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On the Futility of Certain Arguments in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

June 21, 2009

Up here in Canada, there has recently been a lot of to-do regarding a family in Winnipeg who sent their child to school with Nazi symbols written on her body.  The major question, socially speaking, has been whether or not these parents should retain legal custody of their children.  We are loath to remove a child from his or her natural family, but we are also loath to let a child be raised as a virulent, and perhaps violent, racist.  It does not take a lot of imagination to view such an upbringing as abusive, and the state has the duty to protect children from abuse.

Though it won’t be the first connection that most people make, this case has particular relevance for the group of Canadian parents (a large minority) who raise their children to believe that marriage is only possible between one woman and one man. The issue for these parents is, what happens in 5 or 10 years when their kids make a comment at school about their parents’ support of traditional marriage?  In Canada, the narrative of same-sex marriage as the latest step in the extension of civil rights to historically oppressed minorities is virtually absolute, at least in the public square.  In this narrative, same-sex marriage is a change to traditional marriage in exactly the same way that interracial marriage was.  “And you’re not opposed to interracial marriage, are you?”

It is tempting to portray the almost overnight success of this narrative as the result of ‘gay propaganda’, but surely that misses the point.  Propaganda is only effective because it draws on something already present, if latently, in the culture.  In this case, something that had been perfectly obvious through all of human history, namely the privileged status of the female-male relationship for the good of the community, was made perfectly incomprehensible in one generation.  The widespread acceptance of birth control has not only made children a non-essential aspect of marriage, it has, unexpectedly and perhaps ironically, made marriage non-essential for the raising of children.

For the vast majority of Canadians, marriage has become the government’s endorsement of the (preferably, though not necessarily, life-long) commitment between consenting, sexually involved adults.  In other words, same-sex marriage has not redefined marriage; it is simply the necessary corollary to the relatively new definition of marriage that is already operative in the vast majority of the Canadian populace. This includes, it must be said, a great many who oppose same-sex marriage.  In such a cultural context, the only thing necessary for the victory of the arguments in favor of same-sex marriage is that the public simply has the argument.  If marriage is only about government approbation for loving couples, what difference can their gender possibly make?

What does this mean for people who are opposed to same-sex marriage?  Should they just lick their wounds and move on?  As many here in Canada have noted, several years of legalized same-sex marriage does not seem to have changed our culture all that much.  My view, of course, is that this is precisely what we should have expected.  The associated changes in the culture took place before the legalization of same-sex marriage.  They were the prerequisite for it.

The real problem for supporters of traditional marriage is not how to reverse the legislation that opened marriage to same-sex couples.  The legislation was inevitable given the operative understanding of marriage in the culture.  The real problem for supporters of traditional marriage is articulating their views about family life in a way that does not leave them open to the charge of hate speech and, consequently, child abuse.

I am not totally convinced that the Nazi parents should be allowed to retain custody of their children.  If I am not convinced of that, how can I expect someone who sees my views of marriage as morally equivalent to racism let me retain custody of my own?

What this means is that there are arguments that opponents of same-sex marriage should use and arguments they should not.  Regardless of what you make of the particular details of his argumentation, David Novak’s piece is an example of the kind of arguments traditional marriage advocates must use.

I cite this in order to highlight its difference from two kinds of arguments that traditional marriage supporters often use, out of ignorance or frustration, which will only make this debate harder for them in the future.  The first one is that supporters of traditional marriage vilify their opponents as ‘perverted’, ‘evil’, ‘advocates of the culture of death’, etc.  Apart from being simply uncharitable, which is bad enough, such arguments drive many, including their own children, into the other camp.

Traditional marriage supporters almost certainly outbreed same-sex marriage supporters.  If it were a matter of pure demographics, the ‘culture wars’ would be won in two generations.  We do our best to raise thoughtful Catholic (Evangelical, Jewish, etc.) children who are interested in human dignity and social justice.  Such vilification as often takes place in debates about same-sex marriage ensures that when our children meet practicing homosexuals who don’t have horns and a tail, the arguments for traditional marriage look heartless.  Arguments based on the depravity and ill will of homosexually active people and their supporters will always lose in the end because they are almost always contradicted by real-world experience.

The second argument that must be avoided is the argument from freedom of religion.  The screeching on this point has become almost unbearable.  Those who employ it feel so clever:  “Same-sex marriage proponents want to make it about rights, then let’s make it about rights.  Freedom of religion has a much longer pedigree as a ‘right’ than a right to marry [which was never broadly understood as a right before this debate, anyway].  Their imposition of same-sex marriage on us is a violation of our religious freedom.”

Apart from being one more step on the way to making rights language totally useless, this approach is simply not grounded in reality.  The prevailing sentiment in the culture is that supporting traditional marriage is equivalent to racism.  No right to religious freedom allows the propagation of racism in our society, nor should it.  According to both the Catholic Church and the basic canons of western democracies, racism is intrinsically evil.  If we want the state to let us raise our own children, we need to demonstrate very clearly that opposition to same-sex marriage is not an example of the same kind of discrimination that underlies racism.  Calling people nasty names and campaigning for our own ‘rights’ does precisely the opposite.

Brett Salkeld is a doctoral student in theology at Regis College in Toronto.  He is a father of two (so far) and husband of one.

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171 Comments
  1. June 22, 2009 2:04 am

    Society should encourage and support faithful gay couples; their creative partnership is a blessing to society and to the churches. The semantics about “marriage” are heard by gay couples as directed against them. If the Church has some positive support to offer gay couples, let it put that forward rather than go on nagging and whining about “marriage is between one man and one women” etc. As we know, the very people who are nagging in this way are associated with the promotion of sex abuse and promiscuity, as well as signal failures to defend even the most basic human rights of GLBT people. As to the alleged problem of the kid hearing things her parents don’t approve of in school, surely this is not new situation? What about divorce? If you want the Catholic line on this, and only the Catholic line, then send your kid to a conservative Catholic school.

  2. June 22, 2009 2:07 am

    Traditional marriage supporters, you say, outbreed samesex marriage supporters. Please note that samesex marriage supporters ALSO support traditional marriage, and that traditional married couples support the marriages of their gay sons and daughters.

  3. David Raber permalink
    June 22, 2009 6:28 am

    “Arguments based on the depravity and ill will of homosexually active people and their supporters will always lose in the end because they are almost always contradicted by real-world experience.”

    Some would say the same analysis applies to homosexuality itself. To be convinced that homosexuality is a part of a “culture of death,” the public needs to be convinced that people carrying on the homosexual lifestyle are somehow definitely and concretely harming others by doing so.

    Unfortunately, grand Catholic theories about the place of sex in human life, even when Catholics and others know about such thinking, do not do much to convince most folks as against the evidence of their own experience–say, a couple of middle-aged guys down the street living together quietly, going to work every day, keeping a nice lawn, etc.

    It is a losing battle in a free society, where most of the electorate is immune to the argument, “Because God says so.”

  4. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 6:37 am

    The real problem for supporters of traditional marriage is not how to reverse the legislation that opened marriage to same-sex couples. The legislation was inevitable given the operative understanding of marriage in the culture.

    If what you say is true, then within the culture, it would be unjust discrimination to deny marriage to same-sex couples. Your argument seems not to be with same-sex marriage per se, but with the entire culture. This is particularly the case, since same-sex marriage, although it gets a lot of attention, is necessarily a minor phenomenon. Gay people are a minority, and not all gay people want to get married. Your task, then, and the task of those who agree with you, is not to target gay people and try to roll back same-sex marriage. It is to change the entire culture.

    Some would say that the line must be drawn somewhere, so they draw it at same-sex marriage. It’s difficult to understand (at least for me) why that isn’t discrimination. Why is it that this particular development is the one that must be stopped, when it’s just the next logical step?

  5. Liam permalink
    June 22, 2009 7:54 am

    A couple of remarks on tangential aspects of this post:

    1. Your children: It does strike me that any (not all) religious people arguing against same-sex marriage argue in a way that betrays an inability to imagine that they may in the future have gay or lesbian children or grandchildren who may someday find their arguments chilling in some way.

    2. Demography and the etiologies of homosexualities (plural intended): I realize that many opponents of same-sex marriage have unwittingly bought into creaky neo-Freudian theories of the cause of homosexuality (for example, the logic-impaired clinging mother/distant father hypothesis), but the fact that they may have larger families does not entail that they will in the end enlarge their circle of support on this issue. First, while studies continue, there is increasingly evidence of homosexuality (male more than female, perhaps) being at least partly fixed in the womb if not quite genetically and there does appear to be some correlation of male homosexuality with (1) the maternal line (and I will omit the speculations about why this might be an evolutionary adaptation), and (2) multiple pregnancies of male children (that is, the incidence of homosexuality appears to increase with the number of times a woman’s womb is exposed to the testosterone in male fetuses). Which is a labored way of saying that large families may increase the incidence of some homosexualities.

  6. Liam permalink
    June 22, 2009 7:55 am

    oops, that first “any” should be “many.” Keyboard sticky due to 100% humidity…

  7. M.Z. permalink
    June 22, 2009 8:02 am

    Perhaps it is time for us married folks to let folks know that sex isn’t the be all and end all of marriage. Quite frankly it is easier to have sex without marriage. While sex is pleasurable, it does yield to other priorities in marriage.

    Of course it can be difficult chasing tail when you reach a certain age. No one wants to be the oldest guy at the club looking for a girl. No one wants to be the girl competing for the affections of men with young 22-year-olds. However, old folks still seem to be able to find relationships, as can be found by the number of elder communities having issues with public sex, etc.

    Of course, this would require people believing that sex wasn’t the most important thing to marriage. In the Evangelical Bible Studies sex takes on a sacramental importance. In Catholic NFP circles, a lot of the same language is used. In the secular culture, the abstinance talk has turned marriage into simply a license to fornicate. In constrast with European culture, adultery here is seen as a near unexceptable reason to divorce. Such is not to say that sex cannot enhance a relationship or aid in the bonds between spouses. It is however to claim that marriage is about a lot more than sex.

  8. Liam permalink
    June 22, 2009 8:13 am

    MZ

    I know many long-time gay and lesbian couples who have been saying the same for many years about their relationships. I think people forget how much of the impetus for same-sex marriage came during the AIDs crisis, when many people witnessed heroic sacrifices among same-sex couples and when those couples were regularly vulnerable to assault by a variety of institutions (hospitals, government, courts and churches – there were heroic exceptions to those of course, but the issue here was the capriciousness of the availability of such exceptions). For example, a friend of mine was the lawyer for a gay couple of 20 years; one of the couple died due to complications from AIDs about 20 years ago. The deceased’s family sought to break his will, and in so doing in front of a very Catholic anti-gay judge in Massachusetts (yes, the type used to be rather common here, and that helps to explain why gay people radicalized here), the judge not only broke the will but issued orders such as requiring the survivor to hand over the deceased’s decades of personal journals to the family so they could destroy him and the judge even went so far as to forbid the survivor to make copies of them. So these people will agree that sex is not the be all and end all of marriage…

  9. M.Z. permalink
    June 22, 2009 8:25 am

    Then what is the argument for not priveleging other non-sexual relationships? For example, two sisters live 20 years together. Do we really need marriage to account for $20 worth of journals and a right to attend the funeral? Certainly those things do have value, but they aren’t what marriage is about.

  10. Liam permalink
    June 22, 2009 8:31 am

    Actually, in Massachusetts in the early 1990s, proponents of domestic partnerships proposed to include a wider variety of primary-caregiving arrangements, but were stonewalled at every turn. So they focused more narrowly.

    That said, the post already addresses (in a descriptive fashion) “what marriage is about” from the perspective of civil society and I need not repeat it.

  11. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 9:53 am

    Then what is the argument for not priveleging other non-sexual relationships? For example, two sisters live 20 years together.

    M.Z.,

    Sisters do have rights that unmarried same-sex couples don’t.

  12. June 22, 2009 9:56 am

    Great Post

    A few things about this debate. First people don’t need to be afraid of the response (DO YOU HAVE GAY FRIENDS). Of course the reason that this is brought up is to derail discussing the substance of the argument. In the very real world across this nation most people that oppose gay marriage have gay friends and know gay people. It is nothing new. What is different now is that it used to be we were not demanded by our gay friends to give a public endorsement for their lifestyle.

    As to racism the black community must really be brought into this more.African Americans get very offended when gay marriage is compared to the inter racial marraige and with good reason. Those voices I find are often absent still from the main public debate. Which is strange since the media has an obsession with making everything a white/black dynamic in this country. Also of course the Hispanic community.

    I would very much disagree that Freedom of Religion argument should not be used. I think that is crucial. There is no need to concede that most people that are against gay marriage are doing it because of hate.

    The famous Bob Jones cases has frightening implications for Christians and others that have an oppostion to the general homosexual lifestyle. It goes way beyond such Soundbytes of if a Chruch “would have to marry gay people”. In fact I don’t see that as the issue. It si the issue of Job Discrimination and how many religious Inst that will be effected that is huge.

    In other words there is a huge naive attitutude to what I call the dark side of rights. For some rights to be protected many other rights will have to be curtailed. The most striking example of this is of course abortion where overnight various rights extended to the unborn were wiped out literally overnight.

    There is a issue of course of how many gays actually want gay marriage. A point that is not examined enough. It seems odd that a Inst is about to be radically changed over something that many gays did not want 30 years ago. Many still don’t.

    THe key to marriage though is that it gives the moral anchor in the law that the homosexual lawstyle must be a matter of public policy affirmation. That is the key. In fact that wording was in the Iowa Supreme Court case.

  13. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 9:57 am

    Perhaps it is time for us married folks to let folks know that sex isn’t the be all and end all of marriage. Quite frankly it is easier to have sex without marriage. While sex is pleasurable, it does yield to other priorities in marriage. . . . Such is not to say that sex cannot enhance a relationship or aid in the bonds between spouses. It is however to claim that marriage is about a lot more than sex.

    M.Z.,

    Do you think that gay couples, many of whom are now marrying after having been together for 10, 20, or 30 years, don’t know this already???

  14. digbydolben permalink
    June 22, 2009 10:10 am

    I want to know why anybody has to “argue” with same-sex couples and their kids at all.

    The real problem for supporters of traditional marriage is articulating their views about family life in a way that does not leave them open to the charge of hate speech and, consequently, child abuse.

    It is only necessary to be POSITIVE about something that most members of this culture don’t know anything about, anyway–sacramental marriage, and its joyous, life-enhancing and affirming effects, isn’t it? Instead of preaching about it, or reproaching others for their lack of understanding or appreciation of it, or behaving in any other unnecessarily loutish fashion,why can’t you just SHOW them how it transforms human life, by the way you live your lives?

    Remember, all the homosexuals of the libertine Western societies are asking for, of their civil authorities, are the same legal and monetary protections that the serial monogamist antinomians of an essentially pagan society already enjoy. It is unnecessarily cruel and extremely “un-Christian” to campaign to deprive folks of their civic “rights” in a society that long ago broke with “natural law.”

  15. June 22, 2009 10:21 am

    Digby

    I am not sure what is Cruel or Unchristian about this. First I am not sure at how how gay marriage is a civil right. Where does that come from.

    Second many of us that have supported common sense gay and civil right for gays are now finding because we oppose gay marraige being called homophobes and hatefilled individuals. That is getting tiresome.

  16. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 10:22 am

    THe key to marriage though is that it gives the moral anchor in the law that the homosexual lawstyle must be a matter of public policy affirmation. That is the key. In fact that wording was in the Iowa Supreme Court case.

    jh,

    Looking at the sorry state of heterosexual marriage, one wonders whether your moral concerns about same-sex marriage ought not to be miniscule in light of what is going on among heterosexuals:

    Nearly 40 percent of babies born in the United States in 2007 were delivered by unwed mothers, according to data released last month by the National Center for Health Statistics. The 1.7 million out-of-wedlock births, of 4.3 million total births, marked a more than 25 percent jump from five years before. . . . While 28 percent of white women gave birth out of wedlock in 2007, nearly 72 percent of black women and more than 51 percent of Latinas did.

