An Exchange on Gay Christians (Part II)

Read Part I of "An Exchange on Gay Christians"
Read Annie's response to Part I.

It's much the kind of response I was hoping for.

Good. 🙂

The question is whether demanding celibacy of someone not called to be a priest isn't "inhumane." It is pretty easy, and not very charitable, for a heterosexual, from the fortunate heights of normalcy, to condemn a homosexual to that fate.

Replace "homosexual" with "pedophile" or some other less politically correct sexual deviation. Does your argument still hold? Thinking even more broadly, consider any neuro-psychological disorder, like kleptomania, compulsive lying, or criminally violent tendencies. The latter is especially interesting to look at. There's plenty of evidence that suggests that serial killers are neurologically different from normal people. Some were born that way. Others were abused as children. Should society approve of how they act upon their inclinations?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to directly compare homosexuality to homicidal tendencies*. What I'm trying to demonstrate is that "I'm not normal", "I was born this way", and "I'm this way because I was abused" are not valid excuses for disordered behavior. 

I thought the post at Regula revealed a lot of sincere pain and struggle, rather than being "pleasant" and "anticlimactic."

By "pleasant" I meant that it was not painful to read – poorly written or riddled with cacodoxy. By "anticlimactic" I meant that there was a lot of theological buildup with no theological defense of gay love. Pastoral anecdotes/advice, while ultimately relevant to the topic, are not theological arguments. After going to great lengths to underscore the importance of orthodoxy, the author did not even attempt to defend acceptance of gay love as orthodox.

You're basically saying this guy cannot be sincerely religious if he wants to have earthly love.

I don't recall saying that. I believe he's sincere. However, I also think he's wrong. Sincerity does not magically make one orthodox. It's a good step, though. Sincere desire to learn is needed to find truth. It doesn't hand it to you, though.

Imagine yourself sentenced to celibacy unless you could reprogram your own orientation.

I'm not qualified to address this aspect of the issue. I encourage you to speak to David Morrison (Sed Contra) and John Heard (Dreadnought). Both are celibate gays.

Too easy, too, for a heterosexual to imagine that it would be easy to learn to love the other sex! 🙂

I never said it would be easy or even possible.

It's pretty ironic, considering the substantial number of homosexuals who've sought refuge from obligatory heterosexuality in the Catholic priesthood, and who somehow seemed to convince themselves that sex with adolescent boys wasn't "sex" because it wasn't with women.

That's a mess I won't touch with a ten meter cattle prod. Saying that the ephebophilic abuses were mostly committed by frustrated homosexuals is a VERY controversial suggestion that is still a hotly contested issue in the Catholic Church.

Don't tell me this began with the '60s counterculture — a lot of the testimonies of the abused and seduced come from the '50s.

No, it didn't begin then. It got a lot worse, though.

I have never seen a passage of Scripture in which Jesus said anything about homosexuality.

So? I know of no orthodox Christians that insist on the words of Christ to believe or act a certain way. The gospels make it explicitly clear that Jesus did and said a lot of things that weren't recorded [e.g., John 20:30-31, John 21:25]. In Judaism, Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodoxy, there is the notion of oral law/tradition. Not all that is binding need be recorded explicitly in Scripture.

(That passage about "eunuchs" [Matthew 19:12] is incredibly cryptic. Anyone who says he or she is sure what that passage means is blowing smoke, IMnot-humble-enoughO.)

I wasn't blowing smoke. It was simply speculation on my part.

St. Paul did [address homosexuality].

So why are his teachings insufficient?

To the ambadoxtrous out here, that has to be taken in cultural context. Homosexual activity in Biblical times was pagan and promiscuous, even ritually so. The concept of a monogamous homosexual relationship is a new one, even though homosexuals have been quietly forming such bonds quite likely forever.

I don't buy that. There was plenty of ritualistic, promiscuous heterosexual activity and I doubt monogamous homosexuality is new. What evidence of your assertions do you have?

As you know, I tend to think Alan Stewart Carl, an Episcopalian, is right when he writes that "homosexuality is much more a cultural issue than a Biblical one. Using the Bible to declare homosexuality a “sin” is just a trick to give a bigoted opinion moral weight."

Do you believe I am a bigot?

Tradition has been modified over and over again to incorporate new understandings (re: slavery and polygamy are the most common examples), and I suspect that's going to happen again in regard to gay monogamy and women priests, even if not in our lifetimes.

