Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Orientation change?

One part of the Bishops' doc sure to cause controversy is this one about the possibility of "changing" sexual "orientation." Its cautious wording is important:
A considerable number of people who experience same-sex attraction experience it as an inclination that they did not choose. Many of these speak of their homosexual attractions as an unwanted burden. This raises the question of whether or not a homosexual inclination can be changed with the help of some kind of therapeutic intervention.
There is currently no scientific consensus on the cause of the homosexual inclination. There is no consensus on therapy. Some have found therapy helpful. Catholics who experience homosexual tendencies and who wish to explore therapy should seek out the counsel and assistance of a qualified professional who has preparation and competence in psychological counseling and who understands and supports the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. They should also seek out the guidance of a confessor and spiritual director who will support their quest to live a chaste life.
This strikes every note. There is no scientific consensus on the question of change, properly understood, because there is no scientific consensus on the cause of homosexuality beyond the obvious -- that the cause is complex and the result of the interaction of a bunch of factors, which is only a little better than "we have no frickin idea." (This lack of consensus should not be conflated with a 1984-like conformity among professional groups on bad questions informed by false ideology.)¹

The church leaves open the possibility of "changing," and makes the noncommitally bland statement "some have found [it] helpful." That "change" is *possible* is something all but rigidly blinded ideologues know upon reflection (though it does require getting beyond the whole "gay-straight" discourse). But the USCCB doesn't hold out too much hope (as it shouldn't in fact, and would be beyond its competence in any event).

But as a general indication of priorities, understand that this section, called "Therapy for Homosexual Inclinations?" (note the question mark) constitutes 142 words -- my quote above is its entirety. In contrast, "Homosexual Inclination Is Not Itself a Sin" (note the lack of a question mark) has 618 words; "The Necessity for Training in Virtue" (ditto, plus the term "Necessity") has 733 words; "The Necessity of Friendship and Community" (double ditto) has 396 words. Word-counts are an imperfect measure, sure, but given those noted differences in tone, this is clearly just an aside for the US bishops.

Which inevitably leads to the endorsement of Courage in Note 44. And as someone at Beliefnet asked me earlier tonight (My response in the subsequent paragraphs is adapted from two different notes, with a couple of minor edits for clarity and missed nuance):
Can you explain why the focus is allegedly on being chaste, yet there are links throughout the Courage website to NARTH, Exodus, PFOX and other reversion therapy advocates?
Because some of our members pursue this path. But it is not a requirement or an official goal of the organization. Here are the five goals of Courage, said at every meeting, and orientation change is not one of them (#1 pretty strongly implies otherwise). Here are the description of the apostolate and the article on the Website linked to what is chastity. Neither contain any reference to orientation change. So anyone whose primary description of Courage is "an attempt to change orientation" simply doesn't know what he's talking about.

Now that isn't to say that some members don't pursue this and as the FAQs say, they are at liberty to do so but it is not any kind of requirement. Nor does it mean that Courage discourages their doing so. Or that the central office, or individual chapters and pastors, or Web sites must not provide information on where and how. The group is officially agnostic on the subject (which isn't to say that some of its members aren't). But the goal is Christ not getting hard or damp from the opposite sex.

It is true that at the Courage Web site you will find links to the mentioned groups (plus about 5 others to ex-gay or conversion ministries) among the 50 or so links on the Related Websites page. The "Books, Tapes and Videos" section also has some material that comes from that perspective -- again, among much else. But after spending about a half-hour skimming around the Web site (not exhaustive, sure, but it's not a very elaborate site), that was pretty much all I could find.

Both the amount and the segregated presentation seem about right to me. Their availability is made known for those interested. But it is not in the same place as our own material -- the mission statement, the FAQs, the conference and event listings, the solicits, the Web sites, etc. It's a well-established Internet convention by now that the mere offering of a link doesn't entail endorsement of everything at that site -- merely a general nod that "this is a site of potential common interest, but not our voice per se." This is also true of Beliefnet, the Democratic National Committee site and Instapundit.