    I would think by any reasonable assessment, the out-of-wedlock birth rates are a disaster of such immense proportions that they make same-sex marriage a minor issue by comparison.

    Would you argue, by the way, that your moral rights to “just discrimination” are violated by laws that prohibit discrimination based on marital status? Do they give unwed mothers a “moral anchor” in the law? Are you worried your children might be taken away if you teach them that people should be married before they have children?

  17. June 22, 2009 10:35 am

    I am not sure what is Cruel or Unchristian about this.

    You might be able to find out by asking a gay person. Just an idea.

    That is getting tiresome.

    Gay people are, rightly, finding the hate and discrimination directed toward them “tiresome.”

  18. June 22, 2009 10:38 am

    Actually, in Massachusetts in the early 1990s, proponents of domestic partnerships proposed to include a wider variety of primary-caregiving arrangements, but were stonewalled at every turn. So they focused more narrowly.
     
    OK. So same-sex marriage advocates in MA found no success in trying to convince anyone they were concerned with  “a wider variety of primary-caregiving arrangements”, whereupon they decided to be more upfront about their intentions.
     
    Even if that’s true, that has nothing much to do with MZ’s question – unless his post is some kind of veiled criticism at gay-marriage advocates for not widening their tent so as to increase their chances of success. David makes a valid point with respect to the specific example that MZ posed,  but again, his larger point about whether marriage is the right way to address the concerns at hand remains unaddressed.
     
    For example, will gay couples who want to adopt ever be satisfied with any legal arrangement that gives prospective heterosexual couples a preferential option? If not, then gay advocates will continue to feel as if they’re being forced to sit in the back of the bus (in precisely the same fashion as the historical context of that phrase suggests) and they will continue to press the matter. Granted, couples that want to adopt are a small fraction of the gay population, but based on current polls, something similar can be said with regard to gay couples that wish to marry.

  19. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 10:38 am

    First I am not sure at how how gay marriage is a civil right. Where does that come from.

    jh,

    It seems to me that Brett Salkeld’s post basically said that the culture (in Canada, at least) had moved so far from where he wants it to be that gay marriage is a civil right. Civil rights, after all, are rights within a given society, and are not the same as human rights. If a society’s view of marriage changes to such a degree that there is no compelling reason to exclude same-sex couples, then it seems difficult to me to make an argument that refusing them the right to marry is not discrimination and a denial of their civil rights.

    Accepting no-fault divorce, a 50% divorce rate, skyrocketing rates of out-of-wedlock birth and saying the line must be drawn at same-sex marriage may not be discrimination against gay people, but it certainly looks like it.

  20. June 22, 2009 10:41 am

    Actually Micheal I have asked and discussed this issue with gay friends and co-workers in the past. Again as I noted in the real world we got many of them as our friends

    My fiorends of course don’t find me hateful or my arguments hateful for the most part. Many are not big into the gay marriage thing anyway and see this as an attempt to put a hetrosexual role on them.

  21. June 22, 2009 10:55 am

    David

    I guess in the American context I am viewing Civil rights under the legal framework we have. That is under the various const. A argument will have to be made that this is some Equal Protection violation.

    The key is what marraige is. Marriage has always been linked to the very essence of sex. That is gender. In fact it has been linked to real sex in which Bill Clinton actually got right.

    What is going on here is that marriage is being used to force the public to give a public affirmation to homosexual activity. And silence on that will not be tolerated.

    The gays rights community in a sense very well knows the language and logic of morals. In fact they grasp it much more than Christians too. In many ways they understand the logic that was going on behind the Lincoln/Douglas debates.

    To quote from Lincoln’s famous Cooper Union Address

    “Nor can we justifiably withhold this, on any ground save our conviction that slavery is wrong. If slavery is right, all words, acts, laws, and constitutions against it, are themselves wrong, and should be silenced, and swept away. If it is right, we cannot justly object to its nationality – its universality; if it is wrong, they cannot justly insist upon its extension – its enlargement. All they ask, we could readily grant, if we thought slavery right; all we ask, they could as readily grant, if they thought it wrong. Their thinking it right, and our thinking it wrong, is the precise fact upon which depends the whole controversy.

    Those first two sentences that Licnoln gives is very much what homosexuals understand and many Christians and others oppose to Same Sex Marriage don’t.

    This is partly because so many factions of poltical thought have been taken in by a libetarian fantasy world. Live and let live they say. However as we have found this rarely works in practice. The other side in this are not going to just “Live and Let Live” and there will be public and increasing private sanction on those that have oppostion ot the Homosexual lifestyle.

    Again if it is Homosexuality is “right” then all words, acts, laws, and constitutions against it, are themselves wrong, and should be silenced, and swept away. They get it!1 This is one reason why the Civil Unions bill in California was deemed so insufficent. Marriage is the key

  22. brettsalkeld permalink*
    June 22, 2009 11:00 am

    I can’t decide how surprised to be that many posts seem to suggest that I need to say or conclude things that I already say or conclude in the original post. There are also some presumptions about my position that are a little unwarranted from my post, at least as far as I can tell. Maybe I wrote poorly. Maybe this issue gets people to say what they were going to say in any case regardless of their interlocutor. Probably both.

  23. June 22, 2009 11:02 am

    Accepting no-fault divorce, a 50% divorce rate, skyrocketing rates of out-of-wedlock birth and saying the line must be drawn at same-sex marriage…
     
    Yeah, and we all know the pope is just fine with 50% divorce rates, out-of-wedlock births, etc.

  24. June 22, 2009 11:03 am

    David

    I am not sure why I should have to choose between the problems afflicting hetrosexual marriage and opposing gay marriage. Why not both. I do both. We are called ot both. Also I recognize that gay marraige has far more affects in society both legal and moral than many people seem to realize. Again there is a “Dark side of rights”

    Again we are talking about a Principle that the Law teaches here. In fact I am not sure the question of how gay marraige affects hetrosexual marriage is that relevant at all. At least I never found it such.

    I mean you might as well be asking how does A Pattnership of 3 or 4 beyond a coupling hurt my marriage. Or how does the fact that A Grandmother cannot marry her grandsom hurt hetrosexual marriage. Not everything and in fact many things are not measured in material hurt

  25. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 11:11 am

    Brett’s post acknowledges that many of those who argue against same-sex marriage are indeed often making homophobic arguments:

    I cite this in order to highlight its difference from two kinds of arguments that traditional marriage supporters often use, out of ignorance or frustration, which will only make this debate harder for them in the future. The first one is that supporters of traditional marriage vilify their opponents as ‘perverted’, ‘evil’, ‘advocates of the culture of death’, etc. Apart from being simply uncharitable, which is bad enough, such arguments drive many, including their own children, into the other camp.

    I think anyone who is honest acknowledges within himself or herself certain tendencies toward various prejudices and may not even be aware of the extent to which those prejudices influence their beliefs and actions. (Note Kyle R. Cupp’s post of 6/15/09 titled “Uninformed Comment.”) So I would just ask people who are so strongly opposed to gay marriage, “How do you know you aren’t — at least in part — reacting out of prejudice?”

  26. June 22, 2009 11:15 am

    Accepting no-fault divorce, a 50% divorce rate, skyrocketing rates of out-of-wedlock birth and saying the line must be drawn at same-sex marriage…
     
    So by the same token, there’s really no point in drawing the line at, say, polygamy and polyandry either (I mean the non-serial kind), or, for that matter gay incest, etc. It’s so good to see same-sex marriage advocates finally admitting that Santorum was right.

  27. June 22, 2009 11:23 am

    One other poin ton this. If gay Marraige is found to be a fundamental right then the Govt will brings in new laws and practices to promote this right.

    I think that is be missed here. This will be very apparent in the schools in which parents will have little control over as public policy is shaped to reflect this new regime of things. No doubt the ever problematic Child Protecive Services will next get into the act.

    Of course this leads to a whole mess later on. Despite what many leading gay advocates really think sexuality is a tad more fluid. Though they tlk about bisexuals notice how many times the bisexual label gets dropped. He is either gay or straight and all bisexuals are just lying to themselves. In the real world there are varying degrees of same sex attraction.

    Marriage is the key that opens up whole new avenues of protections and Civil rights. When do these attach. Does a kid that messed aroudn with his dorm buddy in College have these protections attach. Does a Lip Stick Lesbian at Wesley get them.

    In fact how in the world exactly does a Same Sex Marriage get “consumated”.

    It opens up the box to a wide assortment of sexual practices that now must be given public afirmation.

    The reason marraige is affirmed and thus the hetrosexual conduct in it is because

    (1)Society has found it to be a orderly way to raise children and make citizens

    and

    (2)Without reporduction and encouragement of it well cutlures sie off. Marriage has always been linked to that function of different genders

    I would really have no problem with there being marriage and then a category of Civil Unions that could be entered into without reference into any sexual act. But many gay adovcates I predict will oppose that.

  28. June 22, 2009 11:27 am

    David what is Homophobic?

    Do I think homosexual sex is disordered? Yes!! Does that make me homophobic. Do I find homosexual a good? No Does that make me homophobic?

    I thought the latest Miss USA contest was instructive. I know many Chrisitan women that were in Beauty Contests. That culture has a ton of gay men to say the least in all its facets. Yet these women and their families while not offering the endorsement of the gay life enjoyed their company and were never hateful of them. Yet Miss California is now viewed as some hateful homophobe all over place while there is no evidence that in her private life she preached gay bashing.

    I see this all over the place.

  29. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 11:29 am

    Yeah, and we all know the pope is just fine with 50% divorce rates, out-of-wedlock births, etc.

    HA,

    I don’t doubt where the Pope or the American Bishops stand on these issues, but where is the political battle? The five “nonnegotiable” issues in the voting guide assembled by very conservative Catholics were: “1. Abortion,
    2. Euthanasia, 3. Fetal Stem Cell Research, 4. Human Cloning, and 5. Homosexual “Marriage.”

    I believe we have people who contribute to Vox Nova who maintain that out-of-wedlock birth is the single most serious social problem in the United States and the root cause of many other social problems. Why wasn’t it on the list?

    It seems to me that one reason is that most people don’t want to roll back things like no-fault divorce, or re-stigmatize out-of-wedlock birth or cohabitation before marriage, because they might be condemning something they have already done or cutting out options they might want to take advantage of in the future. But it is very, very easy for most people to condemn same-sex marriage, because they know they will never want to marry somebody of the same sex!

  30. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 11:39 am

    Yet Miss California is now viewed as some hateful homophobe all over place while there is no evidence that in her private life she preached gay bashing.

    jh

    Quoting a message I wrote on dotCommonweal on May 5,

    I would have to say that while I disagree with Carrie Prejean, and I would go so far as to say opposition to gay marriage is bigotry, I feel she is being rather viciously ripped apart for her opinions in a way that I find very disturbing. I saw her being trashed on Countdown with Keith Olbermann with a barrage of one-liners (e.g., “She sits on the television and watches the couch”). I am not sure what having breast implants or having posed naked has to do with her opinions, however unacceptable I find them, about same-sex marriage. Some people are trying to destroy her, and they’re doing a pretty good job.

  31. June 22, 2009 11:59 am

    David what is Homophobic?

    Do I think homosexual sex is disordered? Yes!! Does that make me homophobic. Do I find homosexual a good? No Does that make me homophobic?

    You certainly might be homophobic, depending on why you think homosexual sex is “disordered” and why you don’t “find homosexual a good” (whatever that is supposed to mean). I think that’s David’s point.

    While I do disagree with exclusionary definitions of marriage, I do appreciate Brett’s call for advocates of “traditional” (an ambiguous term no doubt, but I’ll use it anyway) marriage to exclude certain argumentation.

  32. digbydolben permalink
    June 22, 2009 12:04 pm

    David Nichol, I would go MUCH further than you, and rephrase your question thusly: “How do you know that you aren’t–at least in part–reacting from the after-effect, in homophobic Anglo-Saxon culture, of strenuous reaction-formation”?

    I had a friend in the Peace Corps, a beautiful, quite “nelly” but VERY heterosexually amorous aristocratic kid from the South, who opined one night, under a starry sky on a Lankan beach, that, without homosexuals, there’d be no way to form “heterosexuality” in the classic American way–no way to “scare boys straight.”

    As he was elaborating on this subject, he kept pointing to a pair of local guys walking hand-in-hand on the beach. Everybody knew that these fellows, from a local village, were happily married fathers of large families.

  33. June 22, 2009 12:12 pm

    Elizabeth Anscombe predicted quite awhile ago that when Western cultures bought into contraception-within-marriage they essentially opened the door to everything, and she does mean EVERYTHING, else: homosexuality, polyandry, polygamy, incest, bestiality, etc. They did so because once the marital act was separable *in principle* from the procreative act, there is no longer any reason–other than “respectability,” “prejudice,” “bigotry” (all of which Anscombe recognizes and condemns)–to accord the marital act (as opposed to any other kind of sexual act) social and legal legitimacy and protection.

    This is why I believe quite strongly that, were Anscombe alive today, she would be very critical of the demonization of “gay marriage” in some Christian circles: as if gay marriage were a new problem instead of an especially visible symptom of an older one: as if gays could ever do as much harm to the institution of marriage as contracepting heterosexuals have already done: as if taking a stand against gays has any real theological or philosophical significance and is not just a prejudicial application of an argument for the supposed “sanctity” of marriage that is regularly desecrated by “respectable” Christian heterosexuals.

  34. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 1:11 pm

    Do I think homosexual sex is disordered? Yes!! Does that make me homophobic. Do I find homosexual a good? No Does that make me homophobic?

    jh,

    If you believe that homosexual sex is “disordered” because that is what the Catholic Church teaches, and not because you are fearful of homosexual sex or disgusted by it, then you are not homophobic . . . provided that what the Catholic Church teaches is actually true.

    Before 1965 and Nostra Aetate the Catholics who thought of Jews as “Christ killers” no doubt did not consider themselves anti-Semitic. (Didn’t Matthew report the Jews saying, “”His blood be upon us and upon our children”?) They may have had Jewish friends, and they may have prayed fervently for the conversion of the Jews so that the “enemies of Christ” would repent of the terrible sin of deicide. I am sure many good Catholics who believed the Jews to be “Christ killers” did not think of themselves as anti-Semitic. But the Jews certainly felt that they were, and it seems impossible to me to argue that the Jews were wrong.

    So in order not to be any kind of bigot, it is not merely necessary to believe that you are right in your feelings about any given group because “God said so.” God must actually have said so.

  35. June 22, 2009 1:34 pm

    I don’t doubt where the Pope or the American Bishops stand on these issues, but where is the political battle?
     
    The battle is not theirs alone to situate, and we both know those on your side of this argument prefer it that way. Therefore, your argument of hypocrisy is misplaced, and would be better  directed towards those who have no problem with divorce, illegitimacy, etc. but do happen to be in an uproar over gay marriage. I’m not sure who that might be, but you might try the Calvinists. From what I hear, there’s no end to the mischief those people are up to.
     
    Also, there’s a clause in just war theory regarding to fighting only where one believes (however quixotically) that there is a possibility of some success, and that is, at the least, a guideline for a situation like this, too.

  36. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 1:56 pm

    Therefore, your argument of hypocrisy is misplaced . . .

    hypocrisy – a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not ; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion

    Accusations of inconsistency, or of focus on minor issues when major ones are at stake, are not accusations of hypocrisy. I don’t know how many times people have claimed I am making accusations of hypocrisy. If I choose to make an accusation of hypocrisy, you will know, because I will use the words hypocrisy and hypocrite.

    I am saying that those who focus on same-sex marriage to the exclusion of out-of-wedlock birth, high divorce rates, adoration of celebrities who marry four, five, and six times (or have children without marrying at all) are fiddling while Rome burns. That is not an accusation of hypocrisy.

  37. June 22, 2009 2:02 pm

    David Nickol says:

    I am saying that those who focus on same-sex marriage to the exclusion of out-of-wedlock birth, high divorce rates, adoration of celebrities who marry four, five, and six times (or have children without marrying at all) are fiddling while Rome burns. That is not an accusation of hypocrisy.

