To Marry Or To Be a Flamer, Part One

To Marry Or To Be a Flamer, Part One August 19, 2019

I’m Side B myself, but I have a lot of Side A friends, (1) and follow lots of Side A people on social media. Lest I be misunderstood, I’m not doing this to ‘witness the truth about homosexuality’ to them or anything like that—my truth has a great deal to do with how frail humans are, how fun sin is, and how necessary the Church’s power to absolve is; a person like that would need brass balls to plow merrily forward with that sort of witnessing. And anyway, I like them, and I learn from most of them.

But I’m not above disagreeing with them. And there’s a particular line of argument for Side A theology that I’ve seen several times lately which bothers me. It is based in the text It is better to marry than to burn, which in the Greek means being inflamed with desire. Especially taken along with Christ’s statement that All men cannot receive this saying [that it is better not to marry], save they to whom it is given, this is taken as showing that celibacy is a calling and gift not everyone receives, and that the Scriptural remedy for those who do not enjoy this gift is to marry. And, well, it’s a fact of experience that not every gay person appears to be capable of celibacy, and heterosexual marriages don’t make us cease to be flamers. So how can we refuse the obvious solution of permitting gay marriage?

This is a harsher problem than most Catholics give it credit for. Some LGBT believers are able, with more or less difficulty, to integrate their sexuality into a life-giving celibacy, yes; but some just aren’t, and it’s over us that the problem arises.

And kindly don’t come to me saying that really everybody can be chaste if we just try hard enough. Certainly God offers everyone enough grace to attain final salvation. But claiming God gives everyone the grace of chastity, in equal degree and on demand, is patently false, in the same way claiming God gives everyone the grace of hope is patently false: it amounts to an accusation that every depressed person is deliberately sinning. It is the excuse of Job’s comforters—I don’t understand why God would be unfair, therefore he can’t be being unfair, therefore whatever’s wrong must be your own fault. This is a superstitious belief, and neither Scripture nor the saints nor experience vouch for it. If God gave every person every grace, we’d all have been immaculately conceived. St Thomas, I understand, said that God might well leave a person to struggle with a serious sin if taking it away would have a negative effect, like making them proud, for example. And St Paul said just the same. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

How I digress. But I don’t regret it, because complexities like this give badly needed context to any serious belief in Side B theology. Indeed, to any serious belief in Christianity. Nothing kills the habit of mercy like the belief that divine grace makes human flaws magically vanish. I will get round to the actual disagreeing with my Side A friends in my next.

Part Two; Part Three


(1) For those not familiar, Side B is a shorthand in the LGBT Christian community for those who have traditional beliefs about marriage, but identify as LGBT and don’t seek orientation change. Side A indicates LGBT Christians who believe that God allows marriage between any two people, regardless of sex. (The terminology gets hairier; there’s a lot of cultural baggage about queer issues among Christians, and for actual queer people there’s even more baggage about ex-gay stuff. But this summary will do.)

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  • “If any one saith, that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema.”

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    Let him who doesn’t masturbate, cast the first stone. 😛

  • Mike Petrik

    I agree with much or what the author writes. We don’t all have graces in equal qualities or amounts, and all of us have disordered appetites that we struggle to suppress. But we are accountable for our sins, and that only makes sense if we choose sin — and that we do. Certainly culpability is circumstantial and a matter of degree depending on many factors, including the salient ones noted by the author. Yet, one does not need to abstain from a particular sinful act in order to know and agree that such act is in fact sinful. The claim to the contrary often implicit in the common “cast the first stone” assertion is logically fallacious.

    Today, our concept of sin is too often a function of a self-indulgent syllogism: I am a not a bad person; I want to do X; therefore X cannot be a bad thing. To live everyday fighting sin and always failing to some degree is the human condition. Those that recognize and battle sin publicly are always subject to the lame charge of hypocrisy, since of course they are sinners themselves. Others simply conform their conscience to their behavior — much easier that way.

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    I know all the catholics conveniently ignore usury when they keep their money in the bank- even the church institution itself with regard to its own finances, and- despite preaching at length about the evils of child molestation- they seem adamant about impeding real legal change that will make it easier for countries like mine to find and prosecute their members.

    All this makes it sound like these ‘sins’ are really just a means of controlling the laity rather than improving people to be kinder to one another. Jesus spoke particularly about the difficulty of preaching while being a hypocrite, about prioritizing removing the plank in your own eye before you condemn me for the speck in mine.

  • Mike Petrik

    I am unaware of your and unconcerned about your specks. My archbishop favors a relaxation of the statute of limitations to rather ancient times as long as it applies to all institutions, not just the Catholic Church or other politically disfavored institutions. But it seems that plaintiffs lawyers, advocacy groups and legislators insist on exempting government schools and other governmental agencies (which data show have worse records). Seems some children matter more than others. Why is that, Joslyn?

    And Jesus was certainly right about the encumbrance of hypocrisy. That is precisely because he understood the encumbrance of dishonesty.

    Joslyn, there are only two paths available. One can try to conform one’s actions to one’s conscience and inevitably fail, or one can simply conform one’s conscience to one’s actions. The first are hypocrites; the second are sociopaths.

