Why I Am Not a Heterosexual

Before beginning this immature polemic against the concept of heterosexuality, I need to preemptively acknowledge the two primary reactions the Internet will have, thereby negating their distractive powers. They are:

and

Now that we’ve shaken these from our system, I want your ears. The idea that a person is heterosexual is stupid. This claim is the beginning of what will surely take years to articulate, but we really must begin with something, and deconstruction sounds as fun as anything else.

A heterosexual is “a person who is sexually attracted to the opposite sex.” It’s a relatively hip word — as far as words go – recorded from 1920 but not in common use until 1960s, and though it’s supposed to denote a norm of human behavior (and please, don’t freak out over the terminology “norm” and “deviation,” it’s a statistical term, not a judgment on all your innermost feels) it accidentally denotes a perversion (and that term you can freak out over).

What perversion? A potently platonic perversion. Heterosexuality, understood as a sexual attraction for the opposite sex (as an attraction for women or men in general) makes the object of my attraction unreal. Woman as such does not exist outside of my mind. In reality, there are only particular women, just as there are only particular men, and every instance of sexual attraction is attraction to a particular person. There is no such thing as heterosexual marriage, for we marry a person, not an idea. I cannot wrap my arms around the opposite sex and ask if she could pitch in for the cost of the date. The idea of an attraction to “women in general” trades the particular person for the thought-construct of “woman in general,” a thought-construct that has no existence outside of your mind, a generalized group of the objective sexual attributes that we see in particular women, abstracted into a general idea.

This is not to say that it is impossible to be attracted to the opposite sex as such. We may be, and in varying degrees. Indeed, I would argue that attraction to the opposite sex as such is the very modus operandi of pornography, which works to reduce a person to their sexual attributes. No, this is to say that to be attracted to the opposite sex as such is inadequate, immature and perverse. As the Polish, personalist, pre-popish Karol Wojtyla states in Love and Responsibility:

Moreover, the sexual urge in man and woman is not fully defined as an orientation towards the psychological and physiological attributes of the other sex as such. These do not and cannot exist in the abstract, but only in a concrete human being, a concrete man or woman. Inevitably, then, the sexual urge in a human being is always in the natural course of things directed towards another human being–this is the normal form it takes. If it is directed towards the sexual attributes as such this must be recognized as an impoverishment or even a perversion of the urge.

The very ascension of a relation to the generalized “opposite sex” as the primary essence of sexual attraction inverts the order of sexual relation. If the “sex” is primary, then the primary attractiveness of a person is not the whole person, not the person herself, not the unique unrepeatable “her” that stands out from the crowd and asserts herself lovely, no — if we are “attracted to the opposite sex,” then “the opposite sex” is the ideal. The idea of “woman” becomes the ideal object of our attraction, an ideal which particular women attempt to meet with varying success. The type guides our attraction — the person is simply an incidence of the type. If there is a difference between saying “I am attracted to women as such” and “I am attracted to the ideal woman,” I am not confident in it. Both are thought-constructs that mentally generalize the attributes of particular women into an single, general idea.

And is this not apparent in our abysmal sexual culture? Consider, for instance, popular advertising’s objectification of women into various disembodied appendages. If we understood that sexual attraction is always an attraction to a person, surely we would be a little repulsed at the direct effort to deny the existence of the person in favor of the general attribute of breasts? But this is the mode, for most men are “heterosexual,” attracted to the opposite sex in general, and thus a depersonalized appendage as a selling point makes perfect sense, as does all pornography.

The emphasis on the opposite sex as the norm of sexual attraction and not the person seems to be precisely what the LGBT movement reacts against. Catholics, in reaction to the godawful philosophical inadequacy of LGBT folks, tend to ignore what is a true insight into this problem. Surely the work of modern gender theory is a work of fragmentation, of reducing the “norm” to a number of possible norms? Their movement is a movement away from the platonic to the particular, from the thought-construct “opposite sex” as the normative object of attraction to more specific objects. Of course, the LGBT movement has failed entirely in this venture, making the problem worse and everyone miserable, because instead of rooting sexual attraction in the person, calling it what it oh-so-apparently is, an attraction between persons, they have created a veritable swamp of thought-constructs, an ever-growing system of impersonal labels that create an illusion of personality. Because the world is cool now, a person can be a sapiosexual, sexually attracted to intelligence, but since intelligence has no existence outside of particular people, such an orientation is rooted in unreality, in avoiding the person. And again, even if we admit that it is not intelligence itself we are sexually attracted to, but intelligence in people, our object of attraction is still primarily the platonic ideal of intelligence — the only difference is now a particular person is a better or worse manifestation of this ideal.

Now the only difference between boring homosexuals and boring heterosexuals is that, while both label themselves as fundamentally attracted to thought-constructs, the latter — especially amongst the Christian crowd — finds comfort in being the “right type” of sexuality. Thus I have experienced the particularly odd phenomenon that Christian men who watch pornography finding some justification in watching heterosexual pornography, as if to say “my attraction to a pixelated reduction of a person is more normal than your gay attraction to a pixelated reduction of a human person.” In the same way this justification misses the whole point, I  believe it misses the whole point to take comfort in “being heterosexual” if this heterosexuality is attraction to the opposite sex as such. Indeed, Karol Wojtyla says something particularly surprising in Love and Responsibility, and I think it it worth a glance.

Directly after he argues that “if [attraction] is directed towards the sexual attributes as such this must be recognized as an impoverishment or even a perversion of the urge,” he says: “If it is directed towards the sexual attributes of a person of the same sex we speak of a homosexual deviation.” Here the “heterosexual” and the “homosexual” are all but equated as partners in equal lameness. And indeed, this is precisely the position the term “heterosexual” has taken in modern gender theory, as one “option” of attraction amongst many.  I do not think this is merely the result of the relativizing, normalizing impulse of our cultural architects. It is also inherent to the fact that heterosexuality indicates a particular “type” of sexuality relating to a particular “type” of object. The height of sexual liberation is to be offered a whole host of ghostly abstractions — a sex, both sexes, intelligence — towards which to orientate our erections. This is followed by a list of labels — hetero, homo, bi, pan, omni, sapio, a, inter, trans, etcetera – that concretize these pseudo-relations of person-to-impersonal into summations of who-we-are, so I may “I am a heterosexual” and believe this is the truth about myself, even though it is founded — as the entire system is founded — on the lie that sexual attraction should be anything but attraction to a particular person.

What’s needed to break the mindless malaise of labeled, platonic sexuality is truly personalist description, one that begins at the fact that sexual attraction is properly oriented to a person. Such a description has the capacity to restore our broken culture, for the person — transcending all labels, thought-constructs, disintegrations and unrealities in being a particular, unique “him” or “her” — can only be understood through and with his or her body. Only by relating to the body and its apparent meaning do we relate to the entire person, who is a synthesis of subjectiveness and objectiveness, of interiority and exteriority, of body and soul. If our understanding of sexuality was rooted in the person, it would be rooted in the whole truth about ourselves, which includes the body. As long as we cling to “heterosexuality,” we root sexuality in reference to mental constructs and ever-shifting ideals.

In summary, the almighty sexual system is stupid, and I hereby take my leave.

  • http://stillmansays.blogspot.com mattstillman

    This is a really thoughtful piece. Thank you!

    In my new novel “Genesis Deflowered” I have taken the King James Bible’s version of Genesis and added text to it to to make it an erotic novel – but written in the poetic and chaste Elizabethan/Jacobean style of the original.

    All the main story lines are intact as is the narratives. I have named unnamed women and given them sexual agency. I mean there are nearly 500 suggested sexual acts in Genesis and none of them are described and none are initiated by women.

    There are scenes that are heterosexual and scenes that are homosexual. But what I was feeling profoundly in the writing of the book was the humanity that came out of Jacob, Rachel and Leah (to choose a group) as I exposed their sexual selves and how that sexual self was connected to a spiritual sense in the characters.

    So I agree that once we dismiss the labels we start to see the humanity and in so doing we start to become more open to other more profound senses of connection with our bodies and with other more transcendent aspects.

  • http://playerside.blogspot.com Andy

    Holy moly, that was mind-blowing on a truly great level. Wow. Like a breath of fresh air. That makes a lot of sense.

    • GoodCatholicGirl

      It does? Just sounds disingenuous and convoluted to me.

      • Anon

        Yeah, pretty much what GoodCatholicGirl says. I’m really surprised that so many people get taken in by Marc’s poor writing skills, and don’t seem to realize that the majority of his posts are points made by other thinkers.

        • Notquite Archimedes

          Poor writing skills and a mediocre intellect.

      • Tom

        In what way?

        • GoodCatholicGirl

          Sorry, but i don’t understand what your are asking. In what way does it sound disingenuous or in what way does it sound convoluted? Read the last paragraph and sentence. If you can make head or tail of what they mean, I take my hat off to you!

          • Dsarker

            The last paragraph and sentence:

            Point 1: Labels remove the wholeness of the person. Rather than being GoodCatholicGirl, you are heterosexual Catholic female. You are then part of a group, and you individually do not matter (this is part of Marc’s earlier stuff both in this text and prior to it).
            Point 2: Sexuality is viewed as an attraction to labels. Whateversexuals are attracted to one particular label, not to people within that label. You as an individual matter only in how much you are part of that label.

            Point 3: Sexuality is intended to be directed towards persons, not labels. Therefore label sexuality is a perversion.

            Conclusion: To restore sexuality /proper/ we must remove labels and treat people as the ends, not the means to the end.

            Additional: Label sexuality is stupid, I’m not participating in it any more.

          • Anon

            I took GoodCatholicGirl’s point to be an expression of frustration with how convoluted Marc’s post is. And lets face it – it is extremely convoluted!.

            Note that you’ve stripped out a ton of the posturing, needless repetition, and stopped trying to impose a certain kind of metaphysics on cultural beliefs. This kind of proves her point.

            And it still doesn’t sound any less ridiculous or confused.

          • Dsarker

            Yes. I stripped it down because I was creating a summary, not making an argument or any sort of point.

            And I don’t see any ridiculous or confused points on there. If we take the prepositions as true, then his conclusion follows.

          • Anon

            If you weren’t trying to make a point, why post a response?

