The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Church (directed by John-Andrew O’Rourke)


excerpts:

“From the church, you hear either nothing [about homosexuality] or ‘That’s gross.’ And from the secular media, you start to feel this embrace, this support, this ‘Let’s go out and find these people and help them.’ Wow. Like, it’s no wonder that so many [homosexual] people leave [the church], right?”

— Joseph Prever

———————

“When everything hit me emotionally and I just was falling apart, and I just needed human caring from somewhere, and the only place that I could see at the time that it was going to come from was back in the gay lifestyle. Because with a man—no way. And friends can only be so close. So I ended up falling back into the gay lifestyle.”

— Julie Sponsler

———————

“I think the bullying really caused me to go deeper into the sexual acting out. Because I needed relief. I really needed to help find some kind of source to help kill the pain, and I wasn’t definitely getting that from people necessarily in the church, because I didn’t feel I can talk to them about that. […] My same-sex attractions were definitely hidden from almost everyone in my life. I really couldn’t talk to my family about that, so who would I go to? Well, I would go to the guys that I was having sex with. That was really my only way that I knew to kind of make myself feel better.”

— Christopher Doyle

———————

“Not having anybody to talk that through with was extraordinarily lonely. I remember wanting to talk to somebody about this, but being terrified, obviously. Well, maybe not so obviously. But one of the things I did was to go into a gay chatroom online.”

— Joseph Prever

———————

“The first time I’ve actually told anybody about this [being gay], all of this, was in confession. And instead of just kind of brushing past it, he actually said, ‘Well, do you want to talk about that?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, please, I do.’ I was not in the habit of talking about anything that was important to me. He made himself available to me in a way that nobody else ever has. He was very truly a father to me, and continues to be one. I can’t even… you know, there’s nothing I can ever do to ever repay him for that.”

— Joseph Prever

———————

“I knew that if I became a Catholic, the homosexuality thing was going to have to go, and I told God I was okay with that, because I was falling in love with my Creator, and my identity in relationship to God just seemed more important than my identity in relationship to my girlfriend.”

— Melinda Selmys

———————

“The one unmistakable source of Christ’s love that came to me, the one unmistakable source of acceptance and healing, has always been through the Church and her ministers.”

— Joseph Prever

———————

“There was never peace, there was never true joy, there was never happiness anywhere that I went in the world, until I came to the Catholic Church.”

— Julie Sponsler

———————

“We… need to understand that for [homosexual] people who have chosen to live chastity, one of the biggest obstacles is isolation and loneliness. The Church has to function as family and as community [to these people], and it has to do so in a way that is more powerful and more real than the family and community that people find in the gay scene. At the moment, we’re not anywhere near that. […] Unfortunately, there are a number of [homosexual] people who’ve had negative experiences, usually it’s with people who have grasped the law but who have not grasped the teaching that a homosexual is a person.”

— Melinda Selmys

———————

“Christianity in general is in a position where we need to start asking forgiveness, for those people who’ve been bigoted to those who have these [same-sex] attractions, whether be their own family members, whether be their pastors, kids in their youth groups. We need to say ‘I’m sorry.’ Some of these people suffered a lot, and that’s their notion of the Catholic Church. Maybe that’s all they know of the Church.”

— Jason Evert

(Source: vimeo.com)

Katelyn Beaty: What does friendship reveal about the gospel and redeemed humanity that marriage cannot?

Wesley Hill: There’s a great line in one of Oliver O’Donovan’s books [Resurrection and Moral Order: An Outline for Evangelical Ethics (Eerdmans, 1994)], where he’s talking about the future resurrection and kingdom of Christ. He says: “Humanity in the presence of God will know a community in which the fidelity of love which marriage makes possible will be extended beyond the limits of marriage.” In other words, one of the good things about marriage now is that it enables two people to make promises to each other and practice the kind of love that doesn’t give up when the going gets tough. It enables fidelity. But, you can’t practice that kind of faithful love with everyone. You’re bound to your spouse, and you don’t love anyone else with the same kind of fidelity. That’s where things will change in the eschatological kingdom of God. Marriage as we know it will fade away, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 22. But the kind of love that marriage pointed to will be the experience of everyone in God’s new creation. And that, it seems to me, is what friendship reminds us of here and now.

