Father Ed's Blog

A Catholic priest reflects…

Gnosticism is back with a vengeance

Since its inception the church has been at war, battling against all sorts of wrongful ideas and beliefs. We call these heresies and they are treated as toxic to the soul because they lead us away from revealed truth. Most heresies end with an ism, we might consider Arianism, Donatism, Nesotrianism, and it is a constant battle to overcome them because, like weeds, they tend to die down for a bit but then come back with great vengeance.

The latest heresy to re-emerge, which was all the rage back in the 2nd Century, is Gnosticism. Gnostics taught that the world was created and ruled by a lesser divinity, a demiurge, and that Christ was an emissary of the more remote supreme divine being. Through secret knowledge (gnosis) the spirit could free itself from the vile trappings of the flesh and find redemption. Gnostics held that the entire material realm was essentially evil and that the Spirit, being pure, needed freeing from it. This was the purpose of faith; no resurrection of the body for them!!

Although nobody, to my knowledge, has resurrected the gnostic belief in a demiurge we are nevertheless witnessing a massive revival of the other aspect of Gnostic belief; that materiality is bad and Spirit alone matters. A clear rebellion against Christian belief which maintains man is created as a unity in distinction in which body and soul together form a sacred identity. Created matter is important as witnessed by the incarnation of Christ and his physical resurrection from the dead.

The history lesson complete let us now examine the thinking of the modern culture. And what, but gnosticism, drives the ridiculous (but popular) notion today that God given biological status is irrelevant? Does a man wish to be a woman, or vice versa, no problem; deny observable material truth because, as the gnostics ever held, your identity is solely who you are on the inside! The physical body is poo-pooed, even mutilated and butchered  to create a false reality. For it is only seen as a vehicle, an accident of birth, a restrictive cage in which the real person is trapped. This is gnosticism writ large. For the person is no longer an embodied soul but rather an enslaved soul whose evil material body is a prison.

Gnosticism is also behind the modern drive for same sex marriage. For here the necessary biological materiality, requisite to create that ‘unity in distinction’ at the heart of marriage – the coming together of man and woman- is again rejected. The only important consideration, we are told, centres on love between two kindred spirits. The biological aspect is denied at a cost, I would argue, to the needs of children. We witness the denial of everything the church ever taught about marriage and family.

Finally  gnosticism is also running amok within Christian understanding. For what, but a denial of the biological aspect of the person representing Christ at the altar, lies behind a call for female priests? We would never cast a hairy chested man as the Virgin Mary in a passion play,it would descend into farce, but many seem comfortable doing the reverse; asking a woman to stand in persona Christi at the Eucharist as if his incarnate self was incidental not revelatory. There is not space to unpack this here but the bottom line is that the nature of God revealed as man has a huge bearing on theology. (Email me for an article on the subject)

The gnostic tendency of many modern Christians should not surprise us. For poorly catechised believers have always looked to the prevailing culture for their lead and been vulnerable to attack. At one point the entire church almost sold out to Arianism before pulling back from the brink. So today we see a huge number of prelates, priests and people in thrall to gnosticism and modernism and hungering for a revolution that would allow historic Christian teaching to be replaced with something more suited to the spirit of the age. But this must be resisted. It is the battle to which the Christian is ever called. We must deny error and stand for truth.

So I do my best to stand firmly behind Christ and against modern Gnosticism. It doesn’t win me many friends but I must do this because I believe God created us in love and that our identity is not an entrapped soul fighting against a wicked body but found in acceptance of our God given identity; body and soul. Furthermore I believe God created humanity male and female and called them together in love for the furtherance of the human race. This unique coming together- of man and woman- is a coming together of two halves of an intended equation. A complementarity is achieved in which each perfects the other through essential difference. This must be cherished and not lost.

Which does not mean I lack compassion for people who struggle in life. The person with same sex attraction needs respect. Where people opt to live outside of the Christian faith I accept the need for legal protection and recognition. Holding to traditional thinking does not mean we are unkind to those who are mentally anguished and imagine they are something they are not. Like the anorexic who imagines they are fat- we must help transexual people without colluding in the fantasy. We can be loving and respectful yet hold to the Christian creeds. At least when the debate is not being closed down by those who would label us haters.

