Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter and Christian Love

I'll start with an awkward story. I am terrible at confession. Truly terrible. When I go in there I sound so stupid. It is honestly the most uncomfortable thing I do in my life. And the priests are always really great. They try really hard to make it comfortable, so it makes me feel even worse. What I find most interesting is that you can tell they expect me to confess masturbation or some other sexual sin. When I don't (and say, like, that I should be more careful on the internet in general), they think I'm skirting around saying it. I don't blame them for this, obviously. I imagine it is the most common confession that they get. At least from men.

Anyway, I'm in there, and I'm awkwardly stumbling through the whole thing, saying things like, "Uh, do you want me to say the Act of Contrition now?" You could tell he was getting a little frustrated. Anyway, so I'm leaving, and I get really casual. Probably because I'm relieved it's over with. And he says something really nice, like, "Have a Blessed Easter." And he really means it, you can tell. He was a wonderful priest. And I just say, casually, sort of in a whatever-sounding voice: "Oh, you too..." while walking out. No, "Thank you, father." Not even "You too, father." Just an after-the-fact, rude-sounding, insincere automatic response. I felt like such a jerk.

It's not that I am insincere. I think confession is one of the most sacred things we can do as human beings. And I cannot emphasize enough how much it helped me to kick the masturbation habit. The idea of going in there and saying "I masturbated 8 times this week," or whatever, makes me even more uncomfortable. I just get so nervous, and I feel like I have nothing to say. Don't read this as me saying I don't commit sins, or whatever; just that I have to strain things to make them sound confession-worthy. I personally don't like to treat confession as like a session with a psychologist, where I go in there and discuss my personal progress as a person, etc. I like to treat it as a confession, where I divulge my deepest and wrongest sins and ask for forgiveness. If I don't have something really weighty, I feel like I'm just wasting everyone's time. I should just start telling lies. "I ran down four schoolchildren for fun on the way here." And then confess for telling the lies. At least the priest might get a laugh out of that. But no, after I left, I felt awful. I still feel embarrassed by it. I should have thrown a "bro" at the end. "Oh, you too, bro..."

Anyway, I hope everyone had a good Easter. A blessed one even! What I want to write about is the notion of inclusion and Christian love. I think it's actually one of the most difficult things Christians deal with. What do I mean? I'll use an example. My family has a new baby in the family. My brother's son is about 8 months old now, and everyone wants to spend time with him. Anyway, my immediate family is really serious about Easter. That is, we are very close on Easter. We have spent every Easter together ever as a family, and it's probably more familyish to us than Christmas. Accordingly, it's my favorite holiday. We have tons of traditions, we have special foods we make, etc. It's not that we keep it that religious even. It's just an important family time where we're always, always together and do things as they've always been done. Anyway, because there is now a grandchild in the mix, we've been combining families more often to give everyone fair access to him. As such, my brother's wife's family was invited to Easter.

This upset everyone in my family. Easter is really separate and special from everyone for us. And it doesn't really work when you add outsiders to it. Anyway, throughout the whole thing, you could feel the tension. As a child, I never really understood why people hated holidays. I loved all the holidays, because it was just my immediate family there, and I was always so comfortable. Not the case when you mix families. Anyway, throughout the whole thing there was a sort of desire to include, but also a need to protect what we don't want to change. It was very difficult. And, from what I could tell, my sister-in-law's family, which didn't really have any Easter traditions (or even beliefs, probably), did not feel particularly included, and our traditions were diminished.

I think this story very much represents the problems Christians often face. And not just because this took place on Easter. That is, for any genuine Christian, there's a call to be inclusive, the help other to redeem themselves. A Christian, like Christ, needs to say, "This infinity is open to you; don't be afraid." At the same time, Christians need to protect what they have, to keep it good and pure, else the outsiders they are letting join the table may soil or ruin the thing that was the object of the outsiders' desire in the first place. If Jesus asked a prostitute to join him and his followers, it would be no good if Jesus then allowed prostitution in the group. Then she wouldn't really be leaving anything or joining anything. He would have to keep his thing pure in order to change her, not the other way around.

