The “Poverty” of Sexual Orientation

In the grave new world of “male,” “female,” and fifty other Facebook “gender-identity” categories purportedly describing everything in between, maybe it’s time to ask once more, for context: Just what is sexual orientation?

For example, here I am, a man married for a quarter-century (yes, to a woman, just to be clear); we have eleven children. That should make me “straight,” right? But am I “straight” enough? Set aside the dizzying rabbit-hole of sexual identity for the moment. In contrast, it seems the only thing secular culture wants to consider regarding sexual attraction is whether I’m sexually attracted to men (I’m gay), women (I’m straight), or both (I’m bisexual). So, yes, I’m sexually attracted to some women, certainly, but not all women. This makes me “straight”?

If we can have fifty-something flavors of gender identity, why not more than the three categories describing sexual orientation? Shouldn’t the “orientation” label include the reasons why I’m attracted to some women but not all women? For example, I’m attracted to brunette women rather than blondes. Other preferences come to mind—a certain body type, a certain facial profile, a certain way of speaking, a certain sense of humor. Am I merely a “heterosexual” or am I really a “body-mass-index-specific, facio-centric, voco-determinative, humor-dependent brunette-erosexual”? Can “straight” adequately describe my “real” sexual orientation?

Here is the problem: sexual orientation is merely a calculation derived from collecting data—data about our experience of sexual attraction toward other persons considered over a certain period of time.

To be clear, sexual attraction is supposed to be at the service of love (or the communion of persons), but it is not love itself—it’s an impulse or desire that we experience without willing it. Rather, we must respond to the impulse through the use of our intellect and will. Thus, sexual attraction is designed to lead to us loving a real human person.

This also means that sexual “orientation”—being an impersonal collection of information about sexual attraction—is not only farther removed from “love” than is sexual attraction, but it’s also a more clearly “reductive” or “impoverished” category because it actually removes the value of the human person by focusing squarely on the sexual “values” of a person and not the person himself. It’s an abstraction that treats the human person as an object, which we are not supposed to do.

At least my above “brunette-erosexual orientation” is less reductive than “straight” because it begins to point to “this” particular woman rather than simply “a” woman. Even so, sexual attraction does not exist so that we can objectify other persons by analyzing them to see whether I find their sexual values attractive or not. The “poverty” of sexual orientation is that it ultimately distracts us from treating persons as persons.

Sex Drive and the “Test-Drive”
Let’s use a fairly simple analogy to put this in perspective. Every time we experience an impulse of sexual attraction, it’s like we’ve been suddenly whisked away unwillingly and placed in the driver’s seat of a car that we can “test-drive”—the car is already running, but it’s in “park” and not “drive” (to put it in “drive” we have to choose or will to do so).

So, look around—what is it about this car that appeals to you? Should you actually drive the car or leave it in “park” and get out of the driver’s seat? You have to decide what to do next.

That’s how sexual attraction works: we experience it and then must choose what to do next with it. Every time. After enough “test-drive” opportunities, looking around to see how this or that car appeals to us, we even begin to collect enough data to create a “blueprint” that illustrates the kind of vehicle we always seem to end up sitting in. Each time we’re “whisked away,” there seems to be a pattern—the car’s always blue, it always has tilt-steering, power brakes, etc.

The generic car “blueprint” is like sexual orientation. It collects the data on all the cars, so you begin to have some sense of expectation as to what car you’ll end up in during each potential test-drive. Yet, the truth is that it’s not the blueprint that’s important or even essential—you can’t test-drive a blueprint. You can only test-drive a real car.

In other words, what’s “real” is sexual attraction (each car itself), not sexual orientation (the abstract blueprint that describes a collection of cars).

But this car analogy can take us further. During each test-drive (each experience of sexual desire), we have to decide first whether to put the already-running car in gear and take it somewhere. The problem is that not all destinations are equally safe. Where will this particular sexual attraction take us if we choose to put it in gear? Will it be a dead-end street, like pornography? Will it be a hit-and-run, like adultery or fornication? Or, will this test-drive in an attractive car also take us to the destination we desire—the experience of real love with a real person?

When we make the right choice, our sexual attraction, like the attractive car, can be the vehicle that transports us to a loving communion of persons. That’s what it’s meant to do. But, once this happens, something else unexpected happens to our magical “test-drives”—more and more, we only want to test-drive the car that brings us to our beloved, our spouse. Sure, sexual attraction often whisks us away—even when we’re married for 40 years—and tempts us with different “test-drives,” but only one car now takes us where we really should be going. So we leave those other running motors in “park” and get out of those driver’s seats, waiting for the one car.

True “Orientation Change”
Having said all this, here’s the real hinge upon which this analogy turns, and upon which we can vividly see the bankruptcy of sexual orientation when compared to sexual attraction.

Once we’ve found the one car (real spousal love), the sexual orientation “blueprint” remains not only “unreal” but it also gradually becomes increasingly inaccurate. In fact, with the passing of time, what we had once carefully put in our automotive blueprint (the data collected from our experience of sexual-attraction “test-drives”) no longer describes the vehicle we’re driving. We’re driving the one car—not the blueprint—and like all cars, they change with time. All those blueprint features of the appealing souped-up roadster of yesteryear begin showing their mileage.

Backing out of the analogy, in real terms, the blueprint of sexual orientation no longer “fits” the lived experience of sexual attraction one feels toward one’s spouse once time has changed the hair color from dark to gray, the body type from thin to not-so-thin, etc. For the longtime married couple, the sexual attraction that led to a loving spousal communion of persons so long ago can now be seen in its proper light. Rather than being sexually attracted to some generic-blueprint “her” because of certain youthful or pristine sexual values, the husband of 50 years remains sexually attracted to his wife of 50 years precisely because her uniquely personal sexual values belong only to her, the beloved—not because they still match some 50-year-old blueprint.

Simply put, sexual orientation is a concept that loses all of its meaning once sexual attraction actually does its intended job. Once you willingly subordinate each and every experience of sexual attraction to your love for your spouse, your “orientation” shifts to a specific one, not an abstract group. If you want to call something “orientation change,” this is it.

My sexual “orientation,” therefore, really isn’t “straight” or even “brunette-erosexual.” My real orientation actually is a unique person and has a name: so, in case you’re curious, my orientation is named “Sue.”

(Photo credit: Courtesy of Shutterstock.)

Deacon Jim Russell


Deacon Jim Russell serves the Archdiocese of St. Louis and writes on topics of marriage, family, and sexuality from a Catholic perspective. He can be reached via e-mail at

  • Dave S

    There is a book by Paul Quay SJ entitled The Christian Meaning of Human Sexuality. While I do not know if it influenced JP II’s Theology of the Body, it’s a wonderful complement. It Quay’s book, he suggest that in the physical marital relationship a couple is allowed to experience what they do not yet understand in the hope that through the continuing experience, they will at some point “discover” and appreciate what it has been pointing to. A growing experience of covenant relationship that gives us a glimpse of divine bliss, unreserved love and commitment, which in a sense, pulls the veil back from our hoped for existence in heaven.
    What a terrible state to reduce this experience to the physical only…the state of much of the world today.

    • hombre111

      While on a three week visit of Death Valley, I toiled through J2P2’s Theology of the Body for about the fifth time. While he does say some really beautiful and important things, kept wondering what my reaction would be if some learned lay person tried to write a book about the real meaning of the priesthood. I would have to give him credit for a valiant, if insufficient try. Ditto, Pope John Paul. There has to be a lay couple out there who can write the definitive volume.

      • Josephtheworker

        I think hearing a million confessions taught him far more about marriage…especially given his intellect and his prayer life…where God can teach us more than most of us understand….than most married people will ever know about marriage.

        I am constantly impressed by my confessor…”how does he know about that?”

        • hombre111

          Not sure how many confessions Pope John Paul II heard, because he was rarely in a pastoral situation. Yes, there were the campus ministry days, but I am not sure if he was not wrapped up in the bureaucracy after that, either doing scholarly work or on the bishop fast track. Can’t remember if he was ever a real pastor, or just the figurative pastor of some parish while he toiled at philosophy and Church governance. This has been my basic complaint about most bishops for many a long year. When you read their biographies, you see how little time they actually spent in real pastoral work, which is what has formed a major part of my vision about life. Hearing confessions? In my diocese, they leave that to the parish priests.

          • Josephtheworker

            You aren’t in a position of authority to know how “pastoral” the Pope was. Are you?

            But your point dodges the fact that he was a priest for like a zillion years before being a pope.m that doesn’t stop you from trying to prop up a case for “no experience”.

            • hombre111

              Hmm. Also up late, are you? I will answer this and go to bed. You brought up the question by suggesting the pope had heard millions of confessions. Caused me to think about bishops and the guys on the bishop track. Having been a parish priest for fifty years, watching six bishops and their chancery priests, it is clear that these men do not do much pastoral work, including confessions. As far as I could observe, the last two bishops did not hear any confessions at all, even in the Cathedral, where they only occasionally celebrated Mass. They were rarely in the parishes except for confirmations. I was assigned near a Catholic university and would say the same for the priests who were profs. They helped out on Sundays, but rarely heard confessions. Once, I was sitting with three other parish priests listening to three scholar priests pontificate on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We put together our long years of experience with this sacrament, and had to laugh. Unfair as it might be, I extrapolate. If the Pope followed a similar path, and he did, his real pastoral experience was minimal.

              • fredx2

                I think you are wrong. JP II was made a priest in 1946, and spent a couple of years as a regular parish priest in Poland. However, even after he left and became a professor of philosophy, he was intimately engaged in a group that was sort of a parish that followed him around over the years:

                “In March 1949, Wojtyła was transferred to the parish of Saint Florian in Kraków. He taught ethics atJagiellonian University and subsequently at the Catholic University of Lublin. While teaching, he gathered a group of about 20 young people, who began to call themselves Rodzinka, the “little family”. They met for prayer, philosophical discussion, and to help the blind and sick. The group eventually grew to approximately 200 participants, and their activities expanded to include annual skiing and kayaking trips.”

                From reading his biography, he was constantly at the center of people’s actual lives, not an ivory tower guy at all.

              • Holy smokes

                Dear Father, I do not dispute your propositions on the accuracy of JPII writing on the Th. of the Body. Personally, I’m a big fan of “Love and Responsibility” which was written when he had “boots on the ground.” In reference to confessions, as a current student at a Catholic University and a friend of the Chaplain, I’m in constant amazement how many confessions he hears. He is also a Professor, teaching at the university. When I think of his work , St. John Vianney comes to mind. Pax et Bonum – William

                • hombre111


                  • Holy smokes

                    Dear Father, we all face moral dilemmas (the work of our informed conscious ) We have to make choices that are “the Good, the True, and the Beautiful” for us and our loved ones. Your example reminds me of the young rich man who left Jesus very sad because of the moral dilemma of giving up his wealth to follow The Lord. I do my best to promulgate the truthful teachings of the Church every opportunity that I can in order to provide some substance to the broken and plastic culture that currently exists. I have not always made friends and influenced others but I’m only a planter and I plant with Love and Truth (thanks to God). There are moral choices as one contemplates birth control. I have been married 15 years with 4 children and we practice NFP due to my wife’e health problems. In this way our sacred union is protected and nourished, as explained in “Humana Vitae.” The point is to be at peace as “our hearts are restless until they rest in The Lord” – St. Augustine. It is challenging to make the Holy choices in marriage and I’m sure it equally difficult in the Holy Priesthood. The key to every moral dilemma is prayer and faith (and wise mentoring). In has been my experience that The Lord answers those who seek him. Pax et Bonum – William

      • Here’s an irony for you–you seem to criticize JPII’s work on marriage and sexuality as a “valiant, if insufficient try.”
        As you have, just like JPII, been a longtime priest (God bless your 50 years) without vast experience in living the sacrament of marriage, how can your critique of JPII’s work on marriage be considered useful? Having not lived marriage yourself, how can you be sure JPII’s work is “insufficient”?
        I’m a guy who’s been married for almost 25 years–and from my perspective, JPII’s work is earth-shakingly sufficient, if not inspired from start to finish.

