On friendship - I believe this is what is meant by 'pastoral':
"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.