His latest response was initially posted here and I'm bringing it out and up, because I want to respond in detail, an exercise I think worthy because so much of the basis for his scandalous counterwitness is so common. His words are in italics and block quotes, with my responses on each point following.
You seem to be conflating issues of gender and sexuality. Just because a child (or anyone, for that matter) identifies with the opposite gender doesn't mean they want to be sexually active.It may not. My point is not about the particulars of what this child wants but his general competence to speak on sexual matters. I repeat my unanswered question ... if an 8-year-old is competent to decide “gender identification” (which, while not the same thing as sexual behavior, is inextricable from it) as you seem to think, Mr. Bayly, why is he not competent to decide whether to be sexually active. It doesn’t matter what said decision of this 8-year-old or any particular one may be. “Age of consent” laws rest on the assumption of incompetence and inagency, not an empirical matter of whether a competent agent actually wants to.
Further, what harm is done, exactly, by parents and schools here doing what they traditionally would have done, which is to chalk this boy's feelings up to a phase and wait till he grows out of it. If it is just a phase or an excessive imagination or curiosity, you've spared him years of humiliation and steered him away from a self-fulfilling prophecy (i.e., he would **come** to see himself that way by everybody else indulging himself). And if it isn't a phase, if there really is such a thing as a "transgendered person" (which I doubt, but I'll stipulate for the moment) and he is an example of that ... he'll still be a "transgendered person" when he turns 18 or 21 or some such age when he can then act accordingly -- snip it off, cram hormones, wear dresses, change his name, etc. The only possible harm I can see is "repression" as an adolescent, though in this day and age I see that as a positive good.
I mean ... I hope you DO realize that (1) kids have phases that are mostly meaningless and (2) that a child should not get everything he wants and/or his wanting something is not a moral warrant. (Actually, I'm pretty confident you realize (1); not so much (2).)
So your mentioning of NAMBLA is misleading and, quite frankly, rather bizarre. Then again, perhaps it's an attempt to demonize and silence any opposing viewpoints. "Oh, you watched that film ["Ma Vie en Rose"] so you must be supportive or aligned in some way with NAMBLA!"Given that I said I saw the film myself, I rather doubt that’s a reasonable reading.
What I do think does associate you with NAMBLA is your apparent assumption, correct me if you don’t hold it (though it certainly seemed to be your point in citing it) that “Ma Vie en Rose” tells us some great truth about the human person that our Courage group meetings could profit from. One might enjoy (parts of) "Ma Vie en Rose" as a kind of fairy-tale movie, but you brought it up in the context of this real-life Colorado case, which rather suggests you think it insightful. And yes, if a boy of 7 or 8 is a sexual agent competent to decide his/her/its/their “gender identity,” then NAMBLA is correct and our current taboo on "intergenerational love" (that's what it will be called, BTW ... and what DO you have against love, Mr. Bayly) is every bit as irrational as you think past taboos against "same-sex love" were.
Sorry, but that's a ridiculous and false assertion, and I for one won't be cowered by it.Just to avoid a potential misunderstanding (and one that I'm sensitive to regarding men like us) I’m not saying that you diddle 7-year-old boys or have any desire to, or that your homosexual attractions per se either incline you that way or are evidence that you secretly may be doing so.
Nor am I saying that "diddling 7-year-old boys is good" is a thought you hold self-consciously. But I am saying, and I will stand by this, that "diddling 7-year-old boys is good" is the endgame logic of ideas that you DO consciously hold and practices like the Colorado parents and school-district's that you DO consciously defend (that's how cultural degradation advances ... like warming up the water in a lobster-pot).
And what am I closed-minded about exactly?Three things I can think of quickly, that I'll phrase in the form of things you closed-mindedly deny ... that same-sex sex and all other sex outside marriage is wrong; that sexual desires do not definitively type the human person; that the Church has a real teaching office.
I fully support you in living a life of celibacy if that's how you feel called. Yet you can't say to me that you support me in building and sustaining a loving and committed relationship with another man. Why is that?I rather doubt your "support" given some of the picketing you've done.
But to avoid the personal stuff ... the problem is in your usage “feel called.” No ... it’s what I **am** called to. I can pretty much assure you that I often DON’T “feel” called. And if I were married and Sophia Loren¹ were to come and whisper sweet nothings in my ear, at that moment, I wouldn't "feel called" to marital fidelity either. Feelings simply do not create moral warrants or obligations (this is another thing on which I don't know whether you are closed-minded or simply haven't thought it through).
Anyway, I don’t have any problem with anybody having a “loving, committed relationship,” properly understood. But if same-sex sex is always immoral (it all does eventually come back to that), then engaging in it is not “loving.” I well understand that same-sex sex feels good (there’s that verb again) and can be enjoyable. But “feels good” and “enjoy” are not the same things as “loving” though; and attempts to derive “loving” from those unquestionable facts are ... well, it’s "Katie, bar the door" time on just about anything (NAMBLA actually would be a minor issue).
I’ll even say the following. Any sin can be aggravated, and therefore “not aggravated” and thus (speaking strictly relatively) less bad. So, there are aggravated and not-so-aggravated ways of living the gay lifestyle. And perhaps over time, a legitimate friendship can grow and fucking can leave the picture. Suffice to say though that this is extremely rare and certainly not the desired eschaton of Dignity, et al.