        • hombre111

          If you read Pope John Paul’s very difficult Theology of the Body from start to finish, you belong to a plucky minority. It is replete with phrases like “shared intersubjectivity,” a thrilling expression accessible only to those familiar with phenomenologists like Husserl. Most people follow the versions created by his disciples like Christopher West, who are married, and adapt his thinking from that perspective. I read Christopher West, as well, and appreciate his efforts. But somewhere in the middle of all that, John Paul ends and West begins.

          • West faithfully repeats the work of JPII–which btw includes *huge* sections on celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom as well as on marriage. I suppose the married West should skip the parts on celibacy and the celibate JPII should have skipped the parts on marriage?

            • hombre111

              Of course not. But up to now, the best discussion about the common connection between marriage and celibacy and the Kingdom is part of a book by the Dominican E. Schillebeeckx, in his “Marriage, Human Reality and Saving Mystery.” Pope John Paul called his discussions about the pertinent biblical passages a “study,” but they were really a meditation. He lacks the deep biblical exegesis used by Schillebeeckx. As the introduction to Theology of the Body noted, the Pope really had no interest in such a thing.

          • fredx2

            What we need is a Chesterton of the Theology of the body. Actually, Francis might engage in this later on. He has that pithy, common sense style that is attractiive. He just might do something on this after the synod on the family is over.

            • hombre111

              I join you with hopeful expectations.

          • Marc

            I have a hunch Christopher West would disagree with you. Should the definitiveness of JP2’s TOB be determined by its accessibility? The fact that a married man such as Christopher West would hold his writings in such high regard and devote himself to mining its depths and communicating it to the world, would seem to suggest that JP2 had something definitive to say (at least for Christopher West). After all, the Bible isn’t exactly accessible at all times, yet it is as definitive as it gets.

            • hombre111

              Like I said, I am not sure where Pope John Paul ends and Christopher West begins. West has contributed a lot to this important question, so I am not criticizing him at all.

      • John O’Neill

        Christopher West is an ardent defender of JPII’s Theology of the body and has written many volumes on it wisdom. Christopher Is the father of five and a devout member of our parish and we can see every sunday the meaning of JPII’s family in the pews of our small country church.

        • hombre111

          You are having a blessed experience. As I said, I have read and used Christopher West with my own parishioners. As spiritual director of Retrovaille in this area, I will recommend his stuff again.

      • fredx2

        Nothing that JP II wrote about was theory. He was a parish priest for many years, and formed close connections with many, many married couples who brought him their joys, sorrows. problems and conundrums on a daily basis. Because of these years of training, he was well placed to write about these things. You don’t have to have cancer to be an oncologist. I suspect your difficulty with the book is more to do with the style, which is very difficult. JP II wrote at a very high, professor-of-philosophy level and it is hard to read and understand. We need a great popularizer of the Theology of the Body. Not Christopher West, who does a good job but is more a lecturer.

        • hombre111

          Sorry, you don’t do even a great holy man a favor by stretching him to mythical proportions. He could not jump over tall buildings in a single bound. He was ordained auxiliary bishop when he was only 38. Before that time, his preoccupation was mostly intellectual, as the huge volume Theology of the Body attests. A parish priest has no time to explore the intellectual and spiritual greats and then write profound tomes expounding his own thoughts.

          And so, Blessed John Paul the phenomenologist had no real time to develop a phenomenological theory about the realities of married life. He had his little group of two hundred who got together occasionally. I doubt if they were any better at self-revelation than your average young people are today. And besides, as the historical and philosophical introduction to Theology of the Body suggests, the future pope seemed more interested in applying the thinking of St. John of the Cross about mystical love to the reality of marriage as he narrowly understood it.

          None of this is meant to denigrate his accomplishments. But he was not in the position to write the ultimate treatise on marriage as a holy reality. That waits for some astonishing lay couple busy living their marriage today. So far, James and Evelyn Whitehead seem to be the closest.

  • Steven Jonathan

    Deacon Jim well done!
    Indeed, it is this whole “sexual orientation” business that typifies the calculating scientistic self-professed god-man- rather than the Catholic who on principle takes God at his word that “male and female He created them.” The calculators are a dreadful drain on the remaining goodness in society- consuming the good will of principled folks and condemning them for it at the same time- typifying an idiot sawing off the branch on which they sit.

    All this business about sexual orientation is not about love, but its opposite- narcissistic self-love- I am a little troubled by your car analogy, but that is overshadowed by your solid case for the shadow nature of the “sexual orientation.” What a farce it all is.

  • Guest

    Well done. Thank you.

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  • Greg Fazzari


  • Excellent! and I would venture to take the discussion just one step closer to the root of the problem. B16 and others have said that to know the truth about marriage you have to know the truth about the human being. The discussion really begins with our identity. Today we have a distorted view of who we are and who God made us to be. That is another discussion but my point is that God made us. He made us male and female, period. God did not make anything other than male persons or female persons. Every single human being has a Y chromosome from their father or an X chromosome. This is an objective reality. God made every male and female sexual, even though that is only a part of our masculinity or femininity. God did not make us a-sexual, auto-sexual, bi-sexual, hetero-sexual, homo-sexual, trans-sexual, or anything else. He made every individual person that has ever lived male or female. Every person has a sexuality rooted in being male or female. The ONLY context for physical sexual expression is in the protective, sacred bonds of marriage. As long as Catholics continue to allow Catholics to think that God made them with some orientation they are perpetuating the lie. This article is the first time I’ve ever read a Catholic actually come close to stating that fact. To identify oneself as some orientation is a lie and misses the truth of the human being as male or female. The same goes for identifying oneself by attraction. It is certainly an impoverished identity, which is not a true or eternal identity. Thank you again for this timely article.

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  • Nick_Palmer3

    A systematically thoughtful and sound article. Thanks, Deacon Jim!

    My orientation of 31 years is named “Elspeth,” and is one of the greatest gifts God has given to me. I’d need to check with her about whether that view is shared…

    [From Elspeth, “Yes, I am the greatest gift God has given you!] Oops…

    This article is particularly useful when dovetailed with Michael Hannon’s piece in the March 2004 issue of First Things, “Against Heterosexuality.” As a non-philosopher (I don’t even play one on TV), I had never really considered what we humans do when we categorize. [Cue the old joke: There are two types of people, those who divide people into two types, and those who don’t.] Once we create 2 (heterosexual, homosexual) or 50+ categories we have done more than a simple “mathematical” or “biological” operation. And this has deep implications for how we think, talk, and even draw judgments.

    I remember learning in Biology class that the duck-billed platypus is somehow an odd animal. It is a mammal (warm blooded, furry) that lays eggs. The real truth is that the platypus is no odder than a cat or an earthworm or a virus. It’s only “made” odd by the category map and rules we have created. Hence, it’s oddness is an artifact of our language.

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    As with Hannon’s piece in First Things, the thrust of this article booms a refreshing echo in the empty (actually, cluttered) chasm of our age – yet, only if the hard edges of sex lay down the controlling premise. If not, one could take its colorful “analogy” and drive it in another direction.

    But, then, who am I? Elsewhere I was taken to the woodshed for hauling ‘essentialism’ into this discussion.

  • sacerdos

    If we remember the meaning of the word “Orient” (which means East), then we will realize that there is only one way to be “oriented”. A map is of no value unless the “East” on the map lines up with the geographical East in the real world. There is only one “orientation” in human nature. Everything else is simply “disorientation.”

    • Pi

      That analogy, amusingly enough, has the exact same mistake that you’re making in assuming there is only one correct way – correct from whose viewpoint? To someone living in China, China is not “east”. Europe is east to them. “East”, as a term, truly has no absolute meaning, only relative to where you are.

      Which is why your use of that analogy is so amusing – in insisting that “east” means Asia, you are insisting that the entire planet must see the world from the perspective of the United States, no matter where they live. Which is the problem with your insistence that there is only one correct “orientation”; you are insisting that the entire planet must see the world from your “correct” perspective. The way your analogy falls flat in the exact way your argument falls flat is almost beautiful.

      Unless, of course, you believe the Earth is flat and the United States is the center of it. If that is the case, feel free to disregard.

  • cestusdei

    Good job, but soon these ideas will be heresy in our culture.

  • Onalee McGraw

    This is one of the very best articles I have ever read on this subject, and I have read many! I believe Deacon – you are so on the right track — whatever happens we must proclaim, explain, defend the truth about human nature and man – woman complementarity – God in His Providence will take care of the rest. Bravo. Deacon Jim!!!!

  • Onalee McGraw

    This is the best article I have ever read on this subject! Bravo Deacon Jim.

  • Thomas

    Well done, but you forgot the one destination that is killing us: divorce. Yes, the objectification’s other end is an ill-advised marriage.

    • Hi, Thomas–thanks for the comment–you’re quite right to include divorce, which is certainly antithetical to the concept of “the one.” Excellent addition!

      • fredx2

        FYI on this whole subject, go to youtube and listen to the talk that Rosaria Butterfield gave at University of South Florida. She is a former lesbian, professor of feminism at Syracuse. She started reading the bible and it changed her. She is now married (to a man) for 15 years and has kids. She now says that it was a mistake for her to think her :identity” was as a “lesbian”. Now, she realizes that was far too short sighted and she was actually selling herself short. Once she began reading the bible she began to understand she was much more than an “identity”; that her identity is that of a “child of God” which is infinitely more satisfying – and more true.
        (And she does not think reparative therapy is a good thing, it is far deeper than that)

  • bonaventure

    Deacon Jim,

    Allow me to make one remark, and then to explain.

    There is no such thing as a sexual “orientation.”

    The word “orientation” comes from the Latin oriens, meaning “east.” If anything, there is only one orientation: it’s the direction of Christian prayer, considering that Christians traditionally pray towards the East, as s symbol of our hope that Christ will return from the East.

    But once again, the homosexuals have usurped a word/symbol from Christian and Biblical vocabulary. Just as they did with the rainbow, which is a symbol of God’s forgiveness of great sins, of which there were plenty of sexual sins as well before the time of Noah.

    (It is similar with the words “gender” and “gay”: for “gender” is really just a grammatical concept, while the word “gay” in English means “happy” “merry” etc., all of which homosexuality is not).

    I always suggest to other Catholics to stay away from the words used by the homosexual activists, because all their words and symbols are purposefully distorted to make homosexuality acceptable.

    • Hi, Bonaventure–appreciate your comment here. Stay tuned for a second part that, God willing, will touch on some of these aspects of the issue, particularly as they relate to homosexuality….

      • Guest

        Your work is a great service to Truth. Please keep writing.

    • Thomas

      You said “Christians traditionally pray toward the East.”
      In 57 years as a Catholic, I’ve never heard that before. Muslims pray facing East, I believe.
      Where did you learn this?

      • bonaventure

        Muslims do not pray towards the East, but towards Mecca. So, if a Muslim in China actually prays towards the West. Similarly, a Muslim in the Southern tip of the Yemen prays towards the North.

