Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Catholic Hierarchy's Approach to Gays and Inversion of Moral Values: Serious Apologetic Challenge

One final observation about the exceptionally serious apologetic challenge facing the Catholic community as their leaders' statements and actions, which claim to be about love and promoting "rights" and "freedom," belie the moral claims these leaders are making:

The way in which the bishops invert moral values through the glaring discrepancy between their rhetoric about love and their hateful actions is hardly lost on "ordinary" people.  Yesterday, I pointed to Igor Volsky's reporting on the USCCB meeting and the bishops' attack on the gay community as an example of how the bishops are received outside the inner power circles of the Catholic church.

And here's an enlightening comment by a reader of Volsky's article which demonstrates that many people see right through the bishops' pretense to be serving values of love, and to be protecting human rights and human freedom, through their ongoing attacks on their gay brothers and sisters.  In response to the bishops' claims as reported in Volsky's article, a reader named Matt Gotcher writes, 

So you're going to affirm my "inviolable dignity" by denying me the right to marry? How does that even remotely make sense!

This is a valuable comment, because it zeroes right in on the insupportable process of inverting moral values in which the bishops are enmeshed through their campaign to "defend" marriage, which purports to be about love and defense of the "right" of the bishops to define civil marriage in a pluralistic secular democracy, and their "rights" and "freedom" to curtail and deny freedom to others.  The bishops claim to be serving and protecting human rights by promoting the denial of rights to a minority group.  And they claim to be defending human freedom while they seek to curb the freedom of a minority group.

And they claim that this behavior, which is eminently unloving, is motivated solely by love.

How does any of this remotely make sense, Matt Gotcher asks?  It makes sense only if one factors into the moral equation the bishops are using with these claims the following qualification: gay human beings are less than human.  The humanity of gay persons functions at a level lower than (and aberrant from) the humanity of everyone else in the human race.

So that, in denying rights to this subhuman group of people, the Catholic bishops are not really behaving in an unloving way at all.  They're defending the humanity of the rest of the population, which is undermined if we make concessions that would illicitly and dangerously normalize the lives and behavior of a subhuman minority group.

The inversion of moral values in what the Catholic hierarchy continues to do to its gay brothers and sisters depends very precisely on hidden assumptions that demand the demonization of gay people--so that the use of gays-link-to-Devil language by the chief episcopal proponent of the "defense" of marriage is not accidental in the least.  This language mirrors something at the very heart of the bishops' approach to the gay community: namely, the presupposition that gay human beings are human in a way that is different from and threatening to the human community in general.  And so the bishops' approach to their brothers and sisters who are gay depends on demonizing, dehumanizing, objectifying, and instrumentalizing a group of brother and sister human beings.  

And tagging this morally abhorrent behavior as loving.

And extending the demonization, dehumanization, objectification, and instrumentalization into society at large through media campaigns and through the considerable political influence the bishops wield in a way that should alarm anyone who has any familiarity at all with what has happened throughout history when the leaders of a religious community do this to any minority susceptible to hatred and violence.  

Mr. Gotcher is right on the mark.  None of this makes any sense at all, if love is what the Catholic hierarchy is all about.  It makes sense only if love isn't anywhere in the picture--something people in general aren't going to miss no matter how savvy the bishops try to be with their p-r campaigns and expensive video initiatives designed to "defend" marriage.

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