Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The end of homophobia?

Catholics and straight guys may be gays new BFF’s...
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At least that’s what a recent Gallup poll indicates:

PRINCETON, NJ - Americans' support for the moral acceptability of gay and lesbian relations crossed the symbolic 50% threshold in 2010. At the same time, the percentage calling these relations "morally wrong" dropped to 43%, the lowest in Gallup's decade-long trend.Gallup

A friend sent me an email suggesting that Americans may be more accepting of the gay lifestyle because they do not know ‘what gay sex is all about’. I used to think the same thing and went to disgusting lengths to write about what homosexual sex entails – it’s a dirty job, I thought, but somebody has to do it. The joke was on me, as usual.  I decided not to go there any longer however, since I’m sure most people actually do know what is involved. A lot of people seem to use pornography in their ongoing studies of human sexuality - and they've probably glimpsed some of the behavior.
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However, I did respond to my friend that I felt gay activists and their supporters have often tried to cover up the nitty-gritty recreational sexual activities and present a Beaver Cleaver/Ozzie and Harriet image of same-sex domesticity to the world. I also think media has been the driving force in affecting the way men think about homosexuals.  It's been on TV everywhere since Billy Crystal's character in 'Soap' ('70's) and it is usually presented lightheartedly - not necessarily mockingly - but it remains a popular shtick for comedic situations, monologues by late night comedians, etc..  The trend is to use gay stereotypes camping it up to present product to regular guys, introduce a guest, perform skits, or just perform the 'straight-guy' in off-the-wall awkward jokes.  Queer-Eye may have done a lot to help the gay image as well.  Just last weekend a photo went online of Dustin Hoffman kissing another celebrity on the lips at a sports event. Lumped together, and over time, this stuff helps to convince a straight guy not to get all bent out of shape over the issue – live and let live.  And keep the subject alive - keep talking, get more people to come out, make it cool, etc..  It works.
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That said, I also believe the American male has been gradually sensitized and feminized since the women's movement gained muscle in the '70's: Through public education, media - especially advertising. Notice how TV and movies have for years now portrayed the contemporary straight male - he’s the weaker character, the dumber of the male/female couple, it is always the woman as the boss, the macho hero cop, the one who delivers the knock out punch, and so on.  Today she's the bread-winner and Ms. Fix-it, while dad does the cooking.  That's just gay.
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The so-called 'gay agenda' is working.
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It has been a brilliant and well supported campaign.  Acceptance is growing amongst Catholics too, despite the fact that officially, Catholic Church teaching is one of the last voices pointing out the truth about homosexuality. The poll suggests a different mindset amongst Catholics, reminiscent of the dissent which followed Humanae Vitae and the condemnation of artificial birth control.
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While the Catholic Church fights any and all efforts to recognize gay and lesbian relationships (the battle between the District and the archdiocese over same-sex marriage comes to mind), its flock is overwhelmingly supportive. In May 2006, just 46 percent thought those relationships were "morally acceptable." Four years later, a whopping 62 percent shared that view. That 16-point jump is 10 points greater than the jump among Protestants (6) and "other non-Christian (7). What's also interesting is that Catholics' growing acceptance of homosexual relationships is greater than that of Protestants. In May 2006, there was a 10-point gap (36 percent for Protestants and 46 percent for Catholics). Today, the gap is 20 percent.Washington Post
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Obviously there has been a subtle shift in attitudes amongst Catholics, despite the sexual abuse scandals and the gay priest/seminary scandals of the ‘90’s. And I don’t think all the credit belongs to Catholic pro-gay activists, like those who advocate for groups such as Dignity, Rainbow Sash, along with other pro-gay-rights organizations. I have always thought there exists a more subtle movement within the Church, albeit largely unorganized, seeking a general acceptance of the homosexual condition in and of itself as morally neutral or normative, a simple personality variant if you will – while emphasizing chastity and celibacy in accord with Church teaching of course.  Maybe with rather creative 'pastoral exceptions' as well.
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Please do not get me wrong, I am not suggesting acceptance and tolerance is wrong or to be condemned.  Quite the opposite.  Indeed, the Church doesn't teach that either:
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2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. - CCC
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That said, there are those who take certain teachings out of context and "create confusion regarding the Church's position, and then to use that confusion to their own advantage."  (CDF)  The confusion is the confusion of language, such as determining 'what the definition of is, is' - as Bill Clinton so famously put it. 
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Quoting form the CDF's document, On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons ( a document often ignored by those who claim Pope Benedict has said nothing against the homosexual condition - His Holiness authored this document):
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Nevertheless, increasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered and to condone homosexual activity. Those within the Church who argue in this fashion often have close ties with those with similar views outside it. These latter groups are guided by a vision opposed to the truth about the human person, which is fully disclosed in the mystery of Christ. They reflect, even if not entirely consciously, a materialistic ideology which denies the transcendent nature of the human person as well as the supernatural vocation of every individual.
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9. The movement within the Church, which takes the form of pressure groups of various names and sizes, attempts to give the impression that it represents all homosexual persons who are Catholics. As a matter of fact, its membership is by and large restricted to those who either ignore the teaching of the Church or seek somehow to undermine it. It brings together under the aegis of Catholicism homosexual persons who have no intention of abandoning their homosexual behaviour. One tactic used is to protest that any and all criticism of or reservations about homosexual people, their activity and lifestyle, are simply diverse forms of unjust discrimination.
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There is an effort in some countries to manipulate the Church by gaining the often well-intentioned support of her pastors with a view to changing civil-statutes and laws. This is done in order to conform to these pressure groups' concept that homosexuality is at least a completely harmless, if not an entirely good, thing. - CDF; On Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons

