I am “THE MOMMA BEAR of New Homophiles!” – UPDATED

“I am the MommaBear!”

I’m not even sure what that means, but I find being called “perhaps the Momma Bear of the New Homophiles” alternately hilarious, and intriguing. Note, as author Austin Ruse writes in his very interesting piece at Crisis, the cushioning use of “perhaps” which Ruse himself calls “a columnist’s way of taking something off the fastball but throwing a strike nonetheless.”

Well, I don’t mind it.

My MommaBearishness stems from my willingness over the past few years to publicly think through issues of homosexuality and church teaching. I did a little bit of that at Crisis, when it first transitioned into Inside Catholic, but now I do most of it at First Things, because I figure, hey, if one is going to ponder, do it in public, already, so whatever evolution occurs may be tracked and people can know you’re not jumping on or off a bandwagon simply because you’re a coward or your poll numbers demand it.

Not only am I the apparent Mommabear of the Movement, but our own dear Eve Tushnet “may be the progenitor of the New Homophiles,” writes Ruse.

She is named Eve, after all.

So, here is what Ruse is about:

They are the New Homophiles†† and they accept the Church’s teaching that sexual activity can only occur between married men and women. They oppose a redefinition of marriage to include anyone else. They are fine, if that is the right word, with living celibate lives. They do not want to stop being gay; they don’t believe they can or even should. They believe God made them gay so they want to be known as gay and they want the Church to accept them on those terms. And they believe being gay is part of God’s plan and vocation for them.

They believe the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and certainly the way it is often talked about by Christians is highly limiting, often insulting, hardly ever welcoming, and in desperate need of development. They are out to change that with their lives and with their writing.

Eve Tushnet. . . eccentric and often brilliant daughter of a non-observant Jewish Georgetown law professor and a Unitarian legal activist, Tushnet grew up in Washington DC and knew herself to be gay from a young age. . .She told New York Times columnist Mark Oppenheimer that the Catholics she met at [Yale's] Party of the Right taught that the presence of sin does not “mean you are bad” but that “It means you have a chance to come back and repent and be saved.”

Tushnet is out, proud, celibate, and a Catholic faithful to the Magisterium. Tushnet says she is in love with the Church, its “beauty and sensual glamour.” She loves the Church’s “insistence that seemingly irreconcilable needs could both be met in God’s overwhelming love: justice and mercy, reason and mystery, a savior who is fully God and also fully human.” Tushnet is a true believer but she also speaks fondly in remembrance of her own lesbian experiences. All this is enough to give faithful Catholics vertigo.

Well, but it needn’t, really. As a faithful Catholic, myself, it seems to me that we are still allowed to wonder about things, because in wondering, we find God. I may be a cradle Catholic, but I have wondered my way into loving Christ and his Church and (here let me once again offer you the lectio phrase of my life) as Saint Gregory of Nyssa said, “ideas create idols; only wonder leads to knowing.”

One prominent beauty of the Catholic church is her ability to apply reason throughout the faith, and faith to the world’s reason. She has, over 2000 years, grown in her own understanding and wisdom through the open wondering of her scholars and saints and even her untutored doctors like Catherine of Siena and Therese of Liseiux, all of whom understood this core, fundamental truth: God is extant within the smallest atom, and yet bigger and more incomprehensible than our largest imaginings, and hence, to be wondered at (and about) for all of our lifetimes; the invitation God gives us in all of his mystery, is to keep wondering; the invite is never to stop.

This is the most exciting part of the life of faith: the wondering. It leads to a continual rediscovery of Christ.

And so, yes, let us wonder about homosexual persons and transgendered persons; let us ponder the mysteries of intrinsic disorder, and of rights and understandings, of justice and of mercy, and obedience and tolerance and love. These are all depth-plumbers; if we want to address them, sliding along the shallow edges of the lake won’t get us there. We should never be afraid to wonder, because the ability to do so is a fundamental gift and God-spark. And we should not be afraid to wonder out-loud, either, no matter how dysfunctionally intolerant and fearful of “other thoughts” our society is becoming. Speak a word in good faith, let others receive it in good faith, if they can, and then thrash it out. In that way, there is no shame in being wrong, and no triumph to being right.

Of MommaBear Ruse writes:

Her brother was gay and died from AIDs [sic]

In fact, and by co-incidence, I wrote about his death for Crisis, and they kindly gave permission for me to reprint that piece in this collection of essays, just published.

Scalia usually treads lightly but surely on the question of homosexuality. . .She began one provocative column at First Things quoting gay playwright Larry Kramer who told a television audience at the Tony Awards in 2011 that gays “are a very special people, an exceptional people, and that our day will come.” Scalia answered, “… perhaps Kramer is right. Perhaps homosexuals are in fact ‘special and exceptional others,’ whose distinctions are meant to be noted. Perhaps they are a ‘necessary other’ created and called to play a specific role in our shared humanity.” . . .

