Monday, September 26, 2005

A sinus-clearing moment in re the Catholic right

I don't want this post to sound bitter, as I'm generally quite happy right now. In these last few days, I've already done more than my fair share of polemicizing (surely the 336 comments at that last link is a record for Amy's site). And I hate whiny little bitches. But it will sound bitter.

These last few days have been a wake-up call to me. Last week, I could truly say that never had my fellow Catholics made me feel ashamed or humiliated me over my homosexual attractions (I can do a pretty good job of that on my own). As I've said here, never has Topic H been a problem with any Catholic or Christian who knew me as me. And I've always dismissed charges of "homophobia" against the Church or Catholics generally from The Gay Activist Crowd as just so much illiterate bleating from people who'd consider me a homophobe for stating that gay sex is sinful and wrong.

But no more.

Now, don't get me wrong ... GLAAD, HRC, Lambda and the rest can still go piss off. But it's been discouraging to find out what some people who should know better, who wear the mantle "Catholic," really think about people with same-sex attraction. Directly contrary to what the Church teaches about homosexuality, quite a few seem to believe reductionist (i.e., persons with same-sex attraction can be described or categorized merely by reference to that sin) and deterministic (i.e., persons with same-sex attraction must inevitably act on their irresistable desires) theories about homosexuality. And not a few others, in a bid to justify what can only be an administrative rule, turn it into an ontological issue about the possibility of ordination via some truly bizarre combinations of circularly-reasoned personalist psychology and overliteralized mystical theology. It always included some riff on the melody: "a man with same-sex attractions is not *really* a man" (and therefore ordination is impossible). Some of the worst gloating in St. Blogs, the former of which I was alerted by a friend, at CWN, or from Diogenes(though this last one actually makes an interesting point; it's the comments that are off the wall) and others.

These discussions took place, and this is Key Point #1, OUTSIDE the context of the Kulturkampf and red-blue stuff -- i.e., Dom, Mark and Amy¹ probably run the three largest "conservative" or "orthodox" Catholic blogs and so we're among friends. Also, and this is Key Point #2, OUTSIDE the context of arguments about the morality of homosexual conduct itself -- i.e., none of us were arguing for that. In other words, this is not a discussion with Voice of the Faithful or with Dignity. (One of the earliest comments at Amy's thread above was a pro-gay type who said he was "glad that the good little Courage quislings are squirming. Kiss a** too much and all you get is painfully chapped lips." To which I gave a retort that felt really good at the time).

But over those days, it just became impossible to avoid the conclusion that for some people, against whom I have no interest in specific "J'Accuse" finger-pointing, this was just about prettifying a prejudice against Those Sodomitic Butt-Burglars. People who were gleeful for a chance to stick it in the eye of Those Disordered Preverts. Who couldn't imagine that somebody could have same-sex attractions and be committed, by God's grace, to living chastely as best he can, with God's grace.

I have always denied to liberal friends that there was any homophobia in the Church, dismissing the claim as an artifice of their trumped-up definitions.² I can do that no more. Like many a naive man, I've been gobsmacked. Mugged by reality.

¹ Lest I be understood, I am describing the subsequent discussions, which did not involve the blog hosts themselves, all of whom I respect.

² Which I obviously still believe to be the case, to an extent.


Fr. John said...

The amount of sheer bigotry that has been unleashed by some Catholics against those who are attracted to the same sex is really apalling. But take heart and be steadfast, for nothing will separate us from the love of Christ.

Susan Peterson said...

I was embarrassed in the name of my fellow Catholics when this happened. Likewise I am embarrassed by certain people on conservative Anglican blogs who make such comments and show such feelings. I wish the blog owners would delete these comments. Except...then we might not have to deal with the reality that such people exist and have such feelings and don't feel ashamed to express them.

All I can do is ask for forgiveness for them. And some understanding. Social norms are usually defended by such feelings, whether the norms are good or not. For instance, in a lot of places in this country there is now such a strong social norm against large families that people feel free to say horrible things to parents of more than two children, and it seems clear that people actually feel somethihng like disgust at the idea of a family of 6 or 8 or more children.

Since homosexuality is a possible path for human sexuality to take, and some feelings of this nature are probably part of the psychic development of all of us, the social condemnation of this behavior was backed up by many negative messages, which some people have thoroughly internalized.
Add to that anger that the world has changed and society no longer clearly backs up one's moral beliefs, and you can get prejudice and bigotry and sheer nastiness coming out.
And this is an opening for the Devil to work with in a person who is firmly defended against breaking the moral laws about sex and who practices his opening for hatred and pride masquerading as defense of religious truth and public virtue.

I have to try to forgive my coworkers who express disgust at and condemnation of people with large families in my hearing, knowing I have 9 children. I am afraid God also calls you to try to forgive your fellow Catholics who are bigoted in this way.

But, again, I apologize for them, although I guess I am not authorized to do so.

Susan Peterson