This balance is almost impossible, especially in the modern world where nuance means nothing. You can see this all the time in Protestant churches who want to do a good thing by inviting homosexuals to join and be open to their message. Eventually the churches end up supporting homosexual behavior. Their genuine good desire to help and include gets perverted into the thing they were trying to fix in the first place. And then I see stories like this: 'I love you, too': Cardinal Dolan says Catholic Church must embrace gays and lesbians. Anyone with a little bit of nuanced thinking would know what this means: the Church has to be open to homosexuals in the sense of not keeping them out of the Church as lepers. I agree with this. A modern thinker might think, though, that this means the Church should allow or even encourage homosexual behavior. But the Church, for reasons I've tried to explain on this blog, could never do this. And the same goes the other way, really. If you don't allow or encourage homosexual behavior, you must be against homosexuals. Obviously you must want to keep them out. No matter how much you say the opposite, it doesn't matter. 

I think this issue, this inability to really know how to balance inclusiveness and sacredness, is the biggest stumbling block that any Christian faces. It often feels like the more you include, the more watered down and meaningless the thing gets. It's no longer separate or special. The more you try to keep it special and separate, the more you're keeping people from touching the divine: something a Christian should never keep anyone from. With respect to homosexuality and the Catholic Church, I don't think this could be more true. I see the Church as one of the last bastions against sexual sin, the only group really left on the planet who has its mind straight. As such, it is seen as the most hateful of the groups. It's not, of course (it's probably the most charitable group on the planet), and most of this is unjustified in reality, but it's still clear why people view the Church this way.

The ability to balance these two things, to be able to open up someone to truth and the divine, all while keeping that truth true and that divine sacred, is one of the most perfect ways in which a person can love. I obviously, as anyone can tell from what I've written on this blog, lean in favor of keeping the divine sacred and true, where we clearly explain ourselves and delineate ourselves from the modern world. But that has a lot to do with the fact that the modern world is so far the other way down the inclusiveness path that the Church has a duty to stand strong and shine like a beacon in the fog. And sometimes just standing strong as an individual is enough to encourage people to seek truth. Other times, though, it needs to be clear that a door is open to the eternal. There's no quick solution to all of this, of course, and there will be a lot of awkward dinners, both literally and figuratively, but something, surely, has to be done about it.


  1. With respect to homosexuality and the Catholic Church, I don't think this could be more true. I see the Church as one of the last bastions against sexual sin, the only group really left on the planet who has its mind straight. As such, it is seen as the most hateful of the groups. It's not, of course (it's probably the most charitable group on the planet), and most of this is unjustified in reality, but it's still clear why people view the Church this way.

    I think there's some history of mistreatment of people with SSA in the Church. Really, I recently got into a knock-down debate on a forum with a fellow social conservative on the grounds that I thought celibate gays should be part of the Christian outreach message against gay marriage, etc, were they in sync with the Church on that. Their attitude was, no, no Christian should ever publicly admit to having SSA unless outed by someone - even if they're celibate, even if they oppose gay marriage and support Natural Law and so on - and they'll never be outed if they're careful, so anyone who IS outed should be automatically suspect. I don't think that's strictly 'hateful', but I think it's counterproductive and getting into bullying.

    That said, I wonder how much people believe their own rhetoric at times. I've seen entirely calm, reasoned arguments against gay marriage met with replies like 'Yawn. More hate from Christian bigots.' That can be attribute to straight-up trolling, but really, I think it's often employed as a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card. 'What you say has been determined to be hateful. Therefore, I don't need to engage it - it's rendered false automatically.'