    And he is exactly right. Indeed, can anyone imagine gay marriage even *being* an issue were it not for the confusion dealt to that concept by a long history of heterosexual abuse?

  38. AuntieD permalink
    June 22, 2009 2:22 pm

    No amount of heterosexual abuse or political agenda by homosexuals can change the essential nature of the sexual act. It is natural for a man and woman to engage in sexual intercourse (even if it is not always licit, i.e., unmarried; married to another). It is unnatural between man and man, woman and woman, and any other unnatural ways that can be thought up.

  39. david permalink
    June 22, 2009 2:32 pm

    Michael I.

    I’m a bit confused. Do you advocate homosexual unions? Growing up in San Francisco, I’m not ignorant to the heartbreak of not being accepted.Is liberation theology inclusive behavior which is disordered? Did Christ die to liberate us from the natural law (assuming you believe homosexuality to be disordered)

  40. June 22, 2009 2:48 pm

    David – I’m not sure why you would be “confused” by what I said above.

  41. June 22, 2009 2:49 pm

    Accusations of inconsistency, or of focus on minor issues when major ones are at stake, are not accusations of hypocrisy…
     
    Tomayto, tomahto. Swap whatever combination you prefer in lieu of “hypocrisy”, if you prefer. My point stands.

  42. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 3:00 pm

    It is unnatural between man and man, woman and woman, and any other unnatural ways that can be thought up.

    AntieD,

    Don’t forget that although the Catholic Church teaches it is natural for a married man and woman to engage in sexual intercourse, the Church teaches that it is unnatural for them to do so using artificial contraception. It’s estimated that 90 to 95 percent of Catholic married couples do so. Assuming all the teachings of the Church are correct, it is an interesting question what is the greater moral evil — sex between to committed people of the same gender, or sex between two sacramentally married people of the opposite sex using artificial birth control. Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges that a homosexual orientation is not a matter of choice. Homosexuals do not even have the option of “natural” sex with a partner to whom they are sexually attracted. On the other hand, married Catholics who use artificial birth control might be said to be defiling sacramental marriage itself, something same-sex couples aren’t doing.

    The degree of “unnaturalness” is not an automatic indicator of the magnitude of the evil. Heterosexual sex outside of marriage — including sex with prostitutes and even rape — is more “natural” than masturbation. But which is the greater evil.

    Here is a case where I think homophobia quite clearly enters in. Many people seem to think it is unquestionably a greater evil for same-sex partners to have sex than for consenting but unmarried heterosexuals, or married heterosexuals using birth control. It’s what’s called the “ick factor.” Most heterosexuals are more comfortable with the idea of other heterosexuals having sex, as long as it’s consensual and not unduly kinky. We see it on television and in the movies all the time. However, many heterosexuals are absolutely appalled at the sight of two men merely kissing. Homosexual sex is just so unnatural, it must be the most evil kind of sex there is.

  43. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 3:04 pm

    Tomayto, tomahto. Swap whatever combination you prefer in lieu of “hypocrisy”, if you prefer. My point stands.

    Read wj’s posts.

  44. June 22, 2009 3:15 pm

    AuntieD is correct to note that in the terminology of moral theology, a homosexual sexual union is “against nature” where a non-contraceptive union between a man and a woman is not. She fails to mention, though, that according to this same theology, a contraceptive sexual act between a male and female is *equally* “against nature.” This is, again, why Anscombe thought, in fact, that the greater danger to the Christian virtue of chastity came *not* from fornication, adultery, or sodomy (a technical term not intended to offend) but rather from the practice of contraception *within* marriage. I’ll worry about gay marriage, accordingly, when I become convinced that heterosexual arguments against it are based on a lived commitment to chastity and not on respectable prejudice. Unless you are *as* or *more* critical of contraceptive sex in heterosexual marriage as you are of homosexual marriage, you don’t even have an argument.

  45. M.Z. permalink
    June 22, 2009 3:17 pm

    Quite frankly it is unclear that Nickol’s argument is that homosexual practice is evil but a mole hill. That is why the perception exists that there is a hypocrisy argument at play. I do agree that the legitimizing of out-of-wedlock births and popularizing divorce are worse problems than how to address homosexual behavior. Giving homosexuals marriage doesn’t improve those issues and arguable makes tham more difficult to address. We can walk and chew gum. We can both oppose homosexual unions and the destruction of the family.

  46. June 22, 2009 3:21 pm

    The five “nonnegotiable” issues in the voting guide assembled by very conservative Catholics were: “1. Abortion,
    2. Euthanasia, 3. Fetal Stem Cell Research, 4. Human Cloning, and 5. Homosexual “Marriage.”

    I believe we have people who contribute to Vox Nova who maintain that out-of-wedlock birth is the single most serious social problem in the United States and the root cause of many other social problems. Why wasn’t it on the list?

    Come now, that’s a rather silly attempt at an argument. Out of wedlock births are not a political issue at this time. (What do you suggest, banning them?) Nor, really, can they ever be so in the way that the above political controversies are.

    Now, if you actually go out on the ground at a typical conservative Evangelical church or Catholic parish, you’ll hear much, much more about not having sex outside of marriage, being faithful to your spouse, building a solid marriage and avoiding divorce, living up to your responsibilities as a parent, etc. than you will about gay marriage. (And there is the occasional cross over into politics as with the abstinence based sex ed which Christian conservatives are so roundly mocked over.) Gay marriage simply has political prominence because it’s an issue in the midst of being decided in the political arena at this time.

    Contraception is mentioned rather less — I’d say I probably hear about it 4-6 times a year at Sunday mass, and my parish may deviate higher than the average in this respect. One sees a fair amount of effort on the part of conservative Catholics to push the issue — but it’s hampered by the fact that so many in the Church treated Humanae Vitae as a dead letter when it arrived. Needless to say, it strikes me as rather disingenuous of the sort of Catholic who is responsible for the ignoring of the Church’s teaching on contraception to then turn around and say, “Well, if you’re not willing to make a bit stink about birth control it’s obviously inconsistent of you to object to gay marriage.”

  47. June 22, 2009 3:24 pm

    And I must admit, the general tone of the comments in the thread here — with the very welcome exceptions of MZ and a couple of outside commenters — certainly show an interesting demographic shift in readership over the last six to twelve months around here.

  48. digbydolben permalink
    June 22, 2009 3:37 pm

    DarwinCatholic, I bet it’s not so much a “demographic shift” as a change in OPINION.

    Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

    http://forums.ctrecord.com/showthread.php?t=3739

    Senator Dodd is a Catholic, I believe.

  49. June 22, 2009 3:39 pm

    DarwinCatholic writes:

    Needless to say, it strikes me as rather disingenuous of the sort of Catholic who is responsible for the ignoring of the Church’s teaching on contraception to then turn around and say, “Well, if you’re not willing to make a bit stink about birth control it’s obviously inconsistent of you to object to gay marriage.”

    I assume he means Nickol here. I should state for the record, though, that I both accept the Church’s teaching in Humana Vitae *and* believe that the crusade against homosexual “marriage” is the sociocultural equivalent of giving an Advil to someone in a coma.

  50. jonathanjones02 permalink
    June 22, 2009 3:49 pm

    http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/?p=3636

  51. June 22, 2009 3:54 pm

    Read wj’s posts.
     
    What, the part about how most of what caused the breakdown of marriage is actually the fault of heterosexuals more so than anything gays are responsible for? I made that same point myself (end of 1st paragraph). The point I made above, however, still stands, though if MZ and DC have made that a little clearern run with that.

  52. June 22, 2009 3:57 pm

    Here is a case where I think homophobia quite clearly enters in. Many people seem to think it is unquestionably a greater evil for same-sex partners to have sex than for consenting but unmarried heterosexuals, or married heterosexuals using birth control.
     
    Again, this type of reasoning might be valid were it not for the fact that  however “natural” adultery and the dissolution of marriage, etc. might be, Catholics are opposed to that, too.
     
    And any attempts to  argue about which sin should be counted as less problematic than another have little bearing in any Catholic approach to morality. Barring some matters of exigency (e.g. Aquinas on prostitution) Catholicism has never been satisfied with ordering sins from acceptable on up. Besides, the “Heather has two mommies” advocates will not be satisfied with having gay sex be put on the same level as adultery or other so-called “natural” activities (given that we’re pretty much there, and they’re still hard at it).

  53. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 5:03 pm

    Again, this type of reasoning might be valid were it not for the fact that however “natural” adultery and the dissolution of marriage, etc. might be, Catholics are opposed to that, too.

    HA,

    Here is a place where real hypocrisy may be present. Catholics who use artificial birth control but speak out against gay marriage are, at least potentially, hypocrites. The teachings of the Church on sexuality are all very much of a piece. If homosexuality is wrong, artificial birth control is too, for much the same reason. Of course, we don’t know who the hypocrites are, but they must be out there.

    And any attempts to argue about which sin should be counted as less problematic than another have little bearing in any Catholic approach to morality.

    We’re not talking just about “sin” here. We’re talking about consequences for society. Any way you slice it, the relatively small number of gay people who want to get married (how evil!) are much less of a social problem than a 25% jump in out-of-wedlock births in five years. The statistics for the number of Hispanic and black children born out of wedlock — 51% and 72% respectively — should shock and disturb anyone far more than the fact that some gay people want to get married.

    Besides, the “Heather has two mommies” advocates will not be satisfied with having gay sex be put on the same level as adultery or other so-called “natural” activities (given that we’re pretty much there, and they’re still hard at it).

    No, and neither would I. But in my opinion, it is prejudice (including homophobia) that causes many Catholics and other Christians to be so horrified of homosexuality and so accepting of cohabitation before marriage, divorce and remarriage, birth control, and so on. Anyone who claims the visceral reactions of some heterosexuals to the mere thought of homosexual sex acts play no role in the campaign against gay marriage is deluded.

  54. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 5:25 pm

    And I must admit, the general tone of the comments in the thread here — with the very welcome exceptions of MZ and a couple of outside commenters — certainly show an interesting demographic shift in readership over the last six to twelve months around here.

    DarwinCatholic,

    Could you expand on this a little? I am not sure what it means.

  55. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 5:45 pm

    Come now, that’s a rather silly attempt at an argument. Out of wedlock births are not a political issue at this time. (What do you suggest, banning them?) Nor, really, can they ever be so in the way that the above political controversies are.

    DarwinCatholic,

    Actually, it used to be a very popular argument among conservatives that government social programs encouraged out-of-wedlock births. Has this argument been abandoned?

    If you just use Google and look up words like “government strengthen marriage” you will find endless reports and social-science studies on ways for the federal and state governments to encourage and strengthen marriage.

    We hear endlessly about how the family is the basic unit of society, and how important the family is. Opponents of same-sex marriage talk about the “right” of children to be raised by their natural parents and to have both a mother and a father. (See the David Novak piece that Brett Salkeld links to.) And yet you seem to be saying there’s nothing that can really be done. And that it is silly of me even to bring it up.

    If the tremendous increase in single-parent families is not currently a political issue, it certainly ought to be. In many ways, wj and I are about as far apart as can be, but I think he is right on target when he says “the crusade against homosexual ‘marriage’is the sociocultural equivalent of giving an Advil to someone in a coma.”

  56. June 22, 2009 6:03 pm

    Actually, it used to be a very popular argument among conservatives that government social programs encouraged out-of-wedlock births. Has this argument been abandoned?

    Well, that was one of the main arguments behind welfare reform. Welfare reform turned out to be good at shrinking welfare rolls and increasing the well being of poor women, but it didn’t actually put much of a dent in illegitimacy.

    We hear endlessly about how the family is the basic unit of society, and how important the family is. Opponents of same-sex marriage talk about the “right” of children to be raised by their natural parents and to have both a mother and a father. (See the David Novak piece that Brett Salkeld links to.) And yet you seem to be saying there’s nothing that can really be done. And that it is silly of me even to bring it up.

    Silly of you to bring it up? No. But silly to suggest that it’s some sort of slam dunk, clear cut issue in the way that gay marriage or euthenasia is. Want to avoid either one of those? Don’t legalize them. Very simple. Tackling illegitimacy is a much more difficult issue, and there’s a lot of disagreement as to what (other than not doing it yourself and bringing your kids up well — which as I mentioned is something that Christian conservatives spend huge amounts of effort on on a daily basis) would achieve it.

    Given the combination of difficulty and uncertainty, it’s no surprise that people tackle the easy issues first. After all, opposing gay marriage certainly doesn’t mean that you can work against out-of-wedlock pregnancies as well.

    Could you expand on this a little? I am not sure what it means.

    It seems to me that although most of the Vox Nova writers are entirely orthodox in their theology, the venue has as a whole increasingly become one in which primarily non-orthodox readers seem comfortable hanging out. I can’t help thinking that wasn’t the original intention — though I can see it as being the result of certain choices along the way. I also think it’s unfortunate, since removing it from the mainstream of Catholic blogsphere discussion is probably good neither for it nor the rest of the Catholic blogsphere.

    • June 22, 2009 6:26 pm

      Darwin

      Do not assume “those who reply” as the same as “those who are the readership.” Secondly, right now there will be a change of demographics of blog readership in the summer, in general — it always happens. Third, if it is true that many who are not orthodox are reading it, I would say, this is a good thing, not a bad, because it opens up to real people, and not just to people who necessarily agree with the authors — dialogue is possible in this fashion (it just isn’t preaching to the choir, so to speak). Fourth, I do not think it is so clear as you as to who are orthodox/not orthodox. How have you defined this category, and how have you kept track of these changes? (Seems to me, a kind of poisoning the well is going on here). This then leads to a fifth thought, that it is always interesting that those who are said by many on the blogosphere to be “orthodox” readers tend to ignore those posts which have to deal with something that is primarily Catholic and not political (of course, this is true with the non-orthodox readers too, but one would think those orthodox readers, looking for orthodoxy, would read and interact with the Catholic posts, and indeed, would use this as a basis for the greater intra-Catholic dialogue). That is rather telling to me.

  57. June 22, 2009 6:05 pm

    Also a side note: It strikes me that one difficulty in the “right against out of wedlock births” is that to the pro-life movement has actually taken very much (perhaps in some ways too much) to heart the routine attack that it doesn’t really care about women and about children who are already born. By the time we’ve all put a lot of resources and emotional investment into helping individual single mothers get on their feet and raise their kids (rather than having them “terminated”) one may still put a lot of work into making sure the kids in your parish “stay chaste” until marriage, but you’re less likely to go around imposing huge amounts of social stigma on illegitimacy — simply because you’re afraid of undoing all the work you’ve put into helping single mothers make it rather than choosing abortion.

  58. June 22, 2009 6:18 pm

     
    Here is a place where real hypocrisy may be present. Catholics who use artificial birth control but speak out against gay marriage are, at least potentially, hypocrites.
     
    Feel free to fulminate against Catholics who denounce gay marriage while being “so accepting” of contraception, cohabitation, divorce, etc., wherever those Catholics may be. At some point, however, you might want to stop kicking that straw man and get back to the topic at hand.
     
    The teachings of the Church on sexuality are all very much of a piece.
     
    On that point at least, we agree. As for what should shock us more, I addressed that in my previous post, and  besides, the teachings of the Church on sexuality are all very much of a piece. I’d just as soon let that be the final word on the matter, at least until we hear more from those Catholics who thinks that gays are “icky”, as you noted, while also contending that out-of-wedlock-births are swell  – i.e. apart from those out-of-wedlock births we pretty much ask for when trying to prevent situations where unwed mothers are pressured into aborting out-of-wedlock babies. To the extent the Church has shown more some leniency on that matter, I wouldn’t try to make hay out of it. That being said, if gay advocates can find a way to make unborn children into hostages of the gay marriage issue, too, you might be on to something.