            Marc was accused of convoluted writing – you just demonstrated that his point could be made much more succinctly.

            Also you seriously just wrote the following sentence: “If we take the prepositions [sic] as true, then his conclusion follows”. But this isn’t really a deep point – ok, so Marc gets his premises right then his conclusion follows. But this is terribly trivial. Nobody has accused Marc of making a structurally weak argument.

            It’s his premises which are confused. See elsewhere in the thread for a discussion of this point.

          • Dsarker

            I was attempting to aid the person to whom I replied in her understanding of the points that the writer raised.

            You are accusing the argument of sounding ridiculous and confused – I am merely answering that I do not see any ridiculous or confused points on there. His argument logically follows, and you are attacking it without substantiating your reasons for doing so in that post.

          • Anon

            Also – you might want to look up the notion of a rhetorical question.

          • Anon

            I have done so elsewhere in the comment thread. If you’re incapable of scrolling down, well, I’m surprised you made it this far.

        • GoodCatholicGirl

          As I agreed with Anon, it’s needlessly verbose and obtuse. Really, where is the front-page news?

      • http://playerside.blogspot.com Andy

        It bends definitions a bit, but it strikes at a very real point. Pinpointing the concept that this idea of “heterosexuality” is focused on attraction to females/femininity or males/masculinity is clutch, because I think he’s right on the mark there.

        I’m not sure how you think the closing of the article is convoluted at all; it’s the same notion of personalistic attraction and love that pervades Catholicism, especially found in Wotylja/JPII’s work on the subject.

        • GoodCatholicGirl

          As I mentioned earlier, loving people has nothing to do with your sexual preference. As Catholics, of course we love people we don’t have a desire to make love to everyone.

          • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

            And loving people has nothing to do with the term “Heterosexuality” which refers explicitly to ones sexual attraction to another human being of the opposite anatomical gender. There is only one definition of “sexuality” in the sense that it refers to sexual attraction. Now If I may do an interpretive dance with Marc’s post, I would maybe read between the lines and think, maybe Marc is referring to the concept that he doesn’t adhere to the “label” of Heterosexual because it isn’t sufficiently descriptive of his whole “person-ness”. Now I understand that concept, but disagree that when people use the term hetero/bi/homosexual to identify themselves, they are summing the entirety of their personal identity with one word.

            In a world which assumes a “sexual norm” e.g. male to female sexual attraction, consider the following scenario. You meet a stranger. You ask the stranger (who is male) “Do you have a girlfriend?” under the assumption that that he would be interested in women. He is forced into a situation (if not attracted to women) of identifying as such. The shortest response which would coveys this idea would be, “no, I’m a homosexual”. Of course one could expand the terms to say something like, “I am not sexually attracted to females, rather I am attracted to males, however this in no way sums up my entire identity, but explicitly refers to my sexual orientation.”

            The point Marc makes, essentially creates a situation where conversation and human interaction become un-necessarily cumbersome. We have words like “heterosexual” for the purpose of shared understanding and communication, so we don’t constantly have to explain concepts in egregious detail.

            It makes sense that “hetero” or “normal” is attributed to opposite sex attraction, because statistically most people are attracted to the opposite sex. In a world where the assumed norm is being challenged, having these words is not just useful, its incredibly necessary. And if you, like others have suggested, are angry that other sexual orientations are being normalized, then we do have a completely different discussion, in which case I must assert that other sexual orientations are normal, for the simple fact that they exist. The human experience is vastly fluid. Normal of course does not indicate right or wrong which would require an analysis of the behaviors potential instigation of suffering, in which case again you would find at the most basic level that human sexuality, is generally a-moral, at least in the sense of the major classifications (bi, homo, hetero, a-)
            Anyways. rant over.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            There is a misunderstanding – I am not at all angry with other orientations being normalized; in fact, I have no problem with anyone’s orientation. If anything, I accept them without giving it much thought because as I see it, it isn’t any of my business as long as it isn’t behavior that is harmful to others, such as pedophilia (which should be everyone’s business).

          • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

            sorry, my earlier comment was more an attempt to address the content of the post and as an add-on to your comment that loving people has nothing to do with sexual preference. sorry for the misunderstanding :)

        • Anon

          “It bends definitions a bit, but it strikes at a very real point. Pinpointing the concept that this idea of “heterosexuality” is focused on attraction to females/femininity or males/masculinity is clutch, because I think he’s right on the mark there.”

          Ugh. This is so vacuous. Marc mentioned that “Heterosexuality is focused on attraction to females/feminity or males/masculinity” so he’s right. There’s zero content here – the thing that Marc got right is that the notion of heterosexuality involves opposite sex attraction? That’s praiseworthy? Seriously?

          He attempts to saddle the terms with philosophical baggage they don’t have, does so with needlessly verbose and obtuse writing, and basically cribs points made by other authors. And because he’s good at parroting points made by other Catholic authors, sycophants come along and praise him for it. Blech.

          • http://playerside.blogspot.com Andy

            Pointing out that the idea of attraction is overwhelmingly focused on the biological sex of the object of attraction is exactly why he made a good point.

            It’s only vacuous, Anonymous, because you read it so. Strawman fallacy.

          • Anon

            Let’s be clear – you said Marc is on the mark for noting that heterosexuality has to do with opposite sex attraction. Nothing more.

            In your previous comment there was no mention of biological features being the sole focus of sexual attraction. Literally nowhere in the words you have written, up until this comment, has that point come across.

            If that is your point, you have a duty to make it clearly and earlier in the conversation. Intentionally making vague remarks that are trivial and then acting as if you had some other point in mind in no way demonstrates that I strawmanned your position.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            That’s a good point? We didn’t already know that? Of course, attraction is based on the biological sex of the other person (or “object”). And so?

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            I’m with you, Anon – needlessly verbose and obtuse. Blech!

  • AMoniqueOcampo

    Wow that is deep stuff! You’ve basically expressed some complaints I have about all of the sexuality stuff I see on Tumblr. BTW: Do you have a Tumblr, if not, get one. Warning: Tumblr is addictive.

  • Barfly_Kokhba

    The whole idea of basing one’s entire identity on their sexual behavior is yet another instance where the battle was lost for cultural conservatives before it was even begun. Dividing the counterculture up into “gays” and “breeders” is another form of armchair teenage rebellion that appeals to many of us who are understandably alienated by American corporate culture in general.

    And thus are the so-called “progressives” political careerists able to seize another segment of the Identity-Politics pie and, for no purpose other than advancing their own crass personal gains, smash it right into the face of the Faceless Evul Republican Conservatives.

    They do it because it works.

  • TribeofLiberty

    Excellent post. Thank you.

  • Anna

    I’m so digging that you are delving into the deeper purpose of our human sexuality, since so much of the debate is on a very animalistic and superficial understanding of it. While I completely agree with you on our human sexuality needing to be defined as an attraction to a specific human person as a whole rather than an ideal of a sex, I feel like it was left off a little open ended, but maybe I missed something.

    You said in your closing paragraph, “What’s needed to break the mindless malaise of labeled, platonic sexuality is truly personalist description, one that begins at the fact that sexual attraction is properly oriented to a person.” Were you going to expand on where the rest of the definition should lie in? Because to me it sounds like within that definition alone one can easily justify a sexual relationship, and more specifically a marital sexual relationship, with someone of the same sex if they are attracted to this person as the unique individual they are, which for those who truly are homosexual (for lack of a better term) is true. However our Catholic faith clearly teaches against this.

    • http://wasteyourtime.mtgames.org/ Scaevola

      I think he may have addressed this in a previous post. Were I to try and answer it briefly, it strikes me that to go ahead and affirm what you are suggesting would be to deny the whole person–for it is a denial of the physical aspect of the person.

  • Troll

    GAAAAAAAAAY
    ;)

    • Korou

      I think this is the best response to this column. Although pointing out that it’s a load of wordy nonsense comes a close second.

  • Montague

    As always, what you call juvenile is ages wiser than the “wise” of the world ; )

    Assuming you will follow this up (not that it needs to be, but on the internet… to reduce annoying comments) my only quibble with this is that I think a (non-sexual) love is entirely appropriate to things, if that love is the right kind and degree of love. One example is Philosophy; though maybe the personification of the muses and all that was onto something–?

    But this is rather a moot point since you make it clear what kind of love you mean. I just like Plato a lot. Also, does this mean Dante was wrong?

  • Icicle

    I think that the -sexual labels have different connotative loads to different people. I agree that as stated, the -sexual label connotation that you are using has the negative implication that you are attracted to the generalized features of that particular class of people, and not to the specific person. But the -sexual label can be revived in almost exactly its current form if it is understood to mean something more like “The set of persons this person has/will be attracted to share this characteristic in common.”

    There is a difference between “I am attracted to the generalized features of this group of people” and “Of the people I have been attracted to, they have shared this feature in common”. I think I was using the second connotation, and you the first.

    • http://wasteyourtime.mtgames.org/ Scaevola

      You know, I was thinking about this myself–could it not simply be that the labeling phenomenon Marc notes is simply verbal shorthand? Rather than being attracted to the general (and honestly, how many people would say that they don’t find people on the particular level attractive?), could it be that the label refers (as you said, Icicle) to what is common to all those you have been attracted to?

    • http://playerside.blogspot.com Andy

      Whilst this is true, I think Marc makes a very clear point. He himself is using “heterosexual” as a shorthand to talk about a very real cultural tendency. The way we use our language also reveals the underlying psychology of it in very real ways. You may not use the word in that sense, but the fact that it’s so baked into current human thought, that sexuality is designated according to the body of those whom you are attracted to, that’s revealed by the use of this term.

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

    I think you’ve knocked this out of the park. JPII would be proud!
    Without intending to minimize subjective experience associated with SSA *and* “heterosexual” struggles with sexuality, I’d still agree with your post and assert that, objectively, the de-personalized abstraction that is “orientation” is about as sophisticated and meaningful as is the answer to whether a guy/gal prefers brunettes or blondes. Very intriguing–and potentially volatile!–line of inquiry and reflection, resting solidly on the “Great” one!
    Can’t wait for more!