In friendship, we can make promises and pursue intimate fellowship with many people, not just one. And in that sense, friendship provides a foretaste of the universal community we’ll enjoy in God’s kingdom. Roman Catholic writer Ronald Rolheiser says that in friendship the central organ of love is the human heart, not the genitals — which means that friendship is a form of love that’s open to all of us, married or single.

Friendship in God’s Kingdom (an interview with Wesley Hill by Katelyn Beaty) (via wesleyhill)

“It may come as some surprise to find that Freud’s own views on what he called ‘sublimation’ (or unfulfilled and redirected sexual desire) were not only malleable over time, but that he moved distinctly away from his early, and purely biological, account of ‘Eros’ (sexual desire) and its power for redirection.

At no time, in fact, does Freud’s position provide a mandate for the view that ‘sublimation’ is harmful — or, at any rate, that it is any more harmful than the psychological repressions we necessarily negotiate all the time, according to Freud. On the contrary, the later view of Freud is that we all necessarily must be engaged in forms of sublimation, if civilization is to endure, and that celibacy has always been the choice of a minority who interpret this pressure religiously. Indeed, there seems to be in Freud a strand of thought on sublimation that does not involve sexual repression, but rather a more straightforward transference of aggressive energy to a good, ‘erotic’ end.

Thus, in a striking correspondence of 1933 initiated by Albert Einstein, Freud expressed the astonishingly optimistic view, as war-clouds gathered in Europe, that ‘Erotism’ (the love instinct) could finally triumph over hate and war and aggression, by means of a sort of direct transference of the energies of hate. As he put it to Einstein, love and hate must always go together, so that one — namely, love — can modify or redirect the energies of the other — hate. And so, Freud concludes, ‘complete suppression of man’s aggressive tendencies is not in issue; what we try is to divert it into a channel other than that of warfare.’

Notice that the concept of ‘sublimation’ that started in Freud’s early work as related to mere biological drive, has now become a theory of a positive, and seemingly non-repressive, ‘rechanneling’ of psychic energy. It is also important to observe that, when Freud speaks specifically about Christian celibacy in his famous book Civilization and Its Discontents, it is not to attack it as such, nor to deride it as psychically dangerous or impossible (though he does say that it is only a ‘small minority’ who are ‘enabled by their constitution to find happiness, in spite of everything’ according to this path). Rather, he says that celibates have managed to direct their love to ‘all men alike’ rather than simply to one chosen sexual ‘love-object.’

It is precisely ‘religion’ that helps them to do this, he admits; and, as we might expect from Freud, this causes him to inject a sneer: it is not that he thinks celibacy is intrinsically damaging, but rather that he has moral objections to the ‘religious’ idea that one should love everyone equally: ‘A love [first] that does not discriminate seems to me to forfeit a part of its own value … and secondly, not all men are worthy of love.’ Thus, while celibacy remains both possible, and even undamaging, for the later Freud, he cannot accept its moral goals, and nor can he give it ultimate theological meaning. And therein lies the true rub.”

— Sarah Coakley, Love in time of infidelity: Rethinking sex and celibacy

“A third, and final, ‘cultural contradiction’ that I want to propose hovers over the common assumption that celibacy and marriage are somehow opposites: one involving no sex at all, and the other supposedly involving as much sex as one or both partners might like at any given time. But this, on reflection, is also a perplexing cultural fantasy that does not stand up to scrutiny.

The evidence provided by Richard Sipe’s book, Celibacy in Crisis, is revealing here. Not only does faithful celibacy generally involve a greater consciousness of sexual desire and its frustration than a life lived with regular sexual satisfaction, but married sexuality is rarely as care-free and mutually satisfied as this third ‘cultural contradiction’ might presume.

Indeed, a realistic reflection on long and faithful marriages (now almost in the minority) will surely reveal periods of enforced ‘celibacy’ even within marriages: during periods of delicate pregnancy, parturition, illness, physical separation, or impotence, which are simply the lot of the marital ‘long haul.’ And if this is so, then the generally-assumed disjunction between celibacy and marriage will turn out not to be as profound as it seems. Rather, the reflective, faithful celibate and the reflective, faithful married person may have more in common than the unreflective or faithless celibate, or the carelessly happy, or indeed unhappily careless, married person.”

