She was fired for her ACTIONS, not her INCLINATIONS

Item: “Phys Ed Teacher Fired for Being Gay

A former physical education teacher lost her job because of her relationship with another woman.

Apetition [sic] was created on Change.org in support of Hale as a teacher, simply requesting: “Reinstate faculty member Carla Hale and apologize for discriminating against her on the basis of sexuality.”

Supporters added, “It’s unfair that someone who cared so much about her students and her job should lose them on the basis of something she cannot even control.”

Not quite. A distinction anyone should be able to see plainly has been entirely ignored.

A person with homosexual tendencies and same-sex attraction who lives a chaste, celibate life would not be fired by a Catholic school for “being gay.”

A person with heterosexual tendencies who is still single and maintains a chaste, celibate life would not be fired by a Catholic school for “being straight.” Seems ridiculous to say this, yes, but it is important when setting up the parallels here.

Simply being gay is not sinful and is not grounds for dismissal anymore than being straight is. A person who is gay but maintains that chastity consonant with his or her state of life—a virtue to which we all are called, by the way, gay, straight, bi, married, single, whatever—would not be fired for being gay.

The error, the sin, the grounds for dismissal, comes when the person decides that it is appropriate and acceptable to act upon their disordered desires and then does so. Again, this applies equally to a heterosexual person who pursues extra-marital sex and cohabitation as it does to those persons who engage in same-sex relationships and pursue same-sex “marriage.”

Whether a person is born gay or not is immaterial because, contra Lady Gaga, “Born This Way” Does NOT Mean “Act This Way”. Whether a person is heterosexual or homosexual, that person has a choice whether he or she will participate in sexual relations at all at any given moment, let alone whether they will act on disordered sexual desires—again, whether disordered but basically heterosexual or disordered and basically homosexual.

This teacher was not dismissed because of something she “cannot control” but because of what she chose to do in an area she most definitely can control.

There is a difference between disposition and behavior. Between inclination and action. Between thinking something and doing something. Between desire and activity. This mighty important distinction has been utterly lost in this discussion it seems.

The Diocese of Columbus is being sued for violating the city of Columbus’ statute against discrimination, which includes sexual orientation, and has no religious exemption. Three interesting points here:

1) The fairly recent Hosanna Tabor case should be a strong argument to toss the Columbus statute and force them to re-write it with a religious exemption.

2) Since she was not fired for the simple fact of her homosexuality but because she had engaged in behavior antithetical to Catholic teaching it is possible that the statute does not actually apply at all.

3) If this statute does apply, it means homosexual activities are more protected in law than heterosexual activities because there would be no civil law preventing the Diocese of Columbus for firing a teacher who was cohabiting with an opposite-sex partner.

We shall see how this plays out, but it is another sign that the only intolerance still allowed is anti-Christian intolerance.

Saint-Joseph-Cathedral-Columbus-Ohio

Saint Joseph Cathedral, Columbus, Ohio.

39 thoughts on “She was fired for her ACTIONS, not her INCLINATIONS

  1. Monica says:

    Thank you Tom for kindly trying to explain the teachings of the Church in this. God bless your evangelization efforts, and thank you!

  2. Rodger says:

    I think it’s very interesting a disturbing that the Catholic Church admits there is room for the argument that people are “born that way” but then go ahead and start throwing stones at those people for cohabitating. NOT ONCE have I heard of a school (at least making the news) firing straight people for cohabitating. Furthermore, if the school wants to be “so ‘correct’ on upholding Catholic teaching,” why don’t they fire anyone who uses the precious Lord’s name in vain all the time or has stolen something..I could go on and on?? Clearly this sins are on a level playing field if the Church wants to hold its position on homosexuality. Jesus clearly said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” Why is it that the Church is in such a hurry to throw stones at gay people who fall into their temptation, but not at someone else who uses the Lord’s name in vain or acts like a non-christian when he/she is outside of church? It is morally wrong to single a person out like this and publicly humiliate her…. ridiculous. Furthermore (I would never do this) it would be interesting to follow a straight person around and, once they commit and mortal sin, make a huge news story and fire them from a Catholic institution. PEOPLE SIN ALL THE TIME. Gay people have a hard enough cross to bear and have an equal opportunity to sin as everyone else. Why are some Catholic institutions obsessed with waiting for a gay person to sin?? It is wrong and inappropriate and if someone can show me where it says in scripture or in Catholic dogma that it is okay to point a gay person’s sins out above all other people’s, please show me. I’d be happy to listen

