There can be only a few doubts that as of today, the LGBT-related issues continue being considered highly controversial – especially when discussed in conjunction with the discursively relevant provisions of all three monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). Therefore, nothing is surprising about the fact that the public debate, concerned with these issues, often results in causing the participants to become overly emotional while landing their views on the socio-cultural connotations of the LGBT movement, in general, and what accounts for the socially appropriate way of celebrating one’s “sexual diversity”, in particular. What contributes even further, in this respect, is that as time goes on the LGBT community in the West continues to attain a number of the paradoxical characteristics, such as the one reflective of a certain tendency among more and more White gays/lesbians to grow increasingly uncomfortable with the multiculturalism-induced transformation of the Western societies’ demographic fabric – particularly, with the policy of allowing Muslim immigrants to settle in the West (homonationalism).
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Nevertheless, it is still possible to obtain some in-depth insights into what predetermined the emergence of the LGBT community in its present form and to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon’s overall significance. For this, one would have to subject the issue to the analytical (cause-effect) inquiry while keeping in mind that there is a strong systemic quality to just about every demographic trend within the society. In my paper, I will aim to explore the validity of this suggestion at length while assessing the concerned subject matter from the Catholic perspective and promoting the idea that the current developments in the LGBT domain have been objectively predetermined. I will also discuss the sociopolitical implications of homonationalism.
The Catholic Church has been traditionally known for its strongly negative attitude towards the idea that there is nothing wrong about the practice of men and women entering into the sexual relationship with the representatives of their gender – and to say the least becoming partners in marriage. There are a few reasons for this. First, the Bible has strongly condemned homosexuality while referring to it as one of the worst sins: “Even their (heathen) women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones; in the same way, men committed shameful acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error”.1
Even though unlike what it is the case with the Protestants, Catholics do not place a heavy emphasis on studying the Bible as the pathway towards salvation, they still could not help noticing that there are just too many anti-gay passages in the Holy Book for anyone to doubt the God’s contempt for gays. Homosexuality is also deemed inappropriate by the Catholic “Holy tradition”. As Olson noted: “The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Church’s tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life”.2 Second, the Catholic Church has a legacy of having burned many sexually and mentally deviated people at stake – the exploits of the Holy Inquisition during the Dark Ages illustrate the soundness of this statement. It is understood, of course, that this can hardly contribute towards promoting gay-tolerance within the Church.
Third, the Catholic Church has always been “pro-active”, in the sense of encouraging men and women to marry each other so that they could get down to the procreation business – hence, increasing the number of the “sheep in the flock”. However, a homosexual/lesbian couple simply does not have what it takes to give birth to a child.
Nevertheless, during the recent decades, the Church’s top officials have significantly “liberalized” their outlook on LGBT people – the development made possible by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), associated with the Church’s decision to revise many of its outdated theological postulates. Among them was the one proclaiming that a person’s tendency to contemplate sexually non-normative behavior is itself utterly sinful. As a result, the Church’s contemporary take on the issue of homosexuality is best described as being somewhat ambivalent. On one hand, most Catholics continue to believe that the sexual acts between two or more same-gendered individuals are sinful. Such their belief is reflective of the Vatican’s official position, in this respect: “In the view of the Holy See, so-called sexual orientation does not define one’s identity or tell ‘who one is’ as so many homosexuals claim… The Church continues to consider homosexuality to be, in effect, a pathology”.3
At the same time, however, the Catholic Church encourages people to treat gays/lesbians in a tolerant manner while never forgetting the fact that they are human beings and that they do deserve compassion. This can be explained, for the following provision from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible… They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”.4 Pope Francis has spoken in favor of abandoning prejudices against homosexual people on many occasions. According to him, one cannot be judged on account of experiencing a particular homosexual longing, but quite to the contrary – such a person must be treated with much care and respect, as someone who is in greater need than anyone else to experience “God’s grace”. As the Pontifex noted: “I accompanied people with homosexual tendencies and even homosexual activity. I accompanied them; I helped them draw closer to the Lord, although some couldn’t. But I never abandoned them”.5 In its turn, this causes many people to assume that it is only a matter of time before Catholicism ceases to be concerned with trying to “correct” gays by encouraging them to practice chastity.
