The Christian Church is often beset by intractable problems, and God, who should be specially concerned, never seems to let his wishes be known. Gay clergy and others, women priests, the souls of apes: in all these matters the church dignitaries who have decisions to make have no guidance other than their conscience and the written word of holy scripture. If such things are not specifically referred to therein there is no guidance from that source other than an attempt to reason from whatever theological considerations seem to be relevant. The question arises then, is there no other guidance? For the church there cannot be, as that wherein solutions to these problems could lie is not only eschewed by it but has been ruthlessly suppressed from its very early days. What was suppressed was, of course, the ageless Ancient Wisdom.
What has this Ancient Wisdom to say about gay clergy? Now that women are allowed in the priesthood, homosexuality in both sexes is of course implied. What is 'gayness'? It is the manifestation of feelings towards a person not proper to the sex one possesses. The word 'not proper' are the nub of the whole matter. What is proper in this context? The Ancient Wisdom helps us to understand. The ordained order of things, whether by God or by Nature, is that most species in the plant kingdom and nearly all those of the animal kingdom propagate their species and ensure their continuance by processes engendered by the co-mingling of the opposite sexes. Taken to its limit, and reducing this argument to absurdity, if there were no such sexual relationships the species would die out; the human race would become extinct. It could therefore be argued that the distinction between the sexes and their proper function one to the other in the matter of procreation was ordained by God (if we are thinking in theological language). Anything that perverts the normal operation of that process in Nature is obviously abnormal, against God's will, and must be regarded so by those who would interpret God's will.
Whereas this argument is unassailable in absolute terms, nothing in human nature is wholly black and white. There are shades of grey tending to blackness or whiteness in almost infinitely small gradations, and this applies to sexuality. The question now is, how does it happen that a male can have female tendencies, especially emotionally, or a female emotional male tendencies? The Ancient Wisdom, or Theosophy, throws light on this. For example, it says that if a boy or girl child dies very young, then its inner principles do not go through the normal death processes because the amount of personal experience is too small. The entity's mortal soul is therefore retained intact, and if it happens to be that of a girl then at its rebirth or reincarnation, no matter what the sex of the body, the inner psyche will be that of a girl. The inner psyche is that wherein the emotional nature of the person resides. If such a girl child's psyche is born into a male body, and this would happen according to the laws of Karma, then that male would have the emotional tendencies of a female. This is a black or white case, but many factors determine the degree of femaleness in the male body or vice versa, and many factors determine the physical characteristics of the male or female body. In either case the sex characteristics could tend towards those of the opposite sex. The operating mechanisms in these cases are known as the skandhas: the tendencies both moral and to some extent physical brought over from the last life.
Such genuinely bivalent personalities are proper subjects for deep sympathy. They cannot help their state. They are, so to speak, 'real' homosexuals. From these types the shades of grey vary and the abnormalities begin to take on a character in some cases of almost blameworthiness. Some people indulge in gay practices for very impure motives. It is these to which the epithet 'sodomy' is applied in the bible. There may be strong tendencies towards homosexuality and for that some sympathy is warranted, but in many such cases it does appear as if the tendencies could fairly easily be controlled, even sublimated, and the people concerned live ordinary conventional healthy lives. Some just choose not to, and what is worse, they claim their aberrant behaviour as normal. With this analysis no hard and fast answers to the church's problem are vouchsafed but there are these guidelines.
On the question of women priests, the Ancient Wisdom offers some light in that in man's constitution there are three elements: 1) his physical body with its life principles; 2) what we have called the moral psyche, his soul; and 3) his spiritual self. Sex applies to the first two of these but not to the spiritual entity that overshadows the personal human being. True spirituality in non-sexual, even though such a spiritual entity may during a lifetime manifest in either a male or a female body. It itself is sexless.
It follows from this that in truly spiritual matters it is of no moment whether a person is male or female provided that a person posing as a spiritual authority or leader, as a priest surely should be, manifests true spirituality. The test of true spirituality is its impersonality. This last statement about impersonality will undoubtedly be very hard to understand and its implications not immediately obvious, but briefly it is that such a would-be mediator (between man and the Divine) should him- or herself be a pure channel.
We are all very much wrapped up in our emotions and associated thinking processes. Without these we feel that we would not be our proper selves as persons, and neither would we. In other words, for the most part we are wholly self-concerned, directly or indirectly. Impersonality implies complete unselfishness. All true scriptures or religions try to teach us this. In practice this is the really altruistic life.
About the question of apes having souls: recently there have been reports in the press that some scientists are suggesting that apes do have souls, and this has raised the question as to whether, when they die, their souls go to heaven. The question has been further extended to embrace all animals. Do they have souls? Without the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom this question is unanswerable. For one thing, in ordinary parlance a soul is undefined. It is generally understood to be something immaterial attached to a physical body during life. Some believe that at death it separates and various things can happen to it according to religious belief.
The Ancient Wisdom teaches us that with one solitary exception animals do not have souls in the same sense that man has. As we mentioned above, there are three elements to man's being: the physical, the psychic and the spiritual. Animals have a physical and psychic element but the spiritual is quite dormant in them. The solitary exception is the higher apes and it is taught that they have the rudiments of human spiritual souls in essence and that, in another evolutionary arc of our planet millions of years hence, they can become human. Otherwise no other animals can do so in the life of this planet.
How these higher apes came to have a rudimentary human soul is beyond the scope
of this letter but we are still left with the question: as they have the rudiments
of a human soul, can they go to heaven? This depends on what is meant by heaven.
If it is the subjective state that humans who have lived a normal life on earth
find themselves in after certain purificatory processes after death, then the
apes have the potential of going there, but it is exceedingly unlikely that
during their lifetime there would be any really spiritual conscious experience
to grant them any conscious being, albeit subjective, i.e., dreamlike, in the
bliss state. The answer is that for the time being the apes, even if they are
granted a human-type spiritual soul, would have no conscious existence in the
after-life, and neither would any other animals, even including much-loved pets;
they simply do not have operating the necessary psychic vehicles for consciousness
apart from the physical body.