Archive for the ‘Self-affirmation v. self-loathing’ Category

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.

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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.

An Astonishing Message From a Gay Sister in Christ

Gil Bailie of The Cornerstone Forum seems to find the following testimony inspiring:

An Astonishing Message from a Gay Sister in Christ

Posted on March 18, 2013 by Hunter Baker

To the churches concerning homosexuals and lesbians:

Self-loathingMany of you believe that we do not exist within your walls, your schools, your neighborhoods. You believe that we are few and easily recognized. I tell you we are many. We are your teachers, doctors, accountants, high school athletes. We are all colors, shapes, sizes. We are single, married, mothers, fathers. We are your sons, your daughters, your nieces, your nephews, your grandchildren. We are in your Sunday School classes, pews, choirs, and pulpits. You choose not to see us out of ignorance or because it might upset your congregation. We ARE your congregation. We enter your doors weekly seeking guidance and some glimmer of hope that we can change. Like you, we have invited Jesus into our hearts. Like you, we want to be all that Christ wants us to be. Like you, we pray daily for guidance. Like you, we often fail.

When the word “homosexual” is mentioned in the church, we hold our breaths and sit in fear. Most often this word is followed with condemnation, laughter, hatred, or jokes. Rarely do we hear any words of hope. At least we recognize our sin. Does the church as a whole see theirs? Do you see the sin of pride, that you are better than or more acceptable to Jesus than we are? Have you been Christ-like in your relationships with us? Would you meet us at the well, or restaurant, for a cup of water, or coffee? Would you touch us even if we showed signs of leprosy, or aids? Would you call us down from our trees, as Christ did Zacchaeus, and invite yourself to be our guest? Would you allow us to sit at your table and break bread? Can you love us unconditionally and support us as Christ works in our lives, as He works in yours, to help us all to overcome?

Catholic GuiltTo those of you who would change the church to accept the gay community and its lifestyle: you give us no hope at all. To those of us who know God’s word and will not dilute it to fit our desires, we ask you to read John’s letter to the church in Pergamum. “I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore!” You are willing to compromise the word of God to be politically correct. We are not deceived. If we accept your willingness to compromise, then we must also compromise. We must therefore accept your lying, your adultery, your lust, your idolatry, your addictions, YOUR sins. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

We do not ask for your acceptance of our sins any more than we accept yours. We simply ask for the same support, love, guidance, and most of all hope that is given to the rest of your congregation. We are your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are not what we shall be, but thank God, we are not what we were. Let us work together to see that we all arrive safely home.

A Sister in Christ

___________________

Tim Brock responds:

Gil, this woman’s testimony is heartbreaking. Her confusion and unhappiness are palpable. Because I fathered and raised a gay son, my paternal instinct kicks in when I read stories like this, and I just want to take her in my arms and tell her she’s beautiful just as she is. If someone could only rescue her from that blighted environment where she is condemned, ridiculed, and hated, where she has learned to equate her own sexual desires with lying, adultery, lust, idolatry, and addictions. 

You can see that she has completely internalized all this loathing and that it has created a very toxic psychological brew in her life. “Thank God we are not what we were,” she writes, as if she had really sloughed off her sexuality and were no longer gay. But she still IS gay, and she knows the taunts are directed at her.

Newly-wedsWorst of all, she can never again be proud or happy, because she can no longer own her desires. Her desires are now mediated by the Church. She is told to desire what she cannot desire, to despise what she does desire, and to despise herself for desiring it. This is a recipe for madness.

Her story is so obviously tragic to me because I’ve witnessed something utterly beautiful and joyous: the love between my son and his husband-to-be, and the happiness their love has brought into their lives. I wish the same for this young lady, but my fear is that she is now trapped and has no way out. I’ve seen many others like her, and I just want to tell them, “This is NOT necessary! Get out of whatever cult you’re in. Now!”