  59. June 22, 2009 6:20 pm

    The deceased’s family sought to break his will, and in so doing in front of a very Catholic anti-gay judge in Massachusetts (yes, the type used to be rather common here, and that helps to explain why gay people radicalized here), the judge not only broke the will but issued orders … to hand over the deceased’s decades of personal journals to the family..
     
    Fine. I guess I’ll see your mean and corrupt civic official and I’ll raise you one NAMBLA advocate. How about Paul Shanley? Oh wait, that’s no good… In any case, exchanging heart-rending anecdotes is unlikely to advance the discussion very far, I’d wager. The same goes for lugubrious tales of how the gay lobby tried so hard to enfold the cause of other caregivers into their own but were cruelly “stonewalled” at every opportunity (…pause here for some violins and a good long cry…) As Potemkin village go, that one is far too obvious. Yes, attempts to humanize both sides here are often lacking in discussions like this, but there’s really no need to slather on the hagiography and the melodrama quite that thick.
     
    (Nice use of officially-approved metaphors, by the way — I wonder if “stonewalled” counts as an automatic double-word-score during Scrabble night at the Y? I admit, I tried to work in “milked” somewhere in this post, but it just seemed too forced.)

  60. June 22, 2009 6:29 pm

    It seems to me that although most of the Vox Nova writers are entirely orthodox in their theology, the venue has as a whole increasingly become one in which primarily non-orthodox readers seem comfortable hanging out. I can’t help thinking that wasn’t the original intention — though I can see it as being the result of certain choices along the way. I also think it’s unfortunate, since removing it from the mainstream of Catholic blogsphere discussion is probably good neither for it nor the rest of the Catholic blogsphere.

    What an utterly absurd narration of this history of this blog and the make-up of its readership.

    1) You have no right to make claims about who is “orthodox” and who is not. Sorry, ain’t your charism.

    2) We welcome any and all commenters, regardless of whether a right-wing Catholic guest of this blog (read: YOU) would deem him or her “orthodox” or not, so long as the commenters are respectful. Judgments such as yours, however, are and have been most UNwelcome.

    3) If you, Mr. Orthodox, is perceiving that there are more “non-orthodox” readers (as you define them) commenting here, then praise God, because it is clear from the usual suspects who hang out here that there has been a profound disconnect between the general VN viewpoint and the views of most of the commenters. Most VN commenters thus far have wanted nothing to do with dialogue or with taking the Catholic social teaching seriously, but rather want to divide, tear down, ridicule, etc., i.e. the usual modus operandi of their own personal blogs (“The American Catholic” being a great example).

    3) If you think that the “mainstream of the Catholic blogosphere” represents the mainstream of Catholicism either in the united states or throughout the world, you need to turn off your computer and get out more. The “mainstream” of the Catholic blogosphere is a space of sickness, hatred, and death-dealing. It has been out intention from the beginning to try to be an alternative to such filth.

    4) If you think that Vox Nova was EVER within the “mainstream of the Catholic blogosphere” then hooray if you sense some kind of shift. It might finally be sinking into your skull that most of us here have little in common with your own take on Catholicism.

  61. David Nickol permalink
    June 22, 2009 6:40 pm

    Nice use of officially-approved metaphors, by the way — I wonder if “stonewalled” counts . .

    HA,

    Thanks for pointing out the (probably unintentional) gay pun. I missed it myself!

  62. Mark DeFrancisis permalink
    June 22, 2009 6:44 pm

    Change in demography?

    I think DC is referring to the fact that Matt MacDonald has found a new home at A-C…

  63. June 22, 2009 6:59 pm

    Meh. You can tell Michael hasn’t really  gotten passionate (I’d give the above rant a 3.5 out of 11 on the Nigel dial), because he hasn’t yet bothered to inject a few four-letter words to make up for what his arguments lack – i.e., the Zack de la Rocha school of public discourse. Space of sickness, hatred, and death-dealing? Ah, come on, Michael, you can do better than that. Throw in a little more cowbell, at least… Or maybe you’re just saving all that upyou’re your American-Catholic appearances.
     

  64. June 22, 2009 7:02 pm

    Michael and Henry,

    It’s certainly not my intention to set myself up as some sort of arbiter of orthodoxy, but it does strike me as a bit illustrative that while no authors here other than MZ seemed to see it as worth their time to disagree with the numerous arguments in support of gay marriage (and against the Church’s position on it) on this thread, the point when the two of you saw it as necessary to step in and lay down the law when when I showed up and made a remark about the commenter population tilting away from Catholic orthodoxy.

    Now, that would indeed be a great opportunity for dialogue, if anyone was engaging in dialogue.

    If you think that the “mainstream of the Catholic blogosphere” represents the mainstream of Catholicism either in the united states or throughout the world, you need to turn off your computer and get out more. The “mainstream” of the Catholic blogosphere is a space of sickness, hatred, and death-dealing.

    Dude, the majority of US residents who identify as Catholic neither attend mass nor believe in the Real Presence. Surely that’s not the mainstream that you wish blogs were more in touch with, is it?

    Look, I can tell this is a sore topic, so I will drop it and not bring it up further. I realize that you hold most “orthodox” Catholic bloggers in contempt and think us a sorry lot, so I can see why seeing many of us eventually forsake commenting here would seem like a good thing to you. But if you’re trading that for a group of commenters who don’t accept Church teaching at all…

    Well, to each his own. At a certain point, though, you might want to look at your results and see if you’re succeeding in explicating Catholic social teaching, or just do a lot of harping on how you don’t like conservative Catholics — and thus attracting mostly other people who share your dislikes rather than your positive views.

  65. June 22, 2009 7:04 pm

    HA writes:

    “Feel free to fulminate against Catholics who denounce gay marriage while being “so accepting” of contraception, cohabitation, divorce, etc., wherever those Catholics may be.”

    But the issue is not whether orthodox Catholics are *accepting* of any of these practices, the issue is whether they are opposed to their legality. If there is a subset of such Catholics who really *are* opposed to the legality of contraception, divorce, and cohabitation, then it is merely consistent of them to oppose civil gay ‘marriage.’ If, however, HA has in mind Catholics who are not opposed to the legality of these other things, but who nevertheless desire to oppose the legality of same-sex ‘marriage,’ then I have to ask: on what grounds can one rationally defend one’s opinion?

    More generally, if the culture is as bankrupt as I believe it is, then the best way for Catholics to engage it–as digby and nickol have mentioned–is to bear *witness* to the sanctity of marriage through their own lives, leaving the political “debates” about the topic to the hypocrites who usually conduct them.

    I wonder (sincerely) if DarwinCatholic thinks that Catholic Christian orthodoxy requires that one be against the legalization of same-sex civil ‘marriage’ given the existent corruption of ‘marriage’ in our society. I don’t think it does, for the reasons I’ve already expressed. (Though I agree with Iafrate that one enters dangerous waters when one starts making pronouncements about other people’s orthodoxy.)

  66. June 22, 2009 7:16 pm

    On Darwin’s orthodoxy point (and I admit that I have not read all the comments here, but I can probably guess the issue):

    Yes, while some commenters here disagree with Church teachings on the “pelvic” issues, most other Catholic blogs attract types who disagree with all sorts of Church teaching on a daily basis — torture, the death penalty, nuclear weapons, war, gun control, the importance of equality, the rights of unions, the right to healthcare etc etc. Now, I think its ill-mannered to go set the orthodoxy police on people, but the fact remains — they are withholding religious assent from important magisterial teaching because they’ve worked out in their minds that giving assent to that particular teaching is not really all that important (the same mental exercise made by those on the left for, say, teachings on birth control).

    Another (in)famous tactic of the Catholic blogosphere is to conflate (theological) orthodoxy with political opinions. That’s the real scandal, in my view, and it’s the real reason why Vox Nova has always been held to a different standard.

  67. David Raber permalink
    June 22, 2009 7:19 pm

    It’s good to know there is a subject besides abortion that can also generate a zillion comments and a great deal of passion at the same time.

    The big frame for both issues is the question about how much our religion should be translated into civil law.

    What if liberals and conservatives alike gave up the effort to bring the gospel to civil society via the legal codes and the courts and the prisons? This would mean the liberals would have to give up on social justice via the government, and conservatives would have to give up on pushing family values.

    For centuries the Church thought it could not survive without the papal states. The Church today runs a sovereign state pretty much in name only, but many would argue that it is much better off for the change–detached from the sturm und drang of politics and thus able the preach the gospel unfettered. Maybe the next logical step would be to get out of the business of political agitation.

    If we want social justice, let’s get off our butts and stop telling the politicians to make it so–let’s do it ourselves in and through the Church. The same would go for efforts to end abortion–through education and our own programs to help women with unwanted pregnancies. I know there are Catholic charities doing all this stuff now, and God bless them, but I am talking about efforts on a much larger scale. Let’s not fix society; let us be our own society, a real community and not just a social club, and such a good society that many will want to join us and many others will learn from us even without joining.

  68. June 22, 2009 8:51 pm

    AuntieD, you say is it natural for a man and a woman to have sex. In fact for gay men or women to have sex with the opposite sex is profoundly unnatural in the ordinary sense of the word. Thomas Aquinas recognizes that the homosexual instinct is natural secundum quid, though he is obliged to see the homosexual act as contradicting natural law. Persona Humana (1975) also speaks of homosexuality as an innate disposition. Homosexualitatis Problema (1986) calls the homosexual disposition intrinsically disordered on the basis that it is a disposition to acts that are intrinsically evil. Of course the homosexual temperament is not entirely a matter of sexual acts — rather it is primarily a disposition to love romantically one’s own sex and to appreciate the beauty of one’s own sex; in this regard one presumes that the 1986 document need not mean that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered.

    Of course this entire language-game, like discussions of whether Jews are deicides, is predicated on the most sterile prejudice. We need to name and shame the homophobia of the Vatican for starters.

  69. June 22, 2009 9:31 pm

    DC – Your comments have no basis in reality and they will remain unhelpful so long as you continue the “we are more-orthodox-than-you” garbage.

  70. M.Z. permalink
    June 22, 2009 9:33 pm

    Since you don’t support celibacy SOV, I’m not sure it is even worthwhile to go further. If I’m not mistaken you have claimed celibacy is unnatural. Your comment here is tangential, because we are all called to control our sexual appetites. Men and women typically are sexually attracted to many people that aren’t their spouse in their lives. Often this isn’t strictly limited to lust but genuine affection that can’t be licity realized in sexual congress.

  71. June 22, 2009 9:46 pm

    But the issue is not whether orthodox Catholics are *accepting* of any of these practices, the issue is whether they are opposed to their legality.

    Says who? You are free to frame the issue however narrowly you’d like. It doesn’t mean others have to follow suit.

    If there is a subset of such Catholics who *are* opposed to the legality of contraception, divorce…

    For the umpteenth time, that is a topic that we can revisit once the legal sanction of divorce and the legalization of palimony, etc. comes up again — who knows, perhaps it will be on the very same day that all Catholics can agree to support church policy on such matters (quite apart from any legal state of affairs) as opposed to arguing over the most consistent ways of dismantling said policy, or griping at how pointless it has become at this stage. For now, if you’d like all Catholics to focus on actually putting some legal teeth into a “one-man, one-woman, one-time” approach to marriage and win our consistency points that way, I say kudos to you, since I completely agree it is a much more important issue. Gay marriage is certainly not a battle line I’ve drawn, and perhaps tomorrow when it advances to polygamy and incest and, well, do the math yourself, I hope I’m not going to be saying anything as silly as “oh, we’ve come this far, so it’s unfair and/or inconsistent to stop now, etc.” Does anyone really think that is the best that can be done?

    The matter of which sins should be legal and which shouldn’t is one I don’t recall addressing directly — in fact, I have thrown water on that whole way of thinking (which also means I haven’t specifically endorsed or ruled out one specific overall policy). Perhaps some other people here are more willing to engage the matter on the terms as you’ve described them. But be wary. As I’ve said before, too often the questions that are posed to Catholics are variations of have-you-stopped-kicking-your-dog? (“Oh, so you’re OK with African babies dying of AIDS just because of condoms?”) Feel free to play that game, and when you frame the issue in the way you are, that is exactly what you’re doing. I’d rather not.

  72. June 22, 2009 10:30 pm

    HA,

    Thanks for your response. I’m afraid I don’t follow all of it, but I’ll try to respond where I think there’s still a point of disagreement between us that could bear elucidation.

    I tried to frame the issue as one of a Catholic’s willingness to tolerate the legality of one vice and not another. Because these vices are closely related, being as they are unnatural sexual acts (contraceptive sex and sodomy, respectively), I seek a reason why one of them should be viewed as entirely unproblematic from a legal standpoint while the other is the cause of such great distress.

    There is, I repeat, no difference morally speaking between a heterosexual married couple using contraception and two men having sex. This being the case, what ground do we have for recognizing the one sort of perverted sexual behavior as befitting a “marriage” and not the other?

    Now, one response to this question is to say: “Well, just because marriage has become so completely corrupt, that’s no reason to let it become further corrupt; so we can grant that “marriage” within the USA is a far cry from sacramental marriage and still be opposed to extending “marriage” to gays, out of some sort of respect or nostalgia for marriage proper.”
    One reason why this is a bad argument is that it’s simply not true that allowing gays to “marry” civilly could harm marriage any more than contracepting heterosexuals already do: the sex acts are *the same*, morally speaking. So it’s as if you were saying: we already allow an arbitrarily defined group of people to get “married” who intend to do nothing but commit a large number of perverse sexual acts in their “marriage,” but in order to protect the institution of marriage we won’t extend the legal recognition of “marriage” to another group of people who commit equally perverse sexual acts. On what possible basis can one rationally maintain this distinction?

    Secondly, when a cultural institution is as far down the toilet as marriage is in America, it behooves Catholics to (1) recognize this fact; (2) think about what it is about our culture that works against the norms of the institution in question; and (3) determine whether the better response is an overt politicizing of the cultural problem or a removal of oneself from the public sphere of debate, on the grounds that one can better witness Christ by just living the Gospel in one’s family and within one’s community.

    I think, HA, that in this debate you still think that it is worthwhile for Catholics to engage the marriage issue within the political arena, while I think that, because even our seeming *allies* in this arena–so-called “conservative” Protestants–are committed in principle to a vision of marital sex that is no different in kind than that they propose to legislate against, it is much better for us to adopt a different approach.

  73. June 22, 2009 11:05 pm

    MZ, I believe in the natural right to marry, as recognized by the Church, and I would extend it to gays (and also to priests, since the system of mandatory celibacy seems to me in conflict with that right). You say that many people are in situations where they must refrain from “sexual congress” (!) with people what they love or are fond of, which is true. But you (casually?) consign all gays to lifelong abstention from sex, which I think is difficult to justify. I mean, unless you can provide a deep justification your prescription sounds casual.

  74. June 22, 2009 11:12 pm

    There is, I repeat, no difference morally speaking between a heterosexual married couple using contraception and two men having sex. …[so]…what ground do we have for recognizing the one sort of perverted sexual behavior…and not the other.

    So I guess by the same token, we should have no problem with recognizing polygamy, incest, child brides, bestiality, the “voluntary” self-immolation of widows and any other departures from the Catholic (and erstwhile Christian) ideal. If you disagree with that last sentence, then I think any accusations of inconsistency should be directed closer to home.

    As for any assumptions as to what my overall political program is on this matter, and who my allies are, real or imagined, I just think it’s best not to go there. However, for whatever it’s worth, let me note the following by way of analogy. During the election, I argued strongly that Catholics should not vote for Obama, and left it at that. I did not go on to say that one should (or should also not) vote for McCain, or that one should or should not vote for Ron Paul or some other candidate. It’s not that I had no views to offer there, it’s just that such arguments were best left to others, and detracted from the point I was trying to make at the time. It’s the same way here. I say what I say because there are battles that I do think I can fight, and while I realize that not fighting on some other front opens me up to accusations of evasiveness and incompleteness, I’ll just have to live with that. No hard feelings, either way.

