1. Both systems of salvation agree that the deepest human problems are spiritual in nature. This point is important, because some people suppose that the deepest human problems are economic in nature, or perhaps political, or perhaps medical. Karma and Grace agree that what is wrong in human life is, at its deepest level, religious or spiritual in nature.
2. Karma and Grace agree that moral right and wrong are objective—they are facts about the nature of reality itself. Moral relativism is false; what is right and wrong does not depend on who you are or what you happen to believe. This is a controversial point in our day. Many people hold that right and wrong have nothing to do with the way things are. There are brute facts and there are evaluative opinions, and the two are in totally different realms. Both Karma and Grace, in contrast, reject any rigid distinction between facts and values. Followers of both Karma and Grace hold that certain things are morally right and certain other things are morally wrong. Intentions and actions can be objectively judged to be right or wrong.
3. Karma and Grace agree that justice lies behind the real or apparent injustices and inequalities that we see in the world. The traditional problem of evil may be a more serious intellectual diffi- culty for the advocate of Grace than for the advocate of Karma, but both theories suggest that evil will be punished and virtue rewarded in some future life. Both hold that the universe is essentially moral. It is not true that the world operates with complete indifference to morality, like the movements of a planet or the operation of a machine. Morality is at the heart of reality.
The Karmic system stresses cause and effect: you get just what you deserve, no more and no less. Nothing happens that is unjust. Actions that are due to craving, greed, hatred, or ignorance will pro- duce bad karma. Moral acts will produce good karma. This aspect of karma is not a matter of retribution. Good karma is conducive to spiritual growth; bad karma is less conducive.
Human beings were created by a holy and personal cre- ator.We are required to obey the creator's laws.When we fail to do so, we sin and accordingly separate ourselves from God. Sin must be punished. The punishment for sin is separation from God. Human beings—who live but one life on this earth—are in bondage to self-centeredness, violence, pride, greed, and lust. They are quite unable, on their own strength, to overcome the pervasive effects of sin in their lives. They can do nothing to save themselves; no matter how hard they try, they fail.
1) Who gets the grace? Why is it that some people receive the grace of God and are forgiven while others do not receive it and are condemned? Is this not unfair? Some advocates of Grace respond to this charge by arguing that we all deserve condemna- tion, and so those who do not receive grace (and stay condemned at Stage 1) have no right to object.
2) Why doesn't God intervene more often? The problem of evil is a pervasive intellectual issue for all theistic systems of salva- tion that presuppose the ability of God graciously and powerfully to intervene in human affairs from time to time.Why doesn't God do so more often? Why didn't God intervene to prevent the Holo- caust, for example? The fact that God allows so much human suf- fering entails either that God is not strong enough to prevent it, or that God is not morally good enough to want to prevent it, or that God does not exist.Whichever is true—so the criticism runs—the system of salvation called Grace collapses.
(3) Grace can be morally corrupting. Some argue that follow- ers of religions of grace can easily lapse into moral listlessness or even moral turpitude because of their conviction that "grace covers everything." In other words, it is easy for grace to become cheap and morally worthless if it leads people to evade their moral respon- sibilities out of the belief that no matter how much moral wrong they do, God's grace will overcome it and they will be forgiven.
(4) Not enough time. One aspect of the system of salvation called Grace is that human beings live only one life on this earth and then are judged on the basis of that life. But surely one life- time is not enough to achieve salvation. This claim is substantiated by the simple observation that most people die in far less than an optimal or perfect spiritual state. Obviously, for the vast majority of people, many more lives than one are needed to reach the spiritual end-state. A loving God will make that possible; a God who does not is a moral monster.
5) Grace is immoral. Even if the first criticism (about the unfairness of grace for some people and not others) is waived, it can still be argued that the very idea of grace is inherently unjust and unfair. Morality requires that people should be treated exactly as they deserve. Just as it is unfair to treat people worse than they deserve (e.g., by sentencing someone to twenty years in prison for failing to put a stamp on an envelope), so it is unfair to treat people better than they deserve. Justice must be upheld at all times, and it is radically unjust to forgive people who do not merit forgiveness. Moving from Stage 1 to Stage 2 must be achieved by the moral agents themselves. If it comes as a free and undeserved gift from someone else, it won't be appreciated. Human beings must work hard spiritually and morally, and if they do they can move them- selves to Stage 2. That is the far better way.