    I think what Dolan says - that nuanced view you mention - is correct. But I also think that your comment - the idea that 'inclusiveness means you just give up and endorse someone's behavior wholesale' - is a real problem. And it's nothing new; I think the best comparison is with single mothers. We've reached a point where if someone is a single mother, the idea that they've Done Something Wrong in their history is verboten as a conversation topic - that can only be divisive, discouraging, hurtful, stigmatizing, etc. (Not to say that every single mom did do something wrong, made a mistake. But certainly some have.)

    And I think that's sort of the natural path to take for anything awkward, or complicated, or requiring finesse. Especially when you're dealing with a person, not a subject. A subject won't accuse you (even wrongly) of being a horrible person. A subject won't scream bloody murder at you. Etc.

    1. I agree with pretty much every point you make here, Crude, especially what you say about single mothers. Can I ask, though, where that dialogue you mention took place? (You don't have to if you don't want to.) That's really surprising to me, the position they were taking there. I understand it, but you can see where I (and it sounds like you) disagree with it.

      There's this fear, I think, that there Must be an ulterior motive, that homosexuals are going to Change something really big, even if they don't mean to. I feel like you could actually point to many examples of this happening. I get it, I really do. I just don't think it's quite right.

    2. Can I ask, though, where that dialogue you mention took place? (You don't have to if you don't want to.)

      Sure thing. Actually hit my blog and check out the most recent entry to see the rundown. Feel free to point out if I made any mistakes in your view. (The second most recent is similar as well, but not what I was talking about.)

      There's this fear, I think, that there Must be an ulterior motive, that homosexuals are going to Change something really big, even if they don't mean to.

      This goes back to that con game I talked about: the idea that if a person has SSA, they're an LGBT activist. And if they aren't one yet, well, they're a sleeper cell. I think there's a pretty powerful mentality about this out there, and it's encouraged by both sides for different reasons. No, I agree, it's not quite right to say the least.

      I also think part of the reason is, conservatives at this point have a long history of watching organizations they take part in decay or betray them. And it almost always comes at the hands of someone talking about 'dialogue' or 'being more inclusive' or 'embracing differences' or whatever. That happens, and I think it encourages many self-described conservatives (social and otherwise) to see absolute stasis or backtracking as the only possible move. To change, even to change purely in terms of message and tone and outreach while staying utterly the same in terms of content and core ideals, is taken to be suicide or a trap. It's wrong, but it's understandable in a way.

    3. Some more relevant news:

    4. Yeah, this seems reasonable. Jeez.

      I love this: ...they can’t tolerate Father Greg Shaffer’s ardent anti-gay "and, for the record, anti-abortion — beliefs." I love that this has to be put on "the record." Guys, did you know Catholic PRIESTS are anti-abortion? I'm glad they made it clear on the record that he's guilty of this serious crime.

      This story is almost surreal.

    5. Yeah. Actually, I think it's unique in that it actually makes the people complaining here look a bit nuts, at least to me. Or at least unreasonable.

    6. I was reading through a lot of the exchange you mentioned. It was pretty interesting, and I don't think you got anything wrong, for what it's worth. I'm really surprised how fast those people got nasty with you, considering you're totally sensible and cautious first posts. I'm not quite done reading through the whole thing, but goodness.

      And I do sympathize with their concerns. I obviously do. I think the entire society is dying, and no doubt the gay movement has a Lot to do with it, but I find it amazing their reluctance to step back and stop swinging. Maybe there's this sense of like "Well, okay, maybe there are some okay gay people out there who do follow the rules, fine, but I'm willing to bet that they are so small a number that it's better to keep them out or not concerns ourselves with them if it ensures the stopping or slowing of the harmful gay movement in general."

      I may do a post on this; thanks for pointing it out.

    7. I'm really surprised how fast those people got nasty with you, considering you're totally sensible and cautious first posts. I'm not quite done reading through the whole thing, but goodness.

      In their defense, for all I know I was a complete bastard in the past in some unrelated exchange. I don't deny that I can be a jerk. But there, yeah, I was going out of my way to not slide into that.

