Isherwood and Bachardy, Hockney 1968
Don't dismiss Joe Sciambra.
I'm not following the gay Catholic stuff as much now days. It's a movement and I'm not sure how much truth is being lived in love by the participants. Living the Truth In Love is a book on contemporary homosexuality and Catholic teaching and pastoral care. Joseph Sciambra takes on the testimonials with in the work, avoiding the theoretical and pastoral essays. The testimonial work he found somewhat 'confusing and confused', although not all of the essays were bad. What I like about Joe's review is that he clarifies Fr. Harvey's research and teaching regarding the disordered aspect of homosexual attraction.
He especially concentrates on Joe Prever's essay. I haven't read any of it but I'm familiar with Prever and know he can come off somewhat ambiguous regarding gay Catholic acceptance and Catholic teaching. Sciambra is a much better writer than I am and really takes Prever's POV to task.
First of all, the way in which Prever frames the homosexual mind-set is taken directly from the pro-gay playbook, i.e. that homosexuality is a perfectly “normal” and natural variation of the human sexual experience; it is not! The godfather of “gay” liberation Larry Kramer once said: “Being gay is a natural normal beautiful variation on being human. Period. End of subject.” By contrast, in the first few pages of “The Homosexual Person,” Fr. Harvey included this quotation: “…although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.” Therefore, unlike the way Prever reimagines it, homosexual desires are not just benevolently “nonstandard,” but a “strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.” In addition, although the inclination itself is not a sin: there is vast difference between inclination and desire; in “Homosexuality and the Catholic Church,” Fr. Harvey explicitly stated: “that the inclination to homosexual acts is not sinful in itself, unless one freely consents to these desires.” To consciously mark them as “good” is a huge form of consent. But, back in “The Homosexual Person,” Fr. Harvey continued: “Whether the orientation [inclination] is recognized or not, it is not sinful in itself. It is however, an objective disorder because it inclines one to perform an evil act.” Therefore, the impetus for the act is the desire. According to “The Catechism of the Catholic Church:” “Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.’” And, the desire for same-sex “love” within a “gay” context – is, by definition, a disordered inclination “contrary to the eternal law.” In addition, especially with those suffering from same-sex attraction there is always a fine line, or a completely blurred one, between what is desire and what is lust: those suffering from same-sex attraction should pay special attention to Christ when He said: “But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt 5:28) - Sciambra
CDF documents assert the exact same teaching. Very often it seems to me Catholic pastoral care soft pedals the truth here, while gay Catholics seem to be dedicated to researching a way to change Catholic teaching to affirm gay is good or equal to. Sciambra gets that.
The problem here is that Prever is a devotee of the “Spiritual Friendship” faction; a movement within an insular group of neo-gay Catholics who often spew out strange pronouncements such as this: “I found myself delighting in certain men in a way that was distinctly gay but also chaste…”; this bizarre concept of the pliable goodness in “gay” is immensely appreciated by Eve Tushnet in her equally mixed up essay, she wrote: “I’ve always acknowledged my attractions to women and sought to find the good fruit that they could bear.” While the acknowledgement is good, the searching for “good fruit” is a dead end; despite her intelligence, she surprisingly doesn’t see the cursed and barren fig tree at the middle of lesbianism. Tushnet, also an associate of the “Spiritual Friendship” group, like Prever sees a route to salvation within the “gay” context: in other words, a self-identifying “gay” Catholic should remain chaste, but otherwise pursue a peculiarly intense relationship with someone of the same sex; hence, the desire for another man, or woman, is good. - Sciambra
I tend to be sympathetic to Jeo Prever because of his obvious struggle and good will in accepting Catholic teaching. However, I'm much more impressed with what Joe has written - he's definitely a credible witness. I see nothing delusional or manipulative in his testimony. I especially love this statement:
Yet, as I finished reading the “testimonial” section, I found myself incredibly grateful that the Lord rescued me from homosexuality in 1999 and not in 2015, because, then, the first book I read on the subject was “The Homosexual Person” by Fr. John Harvey; and it was blessedly not “Living the Truth in Love.” - Sciambra
The Lord 'rescued him from homosexuality'. That is key. Our Lord does indeed rescue and deliver souls - the soul only needs to cooperate with grace. Grace and mercy and truth. It also takes time.
These discussions and the blog posts and testimonials, as well as the pastoral care conferences, though perhaps necessary and often in need of clarification, as Sciambra's essay accomplishes, can all get to be too much information for the ordinary person. It's always a mine field and there are many contrary positions - I find it exhausting. I find the constant debate or the clinging to some sort of false hope, not to mention the incessant moralizing, tiresome - so much church-lady talk, if you will - by church-ladies from both sides of the debate ...
The one thing that can't change or 'develop' is Catholic moral teaching. That said, the person can change and can develop. Nobody is actually born gay nor do they emerge fully 'indoctrinated' into gay behavior and attitude. Sexuality develops. Therefore the person, invited by Christ to repent and believe, enters upon the way of ongoing conversion. With the help of grace, through the mercy of God, and the pardon and peace extended through the ordinary means of sanctification - namely the sacraments, the person can be set free. The inclination needs no longer be the controlling or dominate factor in the person. You can move beyond it. For some it may take a life time - others, not.
Song for this post here. 1967 until now.
This just in: 50 Shades of Gay - Gee - wish I had thought of that. It's not a bad article - but the com box is exhausting. People think too much. Just repent - it works better.