Tuesday, October 07, 2014

That's what I've always said ... Once again - Fr. Z at his best.

On friendship - I believe this is what is meant by 'pastoral':
Here’s the deal.
Part of the problem of homosexual “couples” (and perhaps also civilly remarried couples) involves the corruption of friendship.
Say a man and woman are in an irregular situation.  One, a Catholic, is divorced from the previous spouse.  No decree of nullity.  Civil marriage follows to another Catholic.  They cannot receive Communion as is.  However, it could be possible for them to receive Communion (provided that they avoid scandal) were they willing to live in a “Josephite” marriage or a “brother and sister” situation.   As you can imagine, it could happen that once in a while they might slip, as it were.  In that case, they go to confession and start again, resolved to do better.
Say a man and a man, who are great friends, determine to live together, share expenses, take care of each other when ill, etc.  They are heterosexual and they don’t have any attraction to each other.  They are simply great friends, like Capt. Aubrey and Dr. Maturin, Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock, Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson, Porthos, Athos and Aramis… okay, that’s three.   Jesus and the Apostles.   No problems here.
Say a man and a man, who are great friends, determine to live together, share expenses, take care of each other when ill, etc.  They, however, are homosexuals and they do have an attraction to each other.  However, they have determined to live chastely, because they know that homosexual acts are sinful.  As you can imagine, it might happen that they slip once in a while.  They go to confession – like any other sinners do – and they renew their resolve to live chastely.   That is not very different from the situation in which the divorced and remarried couple find themselves in.
You might bring up the point that they have placed themselves in an occasion of sin, because the proximity of the other person is too tempting.  This would apply to the man and woman living like “brother and sister” and to the homosexuals.
I respond in two ways.  First, human beings are not brutal animals who have no control over their appetites.  Second, say they have separate dwellings.  There is nothing to stop them from getting into the car at any time of the day or night.  Separation in separate dwellings isn’t a guarantee of anything, in this highly mobile world we live in.  Yes, there are some less thoughtful reactionaries who will jump all over this like a trampoline, because they hold that, if you are attracted to another person, you should avoid even seeing that person.  Sure, that is one approach.  I don’t recall that it’s in the bible. It isn’t de fide.  It is one way to counsel a person, depending on the circumstances.
That said, those who want divorced and civilly remarried couples to receive Communion without any commitment to living chastely, while continuing to have marital relations whenever, are, in effect, separating the sexual act from its proper locus, valid marriage.  Homosexualists, homosexual activists, will find this goal parallel to their own.  If they can disconnect the sexual act from its primary end, procreation, they score a victory. - Fr. Z
"The corruption of friendship."

Fr. Z has expressed a very genuine insight here.  That is absolutely correct.  Indeed, chastity is the way to heal disordered friendship and disordered inclinations.  The foundation of authentic friendship is based on charity and truth.  The true spiritual friend seeks what is best for the other - wholeness, virtue, holiness, culminating in eternal salvation.

Father brings up the argument posed by the near occasion of sin.  This supposes, as Father said, the friends lack control, Father corrects that notion pointing out that human beings are not brutal animals who have no control over their appetites.

That is absolutely correct.  Unless the person has some sort of sexual addiction issue, men and women are capable with the help of grace to control their appetites - it is why Catholics practice mortification.  I don't need to add to what Father wrote, however, the occasion of sin is all around us.  I tell that to straight guys too.  You walk down the street and you are surrounded by temptation.  You go online - looking for a photo - and you are exposed to temptation.  A guy goes to the gym - straight or gay - you are surrounded by bodies.  I have a single female friend, now in her 60's who picks up guys at the gym.  Obviously she's not interested in the devout life.

That said, a guy has to be able to function in society.  If he is gay and goes to the gym and showers - it shouldn't be an occasion of sin, any more than swimming in the pool.  A Catholic, no matter his sexual orientation, trains himself in and through mortification.

The problems begin and develop when you give in to temptation - like my female friend who picks up guys.  She's forged a great big chain of slavery to lust and dysfunction.  You want intimacy using sex and pleasure to get it?  That's like masturbation - a selfish act - it is self-gratification.  Friends do not use one another that way.

"If they can disconnect the sexual act from its primary end, procreation, they score a victory."

