God bless Theresa Yoshioka

She writes and speaks with her husband, former gay activist Alan Yoshioka, about the call on the whole Church for the pastoral care of persons with same-sex attraction. Here is a highly intelligent, sensitive, and deeply Catholic piece on the obligation of the Church to reach out to and welcome same-sex attracted persons as human beings called by Jesus Christ.

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  • http://thecrawfordfamily.net/blog Ken Crawford

    That was a great piece. I spent some time pondering this line, “most LGBTQ activists use “gay” primarily to describe same-sex attraction” because my instant reaction was that it was incorrect. But with reflection, I believe it is accurate, with one caveat. Built in to the idea that gay refers to the attraction is the ideology that one has a near obligation to act on it. You’re letting the community down if you don’t. To say “I’m gay and I refuse to act on it” is an ex-communicable offense to the community. They “hate themselves”. So while yes, gay does refer to the attraction, it also refers to a lifestyle that they see as inseparable from the attraction.

    I’ve thought this in different ways before, but this definitely re-iterates that before one can have a productive conversation with just about anyone on the subject, one needs to well define the terms being used (and ask the other in the discussion what they mean by they’re terms) and then point out the built in assumptions of certain perspectives on those terms.

    • Claude

      Built in to the idea that gay refers to the attraction is the ideology that one has a near obligation to act on it. You’re letting the community down if you don’t. To say “I’m gay and I refuse to act on it” is an ex-communicable offense to the community. They “hate themselves”.

      What? Gay activism is oriented toward removing the stigma of homosexuality and ensuring equal rights for gay people. Obligatory sex has nothing to do with it.

      Yoshioka’s article was confusing. Dan Savage is thinking of “coming home”? That’s interesting. Too bad the links lead nowhere but to other blogs which lead to other links. Did Savage pipe in on Leah Libresco’s blog, and are we expected to plumb the comments to uncover what he said? Could not Yoshioka be explicit on the matter instead of sending the reader on a wild goose chase?

      As for the rest, I think the Church’s stance on homosexuality is profoundly immoral, so while I appreciate Yoshioka’s effort to discourage bigotry her premise, that homosexuals are “disordered,” is false.

      • Dan

        I’m afraid I have to disagree with you. Being ‘gay’ seems to come part and parcel with active sexual behavior in the minds of the many. It’s been pretty much ingrained in our culture, alongside the rather promiscuous ideals that float around.

        I don’t believe Savage has any intention of ‘coming home’, perhaps it was a mistake on the part of the author?

        Your contention that the Church’s stance is immoral is itself flawed and incorrect. That we have disordered desires is not passing a moral judgement on those that possess them. A person may have a strong attachment to alcohol or0 an inherent desire to over-eat; these are disordered affectations, but that does not mean that the people they’re in committed a moral fault. …But perhaps that’s not your contention with their position, I take it you do not agree or understand the reasonings of Natural Law? Might you be utilitarian?

      • Allan

        Given how many gay people die or suffer many other serious health problems from the activities in which they engage, I find YOUR stance on homosexuality profoundly immoral. And by the way, the church’s teaching is that the inclination toward homosexual activity is disordered, not that homosexuals are disordered. If you would make use of your most basic capabilities to reason, and looked honestly at the isuue, you would see that the teaching is true. Think with your brain, not with your groin.

        • Claude

          Dan and Allen,

          I am also losing out with the spam filter, which has happened before when I attempted to post on this subject, so I will try to break up my post.

          Thank you, I am aware of the distinction that it is the inclination toward homosexuality that is described as disordered by the Church, but the inclination is indeed what makes people identify themselves as “homosexual”! So the Church patronizes gay people by refining their sexuality into an “appetite” commensurate with an inclination to eat too much ice cream or an inclination to run through red lights. But homosexuality is not a matter of degree but of kind.

          • Claude

            Meanwhile, persons afflicted with this “disorder” are expected for their salvation to suppress their sexual orientation and deny themselves the romance and intimacy and opportunity to marry that is a heterosexual entitlement and that the Church holds is a loci of divine intent. I participate in a conventional, heterosexual, monogamous marriage, but in solidarity with my gay brothers and sisters I call foul!

      • Adam L

        I don’t happen to agree with Claude’s conclusions, but I think he brings up some important points which haven’t been adequately addressed yet. From what I can tell the two important points he brings up are:

        1) How can you claim to embrace the person while rejecting the inclination? I don’t think Claude’s problem here is that he fails to understand that the Church makes a distinction between inclination and person, but rather that he sees the distinction as a false one. It may be true that a person’s identity cannot be reduced to their sexual inclination (and Claude may even agree with this), but it would seem to be an important part of their identity, nonetheless. So how can this be reconciled with the claim that you are not rejecting the person?

        2) Claude makes the important point that comparisons of homosexual inclinations to other disordered desires (e.g. an inordinate desire for food) are flawed in that with the latter the moral objection stems, not from the object of desire (i.e. food), but rather the degree to which it is desired, whereas with the former, the source of the moral objection does appear to be the object of desire rather than the intensity of it.

        • http://thesheepfold.typepad.com/ The Sheepcat

          That’s a good and fair question, Adam. The short answer is that my wife doesn’t get “itchy” around people who experience same-sex attractions. The longer answer will take more time than she or I have right now, but we’ll post something on our blog by Tuesday. Thanks for asking!

        • http://thesheepfold.typepad.com/ Mrs Sheepcat

          Adam L and others, my longer answer is Way. Too. Long. I’m sorry, it won’t be ready to post till tomorrow. Thanks for your patience!

