Fr. David Muscat reviews Drachma’s latest book

Drachma is a Roman Catholic lay organisation on the island of Malta claiming to provide “a safe place for teens who seek to integrate their sexual identity with their spirituality, in the search for the truth”. They also ‘’help’’ the parents trumpet their kids’ coming out.  If Drachma’s purpose is to help these teens shoulder the cross of same-sex temptations, and achieve the virtues of discipline and chastity in pursuit of holiness, then it deserves the highest praise.  This is after all consonant with the teaching of the Catholic Church as laid out in section 2359 of the Catechism – homosexuals are called to chastity through mastery of the self.

If this is Drachma’s purpose, it is however poorly served by their latest publication in the Maltese language, Naqqaxtek Fuq il-Pali ta’ Jdejja (I have formed you on the palm of my hands) taken directly from the prophet Isaiah.  This book was launched at the Archbishop’s Curia in the Diocese of Malta on May 17 to commemorate World Day against homophobia. 

This book offers a reinterpretation of Holy Scripture’s condemnation of homosexual acts. The strategy of the publication is the sophistry that if the creator made you homosexual, then to live the life that you owe to a God whose nature is love you must live this homosexual inclination also to the full.

From a historical point of view, this argument goes back to Plato’s Symposium. In this dialogue, Socrates argues that the ultimate form of love transcends the physical in a quest for the divine. There are echoes of this argument in the disgraceful assault on the value of heterosexual love, and the concomitant denigration of the dignity and value of women, by Protogenes in Plutarch’s Dialogue on Love.  The underlying “philosophy” of both ideas is this – if the purpose of physical love is to transcend the body to achieve the divine, then it is irrelevant whether such intimacy is heterosexual or homosexual. Indeed, on this principle, heterosexual love is inferior to homosexual love since it comes with the baggage of dealing with a querulous wife, demanding children, and the struggle of earning a living, while the pederastic union is free to indulge in whatever it deems “divine”.  

Such is the diabolical perversion of the pederast’s argument.  It rejects the joys and responsibility of a family and the generation of new life and a respectable role in society, for self-indulgence and depravity.

And it is clear that the main ideas propagated in this book do not come from the theology of the Catholic Church. It is impossible to logically reconcile such sophistry with the call to chastity, specifically said to homosexuals, in section 2359 of the Catechism.  It is more likely that the concepts expressed in this book are derived from Gareth Moore’s OP theology.  Moore’s theology comes not from Jesus Christ, the Church’s Magisterium, and Holy Scripture, but from these most reprehensible pederastic attitudes of pagan elites! The idea that homosexual sex is the ultimate expression of divine ecstasy and union with God, which is the final idea that this book seeks to purport, is all based on pagan notions of sex and love and has nothing to do with the Judeo-Christian tradition or history.

But to achieve their aim, Drachma applies the theories of deconstruction and deconstructs both Leviticus and Saint Paul. Their book stresses that the most severe prohibitions in Leviticus against homosexuality do not originate in divine law but from tradition related to Jewish sanitary laws.  If this is really so, Drachma’s theologians are unwittingly confirming that Holy Scripture considers homosexuality to be intrinsically sinful.  For in the Bible, physical washing is a recurring and universal symbol (cf. Psalm 51, 7) for the cleansing of the soul.  And of what is the soul cleansed but sin?

Jesus harshly criticized the sanitary habits of the Pharisees because, in their scrupulous observation of these prescriptions, they overlooked their ultimate purpose – the cleansing of the soul from sin, filth much worse than that of the body.  As Jesus told them, it is sinning that defiles a man (Mark 7:23).

The second epistemological error of the book is the assertion that St. Paul had pederasty in mind and not monogamous and stable relationships between persons of the same sex.  In other words, Drachma is extrapolating a distinction that is simply not in St Paul.  St Paul is not making a distinction between short-term and long-term relationships, or their stability of them.  He does not consider such concepts (very anachronistic ones) of inclination and orientation.  His condemnation is for the physical act itself.  In fact, the key phrases in the Pauline verses are παρὰ φύσιν (against nature) in Romans 1 and ἀρσενοκοῖται (“sodomites” – cf. Ἀρρενοκοίτης, Liddell and Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon). The language is clear. There is no room for interpretation.  The Apostle does not waste effort on considering feelings and inclinations.  It is the physical act that he condemns as a violation of God’s laws.

Let us for the sake of the argument, concede Drachma’s argument that Paul had only pederasty in mind and deal with it.  

Pederasty was a complicated practice, fundamentally a relationship between an older male (erastes – lover) and a (much) younger man (eromenos – beloved). It could range from simple and innocent mentorship to a fully-fledged homoerotic relationship.  The three principles were these: (1) sexual object choice was not an “identity”, (2) homosexual relations seldom occurred among age equals (3) no prejudice existed against the active partner, though the passive partner would suffer opprobrium for life (Sir Kenneth Dover). It was immensely widespread, particularly among social elites.  It is easy therefore to make the case against pederasty since it is an obvious and fundamentally abusive form of homosexuality.