        Christians, on the other hand, pray towards the East (for the reasons explained above), and it is such an ancient practice that it is hard to pin point “where” anyone could have learned it. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to guess why any Catholic might not have heard about it: because most Catholics are under-educated in the faith.

        But there are some great sources on this, beginning with theologians like Joseph Ratzinger (The Spirit of the Liturgy + numerous other references in his writings), Uwe Michael Lang (Turning Towards the Lord), Louis Bouyer (Liturgy and Architecture), Scott Hahn (The Lamb’s Supper), Klaus Gamber (The Reform of the Reform), etc.

        Additionally, every Orthodox and Greek Catholic Church buliding is normally built on an Eastern Western Axis, whereby the priest faces the East when standing in front of — rather than behind — the altar (which is also the traditional position of a priest at an altar in all the Catholic rites, as well as the Orthodox & Oriental rites).

        This direction of prayer is called “orientation,” and it is commonly referred to among liturgists as “Ad Orientem” or “Ad Deum.”

    • RandomGirl

      All words change all the time! It’s called language and without change words would cease to keep up with the intended functions. Thus become obsolete and die. Christians don’t own the Latin language nor the English Language. It has always been a collaborative effort of the masses, Christian or not.
      But that doesn’t mean you can’t have your own separate meanings.

      As for Symbols, well they can mean anything to anyone. Take the symbol the “Swastika” for example. For many in the West it is synonymous with the evils of the Nazis and Hitler.
      However, to many in the East it is the exact opposite and in fact was a world wide symbol used before Hitler was even born.
      Hindus use it as a symbol to represent Vishnu, peace and prosperity and the Chinese use it as a symbol of good luck. Swastika is, in fact, a Sanskrit word which roughly translates to “to be of one with good fortune.”

      But you don’t see Hindus or the Chinese moaning about what Hitler did to their auspicious symbol, do you? No, they use it frequently with their personal intended meaning intact.

      You can have your symbols and meanings, but so can the Secularists. Many words and yes, even symbols, do in fact have multiple meanings, you know? Shesh.

      • bonaventure

        Language and symbols evolve in meaning, of course. No one denies that.

        But the examples you provide, and the “evolutions” you refer to, were/are socially engineered for a very specific purpose each time. They do not qualify for the normal evolution of language and symbols, which normally takes centuries.

        (1) The Swastika was socially engineered by Hitler to help him spread his lies about the “Aryan” race (which does not exist, btw) and (2) today’s homosexual symbols and language are all socially engineered to make believe in the lies that [a] homosexuality is “happy” and therefore acceptable and [b] homosexuality is God-ordained, and therefore anyone who opposed it must be a “hater.”

        • RandomGirl

          In case you’re not up on your modern vernacular the word “gay” is used commonly used to infer bad or rubbish. The youth constantly call everything bad gay ie PE is so gay, This show is so gay, this dress is so gay etc.
          So that supposed social engineering apparently has not succeeded. Either that or the word has just sort of evolved like ever other word.

          • bonaventure

            If many youth today use the word “gay” for “rubbish” and “bad,” then it is certainly well deserved. Because homosexuality is rubbish and bad, to say the least.

            In fact, it is worse than that: it is a grave depravity, intrinsically & objectively disordered, contrary to the natural law, closing the sexual act to the gift of life, does not proceed from a genuine affectivity, is against sexual complementarity, is a trial & a cross to bear, and should never be approved of (CCC 2357-2359).

            So “gay” indeed. Nothing good in it.

            • RandomGirl

              That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?
              Without using the Bible or any other Holy Book can you please elaborate why it is so intrinsically bad?

              Just so you know, many straight people can’t ever have kids, for a multitude of reasons. Born infertile and just not being able to conceive is among the most common.
              Hermaphrodites are born sterile and can be construed (by some) as both male and female, so do they go against the sexual complementary too?
              Please define natural law, also. Because technically speaking all domesticated animals are contrary to natural law. As is our entire life, from roads to planes to shopping centers to houses to medical science to indoor plumbing etc etc etc.
              But I’m using the definition of Natural = something found in nature regardless of whether it is good, bad or indifferent. And unnatural = something interfered with or created by mankind.So perhaps it’s different from yours?

              • The natural law is “nothing else than the rational creature’s participation in the eternal law” (Aquinas). Check out the article on “natural law” at Thanks.

              • bonaventure

                Do not confuse the laws of the natural world with the Natural Law, also known as the Moral Law, and which is nothing less than man’s participation in the God’s plan and his Law, which is not written on any paper, yet which quasi-unanimously condemns homosexual behavior across all cultures, times periods, languages, etc., as sinful.

                • RandomGirl

                  Okay, but why is it so? What exactly makes it so bad? I mean, there’s murderers. there’s child molesters, there’s thieves, there’s all sorts of horrible people (both gay and straight) but I’d sooner have a gay friend than a friend who advocates genocide, for example.
                  And our population isn’t affected by gay people in the slightest. It’s grown in fact, so why is it so bad if it indifferent to our survival practices?

                  You haven’t answered my questions about sterile heterosexual people. If you would be so kind?

                  Condemned across all times and cultures?
                  Well, not really. Ancient Greece, Rome and Japan semi accepted homosexuality. Whilst not exactly embracing it per se, there were some practices that could be construed as… The ancient practice of pederasty, whilst considered heterosexual in nature by the Romans (sort of) well lets just say some men continued such relationships and whilst they were ridiculed by society, they weren’t exactly put to death over it. Even when laws were in place for some periods of time, many people ignored them.
                  The Spartans, for example, were……umm certainly close as an army if you catch my drift. Again, whilst not exactly embracing homosexuality, they did often…….. sleep together.
                  Ancient Japan and Rome (at least before Christianity hit the scene) has records/depictions of same sex couples and even depictions of same sex ceremonies of sorts being performed.

                  • bonaventure

                    Just because two (or more — remember, the next “thing” is polygamy) adults consent to something immoral, does not make it moral.

                    • RandomGirl

                      Polygamy is red tape nightmare, so it will most likely stay illegal regardless of Same Sex Couples and/or Marriage. Not because it’s moral or immoral (if secular laws were based on religious morality/immorality it would be illegal to purchase salt when you do not intend to offer it to God or to work on a Sabbath and hair dressers would be outlawed since it is a sin to cut one’s hair and beard) but because legally speaking it’s impractical.

                    • bonaventure

                      If polygamy is “red tape nightmare” then so is divorce & remarriage & divorce & custody of children from marriage 1 & alimony paid to children from marriage 2, etc, etc, etc. Using your logic, divorce should be made illegal.

                      But your obstinacy to deprive other consenting adults of the same rights that you claim for yourself is, simply put, hypocritical.

                      As for your obsession with “Holy Books:” you should first learn about exegesis and hermeneutics (i.e., interpretation and application of texts, especially ancient texts). Your mixture of the various laws, and your juvenile attempts at interpreting and applying them in one swipe regardless of context simply proves your utter ignorance. Looks like you can only salivate at the thought that “oh yes yes yes, I’m gonna destroy any argument against homosexuality by quoting the Old Testament prohibition on eating shellfish, and let’s see what the bigots are gonna say to that.”

                      Indeed, you are very “random.”

                    • RandomGirl

                      It is, but not to the extent of polygamy. I mean you try to divorce 10 wives and decide the custody of the potential dozens upon dozens of kids. It’s far more complicated than simply remarrying.

                      I’m not really against it if they are all consenting adults because it’s none of my business.
                      You want 20 wives or 100 husbands, whatever, no skin off my nose. So I have no idea where you got the idea that I’m trying to deprive consenting adults rights. I am no lawmaker. They are free to live their life as they please. The law is irrelevant because most just get “spiritually” married anyway.

                      The OT references was more about our society not basing our laws on Holy Books of any kind. Be they the Old Testament, the Vedas or even any of The Bibles.

                      Glad I could live up to my namesake.

                    • bonaventure

                      Using your “complexity” argument, we would also need to abolish the IRS (which I’m all for it).

                      Which for a liberal like you is unthinkable of, since too many lazy (bot work capable) liberal democrat takers depend on it rather than work.

                      So, what else do you want to abolish on the liberal plantation?

                    • RandomGirl

                      Uh, I’m actually Australian so your “liberal democrat IRS” talk is wasted upon me I’m afraid. They’re pretty meaningless words here. As is “liberal plantation.” Again, a meaningless phrase where I’m from.
                      As for the lazy welfare recipients (which we call “dole bludgers” which means lazy ass) I honestly don’t know. That’s up to your country to address however you guys see fit.
                      I’d rather work my 2 jobs than collect Centerlink allowance (welfare) thank you. I prefer to work for my money.
                      Eh, I’ll take it that way anyway. =)

                    • bonaventure

                      I am sure you have an Australian equivalent to the IRS. If I were Australian, I would want it abolished. Liberal “plantation” may be a very American expression, but just like the IRS… is everywhere now. I do believe the largest one is the EU. So maybe also Australia… don’t know, maybe not, but it not, you have its exports in Australia undoubtedly.

                      So, you don’t like politics? And yet we’ve been hammering each other about homosexual “marriage.” Nothing more political than homosexual “marriage”… as as false, deceitful, and morality corrupted as most politicians… especially the type of politicians who say: “I am the law and whatever I can force on other [by majority votes, judicial fiat, or sheer force] is the ultimate law and not one can EVER, EVER disagree with me for the rest of humanity.”

                      That pretty much describes current pro-homosexual “marriage” liberal politicians all over the world. Their “law” or the concentration camps.

                      Bad news is, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc etc etc, also believe that their “laws” would last 1000 years (the Nazis) or for all eternity (communists). Look were they are at today (though it could be argued that both actually survive liberal-democrat-homosexualist policies today).

                      Cheers, mate.

                    • RandomGirl

                      Well, we have the Tax Office thing, I dunno really. I’m on the low income threshold for the time being so I just sort of lodge my stuff and collect my tax return. *shrugs*
                      Sorry, I’m still a little confused by the phrase “Liberal Plantation.” Perhaps it’s just my disinterest or my fanciful youth but I’ve never encountered it before.

                      That’s democracy for you, I guess? Right? I mean we vote in the yobbos (idiots) into their office and then voice our disagreement or agreement with their implemented policies/laws. Some are abolished after a time and some are tweaked, depending on what happens with the public.
                      I don’t know what it’s like in America, but our laws are never really set in stone. They do change a quite a bit, some are more successful than others.
                      So I’m afraid like before, your comments fly over my poor little Aussie head.

                      It’s one thing to disagree with gay marriage, that’s your right mate. But did you compare it to………concentration camps? A place which experimented cruelly on innocent humans, starved them, beat them and burned them to death on a massive scale? 0.o

                      I fail to see the connection between that and two adults signing a contract. Cause that’s what secular marriage really boils down to. Signing a damned piece of paper. I don’t think secular marriage has represented the religious (any religion) beliefs about marriage in general for quite a long time now. It’s cold, it’s tax breaks, it’s just writing your name down on a piece of paper in front of some bloke who might be in a silly wig. Nothing to write home about.

                      Recently went to a Church wedding myself. The Priest said something which I wholeheartedly agree with. He said (and I’m kind of paraphrasing here) these two people are married according to God’s law, they are tied in Holy Matrimony in the eyes of the Lord. Now, if a couple of people wish to bear witness to them acquiring the rights that man made marriage gives us in the country, please come forth. But it matters not, really. For according to our beliefs they are married already and no man made law can ever interfere with that.

                    • bonaventure

                      No one wants, nor needs to, “dictate” what marriage is to anyone, unless they are homophile liberals.

