Wednesday, September 16, 2015

It's the falling in love that's making me high ... man crushes and disinterested friends.

Damon and Pythias Affleck

Who will rid us of this troublesome ... ?

Just kidding.  So anyway, once again Deacon Jim Russell wades in where angels and evidently quite a few priests and bishops fear to tread.  I'm grateful that he does.

Today, his post at Crisis challenges the latest endeavor from the Spiritual Friendship movement - featuring the usual spokespersons for the project.
A half-dozen of the usually non-monolithic Spiritual Friends have joined forces in an educational project that, unfortunately, will probably bring more confusion than clarity to Catholics seeking to understand what the Church has to say about same-sex attraction.
The website, a chastity-education project from a Yonkers, New York, group called the St. Augustine Foundation, invites people to register for free online video-based courses, complete with quizzes and frequently asked questions, on a variety of subjects related to human sexuality. The site’s home page claims: “Every message on this website is completely consistent with and in harmony with the teachings of the Catholic Church on sexual morality.”
But that’s a claim I am about to dispute. - Deacon Russell
I can't take a lot of time with this but I think if the subject interests you and you've been trying, as I have, to reconcile some of the issues Spiritual Friends raise with traditional Catholic teaching, it is important to read what Deacon has to say in his latest essay.  That said, with the upcoming Apostolic visit to the United States by Pope Francis, and the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, every gay-Catholic group in the country seems to be mobilizing, looking for some sort of acceptance, approval, or change in doctrine.  Which is another reason I value Deacon Jim's insights as well as the leaders of Courage Apostolate, for their insights and watchfulness concerning Catholic doctrine.

Beaver and Larry have a fight. 
Ward tells Beaver of the story about Damon and Pythias 
and the boys make up and swear they will die for each other.

Man-crushes* and same sex attraction.

First, I always like to say, that is pretty normal - especially when we are kids or just forming friendships in school, and so on.  We are attracted to our friends - the idea of a sexual, genital relationship doesn't even enter most kid's minds - at least it didn't with ordinary kids in my youth.  Unless of course one experienced some form of early sexualization or molestation.  That's a different post however, and not my point here.  When we were little, normal kids were thrilled to have a best buddy, some of us had heroes, baseball players and so on.  So that is my context when I talk about normal same sex attraction and boy-crushes.  I had a teacher I idolized in grade school - he looked like Clark Kent and took time with me in class.  Nothing gay about that.  Some boys were 'hot for teacher' - a female teacher - but it wasn't really about romance or sex.  I think Beaver had such a crush on one of his teachers, Miss Canfield.

Deacon Russell focuses on an interesting discussion between Joe Prever, Eve Tushnet, and Gabriel Blanchard.  I didn't watch the segment and I'm not sure if it was taken down or not - Deacon says some of his links were down for editing or something.  The conversation as Deacon relates it, sounds like something which would be discussed at a Courage meeting.  Nothing wrong with honest discussion - provided it isn't presented as 'catechesis'.

I think that's fine, yet unlike a Courage meeting, it appears there is no moderator/priest to challenge or point out the potential moral conflicts within the topic discussed.  Self-knowledge is often wanting in our relationships, especially those which engage our emotions.  We may be convinced of our purity of intention, yet the potential for self-deception involved in an attachment to 'gay affections' - which is necessarily present in one who is attached to 'gay identity' - can be very much underestimated by those who seek to cultivate so-called innocent relationships.  Despite the fact same sex erotic attraction or a man-crush is the motivating factor.  Part of the problem is an inordinate attachment to identify as gay or lgbtq - in every relationship.

For what it is worth, I will reprint something Deacon writes as a concluding response to the Blanchard, Tushnet, and Prevor segment, and I'll attach my comment to the whole essay.  Deacon responds to the discussion of the development of friendship in what began as a romantically inclined 'crush' (e.g., same sex erotic attraction or a man-crush an underlying factor.).

Tushnet, Prever, and Blanchard’s trialogue speaks not of “crushing the crush”—crucifying the disordered erotic desire—but rather living in the “intensity” of the crush and then somehow “deepening” the relationship through this. - Deacon Russell

My comment was chiefly inspired by that section of Deacon's essay.  When we are discerning our selves, our own private motivations, we can feel we are very honest, filled with humility and self-knowledge, and so on.  Nevertheless, we need direction - we need an editor, as it were - or else we fall.  That's frequently the case why we fall.  The younger we are, the more naive we can be.   The more advanced intellectually or spiritually we are, the more we can be self-assured of our own self-righteous intentions.  Hence the more difficult humble, self-knowledge is to acquire and why God allows us to fall into mortal sin sometimes - so that repenting, we may be more open to mistrust ourselves in the future.

My comment:

After a quick overview of your essay Deacon Jim, you have once again pointed out the difficulties Spiritual Friendship thinkers may pose in contrast with Catholic teaching. I tend to be more open about the group than I once was, but I do share your concerns as well.
My first impression here is that the crush conversations are a bit teeny bop - 'the falling in love is making me high' experience is pretty much the chaste homosexual's thrill. Coming close to cruising and flirting. It's a dangerous game - a sort of affair of the heart, if you will. It's dangerous because it is a bit sexually open-ended, and contrary to the virtue of chastity.
This group is sincere - no doubt - but a little too trusting of self, I think - or myopic, as you point out. The single men need to cultivate good male friendships not based upon their personal same sex attraction. It's easier if I use an example from my life - and yes, I know, every gay person is unique and no two experiences, persons are alike. So they say... 
Years ago, when I was their age, I used to pray for a really good Catholic male friend who 'got me' - understood me. I was at a downtown parish at the time - there were guys at Mass and in prayer groups who were excellent candidates for true spiritual-ordinary-disinterested friendship. Some were too old, some kind of geeky, some not so good looking, some definitely really square. God hears our prayers, He sends us friends - no doubt. Sometimes we don't think they are good enough or compatible. What I wanted was a gay compatriot - a special BFF - man-crush friend ... a guy just like me. Know what I'm saying? I was so sure I was chaste and virtuous and open to the Spirit. Yet I wanted an exclusive friend to do everything with - short of sex. That's gay.

So that's my opinion - TMI to be sure.

But people have to be honest when discussing this stuff.

Song for this post here.

*When a straight man has a "crush" on another man, not sexual but kind of idolizing him.  Or just a BFF you really admire and respect and wrestle with.  What?


  1. I don't think it was until I stopped wanting to have these crushes ( and I was miserable when I wasn't " in love" with someone), that I was actually able to really make friends. I was too dramatic, too needy,who wants to be around someone like that all the time? I had to turn down the intensity, not revel in it. And I have to be careful all the time. I can easily fall back in to it. I sometimes wonder if this whole spiritual friendship thing is just for the young, trying to come to grips with how to make their way being chaste and yet dealing with these strong feelings.

    1. Good point - I think it comes under the heading of 'vain rejoicing' as John of the Cross might say. I think it is connected to a sort of immaturity - more or less.

      I think it was you Donald who once asked - why can't they just be friends? Or something to that effect. If it wasn't - my apologies. However, that is another point in this. The temptations often originates in our desire, our fantasies - being a true friend, we should want to avoid any sex-ploitation of the other. Same sex friends should not, can not eroticize friendship. Obviously we know that - but are Spiritual friends trying to reconcile these issues? I'm not sure.

      Thanks for your comment.


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