I pray that no "new understanding" about gay monogamy poisons the Church. Women priests are a wholly different matter and a red herring to this discussion.

We're now in the necessary struggle that precedes such a change. You are arguing in a sincere and theologically informed way against the change, and Christopher is arguing on the same level for it.

I prefer to see this struggle as the kind that preceded ecumenical councils that solidified teachings and clearly defined heresies.

That's why I hoped you would read his post.

I'd be glad to have a theological discussion/debate on the issue, and involve more knowledgeable parties as needed, but as I've said, I found no theological arguments for gay monogamy in the post.

Pax Christi,
Eric

P.S. I liked these words from Richard Hogan and John LeVior's Covenant of Love: Pope John Paul II on Sexuality, Marriage, and Family in the Modern World and wanted to share them with you.

"The bodily differences between a man and a woman given by God in his creative act are the physical means of expressing a familial communion of persons. Further, the bodily expression of love serves life, new life, because god willed that our love be fruitful as his love is fruitful. Homosexual activity can never be a physical expression of familial love. Familial love is precisely the union of a man and woman in a total self-donation, which is physically expressed through their masculine and feminine bodies. Since it is impossible for two men (or two women) to give themselves physically to one another, any attempted union between them ceases to be a gift. It becomes a using of each other, or, at least, a using of each other's bodies. A further indication that homosexual acts cannot be the expression of a true self-donation of each to the other is that such acts are always and in every case sterile. They do not serve life. Two men (or two women) can never form a familial communion of persons."

"Still, if both homosexual and heterosexual orietations are transmitted by genes, neither is consciously chosen. Even if homosexual tendencies are learned or acquired in some other way, they are not usually the result of a free personal choice. The person with a homosexual orientation has not chosen to violate the vocation of love. But, of course, a homosexual act is the result of a choice of will. When a homosexual chooses to act on his tendencies, he chooses to use himself and others. Therefore, specific homosexual acts are contrary to our call to love. On the other hand, the homosexual orientation, even though it may make a true self-donation to a person of the opposite sex difficult, does not directly contradict our vocation imitate God's love."

"The less difficult road is the one of least resistence: to surrender to selfishness and then to justify the actions. In the present era many have followed this path. Not only have some people used other people, but they have justified such actions. The false ideas employed to justify such abuses have established thought patterns for our entire society. Thus, they are even more destructive than individual lapses against human dignity. Those who wish to reject the abuses and the arguments favoring them have difficulty because they, in doing so, are rejecting their own culture. They are acting counter-culturally, which is always most difficult."

"It is clear that many who attack human dignity either in their behavior or, more more seriously by justifying selfish acts, misunderstand human dignity or believe the Christian norms to be impossible ideals. The Pope teaches that out dignity rests on the divine image in each one of us. Knowing the destruction which the false concepts of human dignity have caused, how can we refuse to accept the truth of the papal understanding of ourselves? The Pope insists that our lustful and other selfish inclinations are gravely harmful to human dignity and that they can be overcome in Christ. Christ calls each and every one of us "to the beginning", to live as Adam and Eve did, despite original sin and its effects, and he makes this possible through his grace won for us by the blood of his Cross. Christ desires every human person to share his life, his grace with him. Therefore, he makes himself present to us in the sacraments. However, even blessed with grace we may fail in our effort to act as we are made "in the beginning", but his forgiving love, available in the sacrament of penance, restores us and allows us to make the effort again. Nonetheless, this optimistic view of the human person rests on the acceptance of the papal view of our dignity and the equally important principle that the effort to live in accordance with that dignity is worthwhile. We must acknowledge that the alternatives to the Christian norms are gravely injurious to our dignity, i.e., to our very selves."

P.P.S. I also thought you might be interested in reading a secular argument against allowing gay marriage.


* I very often prefer to think and argue analogically, which has advantages and disadvantages. One obvious disadvantage is that no analogy is perfect. I humbly ask that my readers interpret my analogy choices charitably and give me the benefit of that doubt that whatever cruel or nasty implication they believe they have read is accidental and not written with deliberate malice.

Comments 15

  1. Tom Strong wrote:

    I’m going to stay out of the theological argument, which is beyond my depth anyway, and simply say that Anonymous’ secular argument against gay marriage is moronic. Here’s what (s)he’s got:

    1) The production of new citizens is the most obvious benefit to society of marriage.
    2) Gay couples produce no new citizens.
    3) Therefore, society has no incentive to promote gay marriage, and actually has a negative one because it promotes equivalent views of gay and straight marriage.

