Cima da Conegliano, 1507
Avoiding idolatrous friendships ...
I was going to write a funny post in reply to another post with that title and my solution was going to be - How to avoid idolatrous friendships? Just have ugly friends. But no one thinks I'm funny, so I decided against it.
Until I discovered another Friendship post, a rehash on the Spiritual Friends movement and SSA people attempting some sort of understanding, and, and ... it's an exhausting subject. Let people be - live and let live, huh? It's not a bad idea.
However, sometimes it doesn't work so well when one insists upon tweaking Catholic teaching on faith and morals in pastoral care ... kinda, sorta - especially when you aren't a pastor or even a group leader in a support group. Sorry - I don't mean to dis anyone with that clarification - I'm just saying.
I'm just saying, when it comes to Catholic teaching you can't really have it 'both ways'. You can evolve in understanding and acceptance - but there's very little chance you can compromise teaching and get away with it. As I like to say when asked, you take your chances. I love you and you can do what you want - you know right from wrong - I'll pray for you and be your friend, but you take your chances as regards salvation. I've had people close to me who had death bed conversions - but I wouldn't count on it.
You gotta have friends.
Anyway - Richard Evans has voiced some 'new' observations on Spiritual Friendship here. Attempting a dialog of sorts, perhaps seeking to reconcile the two camps of Side A and Side B in the gay-Christian movement, and actual Catholic teaching about disordered sexual attraction to persons of the same sex - sometimes called SSA, gay, Homo, queer, etc.. Richard is a good man who has struggled for decades with same sex attraction and identity. His struggle has been good, it has been blessed, I would suspect it has been chastening and sanctifying as well.
That said, Deacon Russell and Joe Sciambra made some very observant comments to add clarity to Richard's essay. Deacon Russell has worked in this area and debated these topics for a very long time. He's very precise about Catholic teaching. Joseph Sciambra has given ample evidence, and heroic Christian witness to what is wrong in the homosexual movement, as well the dangers posed by the Spiritual Friendship Movement - which embraces, or seems to tolerate the gay Christian concept of Side A and Side B approaches to homosexuality.
God and mammon.
The proposal of two camps, with one camp making provisions for the two other camps in one, is sort of like two sides to the same coin. It doesn't work. You can take your chances with it, and try to have a nice life, but in the end, each one of us will be required to give an account for our life.
Deacon Russell explains the delusion behind the two camps scenario more clearly:
The problem, Richard, is that there are not actually just "two camps." There is that which is in *accord* with Church teaching and that which is *not* in accord with Church teaching. We cannot relativize this into "camps" but must articulate the *truth* in charity. If your view is that it's appropriate to criticize "both sides" as though the truth really *is* somewhere in between, then you're taking a view that is part of the problem and not part of the solution, in my view. This isn't merely the realm of prudential judgment in which differing views can represent a faithfully "Catholic" understanding. This is the realm of truth regarding the human person. SF writers get a lot wrong about that truth. And they stubbornly refuse to take any correctives seriously or engage in serious respectful dialogue. - Comment, Deacon Russell, on Spiritual Friendship
I don't have much to say about this stuff any longer. It's not part of my life, so to speak. Deacon Jim and Joe Sciambra are working in this field and they offer an awesome response to Richard's essay. All I can say, the idea of two camps is misleading and erroneous. One can't live a divided life well. One can't live with one foot in one camp and another planted outside the camp. Consider Paul's letter to the Hebrews when he admonishes his hearers:
Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching...To be honest, at various times I kept trying to compromise - trying to juggle these concepts, but it doesn't work. That's the double life - that's fence sitting - it's another closet. It's using God and religion for ones own purposes. To use an old cliche - 'been there done that'. It's very difficult to admit that - although losing friends helps one to understand it. I always think of Matt Talbot who found out who his friends were after he quit drinking. It's kind of the same thing.
Go to him, Christ outside the camp, bearing the reproach (shame) that he bore. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come. - Hebrews 13