Some Background for Mike

Mike Hardy, not knowing me from Adam, and seeing only what I’ve written on this blog naturally assumes certain things (eg. I am ‘trying to tar the gay community” and I hope to “bully gays back into the closet”, etc.)

Some background: First, I have had oodles of contact with gay friends, co-workers, etc. I used to major in theatre long before I decided I wanted to get into the incredibly lucrative field of English and I live in Seattle. I do not desire any of them to be in a closet, nor to deprive them of any civil rights, nor to avoid contact with them. They’re nice men and women, by and large. Second, I have never had, even for a moment, the faintest inkling of what same-sex attraction is like. Third, I am a devotee of the work of C.S. Lewis.

You may be wondering what all that adds up to. Simply this: Lewis always insisted (and I believe as well) that there is nothing more tiresome than people offering free advice to others about temptations and struggles which they do not themselves share. For this reason, Lewis never wrote about gambling. He said he’d never felt the temptation and (no doubt) lacked some positive quality in his character which (when corrupted) constituted the vice of gambling. Similarly, he never went around handing out free advice to homosexuals. He also added something to the effect that we might well ask “Soooo, when you write about all those other sins you discuss in The Screwtape Letters and elsewhere, that means you’ve struggled with them all?” Bingo.

So I’ve spent most of my life in pretty much the same boat. As somebody who’s not felt homosexual temptation, I don’t go around handing out free advice to those who do. Indeed, I have spent considerable time on the web arguing against Reactionaries of various stripes that mere homosexual orientation is not a sin, but folks reading this blog wouldn’t know that because it hasn’t come up much.

What has come up is the Priest Crisis. And the simple fact remains that the vast majority of the abusers have been homosexual, try as we might to avoid that fact. This is not “tarring the gay community”. It is stating a fact. It does not follow from this that gays should be “bullied back into the closet.” It does, however, strongly suggest that the wisdom of recklessly ordaining anybody, either homo- or hetero-sexually oriented, who is not serious about chastity and fidelity to the Church is rather in question. And that’s the rub: for folks like Mike aren’t content with the fact that I don’t think homosexual temptation a sin. They want very much for me to not regard it as temptation. But just as I don’t acquiesce to Reactionaries who regard mere orientation as a sin, neither do I acquiesce to demands that I not regard this particular form (and there are many forms) of disordered sexuality as something other than disordered.

And because it is disordered, I think, like all disorders, it places particular strains on our relationships, with statistically probable results. Stick a glutton like me in a restaurant full of fatty foods and your chances are good you will have more Mark to deal with in the near future. Create a culture of homosexuality which asks, like Andrew Sullivan, why the Church should have anything to say about eros at all and don’t be stunned to discover that a certain percentage of participants in that culture ask, like Paul Shanley, “What’s so bad about sex with children?” Therefore, it seems to me to be sane to prevent such a culture from dominating the priesthood.

To sum up: I continue to refrain from offering free advice to homosexually-oriented people on what to do during their particular struggles. I pray they can carry their particular cross as we all carry ours. I acknowledge the teaching of the Church concerning the disordered nature of homosexuality and cannot find any particular fault with it (just as I acknowledge the Church’s teaching about gluttony and other disordered appetites with which I do struggle). But I do not call for bullying anybody, still less for barring them from the Church. I do however, think that those with a homosexual orientation are setting themselves up for a great deal of struggle in entering the priesthood. And I think that Holy Orders is a sacrament, not a civil right. I don’t think that homosexual orientation, by itself, is reason for keeping somebody out of the priesthood. There have been noble and heroic homosexual priests wo honored their vows (see Nouwen, Henri). But I think that if a man (or a subculture) who essentially holds the Tradition in contempt (whether he is gay or straight) he is a traitor to that faith. Thinking that has nothing to do with bullying anybody. It has to do with choosing to believe or reject what Holy Church teaches. I believe what the Church teaches. I don’t think people with a homosexual orientation are “enemies of the Church”. I do think they are less likely to be cut out to be priests and should not be priests if they hold the Church’s teaching in contempt.