So if the question is "does Courage have any link or relationships to these groups whatsoever?" The answer to that is clearly "yes, by a very broad definition of 'relationship' that also would prove that Courage has a relationship to Islam (StraightWay is on the links page)." And there is sufficient common ground that people who advocate reparative therapy have spoken at our conferences, and we don't treat them as ritually unclean pariahs. But that's pretty small potatoes, and linking from the site doesn't prove otherwise.² The USCCB document, which I think could have been written by a well-formed Courage member, pretty clearly indicates from space and rhetoric that "orientation change" is a small part of the Church teaching and not a big priority compared with a much broader orientation change that all need. In fact, here is how it transitions into the next segment after its "Therapy for Homosexual Inclinations?" segment.
There is another kind of “therapy” or healing of which we all stand in need, regardless of whether one is attracted to the same or the opposite sex: Every person needs training in the virtues.
Which is the "The Necessity for Training in Virtue" segment. In fact, I wish I could say I influenced the following segment ...
To acquire a virtue—to become temperate, brave, just, or prudent—we must repeatedly perform acts that embody that virtue, acts that we accomplish with the help of the Holy Spirit and with the guidance and encouragement of our teachers in virtue. ... The acquisition of virtues requires a sustained effort and repeated actions. As the ancient philosophers recognized, the more one repeats good actions, the more one’s passions (such as love, anger, and fear) become shaped in accord with good action.
Which sound suspiciously like this post (OK, fairly unremarkable, but I'll take my synchronicity or Providence where I can)

To wax personal: I'm pretty much a "Kinsey 6" (or maybe a 7), have been for as long as it's meaningful to call me a sexual being, and don't expect this to change any time soon. Being attracted to women is something that I hope for only in the sense that one hopes to win the lottery. My confessor knows all this and has never told me I have to "become straight" or marry. He did strongly encourage me to see a therapist, but about issues relating to my homosexuality and how I act out on it, not for the thing-in-itself. But to get all Matrix-y, if I were offered (1) a blue pill that would prevent me from ever having a sexual thought about a man or acting therein, but didn't change my complete lack of interest in women, or (2) a red pill that would give me normal response to women, but make me a compulsive womanizer, I'd take the blue pill without a second's hesitation.
¹ Aside: I've never really understood why pro-gay groups think that they should push the genetic-inborn theory. Well ... I do understand its short-term appeal (publicly, it seems to clinch the analogy of "sexuality" to race and sex; privately, it salves/deadens the conscience). But does anybody imagine that if we find a "gay gene" or a definitive cause based in hormones or amniotic-fluid or the like, that a pre-natal test for these factors disposing to homosexuality will be far behind? And like with girls in China and India, that the abortion rates will ... adjust.
² I will caveat the following: Some members do in fact pursue the "orientation-change" attempt. So, human group dynamics being what they are, it wouldn't surprise me if in some chapters, there might be more (or less) de-facto "peer pressure" or "groupthink" to do this.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The USCCB releases its document

Available here as a PDF file (thanks Amy).

I must say I haven't been this encouraged by a Church document in a while. Frankly, it brought tears to me eyes in a couple of places (and I am not really referring to the approving mention of Courage and Encourage in Footnote 44. Yeah, it might have been better to have been in the text, but I can't quarrel with such a relatively-empty formalism).

No, what brought tears to my eyes was this on page 6:

It is crucially important to understand that saying a person has a particular inclination that is disordered is not to say that the person as a whole is disordered. Nor does it mean that one has been rejected by God or the Church. Sometimes the Church is misinterpreted or misrepresented as teaching that persons with homosexual inclinations are objectively disordered, as if everything about them were disordered or rendered morally defective by this inclination. Rather, the disorder is in that particular inclination, which is not ordered toward the fulfillment of the natural ends of human sexuality. Because of this, acting in accord with such an inclination simply cannot contribute to the true good of the human person. Nevertheless, while the particular inclination to homosexual acts is disordered, the person retains his or her intrinsic human dignity and value.

I can't tell you how annoying it is to listen to pro-gay folks ignorantly (on this subject, that's an objective fact) saying "the church says I am intrinsically evil" or "I'm not objectively disordered," etc. No. It. Doesn't. The distinction is right there. Reject it if you like, but don't lie about what the Church teaches in order to boost up your Right-to-a-Hissy-Fit quotient.

And there was this on pp 6-7:

Many in our culture have difficulty understanding Catholic moral teaching because they do not understand that morality has an objective basis. Some hold that moral norms are nothing more than guidelines for behavior that happen to be widely accepted by people of a particular culture at a particular time. Catholic tradition, however, holds that the basis of morality is found in the natural order established by the Creator, an order that is not destroyed but rather elevated by the transforming power of the grace that comes to us through Jesus Christ.