Every official Church document on the complex subject of homosexuality must be considered and placed within context of the Church's teaching on the the subject as it relates to the perennial teaching on human sexuality.  As with John Paul II's catechesis on theology of the body, texts are often taken out of context or extrapolated and contorted to fit modern, secularized views of sexuality.  Indeed, the Chris West version of TOB enjoys just such popularity and is often referenced by gay Catholics in attempting to create a gay spirituality or mysticism which I referenced in my post, "A Carnal Love for Christ".  I think a close examination of these 'teachings' and new approaches is required to make certain they are truly Catholic.  Precisely because "the neglect of the Church's position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve." (CDF)
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Popular writers, saying the right stuff on being gay and Catholic.
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"I love being gay," stated Eve Tushnet in a New York Times piece on her.  “I really think the most important thing is, I really like being gay and I really like being Catholic,” she says. “If nobody ever calls me self-hating again, it will be too soon."  - NYT

More liberal than a "Courage" dyke perhaps, Tushnet does seem to be a good Catholic, sticking to her guns on the chastity-celibacy mandate for homosexual persons, against same-sex marriage in a more culturally intelligible way, and so on.  her frank honesty on the subject, and acceptance of self is admirable.  Her thinking on the subject of homosexuality is excellent.  I just question ideas such as, "I love being gay" - a statement which by itself indicates a healthy self-acceptance while affirming an objectively disordered condition.  It seems counterintuitive and appears to come close to contradicting what the CDF document says: "Nevertheless, increasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered and to condone homosexual activity."
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In her defense, to my knowledge Tushnet (and her counterpart John Heard of Dreadnought) insist they do not condone homosexual activity, but both appear to believe the condition itself is morally neutral, always placing the onus on actions separate from inclination, when in fact the homosexual condition itself is 'objectively' disordered.  The reason I take issue with their emphasis to the contrary is because when one identifies as gay one is held there, as it were.  The Church does not define men and women by their sexual preference or behavior:  "The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be described  by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation.  [...]  The Church provides a badly needed context for the case of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a 'heterosexual' or a 'homosexual' and insists that every person has a fundamental identity:  the creature of God, and by grace, His child and heir to eternal life." - (CDF)
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"Show me a happy homosexual and I'll show you a gay corpse." - Mart Crowley, Boys In The Band
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So anyway - I'm not condemning Heard or Tushnet, just questioning their 'teaching' much as I do Christopher West.  Nevertheless, these folks have grabbed the attention of many churchmen and laity, many perhaps 'like-minded' - and this may provide another accounting as to why homophobia is dying out and the gay agenda is winning.
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We live in rapidly changing times of declining morality.  It is more difficult than ever to remain faithful to the Gospel.  One by one, through love and patient perseverance, we will save our souls, and hopefully save those around us as well.  We need to love one another and not hate any longer.
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That's all.
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Photo: Elton John and Eminem