Gay exceptionalism and charism are a regular theme for the New Homophiles.

For whatever reason — I don’t know Crisis’ policies any more — Ruse includes no links in his piece, and that prevents people from being able to link through and read a writer’s complete thought. On this particular piece he is citing, I hope you will read all of my wondering in full, for yourself.

Riding this thing into the corral, Ruse continues:

What they want more than anything is a development of doctrine.

He is right, there. I’ve myself been pondering the need for an exploration of doctrine and theology. I’ve long argued against forcing churches into performing gay marriages, both in light of the first amendment, and also of Matthew 19:3-12, but I am still allowing myself to wonder on the issue. I’m not yet ready, however, to share my most recent thoughts. Mommabear needs to ruminate for a while, yet.

Ruse ends well, because the allure of wondering, when allowed, is just too irresistable:

The gauntlet they are throwing down is for themselves and for us. For them it is to live chastely, to have intimate nonsexual friendships that will never cross the line.

For us it is to accept them as they are and not believe they must be changed. We may hold that their homosexuality is an Augustinian thorn as many of them do. Similarly we may even hold that it can be a kind of sickle cell anemia, a malady that also comes with benefits, as one of them wrote. But we may not hold that there is anything really wrong with their orientation.

The conversation is fascinating and I must admit I started out annoyed. After all, there are good men and women trying to be faithful but who reject the gay identity, and others who are trying to deal with the underlying psychological genesis of unwanted same-sex attraction, a process the New Homophiles largely dismiss. It will be hard for many of us to believe the Church ever could develop to the extent wanted by this school of writers and thinkers. From a disorder to a gift is a long long way to go.

The New Homophiles are not without their gay critics. In two weeks I will write about them.

I look forward to reading about them, but perhaps just reading the comments section over there will do. One friend wrote me that they were tempting him “to the sin of despair.”

Don’t despair. Let it all boil up. Something good will emerge.

I know this is a long post. Thanks for um…bearing with me.

UPDATE 1:
I may write a follow-up piece
to this another time, but for today there are rainbow cookies to bake, and lots of them, so let me simply point out that I have supplied you with a plethora of links so that you may — if you’re really interested in doing more than kvetching at me — better understand where I am coming from. And for heaven’s sake, before you throw Matthew 19 at me, why not read the text of this post wherein I myself site Matthew 19! Be good readers and remember the first rule of a good debate: you have to be able to repeat the other person’s argument back to them, to their satisfaction, and then build from there. In case it’s not clear, I fully accept and endorse the church’s teaching, but I don’t think it’s something that can be declared cavalierly. Is there room, theologically and scripturally, for doctrine to develop? Well, as scripture tells us, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

UPDATE II:
Glenn Reynolds has linked over at Instapundit
so I expect the combox will be hopping. WARNING: Be respectful of me, yourselves and others. It’s too close to Christmas for fighting and not only will I not do it, I’ll delete any aggressive or bullying comments. If you’re that angry, offer it up and avail yourself of these gorgeous meditations on the O Antiphons, which Joanne McPortland is offering us, on these nights of joyful anticipation — the thrill of hope. They are remarkably good, and the next one will come for Vespers, tonight. More info on these antiphons comes to us from the lovely Benedictine Nuns, of Heresfordshire, UK.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Pat

    Thank you! Very thought provoking. I am heterosexual. An issue I would like to see explored more is real life chastity- in practice. This would cover every “orientation”. I am divorced and in full communion with Christ’s Church.

  • BadMF

    It doesn’t seem like a huge leap from a cross to a blessing. A cross is supposed to be a blessing, isn’t it?

  • Pat

    I want to add to my earlier comment. I happen to be a recovering addict/ alcoholic. I believe that I was born with this “disorder”. I still am inclined to ” act” on this urge yet when I do I can not stop. I now choose recovery which is complete abstinance from all alcohol and drugs. It is God ‘s grace that enables me to stay sober. I do not resent at all any person who can drink alcohol without problems. I simply can not. I have a “disorder” or malady if you will. There seems to be some parallel here with the disorder of homosexuality as it relates to Catholic teaching. Do you have any thoughts on this? Thanks again

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Kudos, you have been more supportive than most on gay issues. But by this definition, I don’t exactly see what makes you so special:

    “They are the New Homophiles†† and they accept the Church’s teaching that sexual activity can only occur between married men and women. They oppose a redefinition of marriage to include anyone else. They are fine, if that is the right word, with living celibate lives. They do not want to stop being gay; they don’t believe they can or even should.”
    I would say that the majority of Catholics would support that statement. Perhaps even a super majority.
    By the way, I think Eve Tushnet is brilliant on almost every subject she writes on, and she has a huge range of subjects. Too bad she doesn’t take comments on her blog.

