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  • The New Homophiles: Some Reasons for Concern

    by Daniel Mattson

    cranach_sr_adam and eve

     ”We think primarily in earthly categories.”

    These words from John Paul II’s 1985 Apostolic Letter Delecti Amici, addressed to the Youth of the World best sums up criticisms over the group of authors Austin Ruse has recently dubbed the “New Homophiles”: concerning sexual identity, they think primarily in earthly categories.

    In the same Apostolic Letter, sharing insights from the Church, “custodian of fundamental truths,” John Paul II reiterated the story of Genesis, whereby “God created human beings: male and female,” with their “special ‘duality’” and “marvelous complementarity, in the matter of the division of the attributes, properties and tasks linked with the masculinity and femininity of the human being,” saying that this sexual duality of man “is necessarily inscribed in the personal ‘I’ of each one of you.”

    To their critics, it has long seemed that the way the New Homophiles speak about homosexuality, and the importance they have given it in their lives, they must believe that homosexuality is inscribed in the personal “I” of everyone who lives with same-sex attraction. It was this continual focus on their homosexuality, and in the case of some authors, a seeming celebration of homosexuality as being somehow good, that led me to begin writing out of concern for their thinking in my essay, “Why I Don’t Call Myself A Gay Christian.”

    Though it’s always possible to paint a group of writers and thinkers with too broad a brush, their position concerning homosexuality can probably safely be summed up in a comment by one of their number, Ron Belgau. Writing about his criticisms of aspects of the Canadian Bishops’ document “Pastoral Ministry to Young People with Same-Sex Attraction”, he said, “to be clear, I am addressing only the manner in which the Bishops present the Church’s teaching: I am not questioning the content of the teaching itself.” On the most basic level, this group of writers desire to transform the Church’s approach towards evangelization and pastoral care of those with a homosexual inclination, not her teaching. I take them at their word and have no doubts of their love for the Church. They are motivated by a desire to more effectively reach those who are lost, and I agree that, in some ways, they are correct that the Church’s outreach can be improved.

    That being said, I believe there are reasons to be concerned about much of their thinking about human sexuality, homosexuality in particular, and their novel approach to pastoral care and evangelization.

    Austin Ruse has wisely called for their positions to be examined by Catholic theologians. This examination must be guided by the Church’s understanding of human sexuality in light of the created nature of man. The primary question is one of anthropology, and the fullness of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God, as male and female.  On the topic of homosexuality in particular, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1986 Letter On The Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person must be the measure for weighing the value of what the New Homophiles propose, where the litmus test is established: “Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral.”

    Of primary concern for their critics is the use the New Homophiles make of the sexual identity language of the culture around them, a language that seems at odds with Church teaching on sexuality. On the issue of sexual identity, it seems they “think primarily in earthly categories.”

    It is easy to find examples of this in their writing.  One of the prominent voices in this group of writers, Melinda Selmys, chooses for herself the sexual identity of a “queer” woman, and though married, she describes herself as being in a “mixed-orientation marriage.” This choice of terminology serves to emphasize not the fulfillment of her complementary nature as a woman made for a man, but rather her subjectively experienced “queer” inclinations.  Although Eve Tushnet, another prominent voice in this collective, writes, “I can have romantic relationships with men, and have,” she nonetheless consciously chooses to refer to herself as a “gay” or “queer” woman because of her primary attraction to women.

    In contrast to these chosen sexual identities, paragraph 2333 of the Catechism teaches us that “Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.” For the Church, there is only one sexuality, emanating from the “marvelous complementarity” of the two sexes: male and female. All other labels are false distinctions, resulting from earthly thinking.

    Aaron Taylor, one of the authors at the Spiritual Friendship blog has a novel take on paragraph 2332 of the Catechism that teaches “sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.” Referencing this paragraph, he writes:

    Meanwhile, the Church recognizes that sexuality “affects all aspects of the human person.” It concerns not merely the desire for sexual acts but also “affectivity, the capacity to love,” and “the aptitude for forming bonds of communion” with others.

    The Church is not, therefore, claiming that the sexuality of gay people is disordered in toto. What is disordered is “homosexuality,” and this is defined very narrowly as a specific inclination toward sexual relations with same-sex partners. It is this and only this that merits an unequivocally negative moral judgment.

    Taylor thinks of homosexuality as something which “affects all aspects of his human person.”  Yes and no.  Human beings are inherently sexual beings.  This means that we are by nature ordered to our complementary opposites.  So the thing which “affects all aspects” of our personhood is not homosexuality, but sexuality.  If homosexuality touches everything, it does so only because it disorders that which touches everything.  Just how far Taylor misses the point is revealed by his omission of the Catechism’s discussion of procreative potentiality—the very thing in which our ordering to our complementary opposites is most strikingly displayed.

    Taylor believes there are positive aspects about “being gay” that “contribute to the flourishing of gay people.” But is this so? Not only is the suggestion that there is something positive about homosexuality absent from the Catechism, this thinking is in direct opposition to the teaching given us in the 1986 Letter, which teaches that there is nothing good about homosexuality, while making the important distinction that the inherent good and dignity of persons stands above and outside of their homosexuality.

    The 1986 Document was written in part to counter serious misinterpretations of the Congregation’s 1975 document on sexual ethics which the 1986 Letter says led to situations where “an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good.” The Letter addressed those who erroneously promoted the “concept that homosexuality is at least a completely harmless, if not an entirely good, thing.” We can see such thinking in a post at Spiritual Friendship, by Chris Damian who wrote that he “began to realize that God had given me gifts that many of my ‘straight’ friends didn’t have in quite the same way: a particular kind of empathy, an acute understanding of others’ personal sufferings and loneliness, intense loyalty, a strong desire for emotional intimacy, a unique appreciation for certain forms of beauty.” In a post at his personal blog, he further argues that Michaelangelo and Cardinal John Newman lived with same-sex attraction, and that “these attractions contributed to their greatness and to their contributions to the Church.”

    New homophiles say homosexuality is a source of good things like empathy, loyalty, and love of beauty.   If homosexuality is disordered, this cannot be correct, because privation of good cannot produce good.  St. James teaches us rather that “every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” The only good that can come from homosexuality is the result of God’s redemption and grace. As St. Paul says in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God.”

    Perhaps because some of them see homosexuality as a source of goods explains why so many of the New Homophiles view “coming out” as positive. Aaron Taylor this summer described what he called “a ‘coming out’ pandemic amongst celibate gay Christian bloggers” and argued “this trend is good news for both the Church and the world.” Yet this phenomenon is at odds with pastoral advice given by the Church.

    The Church has a nuanced teaching on the advisability of “coming out.” Responding to the 1986 Letter which gave directives to the Bishops to develop, as needed, “appropriate forms of pastoral care for homosexual persons” guided by being “in full accord with the teaching of the Church,” in 2006 the U.S. Bishops issued this teaching on public self-disclosure:

    For some persons, revealing their homosexual tendencies to certain close friends, family members, a spiritual director, confessor, or members of a Church support group may provide some spiritual and emotional help and aid them in their growth in the Christian life. In the context of parish life, however, general public self-disclosures are not helpful and should not be encouraged.

    Ron Belgau, who has done much to instruct others on the wisdom of the Church’s teaching on sexuality, is another who seems to disagree with the bishops’ pastoral advice on public disclosure. Belgau criticized a same-sex attracted man who chose not to show his face in a video in which he shared the hope he found in the Catholic Church. Belgau suggests that such an approach leads to the belief that “the Church is not a place where those with same-sex attraction are welcome, where they can show their face, or speak and be heard,” and suggests that “this just reinforces suspicion that the Church’s teaching itself is impersonal and depersonalizing.”  Yet, it seems Belgau’s approach is the one that is “depersonalizing”; the Church, in her pastoral solicitude, looks to the well-being of each person, and it is for this reason that they say that in most cases, public self-disclosures should not be encouraged.

    It is right to have serious concerns about how the thinking of these authors will impact people in the Church, especially the young.  It is very unwise to lead young people to believe that homosexuality is in some sense good, or that there are positive gifts of homosexuality, or that anyone should “come out” as being gay.  If they are not cautioned against embracing sexual identities other than being male or female, what is to prevent those with a homosexual inclination from taking the logical step and embracing their homosexuality as good, and acting upon it?  For if something is good, they would rightly reason that it is good to act upon it. If homosexuality is in anyway good or positive, and “affects all aspects of the human person,” on what basis does the moral dictate of the Church against homosexual acts make any sense?

    We can see the potential dangers of this kind of thinking in words written by Cardinal Ratzinger in an examination of Fr. Andre Guindon’s book The Sexual Creators: An Ethical Proposal for Concerned Christians. Writing in his capacity as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger said, “Father Guindon states that homosexually oriented persons should act homosexually since agere sequitur esse.”  The phrase “agere sequitur esse” means that things act in accord with their essence.  But since homosexuality is a disorder it cannot be a part of a person’s essence.  Ratzinger notes that for Guindon, “esse seems to be reduced to subjective inclination. The truly revolutionary aspect of the book is to be found precisely here in the way it ignores the anthropological bases required by any objective morality, and by Christian morality in particular.”

    It all comes back to anthropology: Who is man? Young people especially are easily swayed by their subjective inclinations towards the same sex into believing that this is “who I am,” catechized as they are by earthly thinking on human sexuality. Without reliance on the sole sexual identity of our complementary nature as male and female, and a firm rejection of “earthly categories,” the Church’s teaching appears to be arbitrary moralism with no objective base in reality.

    Though the goals of the New Homophiles are well intentioned, and there is much of their writing I agree with, on the issue of sexual identity especially, the Church is wise to have concern for their thinking. The Church should discourage a young man from embracing a sexual identity based on his subjective inclinations for the same sex. Instead, the Church must proclaim that “only what is true can ultimately be pastoral,” and tell him the truth: “You are not your sexual inclinations. You are not ‘gay.’ What you are is a man and a Son of God.”

    Editor’s note: The image above titled “Adam and Eve in Paradise” was painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder in 1530. In the foreground, Adam and Eve speak with God; in the background are scenes from the life of our first parents in Genesis.

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • john

      “Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral” is so brilliantly put. No surprise the observation is 46 years old–I’ll bet it’s even older than that–but it’s so wise. Thanks for reminding us!

      • Michael

        I propose that we create a new Church especially for gay Catholic Christians. They can operate under the Unitarian Universalist paradigm while nevertheless receiving valid sacraments from priests with valid orders. Like the women-priests groups, they can keep the name “Catholic” as it is an “authentic” part of their experience in what they call themselves, but they can nevertheless be separated from all of the “conservatives” that they hate so much. It is a win-win situation.

        Heck, they can even set up their own liturgical rites where the “bond of brotherhood” is allowed as a blessing for chaste gay relationships and maybe even some authentic Ethiopian liturgical dancing to boot. Like the Anglicans, they can call themselves something different, such as the “Gay Church of Christ” — use the Queen James Bible as their official Scriptural translation, which I am sure Pope Francis would readily grant in a televised off-the-cuff airplane interview, and everything would be settled! No more contentious fighting and linguistic analysis. The gay Catholic “New Homophiles” will have the Church that they desire, we will have the Church that we desire and everyone will be happy.

    • Steven Jonathan

      Dear Daniel, Thank you for another wonderful essay. What a strange concession Ron asks for, now that we concern ourselves with the “way” the message is put across- does it get better than the Popes? “Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral.”

      “If homosexuality touches everything, it does so only because it disorders that which touches everything.” Brilliant! You are right, good does not come our of disorder. Ideas have consequences and of course we act on what we think is good.

      Man was made for virtue- the new homophiles are Thinking in earthly categories indeed. Very well written and beautifully articulated, well done!

      • Rhinestone

        Steven had his first orgasm. Well done lad. Well done indeed !!

        Beautifully articulated.

        Cigarette ?

        • Austin Ruse

          I have alerted the editor to this comment. I suspect he will take it down shortly…

          • Adam__Baum

            “Rhinestone”?.

            That’s a pseudonym that borders on sociological cliche’.

    • Aaron Taylor

      Dan, if “general public self-disclosures are not helpful and should not be encouraged,” then why have you repeatedly publicly self-disclosed your own same-sex attractions in your articles and talks?

      Presumably, you’ve done so because you think that by being open about it you can be a more effective and authentic communicator of the Church’s message on sexuality, which is the *exact* same reason why most of us “homophiles” have publicly disclosed our sexuality. In the article from which you quoted, I did not encourage people to “come out” in general (though I’m not particularly bothered if they do). I merely stated that I thought it was a good thing that we have people willing to talk about homosexuality in the first person, because otherwise the Church’s message sounds unconvincing, for the same reason the Church’s teaching on marriage would sound unconvincing if there were zero married Catholics willing to speak publicly about how they are living that teaching out..

      The level of hypocrisy in here is galling. By all means I have no problem with your criticizing our ideas or subjecting them to scrutiny. Criticizing us for doing things that you yourself are doing, often for the very same reasons you are doing them, is quite another matter.

      • Austin Ruse

        I would guess that he has done so only because he felt someone should step forward and engage your ideas. I suspect he would rather not be doing what he is doing. I would also suspect he has only done so after consultation with his spiritual director.

        • Aaron Taylor

          I doubt that’s the case, since Daniel Mattson was writing about the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and about his own struggle with same-sex attractions before I came on the scene. The first thing I ever wrote on the subject was actually a response to one of Mattson’s articles.

          Don’t get me wrong, I applaud him for his courage in that regard. I think it’s important that people hear about the Church’s teaching not just through reading a bunch of Vatican documents (important though they might be) but through seeing the concrete witness of people living that teaching out. What I object to is the hypocrisy.

          • Austin Ruse

            Were you the first on the scene from this group?

            • Aaron Taylor

              No, and that’s not relevant. See my comment below. The “New Homophiles” started writing for the exact same reason Mattson did, i..e., because we saw others talking about homosexuality in a way we considered misleading. The same principle is at issue here. You seem to want to argue that same-sex attracted persons can claim a legitimate exemption to the general rule of having to keep their orientation secret, provided they have a sufficient reason. You also evidently think that the desire to correct distortions of Catholic teaching is an example of a sufficient reason.

              What I’d like you to explain is how your principles (that, in any case, you’ve obviously just made up out of thin air without reference to the 2006 USCCB Guidelines) only apply to Mattson and not to the “New Homophiles.”

            • Aaron Taylor

              One further thing I will reiterate is that I don’t at all have a problem with questioning or critique of my ideas. But that’s not what’s going on here. Effectively I’m being told that I shouldn’t be writing in the first place, because some obscure document put out by the American bishops in 2006 says I can’t, despite the fact I’m not even American, and therefore not juridically bound by their guidelines (although I will certainly take on board voluntarily the advice of a bishop, obviously).

              It’s a very cheap shot. Let’s keep the focus on the ideas being discussed, and their impact on the Church, instead of resorting to silly tactics like this.

              • Austin Ruse

                Deeply strange that this is what you guys are latching onto.

                • Mark

                  The idea that we should be swept under the rug and not raise gay class consciousness?? Of course we’re latching onto the idea that gays should be invisible so that the church doesn’t have to deal with the fact that we exist.

                  • Adam__Baum

                    Everybody is invisible. Get over yourself.

                • Aaron Taylor

                  It’s not strange at all, Austin. No-one likes hypocrisy. Reading the tortuous justifications that have been offered as to why it’s OK for Mattson to “come out” but not the “New Homophiles” has been like stepping with you and your commenters into a fun house mirror. It’s enough to give a faithful Catholic vertigo …

                  The fact that you can’t (or won’t) answer the simple question I posed to you has already told me all I need to know on this front, so thanks.

                  • Austin Ruse

                    And seems to have hit a major nerve.

                    • Aaron Taylor

                      Meh. I wouldn’t say it’s hit a nerve at all, let alone a major one. My questions are more of a probing nature, trying to figure out what’s going on here.

                      I actually find it quite amusing that Crisis has wheeled out an openly homosexual man to lecture the New Homophiles on how bad it is to be openly homosexual. Especially since you could have made the point in one of your articles. As an argumentative strategy, it doesn’t get much dumber than this.

                      • Austin Ruse

                        Wow…one note Johnny. It hit a major nerve.

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        The extent of Daniel Mattson’s “coming out” sounds pretty much like my own. No-one in my parish knows I’m gay at all. A few close friends and family members know, but apart from that, nothing. I don’t attempt to hide it but since I don’t “act” like the stereotypical gay man, people generally don’t know, and I’m not interested in telling them since I don’t necessarily see as a huge part of my life. Though, again, like Daniel, people may find out if they stumble on First Things or Spiritual Friendship.

                        So that’s the extent of my “coming out,” and, like Daniel, I didn’t plan on it but I saw a need to offer corrections to the approach of
                        the NARTH, Exodus, et. al. to homosexuality which is beginning to bleed into the Catholic Church.

                        So yeah, I’m hammering on one note, because it’s an important note. Your attempt claim that there is one rule for Mattson and another for the New Homophiles is hypocrisy, pure and simple.

                      • Austin Ruse

                        Pure and simple and that’s that! Aaron Taylor has spoken.

                      • Austin Ruse

                        Then you should consider he is not talking about you, Aaron, at least on that point. I believe, as he does, that one of the NH propositions is that it is fine to known as “gay”…in my formulation only, fine to be “out and proud”…

                        Insofar as you do not advocate that, then he is not talking about you.

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        Well I’m not against it, either, but it’s not relevant. I’m not the one telling SSA people to do one thing while I go do another.

                        But there is a wider point to be made here.

                        For example, last year I was invited by a Courage chaplain to be part of a 3-person panel talking about the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and why the Catholic Church opposes gay marriage. It was held at the Catholic chaplaincy of a local university. I gave a brief talk on why I choose to live in accordance with the Church’s teaching as a man with same-sex attraction and the benefits I have derived from doing this in my own personal life. It goes without saying I was speaking publicly and people could see my face and knew my name. But I accepted the invitation because I think it important that the Church’s opposition to gay marriage should have a human face, and that young people confused by the secular gay agenda should know that a life in accordance with the Church’s teaching can still be a rich and rewarding life.

                        What you and Mattson are saying, in trying to shove everyone back into the closet, is that we shouldn’t get out there in the trenches and defend the Church, or that we should we confine ourselves to doing so semi-anonymously over the internet. If that’s your great masterplan for winning the culture war, then, as the kids say, “lol.” Don’t blame the New Homophiles when you are losing to the radical secular gay activists.

                      • Austin Ruse

                        Well, then if you are not against it, and your are therefor in favor of it, Mattson IS talking about you.

                        I don’t think anyone here is talking about “winning the culture war.” ‘we are mostly talking about what may be best for those individuals with SSA. Big difference.

                        Don’t get me wrong, I fight the culture war every single day. It is what I have dedicated my life to.

                        But on these questions, I think it is mostly about the best thing for those with SSA. It gets back to that young boy. Who does he come to and what do they say. Damian and you say, be out and proud but chaste. Put aside what that the Church does not want this, and consider this can be a very bad plan for individual souls.

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        Those aren’t the only options. I’m neither “against it” nor “in favor” of it. It depends on the person and circumstances. For example, I actually think Daniel Mattson’s writings on the whole are very good and probably help a lot of people who are struggling. Does that mean I am “in favor” of every Catholic with SSA broadcasting their sexuality over the internet like he does? Obviously not.

                        I’ve never said that the young boy in your example should be “out and proud.” But you actually already know that because I responded in the com-box on that article you wrote and you replied to me and said I was “right” about the 14yr old boy.

                        As for what I would say, I’ve already begun to answer more fully here: http://spiritualfriendship.org/2014/01/24/youth-and-same-sex-attraction-responding-to-austin-ruse-part-1/

                      • Austin Ruse

                        Aaron, perhaps you can cut and paste your answer. I really do not have that much interest in scouring the comboxes to find out what you might have said that was good.

                        As to your longish item at SF…yes, you do begin to answer but I can see by your last para that you really are not going to answer what to SAY to the boy, rather than we should all sit up and take notice of what you say about being SSA. Fine…but not the same thing…

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        The point you’ve been making HERE is not just about confused 14yr old boys though, Austin. It’s about everyone. You tell SSA people to hide in the closet and just worry about their “individual souls” instead of being out in the trenches defending the Church militant. But only the other day you were complaining about how “narcissistic” SSA people were. Again, it’s like stepping into a fun house mirror discussing this with you. We’re not individualistic Protestants (I hope). The formation of “individual souls” with SSA depends greatly on what the Church as a whole is saying about homosexuality. So it can’t be reduced to a question of just what do you SAY to one individual boy.

                        That’s not to say I’m dodging that question. As I said, I already answered it on your other article:

                        ” … All teenagers tend to feel different at some point, and it’s not exactly
                        uncommon for 14-yr olds to go through a phase of being attracted to the
                        same-sex. For most teenage boys who experience this phase, the answer
                        is to simply ignore it and carry on playing football and doing the other
                        things teenagers do. Eventually, for most who experience it, it passes.
                        While I don’t think a 14-yr old should be encouraged to identify as gay
                        and see it as a gift, it is just as bad (if not worse) to send a 14-yr
                        old off to a group like Courage (supported by both Mattson and Fr.
                        Scalia) who may encourage him to dramatize his feelings by suggesting he
                        is suffering from the psychological illness of “same-sex attraction
                        disorder” or whatever the latest Oprah-style psychobabble term it is
                        they are using, and from thence ship him off to endless rounds of quack
                        therapies, weird boot camps, and down-in-the-mouth support groups .. ”

                        You replied:

                        ” … You are right about the 14 year old boy. Hvae you seen the new study in
                        Archives of Human Sexuality that found 80% of boys who identify as gay
                        in their teen years idenitity themselves as heterosexual by their
                        twenties. This is part of the danger of identification that Father
                        Scalia wrote about … “

                      • Guest

                        Courage has never recommended that teenagers with same-sex attraction join Courage support groups. Courage groups are only for adults.

                      • Austin Ruse

                        Please show me where i have ever told “SSA people to hide in the closet and just worry about their
                        “individual souls” instead of being out in the trenches defending the
                        Church militant.”

                        I know this is a fool’s errand because you can’t and you simply won’t answer. This happened four or five times when I pubished my last article.I note this is a favored tactic of the NH. You guys really think a 90% friend is an enemy.

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        More double-speak. So far, I’ve answered all the questions you’ve put to me, and fairly directly. You still haven’t given a direct answer to my question about your coming out double-standards for Mattson and the NH, and I don’t expect you to. So who is running the “fool’s errand” in having this conversation?

                        Now, in response to the question you just opposed. Just a couple hours ago you made the following comment:

                        ” … Don’t get me wrong, I fight the culture war every single day. It is what I have dedicated my life to. But on these questions, I think it is mostly about the best thing for those with SSA. It gets back to that young boy. Who does he come to and what do they say. Damian and you say, be out and proud but chaste. Put aside what that the Church does not want this, and consider this can be a very bad plan for individual souls … ”

                        When you combine that with your support of SSA people staying in the closet as you’ve outlined here, I think it was fair for me to characterize your position as I did above. Feel free to clarify if that is not what you actually think.

                        As for your being “90% friend,” I’m sure you’ll appreciate it’s difficult for us (at least for me) to decipher your intentions from behind a computer screen. The fact that you keep employing double-standards and backtracking (and then slamming the NH for doing the same things you are doing) makes it even harder for us to identify you as a friend. I’m not saying you’re not. I’m just saying it’s difficult to tell one way or another from your comments and articles.

                        Anyhow, this particular com-box conversation seems to have run it’s course. It’s been fun! Feel free to write me privately if you ever want to ask any more questions about the NH work. God bless.

                      • Austin Ruse

                        Please show me where I said “SSA people to hide in the closet and just worry about their “individual souls” instead of being out in the trenches defending the Church militant.”

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        LOL. More double-speak from my “90% friend” who just a moment ago falsely alleged that I told teenagers to be “out and proud,” and who still has not retracted his false allegation even when I showed it be false. Yet he now seems to think I’m misrepresenting his views. Seems like I’ve “hit a major nerve.”

                        In answer to your question, see the above comments where I already explained this. I never put that entire phrase in quotation marks or claimed that you said it word-for-word, as you already know. I said it was an obvious inference from what you did say about closeting and about being concerned with “individual souls.” If my inference was incorrect, you quite at liberty to explain why it is so, and why you did not mean what I thought you mean. But you’ve chosen not to clarify your remarks. It’s like having a conversation with a politician here …

                      • Austin Ruse

                        Aaron, calm down. You are getting very emotional. Now, show me where I said i want SSA into the closet.

                        You guys are very good at this…the run and gun accusation adn then you head for the hills when you are called on it. Now, show me exactly where i said I want SSA in the closet.

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        I hardly think you can accuse me of run-and-gun. I’m answering your questions despite your refusal to answer mine! Lol.

                        That said, I’m not “emotional.” I just find the cut-and-thrust of debating fun. You shouldn’t take my rhetorical jabs at you as anything more than playfulness. I consider you a brother-in-Christ and don’t have anything more against you than I would against, say, a fellow Catholic who was an opponent on a football field. I hope you’ll bear that in mind.

                        You have a reasonable point here about closeting. You didn’t state *explicitly* your own views on closeting. However, you have defended Daniel Mattson’s view, and in a comment below responding to “Daniel P” you’ve said that the closeting encouraged by Courage (call it “discretion” if you want, it’s the same thing) is “better” than the more relaxed approach to disclosure of NH. So I think it was a reasonable inference. As I said, you are free to tell me if I’m wrong, in which case I’m happy to apologize for misunderstanding you. But I suspect I’m not wrong. Otherwise why go to the effort of defending Mattson’s views?

