Archive for August, 2013|Monthly archive page

The Church’s Confusion About the “Sinfulness” of Homosexual Desires

by Doughlas Remy

The following comment on a recent Spiritual Friendship article caught my attention:

WSquared:

I’m sorry to hear that some folks can’t accept that a homosexual attraction in itself is not a sin (only the act is). It is, after all, what the Church teaches.

My response:

First, some full disclosure:  I do not regard either homosexual attraction or homosexual acts to be sinful. I am homosexual and recently married my partner of 13 years. We are Unitarians.)

DahliaMy heart aches for men and women who voluntarily renounce all hopes of a physical and sexual embrace with the object of their love and desire. I have seen so many people literally bloom when they fall in love and enter into a committed relationship. Not only is this “blooming” one of life’s greatest joys, but it can and often does have lasting power to foster happiness and emotional stability for the remainder of one’s life.

Why purposely deny oneself an experience that is so richly human and so deeply satisfying?

Gay men embracingI sense a great deal of confusion among gay Catholics about their standing in the Church. On the one hand, the Church teaches that only the homosexual “act” is sinful, but on the other hand, it teaches that impure thoughts are sinful and must be confessed. Jesus’s teaching that “lust in one’s heart” is equivalent to adultery could not be clearer. If the Church did not want homosexuals to feel shame and guilt over their desires, then it would not require that they confess and repent of those desires.

Assuming for a moment that you are a gay man, can you honestly admit to a fellow Catholic (except perhaps intimate friends) that you have lustful thoughts about men? If not, then I think your shame is a testimony to your confusion and the Church’s own confusion about this.

Let the Church unequivocally declare that you are NOT to feel guilty about your desires. But you know as well as I do that the Church will never do this, because your guilt is their tether to you.

Bound man

I shudder when I think of the bargain you’re making with the Church. I hope you can at least understand that you have already entered into a relationship of dangerous dependency. That understanding can be a first step for you, if you are willing to take it.

Advertisements

Totalitarianism From Church to State

Triumph_des_Willens_poster

by Doughlas Remy

Gil Bailie (The Cornerstone Forum Facebook page) quotes from political philosopher Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism:”

The first disastrous result of man’s coming of age is that modern man has come to resent everything given, even his own existence — to resent the very fact that he is not the creator of the universe and himself. In this fundamental resentment, he refuses to see rhyme or reason in the given world. In his resentment of all laws merely given to him, he proclaims openly that everything is permitted and believes secretly that everything is possible.

The triumph of the will—to borrow the title of the Leni Riefenstahl’s wretched documentary hymn to Adolph Hitler—the triumph of the will doesn’t mean that the will actually triumphs; reality is too recalcitrant. It means that the will lays waste the world in the effort to force reality to conform to whatever ideological make-believe has caught the fancy of the utopian planners.

Timothy Brock responds: (Note: Mr. Brock was “defriended” shortly after posting this comment, and the comment was removed.)

Totalitarianism is always a project of absolute control of every single aspect of a person’s existence, from cradle to grave and beyond. It is antithetical to privacy, because even a person’s most intimate actions, thoughts and desires must become totally transparent to those in control. If one does not voluntarily submit to these intrusions, then one is shamed and, if necessary, coerced. If one does not voluntarily confess one’s crimes, then one is threatened and sometimes isolated or tortured. Totalitarian systems assume that everyone has something to hide and therefore to confess, and yet these systems are themselves highly secretive. While requiring total transparency from those they control, they demand total opacity for their own conduct.

The individual’s sexual behavior—and even his or her innermost desires—are of particular use to the totalitarian mindset, because shame is one of the most powerful forces in the human psyche and can be leveraged for total control. Once an individual is made to feel ashamed of any sexual desire that lies outside a very narrow spectrum of social utility, he or she can be manipulated to an astonishing degree.

Once the Church lost the power to exert this level of control, is it any surprise that the state stepped into the breach?

Is Same-Sex Marriage Eroding Religious Liberties?

Lesbian weddingby Doughlas Remy

In a continuation of his ongoing “Tolerance Vigilantes” series, Gil Bailie takes us to the National Review Online, where Kathryn Jean Lopez (“Will Religious Liberty Survive Same-Sex Marriage?” 8/23/13) opines about the demise of religious liberty in a recent ruling by Justice Richard C. Bosson of New Mexico’s Supreme Court. Citing New Mexico’s anti-discrimination laws, Justice Bosson denied Elane Photography the right to refuse services to a lesbian couple who were about to have a commitment ceremony.

Justice Bosson wrote the following opinion:

In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins [owners of Elane Photography] have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship. I therefore concur.

Mr. Bailie quotes Jim Campbell, legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund:

The idea that free people can be compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives as the price of citizenship is a chilling and unprecedented attack on freedom.