It is as well to put this the other way round. Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and a good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as fiends. Can we be quite certain how we should have behaved if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with the bad upbring- ing, and then with the power, say, of Himmler? That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man's choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man's psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or the worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought of as our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see everyone as he really was. There will be surprises. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innu- merable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow- creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impo- tence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to one state or the other.
When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.
The social rule of propriety lays down how much of the human body should be displayed and what subjects can be referred to, and in what words, according to the customs of a given social circle.
Thus, while the rule of chastity is the same for all Christians at all times, the rule of propriety changes.
→ A girl in the Pacific islands wearing hardly any clothes and a Victorian lady completely covered in clothes might both be equally 'modest', proper, or decent, according to the standards of their own societies: and both, for all we could tell by their dress, might be equally chaste (or equally unchaste).
→ When people break the rule of propriety in their own time and place, if they do so in order to excite lust in themselves or others, then they are offending against chastity.
→ But if they break it through ignorance or carelessness they are guilty only of bad manners.
→ I do not think that a very strict or fussy standard of propriety is any proof of chastity or any help to it, and I therefore regard the great relaxation and simplifying of the rule which has taken place in my own lifetime as a good thing
The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body. Now if we eat whenever we feel inclined and just as much as we want, it is quite true most of us will eat too much: but not terrifically too much. One man may eat enough for two, but he does not eat enough for ten. The appetite goes a little beyond its biological purpose, but not enormously. But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function.
Or take it another way. You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act—that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you come to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let everyone see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that coun- try something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?
The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, com- peting with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worst of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither. I agree because I think one who is diabolical is equal to one who is overly sexual. Justice, as I said before, includes the keeping of promises. Now everyone who has been married in a church has made a public, solemn promise to stick to his (or her) partner till death. The duty of keeping that promise has no special connection with sexual morality: it is in the same position as any other promise. If, as modern people are always telling us, the sexual impulse is just like all our other impulses, then it ought to be treated like all our other impulses; and as their indulgence is controlled by our prom- ises, so should its be. If, as I think, it is not like all our other impulses, but is morbidly inflamed, then we should be especially careful not to let it lead us into dishonesty.
If people do not believe in permanent marriage, it is perhaps better that they should live together unmarried than that they should make vows they do not mean to keep. It is true that by living together without marriage they will be guilty (in Christian eyes) of fornication. But one fault is not mended by adding another: unchastity is not improved by adding perjury.
(1) The need for some head follows from the idea that mar- riage is permanent. Of course, as long as the husband and wife are agreed, no question of a head need arise; and we may hope that this will be the normal state of affairs in a Christian mar- riage. But when there is a real disagreement, what is to hap- pen? Talk it over, of course; but I am assuming they have done that and still failed to reach agreement. What do they do next? They cannot decide by a majority vote, for in a council of two there can be no majority. Surely, only one or other of two things can happen: either they must separate and go their own ways or else one or other of them must have a casting vote. If mar- riage is permanent, one or other party must, in the last resort, have the power of deciding the family policy. You cannot have a permanent association without a constitution.
(2) If there must be a head, why the man? Well, firstly is there any very serious wish that it should be the woman? As I have said, I am not married myself, but as far as I can see, even a woman who wants to be the head of her own house does not usually admire the same state of things when she finds it going on next door. She is much more likely to say 'Poor Mr X! Why he allows that appalling woman to boss him about the way she does is more than I can imagine.' I do not think she is even very flattered if anyone mentions the fact of her own 'headship'. There must be something unnatural about the rule of wives over husbands, because the wives themselves are half ashamed of it and despise the husbands whom they rule. But there is also another reason; and here I speak quite frankly as a bachelor, because it is a reason you can see from outside even better than from inside. The relations of the family to the outer world—what might be called its foreign policy—must depend, in the last resort, upon the man, because he always ought to be, and usually is, much more just to the outsiders. A woman is primarily fighting for her own children and hus- band against the rest of the world. Naturally, almost, in a sense, rightly, their claims override, for her, all other claims. She is the special trustee of their interests. The function of the husband is to see that this natural preference of hers is not given its head. He has the last word in order to protect other people from the intense family patriotism of the wife.