                      • Austin Ruse

                        just want to make sure you don’t start crying or anything.

                        Thanks for admitting what you said was false. I appreciate that.

                        But now we find that you believe keeping your SSA to a small group of people, ie, being discrete, is being actually closeted. That rather reveals your true position. You believe anything less than out and proud is being closeted. Thanks for clarifying.

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        The only think that’s “false” here is your allegation that I think
                        people should be “out and proud.” I’ve never said that being gay is
                        anything to be “proud” of. You also alleged above that I told teenagers
                        to be “out and proud,” and I produced evidence that that was false.

                        You really can’t follow a simple argument, can you? I didn’t admit that
                        what I said was false. I maintain that it is true unless and until you
                        can prove otherwise, which you haven’t.

                        You can attempt to change the meaning of the word “discretion” so that
                        it includes the kind of closeting encouraged by Mattson (though he
                        hypocritically refuses to follow his own advice), but that doesn’t make
                        your definition accurate.

                        For example, let’s imagine that Jack is a heretic who supports the
                        heresy of American-style understandings of religious liberty which has
                        been condemned by numerous Popes. Jack decides to re-define his
                        heretical belief with the word “Catholicism,” and then when I say I
                        don’t believe his heresy, he claims that I’m not Catholic. Does that
                        mean I’m *actually* not Catholic, or just that Jack is an idiot who is
                        fooling around with words?

                        Similarly, does your redefinition of discretion make me an
                        out-and-prouder or does it make you an idiot fooling around with words?

                      • Austin Ruse

                        You poor sap. I didn’t say that you HAD told anyone to be out and proud. I said that you would. And after this exchange, I still believe that.

                        So back to the question. Where did i say that i want SSAs closeted. Show me.

                        by the way, you are showing your age and inexperience in the incessant name calling. Also shows you believe you are losing the exchange.

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        No, you didn’t. You said: “Damian and you say, be out and proud but chaste.” You said “say,” in the present tense, Austin, not “would say” in the hypothetical future tense. So, again, where do I “say” people should be out and proud?

                        The only “name” I’ve called you here, Austin, is “brother-in-Christ.” And I still maintain that that is what you are. Whenever I’ve criticized you, I’ve referred to specific acts or tendencies (e.g., hypocrisy, inability to follow simply arguments). Given that we’re having a conversation about homosexuality, you should be able to understand the distinction between calling an act or tendency wrong and calling a person wrong. You’ve called me “emotional,” “one note Johnny,” and so on. I don’t think either of us has been worse than the other in the rhetoric stakes.

                      • Austin Ruse

                        Given your disdain for discretion, I now believe that’s exactly what you would say.

                      • Austin Ruse

                        And I would say that the not only do you want to be out and proud, the change in doctrine which you all deny is for the church to celebrate your intrinsic disorder. So, of course you would have no reason to caution anyone of any age against self identifying outly and proudly as gay.

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        What’s your basis for these claims/allegations? If I wanted to be “out and proud,” then I’d just be “out and proud.” But I don’t. As I said before I’m no more “out” than Daniel Mattson is. And no, I don’t think the Church should celebrate homosexuality. I think Catholics can (not *should*) legitimately celebrate the contributions that faithful, chaste homosexual people make to the life of the Church. That’s very different from saying we should celebrate homosexuality itself. If you can’t (or won’t) grasp the distinction between homosexuality and homosexual persons that’s very sad, because it’s a distinction the Church herself makes.

                        I absolutely agree that homosexual people should exercise discretion. But the meaning of discretion is about exercising prudent judgment about what the right course of action is in a particular set of circumstances. It is from the same root as the verb “to discern.” In many cases it may be the most prudent thing to do for people to avoid revealing their orientation to anyone other than a few close friends and family. Aside from my writing, that is the course of action I myself have chosen, as I’ve already said. In other cases it might not be the course of action, though. I am quite happy to live out my life with very few people knowing about my homosexuality. I just think that enforcing that as a rule to be obeyed by everyone constitutes enforced “closeting.” That’s all.

                      • Austin Ruse

                        What you describe is what Courage recommends. So, are you closeted?

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        I wouldn’t describe it that way but so what if I am closeted? In some cases staying in the closet is the most prudent choice. I’m not against people staying in the closet. I’m just against people being forced to stay there.

                        But all of this is irrelevant to the question of the 14-year old boy. The idea of “staying in the closet” implies that you know you are homosexual and being private about it. Given how confusing adolescence can be, I simply don’t think a 14-year old can generally know something like that just because they have same-sex feelings, so I would just discourage them from seeing themselves as “homosexual” rather than talking about coming out/staying in the closet which already presupposes homosexuality. I’ve already stated this on the thread on your other article and re-posted my comments above.

                      • Mark

                        Except many of us knew. Like knew-knew. There was no question. So I’m not sure where this idea of the confused teenager who is really straight is coming from. I’ve never met such a beast not seen any adults admit to having been one.

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        The majority of boys I knew as a teenager who thought they might be homosexual at some point, did not turn out to be homosexual at all. I’m not saying no-one who thinks they are gay ever turns out to be right. Of course not. But in my experience (which is really all I can go on), most turn out not to be.

                      • Mark

                        Well that sounds very odd to me. I never met anyone who (either at the time or later) would ever admit to such doubts.

                        In my experience people are much more likely to desperately cling to the idea that they’re straight when they’re obviously not than to wonder if they might be gay. Maybe it’s a US/UK difference, but my anecdotal experience is that the same dynamics of denial and obliviousness that prevent even real gays from realizing it…tend to obfuscate and bury ANY explicit consciousness or admission of fleeting outlier feelings in boys who aren’t really gay (even if on some level such outlier feelings are there at some point, they tend to be totally disavowed or repressed.)

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        It’s nothing to do with denial/repression. I had a boyfriend as a teenager (I wasn’t Catholic at the time, to be clear) who is now straight. He’s not repressing anything. I’m happy for him. It’s a non-issue.

                        I can’t believe I’m actually tag-teaming *with* Austin Ruse here but regardless of our other disagreements I think he’s broadly correct in advising caution when it comes to teenagers and sexuality (if that is actually what he’s advising).

                      • Austin Ruse

                        A new study reported in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that 80% of teenage boys who identify as gay no longer idenitify that way by their mid-twenties. The authors are so shocked by this result that they postulated that the teen-age boys were joking…

                      • Austin Ruse

                        And, I would not say you were closeted in teh least. And neither are those folks in Courage. You are largley private and that is good. I would however go further your way and say prudentially speaking there are times when SSA folks should speak in pubic. Mattson, for instance, Ronald Lee for another.

                      • Austin Ruse

                        Aaron…i propose we call this a draw and say farewell….

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        I think that’s sensible, yes. Thanks for an interesting (albeit frank) exchange of views. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about NH. God bless you.

                      • Paul Sho

                        Calling a Catholic gay or homosexual is totally objectionable because these terms merge the sin with the sinner.
                        We are called to treat every human being with dignity and respect; but
                        as Catholics we reject their homosexuality whether in potentiality or
                        actuality.

                      • Led

                        This from the guy who decides to call a group of celibates “the New Homophiles.”

                      • Austin Ruse

                        Homophiles is in no way derogatory.

                      • Mark

                        How are you defining “out and proud”, Austin? I define it as “honest and unashamed”, which is I think how most people understand it, and it’s something I very much support, ESPECIALLY for teenagers whose only other option is alienation, low self esteem, and being bullied. But the way you sneer at the phrase I’m getting the impression (right or wrong) that your basic attitude is more something like “flamers make me uncomfortable.”

                      • Austin Ruse

                        So the only choice is between a gay pride march or suicide? Right.

                      • Mark

                        No, but aside for the occasional grave immodesty (depending on the particular march) or agitation in favor of objectionable laws (usually not the main point of said parades)…I’m unsure what you think is wrong with gay pride either, anymore than black history month. I’m not sure what you think is the problem with people celebrating their collective experience, their relationships, their shared joys and sorrows, their history, their community.

                      • Paul Sho

                        The Homophiles – New or Old – should drop the word Gay and Homosexual when describing themselves. As true Catholics they should describe themselves as people struggling with Same -Sex- Attractions.

                        And hopefully winning with the help of God. Simplicitas

                    • Led

                      This is beneath any writer for a serious Catholic publication. Come on! You gave a factually incorrect answer to a perfectly reasonable question, and instead of retracting or giving another answer, you start baiting. What on earth is going on here?

        • Daniel P

          Austin,

          I’m a man with same-sex attraction. I spent 23 years of my life before I told anyone about it. I was deeply mired in shame, and all I knew was that the Catholic church didn’t want people to talk about this. So I didn’t talk.

          One of the first people who convinced me I was wrong was Daniel Mattson. I read his writing, his struggles, his openness, on his blog. He’s been writing on that blog for years, at first anonymously, now openly. He wrote that blog, in part, because of young people like me.

          So when you come onto the scene and say that people with SSA should keep quiet about it, I really do take offense — and I think Dan Mattson should, too. Maybe the New Homophiles are wrong about a lot of things, but they’re definitely not wrong to be open about their attractions. How can a young person with SSA discover that it is POSSIBLE to live a chaste life unless there are role models? And how can there be role models if we all hide in our little holes?

          You could really make a HUGE difference if you have the hutspah to listen to views like mine, views that complicate your view of the world. I assure you we are not trying to destroy the foundations of modern morality. We are trying to show Christ’s love to young people.

          • Austin Ruse

            Deeply strange that this is what you guys latch onto.

            • Daniel P

              Deeply strange? What do you mean?

              I latch onto providing a coherent and loving witness to young people who experience attractions to the same sex.

              • Austin Ruse

                I think the church prefers not that you go into the closet but rather discretion.

                • Daniel P

                  In a culture where the only public role models young people with same-sex attraction have are sexually active gays and lesbians, don’t you think that it is sometimes an exercise of discretion for a Christian to be open about his temptations? Isn’t this putting forward a city on a hill, just as Jesus recommended?

                  Personally, I don’t see a huge difference between the New Homophiles and Mr. Mattson. Both are public witnesses to a new Christian understanding whereby homosexual attractions are not, in themselves, cause for shame.

              • Adam__Baum

                So we go between “we’re special” from the NH’ers, to our temptations are uniquely difficult. The world is full of sinners, you need witness from people who will exhort you to overcome your sin, whatever it is-not only from people dealing with this sin. Like everybody else, you are probably dealing with other temptations.

                • Daniel P

                  There are lots of uniquely difficult temptations: for example, the temptation to violence is uniquely difficult because there are circumstances where violence *might* be morally justified, and the temptation makes these circumstances particularly hard to navigate. But yes, homosexual temptation is uniquely difficult. It is uniquely difficult, as I said above, because a huge part of the population thinks that it is in no way sinful. The temptation to fornication is similar in this way — although fornicators are not brainwashed by the culture to call themselves “fornicators”, which means that homosexuality is doubly difficult.

          • Adam__Baum

            and all I knew was that the Catholic church didn’t want people to talk about this. So I didn’t talk.

            We all have temptation. The place to discuss it is the confessional.

            • Daniel P

              First, we shouldn’t only talk about temptations in the confessional. If that were true, St. Augustine quite obviously wouldn’t be a saint, since he got converted (in part) by being open about his struggles. Second, there are special problems with having a temptation to do something that a large part of society doesn’t consider sinful. It is only human to gravitate toward places that will not reject you. If the Church communicates rejection toward those who are merely tempted, then those people will be likely enough to seek out human compassion elsewhere.

              • Austin Ruse

                Far better that Courage was better known and that any SSA youth could know there was a better more discrete way.

                • Daniel P

                  Well, I don’t see it as an either/or, but rather a both/and. I like Courage. But I think the anonymity thing is hurting Courage. For better or worse, teenagers aren’t interested in joining a support group modeled roughly after Alcoholics Anonymous.

                  But if you like Courage, Austin, more power to you. Perhaps you could use some of your clout to improve Courage, and help it reach out to teens better. I visited the website yesterday, and it is in the technological dark age. Courage has next to no social media presence. How exactly are SSA teens supposed to find out about Courage?

                  Personally, I have not seen many signs from the hierarchy of the American Catholic church that they are concerned about the welfare of teenagers struggling with homosexuality. The funding for Courage is clearly abysmal. And Courage is focused on adults, not teenagers. So I think something clearly has to change.

                  • Austin Ruse

                    Rather than kibbutzing, perhaps you could reach out to them and actually help. No social media presence? Help them. Not reaching out to teens? help them. They would probably love it.
                    You are right about all that. But, if you like Courage, help them.

                    • Daniel P

                      I plan on it, Austin. Of course, it’s easier said than done — I’m writing a dissertation and raising a family, in addition to my kibbutzing. ;)

                      But please, do keep these concerns in mind in your writing, too. And think about the point that I made about role models.

              • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                Augustine confessed publicly in the rear-view mirror and did not continue through life writing things like “Why I call myself a Manichean Christian.” Right? He never defined himself publicly by his interior struggles…

                • Daniel P

                  First of all, Augustine, during his conversion, continually talked with friends (not in the confessional) about his struggles. This is very obvious in reading the Confessions. Moreover, after his conversion, he publicly discussed his sins and his temptations. You have been implying, above, that such a thing is wrong. Do you think it’s wrong to discuss temptations publicly, but fine to discuss past sins publicly? If that’s you’re position, it makes absolutely no sense to me.

                  As for defining himself by his temptations, that’s not what we’re talking about right now. I’m defending the open discussion of these things; I’m not making any definitive statement about whether people should call themselves gay.

                  • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                    Then we’re largely in agreement on this point: open discussion of these things is fine and is a matter of prudential judgment. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t be here openly discussing these things. :-)

      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

        Aaron–take another look:

        “Daniel Mattson lives in the midwest, where he has a career in the arts. He takes great interest in the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and is often invited to give his personal testimony to groups around the country.”
        It seems that Dan is making the effort currently to avoid emphasizing anything self-referential (regarding attraction). It would seem the respectful response to this approach would be to let him do so….

        • Aaron Taylor

          Go and read Mattson’s pieces at First Things in which he talks honestly about his own experience of being sexually attracted to other men.

          If you read the quote that Mattson provides in this article, it discourages people from making a “public self-disclosure” of that fact that they have “homosexual tendencies.” Yet this is exactly what Mattson has done elsewhere, regardless of how he might describe it.

          • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

            I understand, but my point is that, rather than hypocrisy at work, I think that perhaps the inherent contradiction is something Mattson is working to correct (e.g., in the column bio in which these aspects are left unmentioned). It shows a shift toward a non-self-referential approach to making commentary on homosexuality that more readily aligns with the recommending of non-disclosure.

            • Aaron Taylor

              If Mattson has now changed his mind and decided that his previous self-referential comments were a mistake, I would certainly accept that. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with his change of approach, but I would accept that it means he is not being hypocritical. However, given the critiques he makes in this piece, if Mattson has had a change of heart, he should have stated so explicitly. In fact, he has not done so.

          • Austin Ruse

            But he did so in response to the New Homophiles. He did not start this. He answered.

            • Aaron Taylor

              Why do you think the “New Homophiles” started writing? Most of us started for the same reason, i.e., in response to others who we perceived to be talking about homosexuality in a misleading way. I’m not interested in speaking about my own sexuality for the sake of it. But I write because I’ve seen people (like NARTH, Exodus, et. al.) writing and speaking about homosexuality in a way I think is unhelpful. It’s the *exact* same principle at issue here and your twisting and turning to justify Mattson’s hypocrisy is unfortunate.

              Your argument seems to be that it’s OK for Mattson to disclose his sexuality in a public manner because he’s saying good things, but it’s not OK for the “New Homophiles” because we’re saying bad things. While that is a legitimate opinion to which you are entitled, Austin, it’s NOT what the document Mattson quotes is saying, and that is my point.

              • Adam__Baum

                The injunction contains the qualifier “In the context of parish life”. This is not parish life.

                • Aaron Taylor

                  Right, exactly. But just as Mattson is obviously not writing “in the context of parish life,” neither am I or any of the “New Homophiles.”

                  So why one rule for one person and another rule for other people?

                  • Adam__Baum

                    Most people don’t write. They tell personal acquaintances. Can’t or won’t distinguish?

                    • Aaron Taylor

                      The point I’m raising is very simple. Daniel Mattson has written publicly about his same-sex attractions. So have the New Homophiles. If it is wrong for the New Homophiles to do it, then it is also wrong for Mattson to do it, and hence hypocritical of him to write an article criticizing the New Homophiles for doing the same thing he is doing.

                      • Mark

                        The difference is that Mattson cries “unclean! unclean!” when talking about his “leprosy,” apparently, and his message is that other homosexuals ought to got outside the camp and do the same…

      • Guest

        For one thing the author is supporting Church teaching, not making up some novel idea to placate ideologues.

    • AcceptingReality

      I know of virtually NO heterosexuals who feel the need to base their identity on being “straight”. No one goes around saying I am “straight” man or a “straight” Christian. There are no “straight” flags or symbols I can attach to the front of my house or the bumper of my car. The fact that those with same sex attraction base their identities on sexual inclination is evident in the proliferation of such symbols. I guess I don’t understand why a group of Christian writers has to write out of their sexual identity rather than out of the broader context of being human beings. Maybe they can educate me without condescending from their lofty intellectual perches toward my decidedly nonacademic seat in the front pew.

      • Art Deco

        Maybe they can educate me without condescending

        Waal, you can scroll down to the gassy comment from one “Thomas Sundaram”

        http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2012/05/dan-savage-was-right

        I think it might be a few years ‘ere they stop hitting us over the head with their sensitivity.

        • Adam__Baum

          Wow, that was as self-indulgent as it was tedious and vacant.

          FT really has gone down hill since Father Neuhaus passed.

          • Tom Sundaram

            Your advice about my writing style is noted, as well as your utter lack of tact and your impulse to insult a fellow Catholic. I will pray that this does not get accounted to you when the Just Judge comes to call you to answer for it.

            • Tom Sundaram

              I should also note that Fr. Neuhaus was a man whose work I respected; I am surprised that the moderators at Crisis do not share his wisdom in not allowing personal attacks under cover of anonymity. Art Deco, you coward, perhaps you should publish your own credentials and post under your real name like a man – then maybe your opinion would be worth anything.

              • Adam__Baum

                I highly recommend against ever using one’s legal name on the internet, it’s not brave, its an invitation for identity theft.

                • Guest

                  People would rather talk about personal things than defend ideas. The argument always goes to identity or tone when one has their back up against the wall. People should stick to the ideas.

            • Adam__Baum

              So you think commentary about some comment on the internet is immune from criticism?

              Grow a thicker skin.

              At times, we all write stuff that has stylistic or content attributes that meet with opprobrium. There’s a reason some people get paid to write, and the rest of us pretend our pens are mordant and monetizable.

              Instead of whimpering and calling damnation on critics, you should be thankful that two people articulated thoughts that many others others had.

              This isn’t like coming home from kindergarten where parents gratuitously praise whatever is put in front of them.

              If you think your prose is good, defend it. Take issue with the terms “gassy” and “tedious”. Show contradictory evidence. Complaining that you aren’t being treated with kid gloves is futile.

              • Tom Sundaram

                Alright, I do take issue with the terms “gassy” and “tedious”. In the first place, the burden of proof is on you to show that my writing is “gassy”, expansive but lacking in content. I suppose you are thinking of the (deliberately) long first half, in which I attempted, as a contrast to the tone of all the rest of the comments which were in the combox, to take an irenic tone in describing Joshua, because unlike everyone else there, I knew him personally. Now, you may think this is expansive without content, but this is because you think that my description of my brother lacks content. Those who know us both did not, nor did the dozens of people who have written to thank me for writing it (two of whom have since entered the Church) so I don’t think you qualified to assess my writing.

                As to “tedious”, I am so sorry my writing was too long for you to enjoy it. Perhaps I would have been able to spice it up for you with some gratuitous uses of the word “sodomite”; maybe some salacious stories of the secret gay man hiding in the dorm of the conservative Catholic college; then, at least, I could provide the conservative gossip mill with more reasons to hate the modern world and complain about Catholic education and the approaching tide of modernism, since that is the traditionalist national sport. Unfortunately, Joshua and I are conservatives; I am even an Aristotelian Thomist; he never once discussed being gay at school, and as far as I know he’s chaste. So I am afraid that I could not cut my “tedious” account of Joshua’s work and dignity with something to make you feel better about having to find out he’s a human being. Of course, maybe you think dignity itself is something tedious, In that case, perhaps you are in your element, talking smack about people in comboxes and never producing anything of your own worth commenting about.

                • Adam__Baum

                  Since the comment is no longer coming up (removed?) I can’t revisit my reactions, but length was not the principal reason I described it as tedious.

                  This phrase is a perfect example: “make you feel better about having to find out he’s a human being” . It serves no purpose other than to communicate an insult, it’s overwrought,and addresses nothing at issue, because nobody is denying Joshua’s humanity. That’s why while it’s not very long, but it is very tedious.

                  • Tom Sundaram

                    Since aside from these comments, all your posts have just been one-liner dismissals of Melinda:

                    (“This is weird”; ‘acts are homosexual, people are not acts’)

                    and No True Scotsman fallacy distinctions (your application of nominal Catholic only matters if we are not discussing the New Evangelization, which this is mostly about) with no application to what she’s saying, I really don’t actually have to listen to you about the shortcomings of my prose. You are not my editor – I have an editor – so that position is filled.

                    I grant that my work has shortcomings, but I will follow Aristotle in this about from whom we ought to desire judgment, and not go mad by allowing some random fellow with no good intent, no visible credentials, in a combox, probably writing under an assumed name, place himself in the role of my chief literary critic. Even if your criticisms in particular were valid (and I’m sorry, I don’t grant that they were, because for every one of you I can provide at least ten people who were very edified indeed) you have no basis from which to give them as something I would take as given in good spirit.

                    • Tom Sundaram

                      With that, I’m done here.

                      • slainte

                        Mr. Sundaram writes,
                        .
                        “…I will follow Aristotle in this about from whom we ought to desire judgment, and not go mad by allowing some random fellow with no good intent, no visible credentials, in a combox, probably writing under an assumed name, place himself in the role of my chief literary critic..” … “.. I am even an Aristotelian Thomist…”
                        .
                        You wrote an article Mr. Sundaram, not “The Grapes of Wrath”.
                        .
                        Pull your head out of the clouds and come back to earth. You take yourself way too seriously.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      all your posts have just been one-liner dismissals of Melinda.

                      Some of us believe in brevity.

            • Guest

              Pot. Kettle.

        • Guest

          You ought to be ashamed of yourself for your lack of charity. Whether you agree with the author or not, using personal attacks on a commentator goes against Christ’s injunction to love one another.

          As for this article, discouraging gay Catholics from being public with their struggles is unkind. It really does smack of an attitude of “you don’t belong.” We’re all sinners, in need of God’s mercy ~ it is good for those gay Christians to know they are not alone. Let us be Christian and not lose our compassion.

          • Michael

            I’m sorry, but the claim “You ought to be ashamed of yourself for your lack of charity” is in itself a personal attack. I just want to point that out. If we want to be “Christian” we should follow St. John Chrysostom’s words regarding this issue, whose feast day in the traditional calendar is today:

            “All passions are dishonorable, for the soul is even more prejudiced and degraded by sin than is the body by disease; but the worst of all passions is lust between men…. The sins against nature are more difficult and less rewarding, since true pleasure is only the one according to nature. But when God abandons a man, everything is turned upside down! Therefore, not only are their passions [of the homosexuals] satanic, but their lives are diabolic….. So I say to you that these are even worse than murderers, and that it would be better to die than to live in such dishonor. A murderer only separates the soul from the body, whereas these destroy the soul inside the body….. There is nothing, absolutely nothing more mad or damaging than this perversity.” (St. John Chrysostom, In Epistulam ad Romanos IV,in J. McNeill, op. cit., pp. 89-90)

            • Jerry Reiter

              St. John Chrysostom did many great things, but he also did not have access to modern medical science. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saO_RFWWVVA

              • Michael

                I agree with you that homosexuality is a genetic disorder. Perhaps for that reason we should stop discussing the morality of homosexual acts, especially if they are intrinsically disordered and part of a genetically-born mental illness? Likewise, though, it is contradictory to expect the Church to change to accomodate the whims of a few odd and diseased people.

                • rcdcr

                  I have tried really, really hard to imagine those words coming from the mouth of Jesus Christ.

                  Alas, I cannot.

                  Can you, Michael?

                  • Art Deco

                    You are replying to a comment left a week ago on an article posted a month ago.

            • rcdcr

              For the record, when gay people are looking for moral guidance, you can be sure that it will NOT be from a group of people who eagerly, willingly and frequently break apart their families to start new ones with totally different people, leaving their children to suffer in confusion and desperation.

              Wake up to yourself, sinner.

      • Adam__Baum

        There are no “straight” flags or symbols I can attach to the front of my house or the bumper of my car.

        Maybe there should be.

        • Guest

          All it takes is a mom and dad to make a family? New bumper sticker?

          • Adam__Baum

            Or in Kansas, a disinterested male donor, two SSA women and a non-medical application of an unspecified nature.

          • tamsin

            “sex makes babies” would be very subversive…

        • Mark

          The majority hegemonic normativity rarely needs to have such things, because you have “Default” status.

          Straight is the “Whiteness” of sexuality.

          • Adam__Baum

            Are you aware that’s racist?

            • Mark

              It’s the opposite of racist.

              • Adam__Baum

                No.

                • Mark

                  Um…yes. Generally things that adopt a deconstructionist stance towards Race in general are, by that very fact, anti-racist.