And finally, this on pp 10-11:

One way in which the Church can aid persons with a homosexual inclination is by nurturing the bonds of friendship among people. In their analysis of human nature, the ancient philosophers recognized that friendship is absolutely essential for the good life, for true happiness. Friendships of various kinds are necessary for a full human life, and they are likewise necessary for those attempting to live chastely in the world. There can be little hope of living a healthy, chaste life without nurturing human bonds. Living in isolation can ultimately exacerbate one’s disordered tendencies and undermine the practice of chastity. It would not be wise for persons with a homosexual inclination to seek friendship exclusively among persons with the same inclination. They should seek to form stable friendships among both homosexuals and heterosexuals. . . . A homosexual person can have an abiding relationship with another homosexual without genital sexual expression. Indeed the deeper need of any human is for friendship rather than genital expression.

If you love someone of the same sex, nobody is saying that you cannot or should cease to love them. In fact, you can love them without sex (more authentically the Church teaches, but set that aside for now). If the gay-rights folks refuse to give up sex, it's an indication that sex is what they truly love. Functionally-speaking, it is their god. But they'll define it as the sine qua non of their loving relationships and saying "you can't criticize our sex without criticizing our love." It's the equivalent of Hezbollah, Al-Qaida or Hamas terrorists hiding behind Arab civilian populations, leaving Israel or the US the choice of not striking or putting civilians at risk. But it's based on a false understanding of Church teaching. The Church simply does not object if Adam and Steve live together in friendship, even if they might have same-sex attractions. What She objects to is Adam and Steve having sex; nothing more.

Would that every Church document be this concise, clear, on-point and comprehensive.

Monday, November 13, 2006

"The Bitch is Back"

In the latest display of gay tolerance, Sir Elton suggests, stone cold sober as a matter of fact, that all religion should be banned. According to the BBC:
his solution would be to "ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it."
Not "religion should change its teachings." Not "Religion X should be banned." Not "religion is foolish and stupid." But "ban religion completely." That's not ambiguous. And sure enough, like music's answer to Andrew Sullivan, it is all about The Great Glory That Is The Gay Lifestyle:
"I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people," he said. "Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays."
It's sad, so sad. It's a sad, sad situation. Homosexuals are becoming increasingly totalitarian, and this interview drips with. He thinks religion turns people into "hateful lemmings," not realizing that to call human beings "lemmings" is itself "hateful." Or that plenty of non-religious societies have persecuted homosexuals quite vigorously. No ... it's the same childish rant. Y'know I never would have thought that Sir Elton really did think he was justified when he was five, to judge by the approximate maturity of some of the theological thoughts. I mean, how does one respond to:
[Sir Elton] also said that the problems experienced by many gays in former nations of the Soviet bloc, such as Poland, Latvia and Russia were caused by the church supporting anti-gay movements.
Well, that's so awful for those countries. For governments, maybe they'll get a replacement and go back to their previous regimes, which were a bit closer to Sir Elton's notion that all religion should be banned (however imperfectly realized, they were at one with Sir Elton in principle). And for the record, those regimes and every other actual Socialist regime would never have met the standards of the City of San Francisco Human Rights Commission -- homosexuality is a selfish, decadent product of capitalism, doncha know. And homosexuals in the Soviet Union could only dream of him, never see the letters that he writes, and had to look up through the wire to count the stars at night.

That latter might seem like a small point, but it indicates the ahistoricity of gay-rights floggers -- oh they can bitch, they can bitch because (they think) they're better than you, but to listen to them describe the status quo, whether in the Church or the broader society, you would never get the sense that homosexuality has never been freer or less-disapproved (whether this is a good thing or a bad thing). Butterflies are definitely free to fly, here.

Then there's this sheer, utter idiocy:
[Sir Elton] called on the leaders of major religions to hold a "conclave" to discuss the fate of the world - which he said was "near escalating to World War Three".
"I said this after 9/11 and people thought I was nuts," he said. "It's all got to be dialogue - that's the only way. Get everybody from each religion together and say 'Listen, this can't go on. Why do we have all this hatred?'
"We are all God's people; we have to get along and the [religious leaders] have to lead the way. If they don't do it, who else is going to do it? They're not going to do it and it's left to musicians or to someone else to deal with it."
I haven't seen that face for a while, but it's definitely still the same spoiled child. What makes it sheer and utter idiocy (as opposed to simply Kumbaya dreaming, which'd obviously be bad enough) is that this is coming from someone who says religion should be banned. Well, how are these "absolutely banned" religions supposed to even exist, much less meet, much less wield influence. Even if you think there's some distinction between "organized religion" and something else "disorganized religion[?]," without the "organized" part, there's no way for any religion to have a "leader" for this meeting Sir Elton pins such great hopes on.

