Saturday, September 24, 2011

Desire and/or identity

My comment on an intellectual Catholic site:

Such a disheartening conversation. But predictably so.

After years of struggling with this issue for myself, I came to the conclusion that the Church could never condone homosexual action without unraveling the fundamental natural law axiom which holds together all of its sexual morals: only sexual intercourse between a married man and woman, open to procreation, accords with human nature. Everything else, be it outside or against nature, is sinful. Whether it was sex with a stranger or the friendly lovemaking of devoted longtime companions is virtually immaterial. End of story. Make one exception and the cloth unravels.

In an ideal Catholic world, there would only be two kinds of sexually virtuous people: married people and celibate people.

Speculation as to the origins of sexual orientation, (even its existence), its relative "pathology" according to current fields of study, its cultural forms, the sanity or insanity of "gay culture", the particulars of given relationship, whether homosexuality constitutes identity or is just one more disordered desire, the intentions of the participants...pro or con...all these things are really not that important to the Catholic discussion.

As well, the job of the Church, IMHO, has been to safeguard and promote sacramental marriage-and-family. Again, nothing else on the human erotic horizon is of positive interest outside that role.

To Catholic "gay" people and those who would like the Church to be different, I would say this: Forget it. Not gonna happen. Either A. try to conform, in single chastity, B. ignore the rules, based on your own "conscience", and try to belong as best you can or C. say farewell and move on.

To the Church as Teacher, I would say this: I know that you cannot, are incapable of, approving of sex between men or between women. I get it and I understand the logic. But what you are asking people of homosexual orientation to do is not simply to constrain yet one more disordered desire like greed or envy, but to accept that if and when they come to love another human being (of their own sex), and as part of that love arises the desire for physical communion, then they must accept that their hunger for loving bodily connection is perverse, that a crucial part of their ability to love is defective and shameful. And that what they perceive as a gift is actually a form of violence.

This is quite unlike the message you give to men and women, whose combination of eros and friendship is for the other sex. The chastity you require of them is to channel something very much constitutive of their identity as people capable of enacting a Sacrament not only with heart, mind and vow, but with flesh. You never tell them to avoid being defined by their opposite-sex desire because it is an implied part of their divinely ordained manhood and womanhood, the stuff of the sacrament.

Whether your words are harsh and cruel, or whether they are kind and compassionate, the situation remains basically unchanged: to accept the teaching, a homosexual man or woman must accept that what is potentially sacramental in others, the sacredness of which moral rules protect, is in them a counterfeit perversion and disorder, which the same rules must repress.

It really will not do to make male-female sexual desire and activity a part of a sacramental vocation, a divine calling, and then suggest that same-sex desire and activity is merely an unfortunate hunger that ought not become part of personal identity, as if it were a tic or bad habit of speech. Especially if the oft-overpraised and under-valued phenomenon of personal experience is factored into the mix.

This will not change the Church's mind. It cannot. It is not the Church's job to accommodate human nature where both Nature and Sacrament combine against it. But perhaps it might let some of those who share the Church's mind get a glimpse as to why some of those who love "their own kind" took option C.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Similarly, 'Whether your words are harsh and cruel, or whether they are kind and compassionate, the situation remains basically unchanged: to accept the teaching, a [would-be clergy] woman must accept that what is potentially sacramental in others, the sacredness of which moral rules protect, is in them a counterfeit perversion and disorder, which the same rules must repress.'

USMaleSF said...

Not really, anonymous. There is a parallel between exclusion of women from ordination and rejection of same-sex marriage, but not with homosexual activity by itself. Being a woman is not a counterfeit perversion and disorder. At least in some cases :)

Leah said...

