Friday, July 31, 2009

An Interesting Distinction

Seraphic Spouse made a very interesting distinction in her combox yesterday:

I don't think relationships are sinful, and Church teaching doesn't say that they are. I think (and the Church teaches) that particular acts are sinful.
While Seraphic's statement is objectively true, I am not at ease with it.  What immediately comes to mind is an analogy to gay civil unions and marriages:

Gay civil unions are not inherently wrong, and in fact could be argued as good insofar as the state exists to serve its people, and those people need to be able to designate whoever they want for certain legal reasons.  However, gay civil unions are being used merely as a stepping-stone to gay marriage, which is not for the good of the state or its people (cf. this article in the LA Times), for which reason I would be wary about supporting gay civil unions.

I will have to ponder this further.  Comments on this are especially welcome.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


According to the woman I spoke with at the national Courage office in New York a few months ago, the statistics for those who seek inner healing from same-sex attraction are that only 1/3 are completely healed to the point of being able to enter healthily into marriage, for 1/3 the attraction becomes a lighter cross but remains, and for fully 1/3 the attraction never lets up, and it is a cross they must bear for the rest of their lives.

I count myself among that first group (though I never experienced SSA per se, my insides still got reasonably screwed up, and my time in a lesbian relationship definitely changed me).  But, despite the great works the Lord has done in me, I realize again and again that I still have vestiges of those feelings of isolation and being misunderstood that plague all who have personal connection to the gay world.

That is to say: much as I desire and appreciate heteronormativity*, part of me also resents it because I feel excluded from it.  Even now, even after years of healing - so much so that I often forget about the unusual sexual experiences in my past - I sometimes struggle to find my proper place in some (familiar and unfamiliar) social settings.

See, here's the thing.  I believe in objective truth (cf. About the Contributors).  I believe that masculine is different from and complementary to feminine.  I believe that gender is far more than just a social construct (though social pressures do play into gender roles to an extent).

And yet I naturally fit in with the men as well as with the women.  Many psychologists credit failure to identify with same-gender stereotypes with being a possible cause for SSA.  It's not that I didn't associate with female stereotypes (though there were, naturally, some I rejected) so much as that I felt nearly just as comfortable with male stereotypes!

Most people would be incredulous at the amount of time I spend thinking about gender issues - and this after I've been away from the scene for five years, and markedly healed for four!

I envy those women who, when they see a group of guys that they'd like to spend time with, go right over without worrying whether she's infringing on rare "guy time".  I envy those women who have no problem being a tomboy by day and a girl girl by night.  Sometimes I even think I envy those women who don't have close guy friends, and thus don't have to be concerned with maintaining appropriate boundaries during the friendship.

But I wouldn't trade my quirks for the world.  Strange as it may be, I count myself extremely blessed to be able to see both sides of most issues.  I love playing "Girlish Translator" for the boys, and I delight in the society of my male friends.  There's nothing quite like an evening of philosophy and pipe tobacco with the guys (especially when the following evening contains a sleepover and makeovers with the girls).

I suppose I, like everyone else on this planet, am still searching, still healing, still not yet entirely whole, so I must be content with being imperfect.  But how much imperfection sucks!

*Heteronormativity is a term that refers to those people who identify clearly with one gender in a typical heterosexual way.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Marriage, can it be gay?

This is a very philosophical post. If you have the patience for it perhaps it will give you a better understanding of arguments for the proper definition of marriage.

If we say that God intended marriage and sexuality for one man and one woman we then have to ask "why?" and "how do we know this?" A fundamentalist view is to simply that "the bible sayeth so and ye hamasaxuals (pronounced hama (like llama) saxual (like saxiphone... but "ual" added on) will perish! (along with papists!)". Such a mind frame hardly takes into consideration the historical ::ahem:: ecclesial origins of the bible. It is likely these folks will have a hard time with logic. Especially since they are appealing to an authority without first establishing its legitimacy. Even so in general appealing to an authority is a logical fallacy.

