Thoughts on Gays, Benedict, Paul, Jesus and God
The Pope is coming to Washington this week, which had me thinking about the Church’s position on certain issues, like gay marriage. Much of the Church’s teaching on this issue comes from the letters of St. Paul, rather than the Gospels (which do not mention homosexuality per se but which do condemn pederasty). In order to understand how Paul might teach differently today, one must put him into context (of course, if Paul were teaching today, he would not be Saul of Tarsus, but someone else). Paul’s Epistles were part inspiration, part polemic and partly based on his own knowledge and beliefs as a Hebrew scribe (although in later life, he was a tent maker). As such his exhortations were culturally bound, just as our understanding of homosexuality is bound by our culture and our understanding of human biology (which is superior to his).
This train of thought led me to wonder about Jesus and how he knew what he knew. Was Jesus privy to some secret plan of God? As I have said before, the answer is no. Jesus was fully man and fully God. Being fully man, his resources were fully human – the Hebrew scriptures of his day. His divinity is manifested in his connection with the Holy Spirit, which filled him as part of his essence, rather than filling him with grace, which was the case for his mother, Mary. He was not a hybrid. He did not have God parts and man parts. He was fully both. To say otherwise is to lower him to the level of a Bodhisattva or of Hercules – a mere demigod. There are no God parts you can point to. His Divinity was the same when he was born, when he died and now.
This invites the question, what is God anyway? To really be God, he must have no physicality. There is no white skinned, white haired, bipedal hominid in a higher plane of existence named God. God is entirely spiritual and is not just, as St. Anselm posited, that which nothing greater can be conceived, but is rather something that cannot be conceived at all! There is no mind of God, since minds involve thinking and God does not think. Thinking is a process and in God there is no process – only ultimate existence. Does this mean that God does not exist? Not physically. This does not mean we cannot feel his presence, however we cannot measure it. There is no way to separate the divinity present in the sacraments like Eucharist and Confirmation and point to it. It exists in another realm that we can experience but not demonstrate, except by our actions. Even the communion miracle where in at least one case the bread and wine actually were transformed to flesh and blood still only show flesh and blood. You cannot measure God. Is God merely a set of communal endorphins? Is Prozac as effective and less costly (given the cost of supporting religious and even spiritual organizations in time and treasure – and in some cases lives)? That is an individual decision left to the reader, although I have seen and experience enough miracles to come down on the side of God.
God is the spiritual basis for the ideas of Love and Being. These ideals and the experience of them are expressions of God. Religion attempts to understand these things, but they are not limited to religion. As God, they are without human limits. They exist even without the Kleptocracy known as organized religion. If they did not, they wouldn’t be eternal.
So, where do I come down on homosexuality? The reader is invited to guess – or to read my book. There is an essay about it there, as well as a Chapter about God.