      But yeah, if I had to guess, it's a combination of things. People feel burned, etc. I like how lately I'm seeing some people speak up - Bill O'Reilly did so in his clumsy way - saying, 'Look, you have to at least approach this issue better than you guys have been, because you're screwing up as is.' That doesn't mean capitulating, certainly not on core premises. But tuning a message? Making sure what we're doing is actually as effective as it can be? That's another issue.

      Glad you got something out of the read.

    8. I had a similar situation a few days back on another Catholic website. I tried to communicate the importance of Catholics to reach out to people struggling with SSA to help them onto a path of chastity. The posters, however, were insistent in perpetuating an "us vs. them" mentality and advocated a total separation from people suffering from SSA even if they were non-practicing homosexuals.

      In the end I was branded a "gay activist" and banned from the site for communicating my views. I was very hurt and disappointed. The Catholics on this site were insistent that I remain chaste while at the same time feeling no need to help me along the way.

      "Make sure you stay chaste and don't have homosexual sex, just make sure you stay chaste as far away from me and my family as possible" was their message. Their frustration is understandable, but I don't think they are helping matters by trying to insulate themselves and pretend that people with SSA don't exist.

    9. Whiterose,

      I am really sorry to hear that. Their fear is understandable, but it is certainly not justified, at least from what you've said here. Part of the purpose of this blog was to sort of bridge the gap between traditional Catholic teaching and homosexuals who want to understand and learn from it. It is absolutely correct for a person to say "homosexual activity is immoral." But it can be cruel for him to say that to a homosexual who doesn't know what to do when faced with that reality.

      Also, you definitely don't have to answer, but may I ask if you are same-sex attracted yourself?

  2. I thought this article on First Things was very similar to your point here:

    To me, this is the biggest takeaway:

    From this perspective, the LGBTQ community is no different from Corinth or Athens. There’s no reason to expect the native population to be pre-catechized, to have laws that correspond with the Mosaic code, or to know the fundamental principles of the faith. The key is to discern which of the idols we can use as St. Paul used the altar to the unknown god in the Areopagus, to figure out which pagan poets and philosophers we can quote in order to speak the gospel in a new way. It’s mission territory, not lost ground.

    This is, in many ways, what you're already doing. It's potent and revolutionary; and I think it's the only possible way forward.

  3. I am going to start talking to you here, because I respect you, even if I don't agree with much of your position regarding the Church's position regarding "same-sex-attracted" people. You are obviously an idealist, and obviously someone of enormous strength of character, and I get that, clearly. It's just that I happen to believe that homosexual love can be "pure," if it's reconstituted as something as self-sacrificial as the best kind of connubial relationship.
    So, in light of that, and as a direction in which I propose to take further conversations with you, I'd like to know this: "What IS 'homosexual behaviour' to you?" Do you actually believe that "homosexual behaviour" is only characterized by genital contact or sensory stimulation? Isn't that enormously reductive of a whole range of affectivity? Is giving a man you love very much a hug "homosexual behaviour"? Is living with someone chastely, but with many expressions of care, concern and love "homosexual behaviour"? By this kind of definition, couldn't all manner of monastic lifestyles have been considered to be "homosexual behaviour"?
    And do you not suspect that, for a lot--if not most--homosexual males what we actually crave is not--if we might only recognize it clearly--actual sexual contact with dudes we consider "hot," but, rather, the kind of intimacy that comes most surely through soul-baring conversation? As a homosexual male, are you actually able to bear doing without that intimacy? I know that I cannot; I'd wither and die inside without it.