                      Precisely because marriage, like the laws of physics, do not need government approval or legislation to be defined.

                      Marriage pre-exists the state, and the state can simply regulate it as it is (male and female exclusively) — not as the state wants it to be. This is what the communists and Nazis tried to do: the former to redefine human relationship to property, while the latter to redefine life itself.

                      Sorry, but that can’t be done. And when tried, it leads to moral and political disasters. The homosexuality movement is headed straight in that direction.

                    • RandomGirl

                      But that’s exactly what you lot are doing. You are dictating to everyone through state laws your precise definition of marriage (one man one woman.) Now I don’t care one way or the other personally. Cause I’m sick and tired of both sides squabbling over a stupid word, it’s a made up sound attributed meaning by human beings. Not the bloody Holy Grail.

                      You can define marriage however you like in your Church/Mosque/Temple/Synagogue or between your spouse and yourself etc. That is your business and right. Hell, I would gladly fight alongside you to defend that right.
                      But when it comes to secular law, then it has to far more broad to include other people. I don’t live in a Theocracy, do you?
                      The Nazis were a Dictatorship, run through nothing but fear and prejudice. Again, not seeing that many similarities to those bastards and any gay people. I do see similarities between their tactics and those used by some (not all) religious people, though.

                      So if it only leads to disaster, why care? All you got to do is sit back and watch it occur, right? If it’s so inevitable, after all.

                    • bonaventure

                      You just fell into a vicious circle.
                      You believe that defining marriage as between one man and one woman only is “dictating” my beliefs to everyone else?
                      Guess what? Defining marriage as between two persons (regardless of sex) is ALSO dictating YOUR belief on everyone else.
                      Point is: marriage is and must be defined, and only one of these definitions can exist. In the long term, let the stronger win. Fortunately, the only definition that will win is the one that always was, even before any laws about marriage.

                    • RandomGirl

                      So let me get the straight (no pun intended.) Defining Legal Secular Marriage as ONLY one man and one woman (which in turn obliges every local citizen to follow strictly that particular model if they wish to be legally married) is not dictating marriage to everyone else? However, adding in an optional part of Secular Marriage to include same sex couples, a law that no local citizen is obliged to obey or even take part in as the whole “one man and one woman marriage” thing is still available to all (hell, you can outright ignore the same sex portion of the law if you are so inclined) is dictating marriage to everyone else? Am I missing something here or what?

                    • Guest

                      The State is not some arbitrary party of little significance. In fact, the State and their laws really form consciences whether you know it or not. The impact and reach of the State is far and deep. If they claim square circles exist then people accept that.

                    • RandomGirl

                      The State has to be elected by the people and if the people don’t want the laws then they’ll elect someone who promises to abolish them (or uphold them depending on what the public wants.)
                      They are useless, to be sure, and they use stupid propaganda that may fool people for a time, sure. But even still I don’t live in a damned dictatorship, I live in a Republic. Don’t know about you.

  • hombre111

    Sounds like a modern Augustine wrestling with concupiscence. But your speculation about the sexual feelings of the queerfolk is just that: speculation. We need to hear from a real human being of the homosexual persuasion. Can Crisis run down such a person? I suggest David Kundtz, a former priest now retired psychotherapist in Berkeley, author of “Stopping” and several other books.

    • Crisiseditor


      We published several “queerfolk” already (and I’m sure there will be others in the future). But they were orthodox so they must not have made an impression. You should know by now that we don’t give dissenters a platform. There are plenty of other publications that print such views.

      • hombre111

        Thanks for the reply. The lack of voice for a dissenter turns Crisis into a one note tune. Would be interesting to risk a little point/counterpoint once in a while. Granted that you will not change, I think it would still be possible to ask an orthodox homosexual if there were any positive aspects to his/her experience.

        • Crisiseditor

          The whole debate over the “New Homophiles” was precisely about this. I published 6 articles on that topic. I could have published more but I was sensing that people were getting bored. There is plenty of room for debate among orthodox Catholics. You see it in the comboxes every day. In fact, even the National Catholic Reporter recently recognized our willingness to think outside the box (but still within the bounds of orthodoxy):

          • hombre111

            Hmm. Now that I think about it, the “New Homophiles” was a good series, including the debate it engendered. Thanks for that.

            • It doesn’t work that way, hombre. “Gays are not gay because they have decided to be wicked.” This statement alone is full of problems. The term is meaningless. To identify anyone as “gay” is part of the problem. There is no objective identity of “gay”. If any part of “being gay” has to do with unchaste activity then yes that person has decided to be wicked in the sense of doing something wicked. All sin is wicked. All sin is a choice. What we decide to be is the key and what we choose will be for eternity. Christ, through His cross and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life. He will not violate your freedom to choose. Choose Christ. Choose life. Choose truth and love. Homosexuality, any lie, any sin is incompatible with Christ.

              • hombre111

                I appreciate your effort, David, but it does not answer my objection any better than Deacon Jim. We all agree on the moral principles you eloquently express. But we still have to ask, since life is a bag of good and bad, what is the good that gays find in their lifestyle? If two gays (defined as same sex attraction) chose to live together, but remained chaste according to Church teaching, what good would they experience as a couple?

                • CadaveraVeroInnumero

                  Frankly, I’m getting of tired of this bromide to be gay but not gay, to be homosexuality and not homosexual, to be sodomite and not sodomite.

                  You express it well, this compromise to cling to sin while not doing sin. It shows up all over the place. It has almost become doctrinaire in its saying. Ask any common Catholic, “Yes, that’s what the Church teaches – to be gay but not gay.”

                  Yet the question is never explored: Why, then, does a gay Catholic live in his celibacy? What is his interior life? Can this great lingering desire to be near (to possess) same-sex flesh be severed from the lust of it, from the actual taking and possessing? Can this great desire to gaze upon same-sex flesh – even in a celibate way – be snipped from the homosexual’s most crippling dual temptation (characterization), envy & narcissism?

                  One of the problems in this debate is that we (we have let the other side) define celibacy in a deceptive narrow way: in which there is no celibacy of the mind and emotions.

                  • cajaquarius

                    While I may be an ex-Catholic, many of my old friends from Life Teen are still friends and I still associate with Catholics. Amongst them, I have met a couple of gay men who live in such an arrangement, celibate yet together. Older gentlemen but since I share their orientation, even if not their conviction, I suppose I can answer the questions as you asked, if you are curious.

                    [Why, then, does a gay Catholic live in his celibacy?]

                    Because they believe that the sexual act is an act whose primary purpose is for creating new life, as per the Magisterium. Since homosexual men cannot do this that means celibacy is their recourse in order to maintain their adoration for sex’s meaning.

                    [What is his interior life?]

                    Couldn’t say. Both are pretty active in parish life. They go to different masses so as not to cause scandal and work as ushers, musicians, readers, and other things. They are both quite charitable and seem joyful, but no way to tell.

                    [Can this great lingering desire to be near (to possess) same-sex flesh be severed from the lust of it, from the actual taking and possessing?]

                    This seems like an odd way to look at a relationship, gay or not. Does a husband possess a great lingering desire to possess opposite sex flesh? Can that be severed from the lust of it? In the case of the two men, both met by accident, fell in love, and since they are getting older and have no family to speak of they got together to take care of each other, cuddle on cold nights, share interests, and otherwise become as close to becoming one as possible without consummation of the relationship, sexually.

                    [Can this great desire to gaze upon same-sex flesh – even in a celibate way – be snipped from the homosexual’s most crippling dual temptation (characterization), envy & narcissism?]

                    Envy and narcissism aren’t inherent to being romantically attracted to the same gender any more than they are inherent to being attracted to the opposite gender. The desire isn’t to possess or to gaze upon, the desire is to connect to another and share your life with them. I feel the same desire, so I know first hand. I long to become one with another every bit as much as I would if I were heterosexual – the differences are not so vast as to make me or these two men totally alien in motivation to yourself. We do fall in love, can love selflessly, and yearn to connect when we do meet that special person. If not physically, via sex, then at least spiritually and emotionally.

                    • CadaveraVeroInnumero

                      Thanks for the re-joiner. Interesting description of your two friends’ coupled life. Maybe this discussion will never reach a conclusion because it always seems to reduce itself to testimonials, of oneself or others.I could lay out mine, but then the conversation comes down to whose gay-life experience is more authentic, more in line with Church teaching, and so on.

                      And the point is not, in reading the story you put before us, to locate with some theological razor the line in which your friends crossed over in sin, and so on. (Assuming your telling is complete.) Is it when they cuddle up on a cold night, and so on?

                      What this conversation avoids, here or over on the “New Homophile” series, is the difficult work of definition, of clearing all decks, so the terms of the dialogue are well understood by everyone. Include in that the perimeters and criterion of any discussion.

                      Even in your storytelling you make assumptions about those perimeters; for example, that there is an equivalency between heterosexual and homosexual sexual attraction (I will not use the word ‘love’). It may be *felt* as such by those in the midst of experiencing it, but does “same-sex-attraction” (a phrase that had its uses, but has now become a weasel word, thanks to the New Homophiles) – once more, can homosexuality reveal the Natural Law of sexual attraction, even the very human, joyful game-playing of it as the Deacon described? If the Natural Law of sexual attraction cannot operate – without *disorder* – in the gaming of homosexual “love”, then homosexuality cannot be the means by which human sexuality operates completely, “truthfully”. So on, and so on.

                      There is no place, in a Catholic Christian’s life, for any lingering homosexual component in his relations with others. A Catholic Christian does not demean, diminish the gift of friendship – which is marrow to very soul – with mingling it with something very other – sexuality. Once that is done then the only game in town is to tease and test God’s law, to see how close one can be sexual in a relationship without crossing some (every shifting) line.

                      What your friends have is friendship. Yet, does it need to be brisked, pumped up with a latent desire (yes, that is the word) for the PROMISE OF SEXUAL EXPRESSION IF IT WAS SO PERMITTED. It is this hope denied to them which most likely causes them a certain kind of grief. Yet, does friendship between two men need to include sexuality (latent or active) in order to be complete. In short, that friendship is always lacking always deficient in itself, for it does not participate in the higher, fuller *spiritualities” of sex. That is the theological of the New Homophiles. With that conceit comes the insulting notion that only gay men (women) can experience friendship in its fullness. Therein lies the Great Promise of homosexual *love*.

                      So you see, it more than just a story of two gay Catholic men being
                      almost bloodless martyrs in denying themselves various sexual behaviors:
                      a denial mingled with a painful sense of loss.This is why the vow of celibacy is more than not crossing a nervous line marking off certain homosexual acts: anal intercourse, oral genital sex ,mutual masturbation, deep arousal kissing, I am assuming your friends have marked this line as well. But celibacy, to be full, must be a celibacy of the mind, the heart, the emotions, the imagination.

                      Read the Egyptian Desert Fathers!

                      The refusal to permit the blatantly constructed concept of “same-sex-attraction” to take friendship hostage is only one of the areas that need to be clarified, clearly defined in this conversation.

                      There are others. My personal irritation – though you didn’t raise it – on why this conversation refuses to discuss the etiology of homosexuality: its obvious origins in trauma & dissociation. Folks on “my side” seem to be terrified of raising the question. I have my notions why, but that’s a different posting.