I could go on forever in this vein, but metaphors involving fish, barrels and the use of Second-Amendment-protected devices would come to mind. And there's plenty like him to be found. I first saw this at the site of Dale Price, who asked in shocking language to which I would never stoop: "who gives a crap what entertainers think?"

I disagree with Dale ... entertainers do matter. In and of themselves, Sir Elton's remarks don't matter, either in the sense that George Bush's or Condi Rice's or Vladimir Putin's do (holding formal power), or in the sense that Alasdair MacIntyre's or Irving Kristol's or Michael Lerner's (intellectuals). They ARE just the dumb bloviations of a pop star.

But in a perverse way, that's what makes them important. There's the obvious Shelley aphorism about "the unacknowledged legislators of the world." (CM shudders). But even beyond that, the specific example breaks a bit of kulturkampf ground. They're important not as a furnace (the cause of a thing -- heat), but as a thermometer (the measure of that thing). Sir Elton HASN'T thought these topics through (which isn't particularly damnable in itself), and this is what comes out of a him. Most people, and all non-intellectuals, DON'T think things through -- they absorb what the world around them thinks or tells them they should think, thoughtlessly or with minimal thought. The thoughtless man is a better barometer of his society than the thoughtful man for that very reason. I think a serious persecution of Christians is coming, because sentiments like these are becoming much more commonly expressed as natural and normal than before. While there has always been The Village Atheist around, he has been an exception. Sir Elton indicates TVA might be becoming the norm.

On a somewhat lighter note, Kathy Shaidle, discussing the same topic, came up with a list of reasons the Pope is better than Elton John:
  • He's got his own hair and has never filed for bankruptcy
  • Valerie Bertinelli never dressed up as Cardinal Ratzinger on One Day at a Time
  • Had nothing to do with Tommy²
  • Doesn't call photographers "rude, vile pigs"
  • Not a dwarf
To which I add:
  • About the role of Husserl and phenomenology in Karol Wojtyla's personalist philosophy -- Elton John don't know shit
  • The Pope never wrote a song to the World Team Tennis league
  • The Pope has the stronger fashion sense, with more modest hats and better Prada shoes
  • Everyone knows the pope's born name
  • "Deus Caritas Est" is in a real dead language, unlike "Solar Prestige a Gammon"³ And a bit meatier than "Believe"⁴
  • Pope doesn't depend on Bernie Taupin to write words for him
  • Pope hasn't had a career trajectory that started with Kiki Dee as a duet partner and went on to RuPaul and (on another song) George Michael
¹And Dale ... that other fellow would probably say "Don't drink? Don't smoke? What DO you do?" Which actually pretty much sums up modern morality on matters sexual -- "there's always something inside."
² C'mon, Kathy. That's a bit unfair. "Tommy" may not be to everyone's taste (it's garishly over-the-top) and Sir Dwight is obviously wrong to sing "Pinball Wizard." But how can a movie with Ann-Margaret in a roomful of baked beans, Roger Daltrey singing "See Me, Feel Me" or a vamping Tina Turner as the Acid Queen be something shameful.
³ An obscure album cut from "Caribou." Lyrics here.
Which rivals "Imagine" as the Dreamy-Dumbest Pop Hit of all-time. Lyrics here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One more election post-mortem

Only this one will be narrowly focused -- gay "marriage." Backers of marriage lost for the first time yesterday before a state's voters. And it wasn't in Massachusetts or Rhode Island — it was Arizona whose voters became the first to reject a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Homosexual-rights campaigners took heart from another factor beyond their first victory after 27 straight defeats:
“Two years ago we had 11 of these on the ballot, and in only two of them did we do better than 40 percent. This year there were eight and in at least five of them we did better than 40 percent.”
Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Obviously, he's not making stuff up, but I think there's less of a general shift here than meets the eye. Foreman isn't just spinning, but there is spin involved, which you can see when you unpack the numbers.

Here are the percentages of voters who voted against the measures in 2006:
Arizona: 51.4%
Colorado: 44.3%
Idaho: 36.7%
South Carolina: 22.0%
South Dakota: 48.2%
Tennessee: 18.7%
Virginia: 42.9%
Wisconsin: 40.6%
An average of 38.1%

Here were the same figures from 2004:
Arkansas: 25%
Georgia: 24%
Kentucky: 25%
Michigan: 41%
Mississippi: 14%
Montana: 33%
North Dakota: 27%
Ohio: 38%
Oklahoma: 24%
Oregon: 43%
Utah: 34%
An average of 29.8%

Now that's a "gain" of more than 8 percentage points. And obviously, a victory is a victory.

