Monday, January 30, 2012

Out damn spot!

Gay won't go away - at least that's what the NY Times says.

Even though Frank Bruni, a writer for the NYT concedes that it ain't necessarily so, that gay people are born this way - or rather, that way - he seems to draw the conclusion that in the end - it really doesn't matter.  My own theory has shifted throughout the years, especially during the last few spent writing this blog, and getting all sorts of feedback from gays and straights and those in between.  It's like some the personalist project - each person is unique... 

There are of course many same sex attracted persons who agree with Bruni and insist that the why or wherefore - how they got this way, doesn't matter.  Even those folks with SSA who embrace Catholic teaching and choose to live chastely will often agree the genesis of their same sex attraction doesn't matter.  Perhaps it explains why more and more of these folks identify as gay and Catholic - something I used to take issue with but decided there are more important things to worry about.  In essence - it's none of my business.  Anyway, the Catechism says as much.
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
What I find interesting in Bruni's article however, is the fact that he points to a woman, an actress, who said she chose to be gay... and started a little tempest in a teapot in the process: 
Cynthia Nixon, 45, whose comments in The New York Times Magazine last Sunday raised those very questions. 
For 15 years, until 2003, she was in a relationship with a man. They had two children together. She then formed a new family with a woman, to whom she’s engaged. And she told The Times’s Alex Witchel that homosexuality for her “is a choice.”
“For many people it’s not,” she conceded, but added that they “don’t get to define my gayness for me.” NYT

All things being fair, one must ask:  Then why do gay people get so upset when they hear of men and women with unwanted homosexual attraction changing their orientation, or at least attempting to do so through reparative therapy?  No one forces gay people into reparative therapy these days, nor does the Catholic Church demand SSA persons attempt to change their sexual orientation.  The fact is, some people seek such therapy, and some of them appear to come through it successfully.  Perhaps Cynthia Nixon's case may help gay activists lighten up a bit on that issue.  

Although I doubt these discussions will ever be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.  For the Catholic Church, what matters most in the case of individuals with SSA is their salvation and sanctification.
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.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. - CCC

One must keep in mind that the Church condemns the 'acts', not the individual.  Since homosexual acts are contrary to natural and divine law, the Church has no authority to approve of homosexual behavior.  The Church has the authority to forgive sins, but She cannot declare that a sin is no longer a sin.  Likewise, the Church defends traditional marriage against civil attempts to redefine it.  Essentially what secular people and homosexuals who reject Catholic teaching find troubling is that the Church declares homosexual acts to be immoral - while civil law does not.  It seems to me that is the root of the conflict. 

That said, the Church never binds up burdens too heavy to carry for Her sons and daughters.   Every Catholic is called to chastity according to their state in life.  The person with SSA is no different.  Individuals are not expected to live solitary lives cut off from friends and family.  The Church offers support through the sacraments, pastoral care, and for those who desire it, access to support groups such as Courage, while allowing for the 'support of disinterested friendship'. 

In some cases, I believe that means men (and women) can live together in chaste friendship.  I say that because there are men (and women) who share their lives with a friend, while remaining chaste and live in accord with Church teaching - and who have no desire to have their friendship/relationship represented as a marriage.  I know men who have mutually worked out all of their end of life legal details through wills, power of attorney, beneficiary benefits and so on.  At some point in their lives, they agreed to live chastely in accord with Church teaching - remaining together providing moral support for one another.

As Bruni noted and many adults with lifelong SSA would agree,
“Most people’s sexual attractions are pretty much fixed” once they take root, said Jack Drescher, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who has written extensively about homosexuality. NYT 
So, who's to tell a 45 year old man who is repulsed by the idea of sleeping with a woman, who came out in 9th grade, that he 'just thinks he's gay'?  The Church doesn't.

But like I said - some people want to be free of SSA and choose to be straight - so let them.  Cynthia Nixon chose to be gay.  It seems simple, but it doesn't end there, does it.

The point of the article seems to be a bit of damage control for the Cynthia Nixon statement, as well as to dispel fears that it is a game changer, while supporting the lobby for same sex marriage:
We don’t need to be born this way to refute the ludicrous assertion that homosexuality poses some special threat to the stability of the American family. We need only note that heterosexuality — as practiced by the likes of Newt Gingrich and John Edwards, for example — isn’t any lucky charm, and yet no one’s trying to heal the straights. 
We don’t need to be born this way to call out Chris Christie, currently trying to avoid responsibility for a decision about same-sex marriage in New Jersey, for being a political wimp. Andrew Cuomo showed courage and foresight in fighting successfully for such legislation in New York. Christie, who fancies himself a dauntless brawler, should do the same in the state next door. NYT
Superficially, I have to admit that I can get caught up in the propaganda and I don't always immediately understand how legalizing same sex marriage will lead to the collapse of Western Civilization or the destabilization of the family - I happen to be one of those people who think the collapse has been well under way for several decades now.  As one who was raised in an incredibly unstable family, on the surface at least, gay families I've seen in the media appear happier and more solid than what I experienced.  That is a subjective observation of course.  Many of us thought the same thing about no-fault divorce, contraception and abortion at one time - what harm could these things do?  Yet we see the cumulative effects these things have had on culture... which brings us to the issue of gay marriage.  Think it through - objectively.

I'm against it.


  1. Explaining why something is wrong--that's always the hardest part. It's like you have to be a prophet to warn folks about the unintended consequences sin can have. Two problems with that:

    First, I myself don't always have (er, generally don't have) a clear picture of what's coming down the pike. I have a fairly logical bent of mind, but like you, Terry, I sometimes have to go with Church teaching, even if something doesn't seem so bad to me. Like, civil marriage isn't a sacrament anyway, not even for Catholics who marry down at city hall instead of in church, so who cares if the government recognizes "marriages" of people with ssa? I've since had the chance to think about why special preference is given to marriage in the first place and about detrimental legal and cultural changes--especially failure to promote the best possible environment for raising children, the curtailment of liberty, and the intensification of persecution. But until these problems were pointed out to me, I really had to lean on Church teaching to know what was right. I was able to say only that gay marriage was evil because it would institutionalize a serious sin, but I wasn't yet able to explain how it would hurt individuals and society.

    Second, even with clear insight, whatever warning can be given is tuned out right quick by someone who doesn't want to hear it. Even the great Old Testament prophets ran into trouble trying to get the message out. So how likely is it, really, that anyone would hear what I have to say? And yet, as a Catholic, I am called to defend God and the truth given us as taught by the Church, which I fully believe has the truth and the authority to teach it. It takes courage to face ridicule, disenfranchisement/social stigma, employer mandated "sensitivity" classes, side-lined careers and sometimes job loss, verbal and/or Internet abuse--even physical attacks and death threats in some of the nuttier cases--and all the other flack that people take for speaking up. I'm not there yet in the courage department. I have trouble enough wading through all the confusing rhetoric to make sense of the arguments, without letting myself in for all the other crud. But that's the purpose of intimidation, isn't it? To silence us? So how does a woman with so many other character flaws drum up some courage and fortitude?

  2. "This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial."

    Trial? Ya know what? I must not have been in church the Sunday that passed out that questionnaire!


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