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    “But it seems that plaintiffs lawyers, advocacy groups and legislators insist on exempting government schools and other governmental agencies (which data show have worse records). Seems some children matter more than others. Why is that, Joslyn?”

    If you would not bear false witness about people focussing exclusively on the catholic church, that would be great. Indeed, our government’s Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was pretty comprehensive.

    Did you say something about the encumbrance of dishonesty?

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    Also please do call me a sociopath, I enjoy it.

  • Mike Petrik

    I am not bearing false witness. In my state and in every other state that is dealing with efforts that to reopen long closed statutory limitations periods these efforts are designed to include the Catholic Church but exclude governmental agencies including public schools. That is a fact. I have no knowledge about Canada, but if Canada re-opened its limitations statutes to allow plaintiffs lawyers to sue on behalf of all children then good for Canada. But that is emphatically not what is happening in the US.

    These ongoing efforts by plaintiffs lawyers and various advocacy groups are highly publicized and a matter of public record. Yet, I do not assume that your lack of awareness is evidence of dishonesty.

    My claim stands that people who choose to conform their consciences in order to conform to their actions are sociopaths. The fact that you self-identify is sad for you. I will pray for you immortal soul.

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    “In my state and in every other state that is dealing with efforts that to reopen long closed statutory limitations periods these efforts are designed to include the Catholic Church but exclude governmental agencies including public schools. That is a fact.”

    You’re going to need some citations before you can just say that.

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    Also I’m an alexithymiac, not a sociopath. I just believe some sins take enormous priority over others, and where a lack of priority exposes some sins as nonsense.

  • Mike Petrik

    It is too difficult since it would require knowledge of the interplay between the bills that re-open statutes of limitation and existing sovereign immunity statutes that protect government schools and agencies. But lawyers know exactly what is being done and why. The Attorney General of the State of Georgia is courageous enough to be on record as supporting legislation that would re-open closed limitations periods in cases of alleged child abuse, but only if it applied to protect the interests of all victims, including those harmed by government agencies. You can research if you wish, up to you. Personally, I doubt you care. Your grievance is with the Church — not with child abusers as such. You will protest that no doubt, and go ahead.

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    I have found the HB605 you have been referring to (a link would have been nice), but all I see in your support are catholic sources claiming that the statute of limitations has an exception for government agencies only because of sovereign immunity- so starting off its something that they infer from their interpretation, rather than being in the legal text itself.

    And- being from sources highly tied to archdiocese, its looking pretty likely that they have a vested interest in casting HB605 in a dark light, regardless of veracity.

    https://www.johnfoy.com/glossary/sovereign-immunity/
    https://www.atlantainjurylawblog.com/bus-accidents/georgia-school-bus-injuries-and-sovereign-immunity.html
    However, sovereign immunity does not prevent government officials from being sued, its just an additional administrative layer, for which there are many exceptions, including those where the official has acted in malice (which child sexual abuse clearly is).

    Now then, about the encumberance of dishonesty…

  • Mike Petrik

    Joslyn, I have better things to do than to write law reviews for pretend lawyers. You will believe what you wish in any event. The bottom line is that the bill sponsors would not amend the bill to allow government agencies to be sued. As for the malice standard you misunderstand. The plaintiffs lawyers do not want to sue the perp — no dough there — they want to sue the institutions, and the standard they are correctly counting on is negligence related to poor decisions on what to do about accused clergy. Go ahead and have the last word. Readers, if there are any, can discern credibility etc for themselves.

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    well, I don’t need to pretend to be a lawyer, I provide citations to them, which is more than you have done, and its telling that you’re more focussed on institutional finance than being able to criminally prosecute clergy and put them in prison for our safety.

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    I don’t need to pretend to be a lawyer, that’s why I cite lawyers which have more experience with sovereign immunity, which is more than you have done.

    If you wish to argue that child rape is within the discretionary authority of the government*, I’ll happily see you die upon that hill.

    *cite Jason R. Schultz: Filing Personal Injury Claims against Georgia Government Entities (Part A)

  • Aequitas

    I’m just going to post something from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, because it looks like someone needs remedial lessons.

    2345 Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort.131 The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.132

    2348 All the baptized are called to chastity. the Christian has “put on Christ,”134 The model for all chastity. All Christ’s faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states of life. At the moment of his Baptism, the Christian is pledged to lead his affective life in chastity.”

  • Aequitas

    One should also add: 2343 Chastity has laws of growth which progress through stages marked by imperfection and too often by sin. “Man . . . day by day builds himself up through his many free decisions; and so he knows, loves, and accomplishes moral good by stages of growth.”129
    2344 Chastity represents an eminently personal task; it also involves a cultural effort, for there is “an interdependence between personal betterment and the improvement of society.”130 Chastity presupposes respect for the rights of the person, in particular the right to receive information and an education that respect the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life.”

  • D.J.

    This reader can see pretty clearly that Joslyn spanked your ass by providing fact vs opinions…

  • cowalker

    “Chastity has laws of growth which progress through stages marked by imperfection and too often by sin.” Good news! From the POV of a 68-year-old I can assure you that chastity gets easier and easier every year after sixty! So live a healthy lifestyle and you will live to overcome the “sin” that is the result of a healthy young or middle-aged endocrine system.