The Foolish Cruelty of Catholic Conservatives Who Want Gays to Disappear

The Foolish Cruelty of Catholic Conservatives Who Want Gays to Disappear December 23, 2014

Damon Linker on a truly appalling piece that ran in Crisis recently, treating faithful same-sex attracted Catholics who are in full obedience to the Church’s teaching as though they are enemies or fifth columnists or half-breeds. What is *wrong* with with some people? We say we want people to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and then when they seriously attempt to obey him, we *still* make clear that they are not good enough and should be treated with contempt and punished, not for their sins, but for their temptations.

Is it any wonder that many gay people conclude that Christians simply hate them? God bless Eve Tushnet, Joshua Gonnerman and all SSA folk who are trying to be faithful to Jesus and his Holy Church, despite the best efforts some Catholics make to drive them away.

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  • Tom

    A part of me wonders whether a world where gay relationships are allowed and encouraged isn’t better than one where prejudice against gays is rampant. This is not to say that we should support gay marriage or that any belief that homosexual behavior is sinful is necessarily prejudice, just speculation about two bad alternatives which we, as humans do, have vacillated between, always missing God’s middle ground.

    • kenofken

      We have that world in the West now, and it is better.

  • Sasha

    So folks like Tishnet and company are infallible? Their idea beyond criticism? I thought Ruse’s article was fine. The undercurrent of this new thinking is that homosexuality is not disordered and bears great gifts with it. That’s not Catholic teaching. But beyond this, your accusatoriy , straw man rhetoric is rendering you irrelevant for serious people. I wonder if you understand that.

    • chezami

      Nobody said anything about infallibility. What is wrong with you?

    • Clara

      You know Sasha – everyone has gifts – even the imperfect. Think of St Paul, the greatest exponent of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Perfect? Hardly. Holy? Yes.

      • UAWildcatx2

        But were his gifts given *because* he persecuted the Church? Hardly.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          Think of the fictional character Adrian Monk, with his multitude of neuroses. These things make him very, very good at what he does. That doesn’t mean that his OCD is healthy, but it does carry gifts with it.

          (Obviously an imperfect analogy.)

          Perhaps a better one is St. Paul himself, who speaks of the thorn in his flesh. While it is unclear what exactly that is, it is clear that Paul counts it something of a blessing, that he can boast of his weaknesses because they make him strong.

          • D.T. McCameron

            “Paul counts it something of a blessing, that he can boast of his weaknesses because they make him strong.”

            I’m fairly certain it went back to Christ being strong in him because he was weak.

            But your point is a good one. Our crosses are blessings, and allow us to share in Our Lord’s passion and help the salvation of the world.

            Or maybe it is that our crosses are bad, but in God’s grace, they can be turned towards good ends?

    • Balin

      Ruse within the article says “They are 95 percent there when it comes to Church teaching but, as I
      have written before, the last 5 percent is a serious problem on which
      the New Homophiles need to be engaged.” Why is 5% a serious problem and not 95% a time for rejoicing? The 5% is not just a problem, but a “serious problem”. Let’s just put aside the very encouraging 95% and obsess on the 5%.

      Ruse within the combox comments “As I say in the piece, they are 95% of the way there but the final 5% is troubling. Should trouble you, too…” Again noting the wonderful 95% out of 100 but insisting upon dwelling upon the 5%. It is very encouraging that someone scores a 95 out of 100, not troubling. It is Mr Ruse who is troubling.

      • entonces_99

        Oh, come on. I probably agree with 95% of what Martin Luther had to say. Is it somehow “troubling” if I take issue with the 5% where he is wrong?

  • UAWildcatx2

    I’m not so sure that calling their orientation a “gift from God” is in line with Church teaching. They’re not “special” *because* they’re “gay.” Instead, they *are* special precisely because they are God’s creations. The big thing here is that they are living celibate lives, as they should. As also should ever non-married person out there. Perhaps that is something to celebrate. However, the attitude of “the Church is still wrong” smacks of having their cake and eating it too.

    • Andy

      You have to admit there’s something different about a single gay person who has no hope of marriage, compared to an ordinary single person who either chose celibacy, or just hasn’t met the right partner yet.
      I’m not saying I agree with everything that’s been written by this crowd, but it’s clear that this issue is a big deal in the modern world, and they’re not wrong to ask the Church to address it.

      • UAWildcatx2

        If the end goal is helping people with SSA live chaste, celibate lives, then I’m with you completely – it’s an issue that the Church needs to better address. If, however, the end goal is getting the Church to change Her position on SSA, then that’s where I get off. My big issues are the quotes in the article talking about how the Church is wrong on that particular point. I also readily admit that not being party to the interviews, there is the possibility of quotes used out of context.

        • Andy

          I don’t see any quotes in the original article, from any of the Catholics, advocating for a change in church teaching. Looks to me like they are asking for pastoral care. Some of the Protestants appear to want their churches to accept gay relationships. The Catholics appear to be only trying to figure out how to remain chaste.

          • Andy

            Which makes it a pretty clumsy article.

          • UAWildcatx2

            You’re right – there are no direct quotes aside from one saying that the Church is wrong on the issue. Which is *my* issue. I would never presume to say that I know more than 2,000 years of guidance by the Holy Spirit. The other indication is the writing by this specific group mentioned in the article discussing making the Church more friendly to SSA and the recognizing their “unique” gifts. But I agree – it’s poorly written.

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        I know a couple that makes your contention ring false. Both husband and wife self identify as homosexuals. They raise their offspring and are indistinguishable from their peers.

        Treating social constructions as real leads to errors in cogitation.