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Such an assumption is not altogether baseless, as there are indeed many indications that as time goes on, Catholicism grows increasingly gay-friendly – something best illustrated regarding different aspects of the functioning of several Catholic educational organizations in North America. For example: “(In 2012) the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA)… recommended stringent guidelines for the formation of more generic ‘Respecting Differences’ clubs… deemed too controversial and an affront to Catholic discipline and values”.6 Because of the ongoing secularization of the public domain in the West, the mentioned trend is likely to gain additional momentum.
As it was implied in the Introduction, there have been lately a few noteworthy developments within many LGBT communities in the West. One of them is concerned with the fact that, as practice indicates, the pretext of protecting gay rights is now increasingly used by the conservative/nationalist politicians within the context of how they go about promoting their xenophobic agendas. Such a newly emerged trend is now commonly discussed in terms of homonationalism. Even though there is no universally accepted definition as to what this term stands for, it is usually regarded introspective of the process more and more gays/lesbians adopting a strong racialist/nationalist outlook on the essence of the surrounding social reality’s emanations. As Puar argued: “Homonationalism… sanctions homosexuality and produces it in sanitized forms, normalizing queerness into patriotism, marriage, and consumption, while queering racialized threats to the nation and national security as terrorist”.7The political rhetoric, deployed by the LGBT community’s overwhelmingly white “homonationalist” activists, stresses out the sheer danger of allowing Muslim immigrants to settle in Western countries – the process that according to the former results in undermining these countries’ national integrity from within.
The Dutch politician Geert Wilders stands out as a good example, in this respect. Throughout the recent decade, Wilders attained much popularity with voters in Holland – all due to his talent in describing the perils of the country’s ongoing “Islamization”, which according to the politician will eventually result in depriving Holland of its true ethnocultural and racial identity. According to Ross: “He’s (Wilders) a legitimate force in politics. For nearly a decade, he’s served as the leader of Holland’s anti-Islamic political party, and he regularly uses his platform to denounce not only violent jihadists but all of Islam”.8
The phenomenon of this politician’s rise to prominence can be partially explained by the fact that while trying to appeal to the ordinary Dutch, he positions himself as a liberal-minded individual, who is deeply committed to helping the members of the country’s LGBT community to take full advantage of their constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms. At the same time, however, Wilders calls for the wholesale deportation of illegal immigrants from Holland and for the enactment of different discriminatory laws that would result in reducing the status of the Muslim Dutch to that of the “second class citizens”. And, as Wilders’ rating polls indicate, many of his ideas do find their way into the hearts of the country’s predominantly white practitioners of “sexual diversity”. One may wonder as to how was it possible for LGBT people in Holland to adopt a xenophobic (quasi-fascist) attitude towards their Muslim compatriots, especially given the fact that gays/lesbians have traditionally been on the extreme left end of the political spectrum in just about any country? The answer to this question is contained in the paper’s next sub-chapter.
It is now commonly assumed that a person’s motivation to turn gay/lesbian is genetically predetermined and that to be or not to be “queer” is not a matter of one’s conscious choice. This, however, is far from being the case – as the relevant sociological studies indicate, only 2%-3% out of the worldwide population of admitted gays/lesbians are genuinely attracted to those of the same sex with them.9 What this means is that one’s “queerness” is best discussed in terms of a socially acquired characteristic – something that presupposes the legitimacy of the Catholic idea that the representatives of sexual minorities are not quite as strongly predetermined to indulge in the sexually deviant behavior as they would like everybody to believe.
Hence, the Catholic call to action: “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtue of self-mastery that teaches them inner freedom… by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection”.10 Even though it is rather doubtful whether LGBT people will consider praying God so that he makes them heterosexual again, the above-stated provides us with a certain clue as to the sheer ease with which more and more gays/lesbians in the West continue to turn homonationalist. Apparently, most of these people never considered their “gayness” to be an integral part of their deep-seated sense of self-identity, and the reason why they decided to join the LBGT community is that there must have been some practical interest for them to choose in favor of acting in such a manner.
In light of this specific suggestion, we can hypothesize that one’s taste for sexual deviations plays a secondary role within the context of how his or her sense of existential self-identity is formed, with the main contributing factors, in this regard, being the person’s social status and the particulars of his or her racial/cultural affiliation. As Puar aptly observed: “The gay and lesbian human rights industry continues to proliferate Euro-American constructs of identity (not to mention the notion of sexual identity itself) that privilege identity politics”.11 In other words, it is not their “gayness” that binds the members of the LBGT community together, in the sub-cultural sense of this word, but rather their endowment with the sense of racial (all overwhelmingly white) and corporate (representing the “creative class”) solidarity.