    The first premise suffers from tunnel vision. Yes, the creation of children is an obvious reason for society to promote marriage, but hardly the only one. There’s also a)increased happiness of citizens, leading to greater productivity and generosity; b)increased emotional stability of family life; c)increased financial stability of family life; d)decreased promiscuity, drug use, and other societal ills. All these arguments have been made, over and over again, by conservative thinkers during the last 30 years. There is no reason none of these should apply to gay marriages as well as straight.

    Premise b is simply wrong, and quite derogatory to human nature besides. Simply put, the production of children is not equal to the production of healthy citizens capable of making a contribution to society. Or as a commenter on another blog I read put it recently, “My job as a parent is to raise adults, not children.” There is no reason that gay couples cannot participate in the rearing of children from tots to healthy, well-rounded adults. Gay marriage provides an additional stabilizing factor for these families, who often may end up raising the most deprived and wounded children of all.

    Your anonymous commenter takes a Hobbesian view of the world, essentially arguing that the most any two people can do for society is f**k and make babies, and since their f**king doesn’t make babies, gay people can’t be allowed to marry. This argument is stupid, it is wrong, and it is bigoted in its reductionist view of gay people and their relationships. You’re a smart guy, FD, and I expect better than you than to endorse crap like this.

    Posted 28 Jun 2006 at 11:16 am
  2. Funky Dung wrote:

    “I expect better than you than to endorse crap like this.”

    I never said I endorced it. I added no qualifier, good or bad, to “a secular argument”. I offer the article now, as I did back then, as fodder for discussion.

    One of these days I’ll actually get around to posting a disclaimer that says I don’t necessarily agree with or endorse everything my guest posters write.

    Posted 28 Jun 2006 at 11:24 am
  3. Tom Strong wrote:

    Funky,

    I apologize. Given the stance you’ve staked out here, I assumed you were indicating agreement with the author. My bad.

    Posted 28 Jun 2006 at 11:32 am
  4. Tom Strong wrote:

    Can you explain where you and the author of the article part ways?

    Posted 28 Jun 2006 at 11:46 am
  5. John wrote:

    “Im not trying to directly compare homosexuality to homicidal tendencies”

    Well you may not be trying, but you are. Kleptomania and all those other things are pathological crimes. Someone who has an impulse to kill strangers is not just different, they are profoundly ill, and a threat to civilized society.

    A gay person would certainly not consider his/herself to be mentally ill. And at a bare minimum they certainly pose no threat to a civilized society.

    And as to the question of whether you’re a bigot, I kinda have to answer yes. You’re a descent person, and I think highly of you and have a lot of respect for you, but in this narrow realm you seem fairly bigotted.
    You don’t seem to understand that saying “I love you in spite of the fact that you’re a homosexual” is still a hateful comment. You cannot reject major portions of who someone is and then claim that you don’t reject them. You would not say “I hate that you’re black, but I still love you.” Nor for that matter would you put much stock in someone saying, “I love you in spite of your being a Catholic.” That’s central to who you are, and someone who rejects that rejects you.

    Posted 28 Jun 2006 at 4:55 pm
  6. Anthrakeus wrote:

    1. While the sort of homosexual relationships that we see today were not commonly public in the ancient world, there were non-promiscuous and non-cultic relationships. The Athenians (and most other Greek aristocrats) had social ephobophilia. Young men (15 or so) would be taken as lovers by 40-somethings (often older), basically to teach them the ropes of sexuality. These relationships were based on a sort of father-son type of love (yes, I know… ew!). They also tended to be monogamous, at least until the young man became an adult at about 20. Some of St. Paul’s terminology points to a condemnation of this system. Oh, and no one at the time considered this any kind of exploitation, if that’s what you’re thinking.

    2. I know a number of homosexuals, practicing and not. If it comes up I explain, to the best of my ability, my position on homosexuality (basically, that it’s sinful). Most homosexuals accept this. A lot of the chatter on this topic comes from heterosexuals and those handful of homosexuals who are extremists. Just because some one who is gay is on the news spewing ire against the Church doesn’t mean that all homosexuals feel that way, any more that the Nation of Islam speaks for all African-Americans.