32 comments:

  1. Interesting.

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    Yes, I agree that in Eve and Jon's work the "disordered" part seems to have been set aside, but in her most recent post, she promises that she is working on something that might bring more light.

    After reading Eve for years, what I have picked up is that the reason she "loves being gay" is simply that this is who she is, you know? She can't not be gay, and what is the alternative in terms of self-acceptance? I love who I am except for the part that yearns for singular intimacy with a woman? Yes, it's possible to take that stand and hate that part of you, but I don't know where that leaves the person who felt this way from a young age and sees it as an integral part of themselves.

    I also think that there is a lot of cultural/aesthetic at work in Eve's thinking. And I think it is worth thinking about. We may decry homosexuality, but how much of what we enjoy and appreciate in culture comes from the complexity of homosexual desire, repressed, redirected...how much from gay subculture...I don't know. When I read Eve T on this, what I hear her saying is that she digs gay culture, appreciates the fruit of it through history, is interested in the stance of the outsider from a philosophical and aesthetic perspective, a stance which is intricately tied up to her own gayness, and then the whole self-acceptance thing.

    Lila

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  2. Lila - thanks much for that - very insightful and helpful. I hope she continues her work to elaborate on her experience. The self-hate thing is what all Catholics are accused of these days, therfore her work to contradict that negative notion seems to me to be very important.

    God bless you and again, thanks for commenting.

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  3. Fabulous post! Trying to do a bit meself!

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  4. Very interesting post.

    I think the situation here in the U.S. revolves around the mistaken idea of "freedom." Anyone is free to pursue happiness in whatever way he chooses as long as "nobody gets hurt." It's the "I'm okay, you're okay" culture. And it's driven by family and friends who would rather condone evil than alienate anybody by speaking the truth in charity.

    It's the same moral cowardice that causes Catholic parents to attend their children's invalid marriages and to support their decisions to use contraception and divorce or shack up.

    Call it tolerance or what it really is - putting human respect above respect for God. It is killing this country and the world burying us in moral relativism.

    You may be right. The battle may be over, already won by the gay activists who have jammed and jammed. But the war goes on and we know who wins that in the end.

    In the meantime there are souls at stake. I'm not familiar with Eve Tushnet, but I think her attitude is strange. It's like saying "I love having an inclination to shoplift!"

    One think is for sure, however. We must pray for these poor souls many of whom are teetering on the edge of the abyss.

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  5. I just learned about Eve's blog...very interesting.
    There is something very important here; I don't exactly know WHAT, but the convergence of chastity/gay identity (whatever the hell that means!) is something that could possibly be a "bridge"...the wanton promiscuity of the "gay lifestyle" as we know it cannot continue; it's gonna have to find some kind of solution: either in chaste friendship or accepting the "death sentence" from the numerous STDs (not even including "AIDS", whatever that is) and the spiritual emptiness of either an "open relationship" or constant changing of partners.
    There is a lot that we are not aware of in this whole thing; the Church is absolutely right in condemning the sin of genital homosexual relationships and accepting the person with same-sex-attraction.
    Celibacy isn't a "prison-sentence".
    Not at all.
    Christian love is ever fruitful and finds all kinds of way to express itself in proper and moral ways.