                  • Adam__Baum

                    You can dress it up any way you want, but it’s racist.

                    • Mark

                      Explain it to me then. Racist against whom?

                      • Adam__Baum

                        You figure it out.

                      • Mark

                        Racist against white? No such thing. The privileged group by definition cannot be the subject of racism. Racism is structurally possible only FROM a position of privilege.

                      • Tony

                        I have met some vicious racists in my life. Some were white, some were black. The black racist who comes to mind sometimes visited my dormitory in graduate school. One day when we were both cooking in the kitchen he explained to me that he and his race would take over the country, because we were weaklings — he was a Black Power fellow. My roommate and I sometimes heard loud noises and shouts coming from his girlfriend’s room across the hall. He beat her up pretty bad, and one night we banged on the door and called the cops. Huey Newton was a racist, and so were Bull Connor and the unreformed George Wallace, and so was the unreformed Eldridge Cleaver. You can do that academic two-step all you like; it impresses people in the faculty lounge, but a fat lot of distinction it will make for you when you are staring down somebody who hates your guts because of your skin color.

                      • Mark

                        The problem is you are comparing apples and oranges. Racism is primarily structural, and the structural inequality works in only one direction. The “individual” hatred based on race is different in the two cases, then, exactly because white hatred of blacks has the entire “system” of inequality “behind” them. Whereas a black hating whites is already operating from a “position” (structurally) of disadvantage. Racism is a SYSTEM of privilege and oppression. Individual hatred is not really the main point.

                      • Tony

                        Yes, yes, I’ve heard it all through my adult life. I am a college professor, after all. I don’t buy it. It is a nifty “definition” that conveniently turns the real evil, on one side, into an abstraction that will apply even to the innocent, and that turns the real evil, on the other side, into something nugatory. I call someone racist who believes that distinctions among races are morally or politically meaningful — who, in short, believes that “race” is a category that describes something real, with moral and political implications.

                      • Mark

                        Race may not be some sort of eternal ontological essence, but AS a social construct it IS very real, and has very real political and socio-economic implications (if only based on the fact that people have historically treated it significantly). The deny systematic racism in favor of some sort of “naive” insistence on only recognize individual racism is simply to engage in “racism erasure” entirely.

                      • Tony

                        Not buying. You can’t win — if you deny that racism is the principal reason why blacks in the United States are where they are, then you are a racist, even if you do not believe that “race” is a concept that corresponds to anything in reality. I am speaking about biology here, not ontology. I don’t deny that America has been badly marred by racism. I do deny right now that most people in the United States are racists, and I deny that there is any vague semi-conspiratorial “system” to keep blacks down — not even the “system” of the Sexual Left, which has devastated their families so badly.

                        Who will have had it worse, the black in the United States now, or my Italian grandfather showing up at Ellis Island in 1920? The Sexual Left bears tremendous responsibility, even if it has been unintentional, for messing up the black family here, and that has nothing to do with race, but rather to do with where blacks were in 1960 when the revolution really hit. If blacks now had the same expectations regarding sexual morality and family that they had in 1900 or even in 1950, when they were LESS likely than whites of the same income groups to bear children out of wedlock and LESS likely to divorce, you would see them outpacing their lighter-skinned counterparts, just as they are doing in Great Britain.

                      • http://romishgraffiti.wordpress.com/ Scott W.

                        ..

                      • Adam__Baum

                        I see you are incapable of figuring it out.

      • Melinda Selmys

        Because we live in a culture where young people are taught from a young age to discern and solidify their sexual identities. I think one of the things that a lot of our critics are missing is the fact that we’re writing about being gay and Christian and chaste in order to reach people who already have a gay identity but who don’t understand how that identity could possibly be reconciled with Christianity or chastity. I don’t personally have the power to change the way that secular media and educational establishments teach young people about sexuality. I don’t see a lot of point in daydreaming about what I would do if I did have that power. I do have the power to provide visible leadership and support for homosexual people who find Dan’s approach too alien, too far out of their experience, to be able to relate to it. I like Dan and I support his work — I think there is a lot of good in reminding people that sexual orientation is not the be-all and end-all of human existence — but I know that if I’m going to evangelize my gay friends I have to start by approaching them in a way that they will find familiar, comprehensible and relatable. That doesn’t mean compromising on truth, but rather finding ways of expressing the truth so that it becomes accessible.

        • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

          Melinda–have you ever addressed what you think Pope Benedict meant when he said that the Church says “no” to “”gender” philosophies”?

          1. “Thus the Church reaffirms her great “yes” to the dignity and beauty of marriage as an expression of the faithful and generous bond between man and woman, and her no to “gender” philosophies, because the reciprocity between male and female is an expression of the beauty of nature willed by the Creator.” ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL “COR UNUM”Consistory Hall Saturday, 19 January 2013

          2. “While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed.” ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI ON THE OCCASION OF CHRISTMAS GREETINGS TO THE ROMAN CURIA Clementine Hall Friday, 21 December 2012

          • Melinda Selmys

            I’m in the process of writing a 5000 word paper on this subject. I am familiar with what Benedict has said. I don’t think I’m at the point where I’m ready to present a complete, defensible position on it. I’m still in the peer review stage.

            • Adam__Baum

              “5000 word paper on this subject.”

              What’s your point?

              • Guest

                Trying to make a square peg fit a round hole and claiming it is supported by the church.

          • Mark

            I’m not sure they’re as incompatible as you’re making them out to be. One can believe sex, male/female, is a reality of nature, while believing that gender (the social construction OF sex, the social scripts that accrue to male and female in each culture) is contingent.

            • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

              As incompatible as *I’m* making them out to be???
              You mean you’re rejecting the teaching of Pope Benedict, not me.
              Over and over again in your comments you reject clear Catholic teaching…

              • Melinda Selmys

                One small point, when Benedict talks about “gender theory” he makes it pretty clear that what he means is the social constructionist gender theories of people like Simone de Beauvoir (whom he quotes explicitly.) You seem to be suggesting that he’s rejecting the idea of “gender” entirely, but that would only make sense if he was an idiot. Obviously there are socially constructed aspects of gender (girls wear pink, boys wear blue), and Benedict knows that. He’s turning the spotlight on the essential aspects of sexuality (the sexual complementarity of male and female) in order to say “No” to the idea that all sexual difference is socially manufactured.

                • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                  If you would clarify what you mean by the “idea of ‘gender’”, I could then clarify whether I think Benedict rejects the idea entirely or not.

                  • Mark

                    Gender is the idea that male and female accrue, in a particular culture and time period, scripts or associations (as Melinda says, “pink and blue,” although there are lot more pervasive and limiting ones like that such as “men work, women stay at home with the kids,” or “men like competition, women like cooperation,” or “men are aggressive, women are nurturing,” or what type of clothes and cosmetics are appropriate to each sex, etc) that may or may not have some foundation in biological realities, but which are not some sort of binding essence except inasmuch as a culture constructs them that way.

                    • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                      And to the extent that such “‘gender’ philosophy” obscures what is authentically and essentially either male or female, the Church says “no”, according to Benedict. Agreed?

                      • Mark

                        I suppose. It’s just that many of us are of the opinion that the essentially male and female is a much narrower band of traits/roles (centered around reproduction itself, mainly) than some versions of gender-politics ideology might have one believe.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Gender is a construction of language. Sex is a biological fact.

                      What you wrote is the overwrought musings of academics with too much time, too much insularity and too little exposure to correction.

                      • Mark

                        Adam, that’s silly. There is nothing biological about the fact that “boys are blue, girls or pink,” or that “men have short hair, women have long hair,” or that “men work and women stay at home,” or that “men wear pants, women wear dresses,” or that “men are extroverted and aggressive, women are meek and quiet and passive.”

                      • Adam__Baum

                        You aren’t even silly. I never wrote anything like what you put your quotes.

                      • Mark

                        Well these things put in quotes are what most scholars understand as “gender” but they are neither biological, but neither are they a mere grammatical feature…

                      • Adam__Baum

                        No, the quotes would attribute them to me since you didn’t cite an external work or author. Are you this poorly educated or just sloppy?

                      • Mark

                        Well, no, actually, the proper interpretation of that construction would be something like: “You seem to be saying there is no significant reality of ‘gender’ apart from ‘biological sex,’ but here are the sorts of things I and others are talking about when we say ‘gender’ and they hardly seem like biological realities, but they’re also not insignificant socially and culturally and psychologically, so in light of these examples and with specific reference to them please explain what you mean in dismissing the significance of gender in favor of mere biological sex, where do these sorts of things fit in your system?”

                      • Adam__Baum

                        I don’t spend that much time trying to impose taxonomies on things that exist only as jargon or constructions concocted in echo chambers.

                      • Mark

                        Well I’m fine with not imposing taxonomies, certainly! But then that means not imposing a taxonomy on those two guys who live with each other and go to holidays at each others families year after year, yes? Then they’re to be considered just two people in a sui generis relationship not to be assumed condemned as part of any particular controversial construction?

                      • Adam__Baum

                        Try to make a coherent argument, and not let your mind wander don’t the rabbit hole. Who is talking about two guys living with each other?

                      • Guest

                        You cut through the propaganda like a surgeon.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        Thanks.

                      • Guest

                        It is intellectual masturbation. It is confusion dressed up as erudition.

                • Paul Sho

                  Having exhausted ourselves with highfalutin philosophic
                  terms, perhaps the time is right to get down to the basics. Catholicism 101 as it were.
                  When we say the Lord’s Prayer, we say “lead us not into temptation… ” . By this prayer we are praying against
                  temptations to sin, including praying against the temptations to sin by same-sex sexual acts. By this prayer we pray against the temptation of a man having sex or sexual relations with another man. In other words we are praying AGAINST BEING GAY.
                  The Catholic who labels himself Gay (even if and when he claims to be chaste) is essentially saying, ‘I like the temptation of having sex with another man. He is also saying ‘I love the temptation of having sexual relations with another
                  man’. He is also saying ‘I like to wallow in the temptation of having sex with another man’. He is saying ‘the temptation of having sex with another man is a gift from God to be fully embraced’.
                  True Catholics will reject in its entirety this damaging
                  philosophy of the New Homophiles. We reject Gay; and we pray that the Lord God will not lead us into the temptation of having sex with another man. We pray the Lord God will not allow us to call ourselves Gay in his sight.
                  ,
                  “lead us not into temptation… ”

                  • Melinda Selmys

                    You’re responding to a caricature. I would definitely not say “I love the temptation of having sex with another woman.” When I say “I’m gay,” I mean “I have sexual attractions to other women.” I’ve tried to make them go away through prayer and various other means, but ultimately I’ve had to accept the fact that those inclinations are a part of my life and that they are not going away. It’s a statement of fact about myself, a description of something that I experience. I’m not “wallowing” in it. I’m just choosing not to pretend that it isn’t there.

                    • Objectivetruth

                      As with all sinful temptations. Recognize it, say no to it, move on and do God’s will.

                  • Mark

                    I know of no gay person who would primarily define being gay as primarily about sex acts or inclinations to have sex with the same sex. They might, but they would see that as only one manifestation of their orientation. I just did an experiment. I texted about ten gay (non-Catholic) friends and asked what saying they were gay means? The answers were all some variation of “it means I like guys.” Further probing revealed that this “like” was not some euphemism for “lust after,” though it might include that sometimes, but was really intended to indicate an emotional experience as broad and vague as the word “like” itself, without further specification or determination as to any particular expression or manifestation of this attraction to men and maleness.

                    • Art Deco

                      I know of no gay person who would primarily define being gay as
                      primarily about sex acts or inclinations to have sex with the same sex.

                      Let go of his leg.

                    • Michael

                      Well of course you know of no “gay” person who identifies that way, because it is only those OVERCOMING their temptations who adopt such a paradigm – that is, of “gay” being an inclination that one should reject. And rather than supporting and trying to justify the lifestyles of those who actually WANT to overcome their temptations you simply focus on the reprobate. Tisk. Tisk.

        • Guest

          Are you really saying these people you speak of are too dumb to grasp the truth? That seems patronizing.

          • Gabriel Blanchard

            That doesn’t seem to me like what Melinda is saying at all. It’s just that we often miss things when we don’t tend to deal with them directly, so it’s only natural that certain dynamics of the relationship of the LGBT world to the Catholic Church would be non-transparent or even counter-intuitive to people who don’t have a gay background.

          • Melinda Selmys

            If a Chinese person can’t understand the truth when it’s spoken in English, that doesn’t mean the Chinese person is dumb. Pope Francis has spoken about the need to talk to people in the language that they actually use, and to be conscious of different “cultural imaginations” that may co-exist in the same place. Two equally intelligent people who both speak English may be using the same English words to refer to different concepts: the word “nature” is a classic case in point. My sister is studying law, but comes from a philosophy background and she recently noted that even the very specific term “natural law” has a different meaning in moral philosophy than it has in legal discourse. A contemporary young queer adult with an academic background in postmodernism uses the English language in a very different way than a cradle Catholic with a Thomistic education. Both are intelligent and capable of grasping truth, but they will grasp and express it using very different methodologies and they will express their discoveries in very different words.

            • Arriero

              [» Pope Francis has spoken about the need to talk to people in the language that they actually use, and to be conscious of different "cultural imaginations" that may co-exist in the same place.]

              Pope Francis talks in the language of Catholicism: Spanish (well, with an argentinian accent. but let pass it…).

              He comes from a very specific wave of Catholicism, the only one where the evil tentacles of protestantism were never allowed to prenetrate. That’s the main reason of why he is misunderstood and misread in protestanized anglo-saxon circles.

              [» Two equally intelligent people who both speak English may be using the same English words to refer to different concepts: the word "nature" is a classic case in point.]

              In Evangelii Gaudium, the word “derrame” in Spanish doesn’t mean “trickle-down” in English. Who translated that to english?

              [» A contemporary young queer adult with an academic background in postmodernism uses the English language in a very different way than a cradle Catholic with a Thomistic education]

              An european Catholic (Europe is the faith, the faith is Europe) would never use (neither would understand) the critique that Pope Francis received from calvinist Catholics from the, mainly, the usurer wing of the american financial complex.

              “Si alguien quiere ser el primero, deberá ser el ultimo de todos, y servirlos a todos.” (Marcos 9: 35)

              • Adam__Baum

                Your arrogance and self righteousness has no bounds.

                • Arriero

                  Arrogance is calling a Pope a marxist.

                  Arrogance is misreading all Papal statements on marriage, abortion, etc.

                  Arrogance is despising any form of government, beginning with the hierarchical, dogmatic and Authoritarian Church.

                  Arrogance is putting the Church aside from power, marginalizing it, and then blaming Obama for filling this vacuum of power.

                  Arrogance is not recognizing that in the last 200 years the Church has lost the majority of its power, arriving to a climax in 1917 (with the lenininsts in Russia), in 1942 (when the Pope had to ask not to be bombed by the nazis) in 2000′s.

                  Saying that Europe (and sons of the Kingdom) is the Faith is not arrogance, is the truth – wisely described by Belloc – and one of the stones in Pope Benedict’s teaching. Because the Pope is also called the Bishop of Rome. Saying that Spanish is the language of Catholicism is an historical fact. Overall, I consider three events to be the greatest achievement of Spain, every of them profoundly Catholic: Reconquista (fight against the muslim enemy and protection of Faith in the doors of Europe), American evangelization (the greatest evangelization in world history) and the Counter-Reformation (a counter-attack against the protestant enemy).

                  Is setting the record straight arrogance?

                  • Adam__Baum

                    I didn’t call the Pope a Marxist, liar.

            • slainte

              Ms. Selmys writes,
              .
              “….A contemporary young queer adult with an academic background in postmodernism uses the English language in a very different way than a cradle Catholic with a Thomistic education. Both are intelligent and capable of grasping truth, but they will grasp and express it using very different methodologies and they will express their discoveries in very different words….”
              .
              Lest we that other time in antiquity when God confounded the language of men so that they, who were once united. no longer understood each other’s speech…,

              Genesis 11:1-9 The Tower of Babel…

              “1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
              .
              2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
              .
              3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
              .
              4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
              .
              5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built.
              .
              6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
              .
              7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
              .
              8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
              .
              9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth….”

              • slainte

                “Lest we that other time” should read….”Lest we FORGET that other time…”

                • Objectivetruth

                  It’s not like you to have typos, slainte! :)

                  • Slainte

                    And I always recognize the typos-the very minute “after” I post the message. : )
                    .
                    Seriously though, I find a cultural zeitgeist which purports to redefine one’s true identity as something other than a human being who is deeply loved and made in the image of a merciful and compassionate God to be troubling and offensive. Men and women who experience same sex attraction are loved and cherished by God in all respects and are called to chastity absent participation in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
                    .
                    It is contrary to the will of God that any man or woman should acquiesce to be defined, or agree to be subsumed in an identity, which is merely a composite of one’s desires or inclinations or even a privation of such. We are immortal beings loved by a transcendent God who calls us to an earthly life of sanctification so that we might one day join Him in heaven as saints.
                    .
                    Our identity is in God, not our temporal habits or desires. We are unified and united in Him who is absolute, unchanging Truth. We speak a language of love and unity through Him. The language Ms. Selmys offers separates and divides us from each other rather uniting us as human beings with a single destiny in Jesus Christ. Hence my reference to Babel where man imposed his will over God’s and was reduced by God to babbling incoherency.

                    • Mark

                      “Identity” is not a term with a particularly deep theological provenance.

                      In this case, we’re just talking about the sociol-political or cultural or psychological phenomenon of identity, not some deep theological category (which, frankly, I’ve never even found in the sources that much).

                      • slainte

                        Mark,
                        For a Catholic, there is a very profound diiference between an objective Identity in Christ and what some would describe as a subjective identity as a “gay” or “straight” person.
                        .
                        An Identity in Objective Truth is eternal and unchanging and reminds us that we were created as immortal beings made in the Image of our Creator, a most Holy and infinitely loving and merciful God who wants only the best for each of us.
                        .
                        Our passions or privations may seem momentarily real in this finite world we inhabit, but they are ultimately illusory and passing. We are not our feelings or our sense of emptiness, or our wealth, or our poverty, or our status…these things are irrelevant.
                        .
                        Recogniing who we are in Christ causes us to say no to passions which do not correspond with Revelation and the teachings of Catholicism.
                        .
                        We Catholics are duty bound to bring our wills into compliance with Christ’s will…not always an easy thing to do….indeed it is a cross for many, but a very worthwhile thing if it permits us to sanctify ourselves through sacrifice for Him.
                        .
                        You and I can never be “gay” or “straight”; the only Identity we may ever claim is that of a child of Jesus Christ.
                        .
                        I respect you and wish you Christ’s peace.

            • Adam__Baum

              “A contemporary young queer adult with an academic background in postmodernism uses the English language in a very different way”

              This is weird.

              • Melinda Selmys

                May be weird, but it’s definitely true. For example, if I were to talk about how selves are produced through the micro-physics of power which disseminate themselves throughout social space by means of patriarchal discursive strategies, and I were to claim that the homosexual has been named into being as a species as a product of various heterophallic language games, most Crisis readers would probably think that I was speaking Klingon. But in a different discourse, that would be a perfectly reasonable thing to posit.

                • michael susce

                  Melinda, if what you say is true, please communicate the above statement so we at Crisis can understand in our own language. But you wont because if you did, the above statements (I have an inkling of what it implies) would be destroyed forthwith. Furthermore, if people actually talk like this, then it is clear that the use of such language is a tool to use in allowing one to not only love darkness, but consider it light.

                  • Melinda Selmys

                    Sure. Translated into Catholic-speak: The human person discovers himself through communion with the other. His identity, his subjectivity, is formed through the communio personarum. However, since the fall the relationships within that communio have become marred by a tendency to seek to dominate the other: the man will “lord it over” his wife. This disordered desire for power manifests not only in the marital relationship, but in all social relations.
                    With respect to homosexuality, the homosexual person is not a separate species possessing a different human nature. The perception of the homosexual as a discreet category of persons arises within a psychological discourse, roughly Freudian in its origin, which seeks to accuse the human heart and reduce it to the dimensions of concupiscence.

                    • michael susce

                      Melinda,
                      Where does one start? “Translated into Catholic speak”, “roughly Freudian”, “the perception of the homosexual as a discreet category of persons arises within a psychological discourse”…… What do these terms mean? I have read your statement over and over and over again and realize that you are imbedded in postmodern language and philosophy and unable or unwilling to divorce yourself from such verbal vagueness and obtuseness. Your explanation is as vague as the original statement. I would argue that this obfuscation is a symptom of the truth in John that men (and women) love darkness. Please prove me wrong. God bless

                      • Guest

                        Well said.

                      • Michael

                        That’s because it’s not meant to mean anything. Post-moderns are not concerned about authentic communication or concern for the other. They are simply concerned about themselves. Derrida has been very open about this narcissism. It’s impossible to decipher what they are saying because they are so possessed within themselves and their own particular private language.

                    • Michael

                      That doesn’t sound like “Catholic-speak” that sounds like jibber-jabber. I just felt like pointing that out.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        lol…fair enough. I’ve realized that in terms of discussion I wasn’t able to pull off what I wanted to demonstrate using the com-box medium. The idioms that I was playing with were, respectively, Foucault and JPII, but I’ve realized that when you try to shrink down either of those thinkers to com-box friendly dimensions you get something that just isn’t comprehensible to anyone. Failed experiment. Sorry.

                      • Michael

                        Lol, So the great, white tall towers of academia are finally crumbling.

                • slainte

                  Ms. Selmys,
                  .
                  Respectfully, you are speaking the incoherent language of Babel.
                  .
                  God made man and woman; He did not make a third form or “species” of human being.
                  .
                  The Identity of man and woman is not a selection or composite of his/her desires, inclinations, habits, privations, acts, or ommissions.
                  .
                  Our human Identify is soley and exclusively subsumed in Jesus Christ in whose image we, as immortal beings, are made. We are called to santify ourselves in this world freely consenting to conformiour will and our ways to His.
                  .
                  Your suggestion otherwise refutes Catholic teachings and does not represent a “development’ of Catholic doctrine or dogma.

                  • Melinda Selmys

                    Slainte,
                    Respectfully, that’s exactly what I said: “the homosexual person is *not* a separate species possessing a different human nature.”

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Acts are homosexual, people are not acts.

                    • slainte

                      In your view, does the inclination or experience of same sex attraction manifest itself as an “Identity”?

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        It depends on what you mean by “identity.” I think part of the difficulty in this debate is that “identity” is a word with multiple possible meanings so a lot of the conversation takes place at cross-purposes because people are using the same word to refer to different concepts. I think the two most pertinent definitions are:
                        1. Who someone is. Their essential being. Their individuality.
                        2. The qualities that make a particular person or group different from others.
                        In the first sense, I would say that being gay is not an identity: if we’re using the word in this sense Dan is absolutely right in saying that our identity is in Christ.

                        If we’re using the word in the second sense, gay is an identity — it’s a quality shared by a community of people that distinguishes that group from others.

                      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                        How would you contextualize what you are saying above with this:
                        224. Faced with theories that consider gender identity
                        as merely the cultural and social product of the interaction between the community and the individual, independent of personal sexual identity without any reference to the true meaning of sexuality, the Church does not tire of repeating her teaching: “Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral and spiritual difference and complementarities are oriented towards the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarities, needs and mutual support between the sexes are lived out”[496]. According to this perspective, it is obligatory that positive law be conformed to the natural law, according to which sexual identity is indispensable, because it is the objective condition for
                        forming a couple in marriage.
                        PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE, COMPENDIUM OF THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH

                      • Mark

                        What’s sort of ironic is that Pope Francis has sort of said “We’ve tired of talking about that.” Not that it isn’t true, but that, yeah, the Church can in fact grow weary of beating the same dead horse or “obsessing over” pelvic issues, or exhausting people’s attention-span for such fodder.

                        Obviously a society needs to maintain sexual tension and the complete deconstruction of sex would be socially disastrous as that differentiation is a “structural” part of human nature and any functional human society.

                        (And, btw, gays don’t want such a deconstruction either. If we didn’t think sex mattered, we’d all just be pan-bisexuals attracted to “human beings” rather than specifically attracted to “men” or to “women.”)

                      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                        Does that mean you personally take issue with the…”incoherence”?….of bisexuality and transgendered “identities”?

                      • Mark

                        I said “pan-bisexual,” not just “bisexual,” because most bisexuals I’ve encountered do NOT claim to love people “merely as humans without regard for sex/gender” but rather they are attracted to men AS men and to women AS women.

                        In that sense, the bi people I have known have “both” a gay and straight orientation, in terms of the phenomenology of their attractions, rather than simply “neither” orientation in the way the hypothetical person I was calling a “pan-bisexual” might claim.

                        So, yes, I would find attraction (at least/especially if it expressed itself in sex acts) that had no reference to or regards for sex/gender…to be rather incoherent conceptually and emotionally, yes. But I don’t think most people’s bisexuality is like this; bisexuals tend to still be attracted to males AS males and females AS females, they’ve liked men who were fine specimens of maleness and women who were fine specimens of femaleness (ie, they still had two separate standards/templates based on gender duality).

                        Transgender phenomenon is a strange one and I can’t speak on it much as I only really know one trans person very well personally. I think there is clearly disorder, by definition, if you believe your identity does not match your body. I will say this: I think in a society that was healthy and open gender-wise, where the “tensions” were not so high or distorted…the people who now identify as trans would not feel the need to go so far as to surgically change their bodies in order to feel like they were enacting their gender identity satisfyingly. But (perhaps ironically or paradoxically) this would only be because the psychological (personality, emotional, mental, social, etc) aspects of gender would, in such a culture, not be nearly so totalizingly bootstrapped to one somatoform as they are now.