  75. digbydolben permalink
    June 22, 2009 11:18 pm

    David Raber and “wj” seem to advocate the so-called “third way” of response to the intrinsically heretical culture of almost every post-modern society. I agree strongly with both of them, rather than with the politics-obsessed DarwinCatholic, et. al., and wish that more attention were focussed here on exactly HOW to build the Catholic counter-culture.

    There are those who say that it IS being built in “conservative Christian” venues in America, but I maintain, from my rather extensive experience living and working in your country, that it is NOT.

    A REAL Catholic “counter-culture” would meet the dilemmas and pain that “same-sex attracted” people feel head-on and publicly. It would not whisperingly shunt them away into the side-aisles of “Dignity,” but would welcome them into their churches, encourage their “testimonies” of how they try to reconcile their “disordered” urges with their Christian faith and then attempt to devise missions to knit them back into the faith community and special liturgies (such as even fisher-folk have, in the more genuine Catholic cultures that I’ve known) that would speak to them of the splendour of overcoming even “natural urges” for the sake of life in Christ. A REAL Catholic “counter-culture” would boldly advertise that “sacramental marriage” is not everybody’s vocation and would not be all the time sedulously dissembling the fact that, though he consecrated marriage at Cana, Christ himself had little time for so-called “family life,” and encouraged, as an alternative to it, something called “eunuchdom” for the sake of the “Kingdom.” A REAL Catholic culture would be more sensitive to the mixed-message that has ALWAYS been sent to same-se-oriented youth when marriage is proclaimed, particularly in homophobic Anglo-Saxon Catholic communities, to be the heart and soul of Christian life, and yet the “special charism” of celibacy is still embraced by her for her “eunuch” (non-pejoratively meant–as Christ used the word)sacerdotal ministers.

    And these are only what should be the qualities of a Catholic “counter-culture” as it addresses “homosexuality,” which is only, I agree, a minor matter, as compared to issues of abortion, euthanasia, social and economic injustice, “unjust” wars, etc. It is time for American Catholicism to realise it has never been at home in America, and to start constructing for itself the genuinely Catholic culture that would HAVE to be a “counter-culture” there.

  76. June 23, 2009 12:22 am

    digbydolben, your entire account of your ideal Catholic culture is predicated on getting gays to see that their sexuality is disordered. Unfortunately, modern science is entirely against you on this point, so you seem to be urging the Church to plunge into a new Galileo scandal.

  77. June 23, 2009 12:29 am

    I think a dialogue between Catholicism and the culture will remain impossible as long as Catholics think they already have all the answers. Throughout history the Church has progressed by learning from new cultural contexts as much as by opposition to the culture. Our present opposition to slavery, religious intolerance, torture, capital punishment is indebted to the Enlightenment that we opposed for a long time. Our present high estimation of sexual love within marriage is due to 2oth century liberalism about sex. Inevitably, a positive estimation of homosexuality as implying a vocation of love (for people of one’s own sex) will also become a strand in Christian thinking. Indeed it is already given eloquent expression by Christian authorities such as Bishops Jefferts-Schori and Desmond Tutu.

  78. brettsalkeld permalink*
    June 23, 2009 1:21 am

    As I hope was clear from my post, I too consider the same-sex marriage question to be quite peripheral. It’s relationship to the state of marriage in western democracies is symptomatic rather than causal. I also have significant sympathy for the proposals suggesting that our job is to live as Christians in such a culture rather than fight huge legislative battles on minor details. (Though I grant that the question of which battles to fight is often not a very clear-cut issue.)

    Nevertheless, even being a minority group that does not support or participate in same-sex marriage leaves us open to the charge of violating ‘human rights’. Even those respondents who believe that the Church is currently wrong on this point do seem willing to concede that those who agree with her are not necessarily hate-mongers. So, it seems we are agreed on at least this much: even if some opponents of same-sex marriage are terrible bigots, opposition to same-sex marriage is not reasonably equated with racism.

    With all this in mind, I would like to simply restate my original concern: “How do we justify our way of life to the broader culture, so that the state doesn’t confiscate our children?” As a Canadian parent this is a very existential kind of concern.

  79. digbydolben permalink
    June 23, 2009 2:27 am

    brettsalkeld, although I am generally “pro-gay” here, I am in complete sympathy with what you’ve written above.

    And “Spirit of Vatican II” is WRONG that everything I wrote is predicated upon “homosexuality’s” being a “disordered state.” Frankly, I don’t much care whether “homosexuality” is a “disordered state.”

    That’s not the issue; the issue is affirming that “homosexual” persons are no more “sinful” than the whole lot of other Catholics, and are entitled to have their special spiritual needs attended to, and not hidden out of sight by a paranoid clergy who are nervous about being called “eunuchs for the Kingdom of God.”

    The way “Spirit of Vatican II” would interpret what I said would be to brand my “special liturgies” for “homosexual persons” as a sort of Inquisition-style auto-da-fe, which is the exact OPPOSITE of what I meant.

  80. digbydolben permalink
    June 23, 2009 2:32 am

    And, also, I believe that “Spirit of Vatican II” is correct in stating this:

    Inevitably, a positive estimation of homosexuality as implying a vocation of love (for people of one’s own sex) will also become a strand in Christian thinking.

    However, I am more interested in having my Church take care of the spiritual needs of “gay Catholics” living NOW, and not in his “inevitable” future.

    I am also interested in having “straight” Catholics learn something about the tragedies and dilemmas attached to human sexuality from the “gay Catholics” living silenced in their midst. The fact is that there have been MANY “same-sex oriented” SAINTS in the Roman Catholic communion and their history needs to be uncovered, rather than hidden.

  81. Joseph permalink
    June 23, 2009 7:39 am

    Do straight Catholics only learn of tragedies and dilemmas from gay Catholics? Don’t they also learn of the joys of sex and love in another perspective? Is that not exactly what the Vatican does not want them to learn? And is that not the reason why Dignity has been expelled (not just shunted to a side-aisle) whereas Courage is promoted.

  82. digbydolben permalink
    June 23, 2009 7:45 am

    Our present high estimation of sexual love within marriage is due to 2oth century liberalism about sex.

    I think it’s got its roots in something far older than “20th century liberalism.” I think it started in the absurd “troubadour tradition” of “knightly love” (which Cervantes both lampoons and celebrates in Don Quixote), and I think it continues into the Puritans’ divorce-approving culture of the 17th century, and ends in 19th century Victorians’ placement of women on pedestals.

    And I think it’s also an OVER-“Estimation.”

  83. David Nickol permalink
    June 23, 2009 7:56 am

    When a young Catholic discovers he or she is gay, what role models can they look to as guides to live the kind of life the Church calls on them to pursue? There are now celebrities who are known to be gay, but all of them are “practicing” homosexuals. Is it too much to ask of the Church to show young people role models who could give them hope that living as a celibate “homosexual person” can actually be done?

    How many Catholic parents who believe homosexuality is “disordered” and who teach that to their children would reasonably expect one of their children who suspects or realizes he or she is gay to come to them (the parents) for guidance?

  84. digbydolben permalink
    June 23, 2009 7:56 am

    Do straight Catholics only learn of tragedies and dilemmas from gay Catholics?

    No, of course not.

    Is that not exactly what the Vatican does not want them to learn?

    Thank you, Joseph, for putting your finger–inadvertently–right on the problem: the Vatican, indeed, does NOT want lay Catholics to know that, for instance, the mystical poetry of John of the Cross is highly homoerotic in its imagery; it does NOT want lay Catholics to know that Joan of Arc was considered a “witch” precisely because she favoured men’s clothes; the Vatican does NOT want lay Catholics to recognise that almost ALL of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ religious imagery in verse is about love for the corporeal form of Christ; the Vatican does not want lay Catholics to know that Julian of Norwich figures Christ, in her mystical writings, as a “mother”; the Vatican does NOT want lay Catholics to understand that John Henry Newman’s primary emotional relationship was with his best friend, with whom he asked to be buried; the Vatican does NOT want lay Catholics to know that the “carnal lust” that St. Romuold, the founder of the Camoldese Order, was most concerned about in his followers and most inveighed against was desire for each others’ bodies–recognising that such desire was EVERYWHERE in the “natural world” of pre-Renaissance Italy.

  85. David Nickol permalink
    June 23, 2009 8:38 am

    The Church requires gay people to live a celibate life and, for whatever reason, to keep their orientation for the most part secret. I am not quite sure how this is to be done if participating in organizations like Courage. In any case, this means the only visible gay people are those who do not follow the advice of the Church.

  86. June 23, 2009 9:13 am

    Here’s a question on this new topic: How constitutive of identity is one’s “sexuality”?

    From, say, the juridical condemnation of specific sexual acts, in which one’s disordered desires are taken to be unsurprising, expected, and relatively universal, to the 19th century codification of *the* heterosexual and *the* homosexual, where a person is *defined by* his/her desires, there is a wide gap.

    For instance, by the current way of describing things, I am clearly a heterosexual. But does this mean that I have never had a lustful thought about another man, or that I am in principle protected against what we call “homosexual” desires because of my heterosexual identity? I don’t think so.

    It seems to me rather that Augustine, Ovid, and Deleuze are right in suspecting that desire, and sexual desire especially, is much more amorphous and problematic than we like to think. And so I am suspicious of the whole hetero/homo binary sexual system on the grounds that (1) it encourages bigotry; (2) it is unnecessary for a juridical account of the licitness of particular sexual acts; (3) it buys into a questionable modern premise concerning the static relationship between desire and its object.

    But I don’t know what others think of all this. There seems to be good evidence that something *like* what we call “homosexuality” might be traceable genetically, and I certainly don’t meant to deny the existence of a group of individuals who, for whatever reason, experience a stronger sexual desire for members of their own gender. My objection rather has to do with the Church’s too-easy acceptance of “homosexuality” as an identity that is “disordered,” etc. I mean–who among us is NOT disordered in our desires? Isn’t this just what makes us fallen?

  87. digbydolben permalink
    June 23, 2009 9:29 am

    You are an intellectually intrepid, honest fellow, “wj.”

  88. David Nickol permalink
    June 23, 2009 9:42 am

    My objection rather has to do with the Church’s too-easy acceptance of “homosexuality” as an identity that is “disordered,” etc. I mean–who among us is NOT disordered in our desires? Isn’t this just what makes us fallen?

    Does a man who is attracted to women other than his wife have “a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil”? And would it then be true that that “inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder”? What about a man or woman who was in a sacramental marriage and has obtained a civil divorce. If they find themselves sexually attracted to others, is that disordered? What about an urge to masturbate? There was a popular saying that 95 percent of teenage boys masturbate and the other 5 percent lie about it.

    I guess I am seconding wj’s question in asking what is the difference between the concept of being fallen, and the concept of “objectively disordered” conditions.

  89. June 23, 2009 10:19 am

    David Nickol,

    The standard response here is to parse out the ‘objectively’ in ‘objectively’ disordered. In other words, the difference between my sinful desire to sleep with another woman and my sinful desire to sleep with a man is that in the latter case the “object” of my desire could never be considered licit, whereas the “object” of my desire in the former case, i.e. sleeping with a woman who is not my wife, is sinful because of “circumstance” and not on account of the “object” desired. Hence while both desires are subjectively disordered, the latter, in addition, is “objectively” disordered: this is not to say that it is somehow *worse*, morally speaking, than the former desire, only that it “gets the object of desire wrong,” so to speak. And I understand this distinction, so far as it goes.

    My point is that there are many sexual desires that are “objectively” disordered in the very same way as “homosexual” desire. Suppose you are a man who struggles with a desire to achieve sexual climax through being fellated by a woman; suppose you are sexually excited by the sight of a woman’s calf, and that this develops into a kind of fetish; suppose that the thought of non-contraceptive sex leaves you cold; you only can perform when you are certain there’s no chance of pregnancy…In every one of these cases, which I would propose are *much* more common than you might expect in our culture, your desire is “objectively” disordered in *exactly the same way* as it would be if, instead of struggling with these things, you struggled with the desire to sleep with a man.

    This is why, on the basis of the Church’s own moral teaching, I find the recent pastoral advice on homosexuality to be unhelpful.

    And this is to say nothing about the rejection of candidates for the priesthood who exhibit “deep seated” homosexual tendencies, however committed to chastity they are. This is like picking out a group of men who have “deep seated” tendencies toward enjoying fellatio and blocking them from the priesthood on this ground alone, irrespective of how they have lived chastity.

  90. June 23, 2009 10:39 am

    wj & David,

    I think what’s being missed is probably a set of distinctions between a desire being disordered, a desire being misplaced, and the extent to which a set of desires or inclinations is ingrained in a person’s makeup.

    The Church uses terminology which accepts the existence of purpose when talking about human actions such as sex. From an Aristotelian point of view, the reproductive act (and not any of the other pleasureable things one might do with the same organs) is the purpose of the reproductive system. From the point of view of biological realism, this could also be seen as the case: at an evolutionary reason the reason why sex organs exist is to facilitate reproduction, not recreation, although there are additional, secondary, purposes which the sexual faculties take on in addition to their primary purpose (increasing pair bonding, etc.)

    So from a Catholic point of view, it seems to me that a desire to have sexual pleasure with someone of one’s own sex would be described as unnatural or disordered. So would the desire to do so with a synthetic “toy” or a member of another species, or to do so with a member of the opposite sex but with some non-sex-organ part of their body.

    A desire to have sex with someone other than one’s spouse would not be unnatural but rather misplaced — it is a natural and ordered act that is desired, but it is desired with someone other than he/she with whom one has a relationship which is the proper context for sex.

    I’d agree with wj (and I think history and literature very much back this up) that the modern thinking about “gay” and “straight” being rigid and binary categories is misplaced, and in this sense it seems to me that talking about a gay orientation being disordered amounts to saying that to the extent that one possesses the characteristic of being attracted mainly towards expressions of sexuality which are disordered, one’s inclinations in this regard are disordered.

  91. June 23, 2009 10:45 am

    In reference to wj’s most recent comment: I think there remains some wisdom in the Church dealing with homosexuality in the way you criticize in that, regardless of how well modern attitudes track to reality, there is a strong modern perception that there is such a thing as a “gay orientation” which involves being only, always, and inevitably attracted to the same sex. By contrast, there is not a group of people out there describing themselves as fellatists and saying that they have an absolute and permanent orientation which allows them only to have that kind of sex and no other.

    It is indeed, doubless, quite commen for men to prefer it or indeed be obsessed with it, but it is not a visible group which people are demanding that the Church answer the concerns of.

  92. David Nickol permalink
    June 23, 2009 11:09 am

    DarwinCatholic,

    You didn’t address masturbation. A desire to masturbate would seem to be “objectively disordered,” if I understand the rest of what you are saying.

    Someone (I think it was Dr. John Money) once said there are as many sexual orientations as there are people.

    It is indeed, doubless, quite commen for men to prefer it [oral sex] or indeed be obsessed with it, but it is not a visible group which people are demanding that the Church answer the concerns of.

    Individuals who thought they were alone because of some aspect of their sexuality can often now find others like themselves via the Internet, so let’s not be surprised if some new groups form and start demanding their rights.

  93. June 23, 2009 11:30 am

    You didn’t address masturbation. A desire to masturbate would seem to be “objectively disordered,” if I understand the rest of what you are saying.

    Yes.

    Individuals who thought they were alone because of some aspect of their sexuality can often now find others like themselves via the Internet, so let’s not be surprised if some new groups form and start demanding their rights.

    Perhaps, but I find the idea of an organized group of fellatist orientation forming a little hard to swallow… (Sorry, couldn’t avoid the pun.)

  94. June 23, 2009 2:39 pm

    I don’t believe in homosexuality.

    It’s a scam.

    The idea that a person’s sexual preferences could make up a permanent, foundational part of their identity is a really new fangled idea.

  95. June 23, 2009 2:53 pm

    When a young Catholic discovers he or she is gay, what role models can they look to as guides to live the kind of life the Church calls on them to pursue?
     