    1. Hey, Bruce, thanks for the comment. Feel free to post all you want!

      To address your point, I think the question, then, is not "what is homosexual behavior," but what is intimacy? What counts as intimate? And further, what makes intimacy good? There’s nothing wrong, of course, with two men hugging; I don't know why you'd think I thought that wrong. Further, there's nothing wrong with two men, necessarily, living together. You're going to have to look at the context and motivation of the actors to determine whether their goals are indeed good. If I'm hugging so that I can make the man sexually attracted to me and he to I so that we can share sexual release together, it would be inappropriate. If I'm hugging him because he just graduated from college, it would be appropriate. I don't deny that intimacy is good for human beings, but I do deny the implication (which I think exists here) that I don't live an intimate life. I do. I just recognize what intimacy is pointed toward.

      But I think this brings up another point. You are using intimacy (as in closeness) and sexual intimacy (as in Sexual closeness) interchangeably. I don't think this is quite right. I would not say intimacy (sharing things with others) is wrong, pretty much ever, but I would say sexual intimacy (sharing sexual closeness with someone) between two men Can be wrong, in that it would lead to many violations of the natural law. And I think you recognize this, that sexual intimacy is always aimed at some sort of release. I know of very few chaste gay men who live together. I'm certain it's possible, but I seriously doubt it's the norm or even the desire of most gay men. It would be horribly frustrating and most likely lead to near occasions of sin or sin itself.

      The point of the natural law is to show that intimacy does not overcome these violations of the natural law. That I feel very, very close to my boyfriend when I have sex with him would in no way Change that I was violating the natural law in that I was intentionally ejaculating outside of a woman whom I could raise a child with, outside of the natural end of myself. This intimacy would not purify an inherently disordered act. It cannot make something bad good. The natural law says that sexual intimacy is pointed upward toward closeness and sexual release of the spouses for the end of the creation of life. That homosexuals have these feelings of intimacy for members of the same sex does not really change this truth.

      Further, it's important you don't confuse intimacy (whatever it may be) with a feeling of warmness and happiness. I don't think it's ever wise to simply chase a feeling without evaluating what higher thing that feeling is pointing toward. For example, a person may feel intimate with all sorts of things; that doesn't make that feeling good. I'm not saying you do this necessarily, but it's important to step back and evaluate what intimacy really is. I think feelings are important and good, so long as they lead us to the truth. But they can get confused. I have had very intimate (and probably inappropriate) relationships with people who, today, I hardly have any feelings for. Life changes, feelings change, closeness becomes distance.


    2. ...CONTINUED

      I don't know what all gay men crave. I know that sometimes I crave just hanging out with another man, while most other times, I crave having sex with another man. But I'm not every gay man. I don't think, though, that all gay men crave is intimacy. There are clearly examples of gay men (and all men) who couldn’t care less about intimacy. You can always say of these examples that what they Really crave is intimacy, but this is almost like a no-true-Scotsman thing. As I'm trying to point out, though, it's not something necessarily to be focused on, what most homosexuals feel or want. What’s good for them is often different than what they want.

      But again, I have a lot of intimacy with people. I am very close to a number of people. Sometimes I get bored and lonely, but I think everyone gets bored and lonely sometimes. If I had to compare myself to other people I know, I am often more okay than they are. But I understand, I think, what you mean by withering and dying. I don't think I feel like I'm withering and dying at all (actually the opposite), but I think this has a lot to do with time. I think if I were in a relationship for a long time and came to rely on someone else like a spouse, it would be very difficult (an understatement) emotionally to just walk away from it. But I really want to emphasize that relying on a feeling that can go away with circumstance is often very unhealthy, and it's often the root of most-people-I-know's problems in life.

    3. It wasn't addressed to me, but just to note one thing...

      But I think this brings up another point. You are using intimacy (as in closeness) and sexual intimacy (as in Sexual closeness) interchangeably. I don't think this is quite right. I would not say intimacy (sharing things with others) is wrong, pretty much ever, but I would say sexual intimacy (sharing sexual closeness with someone) between two men Can be wrong, in that it would lead to many violations of the natural law.