But much of the "average" gain has a great deal to do with the mix of states represented. But comparing like-with-like, there wasn't much change in most of the country. In the 2004 votes, the pro-gay vote in the Bible-belt South hovered around 20 percent -- just as in 2006 (Virginia being the solitary exception). The votes that took place in the "Big 10" Midwest were virtually the same in 2004 — 38 and 41 — as in 2006 — 40.6.

Only in the more libertarian regions of the Plains Midwest and West did pro-gay advocates make much headway, and these states were where most of yesterday's votes were. But they were already averaging the 30-something neighborhood in 2004, while they broke into the 40+ region in 2006. Getting 37 percent in Idaho isn't that much better than 34 percent in Utah.

I cherry-picked two those last states of course, but to prove that the tectonic plates haven't shifted dramatically on the issue. The pro-gay forces made some headway certainly (boooo). But I suspect local factors, like other things on the ballot, had more to do with the results in South Dakota, Virginia and Arizona, which are outliers.

Going back even more, in 2000, when Proposition 22 was on the California ballot, this very-blue state voted to protect marriage by 61.4 percent to 38.6 percent (the same year, California voters rejected a school-voucher amendment by 71-29 and backed Al Gore by 12 points, so we are definitely dealing with a time when the Religious Right had become anathema there). Point being: "gay-marriage" pushers always have been able to get around 40 percent in the right states and circumstances.

I think the reason opponents of homosexual "marriage" may have lost a little momentum was that liberals also backed off a bit. Remember, those 2004 votes came in the immediate wake of both the 2003 Massachusetts court decision and an open campaign of civil disobedience by government officials, led by the mayor of San Francisco, to issue marriage licenses on their own will, trying to impose gay "marriage" on the country as a fait accompli.

But that changed a bit in the past year. The Massachusetts court didn't allow homosexuals from outside to come in simply for "marriage's" sake, turning their state into Reno East. Courts in California, New York and Washington state -- all of whom liberals hoped would either mimic Massachusetts or go one step further by imposing out-of-state "marriages," declined even to do the first, instead deferring to their legislatures. Just a week before the election, the New Jersey high court, which earlier has unanimously tried to impose homosexual leaders on the Boy Scouts, took up the issue. Its id clearly wanted to create gay "marriage" but backed off, instead ordering the Legislature to pass either gay "marriage" or a system of civil-unions (three of the seven members of the panel went ahead and did what felt good). If these Jersey Girls had pulled a Massachusetts a week before the election ... who knows?

Obviously, none of that affects the rights and wrongs of the matter, but most voters aren't philosophers. A sense of immediacy and threat does matter. It's not everything, but certainly urgency is worth a few points (if it weren't, campaign ads wouldn't be as they are). The NGLTF's Foreman pretty much says as much:
What we're seeing is that fear-mongering around same-sex marriage is fizzling out.
He says to-MAY-to ("fear-mongering," "fizzling out"); I say to-MAH-to ("urgency ... worth a few points"). But it's the same thing -- the notion that we'll wake up one day to find liberal judges imposing gay marriage looks less-credible and imminent in 2006 than it did in 2003-4. The night after Bush won, I raised a toast "to the MVPs of Bush's victory -- the Massachusetts Supreme Court and the mayor of San Francisco." Nobody to toast this time around.

For now.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Since I'm in Aristotle mood

Here's the man, a pagan, whom St. Thomas called The Philosopher:
Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way. We become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.
And gay by performing gay actions. Because, as The Philosopher says:
Or, in one word, the habits are produced from the acts of working like to them ... whether we are accustomed this way or that straight from childhood ... I would say it makes all the difference.

Against personal interest

Over at Rod Dreher's blog, some people are crassly assuming that Ted Haggard is gay (thanks for the link, Dale). But Rod links to the most important reaction, that of Gayle Haggard. Here's the best quote:
What I want you to know is that I love my husband, Ted Haggard, with all my heart. I am committed to him until death "do us part." We started this journey together and with the grace of God, we will finish together.
Now, I'm sure the right-thinking will dismiss this as some big-heared bimbo (start Hillary imitation) "standing by her man like Tammy Wynette." Because by staying beside her husband and not making this out to be a worse betrayal than an affair with the secretary, and saying that a marriage vow is for life and "for better or worse," she's powerfully denying the cental claims of the gay-rights pushers. She's showing that homosexuality doesn't define the world, doesn't define a person, doesn't define the right thing to do. The Haggards have five children, who need two parents, preferably those who begat them, and that's the most important thing. I'll be praying for the Haggards tonight at Adoration. Dunno what they'd think of such Papist idol-worship of a bowing before a cracker ... but there it is.

