“Somehow I came across the philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe’s essay ‘Contraception and Chastity.’ She offered a challenge: How could I reject homosexual sex when I didn’t reject contraception? In her account, both acts are wrong because they unwind the sexual act’s tightly bound meanings, one of which is procreation. If one accepts contraception, Anscombe states, ‘there is no reason why for example “marriage” should have to be between people of opposite sexes.’

[…] Anscombe clarified for me that the Christian teaching on gay marriage isn’t just a stand-alone prohibition falling heavily on one class of persons, but instead is part of a more comprehensive vision of the good that poses difficulties—and opens possibilities—for us all.”

— Matthew Schmitz, How I Evolved on Gay Marriage

“Jesus asked the disciples, ‘Have you not read that he who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ Well, yes, I had. What I hadn’t appreciated was how fundamental this teaching is for Christians. Challenged by my peers, I was driven more deeply into the Bible.

Sexual difference is woven into all of Scripture. As N. T. Wright observed in a recent interview, Genesis begins with ‘complementary pairs which are meant to work together’—heaven and earth, sea and dry land, man and woman. Marriage is the great scriptural sign of how these complements can be reconciled in their difference, which is why Christ calls the Church his bride and describes our salvation as a wedding banquet. Tug on the strand of sexual difference, and you risk unraveling the whole.”

— Matthew Schmitz, How I Evolved on Gay Marriage

"How I Evolved on Gay Marriage" by Matthew Schmitz

excerpts:

“Jesus asked the disciples, “Have you not read that he who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ Well, yes, I had. What I hadn’t appreciated was how fundamental this teaching is for Christians. Challenged by my peers, I was driven more deeply into the Bible.

Sexual difference is woven into all of Scripture. As N. T. Wright observed in a recent interview, Genesis begins with ‘complementary pairs which are meant to work together’—heaven and earth, sea and dry land, man and woman. Marriage is the great scriptural sign of how these complements can be reconciled in their difference, which is why Christ calls the Church his bride and describes our salvation as a wedding banquet. Tug on the strand of sexual difference, and you risk unraveling the whole.”

———————

“Somehow I came across the philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe’s essay ‘Contraception and Chastity.’ She offered a challenge: How could I reject homosexual sex when I didn’t reject contraception? In her account, both acts are wrong because they unwind the sexual act’s tightly bound meanings, one of which is procreation. If one accepts contraception, Anscombe states, ‘there is no reason why for example “marriage” should have to be between people of opposite sexes.’

[…] Anscombe clarified for me that the Christian teaching on gay marriage isn’t just a stand-alone prohibition falling heavily on one class of persons, but instead is part of a more comprehensive vision of the good that poses difficulties—and opens possibilities—for us all.”

———————

“One source I turned to for intellectual friendship was Nicolás Gómez Dávila, a Colombian aphorist who’s helped me see through the clichés of our time. The merits of the argument for gay marriage, such as they are, are obscured by the movement’s extreme rhetorical shallowness. Advocates seem to think that progress is inevitable, that history only turns one way. Against such a conceit, Gómez Dávila whispers a warning: ‘The fool is disturbed not when they tell him that his ideas are false, but when they suggest that they have gone out of style.’ Accusing someone of being on the wrong side of history says nothing about whether he is on the right side of the argument. It is a mere threat, and a somewhat hollow one. History is an arbitrary enforcer.”

———————

“I was sitting at a wedding Mass listening to the reading of a prayer written by the bride and groom. It asked that ‘all called to the generosity of the single or celibate … might inspire [name of bride and groom] by their conformity to Christ, and always find in them fiercely devoted friends, and in their house a second home.’

The prayer moved me, in part because I’d been going through my own period of loneliness, but also because it reminded me that the movement for gay marriage is absolutely right to demand that the institution be made more inclusive. Where it goes wrong is in supposing this can be done by asserting a free-floating right to marriage, rather than by insisting on the duty of every marriage to become a place of welcome. We can’t and shouldn’t redesign marriage under the illusion that it can directly include everyone. We need more than one form of solidarity.”