I just want to say something more about older 'couples', friends, straight or gay.  Believe me when I tell you, sexual temptation is not a big deal after a point - unless you want it to be and use Viagra or something else to enhance your experience.  Same sex friends who live together - and I know this because I have known many, actually lose physical/sexual interest in one another.  If they tell you otherwise they are using pornography to stimulate themselves - and to be sure - it's little more than mutual masturbation.  Understand that well - because a solitary person can be unchaste in the exact same way - engaging in masturbation, or what used to be understood as 'self abuse'.  Hence, the single person can be an occasion of sin for himself?

It's important to grasp that. A couple of years ago a young gay guy used to email me and comment on posts to argue with me about my posts upholding Catholic teaching, especially when I would make generalizations such as pointing out the narcissism involved in (many) homosexual relations.  One day he wrote in an email how difficult it was for him not to act out sexually and said that he was getting out of the shower that morning, looked at himself in the mirror, and couldn't resist 'loving himself'.  I responded that was what I meant - both about the element of erotic narcissism gay people are tempted to, as well as being a temptation, or a 'near occasion of sin' to oneself.

Anyway.  I say too much when I write about this stuff and I'm not sure I needed to editorialize Fr. Z's very good post.  Nevertheless, what I've expressed here helps explain why I insist that same sex marriage is an impossibility.  I repeat it today for the same reason (some) researchers have used to explain why a homosexual man cannot contract a valid marriage (canonically) with a woman.
The homosexual cannot give the consent necessary to bring into existence the reality of Christian marriage.
The homosexual is incapable of the genuine conjugal love required for proper marriage.
The homosexual is psychologically (canonically) impotent.*
I know that is a very controversial position to take now days, and I believe there are always exceptions and not everyone who is same sex attracted may be so incapacitated as to be unable to contract heterosexual marriage.  However, the 'impediments' most definitely apply to same sex marriage.

True friendship discerns that.  Not to do so suggests to me problems spiritual writers identify as inordinate/morbid attachment, while modern therapists might describe the relationship in terms of co-dependency.

I may be wrong in the application of terms, but I absolutely stand by what the Church teaches as far as sexuality and marriage.

*John Cavanagh, M.D., Counseling the Homosexual, 1977.  The Homosexual Person, Fr. John Harvey, page 183.

Photo: Beckham and Brady - just to offer a suggestion of normal BFF's.


  1. Sterling post. I always learn something from you!

  2. That's actually very helpful. Thank you.

  3. Just an FYI from Fr. Z's combox. It's from another wonderful priest:

    Fr Martin Fox says:
    7 October 2014 at 1:58 pm
    Mary Jane:

    Re: two SSA men living together always an occasion of sin….

    I just don’t agree with your always, and I don’t know how you can be so categorical. Do any two combinations of heterosexual men and women create automatic attraction? Obviously not. That’s why I said, “case by case.”

    I am not naive, and I am not being theoretical, I am speaking from people I have known and pastoral experience.

    For people who are trying to be chaste and celibate (which includes more than SSA folks), a critical need is for non-sexual intimacy, and friendship. And for many, loneliness and living alone make it very hard to remain chaste, particularly in the era of omnipresent porn. - (end of comment)

  4. Disinterested friendship is not wanting something from the other, but rather wanting what is best for the other.

  5. I have a young homosexual friend trying to live a faithful, chaste, Catholic life. He is caring for a former lover who is sick and lonely. I'm afraid for him because I think it is probably an occasion of sin for them both since his friend is not on the same page morally. So I pray for him every day that he will be able to be strong and chaste in a difficult situation. I beg your readers to pray for him as well, and for his friend.

    1. I will pray. The former friend though not on the same page morally most likely respects the choice of the friend who tries to live a faithful, chaste, Catholic life. In my experience, I have often been amazed at the respect non-believers show towards those who are faithful to Catholic teaching. Keep praying for him though - but I'm fairly certain the occasion of sin would be non-existent. People may disagree with me, but I think the temptation for men involves danger, novelty and conquest - straight or gay.

    2. Thanks for the insight, Terry. I've known this young man since he was a teenager involved in the pro-life movement. He used to call me frequently until he became involved actively in the gay lifestyle when he broke it off. Then when he started to want out he reestablished the relationship. I feel honored to be in his life and I care for him very much

  6. Somewhat related - but the movie "When Harry Met Sally..." really did a disservice to friendship between people of the opposite sex. It's very possible for a man and a woman to be good friends without sex ever getting in the way. Because we are not brutal animals who cannot control ourselves. And, there is a difference between philia and eros. One of my best friends is a woman - whom I consider my little sister. It's possible, and dareay, important.

  7. Great post - thank you!


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