    1. Dan says:

      Rodger-
      Quite true that people sin all the time in all manner of ways.
      The issue with Ms. Hale simply happened to arise as she was found to be “married” to her lesbian partner. She apparently signed an employment contract with the high school in which such a relationship would be grounds for termination.
      I’m quite sure that if a teacher at this school developed a reputation around town or at the school for habitually taking the Lord’s name in vain aloud, or if their cohabitation was made known to the school, there could be detrimental consequences to their employment.

    2. Antonio A. Badilla says:

      “NOT ONCE have I heard of a school (at least making the news) firing straight people for cohabitating.”

      I have taught for almost 30 years in Catholic schools and I have seen people fired for living together as husband and wife without the benefit of a marriage,
      As teachers in a Catholic setting, we are there not only to explain the faith, but to be living witnesses of that faith. One can’t do so when, in fact, one is living in opposition to what the Church teaches,

    3. Tom Crowe says:

      Rodger— You toss out a lot of accusations without substance. The only thing you said here that really makes sense is “(at least making the news)” … If a Catholic school fired someone for cohabiting it would not make the news. If a Catholic school fired someone for insisting upon using the Lord’s name in vain it would not make the news. As Antonio mentioned, yes, it does happen. But it does not make the news because, well, of course they were fired for that. The amazing thing here is that gay people get so much more protection from “the culture” than do persistently sinning heterosexuals. Why is that? Also, she was not fired for sinning in a big way in one instance, she was fired for a persisting lifestyle choice that puts her in dissent from clear Catholic teachings. YES, people sin all the time—the Catholic Church recognizes that more than any other institution on earth and dedicates one of its Seven Sacraments to the pastoral care and forgiveness of sinners. It’s not *a sin* that got her fired, it is her insistence that a particular grievous sin is not sin at all. As for your hypothetical following around a heterosexual person and playing “gotcha,” I would hope that you would agree that if a person committed murder (just once) or molested a child (just once) that should be grounds for dismissal from teaching anywhere, let alone a Catholic school.

  3. Abigail says:

    Thank you, Tom & Catholic Vote! These lawsuits are disturbing. The Church has made Her teachings known, and that employees have an obligation to uphold those teachings. To be fair to the unchatechized, some pastors have erroneously made it appear that things are decided on a case-by-case basis. How many more people will seek employment, pretending to be willing to uphold & teach the official teachings of the Church, then decide to teach their individual “gospel”, simply to create a lawsuit? Why can’t people have the integrity to say, “I don’t believe in what this prospective employer believes, and I’m unwilling to propagate what they teach, so I’m going to work elsewhere?” I’ve known people who refused jobs because they didn’t like the dress code, or didn’t want to have to work with people they considered beneath them. People need to rethink their values, and how they live out those values.

  4. Tania says:

    Tom, thank you for the explanation, well said!

  5. Medical Student says:

    Hey Tom,

    A couple of question.

    Firstly, do you think it is possible for two gay people to live a chaste life together. I am wondering this because obviously people knew that the teacher had a partner but most likely no one caught her doing homosexual acts.

    Secondly, do you think that we need to uphold “born this way, act this way” in order to preserve the is/ought principle of natural law?

    Thanks!

    1. Tom Crowe says:

      Your first question, I don’t see why two persons with homosexual inclinations couldn’t live chastely–being homosexual does not necessarily mean being promiscuous. If it is two persons who are homosexual but who are not attracted to each other that would, obviously, be easier. The extra problem with this teacher, of course, was that she was outed as having “married” her partner, which is an affirmation that she had moved beyond simply living as a person with homosexual inclinations. So it is entirely possible that many people knew she had a female roommate, and even possible that some people knew she was homosexual, but neither of those is necessarily grounds for dismissal the way a same-sex “marriage” would be.