———————

“Despite my eccentric evolution on gay marriage, I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a certain fugitive solidarity with those whose paths differ from my own. A strange portion of the intellectual discovery and growth in friendship I’ve enjoyed these past years has come about not despite, but because of, the vexations of the gay marriage debate. Those with whom I disagree have helped me see how the strands of the Christian sexual ethic combine to form a great tapestry, the patterns of which would be much more obscure had they not prompted me to think through how sex intersects with Scripture, nature, culture. For this, I owe them a great debt. I hope that in the years to come I can do something to repay it.”

“Both my parents came from a generation of Yiddish speakers for whom shul was not exclusively a bastion of belief. Rather, shul was an extension of the family. Yes, God was in the synagogue, but he lay hidden in the seams of human relations.”

— Simon Yisrael Feuerman, Congregation Can Be Like a Family—for Better, and for Worse

“In the school of your vocation, Christ will teach you to forget your wants, and even your needs, for the sake of the charity that ‘seeks not its own’ (1 Cor. 13:5).

No matter what calling you embrace, your vocation must be your means of letting Jesus into your life completely, learning to love God more than yourself.

This does not mean fixating on a sentimental idea, or worshiping an enthroned mental abstraction. It means living in the fullness of Reality: recognizing and loving the Lord who is absolutely transcendent yet totally present, the Son of God who ‘plays in ten thousand places, / Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his / To the Father through the features of men’s faces’ (G.M. Hopkins).

That one of these faces should be your own, and that the light of your eyes should be the light of Christ living within you: this is the goal of your vocation, whatever it may be.

But you will not reach that goal by ordinary human means: not by the calculation, strategy, and careful hedging of bets that seem — but only seem — to make the world go around.

The central question in discernment is: How shall I die with Christ, to rise with him? How will I lose my life to find it? What will bring me to the point where I can say, with St. Paul: ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’?

Such thinking is more than countercultural; it goes beyond our natural inclinations. But this is the perspective of the Gospel, the self-emptying attitude of Christ that should also be in us.”

— Benjamin Mann, Your Vocation is Not About You

“‘There’s no escaping yourself,’ conventional wisdom says. That is perhaps half-true, at least in the order of nature. But it is not true in the order of grace. There, God provides an escape, or something better than an escape: a transcendence that preserves all our natural gifts, while taking our focus off of ourselves. We remain ourselves; but our focus simply rests on the Lord — ‘everywhere present and filling all things.’

Then we have escaped: we no longer look at ourselves, anxiously or pridefully or in any other way, beyond the bare and necessary minimum. We simply look upon Christ, and on our neighbor with whom he identifies himself. (Paradoxically, it is only then — when we have almost completely forgotten ourselves — that we see ourselves rightly, and know who we really are.)”

— Benjamin Mann, Your Vocation is Not About You

“The purpose of life is the unitive devotional service of God, which includes the love of our neighbor (in whom God dwells). This is the real purpose of any vocation. Some forms of life, such as monasticism, are ordered directly to this end; other states of life are oriented toward it indirectly. But these are only different versions of the one human vocation: to love and serve God, and become one with him in Christ.

A vocation — any vocation — is a school of charity and a means of crucifixion. Your vocation is the means by which your self-serving ego will die in order to be resurrected as the servant and lover of God. This is all that we can expect; but this is everything — the meaning of life, all there really is.

My vocation is where I will learn to let go of my questions, carry the cross of my problems, and be mysteriously fulfilled even when I am not happy. We have some choice as to how we will undergo that process; we do not — so long as we abide in the grace of God — get to choose whether we will undergo it.

This, it seems to me, is the attitude we should bring to discernment. I am not choosing between makes and models in a store, looking for the perfect fit or the best value. One is faced, rather, with the question: How I should lose my life, in order to save it? (Luke 9:24)”

— Benjamin Mann, Your Vocation is Not About You

"Your Vocation is Not About You" by Benjamin Mann

excerpts:

“The purpose of life is the unitive devotional service of God, which includes the love of our neighbor (in whom God dwells). This is the real purpose of any vocation. Some forms of life, such as monasticism, are ordered directly to this end; other states of life are oriented toward it indirectly. But these are only different versions of the one human vocation: to love and serve God, and become one with him in Christ.

A vocation — any vocation — is a school of charity and a means of crucifixion. Your vocation is the means by which your self-serving ego will die in order to be resurrected as the servant and lover of God. This is all that we can expect; but this is everything — the meaning of life, all there really is.