    3. It is difficult to be kind in the abstract. Be nice to Funky Dung. I’m sure that were he met with a homosexual face to face he wouldn’t say “I love you in spite of the fact that you’re homosexual”. Nor would he say “I love you in spite of the fact you’re an Arian”.

    Posted 29 Jun 2006 at 12:34 am
  7. Funky Dung wrote:

    Thank you, all, for commenting. Please consider commenting on the posts at Ambivablog. There are different related conversations going on over there that could benefit from your participation.

    Posted 29 Jun 2006 at 9:48 am
  8. Bryan Davis wrote:

    Funky –

    You write:

    Women priests are a wholly different matter and a red herring to this discussion.

    Not exactly. It’s a good example of how tradition, when not scripturally bound, or even when scripturally bound, is mutable. It’s a point of comparision which suggests that such subjects are open for debate (which clearly is what’s happening here), thus begging that the rationale for rejection of Christian-endorsed homosexuality be explained, rather than just falling back on catechism. I don’t think it’s a red herring any more than your kleptomania or pedophilia are red herrings, rather, I would argue it’s somewhat less.

    It’s a point which undermines your further response:

    I prefer to see this struggle as the kind that preceded ecumenical councils that solidified teachings and clearly defined heresies.

    – i.e., such examples of bucking tradition suggest that the reasoning used in ecumenical councils previously might be flawed by temporal or social prejudices that we would not accept today. E.g.: Christian acceptance and defence of slavery.

    Posted 30 Jun 2006 at 6:23 pm
  9. Funky Dung wrote:

    “Not exactly. Its a good example of how tradition, when not scripturally bound, or even when scripturally bound, is mutable. Its a point of comparision which suggests that such subjects are open for debate (which clearly is whats happening here), thus begging that the rationale for rejection of Christian-endorsed homosexuality be explained, rather than just falling back on catechism. I dont think its a red herring any more than your kleptomania or pedophilia are red herrings, rather, I would argue its somewhat less.”

    Whether women can be priests or not hinges on whether the proper matter for holy orders is humanity or maleness. It is an issue that I am ill-equipped to discuss and one that I have no strong opinions on. I obey the Church in this matter and expect other Catholics to do the same, so other than getting annoyed with dissidents, heretics, and schismatics who play dress-up and pretend to ordain women, I have little to say about the issue. However, I believe that active homosexuality is contrary to natural law, contrary to God’s designs and will, and always and everywhere sinful – just as adultery, beasitality, rape, and fornication are. This is not an issue that rests on a fine theological point. That is why I regard the issue of ordaining women as a red herring.

    Posted 07 Jul 2006 at 3:24 pm
  10. Funky Dung wrote:

    “- i.e., such examples of bucking tradition suggest that the reasoning used in ecumenical councils previously might be flawed by temporal or social prejudices that we would not accept today. E.g.: Christian acceptance and defence of slavery.”

    1. What evidence have you that decisions of ecumenical councils were “flawed by temporal or social prejudices”.
    2. AFAIK, no council ever dogmatically supported slavery.

    Posted 07 Jul 2006 at 3:27 pm
  11. Funky Dung wrote:

    “Can you explain where you and the author of the article part ways?”

    It’s been a while since I’ve read it. I’ll have to refamiliarize myself. I’ve contacted the author. Hopefully he/she will stop by and clarify, defend, and/or repent from his/her arguments.

    Posted 07 Jul 2006 at 3:33 pm
  12. Bryan Davis wrote:

    Sorry – this is running off-topic, so I won’t extend this point past this, unless you so desire it on your blog.

    This is not an issue that rests on a fine theological point. That is why I regard the issue of ordaining women as a red herring.

    While I certainly respect your stance and desire not to take an absolute position with good, firm reason(s), I don’t think that alone makes the ordination of women a red herring, as there are many other people who do have strong opinions about it.

    I don’t think 1 Timothy 2 is expressing a “fine theological point” on the issue – it seems to leave very little room for debate. (I note only the one passage because it was easy to find, but I think I could come up with 2-3 passages outlining the biblical position of women vis-a-vis the church and men for every one that deals with homosexuality).

    contrary to natural law

    I don’t see how the differences between men and women that make one suitable for teaching and the other not are any less a matter of natural law than sexuality, though perhaps you have a technical definition of natural law that I may not be considering?

    contrary to Gods designs and will, and always and everywhere sinful

    If the Bible is as clear as it appears to be in the above passage on female ordination, I don’t think this distinction is valid, either, without a sequel of sorts to Peter’s Vision.