  • Collin

    Let N be the set of all people you have been sexually attracted to in your life. Let M be the set of all males in the world. Let F be the set of all females in the world. Let Q be the set of all people you have ever been sexually attracted to in your life.

    If you are a member of M, you are a heterosexual if all members of Q are also members of F.

    If you are a member of F, you are a heterosexual if all members of Q are also members of M.

    Was that so complicated? Nobody is sexually attracted to the Opposite Sex, as though the Opposite Sex is some Form of Secondary Sex Characteristics. When people say “I am attracted to the opposite sex,” they mean that all members of Q are also members of M or F (depending on the gender of the speaker).

    • Jon

      N or Q, Collin?

      • Collin

        That will teach me not to proofread.

      • Collin

        Obviously Q = N.

    • Joseph Antoniello

      Marc is building upon the tradition of Wojtyla, where the distinction of hetero, homo, bi, sapio, bestial, etc. are all stripped of their power. Bestial precisely because it is not an attraction to a subject, which is always a person, whereas the others are done away with because they are all false; labelling oneself “heterosexual” is like being attracted to an idea. It cannot be the case, because sexuality, no matter the distortion, is always an attraction to some subject-object. I would say that bestial-sexuality is even an attempt to personify the object, i.e. the animal.

      Your syllogism falls apart the moment that a person has ever had a sexual attraction to a member of the same sex, a pet, a tree, a wall, a blade of grass… The idea that the person is this or that type of sexuality because of who they have been attracted to is missing the mark; you are not the sum of your attractions, but a subject who loves and love is always inherently a love of persons (in a singular way, i.e. “I love this person”).

      • Collin

        If I say “I am an electrician,” people don’t assume that I’m trying to wrap my entire persona into the Form of Electrician. It just means that the way I make money is by fixing wires.

        Saying “I am heterosexual” is a convenient and tidy way of saying “All of the people to whom I am sexually attracted are of the opposite sex as me.” Nothing more, nothing less.

        I don’t know why this needs to be so complicated, unless the point of the exercise is to give the illusion of profundity.

        • Dan

          Dear Collin,

          Wait a second, what does it mean to be sexually attracted?

          Let’s say sex can only occur between a man and a woman, because it is only when you have the right parts that you can begin the process of have a baby. Further exploring that, a baby is the fusion of two persons to create another. Truly wonderful. So to be sexual attracted is to be attracted to a fusion of Body, Mind and Soul with the other.

          Therefore Sexual attraction is something which is personal, I cannot say I am heterosexual, because i can’t equally say “I want to fuse my body, mind and soul to every woman” nor can I interchange hair colour, long legs or any attractive trait with woman in this statement.

          What does this semantic word play do? It says “we can be attracted to anything, but only sexually attracted to a Person”

          After all that, I think you are not misunderstanding the word Sexual, it is better to say I am ‘attracted’ to women, Or long legs, Wood, shiny things, or water, et cetera. You can’t have sex with things; you can only have sex, a fusion, with persons who are mind, body, and soul.

          God Bless, hope that helps

          Dan

          • Anon

            You don’t get to win arguments by stipulation. (E.g. let’s say…) Or by semantic confusion (being heterosexual means being attracted to every women). This is childish sophistry of the rankest sort.

          • Pofarmer

            But, but, but, it’s based on JPII, it MUST be brilliant! Surely a 50 year old virgin wouldn’t misunderstand sexual attraction.

          • Brian Anthony

            remember that JPII was the man who in one of his books on sexual theology wrote that the man should wait to climax simultaneously with the women. i think he knew what he was talking about.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Hmm . . . that kind of puts a lot of pressure on a man, doesn’t it? I’d like to think that making love isn’t such a structured undertaking! And how would JPII know?!

          • Brian Anthony

            thats the beauty of theology of the body is it is supposed to be raw and even a little dirty in order to get to the very human level of sexuality. i assume JPII who was a brilliant student of philosophy and psychology could probably infer certain things, plus he may have discussed sexuality with people he was friends with in prep work for his writing.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Discussing it is quite different from living it. Making love is more than just philosophical and I don’t think you can glean what it feels like by talking to other people about it.

          • Brian Anthony

            so theology of the body, all of judeo-catholic morality should just be thrown out the window? (yes im guilty of jumping to a conlcusion there…)

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            I didn’t say that but making love is something quite different from talking about it.

          • Brian Anthony

            no you are right, i see your point.

          • Pofarmer

            I’m surely not the only one who finds it a little odd the church cares so much about my orgasms.

          • Michael Colombini

            I concur, But I am slightly confused as to why you don’t specify gender when you say “persons.” In the eyes of the Church the only truly legitimate form of sex is the conjugate act between a married man and a woman. Ergo, there is no point for this blog post to infer any other sexual act besides that between a married couple.

        • A Est

          Collin’s right. Marc does a lot of philosophical talking in order to try and solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

          Saying “I’m not heterosexual or homosexual” when 100% of the people you’ve been attracted to are female will neither clarify matters, nor make you a better, more “respectful” person.

          Saying “I AM a heterosexual”, on the other hand, does nothing to demean the human form, only to point out that certain genitalia are more appealing. You can wrap that up in words like “base” and “objectifying”, but if the stimulus leads to response, it’s valid. Obviously there IS more to sexual attraction, but attraction to certain body features should not be feared or demonized.

        • Newp Ort

          This is what’s happening here:
          many Catholics are on this bandwagon of don’t label yourself as gay and limit yourself to that bla bla blah and also to them gay is the gay sex havin rainbow flag waving people that enrage and terrify them so they tell gay people they aren’t gay or homosexual but “same sex attracted” and they should focus on their whole person and spirituality. well intended (or sometimes not) this has the net effect of telling gay people you are welcome here but you really should keep quiet about the gay stuff.

          Marc has taken that line of thinking to it’s ridiculous conclusion by applying it to everyoneand telling us we are “clinging to heterosexuality” when no one really was (or homosexuality) to begin with.

          It is Marc Barnes 101: state the obvious in a convoluted way, then twist it until it’s nonsensical.

          The sky is blue, and we actually walk on it every day. I won’t walk on it any further.

          A bravely idiotic stance.

      • Pofarmer

        A subject of what?

      • GoodCatholicGirl

        Loving a person has nothing to do with your sexuality but you still have some sort of sexual preference. There is nothing wrong with identifying but your sexuality doesn’t necessarily define “you” no more than a physical trait, disability, medical or mental conditi
        on defines you.

        • Notquite Archimedes

          We are defined by those we love more than we are defined by whatever superstitions we hold.

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

      Collin–the whole point is that persons are attracted to persons. Or should be. The sexual attraction we experience is actually *never*meant to be an abstraction of attraction to an “opposite sex”–it is *always* meant to be an experience of attraction to “this” person or “that” person.
      And for that matter, we might just as well claim to be only *semi-heterosexual*–unless we consider ourselves to be attracted to *all* members of the opposite sex!

      • Collin

        I’m just saying what people mean when they use the terms. I just think that Marc’s assertion that “heterosexuality” means that you’re attracted to the Opposite Sex as an Entity is just being semantically obtuse. I would venture to say that literally nobody who uses the term regularly thinks that that is its definition.

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

          But I think the idea of the post is that maybe we should be challenging the notion of sexual attraction to this or that *subset* of the population since sexual attraction is meant to be but one element of experience in concrete relationships with “this” or “that” person, not a subset. It is the very fact that “literally nobody” thinks of attraction or orientation *other* than in “subset” mode that gets us into all sorts of trouble when it comes to human sexuality.

    • John

      We label an abstract category defined by statistics taken from a set of real one on one relationships. People then begin to treat the abstract category as a subject without a real existence falsely replacing the real subjects, e.g. pornography…living the lie.

  • Jon

    Good thoughts. Now if we can accept that priestly celibacy is a discipline, and not the Sacrifice of A Man’s Manly Heterosexuality, we can accept all the vocations God keeps throwing at us…and we keep throwing away. As to the philosophical inadequacy of GLBT folks, well, it basically turns on natural law: the natural end of a baseball bat is to play baseball, not to fracture homosexuals’ skulls. Simple as that, really. The whole argument rests on the telos of the baseball bat.

    • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

      Natural law is such a fuzzy concept as to be rendered completely useless as a guide for the moral statues of a society. Take for example, anger, a natural emotion, which can naturally lead to hatred or violence when an individual is forced into conflict with another individual (regardless of their physical choice in the matter) We might considered anger acceptable, but we would base our judgment on other criteria. Is the violence justified? Is the anger sufficiently justified given the instigator? The question of whether something is right or wrong for every human experience is never based on whether it is “natural” or not. It is always based on a set of additional subjective criteria. Drinking things like Soda is not natural. We had to invent those chemicals. But I don’t here anyone raging about all the other “un-natural” phenomenon that we take for granted as a matter of course. I propose that GLBT folks be treated with the same moral respect and consistency.
      The fact remains that a person doesn’t choose to be an orientation other than what they develop into because they don’t control or choose the mode of their own development. All paths of development are natural. Some may not be preferred of course. An authoritarian parental structure has high potential for administering abuse and suffering, so we hope to influence development to reduce the most suffering. But does a same sex orientation lead to suffering? All the normal criteria used to evaluate the “suffering” or lack thereof in a heterosexual relationship would still apply. Do the two parties treat each other with respect? Are interactions based on mutual consent? Is adequate communication fostered? Is service practiced towards each other? Is fidelity practiced? If not, is non-fidelity based on mutual consent? These are all questions which are valid to the conversation. Is it natural? = Not applicable.
      I agree with your sentiment that no homosexual should be beat with a baseball bat, though I must admit the fact that it must be stated at all saddens me greatly.

  • Pofarmer

    This just seems like more overthought idiocy to try to justify a position. I am a male. I am generally sexually attracted to women. I was sexually attracted to women before I met my wife. I am still sexually attracted to women after I have been married 16 years, some of them not my wife. I just don’t act on those attractions. I can interact with women on a personal, professional, and civic level, but I am still sexually attracted to some of them. To try to say that we are only sexually attracted to a specific person is really moronic, and goes against most of human experience. So, instead of some enlightened argumentation, I just see more of the same verbose nonsense.

