Friday, January 24, 2014

About that Spiritual Friendship thing ...

From St. Francis de Sales:
There are some who will tell you that you should avoid all special affection or friendship, as likely to engross the heart, distract the mind, excite jealousy, and what not. But they are confusing things. They have read in the works of saintly and devout writers that individual friendships and special intimacies are a great hindrance in the religious life, and therefore they suppose it to be the same with all the world, which is not at all the case. - Introduction to the Devout Life

And then I annotated this section:
"Whatever is founded on mere sensuality, vanity, or frivolity, is unworthy to be called friendship. I mean such attractions as are purely external; a sweet voice, personal beauty, and the cleverness or outward show which have great weight with some. You will often hear women and young people gay men unhesitatingly decide that such an one is very delightful, very admirable, because he is good-looking, well-dressed, sings, or dances, or talks well. Even charlatans esteem the wittiest clown amongst them as their best man. But all these things are purely sensual, and the connections built on such foundation must be vain and frivolous, more fitly to be called trifling than friendship. They spring up chiefly among young people, gay men who are easily fascinated by personal attractions, dress, and gossip—friendships in which the tailor and hairdresser have the chief part. How can such friendships be other than short lived, melting away like snow wreaths in the sun!" - St. Francis De Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life 


1 comment:

  1. Aquinas, following Aristotle, identified three nesting layers of friendship; friendships of utility, friendships of pleasure, and friendships of virtue. Obviously, all friendships should aspire to be of this last category, but nowhere is it excluded that a friendship of virtue ALSO be useful and pleasurable.

    Indeed, the fact that de Sales's WORST condemnation of these friendships is, essentially, vain, frivolous, or shallow (all of which are taken care of if the attraction is combined with shared values and shared aspiration to virtue, things I don't think any gay Christian would deny is important in a partner)...this quote is actually an argument against the idea that they constitute some species of unchastity or objective disorder, inasmuch as the homoerotic undercurrent of these friendships he's describing doesn't seem to be his concern at all apart from their shallowness.


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