Thursday, January 23, 2014

If Elizabeth Scalia is the 'mama bear' of the 'new homophiles' ...



Then Mark Shea has to be the 'papa bear'.

I'm just playing with the term Austin Ruse used for Scalia in his first essay examining the 'new homophiles' - a term which is supposed to describe Catholics who prefer to identify as gay rather than same sex attracted for various reasons not understood by everyone. When Ruse first used the term 'mama bear' I thought it was kind of quaint - I never considered it pejorative. I am certainly not using the mama and papa terms negatively either. I like both Scalia and Shea and respect their opinions on issues related to same sex attraction.

That said, Mark Shea posted a query from one of his readers on the issue of  “Defining Oneself by
one’s Sexuality”.  It seems a happy coincidence that it follows upon the Austin Ruse essays on the subject and offers another perspective on an otherwise complicated question regarding identity.

Mark Shea writes:
We should, however, be cautious about assuming that simply because somebody frankly acknowledges that they are gay that they are making it the central fact of their life.  I know any number of gay folk who live in fidelity to the Church’s moral teaching, but who don’t shy away from saying frankly that they are gay, that their appetites are what they are, and that this does not mean they have to indulge those appetites.  I think this is simply being honest, as when an alcoholic says frankly that he has a disordered attraction to alcohol or a glutton is frank about his tendency to desire to eat too much.  I think that some Catholics, uncomfortable with so much as hearing about this particular disordered appetite can be swift to shush all discussion as “defining oneself by one’s sexuality” in the way a teetotaling fundamentalist tries to declare all discussion of alcohol sinful.
I think this is unwise since it communicates to the faithful homosexual that it’s not enough for him to be obedient to Holy Church.  He has to repent even his temptations.  The Church does not tie up for us the heavy burden of guilt for our temptations, only our sins.  Indeed, the Church tells us that when we meet the challenge of our temptations with obedience we are being virtuous and our Father is pleased with us.  No small part of why homosexuals get the message that God hates them is this curious double standard, reserved only for them, which says that when a heterosexual resists the temptation to commit fornication or adultery, he is a heroic saint, but when a homosexual successfully resists temptation he is still guilty of feeling tempted and must not speak of it lest he incur the charge of “defining himself by his sexuality”. I think that is a perfect formula for inducing despair in the homosexual who genuinely wishes to follow Christ. - Read it all here.

Nothing wrong with that.

I don't really have an issue with Catholics who say they are gay, my only concern has more to do with designating queerness as a sort of third sex, or as a special gift from God, which strikes me as an attempt to promote gender-queerness as a new philosophy of sexuality.  That is pretty much where I see most of the misunderstanding and confusion these discussions foment.

One commenter at Mark's post adds to the sort of confusion I often point to and write about.  The commenter's name is Mark, and I've included a few of his statements which, in my opinion, confuse ordinary people.  Especially when he writes,  "Now we need to work on moving them towards an understanding of Gay..."  











Well it’s a good start. Now we need to work on moving them towards an understanding of Gay that is not reducible to a particular form of “temptation,”









I'm not even talking about "active" temptation at any given moment. I'm saying it is a mistake to define gay as "inclination to homosexual sex acts" at all.









I think that's an overly scholastic or naively essentialist view of how emotions work.
One of the odd things that has always struck me about the Catechism's passage on homosexuality is where (in calling them objectively disordered; ie, having a disordered object) it defines homosexual "inclinations" as "ordered towards" [the intrinsic disorder of homosexual sex acts]. But using the language of "ordered towards" almost implies something like that...homosexuality has some sort of natural object. But if one doesn't believe homosexuality is a natural category ordained by God in the first place...how can it have any sort of objective telos like that?
It seems strange that, when trying to explain that homosexual orientation cannot be reduced to sex acts, conservatives will even point to the catechism and say "Look: the catechism says it is ordered towards gay sex." But doesn't such a position involve a sort of tacit assumption or concession that homosexuality is, in fact, an "essence"? I mean, if you define homosexuality as "an appetite by definition 'ordered towards' gay sex"...you're basically saying that there is in fact an appetite having that as its telos. But Catholics do not believe in total depravity; we do not have any appetites whose natural object is evil. The only things unambiguously "ordered towards" evil are determinate intentions of the human will, freely chosen.
The last comment is quite long - to read the rest, go here

That's all for today.

14 comments:

  1. What people need to realize is that it is not the "gayness" that is the gift to the Church. The gift is the suffering which faithful Catholics, whatever their private struggles are, offer in union with the Agony of Christ. Persons with a same sex attraction undoubtedly have their share of sufferings and often, if they want to keep the commandments, end up living a life of celibacy. This is no small cross. How precious in the eyes of God when united with the Cross of Jesus.

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  2. That is very true. Thanks Elena.

    There are many people who face other challenges and remain single and chaste.

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    1. Yes, like some divorced people.

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    2. This may sound a bit un-PC but I'm also thinking of people who are paraplegic, others who may be disfigured, others who have physical/mental disabilities who may not ever find someone to love or share their life with.



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  3. Doesn't he call them the "new homophiles" rather than the "new homophobes"?

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  4. Terry off-topic but did you know Penny Lord died Tuesday night? I always think of you when I watch re-runs and hear her say "we love you".

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    1. Thanks! I did know - she is in my prayers. I really loved it that she and her husband dedicated themselves to spread devotion to the saints.

      May she rest in peace.

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  5. The problem with the "it is only good as a cross" narrative is that we simply don't perceive it that way. Most of us do not "suffer" from our homosexuality nor does it constitute some sort of endless "struggle" anymore than for heterosexual singles. If there is suffering, most of it comes from conservatives in the Church making life difficult. But otherwise we are not all going to be filled with shame for the happiness we find in our orientation or be filled with self-loathing as if our white is black.

    As for "confusion"...if making fine distinctions is "confusing" things, then I think you sound like the man who, when the scientist proclaimed "Wait! A whale is not a fish, it's a mammal!" shouted "Oh, stop confusing everyone!"

    Just because conservatives have some sort of vague and not terribly refined conceptual muddle something like "Gay-homosex-liberal-heresy-bad-boo!!!" doesn't mean that people who try to actually make non-simplistic distinctions here are "confusing" things. If you call clarity confusion, it is you who are confused. Just because an idea can't be reduced to a soundbite doesn't mean it is "confusion."

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    1. Thanks for the comment - I think it is a mistake to suggest this is a conservative misunderstanding. I think you are reducing opposing opinions - actually dismissing opposing opinions by labeling them and attributing them to conservatives. I'm certainly not a conservative.

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  6. Depends what you mean. You certainly are "conservative" when it comes to conserving certain social models of gender and sexual identity and modes of family and relationship. Which is to say, a conservative "at least on this particular question."

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    Replies
    1. If that label helps you pigeon hole me or dismiss my beliefs, that is fine. Just be honest about what you are doing.

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  7. Some societies have more than two sexes, and I see no reason why not. I think that you're rather lacking in moral imagination.

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    Replies
    1. I'm moral imagination impaired I guess.

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