                      Then there is that very false doctrine of the “human sexual continuum” that has created such havoc: one that Mr. Hannon in his article over at First Things (inadvertently?) bought into. Don’t get me started on that! I would hen veer off into the sloppy scholarship which much of its rests upon, much of it ideologically driven. Take this example: certain language (or “peoples group”) do not have a designated word for “homosexuality”; yet, some take that observable fact and invent a web of strung “facts” to expound on how the cultures of that language take a tolerant, positive stance towards homosexuality, that such cultures are incapable of “conceptualizing” even the notion of homosexuality (of pedophilia, of child abuse, etc.)

                      Then there is – God forbid – the stories of those who have put aside their homosexuality, in the fullest sense. Completely, or have have reduced its place, its effects to the point where is is negligible. We are in our multiple thousands, but are rarely given a voice. We are forbidden. A love, if you will, “without a name”. Maybe the editor of Crisis was about to publish such an article but he sensed that fatigue of his readership and put it aside.

                    • cajaquarius

                      I think the problem you are bringing up is a valid one, ultimately. There is a continuum of sexuality but I agree that much of it is marred by the horrors of abuse and addiction. In fact, having looked into ex-gays I have come to not share the same animus that many of my LGBT brethren share with them (many of whom assume that ex-gays are paid shills, for example).

                      I’d assumed you were either a former homosexual or very close to one based off your passion for the perspective. I suspect that much of that sexual attraction was confined to a mixture of narcissism, envy, and baseless lust. I imagine, if you did have sex with others of the same gender, you would always finish up hating them and hating yourself more for what had transpired. Or perhaps feeling a sort of empty pride that slowly became gnawing emptiness once more driving you to more empty conquests and selfish pursuits of that nature.

                      The primary problem is that we are not the same. Not just you and I but homosexuals in general. I think there are many who came to be what they are as a result of sexual abuse or the like triggering sex addiction in them or as a sort of acting out previous abuses with new people. When I read and watched the testimonials of formerly gay folks I saw a lot of what they lived with in my own dealings with the LGBT community at large. I have had guys who came onto me who I kept at a distance because I could see they were trying to use sex to complicate our friendship so I want to make it clear that I do not doubt you for an instant or deny you your experience.

                      I cannot speak for the two older gentleman, you are correct about that. I can, however, speak for myself.

                      The first man I ever fell in love never inspired in me any sense of lust at all. In fact, I am still a virgin when it comes to that sort of stuff, entirely, as I would like the first guy I ever give myself to that way to be the last person I do. A bit old fashioned like that. My fantasies were of playing video games together, watching movies, editing each other’s writing, snuggling under the blanket while talking about our lives, and caring for each other. I wanted to cook for him and care for him: to share our lives with each other. I haven’t heard from him in months all because he had fallen for me too but couldn’t bear me “seeing the real him”. His story is much the same as some of the worst, a life full of being used by older men and objectifying himself in order to create a faux vanity to hide his vulnerabilities behind. I turned him onto getting help for himself but am not certain if he took my advice and got that help after vanishing. Even now that he is gone I still pray for him and hope he got that help he needed.

                      If your journey has made you better then I am glad, even if the journey makes us ideological enemies in the end. I just want to make it clear that there is no simple, easy way to define homosexuality/same-sex attraction because it is varied and not clean cut.

                • David

                  Certainly they can find some good. The harm done is to live a lie if they are openly living as if they are homosexual. You said they are living as a couple. A couple of what? A couple of friends or a couple of ‘gays’? Could a guy and girl live together as a couple while remaining chaste? It is a clearly not avoiding the appearance of evil. It can lead little ones astray, which is evil.

                  What do mean we are not in a position to say? Also, talk about false dichotomy. Either the Church teaching is “cruel beyond cruel” or two guys who call themselves ‘gay’ should be able to live together while remaining chaste? If they are chaste the issue isn’t them living together as much as it’s that they think God made them ‘gay’. Say both are really growing in their faith, they will both come to see each other more as brothers and partners in the work of the Kingdom as they grow in understanding of who they are in Christ. They will not see themselves as ‘gay’. Each are male and need to grow and mature as men of God or they can never be who God made them to be. There a many scenarios that one could come up with but the fact is homosexuality is a lie and should never be normalized as an identity. Christ changes everything, but especially our attractions and our perception of reality. He makes them right. We all have disordered attractions and perceptions that need changed in Him.

                  • hombre111

                    So the young man told me after it was too late that he had always been attracted to males, the way I have always been attracted to females. I do not remember choosing to be so attracted, I simply always was. So, with him.

                    But as a good Catholic, he eventually knew this was wrong. So, he did his best to be attracted to females. Homosexuality was not a choice he made, but heterosexuality was. Had a couple of girl friends during high school . Then he met this wonderful girl at college and came to me, as campus minister, to arrange their marriage. They were great kids deeply in love, with Christ and with each other, and the ceremony went without a hitch.

                    They showed up six months later in huge, huge trouble. He finally admitted to her that his desperate effort to love her was becoming more and more difficult. He was less and less capable of love-making. She said she always sensed where he really was, but thought that her good love and their common love for Christ could heal him. He told her his endless attraction was toward men. I sent them to a Catholic marriage therapist. They went to a Christ centered marriage retreat, which was rare in those days. But after another six months of struggle, their marriage ended.

                    Where was the lie in this?

                    • David

                      Too late? Choosing to be attracted? Love? Marriage ended? Desperate effort to love? Chose to be hetero? Love of Christ couldn’t heal them? She always sensed where he really was? Her good love could heal him?

                      Nothing is impossible with God. We are called to choose the good even if it seems unattractive to us. It’s called faith. Love is never use of another person. Marriage is forever. Whoever prepared them should have let them know that the words until death mean something. No one is hetero or homo. She married someone she thought she could change.

                      I appreciate your genuine compassion. The story is the evidence of the lies these poor kids have been fed. They don’t understand love, and they probably don’t understand sex or marriage or what it means to be male or female. You failed them and the ‘priests’ failed them and the Church failed them and probably their lousy [secular] catholic education failed them as well as their parents failed them. Our pornographic society failed them as well. Thank God we have a merciful Judge or we would all go to hell.

                      The truth sets us free. Lies enslave.

                    • hombre111

                      The truth sets us free. Ahh, if only we were not so trapped in our illusions, our fears, our prejudices, our emotional wounds, our crippled past, our human weaknesses. Nothing is impossible with God, but so often the healing waits and maybe never comes in this lifetime.
                      David, your piece here represents your own set of illusions. It contains all the smug certainty of left brain thinking. Your rock solid conviction that the thoughtful, heartfelt conclusions of millions of people are mistaken. Maybe you could go see Fiddler on the Roof. Tev speaks raves to God out of his left brain, pronouncing all his non-negotiable certainties. Then the right brain takes over: “And yet…and yet….”
                      As a parish priest, I have gone with people into the messiness of their lives, not as the one offering my own smug certainties, but as a compassionate witness who encourages faith and trust inspite of everything. The older I get, the more this way seems the way of real truth.

                    • Authentic pastoral outreach always has its origin in God’s truth–which is why we have the Holy Spirit-inspired Magisterium to guide us to that truth…

                    • hombre111

                      Thanks Jim. That is what I thought after the seminary gave me that good supply of Scholastic philosophy and theology. Then I discovered that, in the Bible, “Truth” has more to do with authentic relationships, love, and mercy. The “Truth” Jesus came to reveal in the Gospel of St. John was not some message that could be summarized in a theology book, but the reality of the Father’s faithful love, revealed in Jesus’ death on the cross. Subsequently, we have imposed a Greek notion of truth onto the issue. As I have begun to understand, it was a triumph of the left brain over the right.

                    • Giauz Ragnarock

                      “Nothing is impossible with God.”

                      You were told of a situation that was unaffected by Jesus. It was impossible for Jesus. You traded in truth because you could make up a lie.

                      “She married someone she thought [Jesus] could change.”

                      “You failed them and the ‘priests’ failed them and the Church failed them and probably their lousy [secular] catholic education failed them as well as their parents failed them. Our pornographic society failed them as well. Thank God we have a merciful Judge or we would all go to hell.”

                      Goody! You’re playing the blame game for a complex situation that had no clear designated screw-up(s) (just blame everyone but the omnipotent though non-existent Jesus, BRILLIANT!). Also, going by Revelation, no one ‘goes to hell’. Jesus does hell to people (burns them over and over while keeping them alive and fully aware of pain, though some say the lake of fire is just a metaphor for isolation torture that a person is kept alive in and sane enough to remain in horror for all eternity).

            • Hombre111 wrote: “That is my problem with Deacon Jim. He sounds like someone who is watching other people having fun in a swimming pool, and criticizing it from the outside. ”
              I would be surprised to learn that this comment actually refers to *this* post on the poverty of sexual orientation, since in this post I am clearly focusing on sexual attraction rather than exclusively homosexual attraction. This puts me squarely in the same swimming pool as everyone else.

              • hombre111

                Hmm. I read your article again and confess my thoughts were triggered by your confusing use of the term “orientation.” Sorry about that, Deacon Jim. But after reading your article again, I found it a convoluted piece of rhetoric. I was especially amused by your analogy with attraction to a car. Your wife must feel deeply flattered.

                • What, in particular, do you consider my “confusing use of the term”? Maybe I can clarify. Thanks.

              • CadaveraVeroInnumero

                Maybe the confusion comes from the rhetorical appearance of using their language, a bit of post-modern contextualizing. Hannon attempted just that and stumbled all over himself – as First Things has a wont of doing lately.

            • CadaveraVeroInnumero


              Aquinas & Aristotle served up a pretty taste steak dinner. We no longer have a taste for it because we’ve lost our “thinking etiquette” of our to use the knife and fork of Natural Law. To dismiss such foundational thought, as you do, shows both a lack of charity and curiosity.

              Frankly,inn spite of their illustrative utility, I don’t give a witch’s wit about Mr. Kundtz’s preferential experiences or emotions regarding all things queer, or your lack of it. As you shouldn’t give about mine. It is difficult to take a knife and fork to a plate full of squishy, squirming experiences.

              The testimony of Truth, reasoned and exhibited, is the real meat. It’s time to close the book on William James.

              • hombre111

                Aquinas and Aristotle, substance philosophers lost in the left brain, with its abstract representation of reality, cut off from the world of experience and the messiness of the immediate environment, no longer able to deal with what is concrete, individual, unrepeatable, and always in flux. A world of models. But vanished is the picture of the whole. The left brain’s world is fixed, forever. New information is ignored, contradictions and paradoxes are denied. But that is not the world we live in. Aquinas, with his big belly, probably had a fondness for the accidents of a good meal, and not just the indescribable taste of the invisible substance lost behind the experience of texture, temperature, and flavor. But then Aquinas had some kind of right brain experience while celebrating Mass, came back to stare at his pile of left brain accomplishments, and said, “It is straw.”

      • fredx2

        It depends on how you do it. It is not really giving dissenters a platform. People have to start understanding each other. From reading NCR, I have come to understand that many of that type are very broken human beings, who are desperate for kindness and a reception that does not include instant condemnation. There is the divine spark in them as well. Even the Holy Father wants to give them that – while not budging one inch on current doctrine. We have to extend mercy to its maximum point consistent with doctrine.

        ““A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being.”

        “The mystery of the human being”. Because there is so much propaganda out there, gay people begin to believe the church is their enemy. It is not, and it could be their best friend. An enormous healing on both sides is eminently possible, and it can be done by both sides simply following the teaching of the Church:

        “This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

    • Guest

      The truth of the matter is not based on personal feelings. In fact, personal feelings must be ruled by intellect. So, no we do not need propaganda. We need faith and reason. Both of which reveal disordered desires are contrary to God’s ordained will.