    Yes, we’ve all heard this before, and so until we have a Yupik saint, or at least a Yupik cardinal, the poor Yupik children will have no role models for how to make Catholicism meaningful to them. Ah, the tragedy. Look, we’re all very sorry that the Church doesn’t expend a lot of effort sorting its role models and guides according to their Kinsey scale, but trying to find your own perspective on what it means to be a Catholic doesn’t become easy the minute one discovers he or she is heterosexual. There’s also all those divorced and remarried Catholics and unwed mothers and I suspect a fair number people with urges and proclivities that are still very much illegal. They’re all out there waiting in line with the poor Yupik children, not to mention the masturbators, the calf-fetishists and those who need fellatio in order to call it a night. Perhaps the real lesson there is that being Catholic has to do with more than gender categories and how Yupik one happens to be. Otherwise, what’s the point of following a hick Jewish carpenter who came and went two thousand years ago?

    And thank you, but when it comes to the “joys of sex and love to be found in another perspective”, you don’t have to be homosexual to know there’s a lot more to that than what you’ll find inside Catholic-approved social gatherings. (And there’s a lot more of what goes on in gay culture these days – tops and bottoms and straight-acting and heated debates over why bisexuals are so despicable, etc. – that the Church isn’t so keen on adressing either.  It’s a lot more than the joys of sex, and anyway, as MZ noted, there’s much, much more to life than that.) Liam asked why it is that so many people seem to assume their Catholic children won’t be gay, but we can turn that question around: to the extent that the non-Catholic view on how to deal with love and sex and family size continues to dominate, why does anyone assume that gay culture as we know it today is here to stay? Especially when that testosterone-in-the-womb monitor becomes standard in the fertility clinics. When that day comes, we’ll see whether Catholics, non-Catholics, or the so-called gay leadership wins out in the marginalization game. My guess is that it’ll be pretty much a three-way tie. So if anyone has a practical way of making sure that Brett’s worries are addressed, and also that cruel Catholic judges don’t go around burning personal journals of AIDS victims – then I’ll happily support that, but as to what the Church needs to do, there’s no reason to be in a rush.

  96. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 23, 2009 2:55 pm

    Spirit of Vatican II Says June 22, 2009 at 11:05 pm
    “MZ, I believe in the natural right to marry, as recognized by the Church, and I would extend it to gays (and also to priests, since the system of mandatory celibacy seems to me in conflict with that right). You say that many people are in situations where they must refrain from “sexual congress” (!) with people what they love or are fond of, which is true. But you (casually?) consign all gays to lifelong abstention from sex, which I think is difficult to justify. I mean, unless you can provide a deep justification your prescription sounds casual”.

    Yet Gore Vidal wrote, to explain the success of his 40 year cohabitation: “No sex”.

  97. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 23, 2009 3:02 pm

    Digbydolben writes
    “A REAL Catholic “counter-culture” would meet the dilemmas and pain that “same-sex attracted” people feel head-on and publicly. It would not whisperingly shunt them away into the side-aisles of “Dignity,” but would welcome them into their churches, encourage their “testimonies” of how they try to reconcile their “disordered” urges with their Christian faith and then attempt to devise missions to knit them back into the faith community and special liturgies…”

    Why is it that DIGNITY is so often mentioned and not the truly Catholic efforts of the COURAGE APOSTOLATE?

  98. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 23, 2009 3:07 pm

    digbydolben gives a list of what “the Vatican” does not want people to know about Joan of Arc, G.M. Hopkins, Cardinal Newman … Is there a list at the Vatican?

    Does “The Vatican” not want people to know about David and Jonathan?

    I think “The Vatican” is rather more savvy than that.

  99. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 23, 2009 3:16 pm

    Before we get lost in discussions about masturbation, it might be worthwhile to read the entry at the COURAGE website:

    http://couragerc.net/PIPMasturbation.html

    To which I add the comment of a savvy observer about the birth prevention movement: “It is simply mutual masturbation”.

    Which is to say that there is no moral difference between same-sex activity and birth-prevention two sex activity. Condoms were necessary adjuncts in whore-houses.

    Of both it was well said “the pleasure is fleeting and the position ridiculous”

  100. digbydolben permalink
    June 23, 2009 3:31 pm

    Gabriel Austin, I wasn’t RECOMMENDING “Dignity” in referring to it, but I’d have a great deal more respect for the “Courage Apostolate” if it insisted upon being more public in Catholic parishes and dioceses, and if it won for itself more open acceptance in those venues.

    I think the “Vatican” (standing for the Church hierarchy in general) is very “savvy,” indeed–“savvy” enough not to go against ingrained cultural prejudice in preaching the Gospel–“savvy” enough to leave out whole portions of the “good news” to “sinners.”

    The Earl of Chesterfield, however, IS a man after my own heart, and his advice to his son was sensible, wholesome and urbane, all at the same time.

  101. June 23, 2009 3:47 pm

    I guess I am seconding wj’s question in asking what is the difference between the concept of being fallen, and the concept of “objectively disordered” conditions.

    I’m getting the sense that the difference lies primarily in an unhealthy fixation on semantics. Does that work? Or else in the false belief that some sins are more or less “acceptable” than others just because they happen to lie along the current battle lines of a never ending and constantly shifting culture war? Yes, David and wj are correct in noting that toxic desires, lusts and fetishes are not peculiar to those who long to join Dignity. Didn’t Darwin already make that clear yesterday at 3:21? It’s as if the vision of hell that’s being promoted here is like prison, where no one is free, and yet the pecking order among thieves, wife-killers and child molesters is finely ordered. You’re free to believe that, and it makes for very fine Tuscan literature of a speculative bent, but it’s not official dogma.

  102. David Nickol permalink
    June 23, 2009 4:04 pm

    DN: When a young Catholic discovers he or she is gay, what role models can they look to as guides to live the kind of life the Church calls on them to pursue?

    HA: Yes, we’ve all heard this before, and so until we have a Yupik saint, or at least a Yupik cardinal, the poor Yupik children will have no role models for how to make Catholicism meaningful to them. Ah, the tragedy.

    HA,

    It’s a question that deserves a more thoughtful answer than you gave. Sarcastic discourses often say more about the person who wrote them than about the topic they attempt to address.

  103. June 23, 2009 5:09 pm

    If you would prefer a more thoughtful answer, you might consider asking a more thoughtful question. As it is, your agenda is all too clear by  now, so permit me to have a little fun with it. The implication that one needs to focus on someone’s sexual orientation when choosing a role model – as opposed to the countless characteristics that make that person unique and human and connected to others – is frankly offensive and part of the problem here. For all your pretenses at sensitivity, it seems you’re the one who really doesn’t think much of gay people. Or else you’re crazy enough to buy into Digby’s claims about what the Vatican doesn’t want you to know. (By the way, those are some truly deep, dark, shocking secrets you came up with Digby, though you didn’t bother to tell us the name of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ big crush – why is that, do you think? Is that, too, something the Vatican is trying hard to bury?) In any case, David, your mindset is exactly the kind of grievance committee thinking (“World ends—minorities and women hit hardest”) that a church claiming to be catholic would do well to avoid.

  104. Mark DeFrancisis permalink
    June 23, 2009 5:45 pm

    All the attempt at art, but only to clad such ugly sentiment…

  105. Joseph permalink
    June 23, 2009 5:59 pm

    So HA believes sexual orientation is not crucial when considering qualifications for being a role model; unfortunately the Vatican has made it very clear that it considers this so crucial that it will not allow any person to be ordained priest or deacon who exhibits signs of being gay.

    HA has some loathsome remarks about aborting fetuses who may turn out to be gay. What was that about, HA?

  106. Joseph permalink
    June 23, 2009 6:01 pm

    Did Hopkins have a big crush? I thought he was a bitterly isolated chap. Please enlighten us, HA.

  107. June 23, 2009 6:07 pm

    OK, OK, my bad. On second thought I see your point, David. My deepest apologies. But which gays were you referring to? The white ones? Or just the black ones? I guess we’ll probably need separate role models for each of those, too. Obviously, we’ll also need separate categories for gays, lesbians, and the bisexual and bi-curious and maybe the “that-one-time-in-Cancún” variety as well. I mean, why would a gay boy ever consider a lesbian as a role model? How ridiculous is that? In fact, it’s downright “icky”. And whatever we do, we mustn’t forget about the gay Yupiks.
     
    By the way, what’s up with Mark? It’s like there’s nothing more bitter and uptight than a liberal with a hole in his arguments. Sheesh.

  108. June 23, 2009 6:10 pm

    Did Hopkins have a big crush? I thought he was a bitterly isolated chap. Please enlighten us, HA.
     
    I’ll give you a hint. One frequent poster here chose him as a nom-de-plume.

  109. June 23, 2009 6:16 pm

    HA,

    I have difficulty following the argument of some of your posts here, but I wanted to object to what I think you insinuate: that somehow my statements regarding homosexual acts in relation to contraceptive or otherwise onanistic heterosexual acts is not orthodox. If you did mean to say as much, I have to disagree. In any case, I think it is counterproductive for you to adopt such a virulent tone in your posts. That sort of thing is certainly not going to awaken, say, David Nickol from his heterodox dogmatic slumber– no offense to Nickol intended. :)

  110. June 23, 2009 6:20 pm

    And this is to say nothing about the rejection of candidates for the priesthood who exhibit “deep seated” homosexual tendencies, however committed to chastity they are.
     
    Again, these are semantics games. To the extent  one is a man committed enough to chastity to be able to make it through several years of living in close quarters with other men (which, by the way, is the only reason homosexuality is being mentioned – it has nothing much to do with role models), one’s tendencies are tautologically not deep seated. Likewise, to the extent a man has deep seated heterosexual desires  to where he can’t live in a typical parish office and not keep  his hands off the women who mostly run things there these days, he doesn’t belong in the priesthood either, but that’s a problem that one typically encounters after seminary days are done.
     
    And as for aborting gay fetuses, don’t worry Joseph. It won’t be the Catholics pushing for that. That was kind of my point.

  111. David Nickol permalink
    June 23, 2009 6:33 pm

    Did Hopkins have a big crush? I thought he was a bitterly isolated chap. Please enlighten us, HA.

    Joseph,

    Check out the biography of Hopkins in Wikipedia.

  112. June 23, 2009 6:43 pm

    I have difficulty following the argument of some of your posts here, but I wanted to object to what I think you insinuate: that somehow my statements regarding homosexual acts in relation to contraceptive or otherwise onanistic heterosexual acts is not orthodox.
     
    You’ll have to be a little more explicit, since I’m the one not following you here. My reference to onanism was in response to David’s comment about masturbation (though I did toss in your comment about the calf fetish). As to which of your statements are un-orthodox (as opposed to those I simply disagree with) I think you are imagining things. Ditto for any virulence on my part. When I see an argument that gives me a good laugh, I try to return the favor. And it was Gabriel who made a comment about mutual masturbation, so I’m really not sure what you’re referring to. Also, given that you first raised the topic with regard to Anscombe’s comment, you might at some point also address my question (yesterday, 11:12) about why your approach to gay marriage shouldn’t be extended to all the other things Catholics disagree with that she predicted are coming down the pipe.

  113. Joseph permalink
    June 23, 2009 7:10 pm

    I live and learn: Digby Dolben!

    Anscombe was right that if Humanae Vitae is wrong so is much else in Vatican sexual ethics. But what does this prove? We are adjusting the sex ethics to our better understanding of human reality, that is all.

  114. Joseph permalink
    June 23, 2009 7:12 pm

    Onanism is a silly word — it is actually a reference to the “sin” of refusing to impregnate your brother’s widow. If you want a pejorative name for masturbation, why not “softness” — I think that is what Saint Paul would call it.

  115. David Nickol permalink
    June 23, 2009 7:12 pm

    In any case, I think it is counterproductive for you to adopt such a virulent tone in your posts. That sort of thing is certainly not going to awaken, say, David Nickol from his heterodox dogmatic slumber– no offense to Nickol intended. :)

    Wj,

    I think perhaps HA’s virulent tone is representative of a great many “orthodox” Catholics’ true feelings about gay people and sheds important light on how seriously official statements — for example, “every sign of unjust discrimination towards homosexual persons should be avoided” — ought to be regarded and how they should be interpreted.

  116. June 23, 2009 8:28 pm

    …unfortunately the Vatican has made it very clear that it considers this so crucial that it will not allow any person to be ordained priest or deacon who exhibits signs of being gay.

    HAHAHAHAHA! Good one. (Ha!)

    This comment is not only hilarious, it is simply inaccurate.

    “Courage” is bad news.

    This thread is largely infuriating. All I will say is that I am thankful to Catholic gays and lesbians for their witness.

  117. June 23, 2009 9:30 pm

    I think perhaps HA’s verulent tone is representative of a great many “orthodox” Catholics’ true feelings about gay people.

    Hardly. You know precious little about my true feelings about gay people and it’s pretty clear you’re having trouble hearing where my tone is actually being directed. And to the extent you truly believed gay Catholics should be at one with us, there would be no need to apply “wise Latina” tactics to patronize or segregate them. “Oh, wherever will the gays be able to find someone to identify with?” In any case, I didn’t see anyone on the so-called pro-gay side raising a peep the countless times people like Digby and Gerald Naus and Frank lashed out with their rollicking invective against those who disagree with them on issues related to this. You, for all your shocked, shocked behavior this time around, have been known to let loose with a spray of sarcasm of your own on many on occasion. But that’s all fine, because it comes from the enlightened ones in service of enlightened causes. And frankly, it’s no big deal to me – if that’s the way it’s going to be played, I guess we on the other side just have to be big about it. After all, there’s nothing un-Biblical about rough rhetoric.

    But now, when the shoe is on the other foot, there’s all this hand-wringing over proper tone and not giving offense. Do spare me the hypocrisy. Until I see some examples of correction with respect to proper tone coming from the other side (not that I have that much problem with it), I’ll know what such complaints are really about.

    wj, I’ll leave it to you to awaken David Nickol from his heterodox dogmatic slumber. I sincerely wish you the best in that regard, but I don’t think it’s connected in any way to my tone. Note that DarwinCatholic, who is one of the more polite commentators on this site or any other, rouses all sorts of shrieking and wailing with regard to his “hateful” rhetoric. Obviously, he can take care of himself without any help from me, but when I see what’s leveled his way, I don’t see much cause to hold back.

    Now, if I actually harbored any hostility towards any of the commentators here – as opposed to their arguments – I might feel worse about it, but that’s where the hostility stays.

  118. June 23, 2009 9:39 pm

    If you want a pejorative name for masturbation…

    I certainly wasn’t aware that onanism was a pejorative. A bit Victorian, maybe, and perhaps something of a bowdlerism, but I certainly don’t find anything more or less offensive in that word than masturbation.

  119. digbydolben permalink
    June 23, 2009 10:56 pm

    Digby Mackworth Dolben was a young Victorian poet of “perverted” (i.e. Catholic, in Victorian parlance) inclinations, who died early. It would seem that he was, indeed, loved by Gerard Hopkins, but that the love was entirely chaste.

    In a sense, he was Hopkins’ muse for the rest of the poet’s life, because Hopkins seems to have identified his chaste love for the young man with his own devotion to Christ and strict adherence to Christ’s teachings.

    I chose the nom de plume not so much because I identify with either Hopkins or Dolben, but because I have and have always had many friends who self-identify as “gay,” and I wanted to express solidarity with them, while at the same time indicating what I consider to be an alternate and better way to be a “gay Christian.”

    I think that the nastiness of the lout who is always trying to goad me here into “personal” revelations is revealed in his exchanges with other interlocutors and speaks volumes about the state of his own spirituality. I don’t think I need to respond to his vileness; others have spoken the needful.