Another good link I found at Rod's was to a National Review piece by David Frum (ironically linked by a hostile combox-er). Here's the money quote:
Consider the hypothetical case of two men. Both are inclined toward homosexuality. Both from time to time hire the services of male prostitutes. Both have occasionally succumbed to drug abuse.
One of them marries, raises a family, preaches Christian principles, and tries generally to encourage people to lead stable lives.
The other publicly reveals his homosexuality, vilifies traditional moral principles, and urges the legalization of drugs and prostitution.
Which man is leading the more moral life?
Exactly. In fact, the contrary answer is the direct result of considering hypocrisy to be the sin of sins (which is the direct consequence of considering "authenticity" to be a virtue). In my exaggerated moments, I've said "liberals are immune to charges of hypocrisy because they champion immorality." Obviously that's exaggerated in some details, but I think it still essentially true. Only if hypocrisy is acceptable is public morality possible in a fallen world. In fact I would write a book called "In Defense of Hypocrisy," except that it has already been written (Master Jeremy was a PK as a boy, and I reread his chapter on religious figures over the weekend).

And the great walk-off is from Aristotle:
I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.
Back to Frum: He also makes the sensible point that:
In every other avenue of life, we praise people who rise above selfish personal wishes to champion higher principles and the public good. We admire the white southerners who in the days of segregation spoke out for racial equality. We admire the leader of a distressed industry who refuses to ask for trade protections and government handouts. We admire the Arthur Vandenbergs and (someday) the Joe Liebermans who can reach past party feeling to support a president of the opposing party for the sake of the national interest.
And he rhetorically asks why not the same for homosexuality. In other words, if a person has homosexual attractions but decides (for whatever reason) that these attractions are temptations to be resisted and/or averted, why should he favor every loosening of the public sphere on homosexuality? Why isn't favoring restrictions on "himself" an example of "intellectual firmness and moral integrity" rather than, as the homosex-pushers assert, an act of self-loathing? Or is every claim in the public sphere just a rationalization for biography and self-interest?

In fact, this very matter came up between myself and my confessor a few months ago -- the relation between opposing homosexual "marriage" and men with same-sex attraction like myself. I reprint our exchange below, with Father's permission, which he gave with the following elaboration:
I don't know if I made the analogy, but I think it can be compared to an alcoholic forbidding alcohol in the house. He knows his weakness and he doesn't want the temptation. Or again, similar to almost any man opposing easier access to pornography: he knows it's a temptation and he doesn't it want it near him.
I have bracketed over a few specific details with generalities for the sake of discretion, both my own and that of others.

Here's the lead on a story I just read (the whole story is after I sign off):
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Mayor James E. West, a Republican foe of gay rights, was accused in a newspaper story Thursday of molesting two boys decades ago and was caught by the paper using the trappings of his office to try to court a young man on a gay Web site.
West on Thursday denied the molestation allegations, but acknowledged he "had relations with adult men."
Stories like this one paralyze me with fear. Who knows where I might be at 54. And even if I live like The Blessed Virgin Mary Herself for the next 15 years, some reporter already has his lead written -- "[My Name], a Republican foe of gay rights, was accused in a newspaper story Thursday of [short list of my past misdeeds] decades ago..."

In all honesty, Padre (though I'm not blaming this for [recent event] ), the drumbeat of stories in this genre (and the apparent fact they'll never end) is one reason I think I'm so prone to fits of depression and despair. I see that headline in my future and it's hard to keep my eyes disciplined and dry. The world is completely unforgiving, and there's a significant movement afoot that would positively revel in my public humiliation, as a good in itself (not simply a regrettable but necessary side-effect, breaking a few eggs to make an omelette and all of that).

I know I shouldn't care about the world (if God is with us, who can be against us). But I do. I'm afraid of martyrdom.
To which Father responded:
I understand your fear, and I wish there were a way of removing it entirely. A simple "Oh, don't worry about it" wouldn't really suffice.