But the problem still plagues Drachma’s hypothesis (borne out in not a vestige of Holy Scripture) that the Pauline verses exclude monogamous and stable relationships from their prescription against unnatural physical acts.  The reason is this.  Same-sex marriages did exist at the time of St Paul but these unions came under attack from even the pagans themselves. Two out of five of Emperor Nero’s marriages were same-sax unions. The Emperor who beheaded the Roman citizen Paul married a Greek chap named Pythagoras (where he took the role of the bride) and later in life a Roman named Sporus whom he even castrated, for this time the latter was the bride.

Back to pederasty. Take the aforementioned Dialogue on Love by Plutarch.  This dialogue explores the issues surrounding the desire of a rich young widow to marry a somewhat younger youth.  The controversy is between the defenders of pederasty, who hoped to retain the youth for much longer in their pederastic circles, and those who rejected their claims and defend the dignity of women and the holiness of the marital union of man and woman.

The arguments of the pederast are variations of the ones in the Symposium, i.e. that the purpose of physical intimacy is to reach the divine, and that this can only be achieved by submitting the youth to the discipline, teaching (and passion) of the older man, while the love for women is a degrading and effeminate pursuit that leads to the moral deterioration of the soul.  To the pederast’s claim of a virtuous, stable, and long-term relationship with the older erastes, Plutarch indignantly replies that the real purpose of these long-term relationships was to keep youths naked and glistening at the gym for the pleasure of the erastes, to the detriment of those youths who are robbed of the gentle, and regenerative love of a woman, of a family, and of maturity and social roles that come with marriage. Plutarch calls such conjugal love “the colleague of the immortality in revitalizing the mortality of the human race”, and for this reason, these pagans considered long-term relations even worse and even more abusive than the short-term pederastic ones! 

Now if even among pagans, such as Plutarch, long-term relationships between same-sex couples appeared for the aforementioned reasons much more abusive than the purely temporary ones, are we really to believe, as Drachma seems to, that St Paul was more insensible to the latent abuses inherent in the “long-term” and “stable” relationships?

Thus, is the justification for same-sex relationships – the idea of classical elites that the purpose of intimacy is to transcend the physical in search of the divine, so that it is irrelevant whether the union is heterosexual or homosexual.  There is also the idea among such elites that women and love of women are intrinsically inferior and emasculating in comparison with the love of the pederasts. Finally, there is the desire of the older erastai to keep their eromenoi in their personal power for long years to his ultimate detriment.  Nonetheless, as Plutarch’s work and the opprobrium for passive acts of male sexuality show, these ideas were by no means universal and orthodox, but indeed their toxicity was widely perceived and condemned by their own milieu.  Given this, are we really to believe that St Paul had a more permissive attitude to such practices than at least half the classical world?

Take every setback as an opportunity for good.  For with this allusion to pederasty, Drachma has ironically shot themselves in the foot again. Researching their interpretations leads one to the conclusion that the fundamental character of homosexual unions is abuse and trauma, and in this, they show how right Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was when at Vatican Abuse Summit he wrote a paper arguing that the problem of sexual abuse among the clergy lies in the indulgence of homosexual inclination.   

One final note. Drachma’s theology seems more in line with one of the leading French philosophers of the twentieth century, Michel Foucault, than with the Bible. While Foucault has great merits in having helped individuals of same-sex orientation to come out of the closet, his writings and ideas cannot be justified or reconciled with the teaching of the Church Fathers and the Magisterium.

This may sound like academic discourse but there is the practical side that no one seems interested to discuss. This book, which is erroneous historically and theologically, offers a potential danger because it is intended to be distributed to teens attending lessons of Catholic doctrine (MUSEUM, church schools, Catholic Action, Oratoraries, etc). From a Catholic point of view, these willful errors blessed by his grace Charles J. Scicluna the future head of the CDF, cannot be qualified as mere mistakes. These errors will lead to a situation where our youths will be subjected to the depravities of the old and the powerful.  I’m saying this because all the official Church websites urged teachers, catechists, and priests to own this nefarious book Naqqaxtek fuq il-pali ta’ jdejja.

Parents are starting to question whether is it still safe to send their kids to Church schools or even lessons of Catholic doctrine but stay silent because of fear of backlash on social media. Their worry here is real as through such type of education, they are rightly arguing that the church is offering our vulnerable kids on a sacrificial plate to the mighty elites of all times.

It would be wise for the local Church to reflect on what seeds, worse than racism, it is sowing by reflecting on what Jesus had to say about those who would give scandal to little ones. (Matthew 18, 5-10).  Those who will survive and enter adulthood after surviving Drachma’s barrage will return to haunt the same church and clergymen that taught them these things. They will return with a vengeance.

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