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  6. Yeah - both John Heard and Tushnet have been exploring and developing thoughts on ss chaste friendship - later on I want to post on what Heard has to say on the subject. And it is very important to note that acceptance of same-sex attracted persons does not equal acceptance of homosexual behavior - that was one blogger's take on this issue and it is wrong.

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  7. Re: Mary Ann's comment about it being moral cowardice to attend one's children's invalid marriages; I have had people tell me (and I believe them) that they are supporting their child, not the circumstance of them marrying outside the Church. (Fortunately my children are married in the Church so this isn't a personal issue). As the saying goes, blood is thicker than water. Whether or not one supports one's adult child's choice of a spouse, the fact is that this person will be the mother or father of one's grandchildren. It is hard to imagine what can be accomplished by shunning a loved one and refusing to recognize their marriage, other than family alienation. If someone is treated kindly by their Catholic in-laws, it may help pave the way later for getting the marriage blessed in the Church.

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  8. I like the way you think Melody.

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  9. I'll be glad when June is over and you can go back to your gardening.

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  10. Terry, speaking of gardening, I wish you could come over here and plant these damned flowers I bought a week ago that still are not in the ground!
    What is wrong with me?
    I just get distracted and then it's July and the poor things are dead and then I feel guilty and then there's the.....etc., etc.:<)!LOL!
    Okay, I'll just take responsibility and do it myself...maybe...in a day or so...maybe...
    So much for Gay Pride Month!!
    The stinkin' flowers don't even get planted?
    LOL!!

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  11. Possible, but highly unlikely.

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  12. Hey, I'm not mediating this one...I gots enough to deal with right here:<)!
    And how did you know I had pansies here, Thom? Are you freakin' psychic?
    There's other stuff, but man, I'm gettin' freaked out here:>)!!

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  13. Aceman7:20 PM

    Thom--you're not just on fire, you are flaming!! :-)

    But seriously, Lila had it right, how can you lead a healthy productive life if you love yourself >except< for one major part of who you are? I still don't buy the "disordered" stuff though, minority perhaps, but not disordered. Bully for Tushnet for being unashamedly Catholic and gay.

    Ace

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  14. melody, excellent point. members of my family have taken stands against the behavior of some of the grandchildren's relationships, as well as siblings, and it has caused strained relationships all around (and not a little self-righteousness). well-intentioned but not as fruitful, i believe, as letting them be who they are while witnessing to them. i think that's what Jesus did. you can let someone know you don't approve of their behavior while not shunning them (or their partners).

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  15. Fr NP-- the easiest way to plant pansies (or other little annuals that come in the little sectioned trayes) is to use a bulb planter. It pulls out just the right amount of dirt to plant the single plant. Not nearly as messy as using a shovel and if you're like me you end up with a bigger mess than when you started :)

    But yeah its really easy to plant a bazillion little plants. :)

    Sara

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  16. Fr NP-- the easiest way to plant pansies (or other little annuals that come in the little sectioned trayes) is to use a bulb planter. It pulls out just the right amount of dirt to plant the single plant. Not nearly as messy as using a shovel and if you're like me you end up with a bigger mess than when you started :)

    But yeah its really easy to plant a bazillion little plants. :)

    Sara

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  17. Sara: Tanks:<)!
    Now if I just my lazy butt over to that flower garden and JUST DO IT!!
    It rained like heck today; the humidity was just abominable (we need it, though)...maybe tomorrow (manana...I must have Hispanic blood in me somewhere...I'm just too pale and blue-eyed to convince me otherwise:<)!)

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  18. Terry, this is a great post, and I wrote all this crap for my comment, all this stuff about the differences between self-acceptance and self-identification and about how we only know ourselves in Christ and the self we know in Christ is not static and so forth, but it simply got too long-winded.

    Tushnet and Heard should go out on a date together.

