I rarely recommend subscribing to RSS feeds, because I know what it’s like to get enough email, but I am going to urge you to subscribe to Theologian (and Patheos columnist) Tim Muldoon — at least over the summer — as he continues to plumb the theological depths in consideration of gay marriage.
He started out wondering if Christianity was having a Gamaliel moment on the matter.
This week, he thinks about what does true violence to the spirit, and whether “facsimiles of love” play into that:
My thesis is that the Church at its best today does cause pain, but does not do violence. It is the pain of the surgeon excising a tumor, or setting a bone, or cauterizing a wound. It is the pain of a mother sending her daughter to rehab, or a father wrestling the car keys from his drunken son’s hands. It is the pain of women doing an intervention with their addicted friend, the pain of a man confronting his adulterous friend with the truth of how he is hurting his wife. It is the pain of Jesus telling his disciples “I have come to bring not peace but the sword” (Mt. 10:34), mindful that truth unmasks evil and causes the implicated to lash out with anger.
It is possible to name violence only when one has an understanding of the good. The spiritually mature person will take the role of one who causes pain when he understands that such pain is necessary for growth. The mystic Saint John of the Cross wrote of this pain:
Why, since you wounded
this heart, don’t you heal it?
Yet the figure in his poem, a bride awaiting her bridegroom (echoing the Song of Songs), understands on some level that the pain is necessary:
the sickness of love
is not cured
except by your very presence and image.
It is the pain of love; or rather, the pain caused when one loses something she believes to be love. One feels a wretched absence, a vacuum. Hearing “no” from the Church can feel like a kind of violence, especially in matters of sex which seem to be about love. Yet love can flourish only when one freely chooses to remove facsimiles of love. One must undergo the pain of absence, the pain of the hollow ground before the new seed is planted.
I think we’re in for a remarkable summer of writing from Tim.
And if that’s a bit heavy for you, perhaps pick up the RSS feed of Pat McNamara, as well. His historical looks at American Catholics are always uplifting, inspiring and refreshing!
It’s like a one-two punch, every Tuesday!