  120. June 24, 2009 12:11 am

    …trying to goad me here into “personal” revelations…

    As I recall, it was me trying to prevent you from revealing personal information that might cause you some problems which led to our last row some months ago (i.e. before last week). If you doubt that, I can certainly provide evidence. I would have kept that suitably discreet, too, were it not for your insistence that I was being “barbaric” in not spitting out the full details. Because of course, someone like me could only have the most malicious intentions — yeah, what a great tactic that turned out to be. And this time around, unless Joseph and David Nickol are my sock puppets, I think you’ll have to widen your circle of scorn there, too, given that they did most of the digging, though why you’d be perturbed about that is anyone’s guess. The reason I mentioned the matter to begin with was because it was curious to be accusing the Vatican of trying to hide details of Hopkins’ life given how you yourself were keeping a detail or two of that topic under wraps. As to why you happened to choose the name, or why you or anyone would feel the need to defend or explain a perfectly fine choice of a nom de plume, that is your own business – I think I made that perfectly clear in our most recent exchange. To the extent you might be upset or defensive about other people finding out about the namesake, well, then maybe using a name readily accessible via Wikipedia was not such a great idea, though again, I myself have no problem with it.

  121. June 24, 2009 1:09 am

    Oh yeah, and for what it’s worth, Digby’s namesake was already revealed to vox-nova several months ago (by SB?). As I recall, Digby uttered no word of protest back then. Go figure.

  122. digbydolben permalink
    June 24, 2009 1:55 am

    Please everyone, observe how this wretch squirms and writhes, trying, with his venom, to twist almost every written word into something it’s not: NOBODY has made the slightest suggestion that ANYTHING in Hopkins’ biography has to be kept “under wraps,” EXCEPT his obvious same-sex affectional orientation–and THAT certainly not by me. I honestly PROCLAIM it; it’s perfectly obvious, in the imagery of his poems, and can’t even be hidden from intelligent high school students.

    Not only that, but, I assure you, if I myself were definitively “homosexual,” I’d honestly proclaim THAT, too! (Except that my own experience of the world–similar to the observations of certain folks above–indicates that NOBODY really is.)

    Openness is precisely what I’m advocating, throughout this thread, but this homophobic wretch would like to force every bleeding, suffering soul back into their closets, with their mouths shut.

    Look, above, how he mocks various minorities as eponymous “Yupiks,” unaware, apparently, in his provincial bigotry, that the Catholic Church has, for centuries, celebrated her various “Yupiks,” in all parts of the world. I have myself attended “Yupik” masses in South Asia and in the American Southwest–sitting on floors, chanting, beating drums, you name it. Not only that, but I actually SAW John Paul II canonize Joseph Vaz on the beach in Sri Lanka, in a so-called “Yupik” mass that looked more Buddhist than Catholic, except for the consecration and the sermons. I recall that one Sinhalese lady bigot groused about it in front of myself and others that morning, and I had the pleasure of informing her that, a few months before, her beloved Papa Wojtylwa had canonized some African saints before swaying crowds of bare-breasted choristers chanting in Swahili.

    Pluralism and recognition of diversity in liturgies and devotional practices is a HALLMARK of Roman Catholic tradition, and all I’ve wanted to suggest is that the urbanity of such a style be expanded, in charity, to include people who consider themselves to be “sexual minorities.” And, actually, whether the crowd of American Yahoos like HA like it or not, it’s already being done, here in Europe, under the protection of Archbishops and Cardinals, who recognise that the homophobia preached in the Vatican is a losing proposition, from the standpoint of the faithful here in Europe. Masses for the “gay and lesbian community” are already being said in London, with the full approval and support of Westminster.

    But don’t tell this vicious rumour-monger. He’ll probably try to start an “investigation” into the “private life” of the Archbishop!

  123. June 24, 2009 7:23 am

    Ah — well, for a minute, given how peeved you seemed at 10:56, I though you might be displeased. You certainly could have answered Joseph yourself when he inquired, which would have made the rest of your rant a little more convincing. But you didn’t. Oh, well. Time differences and whatnot. And in any case, please refer to your June 23, 7:56 post to find out who introduced Gerard Manley Hopkins into this thread (and what the “Vatican, indeed, does NOT want lay Catholics to know” about him). As for your generous words about “same-sex affectional orientation” (whew! say *that* 5 times fast!), it would also sound more convincing were it not for the fact that you yourself have no problem gay-baiting church officials when you see fit. I can rehash that discussion too, if anyone doubts it, especially since Digby has no problem repeating the behavior every time it gets called out. Thankfully, unlike a certain gossip columnist in the news of late, getting called out for such slurs was the worst he had to endure, and in Digby’s defense, the words he used weren’t quite so guttural.

    As for wanting to “force avery bleeding, suffering soul back into their closets, with their mouths shut”, dream on, Digby. (Though, ahem, you might want to get those dreams some professional help, given your choice of words.) Ditto for your attempts to put words in my mouth regarding efforts of people such as yourself to divide and conquer all of us into little diversity/grievance plantations.

    In the final analysis, it shouldn’t matter whether people are Yupik or possessing a “same-sex affectional orientation” or belonging to any other officially recognized band on the rainbow when it comes to being a role model and knowing full well that they, too, are as much of the Church and as important to it as anyone else. If you or anyone else offended by my words actually bellieved that last sentence, you wouldn’t find the comments so wounding.

  124. grega permalink
    June 24, 2009 8:48 am

    I think you should relax Digbydolben.
    Perhaps somebody as literate as you can at least appreciate the articulate way HA is willing to engage with you and others. I trust you know there are much worse. Big deal that HA voices what perhaps 75% of the more traditional leaning and political conservative Catholics here in the North America AND in Europe honestly think. I certainly do not know what to make of your latest twist
    “..Except that my own experience of the world–similar to the observations of certain folks above–indicates that NOBODY really is.”
    Nobody is what?
    IMO if one reads HA carefully he/she has actually not a particular unusual issue with homosexuals (“same-sex affectional orientation”) as much as with a certain political correctness within church and society. Yes sure HA packs a good punch into most of his sentences – many do left and right- take this one for example:
    “Likewise, to the extent a man has deep seated heterosexual desires to where he can’t live in a typical parish office and not keep his hands off the women who mostly run things there these days, he doesn’t belong in the priesthood either, but that’s a problem that one typically encounters after seminary days are done.”
    Oh the ever so subtle little swipe at women from our conservative friends.
    Of course these issues will not be settled as fast as some of us would ideally hope for – not reason to verbally shortcircuit the argument.

    By the way I think Brett wrote a nice sensitive post.
    In my view he should not be concerned that his children will have trouble in the future if they happen to find gay marriage unacceptable – or not.

    My 8 year old picked up Mark Twain’s Huck Finn – he came to me shocked- Papa they use the N word a lot –
    obviously different times different sensitivities – very likely Bret our children will not think twice about married gay couples –
    We have plenty committed gay couples (female female and male male) with children in our parish here in the USA` – no problem whatsoever from my point of view as a heterosexual family man – to the contrary.
    These couples tend to be very very impressive. Certainly in terms of the commitment to their spouses and the adopted and/or biological children.
    They are here to stay HA – and you know it.
    Keep up the good fight – you know you are loosing it in the long run – but it is a joy to read your articulate comments – please keep at it. You might ever so slightly sway us one way or the other.

  125. digbydolben permalink
    June 24, 2009 10:29 am

    Nobody is exclusively “homosexual,” Grega–absolutely nobody.

    And I’d have no trouble with HA were he not given to vicious ad hominem attacks: every single thing he said to me, thus far, could easily have been said in a jocular, ribbing way that I would have found entirely acceptable.

    It’s the unadulterated HATRED that drips from his writing which is so off-putting.

    He, of course, would say the same thing of me, I suppose, but he’s wrong; just because I don’t think Pius XII is worthy of canonization and just because I think it so ironic that Benedict XVI Ratzinger’s homophobia is combined with effeminate mannerisms and verbal inflections (which my German speaking friends have begun to tell me are MORE pronounced in German–but no more “effeminate” than a lot of other perfectly fine human beings’ traits) does NOT mean I hate either one of those figures. (What would be the point in “hating” a DEAD pope anyway?–no more sensible than hating a dead Roman emperor! But I DO want the Church to go in a direction, from now on, that is diametrically opposed to the Scripture-based anti-Semitism of her past, and canonizing a pope whose mild anti-Semitism was caught in the headlights of a giant, moving historical tragedy would not help the things I want to see helped.)

  126. digbydolben permalink
    June 24, 2009 10:32 am

    For example, Grega, look at how he takes every minor detail of anything I say and twists it into some gross distortion of what I mean: he knows perfectly well that I live in Europe and that I write at a different time of day and don’t see all the postings that precede mine, and yet he’d make out that I’m somehow dishonest in not replying directly to Joseph’s query about Hopkins’ friend–every minor, trivial thing is responded to with unalloyed hatred. I think he’s disturbed.

  127. David Nickol permalink
    June 24, 2009 11:44 am

    Keep up the good fight – you know you are loosing it in the long run – but it is a joy to read your articulate comments – please keep at it. You might ever so slightly sway us one way or the other.

    grega,

    I think it is inevitable that the acceptance of gay people and gay marriage will continue to increase, no matter what the Catholic Church does. But the “orthodox” attitude that good and holy Catholic homosexuals must be very guarded about revealing their orientation only helps the cause of gay rights and gay marriage. Neighbors who self-identify as gay and who get married, raise children, go to PTA meetings, keep their houses and yards up, and so on are a lot easier to identify with than invisible people or “confirmed bachelors” who claim they “just never have met the right girl.” Even people who live the old “gay lifestyle” but are friendly, show up for work on time and do their jobs competently, and don’t have loud parties that run into the middle of the night are a lot more easy to sympathize with than invisible “homosexual persons.”

    HA scoffs at the idea of role models, but who are people who realize they are gay at the age of 13 or 14 going to identify with — invisible people? or visible gay people who come in second on American Idol, or have their own successful talk shows, or play Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, or just live down the street and have a couple of kids?

    Of course, I am glad that’s how it will work out. But I feel very sorry for young gay Catholics who have to figure out what they are supposed to do in the kind of climate the Catholic Church wants them to live in. Although I don’t agree with Catholic teaching on homosexuality, I think perfectly orthodox Catholics could make things a whole lot easier for young people who want and expect to live within the strictures the Church imposes on gay people.

    My argument isn’t that the Church must change its teachings on sexual morality (although I think that will happen someday). I am only arguing here that I think the Church could do a whole lot better in terms of pastoral care for gay people, and especially young gay people.

  128. David Nickol permalink
    June 24, 2009 11:52 am

    One more observation about gay people and the Church. Suppose you are a parent and your 12- or 13-year-old son confides in you that he thinks he may be gay, or he is certain he is gay. Would your first thought be, “I must arrange for him to see a priest”?

  129. June 24, 2009 2:35 pm

    Anscombe was right that if Humanae Vitae is wrong so is much else in Vatican sexual ethics. But what does this prove? We are adjusting the sex ethics to our better understanding of human reality, that is all.
     
    I realize this may come as a surprise to some readers here, but not all Catholics are convinced that Humanae Vitae was wrong. Moreover, wj’s post about consistency that I inquired about previously, when taken to its logical conclusion, implies a degree of permissiveness with respect to certain behaviors that people less forthright than yourself try very hard to obscure. After all, there’s no end to the gnashing of teeth regarding those who have echoed Anscombe’s prediction (e.g. Rick Santorum). In fact, even to suggest that those who might be in favor of gay marriage are also, by logical extension, arguing on behalf of such other “adjustments to the sex ethics” is considered deeply defamatory and offensive (ironically, by the very souls who have no problem hurling offense and defamation in support of their own causes, but here, I am repeating myself).
     
     Once all people on the pro-gay marriage side become as forthright as you about what they are actually opening up, and come up with a comprehensive view of marriage and sex ethics that reflects the host of other possible adjustments to traditional morality, you might actually be surprised to see people like myself come to terms with what you are proposing, though I suppose it depends on the details.  I mean, I don’t care how often I am ever directed to the wedding registry of Mr. So-and-so’s  tenth child bride. As far as I’m concerned, let them buy their own stupid gravy boat.

  130. June 24, 2009 2:47 pm

    Oh the ever so subtle little swipe at women from our conservative friends.
     
    Thank you for your kind comments, Grega, and you are absolutely correct in noting that what I’m lampooning here are absurdities related to political correctness, as opposed to the silly notion David raises about scoffing at role models per se, but for the record, my comment about priests who are grabby around the women who predominate in parish life (not that said predomination is a bad thing) was certainly not intended as a swipe at women, and I hope others will not read it that way. (It’s true that the “not” in “can’t live in a typical parish office and not keep his hands off” is an error, but that’s a typo as opposed to any Freudian slip.)

    And as to losing in the long run, I do think that whatever happens, we can all be grateful that the choice of whoever wins or loses in the long run isn’t up to me.

  131. June 24, 2009 3:22 pm

    Look, above, how he mocks various minorities as eponymous “Yupiks,” unaware, apparently, in his provincial bigotry, that the Catholic Church has, for centuries, celebrated her various “Yupiks”,… I actually SAW John Paul II canonize Joseph Vaz
     
    Actually, Digby, you’ve told us that story before. Maybe more than once.So why would you think I was unaware of it? Wait, what’s that? You don’t remember your own comments? My, how utterly provincial of you. Could we go so far as to call it “elliptical”? No, I guess that wouldn’t really work. And as for who is dripping with unadulterated hatred around here, I will leave that for others to judge.
     
    Now, with regard to JPII’s participation in native American, African tribal, and other such ceremonies, which you get so melodramatic and self-righteous about, with all your characteristic effervescence, I actually have no problem with that. Nor do I have a problem with asking whether traditional route to canonization is set up in such a way as to favor those from wealthy and well-connected clerical orders while making large numbers of other people basically ineligible (though I do admit to misgivings about the removal of the advocatus diaboli). However, that’s a far different matter than playing the diversity games we already see too much of in other corners. With respect to those, enough already. Really, to the extent one might choose to limit one’s role models according to whom one thinks they might want to sleep with, then whether one is gay or straight, holiness is probably not the ultimate goal.

  132. June 24, 2009 3:42 pm

    HA,

    My point about Anscombe was simply this. If contraceptive sex between a heterosexual married couple is accepted as a consequence of what Joseph calls “our better understanding of human reality,” then there is no longer any *principled* stance available in the culture to oppose gay marriage.

    What else follows? I am the first to admit, many, many things–but certainly not child brides–for these are precluded on the grounds of the recognition of the age of consent. And I believe that Anscombe, unsurprisingly, limited her discussion of what kinds of socially recognized sexual behavior would follow from contraceptive sex to those involving consenting adults and (hypothetically) animals. (But it seems to me she is wrong here, as it is very difficult to determine the consent of, say, a dog–so bestiality may be out for the same reason your “child bride” example is: there isn’t sufficient agency to ensure a mutual willingness to agree in said behavior.)

    So if Santorum said that gay marriage entailed child brides (or something along those lines–I’m just riffing now off your post), he was incorrect. In any case, the question as to when and how our society will be forced to confront the social recognition of other forms of partnerships based upon some kind of sexual intimacy among couples or groups of people is one that cannot be determined in advance: what *can* be determined in advance, though, is that once our culture has internalized a contraceptive view of heterosexual marriage, it has no *principled* grounds for rejecting any of these other forms of partnerships, however bizarre or perverse they might seem.

  133. digbydolben permalink
    June 24, 2009 3:51 pm

    HA, I give up–you win. I could never, in a million years, match your capacity for vituperation (not that I’d want to, though).

    I WILL now keep to my resolution never to “cross swords” with you again, no matter how much scorn you pour on me or my convictions.

    I will just make one last observation regarding your last statement, because I think it really is essential for understanding how a reptilian mind like yours works on these issues: the people with whom one regularly forms one’s “strongest affectional relationships” are NOT necessarily those with whom one “wants to sleep.”

  134. David Nickol permalink
    June 24, 2009 3:52 pm

    I thought the point was — or at least many “conservative” Catholics argue — that Pope Paul VI was extraordinarily prescient in writing Humanae Vitae, predicting that if contraception was accepted, that would open the floodgates, and sexual morality would fall apart. Now it seems to be the position that if same-sex marriage is permitted, that will open the floodgates and sexual morality will fall apart.