This view might not be trendy. But I believe it is truth.

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20 Comments

  1. David Knowles

    I agree entirely with your view of the male priesthood.
    The whole business of gender seems to have becom a cause celibre at the moment and there are aspects of it that are quite rediculous. However I have to say that if someone is desperately unhappy or seriously psychiatrically ill and surgery can enable them to live a happy and fulfilled life , then what is the problem?
    Obviously this should not be entered into lightly nor should a culture of choice regarding gender be supported. Such surgery should be restricted to genuinely, seriously affected people after suitable observation and counselling over a long period.
    As regards gay marriage, this is not a sacramental marriage in the Catholic sense. Rather it is merely a secular concept under civil law and is nothing to do with the church.
    This country is a democracy not a theocracy. We cannot expect a legal system which is parallel to canon law. In the two counties where the Church held most sway, Malta and Ireland the Catholic people , not their parliaments, voted for equal marriage. Yet in two extremely secular countries, Australia and Germany the struggle for equality has been harder.
    How can we explain that?

    • Admin

      Regarding what is wrong with giving people surgery they want- would you extend this to the man who thinks he is Nelson and asks to have his hand cut off? Butchering peoples genitalia is not a pastoral solution to somebody’s mental illness. And there is evidence to suggest suicide goes up post op because, surprise, surprise, the longed for peace and happiness dont arrive.
      I accept civil law is different to ecclesial law but, in the case you argue for, that is to suggest natural law is not universal. Male and female we were created. Marriage is about procreatively potential unions- or at least it was until the word was hijacked and its meaning changed. So I would endorse giving some recognition to gay couples and legal protections and rights. But marriage is not the preserve of Christians but necessary for the good ordering of society and it needs to be the union of man and woman to forge the complementarity necessary for the furtherance of the human race.
      I think many Christian countries are actually run by nominal christians at best- whose hearts actually belong to the sexual revolution not Christ. It is the only explanation that makes sense given the total capitulation of the many in pursuit of certain goals.

      • David Knowles

        Are you suggesting that if someone is past childbearing age or infertile that they should not marry?
        God created every person who is attracted to their own sex. In their case the natural law for them is to be together in a loving relationship. This does not threaten the nuclear family in any way. It is just a different kind of family.
        Love is love.

        • Admin

          Nobody has ever found the gay gene because it doesnt exist, as studies on identical twins prove. Our sexual orientation is centred around narture not nature. This doesnt minimise the issue in terms of whether somebody can help how they feel once developed, I imagine, but we need to be clear that the ‘God made me this way’ argument is a flawed one. Second God loves all of us- what of it? It certainly doesnt give sexual licence. Rather the bible suggests sex is reserved, in God’s eyes, for the union of one man and one woman in which the ordering is in accord with the natural divine law. You cannot state the natural law is for them to be together given that their coupling involves using things unaturally- that is against what they were designed for. Sorry but the penis and vagina were made one for the other in a way no other use of the penis was- that is how babies are made- natures way. As for the couple past childbearing I urge you to reflect on the birth of the baptist- Elizabeth could conceive in the end only because her relationship itself, though not functioning, was ordered towards the natural way. Those married couples who cannot have children nevertheless witness to couplings that do. In a way no gay marriage can. If I was arguing against the natural use of the feet to walk, the person arguing that using the hands was just as natural is not made right simply because of the reality of legless people.

          Sure there are many sorts of families- am relaxed with that. But as a priest I have a duty to teach that we can only give God’s blessing with an certainty to the ones revelation suggests are put together in accord with his design. The scriptures call all others, widows, children, teens, straight, gay, black, white to live in chastity and continence using self control to avoid the temptations of the flesh and not give in to lust. A tough call in an over sexualised rainbow culture- so thank goodness for the mercy of the confessional. But not harder – in truth- than asking a frustrated man to remain chaste in a struggling marriage, or a highly charged unmarried man to restrain himself at the college party. The real issue then is that a great swathe of people no longer believe in chastity, purity and self control and view being allowed to have sex as a fundamental right which is a novel invention of the sexual revolution.