        • Andy

          Okay, so some (many? who knows?) struggling with SSA also have heterosexual attraction, and are maybe even capable of marriage. But that isn’t going to work for everyone, and those who can’t “adapt” still need the Church’s help in dealing with loneliness and pain.
          I see it as akin to support groups for adoptive families, miscarriages, innocent divorcees, drug addicts, etc. Life is kinda f***ed up for a lot of people. Some of it is our own (most grievous) fault. But we still want our Mother to help us.

          • Hezekiah Garrett

            Of course they do. Who said otherwise?

          • Peggy

            There is a group called Courage. Do Tushnet and the gay guy support that movement? I wonder why not, if they do not.

            • chezami

              Why assume they don’t without checking?

              • Peggy

                I asked the Q. I did not state an answer.

                • petey

                  you’re just asking the questions.

  • Andy

    That is a mean and sarcastic article. I don’t think it’s fair to expect them to pretend they aren’t struggling, and that they don’t need chaste, intimate friendships to get by in life.

    • entonces_99

      Where does Ruse say that he “expect[s] them to pretend they aren’t strugging, [or] that they don’t need chaste, intimate friendships to get by in life”?

      • Andy

        E.g., “they didn’t invent friendship”

        He’s utterly dismissive of the Spiritual Friendship blog and community.

        “we know that with help, something the New Homophiles especially eschew, same-sex attraction can change”
        Now he knows that they could all change if they really wanted to, and that they’ve all rejected any help toward that end.

        • entonces_99

          Saying that the New Homophiles “didn’t invent friendship” is hardly the same thing as saying that homosexuals don’t need friendship.

  • Irksome1

    I’m not happy with the Austin Ruse piece either, but before we throw him under the bus completely, perhaps a little empathy and perspective is in order. The Church, used to thinking in centuries, has had her entire sexual ethic rejected in the space of merely 50 years and in the lands where her culture and thinking had been developing for the past 2,000 years. The Church, the Traditionalists and the so-called “New Homophiles” themselves are all rushing to keep up with the pace of Western Culture on these questions. Ruse can hardly be faulted for some of his concerns over the use of terms like “gay” when the Homophiles themselves are arguing over exactly what it is they’re talking about.

    The fact is that we’re in uncharted waters where the traditional standbys of Moral Theology, like avoiding the near occasion of sin and declining to give scandal appear to conflict with the reality of the human person as a social being who needs companionship and intimacy as a requirement of his very nature.

    It’s going to take time to flesh out and the concerns of people like Ruse need to be part of that discussion, not glibly dismissed as the hateful ravings of a overly-paranoid bigot. As someone whose criticisms of the Church in this area would only recently have been dismissed as the perverted ravings of someone who only seeks to satisfy his preferred form of depravity, I take exception to the idea that certain arguments be treated in this way, no matter how odiously formulated.

    • petey

      empathy for ruse, as he shows to others.

      • Irksome1

        Yeah, I’m not content to let Ruse be my standard for moral conduct. Why? Because beating him in a race to the gates of Hell isn’t “winning.”

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    I simply refuse to waste my energy reading Ruse, but Linker’s piece is not without its problems.

    Homosexuality, as an ontological category, is merely a Western social construction. Unlike homosexual acts, which occur in reality, it didn’t exist until some white man dreamed it up less than 2 centuries ago.

    Add to that the idea that the Church must ride Linker’s hobby horse or the Gates of Hell will prevail, and I feel like there simply are no good guys in this particular debate.

    On the other hand, I’ve always suspected I’d enjoy arguing about this with Ms. Tushnet. Probably the fellow with the dirty socks too, though I’ve never heard of him. I’ve always got time for other pilgrims trying to be obedient.

    • Andy

      Maybe that will quiet them all down. Just explain that what they’re struggling with is merely a social construction dreamt up by “some white man”.

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        No, what they are struggling with is real. They deserve our love and assistance and compassion, just like anyone else.

        Nice set of assumptions there. Try leaving them at home next time, please.

    • Hezekiah, that’s a little like saying that obesity is a Western social construction, and that before today people only talked about acts of gluttony. The truth is that anybody can commit acts of gluttony (just like, theoretically, a person who is not generally attracted to people of his or her own gender could commit homosexual sins under various conditions). However, people who are obese, or even seriously overweight, often have backgrounds of various things including physical and emotional stresses, psychological issues including severe depression, and other factors which taken together add up to a disordered love for food that goes beyond mere acts of gluttony.

      Blaming celibate SSA Catholics for trying to figure out how best to follow God’s call to chastity given their less-common appetites and temptations is a lot like blaming obese people for trying to figure out how best to follow God’s call to temperance given their undue appetite for food and the social temptations centered around food and eating. Obviously there is one huge difference in that obese people cannot decide to give up food altogether, but once you admit that difference you are still left with people for whom food has all sorts of hidden pitfalls and temptations trying to learn to avoid sin while not being discouraged by the reality that, as overweight Christians, they are going to be judged as “sinners” by other Christians just because of the way they look and because of people’s unjust and uncharitable assumptions about their actions and habits.

      Celibate SSA Christians are in much the same boat. They admit that their desire to have sex with people of their own gender is disordered, and they are firmly committed to avoiding those sins (even if they have fallen in the past, or even if they slip up in the present). But in some senses, just like an obese person has to learn to have a healthy relationship with food, they have to learn to have healthy relationships with members of their own sex and with members of the opposite sex–and their ability to form these healthy relationships has possibly been damaged in the past by abuse or mental health issues, or by the culture’s insistence that SSA people MUST act on their sexual impulses, or by the lack of understanding about some of the issues they face, and so on.