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  19. +JMJ+

    Eve Tushnet's "I love being gay" reminds me of a similar comment by a gay celebrity I often see on TV: "Being a gay man is like being an angel!" Last December, I was going to include him in my "Top 5 Bad Catholics" list because I've always admired the way he never let Church politics or random slurs against homosexuals get in the way of his view that he is a son of the Church--and in particular, a son of Mary--but that comment really turned me off. I'm still thinking about it.

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  20. Paul and Enbrethiliel - thanks - I think you 'got it' - what the post is all about that is. I'll finish my comment in the form of a post today.

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  21. Anonymous12:09 PM

    You mispelled Eminem.

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  22. I think my statements have been misinterpreted here. I am not talking about "shunning" children. But if, as the Church teaches, marrying outside the Church is a mortal sin, how does one celebrate that?

    We told our children when they were teens that if they married outside the Church we could not go to their weddings. We wanted to make the point before it was an issue. We would always love them, we said but honoring God came first.

    For a time one of our children contemplated marrying outside the Church and when I said we couldn't go I got this response, "You don't love me." or words to that effect. I laughed and said, "Hey, we've been telling you this since you were a teenager. You have choices, but so do we."

    That relationship later broke up. All our five children are now happily married in the Church and practicing the faith and raising our 18 grandchildren in the faith. I praise God for it and don't take the credit.

    I'm not sure how giving kids the impression one approves of their immoral choices challenges them to do the right thing later. Most of the people I know who attended marriages outside the Church have unbaptized grandchildren and kids still outside the Church years later.

    Of course you don't stop loving your kids for making the wrong choices. Of course you don't cut them off or refuse to acknowledge your grandchildren. Neither do you give your blessing to wrongdoing.

    With regard to the gay issue, there are plenty of things I struggle against (the world, the flesh, and the devil, to be exact). I certainly do not celebrate my own sinful inclinations. I resist them and try not to fall into sin because of them.

    While I applaud anyone trying to live a chaste life, I still find rejoicing in same-sex temptation strange. Acceptance of it yes. But Perhaps this is a problem of semantics and misunderstanding the point she is trying to make.

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  23. Anonymous: it's not "M&M"? Peanut is my favorite.




    :-P

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  24. Anonymous4:42 PM

    What I have always found peculiar about believers is their willingness to forego their own conscience and accept "what the church teaches" in toto without critical analysis.

    "What the church teaches" is not set in stone. Nor is it the only church. I am often shocked by the abdication of moral responsibility and conscience involved in accepting the "teaching" so uncritically.

    Have none of you given any real thought to the morality of stigmatising a minority of the population as disordred?

    Does it not occur that a church which teaches that lesbian and gay people are "inherently disordered" destroys lives, drives a wedge between parents and their own children, provides intellectual and political cover for homophobia, bullying, discrimiation and even murder.

    Science has moved on, no reputable body of psychiatrists or psychologists agree with the Catholic Church teaching on lesbian and gay people.

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  25. It's not the person who is disordered it's his disordered attraction. Wouldn't you agree that someone afflicted with the desire to have sex with corpses has a disordered attraction? Or the kleptomaniac? We all have disordered attractions to our pet sins and faults. It's a result of original sin and our fallen nature. What's so hard to understand about that? And I don't have to abdicate my conscience to recognize the truth of the Church's teaching. Why should gays and lesbians get a pass on their particular disordered attraction?

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  26. Because unlike with kleptomania and necrophilia, with homosexuality, theology and science do no agree.

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  27. Anonymous5:08 AM

    I find it remarkable that a believer like Mary Ann is able to reduce whole human beings to "disordered attraction".

    An enduring pattern of falling in love with desiring and become attached to other women is not comparable to biting ones nails. You reduce lesbian and gay people to a mere sexual act. If someone told you they were taking your loved one away and you'd never see them again you'd hardly find yourself thinking "Oh no, no more sex".

    I doubt very much you would enjoy the nuance "disordered attraction" very much if you were required to apply it to you own life.

    Can you imagine what it is to be like to be a fourteen year old boy or girl and feel that every sexual thought or desire that you are capable of is "disordered" and sinful?

