Friday, August 10, 2007

CM at others' comboxes -- 1

I have decided that I post so much at other people's comboxes that I should start putting up here the more substantial posts, those that in my judgment make broader points that can stand up on their own, outside the particular context (none of my debate polemics or smart-aleck comments, IOW).

I will post them unedited except for the grammar, clarity or spelling burps we all occasionally make. I posted at Closed Cafeteria earlier today in response to this comment:
why the claim that temptation toward homosexual activity is greater than [it is for] heterosexual persons? I often hear comments like those offered by John Hetman, that homosexual persons grapple with a "struggle with oftentimes overwhelming temptations."
Comparing the weight of crosses is in some sense a futile endeavour, I agree. But I don't think there can be any comparison at all between homosexuality and heterosexuality in this respect (in other words, we are talking about a difference in kind, not of degree). So I responded:
Strictly biological-drive speaking, it probably isn't. But there are still some quite fundamental differences:
(1) Marriage and children are vocations and are always a possibility for the straight person; chastity is both carrot and stick, in other words. For the homosexual person, it can be easily seen (and almost all do see it at times) as all stick and without real vocational value.
(2) No straight person really sees his heterosexuality per se (as opposed to particular features of it) as a curse, a cross.
(3) Straight people really don't have anything comparable to the contemporary "gay rights" movement, which sets up both an alternate temptation and a group of people who despise you. (Nor are there Caveman types among Catholics ready to assume the disgusting worst of one at the drop of a hat.)
Check here for any continuation.


Anonymous said...

It's a bit hard getting round all the terminology, who has the biggest cross?, chosen celibacy ie the Priesthood or consecrated laity etc etc..but having family members agonising over these issues i'm determined to stay the course!

God bless..yes please do write in more detail..

Eileen R said...

Long-time lurker/admirer here. I've not experienced SSA myself, so my observations are very much from the outside. Nevertheless:

I think another difference is the whole support system, or lack thereof, regarding temptations. It's a given that all men and women can be tempted towards impurity, so no one's going to look suspiciously at people going to hear a chastity presentation on how to stay pure till marriage.

But it's a different situation for the person with same sex attraction. The temptation tends to be kept hidden, for the obvious reason that if you indicate your problems to people, a lot of them will end up distancing themselves from you, even people who don't *mean* to do so, but are unaware of their own psychological reactions.

Things that are hidden are harder to fight, even though to some extent it's prudence to keep to oneself personal issues that might bring greater trouble if known publicly.

Which is why I admire Courage such a lot. It seems to me to bring the support/encouragement into the picture where no-one else could.

Woodrow said...

(Formerly known as CW)

Many psychologists who counsel SSA men (I don't know about SSA women) say we have eroticized a lot of our feelings. This makes us try to "fix" some of our negative emotional states with sex. Examples from my own life: "I feel insecure about my body image--I'll prove that my body attracts some people by having sex." "I feel lonely, but none of my friends are around/cannot help me/will not talk about my issues (pick one)--I'll have sex and not be lonely for a short while." (Would that my body image would get me in the gym! I actually am a member of one.) I wish I could find a handy quote or source, but cannot think of the last book or essay I read that discussed eroticized feelings. Will post any sources I come across in the next few days.

jeron said...

woodrow, you hit the nail on the head. this is a concept the Spirit revealed to me 2 years ago with my own introspection. i wanted to be accepted by all my male peers, but was rejected early on and it hurt BIG! i wanted so desperately to be liked and accepted, but like the guy who gave his testimony at the conference, i was uber-sensitive (still am) and let myself get walked all over. i started to identify with the women in my life: my mom, my 5 sisters, and the girls at school. they were all "like me." and it didn't take long for me to start having all the regular women idols: the bionic woman; wonder woman; bette davis; etc. and i eroticized *very* early those feelings of longing to be not just like a guy, but *with* a guy.

Anonymous said...

