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Terms in this set (63)

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.
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.
(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.
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."