          • David Knowles

            At the end of the day a heterosexual person normally has a choice whether to be single or married; and if married able to express their sexuality with the blessing of the church.
            This fulfillment is absolutely denied to gay Catholics.
            I understand that fulfillment in life can come in many ways apart from in marriage but are you really saying that it is always sinful for a gay person to experience their own sexuality?
            If so it explains why you have to believe in the nurture argument.
            By the way do you also believe that God created the world in six days and that mankind are all descended from some family inscestous relationship within Adam and Eves nuclear family. After all it says so in the Bible!

  2. Patrick fahey

    Well said Father Ed.

  3. David Knowles

    I meant celebre not celibre. Perhaps its my attachment to liberty!

  4. MV

    Physical bodies poo-poo! Tee hee.

  5. David ignore! Puerile, boring, embarrassing ( for mv that is)

    • David Knowles

      But Mary, don’t you think we have to give MV the benefit of the doubt and assume he is making a rather clever and mature reference to Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Vile Bodies’?

  6. Mary B

    David;
    No

  7. Gay sex is unnatural and also unhealthy. Medicine is full of scientific fact that semen injections in a body damage that victim’s immune system, while there are only healthy results when in the vagina. And miraculous ending in a new human being! Love is sacrificial. Lust is never, instead always selfish. One person uses the other for selfish pleasure. During the aids crisis, doctors noticed that the man who was the “receiver” would have deadly results, while the man who was the “projector” would survive, sobbing over the loss of yet another partner. They would have multiple partners replacing the ones that died. Apart from aids, the man will have his life shortened by 20-30 years. Gay sex is unhealthy. There can be no real “love” in gay sex. It is sexual desire and lustful pleasure without care for unhealthy outcomes.

    • David Knowles

      Rita

      Real unconditional love is what matters and this is just as real for gay people.
      You have stated your opinions in a way that is devoid of compassion or understanding. It is clear from the uncharitable and hostile way you express your views that they are just a vehicle for homophobia.

      • Admin

        I think we need to be very careful that we do not conflate saying no with lacking compassion- however popular this shame tactic might be in the secular realm at present. As it happens I have a great deal of sympathy and understanding for anyone battling temptation and struggling to live pure and chaste lives. I am one such person. By all means call me names but I am only stating what the Catholic faith itself has stated in all ages.

        • David Knowles

          Fr. Ed.

          I have the utmost respect for the way you articulate your views and admit that they are usually spot on with the magisterium and the catechism. It is me who has parted company with some of the church’s teaching around sex and marriage not you.
          I totally understand where you are coming from. Don’t forget I have been on the receiving end of these teachings all my life.
          Rita has not shown the restraint and care which you demonstrate in your arguments. My reply to that lady’s comments were not meant to include you in any way.

      • MV

        But there is nothing that Rita says which is not true, Dave. It might not be helpful or kind, but it is true.

        • David Knowles

          There are some inaccuracies in Rita’s blog.
          It is not possible for an HIV positive person on HAART medication who has achieved an undetectable viral load to pass on the virus.
          Lust and fornication are just as much a feature of heterosexuals as genuine love is among gay people. Straight people often use each other for selfish pleasure and destroy families.
          As regards the silly comments about one man being able to cause the death of a series of partners by infecting them with aids and yet not fall victim to the virus himself is just plain daft.
          There is a big distinction to be made between behaviour and sexual orientation.Some people are just selfish irresponsible and promiscuous but there are just as many heterosexuals who behave in this way as gay people.
          ‘There can be no real love in gay sex’ is a hateful statement and just so untrue.
          What about lesbians in all this diatribe?
          No nasty health problems there so itmust be o.k!
          As regards ‘ unhealthy outcomes ‘,according to figures from ‘clap’ clinics by far the highest majority of these are among ‘normal’ people.
          Reason vanishes with homophobia.

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