    Posted 07 Jul 2006 at 9:36 pm
  13. Bryan Davis wrote:

    I believe you are very correct that the Catholic Church has not dogmatically supported slavery, particularly not racial slavery, which it is on record as clearly opposing.

    I didn’t mean to imply the opposite – rather that various Christian faiths (thus the word “ecumenical”, though perhaps that implies a universality that isn’t there, and should read more like “various” – please accept my correction) – mostly recently American branches of protestantism – have supported slavery using biblical and traditional arguments.

    Hrm… as far as better evidence of various religious councils making decisions that today would seem flawed, but are explainable in light of contemporary social trends, I can really only easily (without research) offer old saws, like the Crusades, the Inquisition, sale of Indulgences (the triad burned into my head while a child in a fundamentalist protestant church), as well as the various wars and massacres of the old testament, the stonings, the tortures, etc.

    I would not argue that the Church of today is not the Church of Christ, is not the People of the Lord, but to argue that they have not matured, including rejecting previously biblically justified practices, would be equally invalid, no?

    Posted 07 Jul 2006 at 9:59 pm
  14. Funky Dung wrote:

    “Hrm… as far as better evidence of various religious councils making decisions that today would seem flawed, but are explainable in light of contemporary social trends, I can really only easily (without research) offer old saws, like the Crusades, the Inquisition, sale of Indulgences (the triad burned into my head while a child in a fundamentalist protestant church)”

    Maybe that’ll teach ya to not listen to the nonsense fundies believe and say about the Catholic Church. 😉 Seriously, though, all of those issues are more complex and nuanced than popular mythology indicates. That’s not to say that the Church has never made mistakes. However, she has not erred in matters of faith and morals. The events you mention do not involve dogma. Indulgences are linked to purgatory, which is a matter of doctrine (dogma?), but the sale thereof was, IIRC, repudiated as simony by the Church (possible at Trent). Any of my more historically-inclined readers/guest bloggers care to chime in?

    Posted 07 Jul 2006 at 10:09 pm
  15. Funky Dung wrote:

    Tom, the author of the secular argument against homosexual marriage has recently written a response to a comment. Perhaps if you duplicate your comment on that post, he/she will respond to you as well.

    Posted 17 Jul 2006 at 11:07 am

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 5

  1. From Imago Dei on 14 Jul 2006 at 3:43 pm

    to say I agree with Funky Dung, but I appreciate how both sides were able to discuss their differences of opinion without calling names or getting angry. The Post that started it all An Exchange on Gay Christians (Part I) Response to Part I An Exchange on Gay Christians (Part II) Response to Part II An Exchange on Gay Christians (Part III) Response to Part III An Exchange on Gay Christians (Part IV) Both sides are articulate and intelligent. I encourage you to read through them (none of the posts are incredibly long).

  2. From wheat think on 29 Jun 2006 at 4:23 pm

    Of Christian gay marriage, between amba and funky dung, a conservative Catholic, here, here, here, and here. My comments are peppered throughout – here’s the latest. It will surprise no one that I disagree with funky quite strongly. I think the secular arguments against gay marriage are incredibly weak, and while I don’t understand the theological ones

  3. From AmbivaBlog on 28 Jun 2006 at 10:34 pm

    Gay Christian Marriage: Now? Or Never?Part II…

    In case you’re just coming in on our conversation with Ales Rarus: amba starts the conversation . . . Funky Dung responds . . . amba rejoinders . . . Funky ripostes . . . And we continue: Replace “homosexual”…

  4. From An Exchange on Gay Christians (Part IV) | Catholic » Blog Archive » An Exchange on Gay Christians (Part IV) on 14 Sep 2006 at 3:41 pm

    […] Read Part I of "An Exchange on Gay Christians" Read Annie’s response to Part I. Read Part II of "An Exchange on Gay Christians" Read Annie’s response to Part II. Read Part III of "An Exchange on Gay Christians" Read Annie's response to Part III. […]

  5. From An Exchange on Gay Christians (Part III) | Science » Blog Archive » An Exchange on Gay Christians (Part III) on 14 Sep 2006 at 3:45 pm

    […] Read Part I of "An Exchange on Gay Christians" Read Annie's response to Part I. Read Part II of "An Exchange on Gay Christians" Read Annie's response to Part II. […]

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