      Given all of that, what us heterosexual Catholics ought to be saying is, “How can we help?” not “Can’t you just go away?” or “Can’t you just work this out privately with your confessor and leave the rest of the Church out of it all, because it’s messy and it makes us uncomfortable?” That’s not how Christianity works.

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        Whoa, Lotta ink spilled there addressing nothing I have written. But I will address the first paragraph, which seems to.

        It is kinda like that in some ways, true, but your analogy fails for the following reasons…

        1) Gluttony is comparable to Lust, both being members of the Big 7. They are dispositions of the heart, not acts themselves. They lead to acts, but are not merely so.

        2) Obesity is, indeed, a construct of a type, unlike 375lbs, which is a measure of weight. You’ll notice all those psychological causes for obesity you list only really apply to heavy people in certain societies and circumstances. In other societies and circumstances perfectly happy and well adjusted folks are, shall we say, rotund. However, obesity is not constructed as an ontological category, an identity. It describes a person’s physical condition, but not a person. In this regard it differs greatly from homosexuality.

        As for the rest, I think the Church has it right. Love everyone, regardless of their weaknesses. They can’t be any bigger sinners than me, so who am I to judge? It reads like you made a host of assumptions based on my small, single point.

        • All analogies are imperfect. But the point is that you are being dismissive of homosexuality by calling it a 200-year-old white male (?) construct. It’s not. I’m pretty sure priests in the year 500 A.D. were counseling penitents who committed homosexual sins without telling them that they could easily transfer their lust to the opposite sex and then follow St. Paul’s advice for getting rid of concupiscence (e.g., marriage). What has changed is society’s insistence that people struggling with SSA pretend they don’t, or pretend to be straight, or pretend to want to marry an opposite sex person and raise a family, etc. I’ve heard some Christians argue that “the closet” was a good thing, that it protected gay people from themselves, that it helped society, etc., but I can’t get over the fact that the closet requires not merely reticence but open lying. Anytime we tell people “Hey, we really can’t deal with your particular sins, so lie to us about them for the sake of society,” there’s something wrong.

          • Hezekiah Garrett

            do you understand you are lying about my position, or you just not comprehending what’s being said?

            the inclination underline your social construct is very real. the constructs itself which treats it as a category of personhood is made up.

            if you don’t understand something, just ask. but to accuse me by implication of all sorts of positions I don’t hold is Calumny.

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              voice to text not reliable. Will correct soon

            • How am I lying? This is what you said: “Homosexuality, as an ontological category, is merely a Western social construction. Unlike homosexual acts, which occur in reality, it didn’t exist until some white man dreamed it up less than 2 centuries ago.”

              I don’t think that a gay person who says, “I am a gay person” meaning “I am a member of the species Homo Sapiens who happens to have sexual desires mainly or solely for people of my own gender,” is necessarily claiming that gayness is an ontological category or a type of personhood, any more than a person who says, “I am an alcoholic,” is claiming a new ontological category/type of personhood. You are assuming that because some gay *activists* make claims that sound ontological, gay *Christians” are necessarily making the same claim. I say they are not. We disagree, but I don’t have to call you a liar to point that out, and I’d appreciate the same courtesy from you.

          • Hezekiah Garrett

            With some reflection in traffic, I apologize for calling you a calumniating liar. It is far more charitable to acknowledge you do not understand my point and are arguing with someone else.

            With this in mind,I will continue to treat my gay friends (shocker, huh?) and acquaintances with the same love, compassion and acceptance I always have. If you figure out who you are actually arguing with, please address future correspondence to them.

            • S. Murphy

              Have you considered the possibility that she was taking issue with one of your points, and then continuing her own line of thought, without necessarily implying that you yourself thought everything else she was raising as problematic? I mean, I think you guys are talking past each other in violent agreement, except for maybe the part about homosexuality as identity or or ontological character being a western construct of recent vintage.

  • Andy

    Linker’s piece has some points I’d disagree with:

    “…they…deny themselves the kind of intimacy and satisfaction of physical and emotional desires that heterosexuals get to enjoy and readily take for granted.” – Homosexual behavior can’t truly satisfy the physical or emotional desires it hopes to.

    “They are not some temporary or imposed disorder that can be argued or prayed away. They are not a choice. They are not an excuse for perversion. They’re real. Some people are just born with them.” – This was true until the last sentence.

    But I still find Ruse’s original article to be mean-spirited and unhelpful. (This is the Internet after all.)

  • It is Linker’s piece that is mean-spirited; those that disagree with Ruse should engage him charitably–not shout him down as an “anti-gay bigot.”

    And are the ideas of Tushnet and others beyond the realm of discussion? It seems to me that that is precisely what Ruse did: he challenged their ideas as he does not believe they accord with those of the Church.

    We should be grateful that there are men and women with same-sex attraction who embrace their cross, and we should embrace them. But that does not mean that we necessarily and uncritically embrace all of their ideas.

  • Marthe Lépine

    I have not had the tie to read the linked article yet, but an idea came into my mind that I would like to share. “What is wrong with some people?” I would suggest that most people have entertained various kinds of “wrong” ideas from the beginning of times. The difference now is that many of them, probably because of the relative anonymity of the Internet, feel free to share them in writing for the “whole world” to read. What just occurred to me is there may be a lot of good coming out of this: I would see this as a new and enormous opportunity for evangelisation. No matter what part of the world such comments may come from, there is now a possibility to challenge them.Whatever, for example, Mark or any of his readers have to say can reach a lot of people, whether or not we are aware of who they are. To me it seems like we are able to spread the “salt of the earth” to areas where we would never have an opportunity to go in person, and I am sure the Holy Spirit can use whatever is good in our comments to reach people who otherwise might have never heard Jesus’ message.