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

      You’ve said you are “sexually attracted to some” women. Not all women?
      I’d suggest the term semi-heterosexual if you are only sexually attracted to *some* women.
      But by saying you find “some” women sexually attractive and not “all” women, you support the case made in the OP: that such attraction is not supposed to be understood as an attraction to some generic “subset” of persons but to “this” or “that” *actual* person. It’s not moronic, since it clearly forms the very basis of your own lived experience.

      • Pofarmer

        No one is attracted to everyone. The basis for the argument is silly.

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

          Well, no–but, let me ask this–do you consider the following “silly”?
          From now on, I shall self-identify as a semi-brunettero-hetero-sexual, since I am only sexually attracted to *some* dark-haired women…
          Silly or not silly?

          • Pofarmer

            It’s not nuttier than any other Catholic theology.

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

            So it’s “nutty” or silly to state what I stated?
            If so, when does it *stop* being nutty or silly? When I take away the “semi-” descriptor? or the “brunettero-” descriptor?
            Why not the “hetero-” descriptor?

          • Pofarmer

            You are taking a general descriptor, and making it so specific as to make it operationally useless. In General, men are attracted to women. In 6-10% of cases Men are attracted to Men, or Women are attracted to Women. To make it more specific than this is to strip it of meaning entirely, which is what the author seems to want to do, to then try to cram some idea in with some existing idea in Catholic theology or “natural law”.

          • Dan

            Pofarmer,

            Are you saying you’re attracted to “women”? You would be right. But are you sexually attracted to “women”? This question requires you to understand what sexuality is.

            Sexuality is not simply “the thing I want to have intimate
            relations with”, that would be called lust. One can have lustful thoughts about women, men, stones, sheep, doors et certera. One can even commit perverted acts with these objects. Note that we can cluster our lusts into one category; our lustful fantasy, the imaginary object play thing, is derived from our outward experiences, such as contact with Women, men, stones, sheep, and doors. there is no way to infuse the person into that. Thus we can announce that “In my mind I lust after women” which translates to “I’m heterosexual”

            To understand the argument marc made you need to understand that sex is an objective term, which has a definite meaning. You then need to discover the meaning of that word, and for this argument, the catholic meaning. Once you figure that out you’ll see how a subjective claim to our lusts is inferior to true sexuality with a person.

            Hope that helps! God Bless.

            Dan.

          • Pofarmer

            “the catholic meaning. Once you figure that out you’ll see how a subjective claim to our lusts is inferior to true sexuality with a person.”

            No, what it does is make a relatively simple concept, inordinately complex and useless. Discovering the “Catholic meaning” only takes away and doesn’t add.

          • Dan

            wait a sec, you’re not trying to understanding, you’re just being stubbon and unwilling to participate in the debate. It seems, your argument is “I don’t agree, because its complex”. Not good enough my friend! Since when has a discovery taken away?????

          • Vince Gagliardi

            In the end what does it matter? Sexual attraction is not love it is lust. Love is the act of giving all yourself to someone, lust is the carnal feeling that one gets for a person they are attracted too. Straight or gay it does not matter to lust. As for whether acting on gay tendencies is sinful is not up to us to decide only God can. The Bible clearly states that gay tendencies are a corruption because it doesn’t fit into God’s natural law. God created Man and Woman to procreate and through HIs will bring life into the world. There is no question that sexual deviance from God’s natural law is not normal and therefor deviant behavior and deviant behavior is sinful. Does that make gay people any less Christian than straight? No sin is sin and it separates us from God, the lustful attraction is not sin only acting on it makes it a sin.

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

            Actually, sexual attraction as in sexual desire or “eros” is in itself *not* lust. So we have to be cautious in how we consider the meaning of the terms we’re using…

          • Vince Gagliardi

            Jim, stop mudding the waters between the right and wrong. Lust, sexual attraction, sinful behavior, whatever you want to call it, is immaterial to God’s law. Yes one can have attraction for another human gay or straight but the action is what creates the sin.

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

            Well, hi there. I’m actually trying to UN-muddy lust and eros. Really important to do that, I think. At least JPII and Pope Benedict have indicated as much. But on the whole, I certainly grant that you’ve got the right idea regarding distinguishing a disordered inclination (concupiscence) from a sinful behavior (acting out of lustful desire).

          • Vince Gagliardi

            this whole blog is mudding the waters by trying to dispel the human attraction to those of the opposite sex. All marriage (unless it is setup) begin with attraction but as the heat of the attraction burns out we are left with the hot embers of what is called love. Yes I was attracted to my wife but that is not why I married her and why I love her. Love is not what she gives me it is what I give her. It has been 16 years and yes we both have seriously disappointed each other to the point of frustration does that mean that I don’t love her, I may not like her all the time, but I always love her. Do I see a woman on the street or work and go wow she is incredibly attractive? of course that is our human nature, but love is God’s gift of divine nature. Our society has lost the divine gift of love and only operates on attraction and lust and that is why the divorce rate is 50%.

          • Dan

            Vince Gagliardi,

            Point is, when you say attracted to your wife, do you mean you acknowledged that she checked off a wish list you had of an imaginary perfect woman? Or did you begin to be attracted to her after making contact? first through sight and voice then touch. Understanding this question brings us closer to God…do you see??
            plus,
            “is recognising a beautiful person true sexual attraction?” I say no and nor is it perverse in it’s stead.

            So what is it, what does it mean to enjoy particular features of a Woman, or a Man which is niether sexual or perverse???

            God bless,

            Dan.

          • Vince Gagliardi

            Dan 1st off your analogy of sexual attraction being checked off a wish list is childish at best. Sexual attraction is not wrong nor is it sinful. But in the instance of meeting my wife as we were set up yes I felt her to be pretty did I find her attractive “yes” but when we went on our first date and we talked for hours about family, dreams, what we want out of this life, I began to feel deeper feelings that move on past what the eye sees. As love begins to take root the sexual attraction is not of what I see in my wife it is what I feel for my wife that drives me to love her. When she was pregnant my attraction to her was one of awe and beauty that she was carrying life, my life, in her. That even though her body changed my sexual attraction was stronger and deeper not from a physical standpoint but from a divine standpoint. As we have matured past the craziness of life my attraction is stronger because my love for her is stronger. The question that must be raised is perversion of same sex unions. Why is the Church against it? Because even though God graced us with the ability to use sexual intercourse as a means of deepening our love as man and wife, He still intended for sex to bring life into this world. So any sexual intercourse outside the bonds of holy matrimony is wrong. Homosexuality is not wrong, unless the act takes place. There in lies the crux of sin.

          • Dan

            Vince,

            we don’t disagree.

            And I was trying to express a childish form by refering to a cheak list. I think the point might be better expressed like this. How does a person make friends. Rarely do we say what kinds of people we would like to be friends with right? I know when i was younger i used to notice some guys who i thought i could be friends with them, and there are some old friends who, though we never parted on bad terms we will likely never recindle that flame. I don’t think the process of discerning brotherly love is much different to the process of discerning Sexual Love nor the process of Heavenly Love (yet these have an order of prioity).

            You know what i was going to try rewritting my point again, but I don’t want to now. I DO agree with you but i think there is some substance In understanding the true essance of attraction and Sexuality.

            God bless and good night!!

            Dan.

            Go

          • Pofarmer

            “Since when has a discovery taken away?????”

            What discovery?

          • Dan

            Any discovery.

          • Pofarmer

            Look, what we’re talking about here isn’t any kind of great discovery. It’s theological rationalizing.

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

            I think you’ve got it slightly backwards: generalities about who/what sexually attracts us are inherently operationally useless once one has an authentic grasp of the meaning of human sexuality. *Human* sexuality. Generalities may work just fine regarding non-human “animal” sex research, but human sexuality necessarily is designed to involve *persons*, which means that we cannot relegate the level of *human* sex research and insight to the “non-person” level.
            I am not meant to be sexually attracted to a conceptual collective like “women” or “some women”. Whether I am so attracted or not can only be tested by determining my response to “this” woman or “that” woman–a person. But because persons are actually unique and unrepeatable, it really does little good to group them into a collective when it comes to sexual attraction….
            The sexual urge is not meant for objectification or for objects, but for persons. That’s why the OP is such a great reminder that generalities that run the risk of objectifying persons ought not drive the conversation about human sexuality.

          • Pofarmer

            I am not meant to be sexually attracted to a conceptual collective like “women” or “some women””

            Uhm, actually, you are. Just because you happen to pick to be with one woman, doesn’t mean you couldn’t just as easily by happy with any number of others. And, that’s allowing for the culture of monogamy that’s a fairly recent invention and not universal. The one redefining sexuality here, isn’t me.

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

            Well, no, monogamy’s been around since the beginning, but that’s another topic altogether.
            As it is, we may be talking past each other a bit on the main point. No, I am not meant to be sexually attracted to a conceptual *collective*–a plurality. My “eros” or sexual desire as a man should attract me to *woman AS woman*, so to speak. Might say “womanhood” here. But womanhood *only* exists concretely in real *persons*. In a real woman. “This” woman or “that” woman as I keep mentioning. Sexual desire, not being an end unto itself, however, is in no way adequately described by the notion of being attracted to this or that *subset* of people.
            And since acting on the gift of our sexuality is something reserved for monogamous one-man, one-woman marriage, what ultimately matters is *not* “whether” our sexual impulses direct our attention to this or that “subset” beyond our spouse, but what matters is “how” we order our sexual impulses as a human person joined uniquely to “this” unique person who is our spouse.
            And whether in or out of marriage, if our “subsets” only serve to narrow the field of whom we may or may not wish to have sex with, then they serve as objectifying, reductive categories in which human personhood is fundamentally lost.

          • Pofarmer

            Look. If this were true, you wouldn’t have infidelity, you wouldn’t hae high STD rates in retirement communities, you wouldn’t have strip clubs, or prostitutes, or Hooters for that matter. If you have been cloistered in the Catholic community your whole life, this viewpoint might make sense, but, from a practical standpoint, it’s easily falsifiable.

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

            Not a logical stance.
            Kind of like saying that all the evidence makes it clear we’re all supposed to be thieves and murderers because there is so much theft and murder…
            We have so much sexual sin for the same reason(s) we have so much sin in general…

          • Pofarmer

            I was wondering how long it would take to come around to that. A wise man once said, “We’re evolved primates, not fallen angels.”

