I have read around in a blog I prefer not to mention an interesting post concerning “intrinsic disorder”. Leaving aside the sugary parts (the “thoughtful debate” therein mentioned, with the perfectly meaningless conclusion that “the Church must listen to the gay community”, but also “the gay community must listen to the Church”, which is a soundbite meaning perfectly nothing) what surprised me is the analogy between gluttony and homosexuality. The very fact that such an analogy could be made is in my eyes another example of a subterranean Protestant current easily to be found in Anglo-Saxon countries, perhaps not at an explicit level (the blogger in question does not make the comparison; many of the author’s readers will), but certainly at the level of underlying mental and moral category.
To an Italian, to even think to put gluttony and homosexuality on the same plane of “intrinsic disorder” flies in the face of common sense, and means to be no more than 2.5 inches away from Protestantism.
Common sense and Christian tradition have always made a great difference between those sins that go with nature, and those sins that go against it. Gluttony is certainly a capital sin, and at some point it will become a mortal sin, too. But the desire for food is, in itself, perfectly natural, rather indispensable for the human existence and completely God-given. This is absolutely not the case for someone whose “intrinsic disorder” consists in wanting to screw a dog, or his mother, or a person of the same sex, or a child. These kinds of behaviour all blatantly go against the very fabric of our human nature; far from being a wrong use of, or excessive dependence from, or even obsession with what is a God-given desire, they go frontally against the way God made us. God makes every healthy man with the desire for good food, but none with the desire of the abominations described above.
This seems to me such an obvious thought, that a discussion about it appears perfectly superfluous; but this is not the first time the way of thinking explained above is, if not openly professed (again, the post merely makes the point one can send yourself to hell with gluttony, and to get the excuse that “it is part of me” won’t help much in the end), at least invited, or involuntary suggested, in a public area.
We must recover sound thinking and common sense in the discussion about Catholic morals; and we can do it only if we serenely acknowledge, and openly profess, that there is an intrinsic gulf between the immoderate or misguided use of desires that are supposed to be there, and the perversion (per and versio, “wrong direction”) resulting in desires that are utterly disgusting, and conflicting with natural law.
This lack of proper focus, or if you wish this inability to see the forest of reason and common sense because of the obsession with the trees of this or that verse, or this or that public statement, of this or that desire to be “inclusive”, appears to me another speciality of the Protestant world, where the madness of sola scriptura has caused a century-long tradition in word-picking and a high specialisation in self-serving private interpretation of Scripture; until the point comes when the forest is completely out of sight.
We must reacquire the habit of talking straight and call a pervert a pervert and an abomination an abomination. There is an intrinsic and ontological difference, not merely a variance in degree, between the sin of a glutton and the sin of a sodomite. We must say this straight, because to mix up things in that way isn’t charitable, merely extremely dangerous for human souls, potentially including ours.
We recover proper Catholicism by recovering healthy thinking, and accepting that Christianity – and more so Catholicism – never go against sound wisdom and elementary common sense.
Having had the privilege of living in what can be called as different cultures, I can give my readers a perspective – a subjective one of course, but I think a widely shared one – about the issue of gluttony.
In Italy, gluttony as a concept is still alive and kicking. When I was at school, the teachers did not hesitate in publicly scolding overweight children – children who in today’s britain would not even be called fat – as “gluttons”, and there was an icy atmosphere in the class as an eight-year-old girl was ruthlessly exposed as an example of wrong behaviour, or a nine-years-old boy as a menace to his own happiness.I remember very, very clearly no one in the same class would have ever thought of branding such scoldings as “insensitive”. Everyone, and I mean everyone, knew they were made out of sincere interest for the health – moral or physical, according to the single teacher – of the young pupil.Social control worked – and still works – rather well.
The same mentality you would encounter outside the classroom. In Italy there is a certain way of thinking, by which a moderate amount of fat is still considered OK. The “fat” southern Italian mamma was never considered an example of gluttony, and the well-rounded man a’ la Peppone in the Don Camillo movies a universally accepted figure. Still, they would both be called, if not gluttons, certainly fat.
The line was drawn when the fat began to be an impairment, or eating a clear priority in one’s life. People started to be called obese far before they reached the extreme I see here in Blighty, whilst the latter example (people literally unable to walk and moving around in electric chairs, or fat to the point of circus attraction deformity) were basically non-existent.
The situation was not much different in Germany, a country still largely dominated – in those times at least, that was before Merkel and so-called same-sex marriages – by a broadly intended Christian thinking. Whilst the point at which one is considered fat was somewhat shifted, the thinking was largely the same. In both countries excessive, deformity-inducing fatness – which one could see over there every now and then, though it was rather seldom – was considered a sure sign of an uncontrolled character, an immoderate lack of every discipline and, in general, a sign of gravely immature character to say the least.
Then I moved to England. Together with the great shock of noticing Christianity was an option, rather than a standard (which is, in short, what prompted this very poorly instructed, non-practising, confused Catholic to start deepening Catholicism and, in time, to start going to Church again, greatly encouraged by the presence, in this country, of those assertive, orthodox Catholics I had never found in Germany), I noticed a different attitude to a lot of things; very notable among them, gluttony.
Gluttony as a concept is, in this country, non-existent at the level of the general population, and I wonder how present it is even among Catholics, and among church-going Catholics. The general idea seems to be that whilst obesity is a health problem, the culprits for the problem are to be largely looked everywhere but in the obese people themselves. From McDonald to Coca-Cola, from consumerism to TV advertisements, to lack of proper education pretty much everyone and everything is made responsible for the (very evident) problem of obesity, but gluttony.
The problem is made worse by the omnipresent culture of understanding for pretty much everything under the sun – a country who doesn’t have the guts to condemn sodomy will never have the guts to tackle gluttony -, engendering a mentality where an immoderately obese person can think he is entitled to various benefits (from those ridiculous electric vehicles to surgical operations when they massacre their knees with beautiful regularity) without anyone questioning the wisdom of such mentality. When the national health service decided a person weighing 180 Kg would have to get down to 140 Kg before being entitled to a knee operation, there was a socialist uproar. Gluttony was, of course, nowhere to be heard in the debate.
And so it happens that a country throwing away every Christian concept – which are not only divinely ordained, but conducive to a healthier and happier life – then throws money at the problems this abandonment has created, and cannot notice the cul-de-sac in which it has put itself. As I write, gluttony is never seen as such; you have rather two opposed fractions of nannies opposing each other: the health nazis who want to kill every joy in life and see obese people as a public enemy; and the socialist fraction obviously patronising them and giving the responsibility for their deformity to everyone who is not the obese people themselves.
In all this, Christianity is not to be seen. Absolutely nowhere, not even in the stance of the Church who would, once, have acknowledged the existence of such a sin as gluttony and has, today, all but forgotten it.
Guess whether they will manage to solve the problem with the same un-PC efficiency the Italians do.