  • Peggy

    I was generally uncomfortable reading the WaPost article about Tushnet et al. Some of it may have to do with the popular language use. I don’t know. i don’t see a need for any Catholic who is living by Catholic teaching to make it known publicly what his/her area of particular temptation is. That is a private matter. As most members of AA would not go before a podium and reveal themselves to the public at large, neither should people w/same-sex attraction make that the focus for the public in general. I really don’t need to know that the woman in front of me is attracted to women or that the man behind me struggles with porn or gambling. These things are between a layperson and his confessor/spiritual director.

    What the WaPost and the public mean by “being gay and Catholic” might not be what Tushnet intends. She struggles with an area of sin that happens not to be my area of sin. That’s all. I don’t know that WaPost gets it across that way. Gays can come to mass. Yep. They always could, but they can’t take communion–no more than a civilly divorced-remarried Catholic can. Ah, but that may all go away….

    • Heather

      Why would they not be able to take communion? You’re making an awfully big assumption there. Just because someone self-identifies as gay does not mean they are sexually active. (Just because certain culture warrior types hate the term gay doesn’t mean that it isn’t a word that most people consider to apply to the inclination, not the activity.)

      • Peggy

        I made an error. When some one says a person is gay, I assume that means an active gay sex life. I don’t mean some one who struggles w/SSA and is chaste. I corrected myself above as well.

        • Dave G.

          I think in the olden days, that was the assumption. Today being gay is like being white or Asian. It’s an identity unto itself. You could live your whole life alone on a deserted island and still be gay. Which is strange, and a bit different. After all, the much compared issue of alcoholism is likely only to apply once a person has actually taken a few drinks. If you don’t, how would you know? Same with overeating. If you never overeat, how do you know you struggle with overeating? For that matter, lust is a similar issue. That can impact heterosexuals who never actually hop in the sack with someone. But then they’re not called ‘Lusters’. Part of it is that the world simply said it’s time to chance our attitudes about human sexuality, and we’re all struggling to catch up without changing the core to do it. And since there’s no final dogmatic solution, everyone is trying to work it out their own way (and in typical modern fashion, blasting everyone else for not being as Goldilocks as we are on the subject).

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Actually, by living chaste lives as the Church prescribes, both categories may take communion. They don’t cease being gay or divorced and remarried by pursuing chastity.

    • Peggy, if a man is at a dinner party and he is offered wine but says, “No, thank you,” and the host is polite enough not to insist that he take a glass, that is fine. But if a man is at a dinner party and he is offered wine but says, “No, thank you,” but the host then insists he take a glass and starts to be offended that he won’t, the man has two choices: say, as quietly and with as much dignity as possible, “I am a recovering alcoholic so I do not drink,” or tell some silly lie about a sulfite allergy or a medicine interaction or religious abstention so he won’t embarrass himself and his host by discussing his particular temptation to sin.

      There was a time when it was probably more socially acceptable to lie and pretend to be allergic to wine or a Mormon or something than to say, “I do not drink because I am a recovering alcoholic.” But that wasn’t a good thing! In a perfectly polite society people would take “No, thank you,” as a valid excuse for pretty much anything, but no civilization on earth has ever achieved that perfect level of propriety.

      Now: multiply the offer of a glass of wine by all the MILLIONS of ways gay Christians will be questioned about things relating to their sexuality: “Are you married? Oh, single? Are you seeing someone? I have this friend–you’d be perfect for her! Let me set you up on a blind date…is that your wife in that photo on your desk at work? Oh, your sister? So you’re not married, then? Gosh, why not–you’re attractive and smart, and you’d be a great father…”

      It’s human nature to ask questions like that about each other. For a long time gays were expected to “play the game” by giving completely mendacious answers. A man might say, “I haven’t met Miss Right yet,” or “I want to wait until I’m a partner in the firm,” or “I’m not the settling-down type,” while a woman might say, “All the guys I meet are creeps,” or “I have really high standards,” or “I’m focusing on my career.” (And a Catholic man or woman might play the “I’m discerning priesthood/religious life” card too.)

      The problem is that none of those answers were honest. And in our day and age, when people are openly gay, the SSA Christian has a difficult task–if he or she gives evasive answers to the “Aren’t you dating?” questions, the next question will be, “Oh, sorry for trying to set you up with my brother–I didn’t know you were a lesbian. Hey, I have this lesbian friend who is really cute, and she’s single just now too…”

      This sort of thing almost *requires* the SSA Christian to tell such interlocutors “I am gay, but I live a celibate life due to my religious beliefs.” Nothing else is going to give the “No, thank you,” message to the matchmakers and gossips in their work and social circles quite so clearly. Instead of criticizing them for giving that message, we should be supporting them in the task.

      Granted, all of this could be avoided if everybody minded his or her own business about these kinds of personal things, but I have a feeling the Sun will be a cold dark lump of coal before that ever happens.

      • Not only that, but being open about one’s struggles could really help someone else with that same struggle, particularly a young person who needs a role model.

        • This. “Gays ought to live a chaste life” will be nothing but an abstraction to those struggling unless there are some affirmative role models out there to counter the aggressive efforts of our culture to normalize and glorify gay sex.

      • Peggy

        I have personal experience in these matters. I know how to handle refusing to drink. 23 years.

        • Congratulations–that’s wonderful!

          I realize that you might not be inclined to tell everyone exactly why you don’t wish to drink. We’re not owed those details about others’ lives. But at the same time, I know that some recovering alcoholics find it helpful to tell some people about themselves so that they won’t repeatedly have to refuse a drink.

          I honestly think that celibate SSA people are just asking for some support. Our sick culture today tells them they can’t be fulfilled without sex, and that since they don’t desire opposite sex partners they can just engage in sex with same-sex partners.