      • hombre111

        Since I know David Kundtz as a close friend, he would not give you propaganda, but a simple witness of what he has found in his life. I am a heterosexual who made himself a eunuch for the sake of the Kingdom, but my sexual orientation remains. Still, I find David’s witness about the discovery of love and friendship to be quite inspiriting.

        • Guest

          Personal desires and actions are not any true standard apart from the objective moral law.

  • Mary

    If I may. Just read this the other day. So happy to be a part of a faith that demands one to think to the best of human capacity.

  • wrecktafire

    Maybe my criticism of modern sex-talk is too simple, but it seems to me to be fatally corrupted with what I was taught to call “subjectivism” — the failure to place perception and feeling at their correct place in the hierarchy of knowledge.

    While I appreciate the concrete analogy, I think our general impoverishment is that we do not seem to be able to have blunt talk about the proper relationship between subjective and objective truth. Yes, feelings are real, and feelings are important, but it seems that so many of our modern social “derailments” are grounded in the false premises that the most important thing for an individual is for him to feel good about his opinions and choices, and that to do “what just ‘feels right’ ” is an intellectually defensible way to live.

  • bonaventure

    Deacon Jim,

    Thanks for answering my earlier comment about the word “orientation.”

    I have another observation.

    Your of sexual attraction and sexual “orientation” to test driving and blue print is interesting, but it has a major weakness: a homosexual/homosexual activist who pretends that homosexuals are capable of loving and “monogamous” relationships will simply substitute himself and his “spouse” in your scenario, and then claim that everything you write about personhood (“treating persons as persons” etc) equally applies to them as well.

    I was looking for some sort of acknowledgement of this weakness, and a response to it in your article, but unfortunately I did not find it.

    • cajaquarius

      “Your comparison of sexual attraction and sexual “orientation” to test driving and blue print is interesting, but it has a major weakness: a homosexual/homosexual activist who pretends that homosexuals are as capable of loving and “monogamous” relationships will simply substitute himself and his “spouse” in your scenario, and then claim that everything you write about personhood (“treating persons as persons” etc) applies to them as well.”

      Do you have any evidence that homosexuals are incapable of loving, monogamous relationships? And not the old “most gays are promiscuous” canard, I mean one that actually provides causality for the correlation being made (that one hundred percent of people romantically oriented to same gendered people are incapable of love or monogamy and that this is linked, inexorably, to their romantic orientation). I am a man romantically attracted to other men and I am quite monogamous by nature.

      If I were being honest, I don’t expect a real answer that I won’t be able to easily refute but I am always curious to see what zany rationalization those who make hateful claims about me without knowing me will come up with to justify themselves. If nothing else, comments like yours ignite the fire in me and remind me that my being a shield for my brethren is the right thing to do.

      • Guest

        Being monogamous is necessary but not sufficient to be morally correct or healthy.

        • cajaquarius

          I will grant you that. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, the relationship between two men or two women cannot create more life making it a violation of the Magisterium. That, however, isn’t what I argued here. The argument made and the rhetoric advanced was that we were incapable of love or monogamy.

          • Objectivetruth

            But are two homosexuals capable of the love, uniting eros and agape, or, as Gaudium et spes said, “bringing together the divine with the human”(GS, 49, par. 1), that is identified in Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est? Because of the lack of true “complimentarity” between two men or two women, they are not. Only a man and woman can achieve this divinely willed level of agape. It is an impossibility for two people of the same sex.

            • cajaquarius

              To reduce spirituality down to something as base and flesh-born as sexuality is a heresy the Church engages in that I have never seen the wisdom of. Sex is a thing born of flesh and dust. Attempts to elevate it to a spiritual level are error, in my view. I agree with the Church in it’s contention that sex can be used for evil (and more often than not, is used for that end) but elevating it to the level of divinity is worship of the human form. While I can respect, though disagree, with the Church in it’s view of sex being immoral or lustful when it involves the blocking of life (through birth control, masturbation, and so on) this making the human form the ultimate arbiter of the spiritual form is nothing short of a Golden Calf built by a Church too in love with the world to accept the final destruction of the flesh.

              Philosophical and theological views being what they are, I could be wrong.

            • happiernow

              Why do you assume that same-sex partners lack “true complementarity”? I mean, I suppose that if complementarity is reduced to the presence of opposing sexual organs, then it is impossible for same-sex couples to experience “true complementarity.” But what a woefully inadequate definition of the term! Or perhaps this idea of “true complementarity” depends on certain gender/sex stereotypes about men and women? Surely the individuals in a successful same-sex partnership experience complementarity or there would be no romantic relationship!

          • Guest

            Love must be properly define and monogamy is not a standard to be used apart from the moral law. A father and son can be monogamous in a sexual relationship too.

            • cajaquarius

              Love must be properly defined. I agree with that. I never needed to be taught what real, selfless love is, however, and no amount of empty legalism will convince me you are right so long as your definition of it is a grotesque violation of my conscience. A father and son cannot be monogamous in a loving relationship because any relationship they have will be selfish and based on lustful intent. A father who violates his role as a father for his son directly harms his son for his own romantic inclinations. Familial relations are freed from the profanity of sexuality and a refuge from the flesh; to violate them by introducing sexuality is a selfish act on the part of those who partake of it. That is why they are wrong.

      • Objectivetruth

        There is nothing “hateful” in bonaventure’s posting.

        • cajaquarius

          I read a comment that includes “…a homosexual/homosexual activist who pretends that homosexuals are as capable of loving and “monogamous” relationships…” as one of two things. Firstly, it could be the words of someone who honestly believes I am incapable of actual love or human emotion and connection as they are. An unfortunately ignorant notion born of a lack of empathy for me but not an incurable situation. The second is a tactic employed to destroy me and people like me. A calculated statement designed to dehumanize me and set me apart from heteroromantic folks as something lesser or even monstrous and alien. The purpose of such a ploy is severing any empathy a reader might feel for me by reducing me via clever use of Us vs Them rhetoric.

          While I make no assumptions about the one who posted it who I replied to, I like to assume the best about people, so I will assume the former until further evidence or obstinacy on their part prove otherwise. My life and the lives of those I seek to protect does depend on identifying this sort of rhetoric for what it is.

      • bonaventure

        Causes of sexual perversion are multiple. Dysfunctional family, abuse, weakness of character & weak psyche, fascination with sin, handicap, willful choice, etc. You alone can find the causes of your admitted sexual perversion — but that it something you must do alone, or with your therapist. Alternatively, you can chose to remain willfully ignorant of the causes, and buy into the many socially engineered lies about homosexuality.

        Monogamy is the practice of having only one spouse at the time of marriage. So unless you’re married to a person of the opposite sex, you cannot be “monogamous” since there is no homosexual “marriage,” in spite of the increasing fad in legislation to pretend that there is.

        Anyway, how monogamous is “quite monogamous”? (I am using your own words). That’s quite a novelty. If I may say, that’s a bad choice of words, since “quite” may be understood as both “completely” and as “to a degree.” So, do you consider yourself “monogamous” completely, or to a degree. Because there is an immense moral difference between the two. But again, there’s no point debating someone’s alleged monogamy, if they cannot be married to the coveted object of their sexual lust in the first place. It would be like debating how much does someone speak a foreign language which, in fact, they do not speak at all.

        Finally (and a user below has already made that argument), even if you were married (to a person of the opposite sex, as it alone is possible), monogamy is not a guarantee of morality. One can be “quite monogamous” (even understood as “completely”) yet be guilty of grave sexual sins, such as adultery, etc. After all, an adulterer/adulteress is not married to the person they are committing adultery with.

        • cajaquarius

          [Causes of sexual perversion are multiple. Dysfunctional family, abuse, weakness of character & weak psyche, fascination with sin, handicap, willful choice, etc. A person of good will can find the causes of his admitted sexual perversion (ex.: homosexuality) — but that it something he must do alone, or with a therapist, counselor, or other help. Alternatively, one can choose to remain willfully ignorant of the causes, and buy into the many socially engineered lies about homosexuality.]

          Ah, so any information that arises that contradicts your view that my romantic inclinations are not inherited from abuse or personal choice are an engineered lie then. That is convenient for you as it doesn’t demand any thought or research on your part. Do you have any peer reviewed studies to back up this claim or is this just your way of admitting you don’t really know what you are talking about concerning this? It is quite alright if you don’t know what you are talking about as most don’t bother to put themselves in our shoes and consider what life is like for us – they prefer to make up caricatures of us because that makes it easier to hate and vilify us.

          [Monogamy is the practice of having only one spouse at the time of marriage. So unless one is married to a person of the opposite sex, he or she cannot be “monogamous” since there is no homosexual “marriage,” in spite of the increasing fad in legislation to pretend that there is.]

          Monogamy has many definitions, you will find. I am referring to the third one per Merriam-Webster “the condition or practice of having a single mate during a period of time”. Of course, we both know that you know what I was referring to so we can put this equivocation logical fallacy aside, for now.

          [Anyway, Cajaquarius, how monogamous is “quite monogamous”? (I am quoting your own words). That’s quite a novelty. If I may say, that’s a bad choice of words, since “quite” may be understood as both “completely” and as “to a degree.” So, do you consider yourself “monogamous” completely, or to a degree? Fyi, there is an immense moral difference between the two.]

          Clarification is in order. I mean I intend to find one person and give myself, fully, to them. I say “quite monogamous” because monogamy has a cheapened meaning these days thanks to the endless divorces and swinger type stuff going on. The Church would call them annulments, I suppose, but in any case the modern world treats monogamy as if it works in degrees. This is a perspective I do not subscribe to.

          [But again, there’s no point debating someone’s alleged monogamy, if they cannot be married to the coveted object of their sexual lust in the first place. It would be like debating how much does someone speak a foreign language which, in fact, they do not speak at all.]

          A false equivalence and a rather terrible way to look at a spouse as well. You shouldn’t have a sexual lust for your spouse at all – lust is a selfish drive, even for heterosexuals, and I may no longer be Catholic but I know the Magisterium speaks very clearly on the nature of you using your spouse for lustful purposes (hence the restrictions on birth control, etc).

          And even without an official marriage I might still someday fall in love with someone who shares my values and wish to grow old with them. Care for them, join with them in reaching out to care for our community, and to mutually care for each other as we grow older. You don’t need a ring or a fancy party to be loyal to someone you swear your heart to, you just need a measure of character and a sense of honor.

          [Finally (and a user has already made that argument earlier), even if one were married to a person of the opposite sex (as it alone is possible) and monogamous, monogamy is not a guarantee of morality. One can be “quite [or completely] monogamous,” yet still be guilty of grave sexual sins, such as adultery, etc. After all, an adulterer is not married to the person he is committing adultery with.]

          One who commits adultery is absolutely not monogamous, no matter how they self label. You have violated a pact with another person and the trust that is required to become one with them. Many of my LGBT brethren speak in similar ways (“monogamish” and other such nonsense) or consider monogamy to be something not binding, as you seem to think, and it is just an excuse to not let people close. Also, it is bearing false witness to someone you are leading to believe that you love. It sounds like you have a very twisted, worldly understanding of honor and love. Unfortunate. I shall pray for you.

          Still, while it is unfortunate that this has become your understanding of what it means to promise yourself to another, realize that this is not my perspective. To me, monogamy is a promise to sacrifice for another person, give yourself fully to them, and always be there for them. To help him grow, not only physically and mentally, but emotionally and spiritually where possible. Sure, it means enjoying the happy bits together, but it also means sticking by them through the rough patches too.