Similarly, I'm fine for Courage to exist and help people. Yet you can't seem to say the same thing about Dignity. So who's really being closed-minded here?I freely admit to being closed-minded about certain matters, including matters that the Church has definitively taught. Anyway, open-mindedness is not a virtue that anyone seriously holds; it's merely a holding strategy for debunking morals one thinks wrong.
As to my "questions and issues" not being compatible with scripture, tradition, and right reason, that's very much open to discussion and debate. Do we really know exactly what scripture is condemning with regard same-sex relations?Yes.
In part because Tradition always read it that way, including in times when they were far closer to the social context than we could ever be. I must say I find it darkly humorous that people dismiss the Greek-speaking Church Fathers of the 2nd-4th centuries as having a poor or at best irrelevant understanding of the subtleties and cultural shadings of the text (which pro-gay apologists must say, if they are to dismiss their unanimous teaching on sodomy), but think Mel White or John Spong have a good one.
In part because Scripture has a broader, normative vision of what sexuality in general is, one that is not reducible to issues of Koine translation on the two or three New Testament proof texts on homosexuality². For example, and Pope John Paul begins "Theology of the Body" with these passages, the Church teaching reflects Our Lord's words on divorce and His citing of Genesis 2-3, and what it says about embodied sexual complementarity as part of our nature, created as good in the beginning. Homosexual acts do not, by their nature, meet that broad normative understanding.
Most reputable biblical scholars would say that its exploitive sex that, more often than not, is being condemned. And rightly so.Dale somewhat beat me to the punch ... and given what counts as reputation-enhancing in the American academy, the more “reputed” a Biblical scholar is, the less likely I am to believe him. (Puts on Joe Piscopo-in-"Johnny Dangerously" voice) I read Bart Ehrman once. Once.
But what about loving and committed [homosexual] relationships? Where are they condemned?Scripture also doesn’t mention 4-sided triangles or male pregnancy or nonviolent boxing because everyone simply understood that these things were as oxymoronic as gay “marriage.”
As for tradition, that's a living thingNo, not Tradition with a capital-T in the Catholic sense of that word, which always has to take account what went before and whether any new statements are compatible with what went before. What you’re describing is democracy, or, at best, a radically congregationalist, and thus un-Catholic, understanding of sensus fidelium.
I also should add that I find it darkly humorous that everyone who says "tradition is a living thing" becomes a fire-breathing proof-texting fundamentalist when one of their pet teachings is trampled on -- "you know, my conscience tells me that homosexual persons should be the object of violent malice in speech and action" (which actually is a proposition that would find more proof-text support in the writings of more Church authorities than "same-sex sex is good" would).
and accordingly should be informed and shaped by new insights and knowledge - including insights and knowledge related to human sexuality.What “new insights and knowledge” might you be referring to? It cannot be the fact of homosexual acts, which were quite well known in the Hellenized Mediterranean world. Nor the fact that certain people may develop habits, which was just as well understood. Nor psychology, which is largely self-fulfilling prophecy about how people feel, not knowledge of how things are. And certainly not genetics, which has definitively refuted radical-biologism as the genesis of homosexuality (a deterministic cause might, strictly in principle, have provided the kind of serious “new knowledge” that would require doctrine to develop; but it isn’t true, as experience long ago told us and modern science merely confirms on a new basis).
No ... the only “new insights and knowledge” here is that a small group of people have chosen to define themselves according to a sinful act and accordingly warped their souls into moral blindness.
That's not happening in the Roman Catholic Church.Actually, that’s not true. The Church’s pastoral understanding has developed a great deal on this subject, and for the better, in the last 40 years ... and that’s OK because pastoral practice has much more to do with the social particulars than moral truth does. A non-condemnatory support group like Courage (or Project Rachel to give an example of a pastoral response to a degraded cultural fact other than homosexuality) would have been unthinkable 50 or 100 years ago. Then, a man like myself probably would have been encouraged to “deal with it” by marrying. And more likely than not, damaged some woman and probably some children in the process. Now, the Church discourages marriage as cure-seeking.
Accordingly, to suggest that the Church's sexual theology is supported by "right reason" is a joke, and the vast majority of Catholics - gay or straight - know it.I repeat what I said about “democracy.” The Church is not, and cannot be, a democracy (nor can even a secularized understanding of "reason" be either). So the fact you cite, true enough though it probably is, is of no moral weight whatever.
And frankly, in the current social environment of ill-formation, secularization, poor catechesis, dissent-worship, faithlessness, authority-phobia, a pornified public space and self-worshiping individualism -- it would be more surprising if most Catholics did think reason supports Church teaching. That doesn't make the teaching untrue. Or optional. Or not binding.
¹ The photo is because I have to give the heterosexuals some reason to come here and there was too much text with no art otherwise.
² None of which BTW feature much "discussion" of the subject per se but usually only mention a condemnation en passant in service of some other point. Which indicates (1) that St. Paul can assume the reader's assent as one of his minor premises, and relatedly (2) that there was no issue of overturning the unanimous inherited Jewish tradition on the matter, as Scripture records that there was on diet and circumcision.