          • Pofarmer

            Wow, guess that was a show stopper. Heaven forbid someone point out we have hormones and pheremones geared towards sex. That women can have sex virtually anytime. That our erogonous zones have lots and lots of sensory receptors, and that the act of sex releases endorphins. I mean, it’s almost like we’re creatures with a strkng sexual component. If you acknowledge that, then it becomes pretty clear that the catholic churchs main goal here is to deny the obvious.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Yes, of course it’s silly. Just because “gentlemen prefer blondes” doesn’t define their sexuality. Everyone has preferences within the group (straight, gay, etc.).

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

            How would you define the term “sexuality”?
            And when does “preference” become something more? Like “orientation”?
            If I *only* experience sexual attraction to brunettes of certain height and weight, such that I *exclude* all other women from consideration, is that preference or orientation?

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Preference and a good deal of immaturity, I would think. You may prefer a certain type but to exclude every other woman would signal that you aren’t very well rounded. I like tall, dark, slim men but that doesn’t mean that I would never find a redhead of medium height to be attractive.

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

            So, if a man says he *only* finds thus-and-such a woman sexually attractive, it’s a sign of immaturity.
            If a man says he *only* finds other men sexually attractive, and not women, what would that possibly signify? Why must we label that an “orientation” while we label a man’s absolute “preference” for a particular type of woman a sign of immaturity?

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            There is a difference between preference and orientation. Just because you’re straight or gay (orientation), it has nothing to do with how mature you are. Perhaps “mature” isn’t the right word but there is definitely something lacking in someone who would only zero in on one particular type of looks exclusively, whether you are heterosexual or homosexual. Say you would only ever consider dating tall, slim blue-eyed brunettes to the exclusion of all other women (or men, whatever the case may be). True, that’s your preference but it would be odd; in fact, it would border on an obsession more than an attraction. You wouldn’t really be interested in the particular woman or man but in what they represent – an ideal. Don’t you think you’d be short-changing yourself and the other person?

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

            Yes–I’m certainly in agreement with you about the immaturity of “absolute preference”. But I’m exploring why we would claim there is a difference between absolute preference and “orientation”–what makes them different if they are both manifestations of an “absolute preference?”

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            I think orientation refers to how you are born while preference develops over time. Sexuality is not a preference – I do believe you are born straight or gay or some variation of either and while your preferences are not necessarily choices, at least on the surface, you do have some role in forming them. I don’t think you’re born with a preference for a certain type of looks and as you matured(or perhaps I should say as you evolved), your preference usually changes. Think of when you were younger and had a crush on a girl in school or a celebrity. At the time,that girl or actress was your ideal – no one else was a beautiful as Polly Purebred but as you got older, your values changed, you started to notice that many other girls were pretty and they looked nothing like Polly. Now, if you never moved past the Polly stage, you would be stuck in a rut and probably wouldn’t go on many dates because there aren’t many girls out there who look exactly like Polly. Your absolute preference would sabotage your social life but your orientation would not. Whether you were gay or straight, you would be able to meet people and form meaningful relationships as long as the other person didn’t have to meet your strict criteria.

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

            How does one go about distinguishing between “how you are born” and a “preference” that “develops over time”?
            Where is the evidence that should compel me to think of orientation according to gender as “how I’m born” and “preference” according to particular characteristics as time-developed?
            How can I be “born” with an unswerving “orientation” that is defined by the kind of person I want to have sex with when *before* I’m born I possess neither an understanding of the meaning of “other person” *or* the concept of what it means to have sex?

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Are you saying that our orientation is influences by what we see or experience? It almost sounds as though you think that people can be “turned” one way. It’s the basis of those groups that claim they can “turn” gay people so that they lead happy, straight lives because they believe that gay people aren’t born with “an unswerving orientation”. That’s dangerous ground.

            Of course you have no idea what your sexual preference will be before you are born just as you don’t know whether or not you’re going to like peas because you have no understanding of peas.

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

            Do you think whether a person will like peas or not is genetically coded into them such that they can’t be “turned” from like or dislike?
            You seem to be absolutely convinced that “orientation” is irrevocable while other potentially absolute preferences (I’m only sexually attracted to brunettes), if acted upon to the exclusion of others (like blondes), is a sign of immaturity.
            And so I am continuing to ask for your evidence that “orientation” so-called is a “born-that-way” thing. What evidence do you have for this assertion?

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Scientific evidence? No, but plenty of empirical evidence. Anyone I’ve ever known who is straight or gay has always been either straight or gay. I cannot think of anyone, boy or girl who “turned”. I know people who come from very traditional
            backgrounds but who are and always were “different” and were perfectly aware that they were. It wasn’t always easy for them to accept but eventually they did because they had no choice – it’s just they way they were.

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

            “Always” been either straight or gay? How does one determine whether a five-year-old, for example, is gay or straight?

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            As I said, based on empirical evidence within my circle of friends and family. I’ve always been attracted to the opposite sex, no question about it. On the other hand, I do know people who felt attracted to those of the same sex and never questioned that attraction because it was natural to them.

          • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

            To jump in here, I would clarify that preferences are generally pretty loose. Things like taste is for instance a generally fluid system. On the other hand there are various degrees of “hard-coding” so to speak in the human experience which are radically more difficult to change. I identify as a heterosexual, due to the fact that my default general preference is for a female physiology. Within that category I could further break that orientation down into, approximately 87%-94% heterosexual and 6%-13% potentially homosexual as I can conceive of myself being able to adjust my attraction to males to a very limited degree. The question is, would I want to? what purpose would that serve? I am comfortable with being attracted to females.

            I would say there is no such thing as an “absolute preference”. I would almost agree that such a narrow preference would be slightly immature or at best stubborn in refusing to acknowledge the potential inherent within a person to change their preferences. This of course doesn’t reflect ones desire to change. But the real discussion here is on the usefulness of the words themselves and the umbrella of Heterosexuality would still be a useful description of a significant aspect of my identity.

            A major problem arises however when we challenge anyone’s self identification with an orientation. I don’t challenge your sense of attraction to brunettes or your lack of preference for peas.

            As for the scientific evidence, the fact that anyone does identify as a homosexual indicates that, they are for the bulk of their experience sexually attracted to the same sex. I wouldn’t dare assume the orientation of a 5 year old, because without the presence of their pubescent development it would be difficult to identify ones sexual orientation.

            There is nothing which indicates that a non-hetero orientation is somehow a perversion of sexuality simply for the sake that a person doesn’t have a choice in their own development. There are too many factors involved which even if they were to be completely understood, would be virtually impossible to control. And if it was discovered that it is something “hard-coded” in their genetics? Would you suggests genetic treatment if it were possible? Would you physically impede something that otherwise would have originated naturally?

          • Brian Anthony

            what about the multitude of articles about gay men who have in fact led healthy lives with marriages to women and have raised families and who remained faithful Catholics and didn’t enslave themselves to their homosexuality? Catholic Online.org showcased several stories like this last year.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            The multitude of articles? I don’t think so – perhaps a few and that would mean that the men were bisexual. I’m from NJ and we had a Catholic governor who professed to be straight to 2 women/wives but we all know how that turned out. He finally gave the state his “I am a gay American” speech.

            You seem to be implying that if only these men would marry women, it would straighten them out, so to speak. I think not.
            Let’s put the shoe on the other foot – say homosexuality was the norm and being straight was the disordered behavior. Imagine yourself being forced to be with a gay man. Pretty horrifying, isn’t it? I would imagine that’s how a gay person would feel being with a straight person. Horrified.

          • Brian Anthony

            no i am stating quite clearly that there are some gay men who made the personal choice to attempt and live as straight men, which by the way the psychological community is by no means decided on the matter of “turning” Anyway if they were forced into that obviously it would be an injustice, but that’s not what i said. Do not fall for the red herring fallacy please.argue what is being said not what you want to be said.

          • Brian Anthony

            I had a friend in high school who was deeply in love with her boyfriend, and may i be blunt rather enjoyed sex(within the context of their relationship). they were together until after their first year of college. then she “came out” as lesbian, NOT bisexual, so i see there an example of someone’s orientation evolving, clearly.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            i also had a friend in HS who was wildly in love with her boyfriend and married him right after graduation. She also always told us how she loved being with her BF just as your friend claimed to be. A year or so later, my friend was divorced because she also came out of the closet. She wasn’t bi either, she was gay which is why her and your friend’s relationships failed. We have no way of knowing if either woman truly did enjoy being with men or were just going through the motions because they couldn’t bring themselves to face the truth of their orientations.
            I’m not trying to play the devil’s advocate; I’m only trying to be empathetic because I truly believe it’s a important part of being a good Catholic.

        • TomFromMD

          Agreed. As an analogy, a person who is acrophobic has a fear of heights. Obviously, they don’t have a fear of *all* heights – if they’re standing on a sheet of paper, they’re not going to go into hysterics. The fact that an acrophobic has a fear of a certain degree of heights is understood, as is the fact that different acrophobics will have different thresholds for fear.

    • SteveP

      “Sexually attracted to” is more accurately phrased as “urge to breed with.” Thus “heterosexual” is redundant as humans can only breed where there is a male and a female gamete.
      .
      To go back to your statement, you write that you have the urge to breed with some of the females you meet but reserve the act of breeding, the sharing of gametes, to a single person. Is this not what the article relays?

  • Riley

    Bravo sir, bravo.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    “and please, don’t freak out over the terminology “norm” and “deviation,” it’s a statistical term, not a judgment on all your innermost feels”

    I keep saying this. Nobody believes it.

  • Kate Cousino

    *CLAP* *CLAP* *CLAP*

    You’ve expressed something that I think I must have innately felt (and inwardly rebelled against) for a long time. I have never been ‘attracted to men [in the abstract]‘. I have only ever been attracted to individual persons – and really only a handful of them. I admire men [in the abstract and the particular] aesthetically, but I admire women aesthetically too.

