversation is rarely to be had with an ideologue who believes his support for vice is his greatest virtue; yet this group is the largest group of opponents to Catholic Teaching on sexual morality. They comprise the majority of secular society, and enjoy sizable numbers among nominal Catholics. What is most characteristic about this large group is that they do not acquire the necessary prerequisites for an honest dialogue; the most probable return from this stunted group is personal insults fueled by impotent rage.
The defenders of the LGBTQ agenda who embrace the lifestyle represent a different challenge altogether. The foundational assumptions they cling to directly oppose Church Teaching concerning human sexuality, freedom, justice, truth and the authentic end of the human person. Their means of attaining their assumptions is rationalistic not intellectual. Their approach to morality is the direct inverse of the faithful Catholic: they assume that it is right to allow attractions and desires dictate the norms of morality; while Catholics allow the objective principles of truth revealed by the Logos to moderate the appetites and desires.
Possible strategies for each type
We ought to engage our youth in more thoughtful debate. They are resistant to philosophical and moral inquiry because of their environment and conditioning. However, lying dormant deep inside is the unexercised reason perfectly capable of arriving at truth. When most youth say “it doesn’t bother me because it doesn’t affect me,” the door is open to examining whether or not it bothers and affects them, for surely it does both; this can be uncovered with the right line of questioning. If we begin at least to ask our youth questions about the big questions surrounding the LGBTQ agenda, at the very least we may inspire some thought-provoking debate which has the potential to awaken some to truth.
Dealing with adult defenders of the LGBTQ agenda is more difficult. This middle group tends to be more sensitive and prone to anger. It is worth the effort to ask this group the big questions about justice, love, freedom and human sexuality, but most helpful indeed to develop a thick skin as you prepare for an aggressive and personally attacking response. However, even if no common ground is found, at least you may have pricked a conscience or planted a seed of truth which may in the future have a chance to sprout.
This third group is by far the most problematic and most difficult to engage. It is advisable to leave this task to those who specialize in such things. The truth is that those caught up in the addictive lifestyle of the LGBTQ agenda have subordinate their intellect and will to their appetites. Reason and morality play little to no part in motivating their dialogue. This group’s most common response to Catholic Truth is projections of anger and hatred. This group cannot afford the exertion or the good will to search for truth, and has an interest only in victory.
The prerequisites for an honest dialogue and debate are almost non-existent in our institutions of learning, throughout the public square, and in our modern mass media. To learn, understand, and convey Church teaching on the LGBTQ agenda requires first that we ourselves acquire the truths She teaches by being persons of good will, open only to truth, energetic in our quest, and properly disposed intellectually and morally. After we are prepared and armed with the mind of Christ, we are then responsible for speaking to our families. After that, we may begin to approach our neighbors in an effort to expose them to truth as well.
Know well that it is our duty to speak the truth with charity, and there our obligation ends. How our interlocutors respond is out of our hands. The faithful Catholic speaks so that truth may be conveyed; how the listener responds depends on his openness to grace and truth. We are not to calculate or contrive arguments; we are simply called to love in word and deed. So arm yourself with the truths of Christ and let the breath of the Holy Spirit carry your words.