          Church should be a place where people can be honest about their struggles. No, it doesn’t mean that every person is required to tell all about their own sins and proclivities. But it shouldn’t be tacitly forbidden to do so, either, especially since lots of SSA people are just looking for community and fellowship.

          • Catholic pilgrim

            Your last paragraph is gold. I completely understand it. I was struck when Pope Francis said that he desires the “Church to be a field Hospital to the wounded, the sinners (us)”. I had never thought about our Church that way. But that vision is basically what Christ who is the Great Physician calls us to embrace. Being discrete & “polite” are good things, but in the healing process being Honest & open about shortcomings is more important. We’re all members of His Body, which is One Body. We should come to Church with honesty & seeking healing Together, NOT pretend all is fine in the name of prestige (worried about what fellow parishioners might think about me after I tell them this or that struggle) or in the name of “polite society” (whatever that is). If we want the doctor (Jesus) & His nurses/assistants to heal us, Honesty about ourselves is of top priority; we parishioners should be careful in our reactions to others’ admissions of weakness

      • Peter

        As someone who struggles with a serious mental illness, I know exactly what you are saying. I only share my struggles with certain people; I have friends I have known for going on 8 years who I have not shared this stuff with. I am often asked by my fellow young adults about my career and what I am doing with myself.. I give them some sort of half-truth. It’s nobody’s business but I struggle because of all the questions.

    • Aaron Taylor

      Us gays can both go to Mass and take communion, Peggy…

      • Peggy

        Yes, I am sorry. I should have clariified that if they are living chaste lives they could. I was thinking of active gays. I don’t know why an inactive gay should call himself gay. gay means to me living the lifestyle.

        • D.T. McCameron

          “gay means to me living the lifestyle.”

          That’s, like, half the problem right there. Terms go undefined, and folks end up at each other’s throats when they would have otherwise been, for the most part, in agreement.

          • Peggy

            Yes, and Ruse had a similar problem with the term “gay.”

        • Andy

          With respect, I think what “gay” means to “gays” is more important than what it means to you.

        • Evelyn

          I’m generally in favor of people being allowed to choose for themselves what to be called, and the rest of us just need to adjust.

          • Peggy

            So, can I call myself a priestess? CEO of a Fortune 500 Co and demand a salary? POTUS? You should understand and refer to me as such, right?

            • Evelyn

              No, but I think it is reasonable to let people with same sex attraction with whom one is having a respectful dialogue, be the ones to decide whether being celibate means they no longer call themselves gay. Whether you are ordained a priestess or serve as POTUS or a CEO would either be the case or not, and I would address you accordingly. The meanings of SSA/homosexual/gay haven’t yet been settled. It would be rude of me to stop a person I was talking with, and inform them that they can’t call themselves gay if they are same-sex attracted but choose the path of celibacy.

              • Peggy

                I suppose we all can call ourselves whatever we want. Whether others understand, accept or agree is a different matter. Why a celibate person who adheres to Catholic morals wants to advertise that he or she is “gay” I don’t know. No reason to tie “gay” to “Catholic” either. It doesn’t matter if I’m a jaywalking Catholic or druggie Catholic. Maybe in a mutual support group setting these things make sense, but not to the general population who doesn’t share/understand where you’re coming from and doesn’t want to know such intimate things–No.

                When homosexuals start telling us that their unions are equal to my marriage, am I to accept and agree for the sake of “understanding” and “respect”?

                • Evelyn

                  Nope. I am making one very particular point, not attempting to generalize until words mean nothing. In such a dialogue, I would respect the very real pain of a person who believes s/he could never have a recognized union with the person they love, but that doesn’t mean invalidating the meaning of marriage to get there.

        • jaybird1951

          To me as well. A celibate with SSA is not gay.

          • Joe

            Is a heterosexual no longer heterosexual when they are not sexually active?

            This view is strange to me.

            • entonces_99
              • Joe

                I think he is saying heterosexuals do not use there heterosexuality as a rallying point the way homosexuals do. It has nothing to do with whether we are sexually active or not.

            • Peggy

              Most heterosexuals aren’t defined by their sexual impulses. Now, I would posit that people with a disordered appetite for sex, say with people who are children or married to some one else, etc., may be running their lives on that basis. But your “normally adjusted” (for lack of better expression) heterosexual person will not define himself by his sexual desires. He just lives his life. Marriage and parenthood are one part of it.

              • Joe

                I didn’t say I was defined by my being a heterosexual. It is a trait I have, but it does not define me.

                I am just saying I still consider myself a heterosexual even
                when I am not sexually active. Don’t you?

                • Peggy

                  We used to not have to think about it. We are the human default. We didn’t have to define ourselves.

                  • Joe

                    I am not sure what you are getting at here.

                    When was this time when we didn’t think of ourselves as heterosexual or homosexual? Before we knew some people had same sex attractions?

                    And why do you keep referring to this as what defines us? Our sexual attractions are part of who we are, but it doesn’t define us.

                    God doesn’t use a default mold. We should recognize that fact, and respond in a Christian way.

                    • Peggy

                      I just happen to check today.

                      We just knew that men and women were made by God to be together as one. That’s “default” isn’t it? That’s natural. That’s what He created.

                      My sexual or other appetites do not define me. But the homosexuals, the activists in particular, define themselves that way.

                      Erik Erickson of Red State said something as a guest on a radio show the other day. “You will be made to care.” We didn’t care what homosexuals did. We didn’t care or consider explicitly whether we were “heterosexual.” Wed dont’ want to know about others’ sex lives and need for contraception. We didn’t care. We didn’t fight against extreme feminism and so forth. [Disclaimer I guess required. I don’t read his blog. I know who he is, don’t listen to him routinely. But he’s right about this.]

