You misunderstand my point about "Hate the sin; love the sinner." I am not suggesting a simple converse, i.e., that if you love the sinner you must love his or her sin. That is a straw man. What I am saying, based on careful observation of the history of the practice, is that those who say they are merely critiquing the sin quite often end up attempting to take the role of God in judging the sinner, and punishing her. Certainly we are called to work against sin, but Jesus' sole advice on the subject is to work against it in ourselves, not in others.
As to desires, it is perfectly appropriate, as you suggest, for the Buddhist to see all of her desires as something to be suppressed and denied, or even better ignored, as the Zen school might say -- desires need not be wrestled with because they do not exist. ("no mirror, no dust.")
The Christian tradition, beginning with Augustine, appears to make a similar claim -- perpetuated in Anglican formularies -- that concupiscence is itself a partaker in sin. (The Jewish tradition, on the contrary, asserts that desire, while it may be "evil," is actually crucial in building up the world; a notion not unlike that found in Greek mythology and philosophy, in which Eros is the beginning of creation.)
Jesus' counsel is that we work on our own desires rather than trying to fix others; in fact he singled out that one desire -- the urge to "fix" others -- for condemnation. His harshest critique was directed against those who, while not entering the kingdom themselves, obstructed others by establishing a system in which people who were unable to abide by the rules so imposed gave in to despair. To cause despair in others, leading them to come to think they cannot live a Christian life, is a very serious matter. From Christ's standpoint, the most serious. By establishing and perpetuating (on very slim evidence) a tradition that proscribes the fulfillment of human desire in morally analogous ways (faithful, monogamous, permanent), to a large portion of the population (larger than many believe), on the basis of unproven concepts of natural law or the cultural traditions of a pre-scientific world, thereby leading to despair or separation from the Church for many who would seek to live a moral life on the basis of what Christ actually taught, is, as I say, a perilous and un-Christ-like course.
I do not deny that natural law has its uses. But if one is to employ it, one must be very careful that the "nature" informing the conclusions be accurate. Sound principles of logic must come into play. This is where science and human reason come in.
The problem with the Vatican's pronouncements that same-sexuality be singled out as "objectively disordered" is that it assumes to know the "order" or "purpose" for which sexuality exists, and state that same-sexuality of its nature does not fulfill that order.
Science (and human reason) challenge that claim. Leaving aside language of "purpose" (end, or goal) it is at least clear that sex does not in fact have a sole function; and that these various functions are separable in nature and, if you will, by "design." The Roman position, deriving from an inherited faulty understanding of human anthropology and biology (that the male is the "active" principle in human reproduction and the female a passive vessel, to cite only one aspect of the erroneous basis for the so-called natural law tradition), is logically incoherent, and morally flawed. Science will not tell us the "purpose" of a given phenomenon, but it can tell us when there is clearly more than one "function" possible, and logic can then open other possibilities for discussion as to purpose, end, or goal. (Of course, the tradition actually acknowledges multiple "ends" or "goods" for sexuality; but then arbitrarily says they cannot be separated from one another. As I have already shown in my previous articles, not only can they be separated, but they are -- by nature! The mouth is used for eating and speaking, and it is well not to do both at the same time. The male sexual organ also has multiple uses, and I dare say is also best used for one or the other. You see -- there is no logical basis for an "inseparability" of functions.)
I have, as I say, spelled this all out in great detail in the other articles I have posted. I have pointed out precisely why it is logically incoherent to hold that the "purpose of sexual acts is procreation." (When sex was wrongly understood as the planting of a seed in fertile soil, male homosexuality was seen as a grave fault, and female homosexuality went unmentioned -- this in itself reveals a major flaw in the "moral" understanding of sex.) You have responded to these with the same reassertions again and again, never once offering any clear evidence for the truth of the traditional and flawed "natural law" argument other than its mere restatement. I'd be glad just for a simple answer to the question, "Why can the various functions of sexuality not be separated?" or "Why is a same-sex relationship more culpable than an infertile mixed-sex relationship?" I have yet to receive an answer.
By the way, have you noticed how the very notion of "purpose" is itself an instance of concupiscence? A Buddhist, at least of the Zen school, would say that purposefulness is itself a result of desire, and hence flawed. Given we are not Buddhists, I have articulated the "purposes" of same-sexuality as the establishment of stable relationships, the care of children (though the Vatican thinks this impossible, too), the gift of one person to another (also denied by the Vatican, which sees same-sexuality as inherently "selfish" -- though without explanation) and so on. These are all functions and/or purposes. Who is to say these functions or purposes are less "moral" than mere breeding -- which, when separated from these other purposes is hardly commendable in and of itself. (It has long been noted that in elevating procreation to a position of prominence, the tradition inadvertently assigned moral weight to a biological function we share with animals. It is the human capacity for love, fidelity, and self-giving that has moral value, not the capacity to breed. More questions for you: Does breeding gain a moral value when carried out by persons? If so, what is the moral value? What is moral about it?)
Speaking of the Vatican, I reviewed the document "The Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons" yesterday. It is full of logical fallacies and begged questions; assertions dressed as truths. It also indulges in some very questionable theology. (The relation of the society of persons in marriage to the inner life of the Trinity is, for example, a wild notion when applied to sexuality. One would think the suggestion of linking sex with the relationship of the Father and the Son would send up red flags all over the place! Yet this is blandly suggested in the document. The notion that the image of God resides in the society of male and female, also advanced by John Paul II, is a direct contradiction of orthodox doctrine, as spelled out in Aquinas. This is the phenomenon I have noted before: the tendency to do bad theology when seeking to bolster an argument against same-sexuality -- and a sure sign the argument is faulty.)
So, Rick, that is the lay of the land. I reject the Roman teaching on this subject as logically incoherent. That does not mean you and others are barred from accepting it; but you must do so on the basis of faith in the Magisterium rather than on the basis of reason -- unless you can provide a reasonable argument that stands up to examination and doesn't beg the question. If you would like to assay a response to any of the questions I raised above (in boldface), I'd be glad to see what you have to say.
Tobias Haller BSG