— Sarah Coakley, Love in time of infidelity: Rethinking sex and celibacy

"Love in time of infidelity: Rethinking sex and celibacy" by Sarah Coakley

excerpts:

“A third, and final, ‘cultural contradiction’ that I want to propose hovers over the common assumption that celibacy and marriage are somehow opposites: one involving no sex at all, and the other supposedly involving as much sex as one or both partners might like at any given time. But this, on reflection, is also a perplexing cultural fantasy that does not stand up to scrutiny.

The evidence provided by Richard Sipe’s book, Celibacy in Crisis, is revealing here. Not only does faithful celibacy generally involve a greater consciousness of sexual desire and its frustration than a life lived with regular sexual satisfaction, but married sexuality is rarely as care-free and mutually satisfied as this third ‘cultural contradiction’ might presume.

Indeed, a realistic reflection on long and faithful marriages (now almost in the minority) will surely reveal periods of enforced ‘celibacy’ even within marriages: during periods of delicate pregnancy, parturition, illness, physical separation, or impotence, which are simply the lot of the marital ‘long haul.’ And if this is so, then the generally-assumed disjunction between celibacy and marriage will turn out not to be as profound as it seems. Rather, the reflective, faithful celibate and the reflective, faithful married person may have more in common than the unreflective or faithless celibate, or the carelessly happy, or indeed unhappily careless, married person.”

———————

“It may come as some surprise to find that Freud’s own views on what he called ‘sublimation’ (or unfulfilled and redirected sexual desire) were not only malleable over time, but that he moved distinctly away from his early, and purely biological, account of ‘Eros’ (sexual desire) and its power for redirection.

At no time, in fact, does Freud’s position provide a mandate for the view that ‘sublimation’ is harmful — or, at any rate, that it is any more harmful than the psychological repressions we necessarily negotiate all the time, according to Freud. On the contrary, the later view of Freud is that we all necessarily must be engaged in forms of sublimation, if civilization is to endure, and that celibacy has always been the choice of a minority who interpret this pressure religiously. Indeed, there seems to be in Freud a strand of thought on sublimation that does not involve sexual repression, but rather a more straightforward transference of aggressive energy to a good, ‘erotic’ end.

Thus, in a striking correspondence of 1933 initiated by Albert Einstein, Freud expressed the astonishingly optimistic view, as war-clouds gathered in Europe, that ‘Erotism’ (the love instinct) could finally triumph over hate and war and aggression, by means of a sort of direct transference of the energies of hate. As he put it to Einstein, love and hate must always go together, so that one — namely, love — can modify or redirect the energies of the other — hate. And so, Freud concludes, ‘complete suppression of man’s aggressive tendencies is not in issue; what we try is to divert it into a channel other than that of warfare.’

Notice that the concept of ‘sublimation’ that started in Freud’s early work as related to mere biological drive, has now become a theory of a positive, and seemingly non-repressive, ‘rechanneling’ of psychic energy. It is also important to observe that, when Freud speaks specifically about Christian celibacy in his famous book Civilization and Its Discontents, it is not to attack it as such, nor to deride it as psychically dangerous or impossible (though he does say that it is only a ‘small minority’ who are ‘enabled by their constitution to find happiness, in spite of everything’ according to this path). Rather, he says that celibates have managed to direct their love to ‘all men alike’ rather than simply to one chosen sexual ‘love-object.’

It is precisely ‘religion’ that helps them to do this, he admits; and, as we might expect from Freud, this causes him to inject a sneer: it is not that he thinks celibacy is intrinsically damaging, but rather that he has moral objections to the ‘religious’ idea that one should love everyone equally: ‘A love [first] that does not discriminate seems to me to forfeit a part of its own value … and secondly, not all men are worthy of love.’ Thus, while celibacy remains both possible, and even undamaging, for the later Freud, he cannot accept its moral goals, and nor can he give it ultimate theological meaning. And therein lies the true rub.”

“Is it hard to be gay and Catholic? Yes, because like everybody, I sometimes want things that are not good for me. The Church doesn’t let me have those things, not because she’s mean, but because she’s a good mother. If my son or daughter wanted to eat sand I’d tell them: that’s not what eating is for; it won’t nourish you; it will hurt you. Maybe my daughter has some kind of condition that makes her like sand better than food, but I still wouldn’t let her eat it. Actually, if she was young or stubborn enough, I might not be able to reason with her — I might just have to make a rule against eating sand. Even if she thought I was mean.