Human sexuality relates us to God first and foremost because it is at base a reproductive power by which we are capable of transmitting human life. The inclination toward sexuality is forceful in human beings because it is meant to ensure the continued presence of the human race. It presses human beings toward having children. At the same time, when a new human life is con- ceived in the womb, it is God that creates the spiritual soul of the new human being directly and immediately (without input from the human parents). This means that in human reproduction, there is something sacred: a cooperation with God in which the parents generate a new human being and God creates the spiritual soul, so that there results in a complete human person made in the image of God. When human beings act sexually, therefore, they necessarily act in ways that make use of this power to pro- create, which implicitly relates back to God the creator. This does not mean that every human sexual act of a married couple must be aimed at having a child. It does mean, however, that human sexuality always has a sacred dimension that lies in the background, and this does aect the moral meaning of every sexual act.
Other human persons: the image of God. When human beings act sexually, therefore, they necessarily act in ways that make use of this power to pro- create, which implicitly relates back to God the creator. This does not mean that every human sexual act of a married couple must be aimed at having a child. It does mean, however, that human sexu- ality always has a sacred dimension that lies in the background, and this does aect the moral meaning of every sexual act.
When Aquinas talks about this he describes the friendship be- tween the married man and woman as the "essence" of the marriage.The mutual vows of fidelity and lifelong monogamy are the core or heart of the marriage. This form of life is sealed by conjugal union, in which human sexual actions express friend- ship, intimacy, and marital stability. Aquinas refers to the procre- ation and education of children, meanwhile, as the "final cause" or ultimate purpose of marriage. The friendship of the spouses aims at having children and at educating them together. This is the core purpose of the friendship that the spouses have together. This view is very balanced because it allows one to see a number of important traits of marriage.
Second, based on Aquinas's definition we can see why there can be profoundly meaningful marriage between spouses who try to have children but are involuntarily sterile or between older spouses that can no longer have children in the home. In these cases what transpires in the conjugal life of the couple is essen- tially marital, even though it may not produce children. Because such couples intend to have children or at least perform actions naturally oriented toward the transmission of life, they can be genuinely united as married partners, even if their marriages are not able to be perfected in the same way as the marriages of couples who are able to have children. The incapacity to have children is often a serious cross in the lives of married couples, yet they can nevertheless grow closer to God and be sanctified by the grace of Christ in and through their married lives.
It is true that married people who use contraception do frequently love each other and remain successfully faithful to one another in enduring, life-giving relationships. Here, however, three things should be kept in mind.
1. First, the Church's teaching on this matter has to do with ways that married couples can orient the whole of their lives toward God, including even their sexual intimacy, in union with the grace of Christ. Contraception disrupts this process in discrete instances, even in those who otherwise seek to do what is good and right. Couples who accept the teaching of the Church in this domain frequently testify to its spiritually and emotionally beneficial fruits.
2. Second, various forms of physical and chemical contraception that are commonly used by married couples func- tion not only to thwart the conception of new human life, but act in addition as abortifacients. They impede the implantation of a newly conceived human zygote in the wall of the mother's uterus, or cause the lining of the uterine wall to shed after the implanta- tion of the zygote, thereby destroying a newly conceived human life. This kind of contraception, which is not rare, is disdainful of the dignity of human life. In addition to harming children, hor- monal contraceptives have been shown scientifically to have very detrimental effects upon the bodies of women.
3. Even if a married couple use contraception within the context of an otherwise fruitful and faithful relationship, they contribute to a cultural redefinition of sexuality in doing so. Their children and friends can readily perceive from their example that sexuality can be divorced from openness to life. Therefore, sexuality in prin- ciple can be severed from marital commitment and transformed into a uniquely aesthetic act performed between consenting adults. In the end, contraceptive sexuality in marriage has a very dierent context than contraceptive non-committal sexuality, but it is not a specifically dierent kind of act, and so it contributes by its example to the redefining of human sexual relationships with- in the wider culture.