                      • Michael

                        “What’s sort of ironic is that Pope Francis has sort of said “We’ve tired of talking about that.”

                        Oh really? You mean the same Pope Francis who emphasized that he will only not judge gay people who are of good will? And the same Pope Francis who fought and continues to fight the gay liberal agenda in Argentina and other countries as well?

                        So much for the liberals (i.e. cultural Marxists) not proof-texting. It seems like it is YOU who have an issue with church teaching and not the church who is overly-obsesses with the “gay” issue. In context, there have been very few official pronouncements on that issue at all!

                      • Mark

                        If you’re not afraid that we might succeed, why do you care if we “try”?

                      • Michael

                        I just want you to be as authentic to yourself as you want to be, but let other people be authentic too.

                      • Guest

                        Is not the first rule of discussion to define terms?

                        Having a foot in both worlds is not the same as evangelization or defending the faith. It seems you understand the confused terms and ideologies that the gay lobby and academia use? You want to use these ideas to show them they are incorrect? Or, you want to use these ideas to bring them the faith and incorporate their confused understanding into the faith? Yes, we stipulate you endorse no illicit genital acts.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        lol…the first rule of writing an academic paper is to define terms. I’ve spent a lot of really fruitless hours trying to “define terms” in conversation as a precondition to discussion and I’ve found it just results in arguing over the definition of terms rather than talking about anything interesting. Anyways, there’s some truth in every discourse. Think of JPII’s Theology of the Body: he borrows a lot of ideas and language from phenomenology (which is generally an anti-metaphysical philosophy) but he uses those terms and ideas to communicate the truth.

                      • Guest

                        People who know their field well can relate information to the non initiated unless there is some cognitive defect with the hearer. When the “expert” cannot explain what he/she knows it usually is due to the expert not really understanding what he/she claims to understand or he/she is obfuscating for some reason.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        Popularizing a complex idea is actually a skill in itself and some people who have a really good understanding of their field can’t do it (I’ve met mathematicians, for example, who clearly really understand high-level math but can’t communicate about it intelligibly to me.) Also, something usually gets lost in translation. For example, B16′s writings on sexual complementarity are a lot more comprehensible than JPII’s, but there are nuances that are lost in the process of making it accessible. And I’ve discovered that even Benedict is too steep for a lot of readers.

                      • Guest

                        That some cannot do it does not mean others cannot do it. So far, as regards to this topic, no one has been able to do it which is suspicious. That is telling.

                        B16 is a clear thinker and a clear communicator. The translation issues mostly are not technical matters but a failure of some to accept what is true. That is obvious.

                        JPII ‘s talks on the so-called TOB are more esoteric to most readers with no background in philosophy I will agree. Unfortunately, his outlines have been hijacked by some who “translate” those talks into ideas that make a new theology that does not always follow from those talks.

                        In the same vein we have the so-called new homohiles. But, here we do not even have Papal talks to stretch and deform. All we have is an academic type group which says trust us even while their words and arguments are muddled.

                        I am direct, not meaning to be insulting.

                      • slainte

                        Melinda,
                        .
                        As Catholics, we can have only one Identity in Jesus Christ, who is objective, absolute, unchanging Truth.
                        .
                        There can be no alternative Identities which do not conform in all respects with Christ’s way, understood through relationship with the Catholic Church and its teachings.
                        .
                        Any philosophy that would suggest that we have a subjective essence that is not rooted in Jesus Christ and through His Church should be renounced.
                        .
                        We are not our passions; we are not “straight” or “gay”; we are the most loved children of Christ. Our community is not the “gay community” or the “straight community” but Jesus Christ’s community in the Catholic Church; there can be no other for a Catholic.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        Okay. So I should renounce my identity as a Canadian, as a mother, as a writer, as a Robinson sister, as a Stanley Kubrick fan, etc. etc.?

                      • slainte

                        Melinda,
                        .
                        Our Identity is not the roles we play but the essence of Him in whom we partake. The roles don’t define us so much as allow us to sanctify ourselves in Christ by engaging in them. So keep the roles; they serve a purpose.
                        .
                        Because one is a child of Christ, one seeks to participate in His divine plan by partaking of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, thus forming and strengthening the marital bond with one’s husband, in Christ’s love, for the purpose of bringing forth new life and sustaining one’s children. The unity of marriage is further strengthened through the marital embrace.
                        .
                        If one is open to life but unable to conceive, one can adopt children while continuing to be receptive to new life.
                        .
                        In one’s role as sibling, one reaches out to another in love because one sees Christ in the other. Matthew 25:40 reminds us that “whatsover you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me”.
                        .
                        Your role as Canadian, a writer, a Stanley Kubrick fan (Stanley Kubrick…really???) are fleeting incidentals; where you live, what you do, which directors you like… all subject to change in a moment’s time. They don’t touch the core of your persona as a child of God.
                        .
                        What is not transitory is God’s words:

                        Matthew 22:36-40
                        36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
                        37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
                        38 This is the first and great commandment.
                        39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
                        40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets to us.
                        .
                        No “gay” or “straight”…just children of a God who is Love.

                • Steven Piper

                  You ARE speaking Klingon. :-)

                  • Melinda Selmys

                    Qapla’!

                • Guest

                  Yes, well academic masturbation does not make it right or reasonable. It is simply academic propaganda.

                • Guest

                  I would say you were speaking agitprop. Words should convey reality. If persons cannot grasp reality it is no wonder their words are nonsense.

                • Guest

                  Also, when one is indoctrinated into a perverse ideology more is needed than simply education. It is not only a matter of propaganda and indoctrination and misuse of definitions but perhaps something much deeper and troubling.

              • John200

                “an academic background in postmodernism” is one of the worst imaginable handicaps, if you mean to communicate.

                This is going to get much more weird before it gets better.

                • Melinda Selmys

                  Not really. Undergrad postmodernists are hard to communicate with, but once they grow out of being overly enamoured with the mystique of being incomprehensible it’s possible to have really fruitful discussions.

                  • John200

                    Really.

                    I am experienced with PoMo talk at every academic level up to Ph. D. It is not made for those who would like to communicate.

                    Fruit-FILLED discussions, but not fruitFUL. Sorry about the caps, but I want to be sure the distinction is distinct.

                    • Melinda Selmys

                      I don’t know…that hasn’t been my experience. Perhaps it helps that all of he PoMo types that I know are people that I actually have intimate personal relationships with (siblings, close friends, etc.)

                      • John200

                        Well, I hope intimate relations with PoMos are better than their scribblings. Perhaps they are competent with nonverbal communication.

                        Back to the writings: PoMo trickery will not improve the dreadfully vacuous arguments for homo”sex”ual activity. What is coming is more weird than what we have read to date. These “Ph. D.” holders have infinite time, nothing worthwhile to do, and no truth with which to anchor themselves. This is amply illustrated in this series of articles.

                        Best to you and yours. Even the PoMos, best to them, too.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        I think one of the things that has been missed in this series of articles is that the “New Homophiles” believe that homosexual activity is morally wrong. A lot of com-boxers are responding as though we are trying to undermine the teaching on the morality of same-sex sexual relations. We’re not. I broke up with my girlfriend when I converted to Catholicism, and I’ve been in a heterosexual marriage for 14 years. Most of the others live as celibates. We not only believe in the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, we have made significant personal sacrifices in order to live that teaching.

                      • John200

                        Read the articles and the discussions. You have deliberately talked past
                        clear and unambiguous teaching. Over and over. Nearly ad infinitum. Clearly ad
                        nauseam.

                        You have declared yourselves the inventors of new and exciting Roman
                        Catholic perspectives on homo”sex”ual activity. This claim is false, but the
                        method IS (caps again, oh well,…) standard PoMo practice, as academics well
                        know. The most reasonable expectation is that you will do it again and again.
                        Nearly ad infinitum. Clearly ad nauseam.

                        Do you see why Catholics react to you as in these
                        discussions? Your comments suggest, you don’t. That is sad because the answer
                        is sprayed over the series of articles, where you are sure to miss it.

                      • Mark

                        No one here is inventing new perspectives on homo”sex”ual activity…

                      • John200

                        The homo”sex”uals are not succeeding at it, but they are making a mighty effort. No fluent reader of English can read these discussions otherwise.

                        By the homo”sex”uals’ insane energy level and their stunning degree of hypersensitivity to Catholic criticism of their project, one would think the hounds of hell were on their collective behinds, howling and snapping, and gaining ground with every miserable step.

                      • Jerry Reiter

                        Every medical association in the free world agrees sexual orientation is a human trait, not a choice. Attacking gays with some conspiracy theory talk is not helping anyone.

                      • John200

                        Dear Jerome,
                        Glad to learn that you are still trying to learn something about homo”sex”ual perversion and disorder. That’s a good sign!

                        Malheureusement, your poor old horse is dead. Homo”sex”uals don’t need to whip it anymore. It isn’t going to revive.

                        Sexual orientation is not a trait. And the most tendentious reading of the literature, such as yours, will not change that.

                        Best to you and yours.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        I think it’s pretty obvious that I’ve been reading both the articles and the discussions. I’ve never declared myself to be the inventor of a new and exciting perspective on homo”sex”ual activity. So far as I can tell the reason why some Catholics respond this way is that they think that we are trying to change Church teaching, which we’re not. I’ve declared clearly and unambiguously that I believe that homosexual acts are immoral and I would add that if you understand the term “objectively disordered” to mean what it actually means, i.e. “not ordered towards a proper object” I also affirm that homosexual inclinations are objectively disordered. I regret the ad nauseum character of the discussion — I get the impression that a lot of people are not reading the com-box in toto, which is very reasonable given the length of the com-box. I think it’s only fair to people to answer their objections when they raise them even if it’s an objection that I’ve answered before.
                        I think it’s also worth noting that this response is not typical of Catholics, only of the sub-set of Catholics who read Crisis magazine. Most Catholics would argue that homosexuality is completely acceptable, and if I were talking to them I would be defending the need to maintain the traditional definition of marriage and would be trying to explain why the Church teaches that homosexual activity is not morally acceptable.
                        In any case, if you have a particular concern that I haven’t answered, please let me know what it is.

                      • John200

                        Already registered my point. More than once.

                        “So far as (you) can tell,” I did not. But I did, and no amount of PoMo doubletalk will alter such a simple point. For the nonce, I leave it to the reader.

                        Best to you and yours.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        “Most Catholics would argue that homosexuality is completely acceptable”

                        No, most nominal Catholics might, and given that people filter to conform to expectation, who knows what they really think.

                        Somehow however, whatever libertine declaration that they might make in the abstract, I think given a choice, they’d prefer their kids to be interested exclusively in the opposite sex.

                      • Jerry Reiter

                        Polls show a majority of Catholics in the US support marriage equality. Someday the church will drop its opposition to civil laws for those outside the church, at least.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        So what?

                      • Topher

                        It’s nice of you to put the best possible spin on it, Melinda, but I doubt these people’s primary concern or fear is for orthodoxy.

                        If anything, I bet many of these personalities were drawn to embracing conservative Catholicism BECAUSE of their particular “conservative personality,” not the other way around.

                        And that “conservative personality” apparently involves a big psychological “fense” of negative emotional energy drawn around anything and everything associated with “homosexuality” (not defined with any particular precision or distinctions).

                        You can’t reason with that which is irrational or pre-rational.

                      • Michael

                        I like how you immediately camp everyone into the either-or dichotomy of “liberal” and “conservative” based on their personal identity. Would you perhaps be open to the idea that it is YOU who have an irrational fear of insecurity because of the conversion experience (i.e. conversion away FROM homosexuality) that conservatives preach? Rather than resorting immediately to the wonderfully secure and comfortable either-or bandwagon?

                      • herewegokids

                        Melinda, I’ve been following you since hearing a youtube lecture and I want to say, thank you. I’m a new convert, and my family of origin are Protestant missionaries. So I know what it is to sacrifice for what you believe. My marriage is surviving, but I would’nt say ‘thriving’ exactly, yet. It’s been tough. But anyway, I have a great interest in the subject of pastoral care for SSA individuals, because I think it’s clearly one of the big issues of our generation and the ones that will follow. Thank you for your courage, your clear thinking/speaking, and your patience.

                      • jimby

                        It is the journey toward chastity that everyone faces. The ID tags of “gay” and “lesbian” et al. isolate you unnecessarily from everyone else, who have also “made significant personal sacrifices in order to live that teaching” of chastity.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        Jimby,
                        Several of us have written about the solidarity in chastity that exists between different groups of people who are striving to live in accord with the Church’s teaching. We would agree that there are similar challenges for religious, for married people, and for heterosexual singles as well. The reason why we use labels like “gay” and “lesbian” is twofold. First, because many LGBTQ people are isolated whether they choose to use those labels or not — I have several same-sex attracted friends who were bullied, called “fag” or “lezzie,” and discriminated against when they neither identified as gay , nor engaged in homosexual acts. Part of the reason that I label myself as queer is because I think that if I’m going to minister to people in the LGBTQ community it’s very important that I show solidarity with those who don’t have the option of passing as “straight.” The second reason is that by identifying with LGBTQ people we are enabled to speak more persuasively to those who feel isolated from the Catholic community. I don’t recommend that all homosexual Catholics come “out of the closet” or identify as LGBTQ. Choosing to do so is a very personal choice, and it’s one that should be made through a process of discernment. I’ve discerned that I am more effective in helping other LGBTQ people to seek Christ if I identify myself as “queer.” I realize that this isolates me from some of the heterosexual Catholic community, but I consider that a necessary sacrifice.

                      • Michael

                        Would you be open to the idea that a conservative Christian can also be a “post-modern,” whatever that means, if they live their conservative lifestyle “authentically” and passionately as Hiedegger would like us all to – rather than immediately resort to the criticism that they are acting in “bad faith” as Sartre claimed?

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Interesting. I always that “POMO” was “permanent open market operations”.

                      • John200

                        Ambiguity ‘R’ Us.

                        Any Post-Modernist will tell you that.

                    • Michael

                      Indeed, postmodernists are “waterless clouds” as St. Jude warns us in his epistle.

                  • Michael

                    If we are to follow the “post-modern” thinking of Jacues Derrida, at least in how he is understood in English departments rather than the Physics or Biology departments of contemporary and modern universities, then we are to assume that as human beings we are all deterministically narcissistic. Perhaps you could try to fit a framework of “charity” into that narcissitic mindset, but I would simply call it “bourgois self-indulgence” and something heavily un-Christian. Also, if we are to assume that the claim that a minority should have power over the majority is true, as is claimed by cultural Marxists, then we can rightly question if such a usurpation of power is (1) even being faithful to Marxism itself and (2) whether that kind of usurpation of power for one class to rule over the majority is even just – regardless if it is with respect to black power, women’s rights or, yes, “gay rights.” It seems rather what happens at universities is that people are subtly indoctrinated with these ideas in order to bring about cultural change, but when it comes to thinking critically about such issues, then these “undergrads” are at a loss. They simply receive points and good grades for being good at spitting back the dominant ideology.

              • DD

                And nonsense.

            • michael susce

              It was an act of providence that in the spring of 2002 (not sure of the year) while on vacation in Florida, I attended a seminar open to the public at the University of Florida with Jacques Derrida as speaker. There was about a thousand people there and I was pleasantly shocked at what I heard coming from Mr. Derrida’s mouth (God rest his soul). He basically rejected his deconstruction philosophy by stating that without having a basic language to agree upon, NO intelligent discussion can be forthcoming. And you could feel the tension in the whole auditorium. Having majored in philosophy at Asbury University, this was one of those moments in my life which I refer to when discussing so called postmodern usage of the English language. According to Derrida, this postmodern usage is worthless. Therefore, your analogy of Chinese to English is meaningless. Rather, you must use language that resonates with YOUR faith which has been dealing with those who willingly or unwillingly fall into those who “love darkness”. For example, stating that all of the world religions, which have developed over thousands of years of human history and have done their spiritual and moral research and development all reject the act of homosexuality. And proclaim that we can know God’s will for our lives. Language that is clear and precise. God bless

              • Melinda Selmys

                Michael,
                No one involved in this debate on either side (Dan or those of us that Ruse has dubbed “The New Homophiles”) is even remotely unclear about the immorality of homosexual acts. With respect to the essential teachings we’re all in agreement. We all accept the authority of the same pool of documents. The disagreements arise because of differences in way that we interpret those documents. Dan would argue that when the CDF says “Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human
                person when she refuses to consider the person as a “heterosexual” or
                a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental
                Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life” that this means that the Church rejects the use of the word “gay” as a descriptive adjective. I would argue that the Church rejects the use of the word “Gay” as an ontological category, a different kind of person, but that using the word “gay” as an adjective is merely descriptive. It’s like when the Nazi’s decided that being Aryan gave them a special ontological status that was severely problematic — but there’s no problem with me describing myself as blue-eyed and pale-skinned. I would argue that if the Pope uses the word gay, and Cardinal Dolan uses the word gay, and even Archbishop Cordileone has used the word gay, then it’s absurd to say that this is unacceptable usage because it’s “not the language of the Church.”

                • michael susce

                  Melinda, you prove my point. “We all accept the authority of the same pool of documents. The disagreements arise because of differences in way that we interpret those documents” I have many evangelical friends who argue from the Bible but end up asserting their own interpretation. You do the same. You render the clear teaching of the Church meaningless by stating that you interpret these documents differently. But in actuality, you reject these documents.
                  As to the use of the word “gay”. I did not state an objection to the use of the word. According to the Church (and natural law and reason) gay is not good and the act is a mortal sin. You interpret it as a venial sin. If I am wrong and that you accept the authority of the same pool of documents and that I am wrong, please state for us that the homosexual act is a mortal and grave sin that damages the self, society and severs the relationship with God.
                  And as educated as you seem to be, to claim that I reject the use of the word gay when in actuality I rejected, like Derrida, the language of postmodernism and its intentional obfuscation, suggests an underlying avoidance of the real issue.
                  However, the ultimate issue comes down to this: those who proclaim that the act of homosexuality is an inherently gravely evil are and will be considered anathema and despised and, therefore, looking for shallow reasons and deliberate or unintentional obfuscation is a real temptation. God help us.

                  • Aaron Taylor

                    The point is that she interprets the documents differently from YOU, not that she interprets the documents differently from the Church. In trying to make yourself out to be the authoritative oracle for interpreting Catholic teaching, you are in fact the one acting like an “evangelical Protestant.”

                    • Melinda Selmys

                      It’s okay, Aaron. I didn’t take offense at Michael’s comparison. I think it’s clear that Michael believes we disagree about things we don’t disagree about. No need to accuse anyone of being a “Protestant” :)

                      • Aaron Taylor

                        Yes, perhaps uncalled for on a Catholic forum. Apologies! :-)

                  • Melinda Selmys

                    Michael,
                    Sorry for the misunderstanding: I’m not saying you reject the use of the word “gay.” I’m saying that that’s the big bone of contention between us and Mattson. When I say that we all agree about the same pool of documents, obviously that means we all agree that sexual activity outside of marriage, or sexual activity within marriage that is deliberately closed to procreation, is intrinsically wrong and that marriage is an indissoluble union between one man and one woman. We also agree about the gravity of sexual sin. I would join Pope Francis in pointing out that just because a sin is grave matter, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is mortal (the Catechism defines three criteria for mortal sin, grave matter is only one of them — I suspect that a lot of practicing homosexuals in contemporary society lack full knowledge, and I know that some lack full consent of the will.) That’s why he says that we can’t judge: we can know that the sin is grave, but we cannot know whether the person is culpable.

                    • Topher

                      Though I think it is valid, within the long tradition of theological usage, to use “mortal sin” categorically. That is to say, to use “mortal sin” to describe a CLASS of acts (which constitute grave matter) without judging subjective culpability.

                      it is perfectly valid to say “Adultery is a mortal sin” even though each particular act OF adultery might not be subjectively imputed as such on account of knowledge or consent decreasing culpability in the internal forum.

                      I wouldn’t shy away from using “mortal sin” objectively and categorically, in spite of the subjective lack of culpability that can occur.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        I would say that’s perfectly fair usage :)

        • ForChristAlone

          Let me guess…Seattle? Portland? San Francisco? New York? Denver? Los Angeles? Boston?

          • Melinda Selmys

            Oh it’s much worse than that. I’m a Canadian :)

            • Objectivetruth

              I think then that your greatest concern and worry as a Canuck is that the Canadian Olympic hockey team might win only Bronze in a couple of weeks in Sochi……!

              • Melinda Selmys

                lol…I’ll be honest. I know nothing about sports. I didn’t even know the Olympics were coming up…:)

        • Adam__Baum

          “Because we live in a culture where young people are taught from a young age to discern and solidify their sexual identities.”

          I’m sorry but this was driven by the militant homosexual movement.

          • Melinda Selmys

            I don’t disagree with that. I think that the oversexualization of young people is problematic. However, I’ve seen a lot of people complain about it but very few people put forward a reasonable plan for how they’re going to do anything productive to address the problem. It’s like people criticized Mother Theresa for looking after the poor rather than focusing on finding social means of eradicating poverty. Pope Benedict called us to serve Charity in Truth according to the level of influence that we have in the polis. I’ve evaluated my influence and have discerned that it doesn’t even remotely extend to being able to change the way that young people are taught about sexuality in schools, media, etc. So I see my job as being to minister to those young people given the real situation in which they find themselves, rather than daydreaming about a situation that I have no power to produce.

        • Michael

          “Because we live in a culture where young people are taught from a young age to discern and solidify their sexual identities.”

          Only *some* of us live in that culture, not *all* of us. Those, who, like Hiedegger, detatch themselves from this mindless “being-in-the-world” and think for themselves, whether they be Christian, Marxists, or whatever you choose do not apply to this generalizing category. That, I think, dismisses the “post-modern” contention.

          And if we are to seek the true the good and the beautiful, that is God, we will be spiritually prepared to accept the teaching of the Church. It should be of no concern to Christians on how they “sound” to people who themselves are not Christian. In the end, we are to even become martyrs for our faith rather than deny that faith.

      • R. K. Ich

        You do them too much credit by assuming their perches are all that lofty or all that intellectual. Their posture is one of madness, pure and simple.

        But, as St. Augustine of Hippo wisely observed in De Civitate Dei, we who hold the simple truth must often out of necessity engage in complex and nuanced arguments with those who sit in darkness because of their obstinacy.

        So here we are, 2014, choking on our own sophistry, having virtually no transcendent principles. The 60′s counter-revolutionaries felt they were “questioning everything”; their grandchildren have murdered axioms and ironically can question nothing.

        Thank God for the (very temporary freedom of) home schooling.

        • Adam__Baum

          “we who hold the simple truth must often out of necessity engage in
          complex and nuanced arguments with those who sit in darkness because of
          their obstinacy.”

          Watch it, RK. Seeber is going to accuse you of lying.

      • Jerry Reiter

        There won’t be any controversy about this in another generation. Marriage equality will have been the law so long nobody will find a need to hold a gay pride parade. Being gay will be as controversial as being left-handed. Gay pride was a reaction to thousands of years of gays being shamed. The new generation won’t remember that era, just like we no longer see “Black Power” images now that the President is African-American.

      • rcdcr

        It is HETEROSEXUALS who have created the distinction between straight and gay, dude. Not gay people.

        You have to be kidding me with this line of thinking.

        It is not gay people who define themselves by their sexuality. It is STRAIGHT people who define THEMSELVES by their sexuality.

        Otherwise, we wouldn’t see such difference in laws, in social treatment, in violence, and in virtually every other area of life.

        When heterosexuals pass laws that harm gay people, HETEROSEXUALS are defining themselves by their sexual orientation.

        When heterosexuals brutalize and kill gay people in the streets, HETEROSEXUALS are defining themselves by their sexual orientation.

        When heterosexuals do these kinds of things they are saying LOUD and CLEAR: The way we have sex is SO important and WHO WE ARE. SO much so that we must stomp on anyone who is different.

        You, dear sir, hold a supremacist view.

        It was vile when applied to race, and it is vile now.

        Wake up to yourself, huh?

    • Daniel McKenzie

      Thanks Mr Mattson, for a good clear explanation. I agree.

      I see a couple of problems with the New Homophiles writings.

      1. Same sex attraction is a disorder. Something has gone wrong.
      There are many disorders, diabetes, cancer, mental illness, heart disease, etc…
      None of these is good or a gift. They are all disorders that need to be cured.
      The suffering caused by these disorders can be a gift, a cause for spiritual
      growth. Having cancer has been such an experience with me. The cancer
      is not a gift however. There is nothing good about it. The Church teaches
      that we are to be loving and accepting of people with these disorders,
      but the disorders are not to be accepted as good in any way. It would
      be wrong to try to claim that the disorders themselves are good in any way.

      2. I see a great arrogance in the idea that compassion, sympathy, appreciation
      for beauty, or the ability to form close personal relationships are “gay” qualities.
      These are human qualities and have nothing to do with sexual “orientation”.
      Many “New Homophiles” seem to be claiming or at least implying that
      these are attributes of “gayness” and are reasons to believe being “gay”
      is a good thing. Being a normal non-same-sex-attracted man does NOT
      mean I have to be an empty headed dolt who cares about nothing but drinking
      beer, watching the Packers, and monster trucks. (though I do occasionally
      indulge in such things). I’m also a very passionate man, love to snuggle
      with my cat and wife, am into the artistic side of photography, and love to spend time
      in silence and contemplative prayer. These have nothing to do with “gayness”.
      (I’m not in any way same-sex-attracted). How dare anyone try to claim these
      as “gay” qualities.