Why does God say one man, one woman? Ultimately "theology of the body" demonstrates why. (When I say theology of the body and you think "Christopher West" it's about time you actually get the latest translation and read it yourself. Since that is almost as depressing as thinking "Marty Haugen" when you hear "traditional music".) Although, really common sense kind of provides the answer to this.

What is the function of that which we call the sexual organs? Science says reproduction. It's very simple and biologically proven. When a man is stimulated to the point of ejaculation and if it is while penetrating the vagina the result under normal circumstances are several hundred million sperm swimming up and actually being sucked up by contractions in the woman to an egg. That is if intercourse is within that small window of time. This is empirically indisputable.

So why should we not thwart such processes? Well, there's a couple reasons. First is if you accept there is a God, then logically (since the essence of God is creator) He "created" (notice I believe in evolution so this isn't 6 day creationism) and what's important about that is he has intention and puts order into what He made. If we can say there is a God and we can say He "created" that is he also designed (no, not intelligent design theory there's a difference, see the works of the late Fr. Dr. Jacki) then we can say that there is a purpose, a meaning and an end to this design. Notice this inference of a design is ultimately a philosophical one. Science cannot tell us if it is random or design, it only tells us what is.

If this is the case we can say we reflect God's nature most fully when we procreate. Only God can create something out of nothing, so to participate in that activity that begets kiddies is to reflect God most fully.

As a side note, if you adhere to a monotheistic belief system that believes in the Trinity, ordered sexual relationships reflect the holy Trinity. As God the Father eternally begets the Son and the love between the two is the Holy Ghost. A man and woman loving etc... then there is a third... except we are in time which means it happens chronologically and, well, there's a lot more to it now that Sin has kind of screwed up the whole process.

In the end, if you accept that an essential part of our being is sexuality and an essential part of sexuality is procreation which then is predicated on the idea that God has created the universe a certain way, which is to say he intended for various things to have a certain purpose and because of how they were made. We can then safely say using sexuality for any other purposes is damaging to us since it goes against his intent. This is because of how essential sexuality is to our Nature.

What does this have to do with marriage?

The argument is simple; marriage is that institution that humans engage in to ensure the best situation for a sexual relationship. If children are to be raised then a life-long commitment is necessary to ensure the best rearing of children. I think I can safely say without citing a statistic that most people who have grown up in a divorced family can testify to the negative effect of divorce on the family life.

But let's address the arguments people use for homo-marriages. This is not meant to be exhaustive, but here are some I have heard:

1) "Two adults who love each other should be able to make a commitment to each other.”

2) "Straight people have messed up marriage so gay people should be able to give it a shot."

3) "Some traditional marriages used to involve rape and other antiquated things."

4) "There was this one time a gay lover was refused from seeing his beloved who was in the hospital, if they were married they would be allowed to do this."

And just for good measure I will include one that I haven't heard, but could hear:

5) "If marriage is about raising kids what's wrong with a committed relationship that adopts? It includes sexual expression and the raising of kids". With the case of some lesbians there is even invitro fertilization which mimics the 'natural' process anyways".

Response to objection 1) This objection begs the questions: “What is love?”

The answer to the former is that loving is the willing of the beloved for their good according to their Nature and the nature of the relationship. Nature in this instance is not what is necessarily observed in nature. Nature in this instance means what /should/ be. Nature with a big “N” is a philosophical inference, not a scientific one. Science only tells us what is, what has been and what could be, not what should be. With that establish we return to what was mentioned earlier. If there is a God who established the universe with intention we can then discover what he intended versus what is etc…

2) This can be addressed in to wasy: A) It is right that people who have heterosexual relationships have damaged the institution of marriage. If we accept contraceptives, divorce etc… as norms for marriage then marriage has been redefined and technically this argument could (sort of) work. That is if it was formulated properly. If, however, the norms of marriage insist upon an exclusive, totally open to life, sexual relationship occurring within an indissoluble bond this argument does not follow.

