Friday, July 27, 2012

An excellent essay on being "faithful to the theological anthropology of the Church."

“River Front No. 1” by George Wesley Bellows (1915)*

Daniel Mattson on why I don't call myself a gay Christian.

The man writes well and says it better than I could.  I think his is an important clarification concerning what I personally refer to as the 'gay-Catholic' movement, comprised of SSA persons, faithful to the mandate for those with homosexual attraction to live chastely, while embracing and nurturing a 'queer identity' and promoting a 'queer spirituality'.  Though professing fidelity to Catholic teaching - and I have no reason to doubt that they are faithful and sincerely so, it seems to me at least some of these persons may be doing more for the LGBTQ 'equality' political campaign than groups such as Dignity or New Ways Ministry.  It seems to me they are essentially attempting to codify a 'third way' - for inclusion into new ways style Catholic theological anthropology.  I cannot help but see this development as a direct result of Catholic educator's neglect of doctrine in our parochial system, in order to be more focused upon aspects of inclusion and diversity in an effort to be more marketable in a more pluralist society.  (Not to mention the over-riding influence of progressive priests and bishops and women religious.  Again, I digress.)

 "The label “gay” does not accurately describe who (or what) I am."

That said, and more to the point, what follows are a few excerpts from Mattson's very important post from On The Square:   
Joshua Gonnerman recently wrote a provocative piece for this column, “Dan Savage Was Right.” What began as an advocacy for the Church to become family for the homosexual community soon became a discussion of the validity of Gonnerman’s matter of fact description of himself as “a Christian who is committed to chastity and who is also gay.”
I too am a Roman Catholic, living with a homosexual inclination and committed to chastity. But I do not identify as “gay.” Rather, I say that “I live with same-sex attraction.” Like “consubstantial,” it is an awkward phrase, nearly absent from common usage. I refuse to identify myself as gay because the label “gay” does not accurately describe who (or what) I am. More fundamentally, I refuse to use that label because I desire to be faithful to the theological anthropology of the Church.
With confidence in the Church, I embrace this teaching about my identity in the same way that I have accepted the word “consubstantial” in the Creed. I accept all of the words of the Catechism concerning who I am in nature and in grace. I take no umbrage at the phrase “objectively disordered” and feel no shame that it truthfully describes my sexual desires. I view my same-sex attraction as a disability, in some ways similar to blindness, or deafness, and I view it with the same hope communicated by Jesus about the man born blind: It has been allowed in my life, so that God’s work would be made manifest in me (cf. John 9:3)
I think it is a mistake to view homosexuality as a gift, in and of itself. Those who identify as gay speak of the great gifts that supposedly flow from their homosexuality. But of course, any goods that are supposedly unique to homosexuality are common to man, and all that is good in man is the result of being made in the image and likeness of God. My career in the performing arts is not even indirectly caused by my same-sex attraction, but instead because God is the creator of music and beauty. I believe that great good can come as a result of living with this disordered inclination, but it only comes when I acknowledge it as a weakness, and in response, fall to my knees before the good God who looks upon me daily with “a serene and kindly countenance,” and comforts me with the words “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
If we desire to bring the gay community into the family of God, it will not be through a celebration of homosexuality, or by changing the language of the Church in order to make it feel more welcoming to them. The path of evangelization is the cross. In recalling St. Paul’s success at evangelization, Ratzinger reminds us that “The success of his mission was not the fruit of great rhetorical art or pastoral prudence; the fruitfulness was tied to the suffering, to the communion in the passion with Christ.” - Source

[Likewise, one doesn't go around announcing, "I'm an SSA guy" either.]

H/T Tina for the On The Square tip.

*Art commentary:  The Bellows piece was part of an exhibit in 2011 at the National Portrait Galllery, dealing with gay identity.  I found the following commentary interesting in relation to the subject of 'gay identity':
Gayness was invented in America. That’s the thought that slowly formed in my mind while perusing the show “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” at the National Portrait Gallery in D.C. I’m not saying that America invented homosexuality, of course. That goes a little further back. What America did was to give gayness its specific difference, to make “gay” into an identity you could have publicly like any other. - Morgan Meis


  1. I view my same-sex attraction as a disability, in some ways similar to blindness, or deafness, and I view it with the same hope communicated by Jesus about the man born blind: It has been allowed in my life, so that God’s work would be made manifest in me (cf. John 9:3)

    My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

    The path of evangelization is the cross.

    Bravo! The Cross is our weapon. Many want another Gospel and there is no other save Him, Christ crucified. Wow. Thanks Terry.

  2. Terry. This is my favorite Fr. Hardon quotation. It is a bit long but seem to fit like a glove:

    What does God expect of us who claim that we love Him as recompense for His prior goodness to us and as the wages, so to speak, to merit an increase of His bounty on our behalf? He finally expects these two things:

    That we are willing to give up whatever pleasant things He may want us to surrender.

    That we are willing to take whatever painful things He may want to send us.

    Between these two, surrender and suffering, or as I prefer, sacrifice and the cross, lies the whole price range of divine love. Go where you will, seek where you will, consult whom you will. Pray, read, speculate and meditate as much as you will, you will always come back to this fact of the spiritual life and there are no exceptions. The love of God is paid for as Christ paid for the love of His Father with the hard currency of willing sacrifice and the holy cross.

    When I was younger, and I thought, smarter, I didn't talk quite this way. But experience is a good, though costly, teacher."
    --Servus Dei John Hardon SJ


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