          • bonaventure

            – You alone know (or can find out, if you want) where your sexual perversion originates from. Beyond that, you can lie all you want about it real origin, and readers will either have to believe you, or to mistrust you.

            – High rates of divorce indeed cheapen marriage. Homosexuality cheapens it even more. Push it more, and homosexual activist will be calling for the abolition of marriage altogether (as they already are).

            – A normal and healthy sexual person does not lust for his or her spouse. A homosexual, however, can only lust since, by definition, he/she is neither sexually normal nor healthy.

            – There is no “measure of character” and “sense of honor” in any sexual perversion, including homosexuality. It’s like saying that there is character and honor in being (1) insane, at best or (2) a criminal, at worse.

            – Monogamy is defined as having a single spouse. Not a single “sex partner.” Therefore an adulterer can still be monogamous since he is not married to the person he commits adultery with. The point was: one can claim to be “monogamous” all he wants, and that still doesn’t make him moral since he can break his monogamous marital vows with sin. But of course, to make such vows in the first place, the conditions for marriage must be met, which is not the case if two people who propose to marry are of the same sex.

            • cajaquarius

              [- You alone know (or can find out, if you want) where your sexual perversion originates from. Beyond that, you can lie all you want about its real origin, and readers will either have to believe you, or to mistrust you. If a person is unwilling to admit the truth of a matter, there is only subjectivity left, which is unreliable.]

              And accusation made without evidence can be answered by a counterargument made without evidence. You offered the view that my romantic orientation to other men comes from past abuse, choice, or the like and I challenged it because you didn’t offer proof of your statement. Until you do my personal experience trumps your assumptions/accusations of my intent or sense of self.

              [- High rates of divorce indeed cheapen marriage. Homosexuality cheapens it even more. Push it further, and homosexual activist will be calling for the abolition of marriage altogether (as they already are).]

              Some are, but some heterosexuals also call for the end of monogamy and marriage, altogether. You won’t pin this on me simply because I happen to be romantically oriented to the same gender, I am afraid. I happen to think that marriage built of faux love cheapen marriage (I won’t define “faux love” again as I have already done that before in responses) just as you *feel* that homosexuality cheapens marriage more than divorce.

              [- A normal and healthy sexual person does not lust for his or her spouse. A person who is sexually perverted, however, can only lust since, by definition, he/she is neither sexually normal nor healthy.]

              I suppose we would have to define what sexual perversion is then, wouldn’t we? I don’t disagree but imagine I would define sexual perversion much differently from you and your precious traditional perspectives. I suspect that you have no evidence to back up your point so I won’t ask for it. Refer to first response above for why, etc.

              [- There is no “measure of character” and “sense of honor” in any sexual perversion. It’s like saying that there is character and honor in being insane (at best) or a criminal (at worst).]

              There is no character or honor in sexual perversion but there most certainly is in real, selfless love as I described above. Your attempts to boil me down to nothing more than sexuality are failing, my dear. If your arguments are the best the Church can come up with then it is really no wonder you are losing the culture war.

              [- Monogamy is defined as having a single spouse. Not a single “sex partner.” Therefore an adulterer who is married to one person of the opposite sex is still monogamous, unless he marries the person he commits adultery with at the same time (n which case he would become bigamous or polygamous). The point was: one can claim to be “monogamous” all he wants, but that still doesn’t make him moral since he can break his marital vows with sin. But of course, to make such vows in the first place, the conditions for marriage must be met, which is not the case if two people who propose to marry are of the same sex.]

              Another flaccid attempt to boil my relationships and the love I yearn for down to base sex. Rather than repeat myself, I will admit that the reason I come back to these sorts of conversations is the constant doubt that I maybe wrong. That, perhaps, there is something I have missed in all of this. Some perspective on the other side that I have not accounted for. I test my conscience against arguments leveled by the other side and I test their veracity in conversations like this one in order to ensure that I am on the right side of this issue.

              The fact that those who hold the reigns on “objective truth” consistently resort to ad hominem, post ergo proctor hoc fallacy, junk science, and claims of wild conspiracy to tether their failing perspective together speaks volumes and reaffirms my dedication to protecting my brethren. The tree is pretty and old without a doubt, but the fruit it bears is foul and toxic. What a shame.

    • Hi, Bonaventure–please don’t be too disappointed–you are *definitely* correct in what you are saying, but I saved addressing this issue for the “part two” that will likely be forthcoming soon here at Crisis. In this post above, I opted to focus pretty much on how sexual attraction functions in accord with God’s plan. Part two will address homosexual orientation directly. So stay tuned! I think you’ll find the next companion piece to this one responsive to your comment. Thanks!

      • bonaventure

        I am looking forward to read the second installment of your article. Thank you for your work, and for answering my concerns.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        I’m sure it will demonize people with generalizations, sly lies, and the usual ‘Us (the greater) vs Them (the lesser)’ junk. I don’t know you. You might be admirable in much of the rest of your life, but the way the anti-gay-rights religious (such as yourself) treat LGBT people with your words, with your constitutionally unsound votes, and sometimes with your personal deeds is monstrous.

        • Thanks for the comment–care to point out anything “monstrous” in what I’ve said so far?

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            The “Poverty” of Sexual Orientation

            [poverty is used to put down studies of human sexuality and those using ‘orientation’ to describe their sexuality]

            In the grave new world

            [grave is understood to mean the world is getting worse. In this context, it is because nearly all academics and many laypersons acknowledge the sexuality of gay people as valid]

            So, yes, I’m sexually attracted to some women, certainly, but not all women. This makes me “straight”?

            [hidden assumption that gay people are sexually attracted to all people of their own sex, thus the “gay scare”]

            Can “straight” adequately describe my “real” sexual orientation?

            [This and the paragraph it is apart of stretch the current public use of ‘orientation’ so as to paint the concept dubious by assuming that one’s basic attractions to which persons of which sex does not allow for varriation among individuals]

            Here is the problem: sexual orientation is merely a calculation derived from collecting data… sexual attraction is designed to lead to us loving a real human person.

            [between the paragraphs of which these exerpts are from, orientation and attraction are trying to be made into lesser and greater terms rather than what they are (two terms people use to describe the same thing as illustrated in the second part of the exerpt]

            sexual attraction does not exist so that we can objectify other persons by analyzing them to see whether I find their sexual values attractive or not. The “poverty” of sexual orientation is that it ultimately distracts us from treating persons as persons.

            [uses special definitions of orientation and attraction to dehumanize people in relationships the author objects to. The author uses his special definition of orientation to say that gay people don’t view each other as people but sex object when in a relationship (are his wife and he just viewing each other as sex objects because he is a man she finds attractive and vice versa?)]

            Sex Drive and the “Test-Drive”

            [the entire section tries to make out orientation to be a learned response and continues to drive a wedge between the synonymous uses of orientation and attraction. Also, the author’s context is meant to place same-sex relationships in a category closer to “a dead-end street, like pornography… adultery or fornication” rather than “the experience of real love with a real person”]

            we can vividly see the bankruptcy of sexual orientation when compared to sexual attraction.

            [outright calls the use of ‘orientation’ “bankrupt” because the author has created a strawman definition (outside of the layperson’s interchangeable use of orientation and attraction) that he can easily burn]

            Once we’ve found the one car (real spousal love), the sexual orientation “blueprint” remains not only “unreal” but it also gradually becomes increasingly inaccurate.

            [shall I apply what this says about gay people to the author? His attraction and love for his wife is false, and he finds his general sexual attraction to women to be continually becoming untruthful. The rest of the paragraph, when applied to him, makes it sound like he cannot appreciate the individual life of his wife despite having an extensive history of love with her]

            the husband of 50 years remains sexually attracted to his wife of 50 years precisely because her uniquely personal sexual values belong only to her, the beloved—not because they still match some 50-year-old blueprint.

            [this message being that this is somehow not true of gay relationships because a special definition of orientation is used. The author does not put up for debate that he loves his spouse. Neither would married gay people. Yet the author paradoxically claims that he loves and is attracted to a woman while claiming exactly the opposite, that he is not in love with and sexually attracted to a woman]

            My sexual “orientation,” therefore, really isn’t “straight” or even “brunette-erosexual.” My real orientation actually is a unique person and has a name: so, in case you’re curious, my orientation is named “Sue.”

            [conflates orientation with relationship. The author is still attracted to women by virtue of love and sexual attraction for his wife. Married gay people he seems to say are different. As consequence of the author’s jumbled special definition of orientation, Adam’s orientation is named “Steve.” (apparently)]

            The above pretty much sums up every small, dehumanizing, mis-informing, manipulative, and underhanded slight I see in your article. Furthermore, it is plain to see that the target audience is made up of people of the heterosexual orientation (as Crisis would have it, “heterophiles” like the author and I). The author hopes to make heterophiles see gay people as disordered and unable to love a person as a person for a (hopefully) life-time commitment of marriage. The author specially defines sexual orientation as a lesser and un-synonymous to sexual attraction (which he also somewhat has specially defined as only happening for heterophile couples) term.

            Indeed, the article’s treatment of gay couples and ‘sexual orientation’ (as used by laypersons of all orientation in general) is monstrous.

            • I’ll say this–you’ve taken a lot of time, and used a great deal of imagination, to construct your re-telling of my post according not to what I actually said, but according to what you think I must mean by what I actually said. I’ll be curious to see what you think I must mean in the part-two. Thanks for commenting.

              • Giauz Ragnarock

                Do you agree with me that gay people and their relationships have the exact same dynamics as our own, they love their spouses as people just as we do, and that relationships are different than orientation?

                • If the dynamics were exactly the same, then “gay” men would be marrying women, and “gay” women would be marrying men, right? So, no, the dynamics are clearly different.
                  As to loving spouses, that requires an exploration of the meaning of both “love” and “spouse”–as it is, a man can’t have a male “spouse” and a woman can’t have a female “spouse.”
                  Are “relationships” different from “orientation”–Yes. Relationships are specifically personal and concrete, while “orientation” is an abstract collection of data regarding attraction to sexual values.

                  • Giauz Ragnarock

                    Yeah, as much as I get jumbled when trying to get my thoughts on (internet) paper, I was not far off the mark. You do want to label LGBT people delusional and thus worthy of being treated how it is seen fit not as we would like to be treated were the bias of this Biblical interpretation against we “heterophiles”.

                    • On the contrary, nothing I have said about orientation or attraction is about the pastoral dimension of assisting people who struggle with disordered sexual attraction of any kind. Rather, my hope is to illuminate more clearly some important truths of human sexuality, truths from which any authentic pastoral initiative must necessarily arise.

                    • Guest

                      See, you illustrate the problem quite well with this comment. You want to invert all of society and reality so that you can feel comfortable with your desires. You have demonized a man and his position not based on his words but on your ideology you wish to impute to him.

                  • happiernow

                    As a woman who has a female spouse, I beg to differ. Oh yeah, and I love her with everything I am and everything I have.

                    To claim that men cannot have male spouses and that women cannot have female spouses is to engage in the classic logical fallacy known as begging the question. It is also a form of circular reasoning. Your conclusion (that men cannot have male spouses and women cannot have female spouses) refers back to an unstated and unsubstantiated premise (that the word spouse must necessarily refer only to the opposite sex of any person who has a spouse).

                • Guest

                  No, they are not the same nor can they be. Would you claim an incestuous relationship between a father and son is the same as a normal married man and woman?

        • Guest


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  • Pi

    You might be interested to note that according to the most basic queer theory, you are right. That’s why there are almost endless different terms for sexuality, despite your claim that there are only three. Take the term demisexual for instance; it is a term used specifically for those that are only sexually attracted to people that they form an emotional attachment to. In fact, there is often a divide between sexual attraction and romantic attraction that further breaks down what kind of person you would want to spend the rest of your life with.