      On your second question, that is an excellent question and one that I have given some thought to since I first read Dr. Kuebler’s article. I intend to speak with Dr. Kuebler about that question, as well as Dr. Pat Lee, our bioethics chair at Franciscan, but my thought at the moment goes like this: Even if it can be proved that something in our genes disposes some people to be homosexual, that does not make homosexual acts legit because it does not change the underlying nature of human sexuality as written into our biology. Our sexuality, according to our biology, regardless of our inclinations, is directed toward procreation, and procreation is and always will be impossible in homosexual activity. So the is/ought foundation of natural law morality remains intact because our biology, as male and female, regardless of what a disordered inclination tells us we think need, remains. I have more thoughts, but I’d want to flesh them out with people smarter than I am before I put them here.

      1. Larry says:

        So if two women marry each other, live together but do not have sexual relationships, they should not be allowed to teach in a Catholic School?

        1. Tom Crowe says:

          Larry: I didn’t specify that because the answer seemed so obvious. If a same-sex couple pursues marriage, since that sort of marriage is also antithetical to Catholic teaching, that would also be grounds for dismissal. Frankly, the attempt to marry is exactly what got this teacher in trouble: it isn’t like the Diocese monitored their every move.

      2. Larry says:

        Should a heterosexual who uses contraceptives not be allowed to teach in a Catholic School? Should a woman who has had an abortion not be allowed to teach in a Catholic School? Should a heterosexual who is having sex outside of marriage not be allowed to teach in a Catholic School? Should a person who has masturbated not be allowed to teach in a Catholic School? Should a divorced person not be allowed to teach in a Catholic School? Just wondering.

        1. Tom Crowe says:

          Larry, don’t try to be cute: No, you’re not just wondering.

          Any person who publicly persists in behaviors that are antithetical to Catholic teaching ought not be permitted to teach in a Catholic setting. I’m not getting into casuistry with you.

          Though you did touch on something important: disordered sexual behavior is pretty much equal, whether it’s homosexual sex, contracepted heterosexual sex, masturbation, whatever. Any person who publicly and persistently acts in a manner that asserts that these disordered activities are a-okay ought not be allowed to teach in a Catholic setting.

          1. Slats says:

            Tom, just wanted to point out that all of the things you listed are certainly mortal sins, but their temporal consequences and gravity vary greatly. A person could commit and repent of any one of those sins with the same eternal result (state of mortal sin followed by the state of grace upon repentance and sacramental confession), but that doesn’t mean that they are equal in gravity (and fallout) by any means, and to say that they are is, I believe, unhelpful.

          2. Tom Crowe says:

            The potential for scandal (which is what I think you mean by “fallout”) certainly varies according to how many people are involved, who they are, the relationship status of the individuals involved, the degree to which the offender promotes the sin, but in the grand scheme of things, as you note, they are all grave matter. And in the context of the conversation at hand, public persistent support and promotion of any of them is grounds for dismissal.

        2. Slats says:

          Larry, in answer to your questions from my perspective (not Tom’s),
          1) No, he/she should not be allowed to teach in a Catholic school, and that should be part of the employment contract whether the teacher is Catholic or not. The likelihood of finding out that this is the case is very small, but on the other hand, it would impinge upon how the person taught on faith and moral issues and associated matters (e.g. health, social studies, science, etc.). Sadly and scandalously, I think the majority of lay teachers, whether Catholic or non-Catholic, currently teaching in Catholic school do use contraception, and that is a big part of our problem.

          2) Having a single abortion is a discreet decision/sin (although a heinous one) and not necessarily an ongoing lifestyle choice. It’s in the past. It wouldn’t likely come up in employment interviews and hopefully wouldn’t come up with students. If the teacher has repented of the abortion and believes that abortion is wrong, I don’t see why that sad past event should prevent them from teaching in a Catholic school. If the teacher got an abortion WHILE employed as a teacher and that somehow publicly came to light, the teacher would obviously need to be dismissed.