My vocation is where I will learn to let go of my questions, carry the cross of my problems, and be mysteriously fulfilled even when I am not happy. We have some choice as to how we will undergo that process; we do not — so long as we abide in the grace of God — get to choose whether we will undergo it.

This, it seems to me, is the attitude we should bring to discernment. I am not choosing between makes and models in a store, looking for the perfect fit or the best value. One is faced, rather, with the question: How I should lose my life, in order to save it? (Luke 9:24)”

———————

“‘There’s no escaping yourself,’ conventional wisdom says. That is perhaps half-true, at least in the order of nature. But it is not true in the order of grace. There, God provides an escape, or something better than an escape: a transcendence that preserves all our natural gifts, while taking our focus off of ourselves. We remain ourselves; but our focus simply rests on the Lord — ‘everywhere present and filling all things.’

Then we have escaped: we no longer look at ourselves, anxiously or pridefully or in any other way, beyond the bare and necessary minimum. We simply look upon Christ, and on our neighbor with whom he identifies himself. (Paradoxically, it is only then — when we have almost completely forgotten ourselves — that we see ourselves rightly, and know who we really are.)”

———————

“In the school of your vocation, Christ will teach you to forget your wants, and even your needs, for the sake of the charity that ‘seeks not its own’ (1 Cor. 13:5).

No matter what calling you embrace, your vocation must be your means of letting Jesus into your life completely, learning to love God more than yourself.

This does not mean fixating on a sentimental idea, or worshiping an enthroned mental abstraction. It means living in the fullness of Reality: recognizing and loving the Lord who is absolutely transcendent yet totally present, the Son of God who ‘plays in ten thousand places, / Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his / To the Father through the features of men’s faces’ (G.M. Hopkins).

That one of these faces should be your own, and that the light of your eyes should be the light of Christ living within you: this is the goal of your vocation, whatever it may be.

But you will not reach that goal by ordinary human means: not by the calculation, strategy, and careful hedging of bets that seem — but only seem — to make the world go around.

The central question in discernment is: How shall I die with Christ, to rise with him? How will I lose my life to find it? What will bring me to the point where I can say, with St. Paul: ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’?

Such thinking is more than countercultural; it goes beyond our natural inclinations. But this is the perspective of the Gospel, the self-emptying attitude of Christ that should also be in us.”

"Is Homosexuality an Opportunity or a Threat?" by Josh Blount

excerpt:

“Opposition to the gospel often creates an opportunity for the gospel. It’s in that spirit that Peter Hubbard asks in his introduction to Love Into Light: The Gospel, the Homosexual and the Church: ‘What if the current discussion of homosexuality and same-sex marriage is not a threat, but an opportunity?’”

“You could state that a gay man cannot have gay sex and that, thus, he cannot have the sex he may desire. But to state this as the primary focus of the man’s vocation would be to miss the whole point. Gay men aren’t fated to celibacy any more than straight men are fated to marriage. Eve Tushnet reveals the emptiness in such logical fundamentalism in showing us that ‘you can’t have a vocation of not-gay-marrying and not-having-sex. You can’t have a vocation of No.’

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that ‘the dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God; it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude’ (1700). Thus, vocation begins with what is like God, not with what is unlike God. Vocation is realized insofar as one ‘does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God,’ not simply insofar as one avoids an evil. We do not avoid evil simply to avoid evil; rather, we avoid evil so that we may pursue a good. Man’s vocation must always begin with a good, with something to pursue, with something to realize. If we only discuss vocation in terms of what is evil, what is to be avoided, what is not to be realized, then we will miss the whole point.

A vocation to lifelong celibacy can, thus, never truly be a ‘default.’ It must consist of vocatus, a ‘calling out’ to something good. A vocation is not simply a condemning of the evil, the untrue, the ugly; it is an unveiling of the good, the true, and the beautiful. A vocation to celibacy is a calling into something, not just a calling away from something. Celibacy is much less about giving up and much more about opening up. And it is not only a good for gay men and women to discern a possible life of celibacy; it is a good for all men and women to discern a possible calling to this life.

Further, vocation can never simply be treated as ‘his vocation’ or ‘her vocation.’ The Catechism also states, ‘The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature. Through the exchange with others, mutual service and dialogue with his brethren, man develops his potential; he thus responds to his vocation’ (1879).

