That question was the headline on Paul Daugherty’s article in the Sports section of the Cincinnati Enquirer Monday, May 6. Normally Daugherty illustrates the Irish gift of gab, but usually he does not venture into moral theology. In this case, he was in way over his head.
First, Daugherty’s question invites the reader to judge Mr. Collins, the basketball player who recently declared that he is “gay.” There two different judgments. The first has to do with behaviors, and those who believe in the God of Revelation are called to believe that God has already passed judgment on certain behaviors. Those judgments are found in the Ten Commandments, in other parts of Sacred Scripture, and in the teaching Tradition of the Catholic Church. The common understanding is that “gay” means more than having a same-sex attraction. If “gay” means that a person is doing sodomy, the revealed biblical judgment is clear: the behavior is thoroughly condemned by God.
The second judgment has to do with the personal guilt or merit of the person doing any particular act. Here we have the admonition of Jesus, “Judge not lest you be judged (Mt 7:1).” That applies to people doing objectively good works and also to those who are doing objectively evil works. One person might be doing good works strictly for show; another person doing evil works might be so consumed by an evil culture that he or she is almost incapable of knowing what is objectively right and wrong. Only God can judge the guilt or merit of any particular person.
Collins says, “Maybe they’ll talk about my character and what kind of person I am.” It’s hard to imagine someone saying that unless they think others will think he is a “good person.” Sorry, but that sounds too much like the accounts of criminals who tell the judge, “I’m really a good person.”
Daugherty comforts himself and Collins by finding satisfaction in the declining sexual morality of our day. Regarding sodomy, “It’s becoming less a moral issue and more one of civil rights. That’s good, because civil rights can be legislated. Morality bends. Hopefully, we all recognize goodness when we see it.”
That’s precisely what the same-sex marriage battle is all about. According to Scripture and Tradition, sodomy is a moral evil. According to some unbelievers, we should regard it as good. The goodness I see in this battle is the moral effort being made by those who have a same-sex attraction but recognize it as a disorder and are being chaste. I see goodness in the effort of the Courage Movement to help these men. I see goodness in the efforts of all those who are working to maintain the biblical and previously universal human standard that marriage can occur only between heterosexual men and women.
I feel sorry for Jason Collins and sympathize with his situation, but he is not helped by those who tell him that sodomy is now okay. They should instead help him to find the help he needs.
It needs to be said that this battle was implicitly predicted more than 80 years ago when Anglican bishops were debating marital contraception. The conservatives warned that the acceptance of marital contraception would lead to the acceptance of sodomy, but the majority nevertheless proceeded to accept marital contraception. The rest is history. For more on this see John F. Kippley, “Sexual Revolution: Part One.”