So often, young men and women with SSA are completely left out of the life of the Church and discussions of sexuality. I attended, as an adult chaperon, a well-respected and very uplifting summer program for teens. There were wonderful presentations and homilies and music and opportunities to bond. But through it all, it was assumed that everyone was heterosexual. Now, what is a young person who is struggling with SSA to do? They would have the option of: a) trying to "translate" all that was said to apply to their own life; b) conclude that they were the only one in the world who has SSA; or c) conclude that the Church - or this corner of the Church - had no room for them. Such experiences are common for those with SSA, and do nothing to help such persons deal with the temptations they experience.

Anonymous said...

As Huck Finn said in embracing his friendship with Jim and being torn up over his perceived moral imperative to turn him in to the authorities, "I guess I'll go to hell then". He hit the nail on the head. Christ calls us to Charity first, theocratic pharaisee legalism second.

I figure if Kensey is right that there is a scale of 1 to 6 in sexual orientation, then I must be a 1. I have no clue how a man can be attracted to another man. I never have been attracted to one anyway. These people that think it's chosen behavior must be bisexual at least. Because if they were like me they wouldn't be able to comprehend choosing a male shape over a female shape to even be attracted to.

Anyway... I figure that gays need to figure this thing out and straights need to butt the hell out of the argument and be charitable in the mean time. How can a straight person know whether or not a gay man can be in a lifelong monogamous relationship or not? Well, I can't know that. Therefore I have no right to much of an opinion.

And I can sure see that it would be tought to choose between monogamy and celibacy if there were a whole sub culture of heterosexual bath houses and promiscuity to deal with. For better or worse 99.9% of women just don't have a male sexuality and libido, or we straight men would surely be battling the same temptations. If female sexuality were like male sexuality, there'd be nothing but heterosexual bath houses from sea to shining sea.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no self-loathing male. I think our often-lively sexuality is totally necessary in the grand scheme of things. I just think it makes SSA tough for men. God probably has a reason for it all, if only we could discern it.

Jennifer F. said...

Wow, how did I just now discover your blog? Great stuff. I can't wait to read the archives.

Your point #4 is particularly interesting -- I'd never thought of that, but it's really true.

The closest thing we (heterosexuals) have is the contraceptive mentality in our culture that is completely unsupportive and disdainful of people who are not willing to use contraception, always tempting us to just take the Pill for a little while if the going gets tough. But, to your point, it's not a cohesive, organized movement the way the gay rights movement is.

Thanks for the great blog!

Anonymous said...

The other thing my gay friends have to struggle with is that the temptation is so AVAILABLE. I have many gay friends, and I have seen how they can be anywhere, any time and find the gay scene and just immediately opt in to anonymous sex, orgies, drugs, whatever. If straight men could just opt in any time to orgies, you can bet they would struggle with that temptation. Frankly, I would be shocked if any straight man could resist it for his entire lifetime. Sexual cravings in men are that blindingly strong.

Anonymous said...

It makes no sense to me to compare homosexual temptations to heterosexuality (oh how i'd love to ban that word!)

But speaking as one tempted by prostitution and violent sexual acts, especially oral and anal sodomy (of a "hetero" nature), disordered sexual appetites are disordered sexual appetites. I find no "compromise" in marriage. That is no way to live out my particular sexual appetite, just like you. It is impossible, and that is a good thing.

To answer Eileen's point, how much of a support system do you think I find?

Woodrow's point still applies to me. definitely a good one.

Anonymous at 8:08pm, how included in the Church's discussion on sexuality do you think I am?

Winnipeg and Anonynmous at 11:38pm just need to get out a hit the clubs more often. Their description don't even remotely begin to agree with reality.

Ultimately, the prevailing ideology of the last hundred or more years that treats the person with SSA as a different kind is the cause for the damage and confusion. How much more clearly would we all see things if we started from the recognition of our humanity, and then from there addressed the temptations that overlay that humanity, be they sexual or otherwise.

Tom S. said...

Dear Courageman:

Since I first came to your site because a particular post was referred to in another Catholic Blog, I have been moved by your insight and critical thinking.

As you have not posted in a while, and some of the other SSA sites you link to are closed, I write this to let you know I encourage you to continue your site, and you are still in my prayers.

Woodrow said...

CourageMan, I hope all is well with you. Give us an update soon, please. You are in my prayers, too.