Friday, April 24, 2015

Gay people and friendship: Spiritual friendship... or spiritual lover-friendship-lust.

Caritas has nothing to do with cupiditas.

Sometimes - it seems to me - gay people don't really know how to have friends.

If they have to endlessly write and research friendship, it seems to me they just don't know how to make friends or keep friends.   Get all upset with me if you want, but one theory as to why some people turn out gay in the first place is because they felt excluded - friendless.  In childhood, it wasn't uncommon for some to have had trouble with same sex peers - they didn't fit in, weren't accepted, couldn't make friends, felt inferior, and so on and so forth.  Of  course it's a theory which is roundly denied by gay people today - which, BTW could be the result of repressed memories perhaps?  It only had to happen once or twice, or be inflicted on a person by the same bully for an extended period of time to cause damage to the ego.  Like I said - most people will dismiss that notion as unsubstantiated and unverifiable.  That's fine.

But why do they constantly talk about loneliness and friendship and not fitting in then?

Why don't gay people know how to make friends without sexualizing-eroticizing the experience on some level?  If you are really nice to someone, want to hang out with someone, does that mean you want to be intimate?  If someone smiles at me does that mean we should touch?  Especially when it is 'friendship at first sight'?  I think a lot of gay people think it does - or quickly leads to that level of seriousness.  Or else they just don't know how to be friends - normal BFF's.  Normal attraction.  Normal joy in friendship.  Do they get it or not?  Why do they over-analyze it then?  Sounds to me as if something may indeed be disordered.

One could write a book on the subject or fill a blog about the challenges of friendship - because people - straight and gay - don't know how to be friends with one another.  I'm talking about close friendship.  It's becoming a science today, especially amongst gays who want a close, live-in or close-by, best friend with whom they can lay their heads upon one another's chest and watch TV together or nap.

See!  Right there!  They don't know how to be just friends - they have to complicate it.  Then they write volumes on what it is, what it means, sort of like how far one can go before one ejaculates?  Involuntarily, of course.

St. Aelred's Spiritual Friendship

Deacon Jim Russell tackles the Spiritual Friendship group's reinterpretation of St. Aelred's treatise by the same name.  I've written on this topic very often in the past - on my blog and the comboxes of other blogs.  Gratefully, Deacon Jim takes up the matter on his own and helps to clear up the misunderstandings and errors the SF writers have layered on top of a very useful treatise on the subject of spiritual friendship - as differentiated from spiritual same-sex-lover-friendship-lust.

Read Deacon Jim's essay here.  I disagree with nothing that he writes - I'm grateful that he corrects what is misleading in the reinterpretation of Spiritual Friendship for the same sex attracted person.  Deacon mentions how academics and many of the Spiritual Friendship scholars insist St. Aelred was gay, and he politely dismisses it.  I tend to be a bit more vehement about it - simply because the vice was considered exactly that - a mortal sin not to be entertained on any level of consciousness.  Aelred wouldn't have tolerated it, much less provided for it.  I've written about it here.

"If you want to be “spiritual friends” with someone, whether you have same-sex attraction or not won’t make a difference." - Deacon Russell

There is nothing wrong with gleaning what is true, what is pure, what is noble from the saints on friendship, but to manipulate the teaching to permit some sort of approbation on exclusive same sex romantic friendship is in error.  Perhaps privately one might consider these ideas in reassessing friendship in accord with Catholic teaching, but it certainly can't be taught as an alternative to same sex marriage and promoting a queer chaste vowed friendship.  That is 'spiritually retarded' at best - to use a real term from Garrigou-Lagrange.  Again, Deacon Jim speaks directly to that notion and does so very well.

I will close this with what Deacon Jim closes his essay with, my apologies this post is so long - but I really wanted to offer my POV as well, since I didn't comment on the Crises essay.
What “Spiritual Friendship” is Not
So, what about the “vowed friendships,” solemnized by publicly professed vows culminating in the Eucharist, for same-sex “friends”? The New Homophiles are proposing that two people with SSA should be able to publicly vow lifelong commitment to one another, within their Church communities. 
St. Aelred’s writing doesn’t support this notion, for two main reasons. First, we’ve just noted that “exclusivity” is not a feature of spiritual friendship. Second, as mentioned above regarding the temporal vows of marriage, spiritual friendship has to do with a union, in Christ, that is endless rather than earthly. Making a vow of friendship is superfluous to the meaning St. Aelred actually gives to spiritual friendship, which is already by nature an everlasting bond, if authentic. Plus, it would be presumptuous for two persons to try to make and extend such a vow to apply to eternity (what if both of you don’t end up in heaven?). No, spiritual friendship is not about nuptial or family bonds—nor would it seem possible that St. Aelred would have viewed exclusive friendship vows as being in any way compatible with the vows the monks themselves take in order to form the broader monastic community. 
In conclusion, St. Aelred deserves to have the rubric of “spiritual friendship” returned to him, unaltered. If you want to be “spiritual friends” with someone, whether you have same-sex attraction or not won’t make a difference. Just do what St. Aelred did: set aside everything that is carnal or worldly; seek spiritual progress toward Christian perfection and intimate union with the Divine; and prayerfully choose, test, and accept those others who have done similarly, with whom you can experience the spiritual heights of “love of neighbor” both in this life and the next. 
Then, and only then, will you really have the beginning of a beautiful—and spiritual—friendship. - Crises

I will be adding something to this in the future.  A friend sent me some information on the subject from an Orthodox perspective, and I'd like to share it when I get a chance.  As I mentioned, this post is long enough.

