On March 21, the Illinois House Human Services Committee narrowly advanced out of committee a plan to recognize civil unions for same sex couples. News accounts report there was opposition from faith-based organizations.

The question of whether gay sex is immoral needs to be asked and answered when there is discourse (pro and con) about LGBTers. With a straight-out question, then there may be more thoughtful opportunities to ask larger, culture-wide, undealt-with questions about moral and ethical action. These larger questions are the very questions not often being asked widely and realistically. The larger moral questions have to do with the persistence of war, terrorism, poverty, grossest health disparities (47 million Americans either un- or under-insured), corporate corruption and greed, lack of sustained political accountability, the burgeoning of the homeless, global warming, the despair of an electorate disengaged because of excess political manipulation and duplicity, public education regularly out of touch with the perplexities of our times, the ongoing salt-in-the-wounds conflict between the sacred and secular, and all the other dysfunctions bedeviling our lives. Talk about immorality!

Listen up, friends: Those problems are not going away anytime soon. Overnight success will take years to succeed.

Some 20,000 children around the world have been dying everyday of hunger for far too long. The genocide in Uganda and Darfur – and elsewhere – is unspeakable. The U.S. rate of mortgage foreclosures is skyrocketing. And the policy-makers in Washington and other world capitals are already saying there is no money left in the treasuries to fund needed health, housing, and hunger programs to help the most poor and fragile. Why the depletion? In large part because the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have thus far cost $400 billion. Talk about immorality!

In some corners, an obsessive cultural preoccupation with LGBT-ness and the morality of gay sex is often a mask. The disguise allows hiding from having to deal realistically with the moral and political messes seemingly everywhere. The circus-like obsession is a clownish and clever distraction, often keeping us from addressing the social and ethical bedevilments facing us big time. No secret that we need answers sooner rather than later.

Asking the question – Is gay sex immoral? – will likely open up asking other compelling questions about the meaning of morality in general and about specific ways to address the moral and political and social pathologies imprisoning our culture in the worst excesses of thoughtlessness.

Not unreasonably, that kind of pathology can keep us from meaningful engagement and connection, neighbor to neighbor. Talk about immorality!

Why the reluctance? Let’s be boldly robust. In fairness, let’s ask and try to answer that very question.

Might that one question be a way to open up other critical questions and issues concerning the call to moral accountability at the heart of the religious imperative to care for the least privileged, the most unfortunate? How to address the anguish and physical and psychological brutalities seemingly everywhere. Many say violence of any kind is immoral!

Now, just how much and in what particular ways do the horrific brutalities have to do with gay sex? We propose asking the question – Is gay sex immoral? – in order to open up a deeper discourse about the grossest kinds of suffering staring we citizens of Mother Earth in the face.

Out of all that conversation and discourse we might somehow be able to bring compassionate commitment more to the forefront, in hopes of producing better and more mutual understanding of what is preventing the polity from doing and advocating for the right thing.

Asking the question, and asking those inevitable other questions about ethics and morality, might help surface real answers that conceivably will bring deeper religious commitment, thought, and action all more closely together as one. Talk about moral action!

We need real, more focused short- and long-term solutions that get beyond all the vague, gnostic abstractions about gayness and about other indistinct issues having little to do with bringing more of God’s love and care to those most in need. Can we get beyond the dark obscurity? How do we engage robust thinking, as we know we must, if we are to overcome these tumultuous times of identity politics?

How do we make more visible the light and life of the community’s common good, right here where we live and among those whom we engage? May God help us to do just that. In the final line of his 1961 presidential inaugural address, John Kennedy said, “For here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

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