Monday, November 7, 2011

Light of the World- “Morality”

Warning: This post contains images and references which may be offensive to some. If you are easily offended by images and words of a sexual nature, please refrain from reading further!

I've been seeing this picture circulated on facebook over the past few weeks, and have been dying to comment on it. My views are too long and (probably, most likely) too incendiary to post as comments to the people who have shared the image on their profiles. I felt that a blog was a more appropriate setting, so here we go!

First of all, reviewing the images used, both are shocking. The thought of two men being romantically involved is repulsive to most members of our society (self included). It is interesting to note that the person who created this picture chose to use a photo of two men about to kiss. Why? Because despite all our societal misgivings about two men being intimate, our still male dominated, testosterone driven culture finds images of two women being intimate a turn-on instead of scandalous. I would venture to guess that in our pornography saturated culture, the choice of using a photo of two women about to kiss would have distracted the majority (self included) away from the image on the right. It is equally shocking to know there are children in our world who starve to death even with all our modern means of producing and shipping food.

As a photographer and a student of media, I'm guessing both images have been cropped to such a degree that all context is removed or our perception is altered. I have a collection of photos I have taken throughout the course of my work as a wedding photographer that would raise a lot of questions because the appearance of that single frame doesn't tell the entire story of the moments before and after I snapped it. I would venture to guess that the image of the two men was originally shot much wider, and, judging by the “wedding ring” on the hand, was intended to be used to show support for gay marriage. I am almost certain the image on the right of the starving children has been cropped to eliminate the aid worker distributing food. Look at the way the children raise their arms- the look in their eyes indicates they are being fed. Also, the kid in the background with what appears to be a piece of bread (unless it's his Nintendo 3DS!) is a dead giveaway!

Second, the producer of this picture is attempting to say that childhood hunger, malnutrition, starvation, etc. are immoral. Conversely, they are attempting to say that homosexuality is moral. I have a problem with both views, but I think the producer of the picture has a bigger problem, because they clearly don't understand the definition of morality. The first dictionary definition is: conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct. Being fed or hungry are not issues of conformity to right conduct. Food is a necessity of life and nourishment, but it isn't a moral issue. Another dictionary definition is: virtue in sexual matters; chastity. So, I guess if I apply the definition of morality, the image on the left shocking me more than the image on the right shows that I actually have a correct interpretation of morality. Moreover, my interpretation of morality would include being shocked if this was the image on the left:

Despite what Larry Flynt would have us believe, polyamory is immoral too!

Third, I think the producer of the image is attempting to propagandize the new “homosexual agenda,” which raises its own moral questions. Propaganda has always been used to subjugate and intimidate viewers into accepting the position of the auteur by making the receiver seem less (or un-) “American,” “Christian,” “human,” etc. Think about the Red Scare era “newsreels” produced by our government. There were some truths to the story, but overall, the tone was that if you didn't help root out Communism by turning in your suspected Communist neighbors and friends, you weren't Patriotic.

The aim and motive of the “homosexual agenda” is to make heterosexual citizens who are opposed to legalization of gay “marriage” seem like and feel inhuman. My views on homosexuality are informed by the Church's teaching, which is based in Scripture and Tradition. As a faithful Catholic, I am opposed to gay marriage because I don't believe it is ordered to the right nature of marriage- procreation. I am also opposed to cohabiting, adultery, promiscuity, and artificial contraception. So, to take the twisted “logic” of those pushing the “homosexual agenda,” I must be opposed to heterosexuality also.

That's where the error creeps into modern thinking: if you reject my sinful lifestyle you reject me as a person. This isn't true at all. I reject the sinful lifestyle choices pornography addicts make. Yet, as a recovering pornography addict, I understand the temptations and pitfalls of that lifestyle. My choices to give into the addiction and temptation hurt my wife and she hated that. She didn't hate me as a person though! She lovingly forgave me every time I fell into sin (almost every day at times). As often as I went to confession and made the same confession (despite my truly penitent spirit), I never had a priest say, “you're a terrible person and the worst kind of sinner and there is no forgiveness available to you!” I had a lot of priests tell me that I needed to eliminate the sources of temptation and weakness- e.g.- the Internet. I had a lot of priests tell me that my choices were destructive not just to my relationship with God and the Church, but to my wife and our marriage. Yet every time the words of absolution were pronounced and I “firmly resolve[d] to sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin,” I felt that while my lifestyle was being repudiated, as a person, I was being dignified.

I think of the problems of drug addiction in our society on the same level. Most people don't have a problem condemning drug addiction, but wouldn't treat an addict as less than human. We work together to find help for those people to overcome what we collectively agree to be immoral. I've never seen a group of meth addicts protest in front of a court house decrying the anti-meth laws that keep them from being able to live their life the way they want. If they did, I'd be willing to bet that 99% of the people who don't do meth would scoff at them!

Being attracted to members of the same sex is no more sinful than being attracted to members of the opposite sex. The common sins homosexuals and heterosexuals have are: lust, fornication, and infidelity. Whether a man chooses to have sex with another man outside of marriage (which would always be the case); or with a woman outside of marriage, he is committing sin. Both are sinners on the same level as the pornography addict. All commit sins against the fidelity of marriage. But, all are still able to be forgiven. All are able to refrain from their sinful choices and lifestyle. By doing so, they achieve the happiness they seek in sexual relationships.

At the time I was heavily entrenched in pornography I thought that porn was making me happy. For the short period of time I was involved in the hunt for photos and videos to satisfy my desires and the short period of time I felt whatever chemical reaction the brain experiences during that gratification, I was “happy.” For the hours between satisfying that urge and the time my wife arrived home from work, I was despondent. I actually wanted to kill myself because I knew what I was doing was wrong even though it “felt so good.” In the several months I have been able to avoid pornography, I have been happier. My wife and I are closer than we were before. I still have moments of temptation, but I know that “happiness” is temporary and fading compared to eternal joy.

So what is the point I'm trying to make? Basically, starving children in Africa and homosexuals are not similar moral issues. Yes, it's sad that there are starving children. But, it isn't immoral. When we see those children and choose not to respond to their needs because of selfishness or pride, that's immoral! I would argue that we all do that every day in our own cities and towns. We walk past homeless people and beggars without giving them a second thought all the time (self included). We say, “they'll just use the money for drugs or alcohol” and then we indulge ourselves with a Baconator. We set ourselves as judges over the homeless on our streets, but no one would dare say of the starving African child, “he'll just grow up to be a tribal warlord who enacts ethnic cleansing initiatives against rivals.”

I am also trying to make the point that the producer of that picture isn't telling the whole story. Not only is it highly likely that the children in the photo are being fed, it is highly likely that there are other circumstances that led to their starvation in the first place. I've heard news reports of various rebel groups ambushing food convoys destined for refugee camps and stealing the food intended for those children. The very reason most of those children are in those situations is that many African tribes are at war with each other and exile the minority tribe to the desolate regions of their countries. So am I “immoral” or is the warlord who put that child in that situation immoral? Before you say I'm “immoral” because I'm shocked to see a photo of two men kissing, consider the definition of morality!

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