Photo:  Characters from Grantchester: James Norton as Sidney Chambers and Robson Green as Inspector Geordie Keating.   I use the photo as a reference to their friendship which develops with the series.  Neither are gay but their close friendship offers a good insight into close friendship between men.  We've frequently seen the same type of close friendship in war films and films depicting military buddies.


  1. Hi Terry. You really share good insight here. I agree you are onto something about bullying and harassment and other needs not being met as part of the cause. However the sexual stuff is the other part, and I don't think just being bullied or not fitting in can explain that part. That, or it becomes on top of things once the boy reaches puberty and twists it to a whole new level.

    As for those little boys that play dress up at an early age, well maybe that's a case of biology there. However I strongly believe that parents screw us up royally, either by not disciplining their kids or being lazy liberal jerks and so mess their kids up further, either Hetero or not.

    Regardless there is more to the puzzle and the sex element here isn't clearly as explained as the friendship part.

  2. Sorry I meant to say being overbearing tyrants, punishing for control and order and not love or lazy liberal jerks.

    1. I was going to say something about that - maybe I will. All I can say now is the sexual stuff is what it is on the attraction/arousal level. However, I think on a deeper more visceral level, it is the ultimate acceptance experience - the ultimate fitting in - being accepted as a man, accepting the other, and so on. To be desired and to fulfill your desire, need for male companionship, acceptance, affirmation, and so on. The emotions are aroused and the other makes one 'feel' complete.

      I think others have written about that - and I'm no psychologist - but I think the emotional gratification plays as big a role as sexual gratification. I may be wrong of course, but same sex sexual contact may be, albeit unconsciously, a sort of conquest - or equalizer.

      I'm just speculating - I think there are studies that speak to that, although gay people may call it junk science.

    2. Julian, I should add I'm offering generalizations - speculations, but I think you know that.

  3. Julian, 100 years ago, both boys and girls had long hair and wore dresses until the boys were old enough for big boy pants.

    The dress up thing today is a phase. Girls used to put little brother or kitty in dresses. Kitty never turned out gay. The problem is that gays want to recruit at younger ages.

    Terry, when I read SF I thought San Francisco friendship.

  4. Why should two same sec people be allowed to have commitment ceremonies in churches that have no such ritual? You can't just invent it. Then they'll want it to be a sacrament never mind that Jesus never instituted such a thing.

    1. There are claims by historical revisionists that such rituals were used in the Medieval Church.

  5. It seems as though the push for the normalization of gays is fast making close friendships between males "proof" that they are gay. This is really sad. During the emotional scene in LOTR where Sam finds Frodo apparently dead, some kids were overheard assuming that this meant that Frodo and Sam had a homosexual relationship. Very sad.

    1. Exactly - so normal guys question normal friendship or think someone who wants to hang out may be hitting on him. It's very screwed up. I have stories of friends who think anyone who is nice to them is somehow into them.

    2. The problem is you're speaking as if "same sex attraction" is some sort of essentialized definitive "thing." But it's not, it's a construct, a social script.

      Are Sam and Frodo gay? Only they can say how they identify, how they understand their feelings, how they would "narrate" their relationship or where they imagine it going.

      But it would just be naive to not see that certain aspects can definitely be read through the lens of the homoerotic. Do they have to be read through that lens? No. But it doesn't do anyone any good to pretend to be ignorant of that fact that there is significant overlap with the current society's script "gay."

      It's sort of like with the DSM and psychological diagnoses: psychological disorders are not essences. They're sort of best-fit models whose description is entirely symptomatic. If you have 5 out of 9 traits from this list, you can be said to have such and such condition, and they'll try to use that framework to understand and treat you.

      Likewise, homosexuality is not in some sort of polar duality with heterosexuality. There is plenty of homoeroticism among heterosexuals (and vice versa I suppose), which is to say plenty of the individual elements or building blocks that go into someone identifying as gay. Indeed, there is no specific speciating or differentiating feature. It's a difference in degree and in combination of the same basic elements, not a difference in nature.

  6. Hi, Terry:

    The fuss over spiritual friendship reminds me of this...

    " Where there is carrion lying, meat-eating birds circle and descend. Life and death are two. The living attack the dead, to their own profit. The dead lose nothing by it. They gain too, by being disposed of. Or they seem so, if you must think in terms of gain and loss. Do you then approach the study of Zen with the idea that there is something to be gained by it? This question is not intended as an implicit accusation. But it is, nevertheless, a serious question. Where there is a lot of fuss about "spirituality," "enlightenment" or just "turning on," it is often because there are buzzards hovering around a corpse. This hovering, this circling, this descending, this celebration of victory, are not what is meant by the Study of Zen -- even though they may be a highly useful exercise in other contexts. And they enrich the birds of appetite.

    Zen enriches no one. There is no body to be found. The birds may come and circle for a while in the place where it is thought to be. But they soon go elsewhere. When they are gone, the "nothing," the "no-body" that was there, suddenly appears. That is Zen. It was there all the time but the scavengers missed it, because it was not their kind of prey." - Thomas Merton

    We need a more Zen-like approach. Purity is like Zen. It eludes both the Moral Majority and the "sex-positive" crowd.

    If you have a friend, just love him. Sam and Frodo didn't get into all kinds of wondering about this or that. They did what they needed to do, and were effusive in their support for each other. Don't worry about whether it's purified homosexuality or not. Of course you're going to enjoy his presence.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.