I know the modern Jews have been grappling with this issue as well. Since to be honest - where do you think the Catholics got this idea???
So the modern Jews single out certain activities - the lying with a man as with a woman - and get into the nitty gritty of what act is being discussed here.
It is clearly a problem - a stable society is built upon the family unit - marriage, children within marriage. So 4000 years ago a very definite line was drawn in the sand. Can that line move? should it?
Todays Judaism has many different lines of thought - from the ultra Othodox who are stuck in 17th c. Poland to the many modern strains. I'm not sure Catholicism has that kind of diversity - although my guess is it varies from Parish to Parish and people pick and choose.
Part of me wants the hard line to always be there in some form - otherwise it will all crumble and fall, yet I am hoping for acceptance within. As in ultra orthodoxy holds to the very hard line and Conservative and Reform are to the point of embracing same sex marriage.

Anonymous said...

Once again, we see, surely, the preferability of switching to neo-Islam.

The Catholic Church at present is involved with both accepting the more or less Freudian concepts of "sexuality" and "orientation" and maintaining what ex cathedra calls »the fundamental natural law axiom which holds together all of its sexual morals: only sexual intercourse between a married man and woman, open to procreation, accords with human nature. Everything else, be it outside or against nature, is sinful.«

As regards the foreground, Christianity's despised fundamentalist-evangelicals have the only consistent programme today vis-a-vis the problems ex cathedra points to: they maintain the personal psychology of sexual identity, orientation, while also believing or at least declaring that "orientation" is changeable by prayer, counselling etc. No person is sexually defective ontologically etc. Sacramental erotic love is made available to everyone. (I wonder, Does ex cathedra believe that all masculinity-despising gays can change their personal valuational orientation and become man-loving men through prayer and counselling?)

At least foreground Islam doesn't refer to anything like "orientation" or "sexuality." Apparently it will shrug at a lot of Lut, while officially having only condemnation for Lut. The history of Christendom and its secularist aftermath has had episodes of ontological persecutions of Lut, but I've not heard of this in Islam.

Plato initiates these pogroms, one way or another, that emerge in "Platonism for the folk": Socrates though clearly "oriented" a paiderastos forbids 'practising homosexuality' -- both in Plato and Xenophon. Aristotle though contributor to the Greek homoerotic culture deems the things of Aphrodite between males a crummy sub-vice. Interpreting Plato as a sublimator is usually consider'd an anachronism. Perhaps he would say that paiderastia is for theoria, not praxis. Our time's phrase "practising homosexual" may not be so obtuse as at first seems.

I guess the Quran and Hadith don't even have the ontologies etc refer'd to pickwickianly as Sodom, and "male" and "female" (Genesis 1; Romans 1:18ff), as well as malakos and arsenokoitês; the [Greek] ways of Jonathan with his armour bearer. Looks like Lut's city isn't even mention'd in the Quran, and maybe there's no foreground explanation of why "defilers of themselves with mankind" are call'd "Lut."

As for love, love between man and man or between man and youth seems to precede love between man and woman. This suggests to me there are pickwickian "dangers" in love vs the community, dangers especially in love between man and woman. Even though Plato presents the possibility of love between man and woman — which can be a practising love — in the Symposium, European culture was very reluctant ['reticent' as one says today] to allow this possibility any legitimate expression, even despite the pressure of the Bible.

Anonymous said...

The first men who are lovers of women in "culture" are the troubadors, right? Maybe even a heresy of some sort was used to introduce love between "man" and "woman" into Western culture? And the troubadors were nonpractising heteros: their beloveds were unattainable marry'd ladies, who also didn't attain the troubadors (anti-anteros in theoria, as with Socrates' paiderastic theoria).

Anyway, Islam has never had a practising heterosexual love era, or hardly at all (some in 1001 Nights? shows up c.1700). John Boswell (as I recall) complains that when the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam [shows up c1460?] was translated into the West it was changed not only from Persian into English etc, but also from a man and a youth to a man and a woman. This presumably involved an advance in difficulty or "dangerousness" — I mean, legitimated love between man and a woman.

Accordingly, a switch to neo-Islam would help Traditionalism remove the theme of love between man and woman. 'Serious' men would love only men, and this surely in only theoretic ways. Christian males in authority have been eager to hold off from taking women seriously.

As far as legitimateness is concern'd, the original justice of Genesis 1 could be the end of the creation account. If you enjoy the E stories in the OT and are bored by the J stories, you'll really enjoy Traditionalism.
er

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...