  • Jonenred

    since when is the church not accepting of gays? They are not accepting of sin, which they shouldn’t be.

    Patheos is terrible.

  • Nordog6561

    Sure, through supernatural grace we a blessed in our sufferings.

    But marching to declare pride in sexual hedonism that one denies is a sin is hardly taking up a cross.

    As Manny writes above, the description of the New Homophiles is in no way problematic for a Catholic, though I must say I reject the name even if I agree with the definition.

    Speaking of names, the MomaBear title seems a bit unfortunate to me given the use of “Bear” to describe one of the many sub-cultures in the gay cosmos.

  • FW Ken

    To say that God created someone with same-sex attractions as a primary experience is without foundation. A classic understanding of the situation is really summed up in the words of a friend of mine: we live in a dark and fallen world. That’s all of us living in this world. Me, you, and everyone else. There is no one cross more “special”.than another. There is no aspect of the Fall worse than any other. Truly, those who bear their cross – their piece of our fallen humanity – may eventually see it become a blessing to others. But a cross it remains: brokenness it remains.

  • buildamoat

    Why wouldn’t you bless someone?

  • Rebecca Duncan

    Yep, I have to agree with you there…Patheos is terrible. This is dreck. What is there to wonder about gay marriage? It is an oxymoron, end of story. As for ‘gay’ people, they should be celibate and try to overcome their disordered desire just like the rest of us. They aren’t anymore ‘special’ than anyone else trying to overcome any sin.

  • Brian

    I am sorely tempted to angrily call out Ruse on certain matters, but I shouldn’t, not so late into Advent. I should focus on trying to find the presence of God and preparing to receive Christ with joy.

  • Chuck Pelto

    TO: Elizabeth Scalia, et al.
    RE: Eunuchs, Anyone?

    Some are born eunuchs. Some are made eunuchs. Others make eunuchs of themselves.

    The question becomes, for the latter group, can they keep being such?

    If they can’t….three guesses…..first two don’t count.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a Censor - over each other. -- Thomas Jefferson]

  • SteveP

    I do not understand Elizabeth. Why must I consider you a sister in Christ but Eve Tushnet an exceptional, celibate, and gay sister in Christ?

  • LuigiD

    What you seem to be aiming at is something that to me, and I suspect most heterosexuals, is a difficult circle to square. When a person identifies himself/herself as gay, in the vast majority of instances (correct me if I’m wrong) they are telling you, not only are they ‘different’ in how they view the world, often more creatively, more sensitively than straights, examples of which abound throughout history, but they’re also telling you they engage in homosexual relations, just as a heterosexual person, in the vast universe of such people engage in heterosexual relations.
    The term ‘celibate gay’ seems to most heterosexuals to be an oxymoron (why bring up the word ‘gay’, I don’t need to know nor do I care you’re ‘gay’ if you don’t physically act on it), even though there are many ‘celibate straights’ we could compare them to, but a celibate straight can morally engage in their ‘preferred human inclination’ to sexual activity with a spouse of the opposite sex, while a celibate gay, can’t morally (assuming one is a traditional Christian/Jew/Muslim who accepts the teachings of Christ/Moses/Mohammed) engage in his/her ‘preferred human inclination’ toward sexual activity.
    So what I’m getting at is this: calling oneself ‘gay’ perhaps should mean more than just physically attracted to the same sex, but in reality, for most gays it means first you are declaring yourself ready, willing and able to engage in gay sexual relations. It’s definitional.
    Maybe what’s needed is a single word to describe a celibate gay to clearly differentiate celibate from non-celibate. To me and to many it’s a mystery why God ‘makes people gay’ but insists they be celibate. The world would be much the less rich culturally if there were no gays, but it surely must be painful for a gay person who accepts the teachings of Christ, Moses or Mohammed to live as a celibate, a constraint inapplicable to most of us.

  • theBuckWheat

    It amazes me that so many people demand the right to tell God that He is wrong when He declares something to be sin.

  • teapartydoc

    Wonder or wander?

  • Spade

    Still wondering if churches should be forced to perform gay marriages?

    Figured that one would be a no brainer unless you are trying to figure out a way to excuse evil .

  • Sherry

    We’re supposed to love those around us, irrespective of the crosses they bear, we’re supposed to treat those around us with dignity, irrespective of their preferences and predispositions, because that is how we will be known as followers of Christ. I do not think a separate or distinct label adds to this, I think it detracts. I love my friends who have SSA not because of or in spite of their SSA, but because I love them and call them friends. Likewise, I love my son who has Downs not because he has Downs or in spite of his Downs, but because he is my son. To put the condition/attribute/preference/ is to state a parameter that precedes the why of showing love, and to me, to be Catholic, is to love each person for being, not for what they do or don’t do or can or can’t do.