    And this is, in a nutshell, what is most threatening and intimidating about modern sexuality, and what kills so many relationships:
    “If the “sex” is primary, then the primary attractiveness of a person is not the whole person, not the person herself, not the unique unrepeatable “her” that stands out from the crowd and asserts herself lovely, no — if we are “attracted to the opposite sex,” then “the opposite sex” is the ideal. The idea of “woman” becomes the ideal object of our attraction, an ideal which particular women attempt to meet with varying success.”

  • TomFromMD

    Does a carnivore eat all meat? Does an omnivore really eat everything? No. Likewise, a heterosexual wouldn’t necessarily need to be attracted to all people of the opposite sex for the word to make sense.

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

      These categories *do* have limited context in which they “make sense.” No doubt. But if usage of “heterosexual” or “bisexual” etc. merely reduces the “subject” of the attraction to its distinctive element, it ceases to be supportive of the dignity of the human person. If such terms merely designate that “these are the kinds of people I want to have sex with,” then they get in the way of understanding the gift of sexuality intended exclusively for the authentic communion of *persons* of husband and wife.

      • Anon

        “But if usage of “heterosexual” or “bisexual” etc. merely reduces the “subject” of the attraction to its distinctive element, it ceases to be supportive of the dignity of the human person.”

        Of course the use of heterosexual as a term to describe sexual orientation does no such thing. The term is not exhaustive of a persons sexuality, and says nothing about finer grained preferences.

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

          It is used reductively all the time, Anon. Particularly when the term is used to describe the kinds of people “I would want to have sex with”. That, in itself *reduces* the “subjects” (persons) involved to targets or objects of fulfillment of one’s own sexual desire.
          In the end, who really even *cares* whether I might want to have sex with this group or that kind or this gender? Why is this even an issue given public expression? If the purpose of sexual attraction were properly understood to be at the service of the communion of persons, between “this man” and “this woman” and not in some reductionistic/abstracted plural context of “this subset of persons”, we could avoid a great deal of pain and suffering and error…

          • Anon

            Your doubles down on your basic confusion. The description is just that – a description. As I said in my previous comments, the notion of heterosexuality is descriptive, not reductive. The description does not entail that you are attracted to all women, nor does it entail that you are attracted to them because they are women.

            The term does nothing to reduce others you sexually desire to objects, at least in any pernicious way – of course, it’s absolutely trivial that people are objects, in that they are things we can refer to that exist in the world, of course they are agents, in addition to being objects, but the subject/object distinction is really poorly used here.

            Your complain about heterosexuality would be like complaining that using the term herbivore entails that particular herbivores eat the plants they do because they are plants. That’s obviously a poor explanation, and not an inference you are licensed to make on the basis of the description. Swap “heterosexual” for “herbivore”, and you have your complaint.

            Rather than answer your final question – I care about using the term because these descriptions are helpful for engaging in fields like sociology, human ecology, anthropology, philosophy etc. I also care about correcting you and Marc since this kind of philosophical confusion is pernicious and needs to be corrected. It’s a paradigm example of sophistry.

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

            I have already asserted, or tried to, that the terms *do* have some value as “descriptors” and I don’t question that in the least, in the proper context.
            But, in a culture in which the sanctity and exclusivity of sex has been nearly obliterated, the descriptor is definitely used reductively by many. The “philosophical confusion” at hand is the culture’s blindness to the dignity of the human person, which Marc’s post helps point out.

          • Anon

            “But, in a culture in which the sanctity and exclusivity of sex has been nearly obliterated, the descriptor is definitely used reductively by many.”

            You, and Marc have provided no evidence for this claim. And I have disputed this. This only gets off the ground if you uncharitably project a shoddy definition onto culture – and as an argumentative technique this is unbelievably poor.

          • Anon

            Also lets be clear – you’re now defending something entirely separate from what Marc is claiming. You think there is an appropriate meaning of heterosexual and an inappropriate meaning. You should be critical Marc’s post since he writes that there is only the problematic meaning.

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

            Not entirely separate–though I’ll let Marc speak for Marc. I’d say I think there is appropriate *use* of the term and inappropriate use of the term. Appropriately, it’s a term that diagnostically can distinguish a “normal” or God-intended human sexual identity from everything else. But as it is used today in culture, the term has become but one of a *host* of “flavors” of sexuality–it’s relativized beyond recognition. It’s just one option among many flavors that in culture *must* be asserted as “normal” too. In being relativized, it deeply reduces the personal dimension and the exculsivity and sanctity of sex. Personhood is subordinated to the “flavor”, particularly in a hookup culture that *acts* to exalt sexuality *above* the human person. In a culture in which sex is a mere commodity, the presumption is that everyone’s having sex with *someone* and that, if *I’m* going to have sex, I can’t very well point fingers criticizing other people’s “flavor” choices without being hypocritical…
            *This* is the culture in which the terms serve to reduce persons to objects and groups and to obscure the dignity and communion of human persons…

          • Anon

            Jim writes:

            “Appropriately, it’s a term that diagnostically can distinguish a “normal” or God-intended human sexual identity from everything else. But as it is used today in culture, the term has become but one of a *host* of “flavors” of sexuality–it’s relativized beyond recognition. ”

            But these features have nothing to do with the terms meaning. Can you even keep track of what you’re trying to argue? In fact, for this quotation to even be sensible, the word ‘heterosexual’ has to have a fixed meaning across both contexts (which is not the illicit pseudo-platonist reading Marc provides).

            At this point you are no longer making a claim about the meaning or use of the word. Instead you are saying that your magical sky-fairy attaches special moral significance to one kind of sexual identity. Full stop.

            Now I think you are misusing the term relativism – it’s not that the term heterosexuality has a relativised meaning that’s causing the problem. It’s that you think that popular culture has a relativist view on the norms governing human sexuality. I’d wager that what you really object to isn’t the relativism, but the pluralism, and you are unnecessarily conflating the too notions, but pretty much everyone does that much to the loss of clarity.

            So I don’t get this:

            “But as it is used today in culture, the term has become but one of a *host* of “flavors” of sexuality–it’s relativized beyond recognition.”

            Relativised to what? Your problem isn’t with the word, or the concept, but with how culture views sexual morality. Nothing to do with the meaning of the word. So, support for Marc’s attack upon language, and the claim that the word has two “distinct uses” is utterly unnecessary.

            If you don’t think that we’re all talking about heterosexuality the same way then you really couldn’t have written that post.

            And then you hit on a host of unrelated issues. And assume a ton of strong connections. Not to mention completely ignore that I reject that the subject/object distinction does as much moral work as you think it does.

            If you don’t want to have a conversation, that’s fine. But don’t expect other people to agree with your proclamations about your magic sky-fairy’s preferences as to whom I pursue relationships with.

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

            Hey, Anon–you seem to be addressing someone whom you think is in possession of a magical sky-fairy. I would suggest, then, instead of discussing this with me, find *that* person (whom you think possesses a magical sky-fairy) and either take this up with that person directly, or his sky-fairy…

          • Anon

            Glad to see you take the easy route out Jim.

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

            It does seem easier than trying to explain God’s plan to anyone who doesn’t really think a God exists who can actually *have* a plan… Hey, if you’re really right about “not God,” then your view makes all kinds of sense. Only one of us can be right, though–I guess we’ll eventually find out who is… :-)

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            “God-intended” human sexuality”? You don’t think God intended some people to be gay or bisexual? As Catholics, aren’t we supposed to love everyone because God created them in his image? It seems you’re prejudiced against all but straight people. Did you not hear Pope Francis this week say that if God does not judge gay people, neither should he (or we)? Do you not believe that people other than traditionally straight possess dignity?

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

            Actually, NO. I did not hear Pope Francis this week say that if God does not judge gay people, neither should he (or we). Because that is not what he said. I suggest you read the transcript.
            And no, I do not think God *intended* some people to be gay or bisexual, as these are both among the many sexual disorders that are *crosses* some people must bear.
            As to whether I’m prejudiced against all but straight people? Well since I’m a dyed-in-the-wool semi-brunettero-hetero-sexual, wouldn’t I also be prejudiced against heterosexuals who aren’t exclusively attracted to brunettes?
            Truth is, I value the dignity of the human person so much that I am *not* willing to goose-step with secular culture’s attempt to objectify and affirm *any* person who suffers from a sexual disorder–whether that disorder is fornication, adultery, contraception, sexual acting out, etc., regardless of “orientation” or preference…

          • http://www.crunchycradlecatholic.blogspot.com/ Crunchy Cradle Catholic

            i think an important point to be made is that all persons are called to live out chastity, not just a certain group with certain attractions. we all must practice sexual self control.

          • Notquite Archimedes

            Actually, you’re doing a damned good job of goose-stepping by medicalizing dissent.

          • K. C. Sunbeam

            I believe that all people possess dignity. However, not all sexualities are equally preferable. We don’t intend to satisfy a bisexual person by allowing them to marry both a man and a woman, do we?
            Me: http://shockedbytruth.jimdo.com

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Yes, we all possess dignity and I agree that being heterosexual is the preferred sexuality. Your question; however, doesn’t present a valid argument. Our culture doesn’t allow bigamy which is why a bisexual person couldn’t marry both a man and a woman just as a straight person couldn’t marry two people.

          • K. C. Sunbeam

            You made a good point. But I think that our culture might eventually change and allow the bigamy, or rich people marrying a harem.
            Our culture allows throw-away marriages; that dismantles and discombobulates the whole system already.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            I don’t believe that we will allow bigamy (Warren Jeffers is in prison for among other things, polygamy). I do concede that our culture does condone throw-away marriages. It seems that people aren’t interested in going the distance with their spouses any longer. Just today, I heard a news report that said the majority of married people are not married to their true love (the one that got away, I suppose) and feel that they are making due with the spouse they do have – they settled. How sad is that? Evidently, there are thousands of people who wake up every day, look at their perfectly respectable, loving spouse and think, “Well, you’re OK, but you’re not The One.” It just seems so disrespectful and cruel.

          • K. C. Sunbeam

            Nice comments. Maybe the general public won’t allow bigamy, but it has already been practiced by a Mormon sect. Those plural marriages aren’t recognized by the U.S. government, but they’ve performed ceremonies, and say it’s God’s law.
            As far as divorce and remarriage, the early Church fathers called that Digamy. And as far as the sudden tsunami of annulments post-1970, no doubt the early fathers would deem that heresy.

