Quick Hitter--The Shell Game of "Intrinsically Disordered"

I've talked before about the use of the term "intrinsically disordered" as it applies to LGBT people.  As I said in that piece, I think the whole idea doesn't make any sense if you work your way through it.  Who knew, though, that in coming to that conclusion, I was denying the doctrine of original sin?  So says Mark Shea, in a classic example of a shell game.

Shea's correspondent/foil asserts that he "does not believe that being homosexual is intrinsically disordered or a choice. . . ."  To which Shea responds "You may not realize it, but you have just denied the entire doctrine of original sin.  The Church’s teaching is not that homosexuals alone struggle with desires that are disordered, but that we all do."  In other words, pace Shea, placing the label "intrinsically disordered" on homosexuality doesn't actually mean anything specific qua homosexuality that is not equally applicable to anyone regarding anything.

Original sin means that all of our desires are on some level disordered, per this view.  Or, as Shea puts it:

To grant the doctrine of original sin at all is to granted that our desires are, in various ways, disordered.  To grant that is to grant the possibility that some of our desires are so disordered that their objects cannot be made right objects by any stretch of the imagination.

Fine.  However, you can agree with all that and still think that same-sex sexual activity is morally acceptable.  The question comes in the second sentence--does same-sex attraction represent "desires [that] are so disordered that their objections cannot be made right objects by any stretch of the imagination"?  There is no inherent discontinuity to believing that there are some desires that are, indeed, "intrinsically disordered," while concluding that same-sex attraction does not fall into that category.

So, of course, supporting the possibility of moral LGBT sex does not mean that one is denying the doctrine of original sin.  Shea, who is a smart guy, knows that, or at least should know that.  This kind of argument is the kind of thing one sees from high school debaters who think they are more clever than they actually are.  Either "intrinsically disordered" doesn't really mean anything at all other than a general statement about the human condition (in which case it provides no support in-and-of itself to the opposition to same-sex sexual activity), or it is (as it is perceived) a singling out of LGBT people for special moral condemnation.

Let's cut the cute "gotcha" arguments and have real discussions of real issues.


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