          3) That is correct, they should not be. Once again, part of the employment contract.

          4) Come on now. The issue there is not whether the person has done that action, but whether the person was teaching it was okay or broadcasting their actions. This one gave away your game.

          5) If the person was divorced and living a chaste single life, I’m not sure what the issue would be. The Catholic Church does see divorce as bad,, but also sees many legitimate reasons for separation, and oftentimes it was the spouse who wanted the divorce. The main moral lifestyle question is divorce and re-marriage without settling the status of the prior putative marriage. But I’ll bet you knew that.

        3. Antonio A. Badilla says:

          “Should a heterosexual who uses contraceptives not be allowed to teach in a Catholic School?”

          If that person is claiming he or she is committed to the faith and is using contraception in plain violation of Humanae Vitae paragraph # 14 then that person is lying to himself or herself and therefore has no integrity. If that person makes it public knowledge he or she is using contraceptives, then the school has every good reason to fired him or her since that person got the job under false pretenses. Now, what’s so hard about that?
          Years ago a kid that stole came to me for a letter of recommendation because he wanted to join the police department. I said I could not write a letter of recommendation for him because the police expects honesty and he had demonstrated he had none years ago. He told me he had changed and I congratulated him, but my letter would be based on the time I knew him and at that time, he was a thief. Can you understand that?

    2. jgbech says:

      You show your colors too quickly. God seems to have made most humans non-celibate. Most have the urge to cohabitate. The drive to seek a mate is very powerful, regardless of sexual preference.

      The fallout of clergy from the Priest scandal is not complete. Can unreasonable man made celibacy rules be blamed? The higher fallout is just beginning. There were no doubt a number of criminal Bishops were in attendance at the election of Pope Francis. The church has ignored its’ authority and in doing so its’ credibility.

      1. Slats says:

        Jgbech, I’m not even going to touch your second paragraph, as it’s simply the Catholic Church conversation version of Godwin’s Law, the tacit admission that one has lost the argument.

        With regard to the first, several points. You said, “God seems to have made most human beings non-celibate.” God doesn’t make anyone celibate or non-celibate in their DNA. Celibacy, or not being married, is a lifestyle choice, not an inclination. All normally-functioning people have a natural call to marriage, including those many normally functioning people who choose not to get married, including Catholic priests and religious.

        You then said, “Most have the urge to cohabitate.” Cohabitation, like marriage, is a lifestyle choice. Urges are discreet within a given moment. It’s absurd to say one would have an “urge” to cohabitate, but one might have an inclination or drive (as you said) to do so.

        Point being, of course everyone would like to be married. That’s natural. The “urges” which drive the inclination are naturally urges toward the procreation of children, and toward a bond that fosters the longitudinal care of those children and mutual assistance and companionship in old age. The reproductive system functions naturally in the procreation of new human beings in heterosexual relations. Sexual attraction is of course the desire to use that reproductive system with another person. It is an urge to procreate. If that desire is directed to someone of the same gender, then the desire is (as the Catholic Church teaches, and has been castigated for teaching) disordered. It is a desire for the misusage of that system. The linkage between holistic psychic systems of attraction and the proper function of the reproductive system is very obviously in some way damaged. This is not hard to figure out. Marriage and mating is ordered toward the procreation and rearing of children. Same-gendered simulacra thereof are not that, which is why it is absurd to call them marriage. This is not a matter of “how God made me” in terms of brown hair or bone structure, but more in terms of a heart defect or chromosomal issue. Christians might rightly look at heart defects, chromosomal issues, same-gendered attractions and the like as crosses that the Lord allows us to have, and therefore one might rightly use that phrase “this is how God made me” in that sense. However, the cross is not “Oh, I have this same-gendered attraction and therefore have to go find someone of the same gender to mate with and deal with all of the persecutions that go with that because of people’s ignorance,” but rather a cross of, “God has allowed that my strongest human drive is directed toward acts that I may never morally do, so may He give me the strength not to act out of that drive, and to deal with the psychological and spiritual difficulties that the drive will bring to my life.”