  • Nordog6561

    Ken, good points.

    There is a notion afoot that basically says, “If I have been this way as long as I can remember then I was born this way. If I was born this way then God made me this way. If God made me this way then it is God’s will and a good thing of which to be proud.”

    This approach completely misunderstands, or it totally ignorant of, both the created and fallen nature of the Judeo-Christian understanding, as well as the Aristotelian notion of nature.
    Being born with a certain thing in no way signifies that the thing in question is a good thing.

  • MeanLizzie

    Are you a bad reader? I have argued since 2006 that churches were at risk and must never be forced to do anything that goes against their teachings and consciences. In fact, I have argued since back then that churches should get out of the marriage certifying business and stick to the marriage sanctifying part, largely to protect themselves. If you’re not going to actually read my thoughts don’t bother commenting here. See my update on being able to repeat a persons argument back to them before dropping cynical, easy snark.

  • MeanLizzie

    Now this is a worthwhile discussion. There was a time (and it was while I was growing up, where there were two DS kids on our block, so I know it personally) when people with DS were not educated in the faith, were not catechized, were not encouraged to understand the faith or receive communion. They were very much treated like second class members of the church — mistakes, not part of God’s plan. Things are very different now, thank God. As catechetical thought was developing for special needs Catholics, they were discussed and seen as “special needs” Catholics before they finally became, simply, “Catholics.”

    These ssa brothers and sisters of ours are living obedient, faithful lives within the church, but for some — and you can see them in these comboxes and over at Crisis too — it doesn’t seem enough for them to be obedient; they must hate their homosexuality, too, and work to change it, or they are second class members of the church. Does that seem right to you? “Be obedient but just shut up about it and don’t tell us what you’re learning from obedience, and don’t tell us what celibacy is teaching you and for God’s sake DON’T tell us that you are sometimes profoundly lonely and feel left aside.

    Doesn’t seem right to me. I would be as interested to hear someone tell me his experiences of being a Catholic w/DS, as I am to hear from the “new homophiles.” Some folks cannot even allow themselves to wrap their minds around the idea that homosexuals might be “born that way” even though Christ Jesus seems to imply as much when he says in Matthew 19, “there are eunuchs who are born thus, from their mother’s wombs.” He goes on to make it clear that marriage is not for them. I’d write more but I really do have cookies to get going with and other work to do. Perhaps I will flesh all of that out in my follow up post.

  • Inge Loots

    So, I tend to agree with Elizabeth here. I am gay. So now I’m a ‘new homophile’ gay? *laughs out loud*

    I agree with Pat on the parallel he makes with alcoholism. There’s another parallel to be made: we humans are not made to be faithful to one spouse, especially men. And there are good evolutionary reasons for it. Despite this fact, society still thinks negatively about adultery.
    Pat doesn’t drink because he chooses not to. I am not in a gay relationship because I choose not to be in one. Married couples choose a monogamous relationship, despite the fact it’s unnatural. Humans are not naturally monogamous, that’s why polygamy and adultery exist.

    So why is it normal to act against ones ‘nature’ and make a good choice in one situation and why is the other situation suddenly ‘homophobic’. I know why. Because it’s not us who are homophobes, but the people who advocate ‘gay marriage’.

    They want to pretend gay relationships are exactly the same as straight relationships, which they are not, simply for the reason that men and women are different, and interact with each other in a different way. Every standard psychology textbook will tell you that. It’s why we make separate groups of males and females in research, because we know they behave differently.

    In reality there’s nothing ‘tolerant’ about rooting for ‘gay marriage’. Gays are just being pushed into a pseudo-heterosexual mold. Yes, it’s okay to be gay and have a relationship with another gay person, but you have to structure that relationship according to the heterosexual model. And that heterosexual -monogamous- model is unnatural, too.

  • Jem

    We are all subject to various and sundry temptations. Whether it be temptations of lust (with the same or opposite sex), temptations to gluttony, temptations to pride, etc. The Enemy finds the temptation to which each of us is most susceptible, and uses that as a tool to separate us from God. Luckily, our Lord doesn’t demand perfection, but a sincere attempt to avoid sin and true contrition when we fail in our avoidance.