                      Until we were pushed by radical efforts to change society and its beliefs by the radicals on the Left. Until we were pushed to pay for the birth control and approve abortions of infants. Now we have to care.

      • Peggy

        P.S. Sorry to nag, but it’s getting to me. “We…” (nominative case)

    • Joe

      My understanding is that anyone who consciously thinks lustful thoughts outside of marriage should not take communion until he or she confesses.

      Anyone who misses Church on Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation (without a good reason) should not take communion until he confesses.

      In looking at the short confession lines and the long Communion lines, I suspect there is almost certainly a significant disconnect between what the church teaches and what is done.

      • Peggy

        I don’t doubt that at all.

        • Joe

          Then why single gays out for those who can’t take communion?

          • Peggy

            Homosexuals are the subject here, not divorced and remarrieds, among others who MAY be in a state of mortal sin.

      • HornOrSilk

        Jansenism isn’t healthy.

  • antigon

    Not to dwell on it, but perhaps worth noting Austin Ruse’s estimable & even successful struggle against powerful folk at the UN who not only seek to make SS nuptials & abortion-on-demand universally obligatory, but to criminalize any public opposition to those enthusiasms; which might also mean he’s saved more lives than you & I & not impossibly your entire readership combined. Maybe also of note is that he once dismissed opposition to torture as but pro-abort agitprop, until he ran into Zippy. That started with catty & even crude insults, but led to a lunch & repentance when Zip made Ruse actually look at the thing, perhaps thus indicating the latter’s greater interest in truth over ideology.
    *
    I happened to read the article you’re attacking & thought it bitchy & beneath his usual standard, & thus appreciated Maggie Gallagher’s astute critique in the combox. But if you’ll forgive me dear Shea, for one whose own efforts have been thought by some not always to reach civility’s pinnacle, the drive-by dismissal seems not impossibly more appalling than its subject.
    *
    Such a suspicion alas found further strength with the approved link to Mr. Linker, & his habit of settling debate by shouting Hitler! – sorry, bigot! – at any who question his theses, such as in his view the ‘grotesque’ idea that temptations to sin are a problem to be overcome, transcended, or – too horrible to contemplate – cured. His argument that we sinners have but the alternatives of leaving the Faith or making our temptations vanish was of course too silly to be appalling, but it does undermine confidence in his intellect, or honesty, about Mr. Ruse or any other subject.
    *
    On that touchy matter of honesty, it might also help you avoid the charge of calumny were you to cite where Ruse portrays certain faithful Catholics as ‘enemies, fifth columnists or half-breeds,’ or makes ‘clear that they are not good enough and should be treated with contempt and punished, not for their sins, but for their temptations,’ since it’s possible most readers missed that effort, & instead only saw Ruse – however clumsily with all that catty WPost stuff, et. al. – challenging an idea.
    *
    It is conceivable that idea merits challenge, possible even that someone as estimable as Eve Tushnet might be wrong, or if not, might find a challenge would help refine such as insights as she’s had.
    *
    But just as it is neither Catholic nor serious to scream ‘liar’ or ‘fraud’ at her for struggling with them, neither is it to scream ‘bigot,’ or fling other calumnies at those who challenge them.

    • Dave G.

      I can go to bed now. That was well said. And worth remembering for all of us. We used to say in ministry, avoid the temptation to become the Sword of the Lord. It’s easier said than done, and probably worth listening to nowadays more than ever, especially in a forum (the Internet) where such temptations are almost part of the fabric. Well said indeed.

    • Peggy

      I looked again at Ruse as well. He took on the claims of those he calls the “New Homophiles.” While he might have been a bit snarky up front about the photo (he could have been way more catty, but I won’t go there), he challenged the claims especially of the guy who’s a PhD candidate in theology. While he may have mocked some, he took on the arguments put forth via the WaPost article. The points he raised are worth considering.

  • OBJ15

    Another commenter said it best: “Harboring positive feelings about disordered desires is never a good sign, ever. It’s even worse to ascribe those disordered desires to the Father Almighty.”

    Ruse’s rhetorical approach aside, this seems to be the core issue wrt the “gay and Catholic” movement.

    • chezami

      It’s not enough that gay people obey the Church. Unless they hate themselves enough to please the Greatest Catholics of All Time, they are unworthy.

      Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; 3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. 4 ¶ They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. (Mt 23:1–4).

      • OBJ15

        A sneer is not an objection. You are not engaging the argument.

        • chezami

          Complaining about sneers while defending Ruse’s article. Good one.

          • OBJ15

            If you sincerely believe Ruse offers nothing but sneers, way to raise the tone of the discussion…

      • Peggy

        It’s not about self-hate.

        It is one thing to say that good can come from something unfortunate, like SSA or a car accident or getting caught robbing banks, But to say the SSA, car accident or bank robbing is a good in and of itself is something different. That is a problem.

      • antigon

        ‘It’s not enough that gay people obey the Church. Unless they hate themselves enough to please the Greatest Catholics of All Time, they are unworthy.’
        *
        Quite so, that such a perspective is evil whether held by the GCAT, the Real GCAT (TM), or anyone else. But that doesn’t change the possibility you owe an apology for attacking Ruse with calumnies over against where criticisms were due.