1. Homosexual acts by their very nature can never be considered morally equivalent to heterosexual acts of married persons. They are by nature sterile acts (not based on the complementarity of the sexes), and as such are not oriented towards procreation. This means that even when they take place in the context of a friendship between two consenting adults who love each other, they are not well-ordered sexual acts. Just because they cannot serve as the catalyst for a reproductive family life, such acts inevitably have a kind of self-referentiality to them. They procure mutual pleasure but are not acts oriented toward the cul- tivation of self-giving through a friendship based upon paternity and maternity. Because they misuse the sexual power of reproduc- tion, these acts also tend to alienate people from God and from a deeper spiritual relationship with Christ. There is an analogy here to fornication. Just as heterosexual acts that take place outside of marriage typically are not oriented toward committed love and the procreation of children, so too homosexual actions are structurally incapable of being turned toward the generation and pro- creation of children, in a reproductive union, and in cooperation with God.
2. However, the Church also insists resolutely on the in- herent dignity of human beings who have pronounced same-sex attractions. She recognizes that many persons with strong same- sex attractions find themselves aected by these attractions involuntarily, independently of anything they might intend. Some find it nearly impossible, or very dicult, to embrace heterosex- ual marriage. Others feel psychological alienation from the op- posite sex for any variety of reasons that are understandable in light of their histories. People with strong same-sex attractions can suer from grief since they are unable to have heterosexual relations that would give them their own children to raise. In addition, they may sometimes suffer from social stigmas, serial rela- tionships, or a sense of futility (especially in their older age). The promiscuity that is present in some sectors of the same-sex community can also give rise to spiritual experiences of disillusionment, despair, and alienation from God.
Someone who becomes subject to a delusion or a disordered assumption may at first be aware of harboring feelings that are not in line with reality, but over time these feelings generate an alternative reality in their own minds. Some people with anorexia, for instance, may initially feel overweight but know they are not, so they struggle with their mistaken feelings until the feelings overwhelm them and they come to believe that they actually are fat, and this belief governs their actions. Likewise, some people with gender dysphoria feel as if they were the opposite sex but know that they are not, so they struggle with their feelings until the feelings overwhelm them and they come to identify as the opposite sex, and act accordingly.
a girl with anorexia nervosa has the persistent mistaken belief that she is obese; a person with body dysmorphic disorder (BOD) harbors the erroneous conviction that she is ugly; a person with body integrity identity disorder (BIID) identifies as a disabled person and feels trapped in a fully functional body. Individuals with BIID are often so distressed by their fully capable bodies that they seek surgical amputation of healthy limbs or the surgical severing of their spinal cord. Dr. Anne Lawrence, who is transgender, has argued that BIID has many parallels with GD [gender dysphoria].
In all cases, the starting point is to recognize that feelings are not the same as reality. "Psychiatrists obviously must challenge the solip- sistic concept that what is in the mind cannot be questioned," says McHugh."Disorders of consciousness, after all, represent psychiatry's domain; declaring them off-limits would eliminate the field." He's right. Mental health professionals must not simply help people survive with whatever beliefs they happen to hold, but help people accept the truth, as they work through the deeper issues beneath the false beliefs.
It is vital to help people accept reality, says Cretella, when their false beliefs "are not merely emotionally distressing ... but also life-threatening." Consider what would be involved in medically "affirming" the false assumptions instead: for example, performing a requested amputation on a person with body integrity identity disorder. This might alleviate the emotional distress, for a while, but would do nothing to resolve the underlying psychological problem, and it might lead to the person's death." Cretella suggests that sex reassignment surgery for gender dysphoria should be regarded in the same light. A more genuinely helpful therapeutic strategy would focus on the psychological issues that gave rise to the dysphoric feelings and false beliefs.
The Endocrine Society published a consensus statement in 2009 on the treatment of people who identify as transgender, recommending that these people be given cross-sex hormones: testosterone to masculinize women, and estrogen to feminize men, In 2017, right as this book went to press, they released an updated statement.lO Likewise, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) declared in its 2011 Standards ofCare or the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People: 'Feminizing/masculinizing hormone therapy-the administration of exog- mous endocrine agents to induce feminizing or masculinizing changes-is 1 medically necessary intervention for many transsexual, transgendcr, and nonconforming individuals with gender dysphoria."" WP A TH lists the effects of this hormone therapy:
Both the Endocrine Society and WpATH recommend sex reassign- ment surgery as an next step after hormone treatment. WP A TH acknowledges that many people "find comfort with their gender identity, role, and expression without surgery," but claims that "for many others surgery is essential and medically necessary to alleviate their gender dysphoria."