        Okay, let’s address something in the second graph after all – “Unreasonable man-made celibacy rules.” Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I think your essential premise and argument is that sexual inclinations (and underlyingly, the discreet urges which comprise them) ought to be acted out; i.e. it’s unreasonable to ask of people not to act out of their sexual drives. Au contraire, just because we all have the sexual drive does not mean that it is right to act it out. Just because one has a drive or an inclination to do something does not take aware our responsibilities toward each other, nor does it legitimate acting out the drive against those responsibilities. E.g., if one is not married, one does not have the right to engage in sexual acts because those belong to the married state. If one is married and attracted to someone to whom one is not married, one does not have the right to pursue that attraction. If one is attracted to children, one does not have the right to consummate that attraction. If one is ugly, one does not have the right to demand relations or marriage from someone else simply out of some proposed God-given right to fulfill one’s drives and inclinations. And if one is attracted to someone of the same gender, one does not have the right to set aside the common sense that that attraction is unnatural and give oneself moral permission to pursue it. In short, sexual restraint is not only reasonable to request of oneself and others, it is morally necessary for all people – married, single, celibate, heterosexual, homosexual, et al. The reason this has become a debate in our time is because contraception has separated sexual expression from its common sense directedness toward procreation. Therefore, homosexual attraction and genital activity have come to seem reasonable to a society which has become pervasively unreasonable in these matters. However, if we return to common sense, not only is it not unreasonable to ask all people (not just the same-gender attracted) to live responsibly toward others in the sexual arena, but rather is it unreasonable – and in fact uproarious – to assert that they don’t have to do so. What our society needs is a return (now in a more knowing, open, and healthy way) to mutual support and encouragement in living out those responsibilities regardless of our various situations.

  6. Richard says:

    Reprehensible conduct on the part of the Church. A good, honest and decent teacher is fired because she loves another women. You don’t deserve her but her students do, yet, they don’t matter.

    1. Tom Crowe says:

      Being Catholic, we believe that example is one of the best teachers. If a person persists in living according to and celebrating a grave error we believe that person is not in a position in their life to teach. Ergo, she was not a “good” teacher. Further, if she were “honest” she would have been open with herself and her employer about the situation she had chosen to put herself in because she couldn’t *not* know that the Church is staunchly and vocally opposed to same-sex partnerships and “marriages” of that sort. So you can’t really say she was “honest.” As for how “decent” she is, I can’t speak to her ability to teach P.E., but I can say based on everything else it was entirely appropriate conduct by the Church. Your failure to grasp that notwithstanding.

      1. patrick says:

        Appropriate? Of course. But wise in the long run? No. A foolish battle to pick.

        1. Tom Crowe says:

          So doing the appropriate thing can be unwise? How does that work? Plus, they didn’t pick the battle: The battle came to them. To fail to act in this manner would be a dereliction of duty. That the Church is being criticized for insisting on being, well, Catholic really is the amazing thing here. The world can choose not to agree with the Church, but if the world were as tolerant of others’ views as they insist everyone should be they would shrug and say, “Well yeah, they’re Catholic.” And move on. Employment is a privilege, not a right.

          1. patrick says:

            Tom, I didn’t say it was the appropriate thing. I said it was an appropriate thing.

            Please take this discreet example to understand that you seem to see the world in black and white. But it’s not.

            Another appropriate response – and the wider of the 2 – would have been to allow her to mourn her dead mother and get on with her life, rather than take away her income. And of course they picked this battle. Among the hundred of diocesan employees who publicly sin they chose to fire the gay one. They picked HER.

            And its unwise of the church to go after her b/c – among other things – gay people are no longer the bogeymen that the RCC pretends they are. They used to be an easy target when the world thought gay people were sick people who wore trenchcoats to movie theatres. But now we know they are our taxpaying, child-rearing, happy, well adjusted neighbors, who successfully participate in every aspect of American life. It is natural to need a bogeyman, but given where the country is headed, the church wold be wise to find a new bogeyman. May I suggest the Islamicists?