    For me to point a condemning finger at a person with homosexual attractions and condemn him or her, even though that person is trying their best to fight such a temptation of the flesh, is not Christlike. I am not physically attracted to those of my own gender, but there are many other sins that I find very tempting indeed. I would hope others wouldn’t condemn me because I am sometimes prideful or sometimes eat too many sweets. I recognize these faults, pray for strength, and do my best every day to fight them. That is all God asks, that we do our best. With the exception of Jesus and Mary, every major character in the Bible is seriously flawed in some way or another, as they are all humans with the stain of original sin and the burden of concupiscence. For most of us, the spiritual life involves an attempt to avoid sin, and when we fail to do so, our attempt to recover from our errors. Luckily our God is gracious.

    I think of myself as a humanophile, in that I am called and commanded to love all men and women. As a subset of humanity, homosexuals fall into that category, and I do my best to love them as much as I possibly can.

  • BadMF

    These faithful, celibate Catholics and their supporters are not celebrating sexual hedonism. They are affirming persons with SSA’s personhood. They are “out” and now we have the chance to know them as people with SSA, or gay as they may choose to be known. If we care about all people, it is worth the effort to puzzle this out, especially with so much diabolical deception proclaiming exactly the wrong answer. All of it seems to be leading to deeper truths about the nature of sex, love and communion. But we won’t learn anything if we just shut down the conversation at “Everyone has crosses to bear. Deal with it and shut up.” We need to be curious about these big questions, while clinging to what we know through the Faith.

    The cross that I refer to is the attraction and temptations that go along with SSA. Being marked as “other” and not being completely accepted by any group in society (or it not being felt. Catholics proclaim acceptance, but really, in practice, with the exception of religious orders, we are pretty terrible in hospitality overall) is a cross.

  • BadMF

    We don’t give each other crosses intentionally, or we shouldn’t anyway.

    I take blessing in that manner to be something different.

    A cross that God gives us is a blessing. Sometimes we can see the benefit, other times we have to just trust that the benefit is there for us, or someone else

  • DixieYankee

    Gay exceptionalism seems to just be exceptional narcissism (and anyone, not just gays, can suffer from it). The radical call of Christianity is to exceptional altruism Perhaps what is needed is a deeper “theology” of the dedicated single life. Thinking here of what Archbishop Robert Carlson calls the “Generous Single Life.” He believes, “the dedicated single life is a real vocation” [http://archstl.org/archstl/post/vocation-dedicated-single-life-lead]. And who is the exceptional model of exceptional altruism? The Blessed Mother always present and always working without being noticed.
    As sort of an aside but pertinent I think, one of my all time favorite lines from the Anchoress comes from her rant about why she hates Thanksgiving. She freely admits she doesn’t understand “hospitality.” So telling about the place of brokeness from which she comes and why exceptional narcissism would be enticing.
    She writes,”I married into a very good, very loving Italian family, where no one wants to play the “let’s say what we’re thankful for” game because it strikes them as vulgar..”
    That game IS vulgar. The very good, very loving exceptional Christians know it’s not about them.

  • Inge Loots

    Everybody in the church is called to be chaste, regardless of sexual orientation. Not everybody is called to be a celibate, it’s my strong opinion that we shouldn’t force people in celibacy who aren’t ready for it. All it does is damage people and open the doors for scandal.

    I am not special, I agree. The the only difference between my sexual orientation and yours is that mine is taboo and yours is not. The Church teaches that having the orientation isn’t a sin. Engaging in unchaste behavior is. Unfortunately, not every Catholic in the pew follows this teaching of the Church and lumps person and behavior together: being gay equals being sinful and the only thing they can do is to get rid of their orientation, making them feel worthless, second rate Catholics. They never can become ‘real’ Catholics because of their sexual orientation alone whether they are celibate or not. I’ve been told by Christians I will never make it to heaven because I’m gay. That’s super hurtful to say to someone who has a condition he or she didn’t ask for.

    People pat me on the head, for being a ‘good gay Catholic’ because I happen to have the gift of celibacy. I happen to like being celibate, I probably would have been a celibate too, were I heterosexual.

    But it’s not that easy for everyone. It’s a really difficult struggle for others. Supporting them in their struggle is much more helpful than telling them to ‘shut up and overcome their sinful desires’.

    The problem is that is hard. It’s really hard to walk next to someone, like Simon of Cyrene did, and help them carry their cross. Most people like it better to stand at the sidelines, telling other people what to do, because it’s easier.

  • Jum1801

    What is the big deal? I see nothing at all “new” in the so-called discovery of the “new homophiles”. I am a culturally and politically conservative evangelical Protestant, but the Ruse article pretty much describes the attitude which I and virtually every similarly conservative-minded Christian I know have had about homosexuals for decades. Perhaps it has something to do with being form the South, where, at least in my family and community and in my experience, we all knew who was gay but made no big deal about it. But gays were expected to “keep their business off the street”…as was anyone else.