    Who we love is a big part of anybody's life whether gay or straight. When you reject a person for who they love you reject them.

    Church teaching on homosexuality is simply hurtful and damaging.

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  28. Anonymous5:50 AM

    Scientific studies on lesbian and gay people indicate that the differences are innate and exist even on a neurological level (different brains).

    http://www-news.uchicago.edu/r.....vation.pdf
    http://www.newscientist.com/ch.....e-sex.html
    Gay, Straight Men's Brain Responses Differ
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,155990,00.html
    http://www.livescience.com/hea.....genes.html
    http://www.springerlink.com/co.....00k586276/
    http://blogs.discovermagazine......06/16/172/

    Experts do not hold that it is possible to change a persons' sexual orientation: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, and National Education Association.

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  29. Anonymous5:55 AM

    Some hide their biggotry behind religion.

    If you read the old testament you'll find justifications for slavery.

    Do you follow those rules too?

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  30. Clare Krishan12:23 PM

    Blog hog warning! Long post! Only for the compulsively-minded! No offense intended!

    Adolescence, in Latin, praecox is a singularly intense developmental phase where physique outruns psyche, intellect and will. The narrative of nature in other words is at its most dramatic second act, the setup of characters and "friendships" are fluid, we do not 'know' which way the protagonist's fate will take him or her when confronted with a climax that will ensure life will never be the same again. The rising action of our "second act" -- the drama of most of human life -- is our lack of skills to deal with the forces of antagonism with with our capacities are no match to our predicament. The twists and turns in being a spectator of such a drama is our judgment of the characters who aid and abet, or who perpetrate mischief consciously or unconsciously. Our memory and identity give us the faculties to enjoy literature's best plots, but the best in IMHO leave us with an unresolved denouement, as in Flannery O'Connor that reveal our sense of praecox, where we are psyche, intellect or will faculties don't "get" it, ie the happy ending isn't obvious yet.

    Consider La bottega dell'orefice (everything sounds great in Italian doesn't it?) - Anna of the second act is unhappily stuck bemoaning her disposition of heart - oriented to the attractive mysterious 'ego' who converses with her about her "praecocious" burdens. The resolution is O'Conneresque, and goes to the heart of the dissimilitude of human ego being discussed here, we aren't same-sexed with respect to the Divine. And yet we are very much called to be of one heart (its June for goodness sake!). The heart has two chambers, one that receives all the exhausted de-oxygenated blood from the extremities directing it to the two lungs, and one that pumps all the oxygenated supply from the lungs back out again to prevent the tissues from suffocating. The idea that a heart can be monogamously homo-chambered is "disordered" (in a mechanical human physique kinda way) -- we'd suffocate if it were so! We need the Ru'ach of the lungs, a certain inspiration, to make sense of the heart's isch (male chamber, the acting extremities, legs arms, tongue, genitals) necessitating an isch'ah (female chamber, the fecund, aerated internal organ, the lungs). Note that physiologically-speaking the alimentary canal is actually an extremity (its our skin turned inside out, we experience good sensations being touched, endorphins are released in the same manner from the gut when we eat and drink well, we have these sensations independent of location of genitals or whether we're holding our breath).

    The drama(*) of human sexuality is only revealed in it's third act - the children born of love, of life-long exclusive fidelity. Its no accident that the back story to Romeo and Juliet is all about brothers fighting... a consummation without generation (of the next generation) "never was a story of more woe ..."

    Perhaps the 'memory and identity' of Adam-&-Eve's original sin?
    http://cosmos-liturgy-sex.com/2010/04/22/defective-knowledge/

    Is not authentic memory and identity a perfected knowledge of God, of true Love, in the Revelation of the Logos, via the mystery of the Immaculately Conceived? Humility and solicitude for each other in this vale of tears is a good recipe for cooking up stuff that's too raw, or precocious... (L. praecox (gen. praecocis) "maturing early," from prae "before" (see pre-) + coquere "to ripen," lit. "to cook")

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