          • Pofarmer

            I really don’t particularly give two shits what somebody who didn’t know what made it rain or what caused the tides thought about a complex biological question. M’kay.

          • K. C. Sunbeam

            What in the world are you talking about?
            If this is addressed to me, please explain what scientific principles I’m in error on.
            If not, please read my dissertations s-l-o-w-l-y.

          • Brian Anthony

            we must love them as Christ would, by presenting the truth to them and asking them to repent, as all of us must from whatever our sins and crosses may be.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Yes, we must love everyone but I’m not quite sure what you mean by asking them to repent. Repent for . . . ?

          • Brian Anthony

            a sin…? ya know that thing that God the father sent Chrsit to suffer on the Cross and redeem us? being attracted to members of the same sex is not a sin, the Church teaches that very clearly, but acting on those impulses that result from that attraction is.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Yes, I do know that but a part of my heart just cannot accept telling people who, through no fault of their own are told they must live without ever being in a physical relationship with someone they love. It’s one thing to choose a celibate life for yourself but quite another to be told that that is how you must live especially when it comes from people who are perfectly free to enter into into a marriage. It seems cruel to me.

          • Brian Anthony

            well, then that is why we trust in the Church that Christ founded and still guides for the wisdom of what to to do and we trust that what the Church teaches is what God teaches. when the only other option is chaos I’ll stick by the Church

          • Pofarmer

            I am so tired of the church that Christ founded arrogant bullshit. Did Christ found the Magdalene laundries? Did Christ steal 300,000 babies from their mothers in Spain? Did Christ start a war in Mexico because the state wanted a say in how their children were educated? Shut the fuck up with this arrogance already.

          • Brian Anthony

            what? you know you are on a Catholic blog right? and by the way i said the Church Christ founded, just because certain individual Catholics have committed non-christian and un Christlike actions does not mean that the Church itself, the teachings, and the goal and the liturgy and the spiritual life of the Church Herself are null and void.

          • Pofarmer

            blah, blah, blah
            You do realize this Catholic blog is on a multi faith forum, right?
            No true Scotsman. Got it.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            But this particular blog is Catholic. Do you troll other religious blogs just so you can stir them up a bit?

          • Pofarmer

            I think a better question is, why do you feel above reproach? No criticisms allowed?

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Why do you assume I feel above reproach? I don’t; however, it seems that you joined in simply for the sake of criticizing. Differences of opinion are welcomed and we can often learn from them but I don’t anyone can learn anything from someone being mean-spirited.

          • Pofarmer

            Sorry I thought I was replying to Brian Anthonies frantic entreaties. Longenecker started it with a post that was nothing but mean spirited posturing. Behind all the love talk of the Catholic Church, there is a whole lot of control, and mean spiritedness, and hate. And yes, I do reply on other faith blogs, respectfully when it’s warrented, not when it’s not.

          • Brian Anthony

            i like how you didnt actually respond to the argument i made

          • Pofarmer

            Your “argument” is a combination of appeal to authority and no true scotsman, there isn’t much to reply to. Although I would say, if you look at the large structures like the Magdalene laundries and the groups funneling stolen children in Spain. You could kind of sort of come to the conclusion they beleived it was the right thing to do.

          • Brian Anthony

            they believed that yes, but that doesn’t make it right, or properly Catholic to do so. Our nation is guilty of atrocities against blacks, indians, and mexico(i speak of the mexican war) and yet i dont see you disavowing US citizenship or declaring that the very basis of our nation, its constitution is invalid and unbelievable.

          • Pofarmer

            The U.S. constitution never said that it had the “Truth of Christ” passed down from the Apostles, etc, etc. etc. So, yes, when large organizations within the church, do fairly horrible things with the knowledge of the rest of the Church, then I think it reflects poorly on the Church in general, including the ideology and theology of that Church.

          • Brian Anthony

            but why, you’ve offered no real argument as to how these actions can clearly undermine the teachings rather than just be chalked up to human failings in morality. no one said becoming a christian would make one perfect immediately. I like how you always attack the doctrine of the Fall but yet you are so willing to label the evil acts of people in religion(although i have noticed you dont attack protestism nearly as much…)

          • Pofarmer

            I don’t attack protestantism as much because “it” doesn’t make the same kinds of claims the Catholic Church does. I think how it undermines the arguments and teachings, is that it clearly shows that said arguments are based on 100% fiction.

          • Brian Anthony

            right because protestant bible thumping is more believable and any less hateful?

            which church the catholic or the protestant, has the higher quality, and historically recognized intellectual tradition starting with Augustine and going up to Edith Stein (an eraly feminist whose studies led her to A convert from judaism to catholicism and B become and nun, and C eventually die in a concentration camp)

          • Pofarmer

            Your arrogance is showing.

          • Brian Anthony

            again you fail to respond what i actually said, i posited that the catholic church actually does have a rich intellectual tradition, one which i studied, right alongside the secular and Jewish, Islamic intellectual tradition throughout my four years of philosophy and history studies. Far from being opposed to the mainstream intellectual tradition, the Church has always been in the thick of it form its conception til the modern day.

          • Pofarmer

            Yes, the Church has tried very hard to shape discourse to advantage itself. So? You ignore that the church shut down the early philosophical schools in favor of it’s own. You ignore that the church let useful knowledge languish, in favor of pursuit of theology. You ignore that the church persecuted and harassed faiths that it didn’t agree with, and had the power to destroy. All I could really hope for is “til the present day” indicated a falling if the Church into much deserved irrelevance.

          • Brian Anthony

            oh and the war in mexico? oh sir the government started that, when they knocked down the doors of churches and butchered priests as the said Mass! I suppose you are a wonderful adherent to secularist ideals which have shown just how wonderful and merciful and enlightened they are from France to Russia and beyond. The Reign of Terror, the Bolshevick persecutions, and of course the Spanish Civil War where 6000 priests, bishops, monks and nuns were butchered by the oh so enlightened communist forces.

          • Pofarmer

            “when they knocked down the doors of churches and butchered priests as the said Mass”

            Got a source for that?

          • Brian Anthony

            Mexican Jacobins, supported by Calles’s central government, went beyond mere anticlericalism and engaged in secular antireligious campaigns to eradicate what they called “superstition” and “fanaticism”, including desecration of religious objects, persecution, and murder of the clergy and anticlerical legislation. Nesvig, Martin Austin, Religious Culture in Modern Mexico, pp. 228-29, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007

          • Pofarmer

            Afaik, and I could be wrong, there wasn’t any overt military activity until 400 armed catholics held up in a church.

          • Brian Anthony

            overt military action no, but remember that either way the new constitution was persecuting the church, priests couldn’t wear their habits, Masses had to be said according to a certain schedule, i mean the government started it by making the majority religion unwelcome in the public square…and “holed up” is another way of saying besieged, so i would assume they were on the defensive, possibly protecting a priest who was wanted on some trumped up charges or for wearing his habit in public because that is just oh so terrible…

          • Pofarmer

            “”holed up” is another way of saying besieged,”

            It’s also a way to say “massing for an attack.”

            And, yes, the govt wasn’t being nice to the Church, which after Maximilian and all, was rather understandable. The Church had become a destabilizing agent against the State.

          • arb16035

            What about dextrocardia, the medical anomaly in which a person has their heart situated on the right side of the body? People are born with this condition. Didn’t God intend for everyone to have a beating heart, whatever side it ends up on? Isn’t that part of the design of creation? If through no fault of the individual he or she is born that way, does that mean that the person is not entitled to have any heartbeat? And if someone is born with an orientation to their own gender, does that mean she or he must live an entire mandated lifetime devoid of any amorous liaisons, completely suppressed erotically? Is there some moral code that incontrovertibly asserts that this is healthy and good for all people? I agree, GoodCatholicGirl, and seems cruel to me as well.

    • Anon

      Seriously this. I don’t get how anybody can read Marc’s post and not think this.

  • Anon

    “The very ascension of a relation to the generalized “opposite sex” as the primary essence of sexual attraction inverts the order of sexual relation.”

    So, the take away from this is that rather than actually have conversations with the rest of the English speaking world, you’re going to bury your head in the sand, pretend that ‘heterosexuality’ has a meaning it doesn’t, and then claim you’ve made philosophically deep points?

    • michelekc

      You don’t seem to have gotten the point….

      • Anon

        Well, what did I get wrong?

        • michelekc

          As I understand it, I don’t think the author is trying to suggest that we “bury our head in the sand” and not engage in the ongoing debate. I think he is saying we need to be aware that the language we use to engage in the debate is in fact rooted in the same perversion that we are trying to argue against, whether we intend this meaning or not. Those on the other side of the marriage debate often argue that someone’s sex is merely to do with the reproductive organs that one is born with, a metaphysical accident. In reality, as we believe, being a woman or a man is about so much more than whether we sit or stand to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately, since they were the ones who started the debate, they have essentially shaped it, and so far we have been formulating our arguments with the same set of words. We’re using the weapons, if you will, that were given to us by the people we are fighting against. Because of this, we don’t have the adequate tools to explain what’s so wrong with “same-sex marriage”. With a better understanding of the words we use, we can perhaps re-shape this debate in our favor. Language is important, especially in this post-modern world that likes to re-define words.

          • Pofarmer

            “Unfortunately, since they were the ones who started the debate, they have essentially shaped it,”

            You gotta be kidding me. Speaking out after thousands of years is “Starting it?”

          • Anon

            “As I understand it, I don’t think the author is trying to suggest that we “bury our head in the sand” and not engage in the ongoing debate”

            I’m not sure which debate you’re talking about. My remarks about “burying your head in the sand” are targeting Marc’s failure to engage with culture on charitable terms — since he does not actually attempt to understand what culture means by sexuality he is burying his head under the sand.

            “I think he is saying we need to be aware that the language we use to engage in the debate is in fact rooted in the same perversion that we are trying to argue against, whether we intend this meaning or not.”

            You’ve utterly lost me – which debate are we talking about? Which perversion is in question? Is it the orientation towards platonic forms? Marc is mistaken for imposing that definition.