Therefore, there is indeed nothing too mysterious about the fact that, despite their reputation of intellectual progressiveness and their presumed commitment to promoting tolerance within the society, most of the LGBT community’s white affiliates cannot help experiencing some racist prejudices towards their ethnically visible co-citizens – especially if the latter happen to be practicing Muslims. This exposes the hidden roots of homonationalism. Apparently, it certainly does make much sense, referring to the term’s recent emergence as being suggestive of the ways of the future to an extent: “(Homonationalism) is rather a facet of modernity and a historical shift marked by the entrance of (some) homosexual bodies as worthy of protection by nation-states” (par 337). Because of what has been said earlier, it is rather unlikely that the notions of “human rights” and “gay rights” will continue to be fetishized by the Media into the future, as it is the case nowadays.
The deployed line of argumentation, as to what should be deemed the actual significance of homonationalism, implies that it will prove utterly impossible to simultaneously affirm the rights of gays and Muslim immigrants. This simply could not be otherwise. Because both groups of people compete for the same limited resource within the same spatially limited environmental niche, there can be no “common ground” between them by definition. The failure of the policy of multiculturalism in Europe, confirmed by the governmental officials from just about every European country, substantiates the validity of this suggestion better than anything else does. Apparently, one’s skillfulness in indulging in the well-meaning but essentially meaningless politically correct rhetoric does not make him or her an efficient policymaker, especially if the concerned person does not understand the basic systemic principles of the society’s functioning.
“Article 6.” Catechism of the Catholic Church. Web.
Jannini, Emmanuele. “Male Homosexuality: Nature or Culture?” Journal of Sexual Medicine 7, no. 10, (2012): 3245-3253.
“L.G.B.T. Catholics Should Be ‘Accompanied’ Pope Francis Urges.” America, 215, no. 11, (2016): 8.
Liboro, Renato, Robb Travers, and Alex John. “Beyond the Dialectics and Polemics: Canadian Catholic Schools Addressing LGBT Youth Issues.” The High School Journal 98, no. 2 (2015): 158-180.
Olson, Carl. “Is the Church Homophobic?” Catholic Answer 26, no. 3 (2012): 29.
Puar, Jasbir. “Rethinking Homonationalism.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 45, no. 2 (2013): 336-339.
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Ross, Winston. “The ‘Prophet’ Who Hates Muhammad.” Newsweek Global 164, no. 4 (2015): 30-37.
The New Jerusalem Bible. Edited by Susan Jones. London: Doubleday, 1985.
Whitehead, Kenneth. “Homosexuality: Is the Catholic Church Guilty of Discrimination?” The Linacre Quarterly 75, n. 4 (2008): 327-344.
- The New Jerusalem Bible, ed. Susan Jones (London: Doubleday, 1985), Romans 1:26-27.
- Carl Olson, “Is the Church Homophobic?” Catholic Answer 26, no. 3 (2012): 29.
- Kenneth Whitehead, “Homosexuality: Is the Catholic Church Guilty of Discrimination?” The Linacre Quarterly 75, n. 4 (2008): 330.
- “Article 6,” Catechism of the Catholic Church. Web.
- “L.G.B.T. Catholics Should Be ‘Accompanied’ Pope Francis Urges,” America, 215, no. 11, (2016): 8.
- Renato Liboro, Robb Travers, and Alex John, “Beyond the Dialectics and Polemics: Canadian Catholic Schools Addressing LGBT Youth Issues,” The High School Journal 98, no. 2 (2015): 163.
- Jasbir Puar, “Rethinking Homonationalism,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 45, no. 2 (2013): 354.
- Winston Ross, “The ‘Prophet’ Who Hates Muhammad,” Newsweek Global 164, no. 4 (2015): 30-37.
- Emmanuele Jannini, “Male Homosexuality: Nature or Culture?” Journal of Sexual Medicine 7, no. 10, (2012): 3251.
- “Article 6,” Catechism of the Catholic Church.
- Puar, Rethinking Homonationalism, 338.