What strikes me is the reasonableness of a man with SSA opposing the gay rights agenda. [Name of famous right-wing intellectual] once commented that the reason he opposes pornography is because of his own weaknesses! Not because he looks down his nose at others. He opposes it for his own sake. I must say, that is a lot of what lurks behind my opposition to TV. I know that it is the worst thing for me, that I will settle on the most mindless show or movie (usually featuring Adam Sandler) and fritter away hours that I will have to make up in after school detention (purgatory). It is not my strength or superior virtue that makes me bash TV - it's my weakness. Mutatis mutandis, I think you can say the same.

But let me point out the obvious. You are taking a possibility and making it a certainty, adding water so that it grows, fertilizing it, giving it steroids, and then collapsing under the weight of it.

You know, increasingly I turn back to basics. Dedicate yourself more to cultivating a PERSONAL relationship with Christ. You seem to be living according to fears about a possible future instead of according to the certainty of the present Lord.

It's a hackneyed prayer at this point, but one I pray every day and from which I derive great peace:

God, grant me
the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Against sexual orientation

Despite the appearances in my earlier post, I do have a lot of sympathy for Ted Haggard. I really do. I hope he stays with his family, if for no other reason than to give a thumb in the eye of the gay-activist/prostitute crowd who'd like nothing better than to humiliate and hound him to the ends of the earth for the sin of opposing gay "marriage." And they are such immature brats to deal with.

There is no reason this should end the Haggards' marriage, or be worse than a series of dalliances with a female prostitute. After all, love between persons presumably involves more than sex (as the gay-"marriage" pushers constantly tell us when they protest "reducing our love to anal sex").

But the greater problem is the whole language of "sexual orientation," which Haggard's behavior powerfully gives the lie to. I think the term should be junked, as it presupposes something false -- that human beings are definitively (or at least teleologically) "typed" on the basis of the sex of their beloveds. That some behavior is "authentic" and other "inauthentic." Once gay always gay. And therefore, once straight always straight (or so you would think, but it doesn't turn out that way at all, because we aren't talking about the serious study of sexuality, but a political agenda to rope people in).

This rigid "gay-straight" typology keeps being disproven over and over and over, while the typology itself keeps us from seeing this. It's a pitch-perfect example of the wish substituting for the thought. From Cyndi Lauper in one direction to Anne Heche in the other; from the Athenians in one circumstance to prison inmates in another; from Balzac for one reason to Thomas Mann for another -- there can be no reasonably dispute that people are *capable* (prescinding for the moment from the question of whether they should) of either changing their sexual behavior or of not succumbing to a temptation to do something sexual they don't want to.

What's so aggravating about gay activists' writing about cases like Haggard is that there's a gross double standard. They crow that Haggard is really gay (and self-loathing and all the rest of the carnival of smears). As commenter "thomas tucker" put it at Amy Welborn's Open Book:
Andrew Sullivan is saying that his guy is gay and has been in the closet. Yet, Sullivan and others in the gay lobby always say that reparative therapy doesn't work and "gay" men who decide to become heterosexually involved are fooling themselves and others. In other words, if you dabble in gay sex, you're gay and if you dabble in straight sex, you're gay. They want it both ways.
Exactly. What is the "B" in "LGBT" supposed to stand for? It's obvious, if we must use contemporary typology, that Haggard is bi -- he has five children; that doesn't happen from picking blackberries. And why is it assumed that a "bi" person is making a despicable or self-loathing or self-deceiving choice by marrying the opposite sex and living the breeder lifestyle. Or is gay sex is the psychological equivalent of "negro blood," which was such powerful stuff that one drop made you black (ask Homer Plessy)? Anyone who has ever had a sexual thought toward the same sex (or acts on it) is really gay and cannot be anything other than that? If stating this doesn't suffice to refute it, I am at a loss.

Loathesomeness (i.e., sin) all around

Quelle coïncidence! All around.

Just a few days before Colorado votes on a gay "marriage" amendment, a homosexual prostitute says one of his clients was Ted Haggard, head of the National Association of Evangelicals and founder of one of the nation's largest mega-churches. The prostitute said:
It made me angry that here's someone preaching about gay marriage and going behind the scenes having gay sex.
Heaven forfend that prostitutes should deal with people "going behind the scenes," as if a prostitute ever deals with someone not seeking to fulfill some sexual or other need on the QT. Nor was Haggard all that anti-gay for a Christian pastor, as Get Religion documents. Sorry, but I refuse to listen to lectures about sexual morality from someone who fucks for money.