      I see the problem then as people centering their lives on their sexuality.
      As others have said, no-one is “gay”, just human and children of God.
      He is our “orientation”.

      • anonymous momma

        These 2 points were what i was thinking, also. I have seen transformations in countless men who grew from light-hearted college-age bachelor to middle-age father, and I can see the difference. They become preoccupied with their duties of providing. It is so hard these days to make a living wage and be open to life and run kids around to their activities and unplug the toilet and pay the insurance bill and so on. My husband does not have ample time or energy to sit around pursuing so called “gay” interests. (which, as you pointed out, is such a crock of a category.) I have gay friends and I understand what the blogger was trying to describe – women LOVE gay men who can sit and understand compassionately and listen so well to us!! But don’t knock an entire category of hard-working fathers just because they can’t sit around appreciating paintings like you can.

        • Objectivetruth

          It’s a full day working and keeping a stressful job, trying to keep a house from falling down, helping your kids with homework and teaching the faith and values, listening to and trying to spend time with your wife, trying to do charity work for the Church, juggling and worrying about bills, being up all night with a sick child, etc., etc., etc……..sometimes I collapse into bed fully clothed, so exhausted. It would be nice to be so self centered, self indulgent, narcissistic, and cry boo hoo cause the whole world doesn’t understand that the center of the universe truly is my sexuality and disordered sexual desires. Boy…..it sure would be nice to be that self indulgent!

          • Melinda Selmys

            Objectivetruth, I have 6 kids, a house that needs to be kept from falling down, a job, and I homeschool. I just spent 2 weeks looking after 6 sick children. I can totally relate to the things that you’re talking about. None of that stops my sexuality, or my “gay interests” from being a significant part of my life. When gay people talk about what gifts they can bring to the Church, it’s not about criticizing or undermining the gifts that parents or straight people bring to the Church — not anymore than JPII is criticizing married people when he speaks in Theology of the Body about the particular gifts that celibates have to offer.

            • Objectivetruth

              And what “gifts” do gay people bring to the Church that straight people don’t? Outside of the gift of celibacy, I don’t know of any.

              And how does the Church celebrate homosexual tendencies or “gayness?” It doesn’t. It can’t. It cant justify it anymore than an adulterous lifestyle. If I’m correct, I don’t think the Church has changed its 2000 year teaching that unrepentant homosexual acts such as sodomy are grave, mortal sins. But it seems that the gay Catholic community is trying to execute some type of “wiggle room” that they can somehow claim to be devout Catholic, but somehow still “gay.” It’s a futile attempt at trying to square a round circle.

              I’ve got plenty of heterosexually oriented single Catholic friends that never heard the call from The Lord to be married and have children. And they have quietly led holy lives of celibacy dedicating themselves to doing what Blessed Teresa of Calcutta called “beautiful things for Jesus.”

              Our society now seems drenched in a 24/7 attitude of “look at me…look at me….I’m gay and I’m special!” Why can’t the man or woman with same sex attraction do as the single heterosexual single Catholic

              • Objectivetruth

                (Cont) …..and quietly carry their cross? We all have our sexual temptation. There’s not a male heterosexual (including myself) out there that has the fight the temptation to procreate with other women. But we catch that temptation, realize it is not moral, say an Ave Maria, and move on trying our best to do “beautiful things for Jesus.” Do we really need to hear the constant klaxon of someone with same sex attraction say “Let me tell you how I’m attracted to men, and that is a gift for the Church.” It’s nothing more than self indulgent “look at me! Look at me!” Narcissism. The homosexual needs to do what we all do when tempted with immorality: recognize it is wrong, recite an Ave Maria, and move on even more dedicated to recognizing God’s will in our lives. But don’t constantly obsess over why your sexually attracted to people of the same sex.

                • Melinda Selmys

                  Right. The problem is that the entire approach that a lot of our Catholic critics take to the issue of same-sex attraction is fundamentally narcissistic. It assumes that my only possible concern is for my own relationship with my own spirituality and my own temptations. I can easily do what you’re telling me to do…but that has absolutely no value in helping LGBTQ people who *cannot* easily do it. I have absolutely no desire to be a queer Catholic poster child. I’ve asked God on a number of occasions to just let me live quietly, raise my kids and write fantasy and horror novels. But that’s not my vocation. I have the ability to articulate Catholic teaching on chastity in a way that resonates with some people in the LGBTQ community, and God loves those people. It’s like in the story of the prodigal son: the Father doesn’t sit in his study with a scowl waiting for the son to come to him on his knees. He runs out to meet his beloved child on the road. God has asked me to meet His beloved gay and lesbian children on the road, so that’s what I’m doing to the best of my ability.

                  • michael susce

                    Melinda,
                    Again you use false analogies. The prodigal son is met by his father because the son has repented and seen the error of his ways. Would the father have been as exuberant if the prodigal son had a boyfriend, prostitute, or girlfriend by his side (or all three, what the hell)? Would any ex gay (or ex fornicator as myself who does not reflect with glee on my past but horribly ashamed when I recall the acts) say that he or she is not worthy because of the evilness of the act?
                    No where in your dialogues do you suggest the horror of the act. And this is the crux of this homophile movement. The homosexual act is a venial, not a mortal sin. But to be fair and consistent (because God is watching me), we heterosexuals have considered fornication as no big deal; a venial not mortal sin. And because of that reduction, we are paying the price now. Thank God for confession and forgiveness that is NOT given unless one is repentant. But it is a spiritual crime to promote this reduction of a mortal sin; and this is what you are doing whether you realize it or not.

                    • Melinda Selmys

                      Ummm…I don’t think that any of us have ever argued that homosexual acts are not grave sins. If I believed that lesbian sex was only venially sinful, I would probably still be in a lesbian relationship. I broke up with my girlfriend because I was firmly convinced that the Church had forbidden those acts, and I trusted Her wisdom in forbidding them. Now, I don’t talk about the “horror of the act” because my experience suggests that doing so is not helpful. One of the reasons that I accepted Church teaching on homosexuality when I converted was that I had read the Pontifical Council for the Family’s document “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality” and I found that it was very measured, rational, lacking in the kind of hysterical denunciations of homosexuality that I expected from the Church. I was a lesbian journalist when I read it, and I expected it to be full of homophobic ravings about how disgusting gay sex is. Instead, it laid out a clear, positive, coherent and compelling vision of human sexuality — and I could see that homosexual sex was not consistent with that vision. I didn’t convert on the spot or anything, but it laid the foundation for my acceptance of Church teaching when I did convert.

            • Adam__Baum

              I’m trying to fathom how you can have six children and regard yourself as (exclusively, primarily or significantly) homosexual.

              • Guest

                Exactly.

              • Matt Jones

                Because she still lives with a homosexual orientation. She’s certainly not heterosexual just because she married a man and had children. It’s an accurate adjective that describes a part of the way she experiences the world. That’s all.

                This is the difference between claiming some kind of identity that revolves around one’s sexuality vs. acknowledging a particular trait about oneself that impacts one’s general social experience.

                • Adam__Baum

                  This is more confusing.

                • Objectivetruth

                  Sounds like Melinda (like all of us) is on her own journey back to Christ.

                  As with all of us, the important point in our journey is when we reject our sins and temptations and turn our ships away from the gathering storms we were heading towards. But this when our real sailing begins. Our ships are going against the tide, tacking against the wind. We’ll take on water, have to patch leaks, and constantly fight the sound of the Siren’s Song over our shoulders as we man the helm. Fortunately, our navigation is provided by the teachings of the Catholic Church. and luckily, our journey does have an end, and it is Christ off in the distance on shore smiling and waving to us. And luckily, he’ll probably start walking across the water towards us.

                  So I commend Melinda’s turning away from sin. Like all of us, she probably doesn’t have all the answers right now. i know in my own journey i certainly dont! But she has surrendered to the love of Christ, and I admire

                  • Objectivetruth

                    (Cont.) that it looks like she has put great faith and trust in Him, which is a fine example.

              • Melinda Selmys

                Because being gay isn’t really very much like being an adulterer. It’s not just a sexual orientation, it also involves certain queer-typical ways of acting and interacting with other people. So, for example, I was involved with a group that had been randomly selected by the Ontario government to serve as a citizen’s assembly (one person selected by lottery from each of Ontario’s 103 ridings.) In a group of 103 randomly selected people, the person I formed the closest friendship with was the lesbian woman. I wasn’t sexually attracted to her. We both had partners. There was no temptation involved. There was just a natural affinity, a shared way of seeing the world. Same deal when I sit down in a room with other gay Catholics. I feel like I fit in. Whereas when I’m in a group of other Catholic mothers I usually feel sort of alienated and…in the old fashioned sense of the word, queer. I’m also still attracted primarily to women, though I don’t entertain lesbian fantasies or anything like that, and I still find men pretty unattractive but I’m deeply in love with my husband and that spiritual/psychological/emotional bond means more to me than my general feelings about male bodies.

                • Objectivetruth

                  So you are Catholic? And you have both a husband and (still have a) lesbian partner? And you believe this is all OK under the teachings of Catholicism? Or are you married but, denying your homosexual temptations? Confused.

                  • Melinda Selmys

                    I am Catholic, I’m married to a man, I haven’t been in a lesbian relationship in over 15 years (I broke up with my girlfriend on the day that I converted to Catholicism.) I’ve found ways of dealing with my attractions in accord with Catholic teaching and the demands of my marriage vows. I’m still attracted to women, but I don’t act on that attraction.

                    • Objectivetruth

                      OK. God bless you on your struggles and cross. You have chosen the route of sainthood, what we all need to exemplify. We all have temptations and crosses, and thank you for your witness and example to not deny the cross, but pick it up and embrace it. Your story gives me strength with my own crosses.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        Thank you. God bless you in return. I think this may be the best outcome I’ve ever seen in a com-box!

                      • Objectivetruth

                        My apologies, I believe I misread your other posts! Good luck Melinda!

                    • kmk

                      Respectfully, do you know the difference between friendships and intimate adult relationships? I’m female, have some very strong positive thoughts toward several females, and love them. I’m not a lesbian, I really enjoy my husband.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        kmk,
                        This is a very cute comment. Yes, of course I know the difference between friendships and “intimate adult relationships” as you put it. Several of my best friends are men, we have very intimate friendships but there’s no way that they could ever become adulterous: there’s no erotic spark. My attractions to women are more similar to the attractions that married men often feel for women other than their wives — I don’t entertain those attractions, but they’re definitely different from the fraternal/friendly non-sexual love that I have for my male friends.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        “My attractions to women are more similar to the attractions that married men often feel for women other than their wives”

                        Correction:

                        “My attractions to women are more similar to the attractions that I I IMAGINE married men often feel for women other than their wives”

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        lol…a fine point. Though that’s why I used the word “more” as a modifying adjective to “similar.”I am actually deeply conscious of the fact that women experience attraction differently than men — it was brought to my attention in a very dramatic way when I was wrestling with a passage in Theology of the Body. After reading it about five times over, intensely confused, I realized that I was unable to map the text onto my own experience because JPII was describing, in highly abstracted phenomenological language, the experience of having an erection. Which obviously is not an experience that I have… :)

                      • Adam__Baum

                        Bluntly, you spend way too much time obsessing over sex and sexual feelings. The very fact that you think that male sexual attraction is an erection is quite frankly tawdry and insulting.

                        I was thirteen when I first began to appreciate young ladies. My first crush was manifested without the slightest physical reaction of that nature. It was the inability to think of anything else, the desire for proximity and attention. It’s not what you think, and I suspect your interpretation of JPII is salacious and inaccurate.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        Adam, I’m not *reducing* male attraction to the experience of erection, I’m just making the rather obvious, one might say “banal,” observation that erection is a part of the experience of sexual attraction for most men and that it is not a part of the experience of sexual atrraction for any women. And there are passages, in JPII, in Thomas Aquinas and in Augustine where they are clearly referring to the experience of having an erection. There are also lots of other passages where they talk about a more gender inclusive form of sexual attraction. In any case, I wasn’t being salacious. I was trying to read Theology of the Body in relation to my own experience of being incarnated in a female body, and there was one passage where I just couldn’t make sense of it. Eventually I realized that it was JPII’s exploration of an experience that women do not have.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        “I’m just making the rather obvious, one might say “banal,” observation that erection is a part of the experience of sexual attraction for most men and that it is not a part of the experience of sexual atrraction for any women.”

                        You clearly didn’t read what I said or refuse to believe it. You have attraction confused with excitement, and women have a different but analogous response.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        Not really. We have a series of responses that are very crudely analogous, but there are some really significant differences. For example, a lot of the biophysical responses that women have in relation to the early phases of sexual excitement are much the same as the biophysical responses that we have in relationship to breastfeeding (the same hormones are released, the neurological and physiological syndromes are very similar). Clearly this is significant in terms of the psychology of feminine sexual response. For a man, erection is perceived immediately as being related to sexual excitement. For a woman, the way that we relate psychologically to our biological responses is much more contextual because there are two possible contexts for the same reaction, both of which are equally appropriate and equally natural.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        For a man, erection is perceived immediately as being related to sexual excitement

                        Once again, you seem to think you understand men. You don’t. Fear or absolutely nothing can produce that result. Stop talking about things you can’t understand.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        And you’re assuming that you understand women. We can play the tu quoque game ad naseum, but it won’t get us anywhere. I’ve read a lot of male thinkers talking about sexuality, and I’ve talked to intimate male acquaintances (most notably my husband) about the differences between my female experience of sexuality and their masculine experience. After fifteen years of marriage, and a lot of academic research, I feel that I can confidently assert that there are significant differences.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        I never made any such claim. I never disputed there are differences. You kind of have to read what other people write, not just assume. You are the one making all kinds of claims about male sexuality.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        In all of the literature that I have read, and all the conversations that I have had, men perceive erection as being generally related to their sexuality. I realize that some erections are just vascular responses that have nothing to do with sexual arousal, but that doesn’t alter the fact that when men experience sexual attraction erection is a common response. I am a married woman, so I do have some first-hand knowledge of how this transpires. I think that anyone, male or female, can fairly state that erections have something to do with male sexuality, that they are an experience that men have and that is relevant to masculinity, and that they are also an experience that women do not have.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        You seem to have a problem staying on point.

                        You didn’t say that response was related to sexuality, but attraction. Furious backpeddling doesn’t change that.

                      • herewegokids

                        Sir you seem to have a need to be highly argumentative and combative.

                      • TheAbaum

                        Sue me.

                        That took you 24 days to concoct?

                      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                        And this is the part where, out of respect for JPII, I ask you to cite this TOB passage. Please point me to it in the TOB corpus. Thanks.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        Oh goodness, I have no recollection. It’s a very long book. But it’s not like I’m saying anything that would contradict “respect for JPII.” He talks quite openly about female orgasm in Love and Responsibility — he was hardly a prude.

                      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                        Nor am I a “prude”–I’ve just learned that comboxes and blogs are places to kindly ask people to *show* me rather than “tell” me. It really does little good to assert that JPII spoke of the “experience of having an erection” in the TOB corpus if you can’t actually cite the passage you have in mind. And it is important to the extent that I’ve never seen personally or heard any other reader of the corpus mention such a passage. As I am continually seeking to immerse myself in its substance, I’d like to see it for myself to see if I can agree with your interpretation.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        Some of the stuff that he says about concupiscence and its relationship to the body is really hard to relate to if you’re a woman. When I was reading TOB my methodology was to read a passage and then figure out how that passage related directly to my own experience of being a body — it seemed to me that it was silly to read a theology of the body entirely as a head-game. Like I said, I can’t quote you chapter and verse but there are definitely parts of the discussion where I couldn’t relate what he was saying to my own body at all. Eventually I realized that it was because the experience of being sexually aroused is very different in male vs. female bodies: for a woman, trying to figure out whether a feeling is sexual arousal or some other form of attraction is much more interior, much more psychological, because we don’t have the same “concupiscent movements of the flesh” that guys have.

                      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                        I would like to point out that you are making a generalization (“hard to relate to if you’re a woman”) that seems to contradict other claims regarding one’s subjective experience and personal narrative. At most, it seems you could only say that you, who self-identify as a gender-queer, same-sex-attracted woman married to a man (if I have this right–and I state this without irony or sarcasm…) have found some of JPII’s stuff really hard to relate to.
                        I’ve never encountered any other women who have read TOB and concluded that he was somehow specifying “male arousal” versus “female arousal” in his writings on concupiscence….

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        I’m hardly the first woman to talk about the fact that Catholic sexual discourse, and sexual discourse in general, tends to be centered in the male experience. In any case, any woman who was reading TOB with a different methodology than I used would not have noticed this. But I’m making a point so obvious that it should not be remotely contentious. A man writing about the body and sexuality will naturally write about the experience of having a male body. I have a female body. Male bodies and female bodies have different genitalia, different hormones, and therefore different sexual responses. JPII is not writing from some sort of external vantage point that excluded his maleness and transcends sexual difference…that would contradict the entire point of TOB.

                      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                        Melinda–I think this really makes it seem to me that you are overly entrenched in the realm of subjectivity and personal narrative. Sorry, but it’s utterly absurd to claim that JPII’s TOB is somehow necessarily written from the perspective of having a “male body.” JPII’s own “I” is in no way the focal point of the TOB corpus and does not prevent hiim from writing precisely from the external vantage point from which he can discuss realities associated with *both* man and woman….

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        Jim, TOB is personalist, it talks directly about the value of human subjectivity, about how our masculinity and femininity is essential to all of our human activities, and about how we approach objectivity through intersubjective communion. This is the book that convinced me that subjectivity and personal narrative are relevant to philosophical inquiry (before TOB, I was a very hard objectivist.)

                        p.s. I sent you an e-mail recently. I’m wondering if you received it, or whether I no longer have your current e-mail address? If not, please contact me at melinda@vulgatamagazine.org.

                      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                        Actually, that’s more my point–JPII’s approach was not merely “personalist”. His was *Thomistic* personalism. Which is why I assert that his capacity for Thomistic objectivity as a writer is what makes his personalist observations so compelling. He wasn’t relying upon his own “male” subjectivity to make his case in the TOB corpus.
                        Yes–got your note and will reply soon, hopefully.

                      • Mark

                        The problem with allegedly objective stances is that often assume personal experiences are the same in everyone without even considering the category may be subjective. Take “sexual desire” or arousal. From what I’ve heard , in women this is much more a matter of subjective judgment and interpretation of subtle mood cues in herself than the “obvious” and straightforward experience men have.

                        Though even then it isn’t always so obvious:

                        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-factor_theory_of_emotion

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        Right, but the same thing could be said of Aquinas. The funniest example is where he advises women to abstain from sex during menses unless they are fearful that they’re husband will otherwise commit adultery, and then advises that in such cases we ought to conceal our menstrous condition from our spouses lest they conceive a repulsion towards us. It’s just hilarious. It shows in a wonderfully illustrative fashion that Aquinas is writing from the experience of a male celibate whose understanding of menstruation comes entirely out of a book. JPII is a wonderful writer and a wonderful man, and almost everything in TOB is applicable to both males and female equally. But every so often the fact that he is a male writer shows. Which is not only acceptable, it’s actually good. One of the big points in TOB is that our masculinity or femininity informs our entire self — it’s not reducible simply to reproductive or genital functions. So, to give a kind of uniquely personal example, when I experience gender dysphoria and perceive myself as masculine I experience gender dysphoria in a way that only a woman can experience it, and I perceive myself as masculine in a way that is fundamentally feminine. My female sexuality is absolutely inescapable, it’s the foundation of my personality — even if I sometimes have a subjective experience of alienation from it. In the same vein, JPII’s masculinity is manifest in his entire personality and in all of his works, including his writing. It’s not a bad thing that parts of that writing reflect his masculinity in a way that doesn’t totally gel with a female experience. It would actually be bad if his writing didn’t manifest his masculinity because it would undermine his thesis about sexuality.

                      • herewegokids

                        Well…he DOES have a male body..so yeah, it is necessarily written from that perspective. *sigh*

                      • Objectivetruth

                        A question Melinda on the Canadien gay marriage law (and, you might not have the answer, just curious):

                        I believe gay marriage has been legal in Canada for ten years. I saw a statistic however that only 17% of all gay Canadiens take advantage of this law and “marry” (as opposed to 78% of Canadien heterosexuals that marry.)

                        Is this correct and your thoughts? I believe that the goal of the gay marriage movement was to somehow get approval of the lifestyle, yet gays actually don’t believe marriage is that important.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        I can only give my own perspective. I think if I had never become a Catholic, and had stayed with my lesbian partner, we’d probably still be together and we probably wouldn’t be married. Maybe some sort of Pagan blessing ceremony (my ex is Wiccan), but not marriage. I had a very definite sense that my relationship was not in the same category as my parents’ relationship. Also, in Canada if two people live together for 3 years in a sexual relationship they’re considered common-law and that confers almost all of the legal status associated with marriage. For a lot of gay people marriage equality is more about practical matters, like hospital visitation, end-of-life decision-making, conjugal visitation in prison, inheritance tax, spousal benefits, etc. than it is about marriage as such.

                      • Mark

                        I think Canadians can apply for common-law status after only one year, actually, and they simply have to prove it is a “conjugal” relationship. I don’t think that necessarily includes a “sexual activity test” so much as proof that life is intertwined AS partners/kin/domestically integrated.

                      • Objectivetruth

                        Interesting……thanks.

                      • Objectivetruth

                        Agreed. As a married man struggling daily to live a devout Catholic life, women other than my wife I consider “sisters”, and have no sexual or erotic feelings for them (I believe in the Old Testament men and women not wedded referred to each other as “brother and sister”, to be cognizant that we are all truly children of God.) this way of viewing the opposite sex for me actually is very fulfilling, because my friendships with female coworkers are as if they were actually my biological sisters. To view them as sexual objects would be wrong. To have sexual, erotic lustful feelings for them would be akin to adultery, and probably a temptation similar to the sexual feelings a homosexual has for someone of the same sex.

                      • Led

                        Uh, maybe she talks to her husband. Just guessing here.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        Uh, I guess you don’t understand the word “experiential”.

                    • herewegokids

                      ^^ Oh Melinda. I’m saying a rosary for you right now. LOL.

                • Adam__Baum

                  There’s really no way to accurately describe my reaction to that post.

                  • Led

                    I understand finding Melinda’s situation confusing. I don’t understand thinking that your failure of imagination has much to do with the realities of her life. People, take a step back! These are faithful Catholics, obeying the teaching of the Church when that makes seriously counter-cultural and personal demands on them. I think we should give them some leeway and freedom to describe what that is like, and we should listen carefully. Why on earth would it seem like a good idea to try to conclude from blog comments that you are in a good position to offer judgment on this person’s marriage?

                    • Adam__Baum

                      I’m not questioning her fidelity. I didn’t judge her marriage. It’s certainly not an arrangement I’d be comfortable with, but then again, it doesn’t matter-but I only have to be comfortable with my wife, nobody else’s.

                      Clearly, you don’t read what’s written.

            • daisy

              What gifts would that be? All I see and hear is a whole lot of whining and frankly, I”m bored. I’d like to see an adulterers pressure group in the church or maybe a thief lobby.

              • Melinda Selmys

                If you’re bored, why get involved? There’s nothing requiring you to read articles about homosexuality.

                • Adam__Baum

                  It’s gather and eat the soup de jour or go hungry.

                  • Melinda Selmys

                    Not really. I have an almost total disinterest in Obamacare because I’m a Canadian. I get hundreds of Twitter notifications about articles concerning Obamacare. I never click on them. Because it doesn’t interest me and I don’t have the time or energy to develop a coherent point of view on the subject. With the internet we have a more or less infinite number of options in terms of what we will, or will not, engage with. We’re hardly stuck in a situation where we have to engage with gay issues or not engage at all!

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “I have an almost total disinterest in Obamacare because I’m a Canadian.”

                      But you shouldn’t. Canada’s ace-in-the-hole is gone.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        Na, not really. We can still feel smug and superior about the fact that our state healthcare is actually state healthcare, whereas Obamacare just seems to be the worst of all possible worlds.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        Let me be blunt. You have almost as little business attempting to argue healthcare finance with me as you do arguing male sexual function.

                      • Melinda Selmys

                        I’m not arguing healthcare finance with you. I was making a joke about Canadian attitudes towards Obamacare. I’m also not arguing male sexual function. My comment was that some aspects of male sexual experience don’t resonate well with my *female* experience. As a woman, I am qualified to make that claim.

                      • Adam__Baum

                        As a woman, I am qualified to make that claim.

                        No you aren’t. You made the comment that your attractions are like a married man’s. You have no basis to make that comparative claim.

              • Adam__Baum

                Oh daisy, let’s not bother with such pedestrian stuff. Let’s get get really interesting people like the woman that “married” the roller coaster.

      • Adam__Baum

        They are all disorders that need to be cured.

        Many have no cure, and must be endured. Ask my diabetic father with a particularly strong affection for big syrup infused cinnamon buns. Every day is a challenge,

      • Gabriel Blanchard

        It doesn’t seem to me that anybody is saying that only gay people are sympathetic, artistic, &c. That, I agree, would be preposterous. What some of us have said is that the experience of living with same-sex attraction seems to be correlated to, and perhaps even to foster, these qualities (which can of course be fostered in other ways). Assuming that this is true, this would then be something worthwhile that we get out of this particular cross.