Robert George detects the scent of ancient Gnosticism, with its body-self dualism, in transgender claims. "The idea that human beings are non-bodily persons inhabiting non-personal bodies never quite goes away," he observes. In the dualistic view, "the person is not the body, but only inhabits it and uses it as an instrument. Perhaps the real person is the conscious and feeling self, the psyche, and the body is simply material, the machine in which the ghost resides." If the real me is something other than my body, then the real me-the conscious self-can make use of my body in an instrumental way. To a neo-Gnostic, "the body serves at the pleasure of the conscious self, to which it is subject.
There are profound philosophical difficulties in this notion. What exactly is this real me, the conscious self that is distinct from the body? What is it sensing when it has an "internal sense of gender"? What does it mean for the inner self to have a "gender identity"? What do transgender activists actually mean when they claim that people who identify as the opposite sex really are the opposite sex?
Professor George asks "What is a pre-operative "male-to-female" transgender individual saying when he says he's "really a woman" and desires surgery to confirm that fact? He's not saying his sex is female; that's obviously false. Nor is he saying that his gender is "woman" or "feminine," even jfwe grant that gender is partly or wholly a maUer of self-presentation and social pres- ence. It is clear to say that this biological male is already perceived as a woman. He wants to be perceived this way. Yet the pre-operative claim that he is "really a woman" is the premise of his plea for surgery. So it has to be prior. What. then, docs it refer to? The answer cannot be his inner seme. For that would still have to be an inner sense of some. thing-but there seems to be no "something" for it to be the sense of."
The point is that each person's pride is in competition with everyone else's pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of the trades never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive—is competitive by its very nature—while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. Pleasure in being praised is not Pride. The child who is patted on the back for doing a lesson well, the woman whose beauty is praised by her lover, the saved soul to whom Christ says 'Well done,' are pleased and ought to be. For here the pleasure lies not in what you are but in the fact that you have pleased someone you wanted (and rightly wanted) to please. The trouble begins when you pass from thinking, 'I have pleased him; all is well,' to thinking, 'What a fine person I must be to have done it.' The more you delight in yourself and the less you delight in the praise, the worse you are becoming. When you delight wholly in yourself and do not care about the praise at all, you have reached the bottom.
The vain person wants praise, applause, admiration, too much and is always angling for it. It is a fault, but a child-like and even (in an odd way) a humble fault. It shows that you are not yet completely content with your own admiration. You value other people enough to want them to look at you. You are, in fact, still human.
We must not think Pride is something God forbids because He is offended at it, or that Humility is something He demands as due to His own dignity—as if God Himself was proud. He is not in the least worried about His dignity. The point is, He wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble—delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible: trying to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up and are strutting about like the little idiots we are. I wish I had got a bit further with humility myself: if I had, I could probably tell you more about the relief, the comfort, of taking the fancy- dress off—getting rid of the false self, with all its 'Look at me' and 'Aren't I a good boy?' and all its posing and posturing. To get even near it, even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert. For the same reason, Pride can often be used to beat down the simpler vices. Teachers, in fact, often appeal to a boy's Pride, or, as they call it, his self-respect, to make him behave decently: many a man has overcome cow- ardice, or lust, or ill-temper, by learning to think that they are beneath his dignity—that is, by Pride. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride—just as he would be quite content to see your chilblains cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer. Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possi- bility of love, or contentment, or even common sense. We 'like' or are 'fond of' some peo- ple, and not of others. It is important to understand that this natural 'liking' is neither a sin nor a virtue, any more than your likes and dislikes in food are a sin or a virtue. It is just a fact. But, of course, what we do about it is either sinful or virtuous.
Natural liking or affection for people makes it easier to be 'charitable' towards them. It is, therefore, normally a duty to encourage our affections—to 'like' people as much as we can (just as it is often our duty to encourage our liking for exer- cise or wholesome food)—not because this liking is itself the virtue of charity, but because it is a help to it. On the other hand, it is also necessary to keep a very sharp look-out for fear our liking for some one person makes us uncharitable, or even unfair, to someone else. There are even cases where our liking conflicts with our charity towards the person we like. For example, a doting mother may be tempted by natural affection to 'spoil' her child; that is, to gratify her own affec- tionate impulses at the expense of the child's real happiness later on.
4th EditionMargaret Ann Richek 2nd EditionJackson J. Spielvogel