    As far as doctrine went, we were taugth, and I still firmly believe, that marriage was ordained of God and was intended to be between a man and a woman; and that chastity outside of marriage was expected of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. That is the standard expected of everyone, regardless of whether we fail to meet it from time to time. Unchastity is like any other sin: forbidden, but forgivable. It is the open glorying in clearly sinful behavior that causes problems within the Christian community.

    The Christians I know make no judgment about homosexuality or homosexuals – only homosexual behavior, just as they would heterosexual behavior out of wedlock. So I see nothing new or notable about the supposedly “new homophiles”.

  • BadMF

    I think the new part is that there are a growing number of faithful, celibate Christians with SSA who are willing to talk about being gay, celibate, and faithful.

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

    **** In case it’s not clear, I fully accept and endorse the church’s teaching, but I don’t think it’s something that can be declared cavalierly. Is there room, theologically and scripturally, for doctrine to develop? Well, as scripture tells us, it doesn’t hurt to ask. ****
    I suppose that what I’m having difficulty understanding or figuring out is what kind of doctrinal development might one have in mind regarding homosexuality?
    I have seen here, for example, at the Patheos Catholic channel, what might appear to be an openness to “gay couplehood”, labeled as “chaste” so long as said couple does not act out sexually.
    Is this one aspect of the questioning you may have in mind? I ask because, in my research of this particular issue, I think it’s abundantly clear that the Magisterium *already* teaches against any proposed concept of the “chaste gay couple”. What are your thoughts (or readers’ thoughts) on this point?

  • Sherry

    I don’t think it is a case of saying “Shut up and suffer and be obedient.” I think, baseline in all lives of faith, is obedience. The cross of obedience need not be silence, but it should not be the sole means by which we define someone. Defining someone by their addiction/preference/condition is not dealing with the whole person. We are more than our IQ, our height, our marital status and our sexual preferences. We were loved into being back before we had any of those, back when we were merely a soul growing a fuller functioning body in our mother’s womb.

    Mary, virgin mother, she does not clout us over the head with her gift, her purity, her freedom from sin. She simply is, and invites us to hold her hands, to let her walk with us. So again, homophiles somehow indicates a singling out, which I’m not sure doesn’t add to confusion by seeming to sanction sinful action while seeking to reach out to those thrashing out a Catholic life who live chastely. I would argue we are all called to live chastely, be us married, single or ordained, it is the manifestation of that chastity that differs.

    The deep pain of being forever single, the deep pain of being forever alone, the deep pain even within marriage sometimes, of being removed from family and the familiar, or of having one’s life orchestrated differently than one planned or hoped, these also are exquisitely hard realities born in part out of obedience to the teachings of our faith to live chastely. Not a one of the choices made is without pain or a cross which must be borne. All vocations embraced earnestly lead to a deeper fuller relationship with Christ, but it is a process we do not teach well, in part because we don’t quite understand it in our own lives until we are well in.

    We have the problem of language. Our society likes explosions, accusations and executions of character via public fiat. Ergo, someone who quotes Saint Paul in discussing sexual sins of a particular type becomes an instant hater regardless of context and without any need to investigate the reality of that human being or think critically about what is and is not said. How do we minister to all people and educate them about the beauty of chastity in a society which utterly disdains such a virtue and openly celebrates those who are not? How do we minister to those who seek to live a Catholic life integrating their whole selves into the practice of it, not compartmentalizing a single section of it away How do we find them, how do we attract them, and what do we teach them? What can we show of beauty about this reality, our imaginations are not schooled in this sort of thinking, and so it will take time to properly catechize even those who wish to reach out and minister.

    For myself, I’ve never subscribed to the theory that we cannot comprehend the depth of pain another person experiences, for we are made in God’s image, and thus can partake in the understanding of the pain another part of creation undergoes, indeed, we can feel great pain because another suffers. I think reteaching people that 1) there is truth 2) it is knowable and 3) capable of being shared is a starting point. Then we have to move on to getting everyone to see that everyone who comes to mass and everyone who doesn’t, is carrying an invisible cross, one that reveals their deepest pains, one which when they fixate on it absent faith, nearly shatters their capacity to keep going. Then we teach everyone to be a Simon or a Veronica. Only by treating each human being as fully human, meaning broken but whole, sacred but fallen, limited in capacity, infinitely loveable, will we aid in building up the kingdom of Heaven, and such work is not exclusive of any population.

    Salvation of our own souls depends upon living out that life even when it might be deemed reasonable to react otherwise.

    As to the other point, about Catholicism with DS,
    my son is still young. He does not yet fully feel his “otherness,” and yet sometime I think he senses it, as his younger sister speaks, and he sees his older siblings go about freely in a way he cannot. At the moment, he can put his hands together and say Amen, and he prays when we pray, but catechism, true teaching about the faith in a formalized setting is still years away and it may not be ever, if he continues to stay as young as his actions and behaviors sometimes indicate. Sometimes he senses his own limitations, his cross. Sometimes, he shows through his cross, like when he sings full throated at mass, that he gets more of what we are to do in the presence of Heaven than we do.