        • anonymous momma

          Okay, but perhaps “fostering” exceptional qualities is simply what happens when people don’t get married or join a religious order. You just have More Personal Time than the rest of us. Taking perpetual vows, having that first baby to care for 24/7 is a giving of self that requires, no sucks out of you every drop of energy you’ve got, and more. That’s the pouring out of self that defines the very nature of Vocation. We’d like to feel “special” too but we’re just too damn tired. My heart breaks for the cross you carry, but you know what, the older I get and the more crosses I see asked of so many friends (like my friend who is dying of incurable breast cancer with 3 kids younger than 6 or my brother who buried his 11 year old because of cancer recently) just lessons my sympathy. We all have gifts and talents and handicaps. Spend your whole life trying to understand “why me?” or just go out and live your life in a holy way. I’m so tired of gay issues constantly in my face. Maybe we all need to talk LESS about our sexual desires and focus more on basic Gospel issues like poverty or debating the atheists and Muslims in our communities.

          • Matt Jones

            Hi Daisy,

            I hear what you’re saying, and share many of your frustrations. But the writers at Spiritual Friendship are not trying to foster a “why me” tone, to convince the world that our burden is beyond anyone’s imagining. Hardly. The “why me” is a part of suffering, but we want to encourage people to move from the inward-turning “why” to the outward-turning “how then shall we live?”

            But the fact of the matter is that church communities – and strands of Christian “culture” – have been consistently inhospitable to men and women and youth living with same-sex attraction. Most (I think all) of us at Spiritual Friendship have had friends and acquaintances get burned by Christians and thus give up on celibacy or Christianity. Some have killed themselves. It’s not about which pain is worse or degrees of suffering, but simply that the church has not been what Christ has called it to be, and we want to see the Gospel truly proclaimed and hurting men and women and children be known and surrounded by people who will support them and accept their support in their own struggles.

            I’d also like to say, I’ve worked at an orphanage. The intimation that you only really know what exhaustion is till you’re married/a parent or whatever is a little condescending… like, “wouldn’t it be nice if *I* could be as self-absorbed as you single people.” Single people have our own avenues of exhausting service to others in the name of Christ. No need to draw false boundaries.

          • Melinda Selmys

            A lot of what you’re saying here is very true. However, I have the perpetual vows, and the babies (six of them — including a special needs child), and the tiredness. It hasn’t prevented me from fostering my intellectual and artistic life. I have philosophical conversations with my teenage daughter, and teach art history lessons to my 8 year old son. Of course there are other exceptional qualities that you might have, and that other “straight” Catholic women have, that I completely lack. Put me in charge of a Church fundraising event, and you will have a disaster. Ask me to organize the local CWL chapter, and you won’t have a CWL. Everyone has gifts, and we all make decisions about which of our gifts we will develop. The point of talking about what gifts gay people have is not to say that gay people are better, or exceptional, its to say that gay people have something of genuine value to give back to the Church. It’s an antidote to the fact that gays are too often understood primarily as a “pastoral problem,” rather than as valued members of the Christian community. We’re not asking to be treated as more special than everyone else, just to be treated as equally beloved of God.

          • Gabriel Blanchard

            I’m a great deal less experienced with self-giving than yourself or Melinda; and I admit, when it comes to discussing gay issues, I’ve actually wearied of the sound of my own voice on the subject, and since I’m vain as a peacock that’s not easy to do. But the reason I write is precisely because I feel a vocation to it; one of the chief things I’m trying to do is put stuff out there to give people the kind of reassurance that I wanted and needed when I was grappling with this, scared and alone and completely without guidance, as a teenager. I don’t for a moment claim that we give more than other people do. This just happens to be the kind of thing I can give.

    • poetcomic1

      How odd that embracing a ‘gay identity’ can damage one’s absolute and God created uniqueness. There were some very ‘butch’ women a hundred years ago full of masculine traits, who rather than going around ‘celebrating’ their ‘queerness’ (not that it could have been done then!) Gave all their odd, powerful strengths to God FIRST and as religious, founded international orders, ran entire hospitals, orphanages etc. Gerard Hopkins who was intensely, neurotically attracted to his own sex is much more interesting as a Catholic and a poet than as a compulsive masturbator – I hate to put it so bluntly. Finding one’s REAL strength in and for God is the key to peace for all His children.

      • Adam__Baum

        Show me a picture of one of these women wearing a plaid shirt and sporting a flat-top.

    • ForChristAlone

      Homosexuality – either in its action form or sublimated – is a phenomenon of narcissism. Those saddled with this disordered sexuality that we call homosexual, experience a projected love of self onto another object. It is an attempt to find wholeness for what the homosexual experiences as lacking in oneself.

      True sexual love is complementary – it sees in the other the completion of a whole and not its mirror image. This is one reason why homosexual love is sterile love. Only the pair of the two complements can be fruitful – fruitful, I might add, as God intended.

      • poetcomic1

        What a smug and pompous dismissal of a complex problem. Like most lies it is a half-truth. If it pleases you have to a simple, neat answer be my guest. 1/4 or more of male homosexuals have been abused and initiated into it, damaged (sometimes in horrific ways) and I doubt if they fit your self-infatuated ‘monster of pride’ image which no doubt gives you pleasure.

        • Guest

          Yes, yes, it is all so complicated don’t you know? Only those immersed in a disordered life can possible see what is true.

        • Adam__Baum

          Wow dude, that was harsh.

          While I agree that the genesis can be abuse (or in the case of prison -constraint and convenience), and this is a multifaceted matter, the article and ForChristAlone’s response is focused on the a particular subset of all those with SSA.

          Don’t borrow indignation where it isn’t offered, plenty is provided intentionally and gratuitously.

          • poetcomic1

            All homosexuals are narcissists? Crap.

            • Adam__Baum

              That’s not what he said. Knock it off.

        • ForChristAlone

          Homosexuality isn’t all that complicated. And, besides, let’s not confuse ‘complicated’ with ‘obfuscated.’

        • michael susce

          I agree with you in that the sources of sin are manifold and the degree varied. If I am not mistaken the Catechism makes a distinction between a prostitute who acts to feed her children versus one who sells herself for fun and profit. On the other hand, abusers, regardless of act, tend to abuse others. This does not justify the abuse of the abuser, but you are not arguing this.

    • Carol Leeda Crawford

      Who and whom I choose to BE is a misnomer. I do not have a choice, God either made me male or female. How I act, react, think, feel and what I believe to be true are all affected by my perceptions on an issue at hand. I was given a gift of Free Will from God, He made me a female and planted His Truth in my heart, my being is His gift to me. I am a child of God. NO ONE IS A SEXUAL ORIENTATION! Scripture is very clear on homosexuality, and, that God identifies it as an abomination to Him. It is written that the sins of the fathers are handed down. When I personally review the horrible sinful acts of members of my family including myself I understand why God’s Grace was removed.

      No one is their desires and attractions. Why do people want to herald and identify the object of their Cross as good? (this is a very important question) The object of our cross is often evil desires or acts we know are forbidden by God’s Law; a law which He created for our Good. Our willingness to carry our cross, avoid giving in to the desires it entails, seeing them as they are, sinful desires, and choosing not to identify them as being whom we are. As children of God, we are called to choose to stay away from temptation while affirming what is good and acceptable to God.

      I pray these individuals with same sex attraction will choose to stop identifying themselves as being their desires. They are children of God, male or female made in His image and likeness.

      • Talamssy

        Free will to choose to be a self righteous, judgmental hypocrite.

        People like you should be spayed and spare the rest of us having to listen to more of your pontificating. Your sinful desire to be judge and jury. Nail it.

        You’re not on a cross.Looks more like a pedestal.

        Why the obsession with other people’s sex lives or lack thereof anyway ? I hope you tell that in Confession you naughty girl. If anything is ‘dis ordered’ – that kind of obsession most certainly is. Do your children know you’re a pervert ?

        • Adam__Baum

          Cleanup in aisle 1.

        • Guest

          Are you a new homophile?

      • Mark

        What desires are you talking about? Do you understand homosexuality to be “desires”? Desires for what specifically?

    • Gabriel Blanchard

      First of all, thank you for an outstandingly written and measured critique. I particularly like the quote, which I had read before but forgotten, “Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral.”

      I’ll limit my response to two points I find problematic here. First, the difficulties of sexuality and complementarity. Naturally I accept the Church’s teaching about the complementarity of man and woman, but, with the exception of mixed-orientation marriages, I’m not altogether clear how it applies to same-sex attracted people who don’t intend or expect to marry. In what way is their sexuality ordered toward the opposite sex? I mean, certainly it is in the sense that the same moral obligations bind us as bind heterosexual people vis-a-vis sexual intercourse, marriage, and so forth. But those obligations exist precisely in the context of an established conjugal relationship between persons. I don’t really understand how there could be a general orientation of sexuality to the opposite sex, rather than or in the absence of a specific erotic relationship. What I understand Damian and Taylor to be talking about are affective goods that may not flow from, but do seem at least to be strongly correlated with, a homosexual disposition, and are reasons to not condemn the whole affectivity of gay-identified people as intrinsically damaged. They then cite the Catechism’s specific attention to homosexual acts as being sinful in support of this view, and I find this view reasonably convincing. Could you perhaps flesh this line of argument out some more?

      Second, I don’t find your case against coming out adequate. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t believe anybody should feel obliged to come out; it is an exceedingly personal decision, and the idea one occasionally runs across in the gay world that it isn’t authentic to be closeted is in my view ridiculous and intrusive. Nor do I wish to seem, or be, dismissive of Church documents, whether they are infallible or not. But it also seems to me that in our current cultural milieu, there should be at least some openly known gay Catholics (as there are), for two reasons: first, fairly or not, the gay community isn’t likely to give people a hearing when they counsel them to pluck out their right eye, unless it’s someone who’s done it themselves; and second, it gives an example of orthodoxy and (hopefully) joy to young people who are struggling with same-sex feelings, whether temporary or permanent.

      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

        ****In what way is their sexuality ordered toward the opposite sex? ****
        Gabriel–this question was answered magisterially by Blessed Pope John Paul II: it’s known as “the spousal meaning of the body.”
        Your maleness is the “bodily” expression of God’s plan for you. You are, by being a man and not a woman, called by God to be, from the inside out, ordered toward the opposite sex.
        Which is precisely why homosexuality’s same-sex attraction is objectively disordered–it is a contradiction of the “spousal meaning” of your body.

        • pete salveinini

          Exactly. however we now know that sexuality needs to be LEARNED AS WELL AS GIVEN BY GENERATION. There are several factors INTERFERING WITH THIS GIVEN AND PROCESS. Some factors may interfere with the gestation of the child in the womb: chemical toxicity due to pollution (we see in fish, so why not us) and couldn’t all that estrogen poured into the water table by the urine of MILLIONS of contra-cepting women have something to due with it? Also, the same women on the pill gravitate to the less masculine men (since their brain has been tricked by the pill to act as if t he woman is pregnant and thus wanting the nurturing aspect of men, rather than the robust male in the full power of strong sperm. We also know that prolonged physical and/ psychic stress for the mother can suppress the production of the male hormones during gestation. Men can ruin the strength of their sperm too, by dissolute living, drunkenness and drugs, postponing marriage until after the decline of testosterone begins.
          Have you noticed that in fraternal twins of different sex often the female comes out first and is stronger than the male? In my own extended family this was the case.
          This brings us to the second interfering factor: the LEARNING how to be male from bonding with the father, brothers, male peers from two on. If a boy has some of the first watering down of the maleness during gestation, he will DEFINITELY NEED MUCH MORE OF THE BONDING IN THE LEARING HOW TO BE MASCULINE PHASE. So in a family where a boy has had some interference in gestation, that boy will need MUCH MORE FATHERING than other boys.
          Finally, the characteristic of adolescence is AMBIGUITY. What this new homofilia really is is being stuck in this ambiguity of not really knowing confidently what masculinity is vis-à-vis the female AND A SELF-ASSERTING THAT MAKES THE AMBIGUITY GO AWAY ON THE CONSCIOUS LEVEL, since it is too painful to be forever ambiguous.

        • Gabriel Blanchard

          Well, okay, but I still don’t understand what the spousal meaning of the body is. I accept that it’s there, I’m just not clear — ordered toward the opposite sex in what way? What is the aim, the object, that this ordering is towards?

          • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

            The amazingly complete answer to the question is in JPII’s Theology of the Body corpus. A shorter answer would be that the complementarity of the spousal meaning of the body (male-for-female and female-for-male) expresses the call to be a *reciprocal* self-gift in the exclusive communion of persons that marriage is.
            This is something that same-sex attraction is incapable of meaning because it lacks the essential reciprocity and complementarity.
            The earthly sign of the complementary communion of persons in marriage is finite (no marriage in heaven) but points us *also* to the infinite complementary communion of persons that does exist in eternity–the human person’s union with God (which is why celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom is a “yes” in this life to the eternal reality of communion with God and thus an equally valuable expression of the spousal meaning of the body).
            Again, this barely scratches the surface of the surface. But it’s there in the magisterium of JPII if you want to read it firsthand.

            • Melinda Selmys

              Jim,
              The spousal meaning of the body signifies the complementary and reciprocal union of God and man — but not in a way that denies that reciprocal self-giving can exist between two people of the same sex. Otherwise Christ’s saying “There is no greater love than this, that a man should give up his life for his friends” would be meaningless in the context of Christ’s male relationship with his male Apostles. We can fully celebrate and value the goodness of Christian marriage without needing to extend that into a denial of the value of forms of communion which don’t depend on sexual complementarity.

              • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                *Agape* is the “no greater love” Jesus refers to regarding the experience of self-sacrificing in human love. *Eros* on the other hand is utterly dependent upon complementarity. Your argument ultimately is with Pope Benedict on this.
                ****The awareness that sexuality, eros and marriage as a union between a man and a woman go together–”and they become one flesh” (Gn 2:24)–this knowledge is growing weaker and weaker; every type of bond seems entirely normal–they represent a sort of overal morality of non-discrimination and a form of freedom due to man. (Pope Benedict, 9 Nov 2006)****

                • Mark

                  Jim, maybe it would help you to define “eros” for us, and how you understand its relationship to the phenomenon of “same sex attraction.”

                  Because right now it feels like you are going in definitional circles.

                  • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                    I’ve already let Pope Benedict define it for us. In the dimension of human love, “eros” is defined as “the gift of love between a man and a woman.”

                    • Mark

                      Ok, Jim. Thank you.

                      Then obviously if we accept that definition, the attraction of gay people to members of the same sex simply CANNOT be eros under THAT definition, because it is “by definition” excluded. And I don’t think anyone who is gay is trying to claim that our love/attraction for members of the same sex is “the love between a man and a woman” because by definition it isn’t, by definition it is same-sex, and so if you define a category specifically as “opposite sex love” it obviously isn’t a part of that category. We’re not stupid.

                      The thing that’s confusing, then, is what exactly you find objectionable about same-sex attraction. It obviously isn’t “eros” under your definition, by definition, and yet it sort of feels like you’re trying to have it both ways, like you sort of want to admit that it IS eros but then contradicts itself by also NOT being eros (according to your by-definition-opposite-sex definition). But it’s unclear how this would work or even make sense. It either is or it isn’t. If it IS eros, then obviously the definitional limitation of eros as “male-female love” doesn’t work. But if it ISN’T “eros,” then it is unclear what you think it is, or why it would be a problem, or why the sexual oppositeness which defines eros for you would have any relevance to analyzing same-sex attraction (which would, categorically, seem outside the purview of a category defined as only including opposite-sex attraction).

                      Do you see what I’m asking?

                      • Mark

                        Perhaps it would be more clear if I use a geometric analogy. To me our “debate” feels like this:

                        There is a trapezoid. He says, “I’m a parallelogram, because I have two parallel sides.” You step into correct him and say, “Nope, parallelogram is defined in this school as having BOTH sets of opposite sides parallel. You’re breaking the rules, you gotta get out of here!”

                        As the trapezoid I’d respond, “Okay, under your definition it’s clear that I’m not a parallelogram, by definition. What remains unclear is why you think non-parallelogram quadrilaterals are excluded from your school. Why should things which aren’t parallelograms in the first place be analyzed under the logic of what a parallelogram is.”

                        Even if a trapezoid isn’t really a parallelogram, it is still SOMETHING, obviously, so at that point it becomes unclear why simply not being a parallelogram is “breaking the rules.” It’s like trying to argue that a trapezoid is a “disordered parallelogram.” But that doesn’t really make sense because that’s begging the question of why you assume the trapezoid is “supposed to be” a parallelogram at all. Maybe it isn’t a disordered parallelogram, but just a well-ordered trapezoid.

                        If you see the analogy? It’s unclear even HOW you can object to gay eros using the the argument “Because by definition it’s not eros, since eros is between a man and a woman.” Well, fine, but if you’re excluding it from the category “by definition” it becomes unclear, then, why it makes any sense to even compare it to that category or hold it to the standards of that category.

                        If there is a restaurant health-code that says “Hamburgers are defined for the purposes of this code as a patty of ground beef between two buns” and then has certain rules about how hamburgers must be cooked…it would be absurd to turn around and tell a restaurant that cooks a “burger” with a cut of pork on pumpernickel bread that “That isn’t allowed! The health-code says hamburgers are ground-beef between two buns!” AT MOST you could say, “You should not CALL that thing a burger.” But as soon as you admit it is something OTHER than a burger (since it doesn’t meet the definition of hamburger) you also put it OUTSIDE the authority of rules applying to hamburgers and at that point it becomes unclear how it has any relation to the hamburger health-code at all. What you seem to be reading into all this is some sort of implicit “broader” category of “sandwiches” and then positing some unspoken additional rule that “all sandwiches must be burgers.”

                        But it is unclear to me what your “broader” conceptual category is (that same-sex attraction shares with heterosexual eros) and where you’re getting the idea that all phenomena of that broader category MUST be [heterosexual] eros, or that [heterosexual] eros is the only acceptable member of that category.

                      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                        Are “slainte” and “mark” the same commenter?
                        Your confusion exists because you seem to refuse to accept what the Church teaches regarding same-sex attraction and the nature of “eros”–namely that “eros” is indeed (in human love) the gift of love between a man and a woman, just as Benedict says.
                        So what is “homo-eros” or “same-sex attraction”? It’s a twisting or a distortion of authentically ordered eros. It’s a disorder of what eros is meant to be.
                        God’s plan for human “eros” is complementarity–man and woman. Same-sex attraction–which by definition is not complementary and not ordered toward one man and one woman–is disordered eros.

                      • Mark

                        Slainte and I have opposed views; why would you confuse us?

                        Your reply is “getting somewhere,” at least. You’ve now stated that same-sex attraction is indeed “Eros,” but just “disordered Eros.”

                        However, being a “disordered something” implies that you are still that something in some real sense. If I define the box with a door and shelves in my kitchen as a “broken refrigerator,” there must be some reason I think it is still essentially a refrigerator, even when broken. Otherwise, I might just call it “a perfectly functional cabinet.”

                        By defining same sex attraction of the sort gays experience “disordered Eros,” you are identifying it as a disordered form of the sort of love which you believe is only supposed to be between a man and a woman. But a disordered form is still a form nonetheless, so the question I’ve been trying to get to is how you know it is “that sort” of love?

                        You believe that sort is supposed to be only between men and women, but obviously the opposite-sexed quality is not essential for identifying it as “that sort,” or else you would have no reason to identify same sex attraction as that sort. So what does identify it as such, Jim?

                      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                        My disqus stuff got weirded out, apparently–it showed your comment previously under “slainte” and not “mark”.
                        In any case, you seem to be taking something so clear and simple and intentionally overcomplicating it.
                        Mark–here is a banana. It’s even ripe and read to eat.
                        Over there is a banana. It was ripe six months ago and is now a dessicated, blackened mess.
                        You approach me and say, “are you hungry? would you like a banana?
                        I say, “Sure.”
                        You grab the six-month-old black and shriveled banana and say “here you go, eat up! It’s a delicious banana just waiting to fulfill its destiny as a delicious banana!”
                        I say, “But this banana is…disordered…it’s not edible.”
                        You say, “Sure it is! It’s a banana!”
                        I say, “No thanks–not hungry after all.”

                      • Mark

                        Yes I know what disordered means, Jim. It’s still a banana on account of certain identifiable features (it’s shape, it’s chemical composition, it’s past) but it’s obviously a decayed banana.

                        However, I’m asking you to identify what it is that you think makes same sex attraction still Eros (albeit disordered Eros). What about it identifies it as “the same sort of love” as (opposite sex) Eros, even if you believe it’s not as it’s “supposed to” be?

                        What specifically distinguishes a love or attraction as reserved for the opposite sex?

                      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                        Because it is a *sexual* attraction–an attraction based *upon* a person’s sex. It’s an attempt at a relationship based on sexual attraction.

                      • Mark

                        I think you’ll need to be more specific than that, Jim. For example, on that Mark Shea thread the other day a woman pointed out that “I find myself far more attracted to females as friends than males. I have more in common with other women, have more to talk about with them, find them more comfortable to be around. By your definition, I would be sexually attracted to them, because my attraction to them is based on their femaleness.”

                        I don’t think “attraction based on their sex” is going to cut it in terms of specificity, then, Jim, because both gays and straights are in many different ways drawn towards people based on their maleness or femaleness (indeed, it is basically impossible to encounter another person purely “as a bare human” rather than “as a man” or “as a woman” as both the catechism and TOTB imply).

                        Straight guys are drawn to their team captain based on his masculine charisma. Gay guys love Audrey Hepburn for her female elegance. Fathers say there is something special about having a little girl specifically to dote on. Little boys turn to mommy, not daddy, in certain moments when they need sheer mothering comfort.

                        So I think you’re going to need to be more specific here for me about what you are defining as “that sort” of love or attraction (that you think is only supposed to be for the opposite sex).

                      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                        Again, let’s let Pope Benedict clear the air on this. He reminds us of “the basic anthropological fact that man is meant to be definitively united to one woman and vice versa.”
                        Is that specific enough? Men and women can in complementary communion be capable of an indissoluble, exclusive, and faithful bond.
                        Men and men can’t. Women and women can’t. Same-sex attraction is an attempt to *substitute* something authentic for something disordered.

                        [The indissoluble, exclusive and faithful bond uniting Christ and the Church, which finds sacramental expression in the Eucharist, corresponds to the basic anthropological fact that man is meant to be definitively united to one woman and vice versa. --Pope Benedict XVI, 2007]

                      • Mark

                        Assuming were not talking about sex acts, what do you think constitutes the essence of “that sort” of love in such a way that you can say homosexuals are trying to “substitute” for it, rather than just attempting something different?

                      • Carol Leeda Crawford

                        God’s Word distinguishes love or attraction reserved for the opposite sex. Leviticus 18:22. Sodom and Gomorrah, Paul to the Romans and in other sections of the New Testament. Our carnal desires will attempt to convince our reason that they are just, because of their strength and consistency. Yet, God tells us to remain faithful to His Commandments and Moral Law. We either choose to live by the Spirit or the Flesh. Yet, God has promised us He will give us the ability to resist temptation is we rely on Him and surrender to His Will. I understand same-sex attraction is a difficult cross to carry, and that our fellows are uncharitable towards those who have to carry it. Yet, it is not charity to pretend the subject of the Cross is a gift. The gift from God is His Mercy in assisting us in the carrying of our Crosses.

            • Gabriel Blanchard

              Right, so on the principle of sexual complementarity, homosexual sex is ruled out. That I understand and accept. What I’m still missing is what it means for a gay celibate (or strictly speaking any celibate, I suppose) to be sexually ordered toward the opposite sex. I’m perfectly willing to accept a simplified answer, and I do want to read TOB; but I’m not seeing the applicability of what you’ve written to the specific difficulty of what the spousal meaning of the body is in a celibate context. Is the notion here simply that the spousal meaning of the body rules out non-marital sex, homosexual sex by definition included, or is there more to it than that?

              • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                Here’s the problem: on the principle of sexual complementarity, homosexual *attraction*–not just “sex”–is ruled out.
                Ruling out sex acts doesn’t somehow automatically change the spousal meaning of the body such that one is now permitted to engage disordered sexual desire in one’s will. Notice that this applies to *everyone* equally–not just a person experiencing the disorder of same-sex attraction. Our body-soul identity as either male or female, according to God’s plan, determines the “trajectory” of “eros” expressed as human love–toward the reciprocity and complementarity of the gift of love between a man and a woman.

              • Carol Leeda Crawford

                I encourage you to be honest with yourself, no one is their desires, behaviour, thoughts, or feelings, as children of God we are responsible for how we respond to each of these which is obvious in the Confiteor we say at the beginning of Mass. I worked for years as an Expressive Arts Therapist – I always appreciated the lesson I learned from Roberto Assagioli’s psychosynthesis process, known as dis-dentifying. An exercise in his collection of basic writings in the book titled Psychosynthesis is called dis-identification pgs 111 – 125. His book The Act of Will is excellent from a psychological processing perspective.

                The self, the I as Catholics is defined: I am a child of God, a (gender) made in the image and likeness of God is central to our being, surround it with will – yes Free Will given to us by God – the ability to choose. Often, one believes either by choice or through some experience or experiences that they have become their thoughts, emotions, desires, imagination, intuition, sensations or impulses. The blessing is the self or the I is capable of developing a deeper understanding of how and why we have certain inclinations, no matter how intense or constant they may be. None of these ways through which we experience, not one is who we are as a child of God.

                I encourage you to seek the truth and ask God to direct you, surrender yourself to Him. No one is “Gay” or any of the other terms used, individuals are choosing to identify themselves as being their desires. The gift God gave to you is He gave you life, in His image and likeness, male he created you. You are choosing to identify yourself as being your desires, and saying it is a gift, and then you contradict yourself by saying: God doesn’t want you to use this gift. Again, I encourage you to stop identifying yourself other than as a man made in the image and likeness of God.