      I agree with this, and I think this is one of the things that tends to get lost when most people discuss these topics. I've had conversations before with people about gay relationships, etc, and I've gotten told 'You keep criticizing the sex acts, but gay relationships are about a lot more than that!' My response has been, yes, but if you subtract the sex and sexual aspects of the relationship - what is left that is a concern, either in a religious sense or a natural law sense?

      I think Bruce's examples lend themselves to that question too. Clearly 'monastic lifestyles' aren't condemned by the church, interpreted properly (going mad in an isolated cabin in a wasteland is probably going to be called problematic). Or hugging, or 'soul-baring conversation'.

  4. Hi Joe your blog and Ed Feser's are what sparked my interest in Scholastic philosophy great thought and commentary. I'd like to learn more after I finish my undergrad (so I have a very loose sense of the jargon). I'm wondering when you could cover Natural Laws and or the Catholic Church's view on hetrosexual married sex among sterile men and or women and post-menopausal women. Keep it coming. Thanks.

    1. Hey Mike,

      Thanks for the comment. I have discussed this issue (somewhat at length) on a couple of other posts. Mainly, I address it, at least in some detail, here: It's important to realize that you have to have a somewhat developed concept of the metaphysics (see the posts that precede the one I linked for more on that) before launching into the direct questions. Though I do think that post gets at the issue pretty directly.

      Some of the comments may be helpful there too so don't skip over those. Thanks again for stopping by, and I hope the blog proves helpful to you.

  5. OK, I’ve been thinking about what you’ve written, and I really do think you are tightening the reins on an affective life for you and for me to an almost unbearable degree—that you are, in effect, calling almost ALL of “same-sex” affectivity an “occasion of sin.”
    Perhaps you, at your age, can live with that, but I could not. Celibacy is almost impossible for most people, except for those called to a relationship with God that is extraordinarily personal and supernaturally intimate. I love God myself, very much—but not all the time. I also think that human physical love—physical affection—is also one of God’s “good gifts.” However, I am perfectly willing to agree with you that it is NOT the greatest level of intimacy that one can attain with another human being. Absolute telling of the truth about oneself is, and that, people often forget, is best relayed through LANGUAGE. The only thing is, for many people, it’s almost impossible to get to that “truth-telling” language until they become comfortable—and I mean REALLY comfortable—with another’s physical being. It’s the hormones, and the hormones deserve respect and cherishing. So I’m not ready to call someone’s hormonal urges “wrong” and “sinful,” since they, too, are the “gifts of God.” They are, in fact, morally neutral, and may be used for good or bad effect, spiritually. Some HAVE to make mistakes with them, before they can be used for the purpose of sanctification, and, because, in many cases—ones that I fear you’re not recognizing—the purpose IS to “prove love,” the “sin,” if there is one, is extremely venial; it is not meant, by any means, to “reject” God or His will for one.
    Some time ago THIS FILM was recommended to me, by some “progressive” secularist dork, as an example of the benighted attitude of Mormons to homosexuality. (This was when Romney was running for President.) When I finally got around to watching it, I decided that, instead of being a bad advertisement for Mormonism, it was, instead, representative of those folks’ incredible decency and idealism. If you watch it, please notice the hero’s determination to make his “first time” mean something, and notice the way his lover only succeeds in “winning” him when he insists that his friend may be the very person that God has sent to “change” him. Also, I challenge you to watch THIS ONE and to tell me exactly where these boys “betray” each other into “sin,” because I can’t find it.