    Going to go help my kids with the cookies too.

  • Mark Noonan

    Part of this would stem, I think, from the fact that probably every Christian numbers homosexuals and lesbians among friends and family. We do want to love, even (and especially) those who are doing wrong, remembering all the wrong we’ve done and how we’ve still received mercy. But there is a danger here – and it is tied up in the fact that all of us do know homosexuals: regardless of whether one is born gay, or not, the moral collapse of our society has encouraged people to step away from traditional morality. If gay is a born condition, then it is a certainty that in the past plenty of people who has SSA never acted upon it – and not just because of fear, but because it just wasn’t on the radar. If you are not exposed to practices then you are highly unlikely to engage in them, regardless of whatever odd feelings might come over a person.

    Expressing tolerance and love for those among us who are gay is a good and Godly thing to do, but we have to be careful that while we are applauding those homosexuals who obey their call to chastity that we are not, in the process, providing yet more societal approval for a sort of activity which is not in the best interests of the individual or of society.

  • buildamoat

    I misinterpreted your statement. Thanks for the response!

  • Christine

    Actually, man is indeed created for one woman (if he is called to marriage), because man has a higher calling as created in the image of God. The “natural” tendency toward adultery is just that–natural, human, and sinful. Man also has the “natural” tendency to be selfish, to lie when it serves him, to over-eat, etc. That doesn’t mean that it is at all a good thing, or what we are called to be.

  • Christine

    It’s a cross to be sexually attracted to children. Does that mean society should be embracing and affirming pedophiles and their struggles? Or should pedophiles realize that their desires are grossly disordered, that they are attracted to perversity, and should fight to reject all such desires when they surface?

    And is it really any benefit to the pedophile or to society to explore in-depth and analyze and openly discuss his attraction to perversity? Maybe it’s something he can discuss privately with a priest or psychologist, to get to the root of the disorder (and that is just what it is–a disorder)–but why does everyone else need to “wonder” about it and “explore” it and talk about it?

  • Alex

    Where does it teach that?

  • Inge Loots

    Ah, so that’s why Abraham etc. had multiple wives? Because Abraham was created for one woman? ;)

    In all seriousness. I was referring to the crowd who wants ‘equal rights’ and therefore advocates ‘gay marriage’. That crowd doesn’t care if man was or wasn’t created for one woman, because they clearly don’t believe in that. You can talk to them in Church language all you want, but it won’t bring you any closer.

    Instead of doing that, I point out flaws and inconsistencies in their own claims. They claim gay marriage and gay sexual behavior are ‘natural’ because it happens in nature. They fail to mention that humans aren’t ‘naturally’ monogamous. They are negative towards adultery. So I usually tell them to be consistent: either admit that if you want to do your ‘but it’s natural’ thing, that you have to go all the way and allow your spouse to cheat on you, because that’s ‘natural behavior’. Or if you don’t want that, be consistent and admit that there’s nothing wrong with resisting ‘natural desires’ and leave me alone. ;)

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

    One can start with CCC 2337: ****”Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift. “****
    To identify as a “gay couple” (in contrast to or as opposed to a “straight couple”) cannot equate to “chastity” because doing so is an *unsuccessful* integration of sexuality within the human person. Also, the “integrality of the gift” (as in “mutual gift of a man and a woman) is lost in “gay couplehood.”

  • james

    Perhaps I don’t have the sense of this quite right, but it seems as though what is proposed is that homosexual activity obscures and corrupts an important type of relationship, and that this bears investigating. If that’s the meaning, then it isn’t unique–pedophilia more dramatically obscures and corrupts an adult/child relationship, and the everyday roving eye does the same for… some kind of relationship between men and women. (I’ll no doubt be lectured that man is polygamous because of evolutionary pressures, but it doesn’t feel so simple from the inside. The first motions of the mind seem more about pride than sex.)
    I suspect that we will get more insight from outside our culture, whether that is from other places or other eras. Our language shapes our dialog, and that shapes our analysis. So pick a place or time: find how they describe relationships, and see what doesn’t fit in our models.

  • BadMF

    We need to embrace everyone AND we need to affirm them in rejecting temptation, of all kinds. That is what loving your neighbor means, isn’t it?