        • Mark

          Gabriel’s question, Jim, is exactly what you imagine this spousal meaning to mean for celibates. It can’t be reduced to “You’re supposed to marry a woman” because not all men are.

          I think most gay men still understand heterosexual marriage, intuitively, whether they’d think to say it explicitly or not, as the “Icon” (as it were) of self-giving love for the Other that is fruitful.

          The just see the Other in other-minds, other-souls, even when they are not genitally other or able to have that sort of union.

          It is mixing levels of the metaphor to insist in a sort of “strict consistency” across different layers. Genital complementarity is a symbol (on that level) of love in general, but that doesn’t mean that a man and woman are the only two people who can properly love each other on the “spiritual” level.

          • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

            Mark, your thoughts are so far removed from authentic Catholic teaching that they are morally dangerous.
            Your argument(s) continue to be with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

      • Adam__Baum

        “it is an exceedingly personal decision”

        That seems so familiar a line. Oh yeah, it’s usually the tagline of the abortion industry.

    • tamsin

      To borrow a line from the Gospel of Matthew, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” I will have a lot more respect for the New Homophiles when they come out swinging against the redefinition of marriage, and gay parenting, in which the mother is eliminated as children are bought and sold.

      • Adam__Baum

        Hmmm. It isn’t even reporting day for pitchers and catchers and you just parked one in way, way up in the cheap seats. First homer of 2014 was a grand slam.

        • tamsin

          This is how you do it…
          By the way, thank you for your encouraging words. I worry that in developing their theology of homosexuality, NHers are unraveling the seamless garment all the way back up to the waist to seamlessly weave in a pocket for themselves. They are sure they can re-weave the garment afterwards. I’m not so sure. Homosexuality is very, very, very old. Did I mention that homosexuality is old? Ancient.

          • Adam__Baum

            Your posts tend to be among those I rely upon to be invariably informed, coherent and well expressed. Thanks and you are welcome.

          • Mark

            “Homosexuality” may be. Whatever that means. Gayness is a 19th and 20th century construction.

      • Aaron Taylor

        Well, as one of the “New Homophiles” mentioned in Mattson’s critique here, I’ve written several pieces opposing the redefinition of marriage.

      • Objectivetruth

        Washington DC is trying to legalize surrogacy. With India starting to shut down surrogacy to gay westerners, gays need to find a new source of cheap womb rental. With the highly impoverished African American community in DC, they believe this will fit the need nicely. The mindset is that poor black women who need the money will certainly rent us their wombs, and at a good price. To the utilitarian, “child as product” gay couple, this is a win-win all around.

        • ForChristAlone

          And then when things do not work out as the inevitably do with ‘gayness” the children will be taken out with the rubbish.

          Perhaps serious consideration should be given to renting out children like so many do in Washington when they want to get away for the weekend and rent a car to get out of Dodge.

        • Mark

          This is a terrifying “Brave New World” situation all around.

          It’s a little harder to argue against singles giving a home to orphans who already exist.

    • Adam__Baum

      “the Church is not a place where those with same-sex attraction are
      welcome, where they can show their face, or speak and be heard,”

      Unless you identify yourself as being a particular form of sinner, nobody knows what your weakness is-what do they want, an Altar adorned with rainbow flags?

      In other words, the Church must treat the temptation of SSA differently than other temptations, the teaching must be delivered with sugar and sprinkles.

      “however, general public self-disclosures are not helpful and should not be encouraged. ”

      Coming out is a peculiar fusion of what was once social defiance and surrender.

      We don’t hear of the adulterer, thieves, liars “communities”, and people with other temptations don’t “come out” and there aren’t writers attempting to impute some sort of uniqueness to those afflicted with these temptations.

      • poetcomic1

        Yes, Adam we DO have adulterers ‘communities’ (a website for cheaters), thieves communities (gangs) and a liars communities (the Democratic Party).

        • Adam__Baum

          Are customers of Miss Madison acting as a group and pursuing a political agenda?

          • poetcomic1

            Just give it time, Adam.

            • Adam__Baum

              I said “are they”, not “will they”, but that was an adjunct to the main point.

              “Coming out” is unique to homosexuals.

        • Guest

          Na – uh. Thief-Catholics? Wide swapper Catholics? Nah, this one groups gets and demands a special pass.

          • Adam__Baum

            He might have a point about ant-life politicians

            (too be fair, while it’s concentrated in one party, it exists in both. I live in a state that suffered under 20 years of Tom Ridge, who was indistinguishable from Ed Rendell on many things, and who did the same amount of nothing about the Philadelphia butcher Gosnell)

            • Guest

              I do not support either party.

              • Adam__Baum

                That’s why I said “politicians”. They are all diapers and if you leave them in their natural location long enough, become soiled.

    • Guest

      Thanks for the good essay. You explained things well. The problem really is about ideology, not theology whether the promoters recognize it or not.

    • Guest

      There is no such thing as a mixed orientation marriage. That is ideology and propaganda to the extreme. It starts from such a false premise that is hard to address it without dismissing it as nonsense.

      • Mark

        Huh? There are marriages between men who are gay and women who are straight. In a word, they’re both attracted to men predominantly. But they make it work in the individual case.

        • Guest

          The so called orientation is simply disordered desires. To claim such an identity makes as much sense as seeing everything through the lens of being an alcoholic or pedophile. Perhaps married alcoholics will start calling their marriages mixed orientation marriages too.

          • Mark

            Well except the orientation refers to each other. That is to say, in a mixed orientation marriage, one partner gets their preferred gender of partner, but the other doesn’t. That clearly has emotional effects on the dynamics of the marriage.

    • tj.nelson

      Thank you very much for this brilliant essay. You write well. God bless you.

    • CadaveraVeroInnumero

      “The probation of good cannot produce good.” BINGO! Especially in the lives of 13 year-olds.

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    • Ashleen M-B

      The comments on each of Crisis’ articles on the New Homophiles have been consistently upsetting. I wish that the authors’ of the Crisis articles on this subject would chide some members of their readership for their tone and the way that they constantly say demeaning, snarky, or hate-filled things against the New Homophiles. Their tone is not helping anyone. The comments often do not engage with the subject matter in reasoned tones of argument, and they often aren’t made in the tone of someone who wants to correct or speak with brothers and sisters in Christ. Commentors, even if you disagree with the New Homophiles and what they are doing, why do so many of you want to make fun of them or say angry, arrogant, cruel or ignorant things? Isn’t there a better, more respectful way to disagree with or to examine a position? Reading these comments for Ruse’s and now Mattson’s articles is extremely disturbing to an orthodox, magisterium-obeying, Catholic girl.

      • Evagrius

        I too have been following this series of articles and am the author of several comments. Although I have seen a great deal of hostility to the ideas expressed by the Homophiles and their supporters, I have not noticed the ad hominem attacks on the Homophiles themselves that you claim to have seen. Unless one can’t distinguish the ideas of the authors from the authors themselves, the personal hostility that you purport to see just isn’t there. “Love the sinner; hate the sin” is the old adage — not “Love the sinner; show kindness, humility, and gentle tenderness to the sin.” We are debating ideas on this site; we aren’t dispensing pastoral care. Academic debate can be taxing, tiresome, challenging, provocative and yes heated, which brings to mind another old adage, which I paraphrase out of respect for your sensitivities: “If you can’t stand the heat, then you may wish to consider leaving the kitchen.”

        • ForChristAlone

          May I invoke the name of God in thanking you for your common sense response to the comment above. Keeping one’s feet firmly planted in reality is a refreshing thing to behold these days.

      • Adam__Baum

        Good grief. If you put an opinion in the public square, expect to have it dissected. Debate, like football is not a contact sport, it’s a collision sport. You want white gloves, gentility and carefully choreographed manners, take ballroom dance.

        • Objectivetruth

          One doesn’t joust with feather dusters.

          When Christ called Peter “Satan”, and during the bread of life discourse in John 6 asked His followers “and what are you mumbling about now?” He certainly was trying to conversationally confront and challenge bluntly with a sledge hammer, not tossing rose pedals.

    • Arriero

      “The New Homophiles” is a direct product of protestanized liberalism. All that rethorics about “freedom of everything” and “anti-government-per-se” has led directly to this post-modern stage of non-nietzschean nihilism. Nietzsche, a fellow, in our fight against Protestantism (he was without any doubt the most Catholic and the most anti-protestant of all XVIIth’s skeptics) is even less nihilistics than all of you who play to the pseudo-anarchist game. Pope John Paul fought communism politically too! Because the Church needs real power to fight evil!

      Freedom of religion = think in whatever stupidity you want. Freedom of speech = say they stupidities you want, etc. All products of the beloved Liberalism (in its protestant version). But after it, you just end with a stupid world. Anti-rational at best, so anti-Catholic; because Catholicism is the most rational of all religions.

      No doubt that the worst of it is the harmful misunderstanding of “freedom”, a concept which now is widely understood in its meaning built by irrational rationalists from the XVIIIth with the implicit support of the rational irrationalists who tried to undermine Church’s Dogma, Authority and POLITICAL POWER in the XVIIth century. Already two centuries fighting untiringly Authority, with the help of some catholics, which is the worst of it (Chesterton was concious of it). But the Church, guided by God, will prevail and will arise as the great power it always was and should never have stop being.

      If not, then do not weep for the crappy world you have allowed to by trying to take away the Church from command. The issue is not Obama. The issue is who is in government: they or us. Good or evil. Period. The issue is also that american Catholics are unable to affirm til the last coma that if you want all that to end you simply need a Catholic Republic, a Catholic President and a Catholic Church with real power to shape society following the word of God. Any old european Catholic knows that. Even french Catholics know that (ultimately, they’re also old Catholics)!

      All of you who despise government, why don’t you go to an Iraq (or Vietnam) veterans parade and yell to them for having served GOVERNMENT in their status of public servants from the military. Cynics…

    • Mark

      “If they are not cautioned against embracing sexual identities other
      than being male or female, what is to prevent those with a homosexual
      inclination from taking the logical step and embracing their
      homosexuality as good, and acting upon it? For if something is good,
      they would rightly reason that it is good to act upon it. If
      homosexuality is in anyway good or positive, and ‘affects all aspects of
      the human person,’ on what basis does the moral dictate of the Church
      against homosexual acts make any sense?”

      This whole line of critique only makes sense if you are assuming that the only way to “act on” homosexuality or gayness is to engage in homosexual sex-acts, and that gay orientation is defined as an inclination to said acts specifically.

      But that’s not what gay people mean. That’s like saying, “Anger is an inclination towards violence. Therefore, being angry can never be good, because if it were good it would be could to ‘act on’ anger, and that would mean that violence/murder is good!” However, most people recognize that anger is not just “an inclination towards violence” even though violence CAN be one expression of anger (usually not an appropriate one). Anger is a morally neutral passion (and often righteous inasmuch as it is a perception of injustice) that can be expressed or used as a motivating emotional in a lot of different ways, many of which are constructive.

      Same thing with “attraction,” whether predominantly spurred by men or by women. It is an emotional state, a state providing its own internal rewards, it’s own “intrinsic motivation” in response to this or that experience, stimulus, or person. But what one choose to motivate WITH this motivation, or how one chooses to integrate the motivation attraction can provide (at its most basic level happiness; biologically a release of endorphins in the brain) is totally up to the individual person and the structure of their character, just like one can “use” the rush of adrenaline that anger provides to motivate a whole spectrum of possible behaviors. Yet if gayness is not “celebrated,” how can it be viewed and used as a positive motivating force?

      Virtue is integrating intrinsic rewards towards holistic fulfillment, vice is seeking them as ends in themselves in a dissipated and aimless way. There is no such thing as a passion in itself that is bad. The Catechism is quite clear: “In themselves passions are neither good nor evil. They are morally qualified only to the extent that they effectively
      engage reason and will. Passions are morally good when they contribute to a good action, evil in the opposite case.” Your advise that the joy or pleasure of gay attraction must simply be renounced and compartmentalized is unnecessary and damaging. The question is what that “reward” is used to motivate, how the emotional state is expressed. Sex acts are a morally problematic expression, but they are far from the only possible expression.

      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

        “Gay attraction” is the very disorder that gives rise *to* the sex acts in the first place. Why does this seem so difficult to grasp?
        Homosexual desire is a *disorder* of the passions, Mark–it’s not one *of* the passions enumerated by the Catholic Church. So quotes from the CCC aren’t meant to give support for “gay attraction.”
        The bottom line is utterly simple–one is not supposed to *act* upon the temptation of same-sex attraction. Once you do “engage reason and will” such that you act in accord with the temptation, you’ve “morally qualified” your response to the temptation–you’ve chosen to sin.

        • Mark

          “‘Gay attraction’ is the very disorder that gives rise *to* the sex acts
          in the first place. Why does this seem so difficult to grasp?”

          Sort of, Jim. Just because something “gives rise” to something bad doesn’t mean it’s disordered. Anger “gives rise to” violence, but that doesn’t mean that anger is intrinsically bad or that violence is the only possible expression of anger.

          “Homosexual
          desire is a *disorder* of the passions, Mark–it’s not one *of* the
          passions enumerated by the Catholic Church.”

          I don’t know what you mean by “homosexual desire.” A determinate desire for homosexual sex acts is certainly a disorder of the passions.

          Of the passions that exist, on a basic level Love is one of them. There is nothing wrong with love in itself. It depends how you express and use your love.

          “So quotes from the CCC
          aren’t meant to give support for ‘gay attraction.’”

          Just because they weren’t written with that intent specifically in mind doesn’t mean that the internal logic of the system or tradition the quotes represent doesn’t wind up actually supporting it.

          “The bottom line is
          utterly simple–one is not supposed to *act* upon the temptation of
          same-sex attraction.”

          I don’t know what “the temptation of same-sex attraction” refers to. The temptation to engage in sex acts with someone of the same sex? If that’s what you mean, of course.

          But I don’t think all same-sex attraction is equivalent or reducible to that particular temptation, and I think there are lots of ways to “act on” same-sex attraction that are not sex acts and which are not controversial or morally problematic at all.

          • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

            Because you think these things, you have separated yourself from the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church. That should give you pause to reconsider.

            • Mark

              I have it on good authority (clerical authority, episcopal authority) that I am not holding any heresies. These interpretations may not be yours, but they are at least “tolerated opinions” and I have had that confirmed for me by friends in the institutional church whose orthodoxy no one publicly questions.

              • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                It seems to me both sloppy and ineffective to pit individual clerics against the clear teaching of the Magisterial documents I’ve been citing.
                But, no, I reject the notion that yours is “tolerated opinion” because it functionally and practically contradicts the *direct* teaching of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI…

                • Mark

                  Well first of all, Jim, I’ve said that I don’t think it does. I’ve shown that interpretations exist in which it is fully in-accord-with those teachings. You may think mine are bad interpretations, but until further papal extrapolations are promulgated further clarifying those teachings in the direction of your understanding…you have not simply proof texted me away, anymore than a Protestant who points to some Bible verses and says “see, the Bible is clear!” All texts we engage work this way.

                  Further though, even if something goes against something a pope says, doesn’t mean it isn’t tolerated opinion. Not everything a pope says is dogma. Even Ruse would not say “heresy.”

                  • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                    Sometimes even the Bible is pretty clear and presents some indisputable facts.
                    So is the magisterium of the Catholic Church.

                    • Mark

                      Except that just about everything in the Bible is disputed by some group or other.

                  • Guest

                    It does not have to be heresy to be wrong or objectively sinful.

    • Daniel P

      Dan, I have a great deal of respect for your work, and I certainly agree with you that some of the things individual Spiritual Friendship folks emphasize are problematic. (That’s a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, though, because ANY blog will have a number of evident falsities, if you read it closely enough).

      However, my concern with what you’re writing is this: The members of the Catholic Church haven’t taught people to be quiet about their same-sex attractions. They’ve taught them to be SILENT. I know what it’s like growing up with SSA. *You* know what it’s like growing up with SSA. There are a lot of kids in a lot of pain, and all they hear the Church saying is BE SILENT. And I was silent. And I prayed. But nothing happened, and nothing will happen. We only can be free from bondage if we talk about bondage.

      And the shame is not helping.

      I’ve seen it over and over. When a teenager calls him or herself gay, the FIRST concern is that they stop using that word. WHAT? I mean, look, even if words matter — and I agree they do — the current environment is so charged that LOVE FOR THE SINNER IS LOST.

      When I see ordinary orthodox Catholics dining with gay people and extending to them the love of Christ, then I will think it’s time for us to talk about language. But now? Now we need to get off of our culture-warrior high horses and love each other. In particular, we need to love that kid who wonders if he might be gay, and is terrified of it. We need to tell him that he is first and foremost a son of God, whatever else he calls himself, and we need to tell him that he can love God RIGHT NOW. That’s what I see folks at SF doing. And we need more of that.

      I don’t care if the kid calls himself gay, I don’t care if he calls himself a turnip! He needs mercy and compassion, not theological precision.

      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

        In a “real-world” pastoral situation, a young person struggling with same-sex attractions needs *both* mercy/compassion AND theological precision. It should never be an “either/or”, particularly on this issue.
        In the un-real world of comboxes and blogs, we also need both charity (compassion) and clarity of thought (theological precision) if we are to be equipped properly for real pastoral situations..

        • Daniel P

          A couple points: (1) How can we extend mercy to someone that we don’t know needs mercy? Look, if Christian churches had, in the past, clearly expressed to young people that there is nothing shameful in experiencing homosexual temptations, then we wouldn’t be in this place. Children would tell us about their struggles. But the American Catholic church, for one, has allowed the whole matter to be a topic of gossip and shock value. The only thing I heard about homosexuality growing up was about the priest scandal, and that gossip demonized everyone with homosexual temptations.

          (2) The SF folks would say that they *are* pursuing theological precision. My point, though, is that regardless of whether they are right about that, their attitude toward evangelism is much more biblical than the attitude I’m hearing from you and Austin. So maybe you could keep your claim about vocabulary if you think it is a theological no-brainer.

          But look — suppose that a hacker comes to Christ. Should our first order of business be to tell him to stop calling himself a hacker, at the risk of alienating him? Isn’t this putting up obstacles in the way of Jesus? And homosexuality isn’t even sinful, in itself, unlike computer hacking.

          • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

            ***(1) How can we extend mercy to someone that we don’t know needs mercy?***

            Daniel–that’s quite simple. *Everyone* needs mercy. Not just some. Mercy is quite equitable–and mostly anonymous if a Christian treats everyone with the same respect and dignity.

            Where it’s *not* anonymous is in the Confessional. Which is where we are all called to go to bare our souls and align our crosses with the Cross of Christ.

            We can all work on being able to express more mercy and compassion to *all* without having everyone publicly cataloging their crosses.

            Long ago the Church set the tone for how we were to *publicly* seek God’s mercy and healing–in communal liturgical acts such as the Penitential Rite and the Imposition of Ashes.

            ****2) The SF folks would say that they *are* pursuing theological precision. My point, though, is that regardless of whether they are right about that, their attitude toward evangelism is much more biblical than the attitude I’m hearing from you and Austin. So maybe you could keep your claim about vocabulary if you think it is a theological no-brainer.****
            I haven’t seen sufficient theological precision from “SF folks” frankly. Nor is their website a welcoming place for dialogue and diversity of views and theological discussion.
            As to who is being more “biblical”? Surely that’s a matter of opinion. For my part, I’m measuring the “New Homophile” theological claims against the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church. And the claims are found wanting. The only “attitude” I’m attempting to convey is: “the New Homophiles aren’t saying the same things the magisterium is saying.”
            And that’s biblical–test everything; retain what is good.

            • Daniel P

              The Magesterium has not said that people should not discuss their temptations with one another; you said that. And you’re wrong about it. I could catalogue thousands of cases of good Catholics and saints who openly shared their temptations with one another. Your idea that they should have done so anonymously — or only in the confessional — is not Christian.

              • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                Please re-read what I said above. I never said that “people should not discuss their temptations with one another.” Definitely not what I said.
                Firstly, *whether* an individual opts to share their “temptations” with another is a matter of prudential judgment, overall. We’re in the realm of *opinion*.
                Secondly, what counts as “public” and what counts as “private”? Not always easy to say. Rather, my point above is that the experience of mercy and compassion within the Church is decidedly *not* dependent upon *whether* someone publicly discloses their crosses. It’s just not.
                Thirdly, the real crux of the question regarding homsexuality–and the reason why most pastoral counsel and spiritual direction would likely suggest *not* self-identifying publicly as homosexual–is that the homosexual condition is at its root an identity disorder, in itself, whose “psychological genesis is largely unexplained.” As such, it is a *really* good question to ask–should someone suffering from an identity disorder be encouraged to publicly self-identify as someone suffering from an identity disorder?
                As it is, I have no problem at all with anyone whose *opinion* leads them to share their struggle with temptation publicly if there is a compelling reason for sharing their story. Especially if they can handle the accompanying pressures of doing so. But it is my *opinion* that those suffering from a particular identity disorder– specifically those who choose *not* to see it as an identity disorder but instead *celebrate* the disorder–are really *least* equipped for such public sharing and that doing so does them more harm than good…

      • ForChristAlone

        You exaggerate the plight and so-called suffering of teens with SSA. It is no different from any teen having to face a disability. It is best that they not foreclose their identity development and have that disability dictate who they are. When a big deal is not made of such disabilities and the teen recognizes that they must make certain adjustments accordingly, they can get on with what’s really essential to life. If a teen can avoid foreclosing their identity around an identitity that does not exist i.e. “gayness” then many will find a way to engage the opposite sex as best they are able in light of this disability.

        • Daniel P

          You’re missing my point. In my case, at least, when I’m talking about suffering, I’m not talking about being picked on, or having to repress emotions, or something like that. Personally, I wasn’t picked on about being gay, because people didn’t think I was gay. (Nor do I consider myself gay. I personally don’t adopt the “New Homophile” habit of calling myself gay or bisexual — but I don’t see why a person calling oneself gay or bisexual is sinful).

          The suffering I was talking about is sin. Trust me on this one: I tried everything to stop seriously sinning out of my sexual brokenness. The only thing that has worked, really worked, is honesty. You have no idea how ashamed a teenager can be merely about having this temptation to sin. The solution for such shame is openness, allowing the light of Christ to shine upon the sinner in the person of people who show unconditional love to him.

          But he’ll never get to experience this love is this entire topic is forbidden. If a teenager can’t talk about “being gay”, then his attractions will manifest themselves in sin.

        • Gabriel Blanchard

          Not to be personal for its own sake — but have you been a teen with SSA? I was, and I spent years considering killing myself over it. And as glad as I am to have become a Catholic at the age of 20, I have to wonder whether I’d have had the courage to look for any help at all if I had been raised within the Catholic Church. I was already so ashamed and frightened that I didn’t want to talk to my family or even my closest friends. It may not be different in principle from other struggles, but I’ve found that I and most of the other LGBT people I know, whether within the Church or outside her, take it very much more to heart and are far more devastated by it. That’s a legitimate problem, and it may not be the Church’s (or anybody’s) fault, but saying that the problem shouldn’t (and therefore doesn’t?) exist isn’t helpful.

    • http://romishgraffiti.wordpress.com/ Scott W.

      Let’s check back in a few years and see if there are articles on “The New Polygamyphiles”, “The New Bestiophiles” etc.

      Granted, this race to the bottom started earlier in things like contraception, divorce, but you will notice there are no Contraceptors’ Pride parades. I can’t blame the New Homophiles–they’re just trying to figure out how they are going to survive with their faith intact as homosexual normalization goes into full ascendancy of power. I just hope they learn the homozeitgeist is an implacable foe, and no amount of Gollum-like grovelling, (“We be nice to them if theys be nice to usss!”) will appease it.

      • Mark

        That there are no Contraceptors’ Pride parades should indicate to you that Gayness is NOT equivalent to or analogous with this or that sin or temptation to sin. Homosexual orientation is a whole mode of subjectivity. A Gay Pride Parade is NOT equivalent to or analogous to a “Sodomite Pride Parade” or even “Tempted-to-Lust-For-Sodomy Pride Parade.”

        But, instead of drawing the obvious conclusion from the fact that Gay is treated different from various categories of sin (the obvious conclusion being: it isn’t a comparable category)…you’ve decided to leap to the LEAST charitable conclusion, which is just that gays are especially arrogant, self-absorbed, etc.

        • Guest

          You want it to be different, but it is not.

        • http://romishgraffiti.wordpress.com/ Scott W.

          I’m not sure what you are on about. It seems like you skimmed until offended instead of interacting. That being the case, I can only offer that one doesn’t necessarily have to be especially arrogant to deny sin is really sin. “Gay” is just a truth-obscuring euphemism.

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    • Guest

      Since the use of LGBTQ terminology seems to be the bone of contention between Mattson and the so-called “New Homophiles”, any thoughts on this Q&A found on the Courage website?

      Q. Why doesn’t Courage refer to its membership as “gay” or “lesbian”?

      Courage sees persons with same-sex attractions first and foremost as men and women created in the image of God, with a vocation to live a chaste and holy life through an ever-deepening union with Christ.

      Some people say that identifying themselves as “gay” or “lesbian” either privately or publicly simply means that they are acknowledging that their emotional, romantic, and sexual attractions are predominantly and persistently towards the same sex. They hold that these words are simple but essential descriptors for a key part of their identity and claim that the adoption of these labels are a way of “owning” their sexuality and facing the reality of “who they are.” Further, they hold that such labels do not interfere with or diminish their commitment to chastity.

      While this may be true for some, there are others for whom the embracing of LGBTQ terminology is a stumbling block, for the following reasons:

      • It draws them into a more secular milieu, causing them to be more tempted to pursue a sexually active homosexual relationship.

