Some of the LGBTQ+ activists have suggested that Catholics should change the Church’s teaching about homosexuality because “Doctrine develops” and because the church has changed her teaching about slavery it should change its views about homosexuality.
On the surface this sounds like a winsome argument, but let’s examine it for a moment. Firstly, did the Church “Change her teaching about slavery?” To answer that question we have to first ask what the church’s teaching about slavery actually was. It is assumed that the church was in favor of slavery. Not so. At best, since New Testament times, the church has tolerated slavery. In the ancient world (and indeed throughout human history in most places) slavery was an accepted part of the economic and social order.
St Paul clearly tolerates this social convention, but while he tolerates it–instructing slaves to obey their masters–he also subverts it–upholding a higher principle of the innate dignity and equality of all within the Christian community. Thus he writes to the Galatians that in Christ all are one, there is no slave or free man. In Philemon he instructs the slave owner Philemon to treat his slave Onesiums as his “beloved brother in Christ”
So, while St Paul tolerates slavery he does not endorse it. He subverts it. He does not say slavery is a good thing. It is an evil that is tolerated. Down through history the Catholic Church has actually been in the forefront of recognizing the evils of slavery and while allowing for it at certain times, has never said it was a good and virtuous institution, and when the movement came to abolish slavery the Catholic Church supported it.
With slavery the church tolerated a social evil but eventually grew to the place where she could recognize that it was evil and abhor that evil and work to abolish it. In other words, something that was always evil was eventually recognized as such and abolished. A similar issue is polygamy. Polygamy was accepted in most societies and tolerated by the Jews in the Old Testament. Eventually it was seen as an evil and abolished.
So in both cases something that was intrinsically evil but tolerated was eventually seen to be evil and was abolished.
The situation with homosexual activity is totally the reverse. With the attempts to normalize homosexual activity we are expected to consider something which has always been evil to be GOOD and not only tolerated but celebrated.
If one were to compare this to slavery the situation would be: “Slavery was always evil and always proscribed, but now, because we’re so modern and up to date and understand human rights so much better we think slavery is GOOD and that everybody should at least accept and tolerate slavery even if they don’t want to own slaves themselves.
You see the idiocy therefore of the facile argument that “The church changed her mind about slavery so she should change her mind about homosexual activity.
With slavery we are recognizing something that has always been evil as evil.
With homosexual activity we are supposed to say that something that has always been evil is now good.