            “Those on the other side of the marriage debate often argue that someone’s sex is merely to do with the reproductive organs that one is born with, a metaphysical accident. In reality, as we believe, being a woman or a man is about so much more than whether we sit or stand to go to the bathroom. ”

            Marc does not explicitly mention the marriage debate. Marriage is only mentioned once – and he claims that there is no such thing as heterosexual marriage. Granted, this might be the broader subtext, but this is irrelevant to assessing Marc’s post.

            Also – issues pertaining to ones sex is a “metaphysical accident” is kind of besides the point of Marc’s post – which has to do with the object of attraction.

            “Unfortunately, since they were the ones who started the debate, they have essentially shaped it, and so far we have been formulating our arguments with the same set of words.”

            You’re seriously crying foul because you have to speak the same language as those in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry? I have a hard time believing this is the actual nature of your complaint.

            “We’re using the weapons, if you will, that were given to us by the people we are fighting against. Because of this, we don’t have the adequate tools to explain what’s so wrong with “same-sex marriage”.”

            Don’t mistake your inability to clearly use language with an the inability of the language to articulate your point.

            This also does not license stipulating meanings that are mistaken to try and make a point.

            “With a better understanding of the words we use, we can perhaps re-shape this debate in our favor. Language is important, especially in this post-modern world that likes to re-define words.”

            This is seriously creepy and fascistic. It’s like you’re seriously advocating developing a form of newspeak in order to win the debate. Maybe read Nineteen Eighty-Four sometime.

  • Jon

    As a Platonist…this makes me sad. To avoid taking part in the age old debate of Plato and Aristotle: “the Forms/ideals are more/less real than particulars.” I want to point out one of the philosophical quandaries here: You have said that the proper object of sexual attraction is a gestalt person, not a disembodied sexual attribute. If proper sexual expression has procreation and unity as it’s object, the sexual attribute of an individual is the proper object of the procreative end (maleness/femaleness) and the remainder of the attributes that make one human, personality, spirituality, level of intelligence etc, are the proper object of the unitive end of sexual expression. Taken together you have the holistic object of sexual expression as the whole human person. The differentia referred to by the “sexual system” is the only attribute that is singled out by the dual purpose of sex: the sex of the person who is being held as the object of sexual expression, singled out by the procreative end of sex (excluding those terms that refer to something other than that atribute such as sapiosexual). If you wish to throw out the attribute of the sex of the person that is held as the object of sexual expression, in a sense you deny the procreative end of sexuality by failing to acknowledge the decisive role of te sex of the person in your desiring of them. There is a nobility in saying that a person is more than their sex, and you are attracted to more than a disembodied sex, but it remains that many people are attracted to a set of people that all participate in one idea of maleness/femaleness (or are all instantiations of maleness/femaleness if you prefer a more Platonic syntax). As the common attribute of the objects of their sexual expression, it is a proper and adequate differentiating principle, just as the “sapian” of man is a common attribute of all men that adequately differentiates us from other members of the genus “homo”. If one seeks to disregard the sex of the object of their desire in the description of their sexuality, as you seem to propose, one seems to adhere to the bumper sticker saying “…someone who loves you for who you are not what you are.” Which is of course a tagline of bisexuality. This is defendable. You do so in the article above, so long as you are aware of the end it is acceptable for you to propose such a position. Again, its a quandary, not a contradiction.

  • Jeem

    I think this article is proof texting JPII. The body has a sacramental character, as it is the visible expression of the person, both visible and invisible reality. Therefore, you can not exclude the body or its parts in consideration of the person. The last section somewhat recovers this point. The person is not an abstraction, and to love them means loving a concrete reality, which includes their characteristics. (In other words, try naming why you love someone without naming specifics about them.)

    JPII builds with a Thomistic anthropology, which includes the fact that we are rational “animals,” with natural appetites that can be ordered rightly or disordered. One of those natural appetites is for the continuation of the species vis a vis sex. This, biologically, is only possible with one kind of sexual relationship; that one traditionally called “heterosexual.” While that is not the entirety of the person, the appetite for sexual intercourse with another person capable of procreation belongs naturally to the healthy human person. This basic characteristic may not be what most people mean when they say they are “heterosexual,” but you can see the argument.
    Fixation on a particular characteristic of the person or the sexual appetite directed toward something/someone that is incapable of achieving the end toward which the function is directed would rightly be called “disordered.”

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

      In my view, the OP is not a “proof-text” of JPII (whose anthropology is, btw, built upon his own Thomistic personalism rather than just Thomism). JPII supplies the framework, but the author of the OP is offering his original contribution and conclusion–that of challenging the very objectifying use of these subsets of sexuality….

  • MichaelE

    I think that I appreciate the underlying motive for this essay–that we ought to move to a more humanizing/dignified approach to sexuality than is currently normative. (Maybe also to dodge some of the heated, politically-charged garbage in the present polemics)??? But *categorically* trashing Idealism is a mistake. We can’t take JPII’s eloquent thoughts on Personalism and let them decompose into a thinly-veiled Pragmatism. That’s what this looks like. And the price is too high.

    A vast quantity of Catholic thought has invested in the 2400 year-old notion that common-denominators bind things into meaningful and substantive categories. Thus, diminishing the notion of hetero- (or any) sexuality to a mere “thought-construct” throws a lot of stuff “under the bus.” Dewey’s anti-reification is barking up the wrong tree. Afterall, I’ve never seen Naturalistic evidence of the Trinity! Yet, I profess it every Sunday. More importantly than the formal philosophical angle: does the witness and record of Scripture and Tradition corroborate this kind of language–one that rejects class-based or categorical thinking? (I think the answer is “no”). We use this language, firstly, because we believe it maps onto objective reality. Secondarily, it is–on account of this–useful. Or (to channel the Pragmatists), is it the other way around? :)

  • kirthigdon

    Well done! I’ve thought more or less the same ever since “gender issues” became the all consuming social obsession, but I never could have articulated it that well. Many thanks!
    Kirt Higdon

  • David Sharples

    Thank you! This whole “hetero-sexual” person thing has bothered me for sometime. There was a problem with the thinking, but I just could not put my finger on it. The answer is, boys and girls, the answer is- (boys and girls).

  • Ce Gzz

    This could have feed more on Theology of the Body…and it would be awesome!

  • michelekc

    Great article! And thanks for introducing me to Love and Responsibility. It is now in my spiritual reading list.

  • tomo

    I would like to hear the missing part of this argument, which is how gender is then relevant at all to the meaning of sexually intimate relationships. For me, it clearly is, but based on this post alone, it is not clear that the author thinks it is (unless it comes in that part about the “whole” truth of the person including the body, which was cryptic). Life outside the “sexual system” may be isomorphic to life inside it. Please show me in another post how this is not so (if it is not so).

  • Lena S.

    Marc, how about simplifying it (sort of, lol) to the following:

    Usage of the term ‘heterosexual’ helps to nomalise sexual perversion and limitation (in the sense of limiting sexual attraction to a set of attributes rather than the whole person, which includes those attributes but doesn’t separate them from the person*) by putting it on the same plane as any other ‘–sexual’, therefore, its usage plays into the cultural framing that we wish to fight against.

    *Trying to avoid angelism here, which from my limited and second-hand understanding is something that JPII tended toward at times.

    Would that be a fair summary or thesis?

  • Justine/sewcountrychick

    Very wordy indeed! You lost me so where in the middle.

  • Anna E

    I think Marc is on to something great here, but I have to agree that his more recent articles are harder to read and understand than his older ones. His take on beauty, art, and pornography are seriously great though!

    • Anna E

      *takes :p

  • Ball of String

    Interesting, interesting points. I definitely agree that labeling preferences can be damaging if it distracts from the meaning of finding someone to be with. I can sort of see where someone could argue, however, on the idea that people tend to have preferences of certain potential mates in general. The first example that comes to mind are “types”: liking certain attributes in certain people (blue eyes, artistic, etc.). I get how types can become damaging if you’re limiting yourselves to solely having those preferences, but who’s to say that sexuality wouldn’t be considered it’s own sort of “type,” in a sense.

    Is what your arguing, then, against types in general? Just wanted to clarify, as I’m trying to understand this issue more in depth.

  • Gregory Peterson

    Since we all have an X Chromosome, I tend to use the phrase, “other sex” instead of “opposite sex.”

    Some societies have third sexes, or more. I think that Nepal has an “Other” box to go along with “Male” or “Female” on official forms. The idea that there can only be two sexes would seem to indicate an impoverished imagination.

    • Tom

      Or you can check the “rarely” box…

  • Steve Gershom

    Very much digging this, Marc. Thank you. I really want to mull this over and write a response, and I hope I have the gorm and oomph to do so soon.

  • buildamoat

    “Catholics, in reaction to the godawful philosophical inadequacy of LGBT folks, tend to ignore what is a true insight into this problem.”

    Thanks for undermining the opinions of a minority group. <3

  • raphamello

    “I cannot wrap my arms around the opposite sex and ask if she could pitch in for the cost of the date.”

    No, because she’d squirm away and find a guy who can make frequent trips to Cartier :) Don’t you know us women at all, baby?

  • Notquite Archimedes

    “the godawful philosophical inadequacy of LGBT folks”

    Do tell. Alan Turing, one of the greatest logicians who ever lived was gay.

  • Emmers

    I can’t see as it’s necessary to go all the way to personalism to solve for this. There’s more than enough to back up your point contained within the age-old concepts of how a universal is formed and how it does and does not exist in the mind/in reality (see On Being and Essence). This is still a marvelous application of those principles, no less – - great article. I’d hazard a furthering of the theory that the reason that sexual orientation, so to speak, does not properly (that is, without perversion) exist towards abstracts/universals is because of the (obviously) teleological nature of sexual actions. You can’t make a baby with the universal man . . . even if it does sound kinda sexy when you put it that way. :P

  • K. C. Sunbeam

    Before modern times, nobody was labeled heterosexual or homosexual, neither gay nor straight. These labels are highly political.
    For my complete dissertation on this issue, please see How Gay is Gay? on my website http://shockedbytruth.jimdo.com

  • Rivka

    I think this is one of your best articles.

  • Brian Anthony

    mark really needs to respond to these comments himself…

  • Guest

    I want people like you to shut the hell up and get out of my country. Yesterday.

  • Anon

    Deep down I always knew I was an etceterasexual…


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