      • It makes them more susceptible to embracing the politics of “gay” activism which is often at odds with the Church’s moral teachings, especially in the area of marriage.

      • It influences them to disregard or gloss over the Church’s teachings on the inclination to homosexual activity being objectively disordered, because the world often propounds the idea that “all things ‘gay’ are good.”

      The experience of sexuality in all its subtleties and nuances does indeed have a powerful influence on our experience of life and on how we interact with others; however, we would be mistaken to root our identity in those very subjective currents that can overwhelm us and sometimes lead us astray, apart from the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

      Courage also considers the example our adult membership and our pastoral outreach sets for young people whose psychosexual development is still in a very formative stage. Premature self-labelling may discourage a young person from being open to the possibility of further psychosexual development. It may also cause a young person to be more vulnerable to confusion and temptation in the three ways described earlier.

      This is why Courage considers it pastorally prudent to avoid terms that may be stumbling blocks to others; accordingly, we gently encourage our membership to think beyond the labels “gay” and “lesbian,” while we strive together to grow in our essential identity as men and women formed in God’s image, created for intimate and eternal union with Christ.

    • Paul McGuire

      “sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.”

      It has been said over and over from many gay and lesbian people that they lack the capacity for forming emotional bonds with people of the opposite sex. If God was so clearly intending every person to form connections with people of the opposite sex he wouldn’t have created some who are unable to form the connections necessary to have a lasting marriage.

      It is ridiculous to suggest that those people should just live celibate lives. There are many people who are not called to celibacy, who desire deep within themselves a relationship with others, but are unable to form such connections with persons of the opposite sex. Some have gone so far as to attempt to do so only to result in multiple failed marriages.

      It is precisely because the bonds formed between two gay men or two lesbian women are strong and lasting that they desire to formalize such relationships as marriage. To wish this is not to deny the rationality of the complimentary physical connection between male and female but to realize that complimentary physical nature is not enough to sustain a marriage without more.

      It is better to support the relationships between people of the same sex than to insist on opposite-sex relationships that for many will result in broken families and failed relationships.

      • Jerry

        Paul:

        Someone’s inability to form an intimate communion with a person of the opposite sex (the fundamental male-female anthropology) is suffering (yes) from a disordered appetite and inclination. It may be deeply ingrained, but it is still a disordered orientation.

        Just as someone who is clinically depressed views the world and life through a particular distorted lens and comes to believe these distortions about his or her own value and so on. It’s deep seated, perhaps incurable. But that doesn’t mean it’s just “the way God made them.” The dynamic between God’s intentionality and nature is mysterious, to be sure, but there is no more logical reason to say that a homosexual appetite is the result of God’s will than there is to say that of clinical depression or Tay-Sachs disease.

      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

        ****It is ridiculous to suggest that those people should just live celibate lives. ****
        Why is it “ridiculous”? Christians believe this is *exactly* the kind of life we’re going to have in Heaven.
        Christians believe that marriage itself is merely a *sign* that points us to the kind of life we’re going to have in Heaven.
        True, not everyone is called to marriage. But *everyone* is called to Heaven.

    • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

      Left this over at the “incomplete apologia” post combox, and would also be interested in commenters’ responses here….A few questions for commenter “Mark” and anyone who, like Mark, continues to press (as he does over at SF) for this kind of friendship:
      “…two gay men who recognize each other as attractive being best friends And roommates and the most important people in each other’s lives, spending the plurality of their time together, sharing a bank account, spending holidays at each other’s families, and having an understanding that they’ll always be there for each other, pre-eminent in priority.”
      1. Does this describe the “disinterested friendship” called for in the CCC as support for homosexual persons?
      2. If this kind of friendship is morally good for homosexual persons, such persons should be permitted to have *multiple* such friendships at the same time, correct?
      3. If this kind of friendship is morally good for homosexual persons, it should also be good for *heterosexual* persons, correct?
      4. If this kind of friendship is morally good for both homosexual and heterosexual persons, it should also be good for heterosexual *married* persons, correct?
      5. If this kind of friendship is morally good for homosexual, heterosexual, and married persons, then it should also be good for anyone who has made a vow of *celibacy* or continence for the sake of the Kingdom, correct (priests, nuns, etc.)?
      6. In all cases, such persons should also be permitted to have *multiple* such friendships at the same time, correct?
      If the answers to any of these questions is “no,” please explain why it is no.

      • Mark

        A really fascinating line of inquiry, Jim! Thank you!

        1. What the Catechism was getting at with “disinterested” is one of those great mysteries in life. It seems to have been left deliberately vague in order to appease multiple parties or to allow pastoral wiggle-room. But I would say this: when I hear about “non-disinterested” parties, the meaning is usually someone with ulterior motives or who is trying to take advantage of a situation. Certainly, I’d hope no ones friends would be like that! Beyond that, I’m not really sure; it’s hard for me to see any other definitional distinction between “interested” and “disinterested” love or friendship that would allow the former (as you seem to be implying) only for a married couple. Should a married couple’s love really be based on “self interest” if there is a seedy connotation to that? But on the other hand, if it just means “has an emotional investment in,” that wouldn’t seem objectionable in other friendships either, in fact it would seem necessary. I certainly don’t think an interpretation of “disinterested” as “cold, detached, rather distant, or passionless” makes any sense.

        2.
        I suppose it wouldn’t be in-itself objectionable for a homosexual to have multiple such friendships in theory IF they could make it work in practice. In most cases, though, I think this is a rather immaterial point because people don’t tend to WANT more than one such relationship. Sure, you can have a few people you live with or constantly rely on. But at the end of the day, part of the reason pairing up, “the buddy system,” makes so much sense, is because then every person is responsible for one other person. If you start getting into bigger groups or networks of connections in this regard, collective action problems start to set in, a “tragedy of the commons.” If you have several people claiming your loyalty, then no particular one has the “trump card” that allows them to assume that you’ll be there for them. Instead everyone already has plans with other people, and its harder to peg anyone down, etc. Furthermore, the more people you start to be involved with like this, the less time any given one gets, the less intimacy, the less reliability. You can only go to ONE family’s house on Christmas. It’s a very different dynamic if I do this for someone year after year versus “This year I went to Ted’s, next year I went to Joe’s, next year I was at Walter’s.” That tends to sound just like friends hopping around to each other’s places; it doesn’t have the same social effect as being a partnership or unit, which starts to get hard to navigate with anything larger than a pair (which is why people tend to imagine just one “special someone”…you can generally only give a plurality of your time to one person). But in theory of a triad or group of four or something figured out a way to juggle it, more power to them. Generally, though, the “buddy system” makes sense for a reason: everyone is responsible for someone else in particular and priorities are clear. (If two people are responsible for someone, you start to get a tragedy of the commons: each is less invested as they can always think “Eh, the other one will handle it” so the allocation of duties can start to get conflicted or lazy).

        3. Yes, I assume this sort of friendship is good for heterosexuals. In fact, I’d hope that usually their marriage takes this place in their life (though, before marriage, the role will often be filled by a boyfriend or girlfriend, of course). Aquinas called marriage “maxima amicitia” after all, and one tends to hope that spouses are more than just mates, but also truly each others partners and best friends and companions.

        4. See above.

        5. It’s unclear to me how “particular friendships” are to be dealt with in vowed celibacy. I have less of a concern in terms of secular priests, frankly, whose promise of celibacy is not, in fact, consecrated religious life. But religious living in community is a trickier question. However, this is NOT because of anything related to chastity, but rather because of the question of whether THAT sort of consecrated celibacy (as opposed to just “singleness,” if you see the difference) may also be supposed to renounce all particularity and exclusivity or priority in favor of a sort of sublimated “universal” or collective or communal love that is not supposed to admit of any personal loyalties or priorities above the common good of the whole as decided by the abbot or whatever (for example, if it was for the good of the order, the superior might decide to send one friend to Africa and the other to Asia for the work on the missions, and both would have to be willing to be “split up” in this way). At the same time, I know that the reality of life is the “scandal of particularity” and that it is impossible, as Newman says, to NOT have particular friendships (I’ll post the quote below as it’s quite lengthy). And of course, the whole title of “Spiritual Friendship” is drawn from Aelred who was himself a monk and who seemed to be advocating the goodness and inevitability of “particular friendships” even within the monastic community (because, being an incarnational people, we know that you can only really ever love individual people; you can’t love an abstraction, you can’t love The Impersonal Collective, this is why communism doesn’t work.)

        6. See question 2. Theoretically possible? I suppose. After all, the divorced and remarried (who are still, in Catholic thought, very much truly married to their first spouse still, albeit the emotional bond is assumably burnt out) can live as “brother and sister” with a third party. But the practical reality of trying to maintain two such “best friendships” at the same time seems rather hard (how can two things be “best”? It’s a superlative) and I’d think that the dangers for someone already in a heterosexual marriage are even rather greater given the fact that sexual fidelity is “of the essence” of their covenant so the “standard of caution” for occasions of temptation is probably rather higher given that the commitment at stake is rather more grave.

        • Mark

          The Newman quote on Particularity:

          “…it might be supposed that the Son of God Most High could not have loved
          one man more than another; or, again, if so, that He would not have had
          only one friend, but, as being All-holy, He would have loved all men
          more or less, in proportion to their holiness. Yet we find our Saviour had a private friend;
          and this shows us, first, how entirely He was a man, as much as any of
          us, in His wants and feelings; and next, that there is nothing contrary
          to the spirit of the Gospel, nothing
          inconsistent with the fullness of Christian love, in having our
          affections directed in an especial way towards certain objects, towards
          those whom the circumstances of our past life, or some peculiarities of
          character, have endeared to us.

          There have been men before
          now, who have supposed Christian love was so diffusive as not to admit
          of concentration upon individuals; so that we ought to love all men
          equally. And many there are, who, without bringing forward any theory,
          consider practically that the love of many is something superior to the
          love of one or two; and neglect the charities of private life, while
          busy in the scheme of an expansive benevolence…

          Now I shall
          here maintain, in opposition to such notions of Christian live, and with
          our Saviour’s pattern before me, that the best preparation for loving
          the world at large, and loving it duly and wisely, is to cultivate an
          intimate friendship and affection towards those who are immediately
          about us.

          It has been the plan
          of Divine Providence to ground what is good and true in religion and
          morals, on the basis of our good natural feelings. What we are
          towards our earthly friends in the instincts and wishes of our infancy,
          such we are to become at length towards God and man in the extended
          field of our duties as accountable beings. To honour our parents is the
          first step towards honouring God; to love our brethren according to the
          flesh, the first step towards considering all men our brethren. Hence
          our Lord says, we must become as little children, if we would be saved;
          we must become in His Church, as men, what we were once in the small
          circle of our youthful homes.

          Consider how many other virtues are
          grafted upon natural feelings. What is Christian high-mindedness,
          generous self denial, contempt of wealth, endurance of suffering, and
          earnest striving after perfection, but an improvement and
          transformation, under the Holy Spirit, of that natural character of mind which we call romantic?

          …Again,
          the love of our private friends is the only preparatory exercise for
          the love of all men. The love of God is not the same thing as the love
          of our parents, though parallel to it; but the love of mankind in
          general should be in the main sense the same habit as the love of our
          friends, only exercised towards different objects. This frightens and
          perplexes men,—naturally; those especially, who have neglected religion
          for a while, and on whom its obligations disclose themselves all at
          once. This, for example, is the great misery of leaving repentance till a
          man is in weakness or sickness; he does not know how to set about it.
          Now God’s merciful Providence has in the natural course of things
          narrowed for us at first this large field of duty; He has given us a
          clue. We are to begin with loving our friends about us, and gradually to
          enlarge the circle of our affections, till it reaches all Christians,
          and then all men. Besides, it is obviously impossible to love all men in
          any strict and true sense. What is
          meant by loving all men, is, to feel well-disposed to all men, to be
          ready to assist them, and to act towards those who come in our way, as
          if we loved them. We cannot love those about whom we know nothing;
          except indeed we view them in Christ, as the objects of His Atonement,
          that is, rather in faith than in love. And love, besides, is a
          habit, and cannot be attained without actual practice, which on so large
          a scale is impossible. We see then how absurd it is, when writers (as
          is the manner of some who slight the Gospel) talk magnificently about
          loving the whole human race with a comprehensive affection, of being the
          friends of all mankind, and the like. Such vaunting professions, what
          do they come to? that such men have certain benevolent feelings towards
          the world,—feelings and nothing more;—nothing more than unstable
          feelings, the mere offspring of an indulged imagination, which exist
          only when their minds are wrought upon, and are sure to fail them in the
          hour of need. This is not to love men, it is but to talk about
          love.—The real love of man must depend on practice, and therefore, must
          begin by exercising itself on our friends around us, otherwise it will
          have no existence. By trying to love our
          relations and friends, by submitting to their wishes, though contrary
          to our own, by bearing with their infirmities, by overcoming their
          occasional waywardness by kindness, by dwelling on their excellences,
          and trying to copy them, thus it is that we form in our hearts that root
          of charity, which, though small at first, may, like the mustard seed,
          at last even overshadow the earth.

          The Ancients thought so
          much of friendship, that they made it a virtue. In a Christian view, it
          is not quite this; but it is often accidentally a special test of our
          virtue. For consider:—let us say that this man, and that, not bound by
          any very necessary tie, find their greatest pleasure in living together;
          say that this continues for years, and that they love each other’s
          society the more, the longer they enjoy it. Now observe what is implied
          in this. Young people, indeed, readily love each other, for they are
          cheerful and innocent; more easily yield to each other, and are full of
          hope;—types, as Christ says, of His true converts. But this happiness
          does not last; their tastes change. Again, grown persons go on for years
          as friends; but these do not live together; and, if any accident throws
          them into familiarity for a while, they find it difficult to restrain
          their tempers and keep on terms, and discover that they are best friends
          at a distance. But what is it that can
          bind two friends together in intimate converse for a course of years,
          but the participation in something that is Unchangeable and essentially
          Good, and what is this but religion?”

        • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

          I will try for a more comprehensive response later, but for now I will say that I think your reply makes clear that what you are seeking for same-sex “couples” is what I will coin and propose as an appropriate term: “pseudo-spousing.”
          You seem to understand the necessity (at least in practical terms) that the bond you have in mind is *exclusive*. It’s permanent. It’s faithful. You are suggesting that, as long as there are no sex acts, same-sex-attracted persons should be permitted to have “pseudo-spouses,” not just friends….
          “Pseudo-spousing,” seems to me, is simply “sexless gay ‘marriage’”….

          • Mark

            What you say is only true if the divorced-and-remarried couple living “as brother and sister” can be said to be “pseudo-spousing.” And yet the Church allows that (and in fact, given that they are a man and a woman, it is that much more “pseudo”!)

            So either it is not really “pseudo-spousing,” or “pseudo-spousing” is not objectionable…

            I’d argue that the term “pseudo-spousing” is inaccurate, because THE defining feature of the marital covenant is the promise of sexual fidelity and the rights to each others reproductive potential. As Catholic Encyclopedia says, “Marriage is that individual union through which man and woman by their reciprocal rights form one principle of generation.”

            This is THE essence of marriage. Marriage is not, essentially, just “a domestic partnership between a man and a woman.” Indeed, it is THAT view of marriage that has opened the door for “gay marriage” because people see that gays can have domestic partnerships too, and so see no reason to deny this reality. But of course, the Church does not see “domestic partnership” as the essence of marriage. Medieval Royals used to be married to other royals whom they saw for only a few weeks a year, while otherwise living in their own kingdoms (and canon law STILL makes provision for, I believe, marriage-by-proxy at a distance between people who may never have even met in person, albeit they have to meet to consummate, of course).

            There is nothing “pseudo-spousal” about domestic partnership unless you are conceding (I am not) that domestic partnership is something like the “pseudo-essence” of marriage or that there is some reason to bootstrap it to marriage, something the Church has never done (and which Newman certainly didn’t seem to think was required).

            The essence of marriage is the reciprocal rights to each other’s reproductive potential as a “one-flesh” unit. The other things are accidental, and there is nothing controversial or problematic about other relationships sharing those accidental features.

            • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

              The divorced-remarried example is fundamentally flawed. Indeed they *are* “pseudo-spousing” and are only continuing to cohabit because other aspects of their status make it impractical to fully live apart, thus creating an imperfect scenario that might permit them to approach the Sacraments again but must still be viewed as a *temporary* and less than perfect pastoral approach to an unresolved problem–getting the marriage convalidated.
              On the other hand, when cohabiting couples seek marriage, it’s *highly* desirable to advise them to live apart before getting married.
              Also, do you *really* think that the *only* difference between marriage and friendship are the “rights” to sexual relations?

              • Mark

                The marriage may never get convalidated, Jim. If the first marriage was valid, it simply won’t happen. Not until one of the spouses dies (but that’s not something we’re allowed to hope or pray for!)

                As for “imperfect,” it depends what you mean. I think the fact that the first marriage broke down in the first place is a tragedy, of course (this is why even Orthodox second marriages are required to be “penitential” in tone). And if the new couple WANTS to be married but can’t because of the old marriage…that also seems less than satisfying, of course.

                At the same time, when you’re talking about gay partnerships, there is no first relationship that broke down, so it isn’t imperfect on that account, and I don’t even think they CAN logically want to be “married” (according to the Church’s definition of marriage). Is it “imperfect” that they can’t have the sort of relationship that would allow the total union that marriage has in the one-flesh union? That seems an odd way to even think about it, for me; no one is obligated to attain that union, and besides two people who love each other are bound to be thinking about what they DO and CAN have, not what is simply conceptually impossible for them. Why compare it like that?

                But even if you see it as “imperfect,” it is no more or less valid as a pastoral solution than the “brother and sister” thing for heterosexuals whose sacramental spouse is still living (and, indeed, I’d think it is a great deal more valid since there is no “competing” real-spouse to worry about fidelity to).

              • Mark

                And I do believe the only ESSENTIAL difference between a marriage and other friendships boils down to sex and procreativity. Yes, that’s THE distinguishing feature, the speciating line that makes it a different category of friendship.

                • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                  So then it is correct to infer that you propose that same-sex “couples” should enjoy everything else that a marriage is, just without the “essential difference”–sex and procreation. “Pseudo-spousing”–marriage without the sex….

                  • Mark

                    A marriage without the exchange of sexual rights isn’t a marriage at all though!

                    What you’re saying is like insisting that when I open a bookstore, I’m opening a “Porn shop without the porn.” But a porn shop without the porn…is just a shop!

                    A marriage without the exchange of rights to reproductive potentials, at least, isn’t a marriage at all (I emphasize “exchange of rights” to allow for the possibility of a truly valid but non-consummated marriage).

                    Without that it’s just a sort of “partnership.” And there’s nothing about a partnership like that which is essentially limited only to a man and a woman.

                    If you want to analogize the two things, that’s on you, but what you’re doing is taking accidental elements and trying to essentialize them on one relationship.

                    The king wears a crown. And if I also wore a crown, I could be justly accused of trying to usurp that which is proper only to the king. But the king also wears pants and shoes, yet no one claims that by wearing pants and shoes I am trying to “dress just like a king without his crown!” There are many elements of a king’s regalia which are common to man generally, or which at least CAN be.

                    • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

                      ***A marriage without the exchange of sexual rights isn’t a marriage at all though!***
                      In terms of marital *consent* exchanged at the beginning, yes, I agree. In terms of living out the marriage day to day, I disagree entirely. The marriage lived out by the spouses does not *stop* being marriage if they mutually agree to live without engaging in sexual relations.
                      The analogy proper to my claim is more like someone ripping away the bottom third of the “Mona Lisa” and trying to tell me that it’s really *not* the Mona Lisa anymore. No, it’s the Mona Lisa–or at least *most* of it. It’s just been ripped apart.
                      You simply want to have your half-cake and eat it, too. You want to *claim* that all you’re really seeking is “friendship” when what you are really doing is trying to carve out space for a relationship that takes the *place* of authentic marriage by engaging the principle of sexual attraction as an impetus for the relationship while still acknowledging the relationship lacks its proper “finality” in genital sex acts.
                      Your trying to substitute *for* marriage as clear as day. If you weren’t, the relationship you were proposing would *not* be based at the start on whether the person viewed as “THE one” with whom to build an exclusive bond was the “right” sex.

                      • Mark

                        Did you read the article by the Anglican Thorne, Jim? I think it explains why you see the idea of this sort of partnership as just “aping marriage.” It’s not, in fact, because this sort of “Platonic” (in the Classical sense) friendship (combined with Christian agape) is climbing “up” towards marriage, but because Marriage in the past century has come “down” to the point that many people see it as just about a special “sexualized friendship.” The paradoxical result of this “decline” of marriage is that conservatives then see that friendship/partnership as the essence of marriage, and so then try to limit that friendship TO marriage only. I think that this too much for marriage alone to bear, emotionally, and the pressure put on marriage as an institution in our society is being acutely felt because of it.

                      • Mark

                        In other words, I don’t think “cutting off the bottom third” of the Mona Lisa captures it at all. Yes, that would still be the Mona Lisa. It’s much less clear that it would, in fact, be recognized as the Mona Lisa if you cut out the FACE.

              • Guest

                Not only that but often times people living as brother and sister in an irregular situation are told to receive communion at a Church where no one knows them to avoid scandal.

                Also, if children are present at least the kids have parents who exhibit complementarity. Which is crucial.

                Such situations are no to be sought out as some type of Church approved living arrangement. They are a concession usually because children are involved.

                The situation we speak of is not a role model to use as a way to allow same sex attraction to be normalized and affirmed as good.

        • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

          Even more simply put: cohabiting “straight” couples want the sex without the spouse. In your construction, cohabiting “gay” couples want the spouse without the sex….

      • Gabriel Blanchard

        Thank you for laying this out so clearly and succinctly. I’d be inclined to answer “yes” to all of these questions, though (with respect to 4 and 5) allowing that such intimate friendships might be less feasible for married people or consecrated religious — not on grounds of risks to chastity, but just because there are more demands on their time and personal resources.

    • Objectivetruth
    • Michael

      Death to the cultural Marxists! Hunt down the witches and burn them at the stake!

      • Crisiseditor

        Calm down and show some restraint. All you are doing is discrediting yourself. Try to employ some reason and civility. I’m pretty lenient but there are limits.

        • Michael

          Ahem, are you questioning the power of my rhetoric? Do you not like my own Marxism against cultural Marxism?

          • Crisiseditor

            You’re being ridiculous and therefore ineffective. This is a combox not a street barricade. Behave yourself and use reason (persuasion) or leave.

            • Michael

              Pope Francis said not to judge, so I don’t understand why you are judging me. Plus, God gave us a sense of humor, after all, did he not? Perhaps you should do a little more soul searching to find yours?

      • thebigdog

        Get a life troll.

        • Michael

          Unlike you, I actually meant what I said.

      • Adam__Baum

        This is a setup post. Nobody here is going to countenance violence.

        • Crisiseditor

          Adam, if you are suggesting that someone other than Michael posted this comment, then they stole his email to do it. Given his other posts, he seems like the sort of person who can get carried away. This is my warning to him. I can’t give everyone a blank check. Bad behavior drives people away.

          • Adam__Baum

            No, I’m suggesting that he was hoping to incite similar comments that he would then present for the purposes of discreditation.

            Your intervention is fitting and proper here, given the call to violence and the further qualification that it wasn’t metaphorical.

            • Crisiseditor

              Thank you, Adam, for the clarification. I can see your point. He is imitating the rhetorical style of a Marxist revolutionary on behalf of a conservative position. But as you say, the real message and intent was missed due to the extremism of the language. I much rather people make their point calmly and rationally to avoid misunderstanding.

        • Michael

          I kind of actually meant what I said. Cultural marxism is an evil to be eradicated by any means possible, including the death penalty.

          • Adam__Baum

            I understood you were being literal, and you apparently didn’t take the admonition of the moderator. The answer is no.

            • Michael

              I believe in freedom of speech, however, ridiculous. The moderator can ban me if he wishes. If he does so he will only be proving that all Catholics are against freedom…

              • Adam__Baum

                There’s no freedom to incite violence.

    • Christine Niles

      Excellent article, Mr. Mattson. Thanks for having the courage to write this.

    • Jerry Reiter

      Can’t gays just change already? Long-time ex-gay leader John Smid has some advice on that: http://www.gracerivers.com/exgay-deception/comment-page-1/#comment-33462

      • bonaventure

        Surely, if one man’s meaningless, cheap, and cheesy little blog must negate the truth of an entire faith tradition, then the above article certainly negates whatever you believe is true in the cheap touchy-feeling article by John Smid.

        John who already?

        Yup, that’s what I thought.

        I’d rather cast my lot with John Paul II than John Smid (whoever he is).

    • rcdcr

      Your religion has removed your humanity, Mr. Mattson.

      • bonaventure

        Your ideology has removed your humanity.
        Yeah, like when in the past in has removed the humanity of the Nazis, who started as homosexuals, recruited in the homosexual bars of Munich, and were led by notorious homosexuals: HitIer, Hess, Roehm, and Goering.

    • bonaventure

      It is interesting to notice that two of the most successful contemporary churches — and by successful one needs to look at the positive impact of these churches’ evangelistic efforts amidst populations that have been ravaged by past dictatorships — are the Orthodox Russian Church and the Anglican Church of Uganda.

      Incidentally, these two churches support (as all Christian churches should) the current laws against the sin of homosexuality in their respective countries.

      Actually, not only do they support these laws, but they have contributed to the education of their faithful (including politicians) to have the courage to vote in favor of anti-homosexuality laws.