  6. (cont'd)
    My honest concern for you—not meant to be at all disrespectful or patronizing, because, as I have previously stated, I recognize you to be a very considerable person in your own right—is that, at a very young age, you are walling yourself off from a wider range of affectivity than you are presently aware. Therefore, I want to suggest something to you, but before I do, I want you to read something that I recently posted at the fairly liberal Catholic website VOX NOVA:
    “Courage is a terrible, terrible organization, and whatever it says about “gay unions” ought to be ignored. Although it masks its rampant homophobia in condescending, grinning paternalism, it actually has been more fully committed to SILENCING “gay witness” regarding the demands of the traditional teachings of Catholic sexual morality on “gay” people than it has been in promoting Catholic lay people’s help and prayers for them.
    I have always thought that the ONLY thing the Catholic Church should be insistent upon regarding the “condition” of homosexuality is that “same-sex-attracted” Catholics should be open and PUBLIC about their situations in life and in the Church, and that whenever and wherever they are “out” to their friends, family and fellow parishioners, they should be WELCOMED into the Catholic community and offered EVERY SINGLE position in it that they are capable of fulfilling, and that their “cross” should then be borne and supported by the ENTIRE Church, as an emblem of our determination to share in Christ’s suffering. They should be taught to be PROUD of the spiritual opportunities that they’ve been offered in life.
    Instead of opposing “same-sex-attracted” priest-candidates, the Church should be RECRUITING them, and helping them to affirm the “heroic virtue” of chastity. The Church, and more, especially, Courage does NOT do that because it has put too much stock in the perfectitude of male heterosexuality and gender roles that have been, ever since the Viennese witch doctor got done with human psychology, deemed to be absolutely normative. The ancient Catholic Church, in her wisdom, never recognized “homosexuality,” and only deemed an ACT, “sodomy,” to be sinful, because she knew that NO place on the continuum of sexual attraction was “normative” and that ALL needed to adhere to the “law” that is not “natural,” but which is, indeed, “supernatural,” because it is CHRIST’S law, and not nature’s.”

  7. (cont'd)
    I think you should very seriously consider offering yourself for candidacy in the Catholic priesthood. This is what I would do, were I in your station in life, with your convictions, and at your age, because, in giving up romantic relationships in order to “purify” my intention in seeking communion with others and to “strengthen” my devotion to what you (and, perhaps, I) take to be “God’s law,” I should be afraid of weakening my own faculties to empathize with many different types of people. As a priest, you would be able to channel your obviously loving and compassionate intentions, as well as your own need for intimacy, into meaningful, satisfying and much-needed work.
    Please consider that your “witness” to both the condition of life of many of your “gay” brothers and sisters, as well as to God’s love and care for them, may be calling you to do this for the Catholic Church and for the modern society you live in.

    You should also take a look at these videos:

    1. I appreciate your concern, Bruce, but I think it is misplaced. You are putting all sorts of things on sexuality and on Me that just aren't true. First things, I don't think you really took in what I wrote. I do not think that what most gay men do (what I do) on a normal everyday basis are near occasions of sin. I am not, in effect or otherwise, calling all "same-sex affectivity" wrong, if I understand what you mean. There are actually very few exact things I would call "wrong" with respect to homosexuality. They would include, mostly, intentional sexual release outside the context of heterosexual marriage (masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, etc.). The other things that Can be wrong are the things related to that end: intentionally seeking out these things (gay bar-ing for sex), living in a way so as to make these things occur (rooming with another homosexual man with the former in mind), willfully ignoring the dangers that lead to these things ("I'll just watch a couple minutes of this inappropriate thing to see what it's about...", "I'll just go see him for a couple minutes to see what he wants" when you know Exactly what he wants.) But intimacy of the non-sexual kind (incredibly personal talks with friends, regardless of their sexual orientation) are not only okay but are positively good. There's always some danger of things going in the wrong direction, but that's just called being an adult. Plenty of heterosexual men know this too when they reveal things to their female neighbors.

      Second of all, I have seen Latter Days, and I Think I've seen the other one; I'm not sure. I wrote about gay film in another post and addressed just this issue. I find Latter Days an incredibly depressing film, because it ultimately offers the compelling main character (a decent actor) no real (or at least complete) answer to the real tension of the film. See my other post for more on this:

      Further, I have stated here, and elsewhere, that I think the underlying motivation for homosexual love is a good thing; it's a desire to connect, which is a good for all humans and helpful to their flourishing. But homosexuality's immorality is not determined by the underlying desires of the actors. That is, I think homosexuals are disabled in that this underlying desire, which is a good, is aimed at a bad. As such, what it is supposed to be aimed at (based on the nature of human beings) is all, really, that's at issue.