      • AquinasMan

        I don’t personally know anyone who expects homosexuals to “hate themselves”. But IF it’s true that this miniature movement wants others to believe that God somehow “gave” them this cross, that needs to be charitably corrected. Nonetheless, I applaud their desire to please God. I will probably be a lot closer to the back of the line than they (God willing I make it), but I wouldn’t embrace the identity of SSA any more than I would embrace the identity if I were a recovered porn-addict. We put on the new garment, eh? (As Francis might say)

      • OBJ15

        And I never said they should hate themselves. Respectful discourse requires not ascribing to others things they did not say. It also requires not caricaturing the positions of those with whom you disagree (nevermind exploiting Scripture to bolster your mockery). Ruse’s rhetorical tone could use improvement, but he raises important concerns that must be engaged, in a respectful and sensitive way.

      • Are we known by our disorder? Are there “crooked” people, “imbibing” people, “whining” people, or just people with a fallen tendency toward sin, a weakened will and darkened intellect? When people obey Christ and His Church, they are faithful people. Oh, dear blog owner, who are the putative GCAT but a resourceful target of the author’s whim and disdain?

      • LFM

        This is actually a rather confusing subject, and I don’t think Ruse intended his piece to be as hostile as you assume. Some of the issues it raises for me, and that I’m still considering:
        1. Should people identify themselves so closely with their sexual orientation that “gay dignity” is something distinct from human dignity? Human beings have an inherent dignity in that God loves them and died for them. However, I understand that the Church discourages people from defining themselves by their sexual orientation. I think Ruse is concerned that “gay celibate Catholics” over-emphasize the “gay” aspect.
        2. What if sexual orientation is mutable after all, not through therapy so much as the passage of time? Does the insistence that most people are “born this way” make life more difficult for those who discover that, after all, they are not?
        3. It could be argued that same-sex attracted persons are concerned with dignity because in the past, basic human dignity was denied to them on account of their sexual orientation. Fair enough.
        4. Should the denial of human dignity to homosexual persons in the past mean that a special dignity should be allocated to them now on account of their sexual orientation alone? Is that what gay Christians intend? This is not clear to me.
        5. Does recognizing the special gifts of homosexual persons mean understanding the particular suffering that their situation brings and the possible growth of wisdom this can lead to? Homosexual persons do suffer on account of their homosexuality. Many basic pleasures of life will always be denied them. These are real deprivations and, if accepted as such, prayerfully, can lead to the growth of humility and spiritual understanding. But physically and mentally handicapped people are also often unable to find mates or engage in even illicit sexual relations, thanks to their lack of mobility. So while we should acknowledge and respect the struggles of homosexual persons, and welcome them into the Church, their sexual struggles are not unique to people of their sexual orientation. Where does that leave the concept of “special gifts”? I wish someone would define it more clearly.

      • entonces_99

        This is a completely unfair mischaracterization of Ruse’s article. There is nothing in the article that says that gay people must “hate themselves” in any respect, much less “enough to please the Greatest Catholics of All Time.” There was a certain amount of gentle ridicule of the idea that those who he calls “the New Homophiles” were making startling new discoveries about the positive values of celibacy and friendship, but I didn’t see any call to self-hatred there. Nor did I see one in the portion of the article where Ruse made his main point, which is that there is a small but significant part of what the New Homophiles are saying that is problematic and should not be accepted uncritically. He concludes by calling for a debate, not for condemnation or hate (either self-hate or the other kind): “Without a doubt this is an important debate to have, but it is an important debate to actually have. What I mean is the engagement must really happen. What I see now is largely uncritical acceptance. Engage them. They have PhDs. They can take it. I think.” But instead of engaging in that debate, Mr. Shea prefers to point and sputter, calling Ruse’s piece “a truly appalling article,” and reading things into that article (e.g., that people like Ruse wish to treat people like Eve Tushnet and Josh Gonnerman with “contempt,” as “enemies or fifth columnists or half-breeds,” and want them to be “punished . . . for their temptations”) that aren’t there under any fair reading.

  • I’m interested in the idea that seems to be present in many comments – that those who struggle with sin shouldn’t make it known or share that struggle with others.

    How might that idea stand against the example of Saint Paul, who certainly didn’t start out a saint and seemed to take many opportunities to highlight his sinful – even murderous – past so as to glorify God’s grace in his struggle to follow Christ? It seems that we might even make the point that Saint Paul identified himself as a sinner, or to use a similar vocabulary of our day, that it was part his identity.

    Saint Paul goes so far as to say that “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.“, which seems relevant to the discussion of the weaknesses we’re discussing here as well as others.

    In his many letters, Saint Paul alludes to his past sins and then-present struggles often, for the purpose of praising God for His goodness to him and to encourage others to run the race well (to steal his phrase). However imperfectly we present-day sinners may be trying, their good-will effort to do as Saint Paul did seems praiseworthy.

    • chezami

      Hear! Hear!

    • Is the forest is being missed for the trees? The folks who are heading up the ‘New Homophile’ movement are making a good-will effort and the loudest response seems to be one of critique of their vocabulary, or the finer points of the theology around their efforts.

      Once they are reassured of our unconditional care and support of them as brothers & sisters – something each of us needs and wants, I think! – maybe then we can consider if we need to start a conversation about terms and titles. But first we should be sure that we’re welcoming these folks as fully as we do anyone else.

      P.S. I reply to myself here to avoid any implication of judgment of anyone in this conversation. I’m appreciative of all the contributions, even the ones I disagree with.

      P.P.S. Pardon my radio silence for the next day or so, I’m off to prepare for and celebrate the Nativity of the Lord. Merry Christmas (and Happy New Year) to you all.

      [pastor mode]
      If you’re in the Tacoma area, we’ve got Mass at Saint Joseph at 5pm tonight, midnight at Holy Rosary and 9am at Saint Joseph. Where ever you are and no matter what you think about this conversation, be sure to come to Christmas Mass!
      [/pastor mode]

      • Dave G.

