Bernardo M. Villegas
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Catholic Beliefs on Human Sexuality (Part 1)

          The forces of “ideological colonization”, to use a phrase coined by Pope Francis,  are upon us.  More and more some of our legislators are trying to introduce into Philippine society practices that have undermined the marriage institution and the family in other countries, especially in the West.  With great pressure from the Obama Administration, the previous Government was able to pass the Reproductive Health Law which poses a lot of problems of conscience to practicing Catholics.  Under the present Government, there is an attempt to pass the so-called SOGIE (Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression) under the guise of protecting the human rights of the LGTB (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual) community.  The present House version of the SOGIE is just the tip of the iceberg.  There will be other proposals that will increasingly challenge the beliefs of Catholics on human sexuality.  According to a CNN Report, a member of the Lower House who championed the SOGIE bill openly admitted that this is only the first step in a series of other measures that they are aping from other countries: “In the fight for LGBT rights, there has to be strategy and sequencing…First we start with the anti-discrimination bill, then we proceed to civil partnerships, whether same sex or otherwise, then we go to gender recognition, then we can go to LGBT in the military.  In countries where the LGBT community are recognized, it is always in that order—you start with a law that encompasses or summarizes and gives the justification for LGBT right, then after a period of good experience with that law, you proceed to another…”  The SOGIE bill is the first “baby” step.  I would like to especially address this column to members of Congress who are committed to defending the tenets of their Catholic faith.  They must stop this increasing ideological colonization.

         We should at least be grateful for the transparency of those defending the SOGIE bill.  Well, we will be equally transparent on how those of us who hold sacred the marriage institution and the family will fight them step by baby step.  As a social scientist, I usually gather economic, sociological and cultural arguments that can empirically demonstrate that anti-family and anti-marriage policies inflict a lot of harm on society, even without considering religious criteria.  This time, I will summarize the doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church—to which most of us Filipinos belong—that will be the bases of our conscientious objections to measures that are based on an erroneous conception of human sexuality.  My source for this brief summary is the Catechism for Filipino Catholics (CFC) produced by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, using as foundation the Catechism of the Catholic Church issued by the Vatican in 1992.

         In paragraph 1066, the CFC explains the Sixth Commandment of God, “You shall not commit adultery.” This forbids married persons from entering into sexual unions with someone other than their spouse.  But for the ancient Israelites, this Commandment had more social significance than sexual.  Its aim was to protect the family, the absolutely necessary basis for society.  The family and marriage were viewed directly in terms of the two Genesis creation narratives.  God created man male and female so that man would not be alone (cf Gn 2:19) and to multiply and fill the earth (cf Gn 1:27f). To Catholics, therefore, sexuality is for both human completeness and procreation.  Thus while focusing on the specific relationship of marriage, the sixth commandment actually touches upon the very nature of human sexuality, the entire range of man-woman relationships and our common vocation to love and communion.

         Any legislation that goes against the Christian view of human sexuality will obviously be resisted by many Filipinos who are practicing Catholics.  As the CFC states clearly, the first thing to be made clear to every Christian Filipino is the difference between sexuality in general, and the sex act.  The National Catechetical Directory of the Philippines (NCDP) makes this point very well:  “Sexuality is today understood in a more complete and integral sense than in the past when the focus was almost completely on the sex act.  Today sexuality signifies an essential dimension of the whole person, by which he/she enters to relationship with others.  It thus touches every aspect of personal life and has to be proposed by all men and women just as life itself must be.”  It is an essential part of Catholic teaching that it is from sex that the human person receives the characteristics which, on the biological, psychological and spiritual levels, make that person a man or a woman, and thereby largely condition his or her  progress toward maturity and insertion into society.

         No legislation can arbitrarily modify this man-woman, male-female dichotomy of the human species.  Catholics believe that the basis for this wider understanding of human sexuality is creation itself.  Man and woman constitute two modes of “imaging” God and they fully accomplish such a vocation not only as single persons, but also as couples, which are communities of love.  The first consequence of this fundamental truth of creation is that “in creating the human race ‘male and female’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity, endowing them with the inalienable rights and responsibilities proper to the human person.”   (CCC 2335).   But this equality as persons does not entail any unisex sameness that denies all distinctiveness of the sexes.  On the contrary, the second consequence of God’s creative action is that by their distinctive sexuality, man and woman are both different and complementary, not only in their physical and biological being, but reaching down to the depth of their moral and spiritual being.  (To be continued).