Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Chris Christie, theologian?

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 21, 2013

New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie, who is Catholic, acknowledged that he was ignoring Church teaching when he signed a law banning “reparative therapy” for young homosexuals. Regrettably, Christie has shown a very poor understanding of the Church teaching that he chooses not to follow.

In a 2011 interview—apparently his last public discussion of the topic—Christie said:

Well my religion says it’s a sin. I mean I think, but for me, I’ve always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual.

Two problems here. First, there’s a lively debate as to whether or not a homosexual orientation is established at birth. Christie is entitled to his opinion on that question, but his view carries no special weight; it certainly shouldn’t be the basis for legislation. (If you think it’s wrong for a governor to settle policy questions on the basis of his personal religious beliefs, surely you’ll agree that it’s also wrong to settle them on the basis of his personal hypotheses on disputed scientific questions.) Second, Christie—who’s intelligent enough to know better—misrepresents the Church teaching. Whether or not a “predisposition to be homosexual” is innate, it’s not the disposition that is sinful; it’s the homosexual acts. The distinction is crucial, because if you understand the Church teaching, you can see the problem with the legislation that Christie approved.

Some people, it seems, are especially susceptible alcohol abuse. The root causes of this predisposition are not well understood. But even without rushing in where psychologists fear to tread, we can say two things. A tendency toward alcoholism is a disorder, not a sin. Yet getting drunk remains sinful—even for those who may have some innate weakness.

Now with that in mind, would anyone suggest barring psychologists from helping people to overcome a tendency toward alcoholism? Let’s hope not; such a ban would be a gross violation of individual freedoms. So is the ban on “reparative therapy.”

An unrelated comment: An Associated Press story on Christie’s decision included this remarkable paragraph:

In a note accompanying the bill, Christie said he believes people are born gay and that homosexuality is not a sin. That view is inconsistent with his Catholic faith, which teaches that homosexual acts are sins.emphasis added

That editorial interpolation is accurate, as far as it goes—more accurate by far than Christie’s awkward statement. It’s refreshing to note that AP sets the record straight. Yet it raises an obvious question: Why are there never similar informative sentences in stories about, say, Nancy Pelosi’s stands on legal abortion?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: meor2day8658 - Aug. 25, 2013 10:19 PM ET USA

    Political expediancy. He is trying to distiguish himself as a caring, loving FAIR politician so it will win him over more folks for his political ambitions. I pray that he has a true transforamtion in Christ & repents of his misguided beliefs.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Aug. 21, 2013 8:53 PM ET USA

    "In a note accompanying the bill, Christie said he believes people are born gay and that homosexuality is not a sin." Christie has put his faith in science when there has never been a scientific study that has linked genetics to homosexual orientation. Christie is either confused or blowing with the wind. I think it is the latter.