        Me again. I think it’s more than just the words or vocabulary. Not that such a thing is unimportant. After all, if I said Mark Shea is a gay man a hundred years ago, I’ll bet it would be taken differently than if I said it now. Likewise, it is not a neutral perspective versus some unreasonable fear. It is a head on challenge to one of the foundation understandings of human relationships and morality in the Christian tradition. It’s a complex issue, one visited upon the Church, as someone below said, rather suddenly. Historically speaking. And I think everyone is trying to make sense of it. And in all cases, most are probably doing so with good will efforts, while I’m also sure that no matter what the view, there are some whose efforts are not quite so good will. As always. In any event, have a merry and blessed Christmas. And Tacoma is a bit far from my central Ohio home.

    • Paul also talks about people who do things that are too scandalous to mention: Ephesians 5:11-12
      Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

  • Both you and Damon Linker paint broadly. I am a Catholic. Also a conservative. Yet, like you and all other persons–as God knows–I am a sinner. Yet, I do not oppose SSA Catholics, OSA Catholics, drug-addled Catholics, alcoholic Catholics, complaining Catholics, or any good Christian bridled by sin. I pray for them as I petition to be prayed for too. I rejoice when one sees the victory a person has over sin, that enables him or her to live fully in Christ. We cannot avoid the reality in this present world that sinful behavior (no matter what it is called or how identified) takes an in-your-face seat in popular media and seeks legitimacy at the Church’s moral table.

  • BobRN

    Why no link to Ruse’s article, either in Mark’s commentary or in Linker’s article?
    After reading Ruse’s article, I don’t think it merits the approbrium Mark or Linker are throwing out. Ruse hardly comes close to calling gay Catholics half-breeds or fifth columnists, much less enemies of the Church.
    It’s clear in the article that I read that Austin Ruse has much respect for gay Catholics who commit themselves to celibacy. Where he disagrees with them is on the notion that homosexual orientation ought to be regarded as a gift, and not a disorder. If he is representing the views of gay Catholics correctly, I don’t disagree with him. An alcoholic may commit himself to sobriety, but should he regard his alcoholism as a gift from God with which he can serve the Church? I’m not so sure, and I think Ruse isn’t, either.

  • Todd Orbitz

    Basically,Mark, I have concluded that you hate whole classes of people by the way you write. And no matter how much you protest that what I am saying is not true, it’s what I believe. your writing is filed with too much genuine anger and hate.

    • chezami

      “And no matter how much you protest that what I am saying is not true, it’s what I believe.”

      Thank you for that ironclad statement of your refusal to address evidence contrary to your opinion. I agree with you completely.

      • antigon

        No defense of Mr. Orbitz, but it’s possible he’s not the only one here refusing to address evidence contrary to (calumnious) assertions, disguised as opinion.

        • Dave G.

          Surely you jest. 🙂

  • CatholicJames##Scott+~

    The Problem here is obvious.

    Ruse is really complaining about the Synod midterm report.

    QUOTE”Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”END QUOTE

    Ruse is being a jerk but he has a valuable point or two obscured by his overwhelming desire too be a jackass first and teach the Faith second. I have have been guilty of this in my time.

    Indeed these days it’s seems to be a universal problem in the blogs……….

    Anyway Ruse could have simply explained plainly (without personally attacking the characters of these two young people) how valuing somebody’s gayness can be understood correctly and incorrectly.

    A homosexual disposition is an objective disorder (not to be confused with an act of gay sex with is intrinsically disordered). It is not in itself a moral failing of any kind but is a privation of a properly ordered sexuality. Thus it is in essence a lack of something good the person should have but doesn’t have (admittedly threw no fault of their own). It is like a genetic predisposition to Alcoholism it is not good in itself in essence. But since it is part of the goodness of God to bring good out of evil it is good in the sense it serves as an opportunity to overcome an obstacle by the Grace of God and Grow in merit. It is good in accident. Sort of like the proverbial “O’Happy Fall! Whose transgression brought so great a redemption”. Obviously original sin is an evil that afflicts people but God brings good from it. Obviously a predisposition to desire persons of the same sex is evil in that there is no lawful way it may ever licitly be expressed. But to choose not to give in to it and embrace Grace creates a path for spiritual growth.

    Even Michael Voris made some video that Mark Shea rather liked about how gay persons may be victim souls given the opportunity for great holiness or something.

    These days Catholics only care about scoring points against each other in Internet Blood sport.

    Ruse should now better. He had a good opportunity to clarify a potential mistake and blew it big time.

  • Michael Cummings

    Mark, fess up. How much is Ruse paying you for this post? Your post about an article that is overly negative and over simplifies uses even more unnecessary negative language and traffics in cruder oversimplifications. You wind up making Ruse’s article look restrained and well thought out by comparison. Of course, you also drive more traffic to his article. This cannot be an accident. I have long been curious about the quid pro quos that go on in the blogosphere. Please spill the beans.

  • linda daily

    Perhaps we should attend more to our own souls, work out our own salvation and mind our own business. Love and receive others as they are, trust that we will be given the right words to say if needed or the good sense to keep quiet, and allow God to work. Spiritual busybodies attract nobody to Christ.

  • Peggy

    I’m going to put my latest comment here at the top. It addresses a few issues we’ve been talking about and puts things into context.

    1. A google search of “Ruse” and “New Homophiles” indicates that, at least for a year, he’s been engaging the issues with this group of people. Several Crisis articles come up. This appears to be his initial article on the topic in Dec 2013:
    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/the-new-homophiles

    He defines some terms here. That should help inform readers at this post.

    2. A fellow writer at Crisis explains why he does not identify as “gay Christian.”http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2012/07/why-i-dont-call-myself-a-gay-christian

  • entonces_99