So the Church doesn’t oppose gay marriage because it’s wrong; she opposes it because it’s impossible, just as impossible as living on sand. The Church believes, and I believe, in a universe that means something, and in a God who made the universe — made men and women, designed sex and marriage from the ground up. In that universe, gay marriage doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the picture, and we’re not about to throw out the rest of the picture.

If you don’t believe in these things, if you believe that men and women and sex and marriage are pretty much whatever we say they are, then okay: we don’t have much left to talk about. That’s not the world I live in.

So, yes, it’s hard to be gay and Catholic — it’s hard to be anything and Catholic — because I don’t always get to do what I want. Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want and I’ll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion. Something not worth living or dying for, or even getting up in the morning for.”

— Steve Gershom, “Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine”

“I don’t believe that ‘gay’ is a valid category, the way ‘male’ and ‘female’ are. I used to think being gay meant being a different kind of person altogether—like a third gender. These days I think that it’s something I have, not something I am.

The surprising thing is that gay men are gay because they are masculine, not because they are feminine. What I mean is this: men, gay and straight, want to know they’re real men. If something stops them from believing that, then they’ll go looking for that manhood for the rest of their lives.

Some men look for it by finding a man who will give them acceptance and affection—or at least sex. These are the men we call ‘gay.’ Some men look for it by sleeping with a lot of women and picking a lot of fights. These are the men we call, well, ‘jerks.’ But both of them are the way they are, and want the things they want, because of the specifically masculine traits they started out with.

The best way to sum it up is something a very good priest once said to me in confession. He said, ‘You’re not a homosexual. You’re a man.’”

— Steve Gershom, ‘I’m a Man’ (interview by Simcha Fisher)

“[E]ven coming out to oneself and abstaining from sex with those to whom one is attracted may be just as important to achieving a sense of wholeness and integration as other potential paths one might take. Naming desire—understanding the rationale for seemingly random, inchoate thoughts and feelings—may be one of the first necessary steps on a journey towards peace and an acceptance of one’s calling and place in the church. Or, putting it less grandly, it can just reassure you that you aren’t crazy and you aren’t alone. And that can be a very powerful reassurance indeed.”

— Wesley Hill, The Healing Moment of Coming Out (via wesleyhill)

“Christian writers drew on Scripture to argue that conversion is a feature of life, a complex movement from love for this to love for that.

Augustine differentiated between charity and cupidity on the basis of the objects embraced, not the internal dynamics. Both represent movements of love outside of the self into the arms of another. Changing beliefs, then, is akin to changing lovers, and most humans have many lovers. Human desire launches out into the expanse of creation in a frenzy of wonder and delectation. Like a bee ranging over a garden of delights, people sip nectar from the many varieties of earthly life and, in the process, take on the shape of their loves.

Everyone converts because everyone loves. If all reasoning about life occurs amidst love for life, then claims to rationality are also claims of attraction to a perceived beauty. As Augustine reminds us, the so-called clash of orthodoxies is a clash of loves in the end, and what kinds of love destroy since it is clear to everyone that some do.”

— Dale M. Coulter, We Convert Because We Love

“No one knew of [Henri Nouwen’s] same-sex attraction, but some of us felt that he suffered from some wound that, coupled with his holiness and insight, expressed itself in his marvelous tenderness. So his grief, handled with maturity, became a light to us—a model for us all.”

— A reader of Wesley Hill’s book Washed and Waiting, quoted in “His Grief Became a Light to Us” by Wesley Hill

“The key question we should be asking in determining the morality of homosexual behavior is not how we will be viewed by future generations but whether or not the Bible warns us against it. If it is sin, it will lead to death. If it is sin, then encouraging someone with homosexual inclinations to embrace them should be as reprehensible to us as encouraging a cancer survivor to smoke.”

— Betsy Childs, Rightly Dividing the Wrong Side of History

“The majority of white Christians in the South did not adequately apply the implications of the Cross to their relations with African-Americans. They didn’t affirm the good news that the Cross tore down the dividing wall of hostility not only between Jew and Gentile, but between black and white as well. They did not repudiate the sin of racism; they reveled in it. They failed not because they resisted liberal progressivism, but because they didn’t look back at the Cross and apply its implications.