Vocation is never lived alone, even on a human level. It is always lived in relation to others, and thus the vocation of each becomes also the vocation of all. The Church’s calling of one man to celibacy is also the calling of the whole Church to that man’s celibacy. Insofar as we are able, we have a calling to aid each other in the pursuit of vocation. The vocation of each is the vocation of all.

Thus, if the Church does have a calling for gay men and women to a life of celibacy, the Church also has a responsibility to aid these men and women in building such a life. When I say ‘the Church,’ I do not just mean Bishops and priests. I mean the men and women sitting in the pews every Sunday. I mean you and me.”

— Chris Damian, The Meaning of Vocation

“There is a beautiful phrase in the documents of the Second Vatican Council that ‘Christ fully reveals man to himself.’ And it is true. Christian doctrine contains important truths not only about God, but about humans, their dignity, and their final destiny. But another phrase often excised from this quotation tells us that Christ reveals man to himself ‘by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love,’ and that the purpose of this revelation to man is to make ‘his supreme calling clear.’ It is this revelation which is the overriding purpose for the incarnation. Christ came not to teach us about our own identity, but to teach us about God, and the first task of Christian theology is not to help us think about ourselves, but to teach us to think about, speak about, and relate to God. This is what needs to be the prime focus of the Church’s evangelizing mission when it comes to gay people; not how gay people identify themselves, but their relationship to the Father, and their supreme calling as His beloved sons and daughters.”

— Aaron Taylor, Intrinsically Disordered? How Not to Talk About Homosexuality

"Defining Marriage Isn't Defending Marriage" by Chris Damian

excerpt:

“Conservatives aren’t losing to the culture on marriage because they’re wrong. They’re losing because they’re answering the wrong question, because they’ve failed to grasp what the issue actually is. It isn’t same sex marriage: it’s people wanting same sex marriage.”

“Most of my arguments with defenders of the legalization of same-sex marriages have been friendly ones. I have some strong views on the subject, based on my adherence to what I believe is the Bible’s teachings on the subject. But I also care deeply about preserving a pluralistic social order, where individuals and groups have the opportunity to live out their deepest convictions—however disagreeable to people like me—within a framework of a shared commitment to the common good.”

— Richard J. Mouw, Our Slippery Slopes

“I’ve found myself thinking with regard to a question like this [of how to be bold in defending the truth on marriage and to reach out and be deeply compassionate to Christians struggling with same-sex attraction] about the way that the pro-life movement has journeyed for the past several years, and I think we’ve seen—I mean, correct me if I’m wrong on this—but I think we’ve seen a kind of maturation of the movement, in the sense not that it’s leaving behind political marches and the kind of arguments in the public square for life, but we’ve seen a recognition that when we’re asking mothers, who are facing real challenges in their pregnancies, to carry those babies to term and choose life, that part of the responsibility for that lies on us, to provide the kind of support structures, to provide the community that they need in order to make that hard choice.

And I really feel that we’re beginning to see in many of our churches a similar recognition with regard to the whole swirling political debate around gay marriage in our country, and we’re beginning to recognise if we’re going to call gay people to a life of asceticism, to a life of celibacy, in fidelity to Christ, that we need to become the kind of communities that will make a choice like that possible. We need to practise some kind of radical hospitality. It doesn’t come naturally to many of us in the West right now. It does not come naturally in the mobile, individualistic society that we live in. So I’ve begun to think this work that I’m doing, trying to rehabilitate or rediscover certain ancient notions of friendship, of spiritual friendship and community, this is my contribution to the political debate. This is my way of saying, if I’m going to have a winsome word to speak in the public square that sounds persuasive to modern people, for whom Christian categories don’t come naturally, if I’m going to be heard, I need to be able to invite them into the community, and say, ‘This is what it would look like to be celibate. This is what it would look like to embrace the call of Christ. And this is what flourishing might look like if you were to embrace this hard choice.’ I think that’s really where I see my battle lying at any rate in this whole area.”

— Wesley Hill, Gay and Christian?: Forging a Life of Integrity (interview by Father Josiah Trenham)

Gay and Christian? Forging a Life of Integrity (an interview with Dr. Wesley Hill by Father Josiah Trenham)