B) A person who fails to do an action properly does not give license for another person to fail at it even further. A man who does not succeed in jumping over a fence and claiming he did succeed does not give a man the right to jump over a wall and say he jumped over a fence no matter how similar the action.

3) While all marriages involve traditions that is a matter of attribute not of substance. The substance of marriage persists despite better or worse things that have concurred with it.

4) This argument is basically saying that a particular instance in which a subjectively dissatisfying experience that may or may not have been the result of injustice is sufficient reason to give license for people to use the term marriage how they please. Presumably this is because it will provide the necessary legal rights and privileges that will prevent such a situation from occurring. The rights and privileges in this particular case focus on common practices in medical institutions. Quite simply providing the people who are in these situations with the rights and privileges to avoid such a misfortune is the way around it. Not redefining marriage. It should also be known that even the California supreme acknowledges that the rights and privileges of same-sex couples are identical to that of married persons. ( See the post Beyond Gay and Prop 8).

5) Once again this implicitly denies the intention of our sexual faculties. It gives license to use them in a way that will never naturally produce children. Invitro is an unnatural process in two ways. It does not occur in nature and it goes against our Nature. Same gender sexual activity will never result in children no matter how committed the individuals are. Adoption is not the result of same sex activities.

In the end if you reject God it’s impossible to prove that marriage should remain a heterosexual institution without turning to utilitarianism or consequentialism.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Ex-Ex-Gay Phenomenon

Participating in Bridging the Gap's recent synchroblog sent me all over the internet to read what other bloggers had written about Christianity and homosexuality.  I came away from this with two predominant impressions:  1) No other blogger is doing what we're doing here - i.e., understanding homosexuality from the inside and sympathizing, yet still maintaining that such actions are wrong.  2) There is a large community of gays who used to think they were ex-gays.  This not only hurts the credibility of my story as someone who legitimately has no more such struggles but also breaks my heart all over again.

Stories of people like Christine and Jacob are not unusual, unfortunately.  It would seem that many, many people have been hurt by the ex-gay movement.  I suppose this is no different from how many people are "saved" (or even come into the Church through RCIA) and then fall away again within a year, back to their old lifestyles.

This is not meant to be a critique of the ex-gay movement; I know little to nothing about it.  But I can look into the heart of a generic homosexual and imagine what the journey must have been like.

First, the adolescent confusion of feeling what one is not "supposed" to be feeling, and the consequent interior isolation.  Probably some experimentation, mixed in with some sort of coming out (possibly publicly, but first more furtively, within a small group, which adds feelings of hypocrisy and leading a double life).

Next, an experience with the transcendent God.  An invitation from a Christian who promises healing and freedom in Christ from the chains of same-sex attraction.  Embracing such claims and noticing that the feelings have faded away in the enthusiasm of the cause.  Relief and feelings of finally reciving a share in that normalcy to which one was entitled but never before received.  Great zeal to spread the "truth" of this way of life.

Then, the honeymoon period ends.  Those hated feelings return, and simple prayer does not get rid of them.  Additionally, feelings of hypocrisy, shame for being unnatural, failure for not being able to change by will alone, fear of rejection by loved ones...  Eventually, something cracks and an admission is made: Ex-Gay was a false label.  Friendships are lost, bridges are burned - rejection of the most painful kind.

So one turns to what is left: the only place happiness and acceptance seem available to them, and looking out for others, to try and protect others from the same heartbreak they've felt.

Little wonder there seems to be no hope in the ex-gay movement.  *sighs* My heart breaks for these people to whom are held out false promises.  Change is sometimes possible, but not easy, and can't be the ultimate goal.  The goal is living chastely and seeking fulfillment in God alone.  Not easy by any means, but entirely worthwhile.