      In other words, you're strawmanning a little bit here; you're making it seem like the problem I (or anyone around here) have with homosexuality is that it's not coming from a good place or isn't good for the homosexual actors' emotions or something. But the emotions and the motivations of the actor are sort of irrelevant to the moral evaluation. It's simply an objective question: is homosexual sex immoral? As I've argued elsewhere, it is. Everything else around that, while important to analyze and go over, is not vitally important if the acts themselves are in fact immoral. No amount of feeling can make homosexual sex moral, as no amount of feeling can make a triangle square. So pointing to a story or a film that shows the growth and happiness of two gay lovers isn't going to really change anything. It helps me to explore the many facets of the homosexual experience (which Are important in their own, different way), but it has nothing to do with the real question.

    2. There's this desire, I think, to just sort of push past this, to ignore what's really at issue. It happens with abortion too. On Both sides really. People will bring up stories of all the kids some mother has, or how she was sexually abused, or whatever, as relevant to the question as to whether abortion is moral. Or on the other side, people will say things like, "It's a good thing your mother didn't abort you!" Your feelings, at least in this way, are not relevant to the question.

      Now, I'm not advocating some "pure objective" position. I'm just trying to say, "step back for just a second, take yourself out of the equation, realize that sometimes your desires might be getting in the way of truth." That's all. What I've seen to be true is what I've tried to identify on this blog. But attack that truth, that argument. Don't go at my feelings. I know you won't believe it, but I'm fine. Will I feel as good ten years from now? Probably not. But likely no one will feel quite as good. Trying to convince me that I'm not okay or won't be okay is as helpful as trying to convince a homosexual who does Not think homosexuality is immoral that his love isn't "real" or that he "should" feel bad about what he's doing because the relationship isn't what he Really wants.

      Finally, I am not cut out for the priesthood. I am not patient enough, I am actually quite bad at helping people, and my first reaction to suffering is not to give a hug or help the person up (I immediately want to start philosophizing). In other words, most of the things that priests Do (lead their flock), I would be terrible at. I know that. I don't think it wise to enter the priesthood simply because I'm not having sex. I think this would be a very bad reason, indeed. If I do any good for God, I think, at least for now, it's outside the priesthood. And I'm alright with that. Finally, I don't actually want to carry my sexuality into the priesthood, which I necessarily would; it's not my place to do that. Does the Church need to work on how it approaches homosexuals? Sure, yes. Is the way of getting that done is by homosexuals going into the priesthood Because they're homosexual? No, not for me anyway. (Also, in Courage's defense (and I'm no expert), I do think they encourage their members to absolutely "affirm the heroic virtue of chastity.")

      I have plenty of intimacy in my life. I'm not even sure, really, that any person Ever feels that they have Enough intimacy. I mean, is there like a certain amount of intimacy a person needs to be happy or good? Can that amount only be attained through either sexual relationships or the priesthood? I don't think this is right. I think, in whatever way I can, I am "affirming the heroic virtue of chastity." Chastity (the virtue) is a universal good for humans. I appreciate your concern, but I promise you that I am not secretly dying inside. The only thing that really bugs me is how I can't really talk about this issue with my family and dispel some of their expectations and concern. This is something I'm working on, but I'm genuinely okay with what celibacy means.

  8. Joe, thank you very much for the very honest and sincere response. I will read your review of "Latter Days." If your way of responsding to people's crises is as you describe, you are probably right that you wouldn't be an appropriate "pastor," but, I'll remind you, not every priest has to be a "pastor." Be well, I honour and cherish a fellow Catholic man's integrity and honesty. You're obviously a very good guy!