Christians today could fail similarly by ignoring the Cross in our eagerness to be on the socially acceptable side of history. Jesus died to set us free from the guilt and power of sin. If we seek and celebrate sin, we are pursuing the very thing Jesus died to save us from. The key question we should be asking in determining the morality of homosexual behavior is not how we will be viewed by future generations but whether or not the Bible warns us against it. If it is sin, it will lead to death. If it is sin, then encouraging someone with homosexual inclinations to embrace them should be as reprehensible to us as encouraging a cancer survivor to smoke.”

— Betsy Childs, Rightly Dividing the Wrong Side of History

“My generation has a fear of repeating the mistakes of our ancestors. We want to be the ones marching for justice and equality, not the bigots unleashing the dogs and turning on the fire hoses. Those striving to discern the civil rights cause of our day have proclaimed that gay is the new black, and the result has been the acceptance of gay marriage at a rate more accelerated than anyone could have foreseen.

This simplistic view of history has many problems, as Rod Dreher and others have pointed out. We may look back at historical episodes and make judgments about the moral winners and losers, but hindsight is no guarantee of foresight. Our good intentions are no indication of how we ourselves will be judged by future generations. Fear of future disapprobation is not a sufficiently trustworthy method for making moral judgments in the present.”

— Betsy Childs, Rightly Dividing the Wrong Side of History

"Rightly Dividing the Wrong Side of History" by Betsy Childs

excerpts:

“My generation has a fear of repeating the mistakes of our ancestors. We want to be the ones marching for justice and equality, not the bigots unleashing the dogs and turning on the fire hoses. Those striving to discern the civil rights cause of our day have proclaimed that gay is the new black, and the result has been the acceptance of gay marriage at a rate more accelerated than anyone could have foreseen.

This simplistic view of history has many problems, as Rod Dreher and others have pointed out. We may look back at historical episodes and make judgments about the moral winners and losers, but hindsight is no guarantee of foresight. Our good intentions are no indication of how we ourselves will be judged by future generations. Fear of future disapprobation is not a sufficiently trustworthy method for making moral judgments in the present.”

———————

Crux, the Latin word for cross, is used in our English vocabulary to mean the most decisive point of an issue. For Christians, the etymology of the word is significant because we count the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as the decisive point in human history. Everything prior led up to it, and everything since should be influenced by it. The Cross is the crux of history, and it should be central to our attempt to understand the sins of past generations as well as our own.”

———————

“The majority of white Christians in the South did not adequately apply the implications of the Cross to their relations with African-Americans. They didn’t affirm the good news that the Cross tore down the dividing wall of hostility not only between Jew and Gentile, but between black and white as well. They did not repudiate the sin of racism; they reveled in it. They failed not because they resisted liberal progressivism, but because they didn’t look back at the Cross and apply its implications.

Christians today could fail similarly by ignoring the Cross in our eagerness to be on the socially acceptable side of history. Jesus died to set us free from the guilt and power of sin. If we seek and celebrate sin, we are pursuing the very thing Jesus died to save us from. The key question we should be asking in determining the morality of homosexual behavior is not how we will be viewed by future generations but whether or not the Bible warns us against it. If it is sin, it will lead to death. If it is sin, then encouraging someone with homosexual inclinations to embrace them should be as reprehensible to us as encouraging a cancer survivor to smoke.”

“[S]omeone, sooner or later, needs to spell out further (wearisome though it will be) the difference between (a) the ‘human dignity and civil liberty’ of those with homosexual and similar instincts and (b) their ‘rights’, as practising let alone ordained Christians, to give physical expression to those instincts. As the Pope has pointed out, the language of ‘human rights’ has now been downgraded in public discourse to the special pleading of every interest-group. The church has never acknowledged that powerful sexual instincts, which almost all human beings have, generate a prima facie ‘right’ that these instincts receive physical expression. Indeed, the church has always insisted that self-control is part of the ‘fruit of the Spirit’. All are called to chastity and, within that, some are called to celibacy; but a call to celibacy is not the same thing as discovering that one has a weak or negligible sexual drive. The call to the self-control of chastity is for all: for the heterosexually inclined who, whether married or not, are regularly and powerfully attracted to many different potential partners, just as much as for those with different instincts.”

— N. T. Wright, Rowan’s Reflections: Unpacking the Archbishop’s Statement