The timing of this latest "Out A Politically Incorrect Homo" is so patent that I can't imagine that it'll have any effect on the referendum. Christians won't be turned off (if anything the opposite) and the crass timing of the whole spectacle (like the Bush DUI "October Surprise" in 2000) will be seen through by anyone else.

That said, Haggard's actions have been pathetic -- a Clinton-worthy drip-drip-dripping, trimming his story to minimally conform to what he knows can be proven. The backtracking detailed in a nutshell by Denver TV station KUSA.

The first clip says he doesn't know the prostitute's name (and yes, some prostitutes go by other names). Which we now know is a lie, from tapes and his own admissions. We also got this:
I did not have a homosexual relationship with a man in Denver. I am steady with my wife. I’m faithful to my wife.
And the minute I read that denial, I knew there was something rotten in Denmark. The wording was so technically precise -- "I did not have a homosexual relationship with a man in Denver" -- as to invite Clintonian parsing to see if it can be telling the truth while making-believe a lie. Obviously, on multiple counts. To mention only the one being borne out (I can think of about three others without breaking any brain sweat): Purchasing a prostitute for an hour once a month is not by any stretch of the imagination a "relationship."

Then there was the fact that he immediately resigned. Which, give the devil his due, a gay activist and champion "outer" noted -- "I don’t know a lot of people who step down from those positions if there’s not something behind that smoking gun."

Then we got this admission from the church to unspecified indiscretions (at the bottom of the article):
There has been some admission of indiscretion, not an admission to all of the material that has been discussed, but there is an admission of some guilt.
Then Haggard said he bought drugs from the guy but never used them:
I was buying it for me, but I never used it. I never kept it very long because it was wrong. I was tempted. I bought it. But I never used it.
Coincidentally, this admission came after the prostitute played tapes for a Denver TV station of the man he says was Haggard. And the TV station had a voice authenticator analyse it, saying it was authentic. Here's a sample ... the very vaguenesses and unclear referents make it clear that there's a familiarity here (the listener would know how to fill in the gaps):
Hi Mike, this is Art, I am here in Denver and sorry that I missed you. But as I said, if you want to go ahead and get the stuff, then that would be great. And I'll get it sometime next week or the week after or whenever.
Coincidence that *now* he admits this? And when real evidence beyond "he said, he said" comes out that you bought crystal meth (the gay party-drug of choice), it's just all-too-convenient to believe when you change your story to "buying, but not using."

This is Classic Clinton -- "I smoked but didn't inhale." Admitting to one sexual encounter with Gennifer Flowers (not realizing that to have sex with someone merely once is in fact the rudest, ugliest thing of all to do). Or admitting an "inappropriate relationship" with Monica Lewinsky only once the DNA tests on the blue dress came back. I mean ... buy meth out of curiosity and then not use it? Please. More sail-trimming. Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining. Just don't.

The same interview had this claim, from KUSA:
According to Haggard, he met with Jones in a Denver hotel room after receiving a referral from the hotel in which he was staying.
When asked how he knew Jones would sell him meth, Haggard said he had told him about it.
"I went there for a massage," Haggard said.
When asked which hotel gave him the referral, Haggard said: "I've stayed at a lot of hotels in Denver because I write in Denver."
Oh yeah. I go to masseurs all the time, as referred to me by a hotel. And every masseur I go to, I happen to ask him how to score some crystal meth. And that onetime purchase of crystal-meth I made was such a specifically memorable event that I remember throwing it away, but also such a banally forgettable event that I don't remember what hotel it was for a reporter to confirm whether they give referrals to masseurs with ads like this one (warning: kinda explicit).

Puh-frickin-leeze. I can't even drive by some of the places where I've committed sins of this sort without being reminded of them. This guy's a smoothie trying to weasel his way out. Nothing more.

It's the massage thing that tore it for me. If you want or need a legitimate massage, there are professional and legitimate masseurs and masseuses. And there's reputable gyms and saunas and spas, where you can do business openly and freely. A hotel might refer you to them. But you don't hire a prostitute from whom you also get the gay party-drug of choice. Indeed, many gay prostitutes (like this one) advertise themselves as offering "massages," with the term either standing alone or sometimes with winking terms like "massage and other services."

New Life Church finally decided it had had enough after two days of this and fired him outright.

Still, this won't change (and shouldn't change) anybody's mind about homosexual "marriage," as the prostitute acknowledged he hoped to do. People are smarter than that. And Christians too. As one New Life member put it:
The farther up you are, the more you are a target for Satan.
And the gay activist crowd.