Mr. Bailie deleted the following comment from Timothy Brock not long after it was posted:

Timothy Brock:

Thanks for posting this. The NM case is similar to ones in five other states, and I think they give us an opportunity to reflect again on whether the state should ever impose any restrictions on religious liberty.

“Religious liberty” sounds like a wholesome concept that everyone should support, and in fact it goes more or less unquestioned until one person’s expression of it rubs against another’s or impinges on our basic civil rights. Then, there is a variety of possible responses, including (a) “Freedom for me but not for thee” (my religion trumps both your religion and your civil rights), and (b) the kind of compromise that Justice Bosson sees as necessary to “lubricate the varied moving parts of us as a people.”

I think Justice Bosson has it exactly right, and he expressed his position very eloquently.

So the answer to the author’s question—”Will religious liberty survive same-sex marriage” is unquestionably “yes,” but that liberty will not be absolute. It never was, at least not in this country.

Randall Jennings responds:

This article goes through some of the more prominent legal entrails of the decision. I come to the opposite conclusion from that of the author. Most interesting for me is the fact that one legal precedent is conflating the idea of a ‘practice’ with one’s person. I suppose some of these individual ‘practices’ are deemed more worthy of legal protection than others.

“Brubaker5” responds to Ms. Lopez’s article with the much-worn “halal butcher” argument: 

ImageI wonder, would a halal butcher be required to carry pork because customers demanded it? It’s a butcher shop. They sell meat. The only reason they don’t sell pork is their beliefs. Should that Islamic butcher be compelled to serve couples who are openly homosexual? Should Islamic beliefs be dismissed like Christian beliefs?

The only rational response would be to repect the beliefs of atheist, Muslim, Chistian and Jew alike. What actual public good is served by using the force of law to coerce people into selling a product or service which their beliefs would prevent them selling? To do so, as in this case, is quite simply and transparently vindictive.

My response to Brubaker5:

Just think about it. A photographer running a photography studio sells photography, not sculpture. A halal butcher sells beef and chicken and lamb, but not pork.

Neither the photographer nor the butcher is required by law to sell other products. However, neither is allowed to discriminate against any of their customers on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

So the Halal butcher serves anyone who enters his shop, and the photographer serves anyone who enters her studio.

If a customer says to the photographer, “I want sculpture, not photography,” then the photographer refers that customer to an art gallery. She does not do so because she disapproves of the customer’s preferences, but because she is in the business of photography.

But to say, “I only do photography for heterosexuals” is undisguised discrimination, and there is no other way to construe it.

Brubaker5:

That’s an interesting line of reasoning, but it sidesteps the essence of my point:

The halal butcher sells a variety of meat, but doesn’t sell pork—because of his religious beliefs. The photographers sell photographs, but not for homosexuals—because of their religious beliefs.

Despite your attempt to rationalize different treatment, each business is making a business decision regarding which products or services they will provide, and they are doing so based on their religious beliefs.

Bottom line: The first time that I see a Muslim successfully prosecuted or sued for exercising their religious beliefs, I’ll get on board for forcing Christians to violate their beliefs.

My response to Brubaker5: 

While it is true that both the halal butcher and the NM photographer are motivated by religious belief, their intentions are not equivalent. The butcher has a niche market for customers who want meat slaughtered in a particular way, and pork is not on the menu. His intention, much like that of a vegan restaurateur, is to serve a specialized clientele. He obviously has no intention of excluding anyone, and if a Christian omnivore enters his shop to buy meat, he will serve them. This is no more discriminatory than opening a coffee stand without putting beer on the menu.

The NM photographer, however, is clearly offering her services to everyone EXCEPT homosexual couples. Whereas the butcher will sell his meat to anyone, the photographer is excluding certain customers because of their sexual orientation. Such discriminatory treatment frays the social fabric and sooner or later creates an underclass of people who can only find goods and services within their own communities, which are known as “ghettos.”

Regarding your comment about Muslims: Why do you think that they are not constrained by U.S. law? Stoning adulteresses is just fine under Sharia law, and it is practiced in Saudi Arabia, but we don’t find it happening in the U.S. Neither do we find female genital mutilation among Muslims in this country except where it is practiced secretly and outside the law.

So my response to your comment about Muslims is a challenge:

If the Muslims can bend to the laws of our country, why can’t Christians?

Aaron Taylor Sees Need for Gay and Celibate Saints

Early European gay men 2by Doughlas Remy

Today, Gil Bailie has linked approvingly to an article by Aaron Taylor in Spiritual Friendship, “Why the Church and the World Need Celibate Saints.” (8/19/13) Hoping to address gay Catholics reading the article, I responded to it directly. Below is a copy of that response:

First, let me just sum up what I think Aaron Taylor has proposed. He envisions a Catholic response to “the increasing acceptance of homosexual relationships in the West.” In order to show “gay people [not just gay Catholics] that the Church has something to say that is worth listening to,” the Church must encourage celibate gay Christians to “speak openly about their experiences of reconciling sexuality and faith.” What the Church has to offer gay people is the shining example of gays who have, at least momentarily, successfully suppressed their sexual and affectional longings.