  • http://thesheepfold.typepad.com/ Mrs Sheepcat

    Wow, Mark, thanks very much for the generous shout-out — which has just now come to my attention. That column was written for an ecumenical audience. A few readers thought I was being politically correct; others found it very helpful. Several wrote to the editor; the first said it was the best piece she’d read in The Interim (Canada’s life and family newspaper) because it conveyed how to be more Christian in this area. That being the case, to God be the glory.

    Ken and Claude, I’ll reply ASAP!

  • http://thesheepfold.typepad.com/ Mrs Sheepcat

    I’m losing an argument with the spam filter, so I’ll break up my reply into bits.

    Ken, for the record, my husband (The Sheepcat/Alan Yoshioka) and I follow the Courage/EnCourage line in preferring the language of “person with same-sex attraction.” If there’s one thing we’d like to convey to an audience, it’s the tripartite distinction between person, inclination, and action — which we’ve been taught so well by Fr Paul Check, the successor to Fr John Harvey. You can read his elaboration by searching for “Courage continues mission of its founder Father Harvey” at the National Catholic Register. “Gay” and other LGBTQ+ terminology fail, perhaps deliberately, to convey the tripartite distinction. We really do want to distinguish between unchosen attractions and chosen identities and behaviours. It’s very Christian, pro-life/pro-family, and liberating to explicitly notice the choices set before us (Deuteronomy 30).

  • http://thesheepfold.typepad.com/ Mrs Sheepcat

    The finest current blogger on SSA issues is “Steve Gershom,” whose tagline is “Catholic, Gay, and Feeling Fine, Thanks.” Steve knows that I disagree with him on terminology for an extra reason which is beyond the scope of this thread, but may be of interest: consideration for the needs of those outside North America, such as Ugandans and other Africans considering “anti-gay” bills. To put it mildly, draconian legislation isn’t the best way to promote charity, clarity, and chastity. “Gay” and “anti-gay” obscure the third way (Catholicism so often proposes third ways). If Anglophones affected by SSA who support the fullness of Church teaching could agree on terminology other than “gay,” we could be more effective encouraging cultural change that respects the dignity of the person.

  • http://thesheepfold.typepad.com/ Mrs Sheepcat

    More immediate is the application to our peer and pastoral counselling. If my husband and I are speaking, writing, or consulting, we’ll start with “person with SSA.” But someone approaches one or both of us with “I think I’m gay (and I don’t know what that means for me as a Catholic),” or “I think my kid is gay (and I don’t know how to love him/her best),” we’re hardly going to react with “Watch your language!” We start where where the person’s at and take them where we can; if we don’t know how someone is using terminology, we can clarify. So yes, my point was that one should be aware that people have varying assumptions around that word, even when we retain our own preferences.

  • http://thesheepfold.typepad.com/ Mrs Sheepcat

    Claude, blessings to you and your wife. Thank you for acknowledging that the Church doesn’t teach that *people* aren’t disordered — She teaches inclinations may be disordered. (By the way, the same interview with Fr Check that I cited above also explains why contemporary Catholic pastoral care avoids using “homosexual” as a noun.) You may be interested in reading Mark’s “Concupiscence is not sin” as well as Jen Fulwiler’s “A conversation with my gay friend” at Conversion Diary. She eloquently explains that she has converted to the religion of the crucifix, in which all of us, in keeping with our states in life, are called to make some sort of sacrifice connected to sexuality. Not just persons with SSA. Church teaching is like a beautiful tapestry; if one pulls on a single woven thread, one distorts the whole work.

  • http://thesheepfold.typepad.com/ Mrs Sheepcat

    I agree that “Don’t quench a smoldering wick” could have been more effective, and I’m sorry for frustrating you. Thing is, if one spends significant time commenting on SSA, one gets plenty of reaction from readers who aren’t being careful to distinguish what one is and isn’t saying — and at that moment, I wasn’t available to carefully engage with less-careful readers. So that post was aimed at those rare readers who were willing to invest at least half an hour following links. In that narrow sense it was successful. I know this not only from the posted comments but from the private feedback I received. It’s up to you (and comboxer Dan) whether you’d like to invest in following those links — but yes, Savage has considered coming home, and yes, there’s something we can do privately to facilitate that return.

  • http://thesheepfold.typepad.com/ Mrs Sheepcat

    For background, Mark was the Catholic-blogger-of-good-will, Leah Libresco was the then-atheist-of-good-will, and Leah linked to Dan Savage describing how he’s considered returning to the Faith of his childhood. I highly recommend reading “The Lord loves a good game” and then going on to Dan Savage’s poignant NPR appearance, either the transcript or the audio. Those links are the only ones necessary. “Some self-identified Christians responding to this activist’s April 12 [2012] outburst have been of a certain fundamentalist variety. For example: ‘Soon you shall be in hell-fire for not receiving the only payment possible for your sins – the shed Blood of Jesus.’ Catholics, ideally, have a greater awareness not only of our universal sinfulness but the universal call to holiness.” And as I went on to say in “Abundant life,” no point scored in the culture wars is worth obscuring the universal invitation to salvation in Jesus Christ.

  • http://rayontremblant.wordpress.com Robert

    And I’m sure if Steve changed the title of his blog to “SSA, Catholic, and Feeling Fine, Thanks”, it would get tons of hits from non-believers looking for answers because, y’know, they all have a Faithful Conservative Catholic[TM] lexicon like a boss.