Same sex friendship... again?
Ron Belgau has a new post, Friendship and Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality. It's very good - especially because it summarizes Catholic teaching on the subject, and Belgau takes special care to highlight the importance given to chaste friendship in official documents, noting: "Friendship has been an important theme in the Catholic Church’s pastoral guidance regarding homosexuality."
It's true. It's also important for us to understand the importance of same sex friendship for gay people especially. Ron Belgau recognizes that through experience. He cites an early friendship which included some sexual temptation - yet the friendship was never 'violated'.
Though that relationship was far from perfect (and involved some sexual temptation), it was chaste, and played an important role in solidifying my commitment to chastity. It was also at least the beginnings of the sort of friendship encouraged by the Church. - BelgauI think that's important. Many people shy away from friends or potential friends because they fear sexual attraction/temptation. "Normal" people seem not to have such fears. Obviously straight guys aren't afraid of male friends. Normally, straight guys aren't afraid of gay men either - they work together, live next door to one another, some have even lived together - in college, the military, seminary, monastery, and so on. I was surprised after leaving religious life to find out several of the novices and monks were gay. I never had an issue with any of them. When I moved to Boston I lived with a former Franciscan, slept in the same room, became best friends - I never knew he was gay until a decade later. Sexual temptation just wasn't even part of the friendship. He was young and handsome and well built and fun - never a thought of even a near occasion of sin. It wasn't my desire, interest, or purpose.
Gay people are not always looking for sex - unless they maybe have issues or are deeply damaged in some sense. Boundary issues? Maybe they are natural born lust-ers - always on the make? I suppose what I'm saying is same sex friendship does not have to be an occasion of sin for the same sex attracted. People worry too much. A guy will ask himself, 'Did I sin when I looked at him tucking in his shirt?' 'Is this fondness I feel lust?' 'Am I getting possessive?' Some people worry so much about 'inclinations' and making mistakes, they think the friendship is itself evil. Some may believe they have sinned already and then put the make on someone who could have simply been a friend.
That said, often, even in a 'relationship' same sex interest in one another eventually ceases to exist. Those who struggle with sexual temptation would do so with or without a same sex friend. For many reasons, spiritual, psychological, emotional, even socially, healthy, non-sexual same sex friendship is an essential component for growing in wholeness and holiness.
Ron Belgau helps clear up the suspicion surrounding the issue. At least I think he does. He gives the reason for the existence of the Spiritual Friendship website, as well as the 'movement' it appears to have generated.
According to the Catechism, both marriage (see 2360) and friendship (see 2347 above) lead to spiritual communion, echoing on the human level the communio personarum of the Trinity. From its earliest responses to the modern push for accepting sexual relationships between persons of the same sex, the Church has emphasized the importance of recovering a true understanding of friendship, which means not only understanding friendship as God meant it to be, but also understanding how it can be corrupted by the fall.
A central premise of this blog is that we gain substantial insight into homosexuality by thinking of it not solely as a disorder of the sexual faculties, but also as a distorted form of friendship. Seeing it in this light not only helps us to understand the phenomena itself more clearly, it also allows us to offer pastoral care rooted in sound Catholic anthropology. - Belgau
There is a lot I don't readily understand - first and foremost the need for a 'movement', nor the extended distinction of Side A and Side B gay-Christian theory. Nevertheless, the Catholics involved have valuable insights which may help those troubled by homosexual inclination or the understanding of themselves as gay - work through their conflict in peace and the assurance of God's love and mercy.
I'm not 'afraid' of these guys anymore. Pro-gay movements have already influenced the Church - Sr. Gramick and New Ways Ministry for instance. So far Spiritual Friendship - the Catholic - Side A version remains faithful to Catholic teaching. If what they say doesn't jive with Catholic teaching - call them out, challenge them, or simply move on. If it's false - it will fail. If they are wrong, they will be corrected. So called homophile movements have come and gone since the 19th century. The Church remains the same.
You got to have friends. Making friends is hard for some people - they have to learn to be a friend.