    I’m not suggesting the pathology of the attraction is the sole subject, but how it might shed light on bigger questions that affect us all. What is masculinity? What is femininity? How is the combination of male and female different, beyond physicality? What does communion with another person mean?  How and to what level can it be experienced through friendship?  What is the lived difference between chastity and mere celibacy? How is chastity a positive virtue? Why is attraction so wrapped up in a person’s identity? Is it all cultural conditioning? How can family life affect SSA and what does this mean about motherhood and fatherhood? How can we better comfort the lonely? How can single persons be well integrated into Church life? What particular roles might they be able to fill?  How can we better reach and evangelize gays? What are some of the social and physical needs they have that the Church can help with?  How do you radically depend on Jesus to help resist temptations that are physical, emotional, and spiritual? What does that look like in a practical sense?  

    Though SSA is a burden, those who have it, and practice the Faith are in a unique position to help supply partial answers to some aspects of these questions, and to better questions posed by those more focused on these topics than me. The Faith provides the fence that gives us the freedom to wonder about these things. Not everyone is meant to ponder these things. God is quite imaginative and has a diverse range of callings for people. It is shortsighted to think there is no benefit to anyone pondering these things though, especially when most of the first world is grappling with the meaning of sex and suffering from its abuse.

  • Rebecca Duncan

    My point was not that ‘gay’ people should be treated differently. My point is that they should be treated the same as anyone else because we are all sinners. No one should be told their sin is ‘special’ either in a positive way or a negative way. That is what causes harm. Everyone is called to chastity no matter what kind of sexual desires they may have. As for forcing people, I never said that. It is up to each person to decide if they are Catholic or not.

  • Thomas R

    I’m embarrassed to admit one of the commenters there brought up something in the Catechism I didn’t really know and wasn’t sure how to respond to

    “The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel,the sin of the Sodomites, the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan injustice to the wage earner.”

    Are homosexuals and those unjust to wage earners to be smited by God? Does “sin of the Sodomites” mean homosexuality generally or demanding/raping predatory sodomy?

    I mean I believe homosexual sin is a grave sin, but I guess from Corinthians and others I thought of it as akin to other unnatural sexual sins. (Contraception, Sterilization, Heterosexual sodomy outside marriage, etc) Is it really something that must be avenged? And if so what does that mean?

  • Thomas R

    I’ve seen things in Jewish tradition that indicate “eunuchs born from birth” means those with hormonal or sex-chromosome type conditions that mean they don’t enter puberty or do not do so normally. (People like singer Jimmy Scott, maybe)

  • Hilary

    I’m absolutely with Ruse. The problem is that you and those Ruse has termed the “new homophiles” don’t see anything really deeply problematic with the temptation to homosexual acts. It’s just “different.” You would have a little more grounding here if you grappled, not just with some vocabulary and the lives of your friends and family members, but with what’s been revealed about human nature through Genesis and Judeo Christian tradition. Male – female. There are gradations and shadings, but just because they exist and *seem* deeply rooted doesn’t mean they are morally neutral or “the way it’s supposed to be.” The disease model is not outmoded. Sorry.

    A man can’t properly relate to women? Isn’t drawn to women as a completion of himself? Is drawn to men as a completion of himself? *That’s a problem. It’s an expression of a disordered attraction. It’s not a beautiful addition to the tapestry of life It’s sad (albeit mysterious) and tragic. It’s a disability. It’s disordered because it is an obstacle to the individual’s ability to see and relate to the world properly.

    Elizabeth, if homosexuality is what you say it is – a difference that may be less than ideal, but is still rooted, somehow, in God’s will for creation – then God is either a trickster or a bastard, because that’s not the impression he’s given the human race for a few thousand years. I wish you would understand that your angle on this is *all* about emotion and personal experience. Because honestly, if someone else has the opposite emotion and personal experience, and you are both standing, trying to figure out which is the “truth” -w here does that leave you? Just with your emotions and experiences.

    What Ruse is getting at and probing is the question of whether you and the others he mentions are really being totally honest about your views. If you really believe that the gay couples with whom you are friends are in relationships that are spiritually, morally, and anthropologically identical to that of a man and a woman, that their male on male or female on female mutual masturbation, anal and oral sex is a valid spiritual expression of Genesis – “the two shall be one flesh” and if you think that their yearning for completion in each other is a spiritually healthy and integrated expression of the yearning for communion expressed in Genesis and fulfilled by God’s creation of male and female…just SAY SO.

    And if you think it *might be*…just SAY SO.

  • MeanLizzie

    I’m going to assume that you came here and posted this having read Ruse’s piece (which offered no links to allow ppl to read my thoughts in full) and then didn’t bother reading this post at all, or not closely. Because if you did, you’d never be so ungenerous as to suggest that I have ever said — anywhere — that I declare things to be identical or equal. What I have done is pondered what others have said and allowed myself to wonder, along theological lines, about it. And I have dared to do that wondering outloud. That’s all. Before telling me to just SAY SO, why not read all I’ve written? And Merry Christmas.


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