I’m sorry. It’ll never work. Fewer and fewer gays, even Catholic ones, are any longer “struggling” with their sexuality. Celibacy isn’t a failed goal. It just isn’t a goal at all. And why should it be?

Well, if you are in the Catholic thought-frame, homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. If all you young gay Catholics believe that, then go ahead and waste the only youth you’ll ever have. Beat yourself up. Twist yourself into a pretzel. Your rewards will be your aura of sanctity and your relief from the guilt that has been crushing you all these years. Tuck yourself into the folds of your big, warm institution and give up thoughts of ever tucking yourself between your sheets to snuggle in your lover’s arms. You will have missed out on one of life’s greatest joys, but at least you be spared all the perils of taking risks, finding the right mate and settling down. Best of all, you’ll have the approval of your church.

Or will you? This is where I’m afraid you may be disappointed, because the Catholic Church will never treat you with the respect you’re longing for (and that is your due). You will always be in the lower echelon of sinners, well below the adulterers. You will be marked as “disordered” because of your very desires, despite every attempt you make to suppress them. But your Church will have the satisfaction of knowing it owns you.

At the rate homosexual relationships are gaining acceptance, the Church is going to have to crank out a huge number of gay saints, and fast.

But will it really do any good? I’m still not sure what the Church thinks it can offer gays that is better than what they are now being offered—a place at the table and a chance to live a full and joyous life.

Bailie to follow Cardinal Dolan’s lead on Francis’s new “tone”

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

by Doughlas Remy

(This is a follow-up to my recent post, “Will the Pope’s new tone regarding homosexuality ripple into The Cornerstone Forum?” (7/30/13), where I invited speculations about Mr. Bailie’s reading of Pope Francis’s recent remarks about homosexuality. I wondered if Bailie would follow Cardinal Dolan’s lead in denying that anything is afoot.)

So far, Mr. Bailie is channeling Cardinal Dolan on this, i.e., “Okay, just move along now, there’s nothing to see.” (Bailie links to an article by James V. Schall, S. J., in The Catholic World Report of 8/3/13.) The conservative spin on Francis’s new tone is captured again today in a Crisis Magazine article entitled “Pope Francis Will Enliven the Benedict Legacy,” by Jeffrey Tucker. (Notice the title is not a question inviting discussion. ) Tucker takes the liberal media to task for reading too much into the new Pope’s words:

The line [is] that he is overturning all previous ways of doing things. He is embracing progress over tradition, loves the poor and not the rich, favors people over ritual, and is willing to rethink fundamental teachings and reopen the debate over moral issues.

What’s true and what’s not in this line of thinking? Very little of it is true at all.

Did I get this right? Tucker is claiming that there is no essential difference between Francis and Benedict? No change was needed because everything was just fine under Benedict? Neither Francis NOR Benedict favor people over ritual? (astonishing admission!) Neither of them loves the poor and not the rich? (another startling admission!) Neither sees—or has seen—any need for progress or change in the Church’s financial dealings, its stance toward gays, or its policies regarding cover-ups of child sexual abuse by priests?

Tucker’s piece is unadulterated propaganda. Who can ever forget Benedict’s Prada shoes, his extravagant costuming, his bullet-proof Pope-mobile (Where’s God when you need him?)? Who can ignore Francis’s easy mingling with crowds and his exhorting young Catholics to “protest,” and to “shake things up” in the Church?

The Church does change when its feet are held to the fire, as we saw in the aftermath of the child-abuse scandals. The Church is as fragile as a man’s ego, which is all the more reason why women should be welcomed into the priesthood. The Church would just like you to think that it is a rock, and this is where Jeffrey Tucker and Crisis Magazine come in with their propaganda machine.

“Move along, everyone! There’s nothing to see here.” (Sub-text: “We haven’t screwed up. We can’t screw up. We’re all males. You’re in good hands. Trust us. Just trust us.”)

Responses to Gil Bailie’s TCF Posts For August-September 2013

Submitting a comment in response to Gil Bailie’s posts on The Cornerstone Forum Facebook page is chancy. Unless you agree with Mr. Bailie’s worldview, you may find yourself “defriended.” All your thoughtful comments may suddenly vanish, because TCF is a place for genuflection, not robust dialog.

Those concerned about wasting their efforts at TCF may now submit their comments here. Every two months, TCF Samizdat will offer a  safe repository like this one, duly dated and permanently floating on the front page for easy access.

Please use this post’s comments feature for your remarks. Identify the TCF post you are responding to. I don’t mind your pasting TCF’s entire post into the comments field if you think it’s necessary. Just preface it with “Gil Bailie writes/cites… ” and then add your response.

Doughlas Remy / TCF Samizdat