          2. Slats says:

            This is a response to Patrick, whose message didn’t allow for a reply for some reason… Patrick, it’s not about “going after” Ms. Hale. It’s about how to address a problem that has arisen, namely, that her breach of contract became public. You said, “Among the hundreds of diocesan employees who publicly sin they chose to fire the gay (sic) one. They picked HER.” You are presenting some fantasy scenario in which hundreds of dossiers lay on the diocese’s HR desk of diocesan employees who have engaged in what the Church considers to be grave matter in a public light, and that each of these cases also involved breach of contract issues, and that then the HR person said, “Ah, Ms. Hale, the same-gender attracted one. Let’s oppress her, since same-gender attracted people are convenient bogeymen.” That’s patently absurd. I am sure there are hundreds of employees of the Diocese of Columbus who have sinned gravely at one point or another. However, it is probable that few of those sins are those sins of lifestyle with no extant indication of a probability of repentance. Many probably hold stances against some Catholic teaching or another, but it is far less likely that their beliefs have come into the public light as starkly as Ms. Hale’s. Take, for example, a teacher who was divorced and remarried without getting having his or her first putative marriage declared null. How many people among the faculty, staff, student body, and parents in his or her school are aware of the previous marriage? How many of those individuals who know about the prior marriage are aware that he or she didn’t obtain a declaration of nullity? How many are aware that he or she hasn’t been married to the new “spouse” for years? It would have to be darned near everyone for the situation to be as public and as egregious as Ms. Hale’s situation. In those cases, there’s a lot of information to be known before a public scandal is created. With regard to living a homosexual lifestyle, “her life-partner, Ms. X” appearing in print is sufficient to create an instantaneous and quite major problem.

            In short, your scenario of Ms. Hale’s situation being one of many possible cases from which to choose is a straw man conjecture. Rather, what happened is that Ms. Hale’s case came up as a discreet event on which the diocese could choose to act or not act. This reality of course renders moot your postulation of treating the same-gender attracted as bogeymen. The Diocese didn’t need to scapegoat anyone. Rather, they had a situation of a person having lied to them and breached a contract over a number of years which was likely much more egregious in its matter than any comparable situations. Moreover, living a homosexual lifestyle is not one of many different sinful situations that would have caused a similar or greater level of scandal. It is qualitatively a very big deal offense- and scandal-wise from a Catholic point of view, and there are only a handful of situations (read: none of the ones that Larry listed above) on the same level of seriousness (of non-crimes, divorce and remarriage without annulment declaration, opening up an occult bookstore as a side income, or persistently advocating for abortion rights in a public way are the only ones that come immediately to mind right now, and I’ve dealt with the differences of the divorce situation already). Ms. Hale’s actions against her employer were quite serious, and the situation necessitated action. Contrary to your assertions, keeping her employed was not a serious option, as that would have broadcast to all of those involved with the school who were aware of the obituary that there was no problem with being a teacher in a Catholic school in the Diocese of Columbus and living a homosexual lifestyle, which would have been monumentally scandalous. I’ll say this – had the Diocese *failed* to fire her, it would have been a heinously rotten dereliction of duty. While it could have been Christlike and merciful on a certain level to continue to pay Ms. Hale for awhile, given the longitudinal character and severity of her action, they didn’t owe her a darned thing. In short, the Diocese absolutely did the right thing. Whatever troubles or persecutions or embarrassment have come to them as a result of the choice are positively dwarfed by the monumental scandal which would have accrued from allowing Ms. Hale to continue as a teacher at Bishop Watterston.

    2. Slats says:

      Richard, beyond the fact that Tom responded quite well to your comment, I would like to add to his response it’s pretty transparent that you didn’t read a word Tom wrote. Please read before dumping generalizations on the fine writers here. Tom’s original post delineated quite well how “the Church’s” actions toward Ms. Hale were in no way reprehensible.

    3. Antonio A. Badilla says:

      What is reprehensible is your attitude here. No one told the lady she had to work in an institution that does not validate her sin.

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