    It is rather amusing that your ideas fall right in line with what you would expect from a gay-rights advocate. You might have to do a bit more research on that front and emphasize the differences, because this reads very nearly like a gay-rights manifesto.

    • Your take on my position will probably change when you read my next offering. But thanks for commenting! I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts on how I develop this particular thesis.

      • trinitas

        Both sides are saying the same thing. That is why there is no end to this game as far as what Preference Utilitarianism permits (Peter Singer). Anything and everything under the sun. This is why Theology of the Body was so amazing, because it shows how, in the end, either there is a purpose to all of this – our sexuality/gender/roles, etc. – or there is not. No purpose. No end goal. Just sex, attraction, love and a million combinations of any of those. But we believe there is a purpose. It is creation, it is participating in the order that God created, and that Jesus has called us to live. We eat for a purpose. Everything we do has a purpose. Father Barron’s YouTube video on the doing away with Aristotelian philosophy by emphasizing only cause and matter (doing away with purpose, and end goal)
        Modernity and Morality
        Has Science Refuted Aristotelian Causality?
        The only way to refute the secular arguments ultimately comes back to two things: 1) Belief in God and therefore a purpose and role for all things under the sun (and beyond) and 2) Moral absolutism.
        You can’t have it both ways. You have to pick one. What is sad to me is the culture is slowly being convinced through law and desensitization that Preference Utilitarianism is the reality (to understand what is being taught in universities and where/how these ideas are being promulgated, look up Peter Singer in Wikipedia: The way. You do what you want, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else, it’s fine. There is even a clause there. As long as it doesn’t hurt someone else – UNLESS that someone else is dependent on you or society, because they are essentially hurting you – in that scenario, your right supersedes theirs. The logic is all screwy… because in the end both are hurting the other so whose right trumps whose?
        My mind hurts when I try to think or write about it.

    • Guest

      I fail to see how the author’s position is the same as “queer theory”? One is based in utilitarianism and materialism and one is not.

  • concern00

    Thanks for a decent dose of honesty.

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    For Hombre & others,

    Read the article linked below. It has nothing to do with sex – thank God! But it pertains.

    Back to my tiresome point that the notion of a “human sexual continuum” (the sexual blank state) is both a deceiving made up nonsense and an assault on the integrity of the human person and his common life with others.

    The article’s culled out premise is thus: that human sexuality (in truth, we should only say human sex”) is not a *blank slate* to be written on at will, as the fussy, malleable tyranny of the Reign of Sexual Identities demand of us.

    Mankind (yes, *mankind*) was born heterosexual, and for heterosexuality. All else is dissonance.

    “Dissonance, Harmony, and American Culture” by Chet Richards

  • TheActualTruth

    I am a woman, and this article really doesn’t resonate
    with me at all. This is not my experience with sexual attraction. I can
    honestly say I don’t believe I have ever experienced sexual attraction for any
    man other than my husband, if sexual attraction means a rush of blood to the
    genitals and a desire to get physical. I only experienced that AFTER we had
    already been friends for some time—after I already loved him, in fact.

    I get that we want to move away from “orientations,” and it seems
    that both religious people and queer-studies folk are on the same page with
    that goal, but there is still a need for language that describes what we
    fundamentally need in a relationship that goes far beyond genital stimulation
    and orgasm. My husband is able to provide for me experiences that another woman
    can’t, and those things are not limited to parts of his anatomy. Our complementariness
    goes far deeper than body parts.

    Orientation seems as good a term as any to differentiate between people who
    experience that kind of love only with people of their same sex vs. those who
    experience it from the opposite sex.

    It is offensive to me when relationships are essentially reduced to sexual
    attraction, genital stimulation, and orgasm. Love led to sexual attraction for
    my husband, not the other way around. Only a fool would say “never,”
    but I find it highly unlikely I would ever experience sexual attraction for
    somebody I wasn’t already in love with. I also feel fairly certain I would not
    fall in love with another woman, never having felt any signs of such an
    inclination. (I’m also imagine I would find lesbian sex highly unsatisfying,
    but I’ve heard lesbians say they found sex with a man equally unsatisfying)
    What do you call that? Needing and wanting what a man can provide emotionally
    and psychologically (as well as sexually, of course) in a relationship vs. what
    a woman can provide? There needs to be word for that. Sexual attraction is
    obviously part of most love relationships, but there is far more to the story.

    • Thanks for the comment–I think it may help to clarify that “sexual attraction” in this context is not merely the biological/physiological phenomenon you mention. It’s more a “psycho-somatic” (body-soul) thing that certainly can include what you are describing, but it’s not reducible to physical arousal, so to speak. So we agree that the sexual “urge” or “drive” includes “more to the story”–“eros” (as considered by JPII and Benedict XVI) is more at the heart of my use of sexual attraction here.

    • bonaventure

      This article should not “resonate” or “not resonate” with anyone in particular — man or woman, young or old.

      If I understand it correctly, Deacon Jim is not writing in subjective terms, but rather he tries to write using objective moral terms and concepts. In other words, if this article does not resonate with “you” (or anyone else), it doesn’t make the argument any less true.

      My objections/criticism of Deacon Jim’s article (see my earlier posts) is that it lacks finality — and that his language and examples are, precisely, too relative and could be used by anyone to justify anything.

      Of course, Deacon Jim himself declared that this article is only the first part of a longer reflection, and I am eagerly waiting to read his second installment. After that, all doubts should be cleared and a reader should be able to say, “aha, so that’s why homosexuality is disordered” or “aha, so that’s why homosexual ‘marriage’ is impossible,” etc.

  • ellenor

    The car analogy doesn’t work for me. In one instance you want to avoid objectification (at least I think you do), but then you write things like “we always end up sitting in a car that is blue.” I think this likely does not reflect everyone’s experience of sexual attraction. For many people sexual attraction comes after actually getting to know the person.

    • Thanks, Ellenor, for the comment–the car analogy is meant to refer to any given experience of sexual attraction. And by sexual “attraction” I mean the same thing JPII means by sexual “urge” or “drive” as described in his “Love and Responsibility.” When this “attraction” is at the service of love (which it should be), it indeed should arise as a consequence of encountering a real person. And you are correct that such experiences of sexual attraction may indeed arise long *after* one already knows another person.
      As to objectification, I think we’re in agreement there, too–my reference to the “data” we can collect after experiencing the phenomenon of sexual attraction over time is indeed intended to help us see that the data collection is reductive and impersonal–thus the “blue car” bit of data is, like orientation itself, impoverished and impersonal. It’s not particularly helpful at all. So I’m seeking to draw attention to the impoverished nature of “orientation” as a concept, particularly compared to that which is real–the attraction itself. Hope this helps express my point a bit more. Thanks!

    • bonaventure

      “For many people sexual attraction comes after actually getting to know the person.”

      This may be true, but the problem with this statement is that any homosexual may use it to justify homosexuality and homosexual “marriage.”

      I am amazed at how many users on Catholic discussion threads about homosexuality are so little interested with a real definition of marriage and sexual attraction. And that, in spite of the fact that this entire article — as well as everything that’s being said about it — hinges on the unfortunate reality that there is a current anti-cultural trend to precisely redefine something which, by definition, cannot be redefined.

      It seems to me that the dictatorship of relativism, of which Benedict XVI spoke forcefully, is so deeply ingrained among Christians, that it is almost impossible to discuss an important issue objectively, since everything is reduced to subjective experience.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        “This may be *TRUE*, but the problem with this statement is that any homosexual may use it to justify homosexuality and homosexual “marriage.””

        That is the rub. In truth, gay couples are justified (assuming Jesus exists, how badly Jesus tortures gay couples whenever he finally decides to exist as a real, interactive entity would not change something that is true no matter who he is and how powerful he is).

        Also, our subject experiences is all we have (yours includes interpreting a presumably USA English translation of selected script from thousands of scrolls/partial scrolls and scroll fragments, containing copyist errors and additions, found at various times throughout the past 2K years). If there were no humans to actually have to figure out how to survive and live together as humans on planet Earth, all of your “objective truth” would be of little consequence or sense.

        • Guest

          This is the dictatorship of relativism.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            Jesus owns that “Kingdom” well:


            • Guest

              No, what you show is is more relativism based on the usual facile and simple-minded understanding of Christianity.

            • cajaquarius

              “Relativism” is their way of saying you have won the argument here. By boxing up personal experience, new evidence, and conscience with things like spiritual sloth, ignorance, and hedonism they think they can bury the truth in neat little philosophical boxes and not answer for themselves or defend their perspective in any meaningful way. This works for a time, but eventually the truth grows towards the light and shows the cracks in their empty, flaccid legalisms.

  • thebigdog

    An article about homosexuality and Hombre has only posted 17 comments defending it? Is he turning into an extreme right winger or something?

  • Pingback: The “Poverty” of Homosexual Orientation | Crisis Magazine()

  • Holy smokes

    Bravo Deacon, you have provided me even more ammunition in support of the truth of sexuality, which of couse, is more than attraction. I appreciate your honesty. and humility in the matter. Pax et Bonum – William

  • Gloren

    You know, I don’t disagree with this point of view. My sexual ‘orientation’ 30 years ago was ‘gay.’ Once I met my husband (we are now legally married), who admittedly was not at all my ‘type’ in any category that I might have placed him (yet somehow we had an instant connection), my whole concept of sex, orientation, etc., changed. We have been together eighteen years and I am only ‘oriented’ towards him and he towards me. Our relationship is not about the sex or what used to be an erotic ‘turn-on’ at all, although I think we have a pretty normal sex-life, it’s more about the love and commitment, the devotion and depth of care and feeling we have for each other.

    Having said all that, as a younger person, I tried to make it happen with women, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t really feel the attraction, excitement, feelings of love, etc., I felt all that for the first time when I fell in love with a man. It wasn’t a conscious decision at all–it was just my person falling in love with the other person who happened to be male. When that happened, I understood why I couldn’t ‘feel’ love and affection beyond friendship with women. It just wasn’t part of me to do that. It wasn’t ‘me.’ Now, I experience the real me with the love of my life and sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am. So, if that’s what the author of the article is talking about–I’m in 100% agreement.

    • happiernow

      Your story is exactly the same as mine but with one key difference: my sexual orientation always used to be straight (or I just assumed it was). And then I met and fell madly and deeply in love with my wife. We have been together for 9 years. As a younger person, I tried to make it happen with men, but I couldn’t. It never seemed like the right “fit” and it was not until I met my wife that I understood what had been lacking in my prior attempts at love relationships with men. And like you with your husband, falling in love with my wife was not a conscious decision, either. It just happened. I didn’t decide I was gay or bisexual first–I just fell in love with a person who happened to be female. It wasn’t something I expected or sought out. But when it happened, I knew with all of my heart and soul that it was right. And I still do know this, every single day of my life with her.

  • Shaggy McRuff

    Why oh why oh why are we so fixated on sex ? No other topics piquing our interest these days? The day Catholics stop obsessing over sex will be a mighty fine day indeed. Glad Pope Francis is not carrying on about sex.

    • Thanks for the comment–I would instead ask: How can we possibly combat *culture’s* fixation on disordered sexuality in all its forms if we don’t spend some time articulating the truth about God’s plan for us?

    • Guest

      It is not a fixation. It is that too many neglect their souls and force deviant behavior on others. The laxity must end because our children deserve better than relativism and this new ideology of evil.