    So it seems to me like what has happened, if Paul VI was right, is that the majority has decided to open the floodgates far enough for them to frolic in the waters of sexual immorality, but to try make sure the minority is left high and dry. Contraception, heterosexual fornication, and heterosexual adultery we have to live with, because you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. But the line has to be drawn somewhere, so they want to draw it past the point where they would ever want to go themselves.

  135. June 24, 2009 4:04 pm

    David Nickol,

    I think that human sexual morality has never been something to brag about, and that Paul VI’s concerns were less that contraception would somehow make humans *more* concupiscent, than that introducing contraception *within marriage* would have a corrosive effect on that institution. Was he right? Probably partly–and I think, don’t you, that one can admit as much without thereby being committed to a nostalgic vision of Christian marriage before the pill.

    I think your second paragraph is most correct. Some conservative evangelicals, however, are even more confused: they practice contraception with a clean conscience while struggling against fornication and adultery. The two consistent positions, as always, are those of the orthodox and the libertine–and this gives me no little pleasure.

  136. David Nickol permalink
    June 24, 2009 5:09 pm

    wj,

    You seem very nice.

  137. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 24, 2009 6:15 pm

    David Nickol Says June 24, 2009 at 11:52 am
    “One more observation about gay people and the Church. Suppose you are a parent and your 12- or 13-year-old son confides in you that he thinks he may be gay, or he is certain he is gay. Would your first thought be, “I must arrange for him to see a priest”?

    Suppose questions have no moral value. Suppose you were in a crashing plane and had but one parachute.
    Would you give it to your wife or your mother? To your
    mother, of course; you can always get another wife.

  138. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 24, 2009 6:17 pm

    HA Says June 24, 2009 at 3:22 pm
    “I do admit to misgivings about the removal of the advocatus diaboli”.

    He was [is?] called the defensor fidei.

  139. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 24, 2009 6:22 pm

    David Nickol Says June 24, 2009 at 11:44 am
    “HA scoffs at the idea of role models, but who are people who realize they are gay at the age of 13 or 14 going to identify with — invisible people?”

    We do have role models. It is the purpose of canonization.

  140. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 24, 2009 6:25 pm

    Michael J. Iafrate Says June 23, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    “Courage” is bad news”.

    If this refers to the Courage Apostolate, it would be interesting to learn why.

    If not, forget it.

  141. June 24, 2009 6:38 pm

    But it seems to me she is wrong here, as it is very difficult to determine the consent of, say, a dog–so bestiality may be out for the same reason your “child bride” example is: there isn’t sufficient agency to ensure a mutual willingness to agree in said behavior.

    Ah, but now you’re changing your argument from the way you originally stated it. What’s more, I understand Peter Singer has some other ideas with regard to dog “consent”, whereas in the case of child brides, presumably any needed consent would be provided for by the appropriate wards, so I still think you have some work to do even with this ad hoc expanded argument. (And yes, I realize that arranged marriages for children have a long history even in the Christian world, in case anyone cracks open that chestnut.)

    But why is consent as you present it (i.e. such that proxy by appropriate wards and approval by a Princeton ethics professor is insufficient) such a big deal for you given that you’re willing to scrap so many other things – all because our patient is in a coma? How does that follow? The fact that you are able to provide no clear guidelines as to what we must retain and what we must discard (or in your words, they “cannot be determined advance”) is precisely what worries some people. Alas, this is not just about gay marriage. (Indeed, one thing that binds homosexuals to heterosexuals, so to speak, is their common tendency to delude themselves into thinking it should be all about them.) If you want to convince anyone that Anscombe or Santorum are wrong (not that that is your mission), then I think you’ll have to work harder – though your candor in admitting what you are unable to determine is refreshing, so I’ll give you that.

    As it is, what you seem to be saying is anything goes – so long as you don’t bring up some other objection (e.g. consent) that you might at some point choose to bring up. To the extent you think that is a solid argument, I think we simply have to disagree and leave it that. I’ll leave the question of how orthodox it is to you.

    Admittedly, as long as you are taking the position you are, you will be considered “an intellectually intrepid, honest fellow” and so “very nice” in these parts, whereas the moment you deviate you will be an American Yahoo dripping with hatred, or else a “Mr. Orthodox” in a “space of sickness… and death-dealing” (take your pick). But realize that in spite of those plaudits, you’re probably not doing much to convince anyone on the other side either.

  142. June 24, 2009 6:50 pm

    …just because I don’t think Pius XII is worthy of canonization…

    For those who don’t recall, the canonization of Pius XII is a red herring that Digby came up with in order to change the subject when he was losing yet another argument (see the “US vs. Rome” thread a few days ago – where you’ll see that Digby has a lot more to say about Pius XII than simply not being worthy of canonization). In particular, Digby was concerned about the “reputation” of the Church, which he seems to measure according to the editorial pages of publications such as the Guardian, and of historians such as Hannah Arendt.

    Let’s pause a moment so as to let the absurdity of those who think Catholicism will ever meet with the approval of the Guardian and their like sink in. We’re talking about people largely of the opinion that the only possible rationale for the continued existence of Catholicism is to provide perpetual witness and repentance for all its past crimes – and also to dispense condoms to Africans. (I admit that every once in a while the first part of that last sentence begins to make sense to me, but perhaps I’ll get to that some other time.) Digby thinks such institutions should be our guides with regards to canonization. Hmm.

    As for Hannah Arendt – excuse me? Are we talking about Martin Heidegger’s mistress? *That* Hannah Arendt? Let me pass along one of my own personal rules-to-live-by to see what others make of it, just for grins. Here goes: once someone submits to four years of sex with a Nazi philosopher – yes, let me repeat that, a philosopher who joins the Nazi party – he or she then loses the right to lecture others on the evils of sleeping with the enemy. Understood? Does that work for everyone? Because otherwise, it’s just too laughable. And yet, Digby seems to think that her “carefully considered and dispassionate view of the moral failure of this pope [may indeed] be the most lasting”. Right. And Digby also thinks I’m the one who’s disturbed. Mind you, I have no problem with Arendt’s fact-gathering projects, but as for her moral judgments, carefully considered or otherwise, I can do without those, and that also goes for the arguments of those who take her seriously.

    In any case, I regretted not saying that in the previous thread – given as you ended it with yet another of your promises to never again address me in any fashion – so I honestly appreciate your giving me the opportunity to say it now. Seriously.

    …I could never, in a million years, match your vituperation…

    Really? Come on, Digby, who do you think you’re fooling here? You call me provincial and disturbed and I say, no, it’s your arguments that are provincial and disturbed. Given that, I’d say we’re pretty evenly matched. Oh wait, there’s all that stuff about “wretch”, “lout”, an “American Yahoo” dripping with hatred, and on and on. Just who is outmatching who here?

    And as for those repeated resolutions never to address me, I will in turn repeat my opinion that following through with one of those would be just swell, especially given your paranoid delusions of dripping hostility on my part and Vatican suppression and bleeding people being stuffed into closets. What’s up with that? It’s like Maria Monk as filmed by Peter Haneke. Life’s too short for that, and I really won’t complain if you don’t answer. That’s the approach Mark and Michael are choosing, and you would do very well to emulate them. The less they respond to me, the less opportunity I have to poke holes in their arguments, so it’s an effective and time-saving strategy for all concerned (and let’s face it, their arguments need all the help they can get).

  143. David Nickol permalink
    June 24, 2009 6:57 pm

    Suppose questions have no moral value. Suppose you were in a crashing plane and had but one parachute.

    Are you you really saying a young son revealing to his parents that his is gay, or a daughter that she is lesbian, is as hypothetical as being in a plane crash with one parachute?

    Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers

    A Statement of the Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family

    Preface

    The purpose of this pastoral message is to reach out to parents trying to cope with the discovery of homosexuality in their adolescent or adult child. It urges families to draw upon the reservoirs of faith, hope, and love as they face uncharted futures. It asks them to recognize that the Church offers enormous spiritual resources to strengthen and support them at this moment in their family’s life and in the days to come. . . . .

    Have the American Bishops issued a pastoral statement on the one-parachute dilemma?

  144. David Nickol permalink
    June 24, 2009 7:02 pm

    We do have role models. It is the purpose of canonization.

    Gabriel,

    At least that’s an answer. One might say that anyone who answered a call to celibacy is a good role model for youngsters who realize they are gay. I think a celibate gay saint would be a better role model. But the answer doesn’t have to be my answer. All I was asking was to take the question seriously.

  145. June 24, 2009 7:03 pm

    And this is to say nothing about the rejection of candidates for the priesthood who exhibit “deep seated” homosexual tendencies, however committed to chastity they are.

    I’ll return to this as hopefully a final springboard to a slightly different point I wanted to make. I get the sense that much of homophobia, especially as relates to priests and nuns, is in fact concerned with “effeminacy” in men and “masculinity” in women. As misguided as that is, it’s actually something the gay community is ill-equipped to gripe about. If you doubt me, have a discussion with an honest and open gay individual regarding the pride many gays feel in being and preferring those who are “straight-acting”. (True, such views are more hidden now, given the heated discussions over hypocrisy and self-loathing that they arouse, but they remain.)

    Which leads me to my main point. If you’re young and rich and beautiful and powerful, then yes, whether you’re gay or straight, you may well receive all the sexual satisfaction you could possibly crave. Whopee for you. However, if you’re unsightly, or morbidly obese, old, extremely handicapped, or possessed with any number of afflictions or blemishes, then let’s be honest, no one really wants to see *you* kissing anyone on TV, either, and that includes a large number of those claiming to speak on your behalf.

    Which means that at some point in your life, some of you out there might look in the mirror and come to the realization that you will have to find more meaning and purpose to love and life than who it is you want to get it on with. When that day comes, or hopefully even some time sooner, then regardless of what you’ve done and who or what you’ve craved in the past, I assure you that the Catholic Church will welcome you. If you’d like, drop me a line and we can even pick a day for you to come in when I won’t be there, and that way you won’t have to worry about running in to the likes of me.

    Yeah, you’re welcome.

  146. grega permalink
    June 25, 2009 8:33 am

    HA,
    “Which leads me to my main point. If you’re young and rich and beautiful and powerful, then yes, whether you’re gay or straight, you may well receive all the sexual satisfaction you could possibly crave. Whopee for you…. ”

    LOL – This is your main point? Are you serious?
    If your main point is that you find it yucky witnessing gay affection in public – why not say so and be done with it? Perhaps not a very sophisticated rationale – yet much better than the pile of additional verbal garbage you shoveled around to reason your honest feelings. And yes as straight and gay people most of us are fully aware that the Catholic Church welcomes us – as we ARE.

    “Which means that at some point in your life, some of you out there might look in the mirror and come to the realization that you will have to find more meaning and purpose to love and life than who it is you want to get it on with.”
    I take it this sentence applies to all of us – what is your point?
    Well in case you missed it the desire of homosexuals to nurture healthy personal relationships , perhaps get married, have children (adopted or biological) and live a altogether regular mainstream life clearly points to the fact that the vast majority perfectly well understands that life is NOT about “who it is you want to get it on with”. If you have a second you might want to share your insights by the way with Gov. Sanford.
    And yes of course straight or gay we sometimes make terrible choices – that includes plenty clergy in the church unfortunately.

  147. June 25, 2009 10:59 am

    First of all, I should have said *Michael* Haneke, not Peter Haneke (or Peter Handke).
     
    Second, my point was not about the yuckiness of public displays of affection but rather that help for those truly disadvantaged in the search to form “healthy relationships” is not going to come from what currently passes for gay advocacy – not even when it comes to the ones who are gay. You can adopt every single plank of that platform, and except for the gifted and the elite and the well-connected among them – who never needed much help to begin with – a disturbing number of gay people will still wind up sad and miserable for a variety of reasons unrelated to cruel and corrupt Catholic judges in Massachusets or elsewhere. From what I’ve seen, I’d wager a good number of  them already know this deep down. And when that happens, the gay advocacy movement will have precious little to offer them, and indeed, will barely even acknowledge their existence (except to continue to paint them as victims of homophobia). And yes, a similar criticism can be leveled at the “heterosexual lifestyle” advocates, depending on how one defines that term. To the extent we continue to listen to those kind of advocates, relationship such as the one between John Henry Newman and Ambrose St. John will become less likely, not more. If you don’t agree, fine – we can leave it at that. Assuming I am on the losing side of history, as you say, we’ll have opportunity enough to see if I’m right.

  148. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 25, 2009 12:27 pm

    David Nickol Says June 22, 2009 at 3:00 pm
    “the Church teaches that it is unnatural for them to do so using artificial contraception”.

    Not unnatural. Sinful. And degrading to both partners.

    “It’s estimated that 90 to 95 percent of Catholic married couples do so”.

    Such phrases as “it is estimated…” should not be used. Where are the statistics confirming the estimates? Is this not like the “millions” of back alley abortions before Roe. A “number” which Dr. Nathanson admits he made up.

  149. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 25, 2009 12:47 pm

    David Nickol Says June 22, 2009 at 5:03 pm
    “Here is a place where real hypocrisy may be present. Catholics who use artificial birth control but speak out against gay marriage are, at least potentially, hypocrites. The teachings of the Church on sexuality are all very much of a piece”.

    I suggest that accusations, or near accusations, of hypocrisy, are but mud slinging.

    “If homosexuality is wrong, artificial birth control is too, for much the same reason”.

    Not much the same reason. The equipment in homoeroticism doesn’t jibe. It is a lovely thing about the Church that it makes tiresomely precise definitions.

    “Of course, we don’t know who the hypocrites are, but they must be out there”.

    Consult John 8:7.

  150. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 25, 2009 12:57 pm

    David Nickol Says June 24, 2009 at 6:57 pm
    GA: “Suppose questions have no moral value. Suppose you were in a crashing plane and had but one parachute…”

    “Are you you really saying a young son revealing to his parents that his is gay, or a daughter that she is lesbian, is as hypothetical as being in a plane crash with one parachute?”

    What are the names of the supposed children? The Church, as usual, deals only with real situations. We go to heaven or hell as individuals.

  151. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 25, 2009 1:10 pm

    David Nickol Says June 24, 2009 at 7:02 pm
    GA: “We do have role models. It is the purpose of canonization”.

    “Gabriel,
    At least that’s an answer. One might say that anyone who answered a call to celibacy is a good role model for youngsters who realize they are gay. I think a celibate gay saint would be a better role model”.

    With all proper respect “who asked you?”. Are not our celibate priests and nuns good role models? One may have been a saint without being canonized.

    “But the answer doesn’t have to be my answer. All I was asking was to take the question seriously”.

    You might consider St. Domenico Savio. Or St. Aloysius Gonzaga. You might consider the role of St. Sebastian in Christian iconography. The Christ figure in Michelangelo’s first Pieta was criticised as being too handsome a youth.

    I find quite objectionable the attitude of some homoerotically-inclined to flaunt their desires. Men do not flaunt. We are meant to be more discrete. Don’t ask; don’t tell. And don’t speculate.

    A valuable consideration are the pages in the City of God about sex parades in Roman cities; what are nowadays called Gay Pride parades. Vice is so boringly repetitive. Plus ca change…

  152. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 25, 2009 1:14 pm

    A side note. Montaigne, citing Cicero, asks “why handsome young men? Why not handsome old men? Why not ugly young men?”.

    It is an interesting question, especially with respect to the Catechism’s note that the psychological origin of the affection is still unknown.

  153. Joseph permalink
    June 26, 2009 12:19 am

    HA is unduly pessimistic, it seems, about old, ugly, obese, diseased people finding someone to love them — why, we see every day — the most attractive young people throw themselves at the most unattractive oldies. It’s not terribly telegenic, but most of life is not.a

  154. Joseph permalink
    June 26, 2009 12:24 am

    Gabriel, being discreet (sic) suits most gay men, who have not desire to flaunt their sexual or private lives. But the problem is that it leaves young and vunlerable gays in the lurch. Parents are liable to think their gay children are diseased or need to be exorcized (!) because there are not enough ‘out’ adults to create a more rational attitude to homosexuality in society.

  155. Joseph permalink
    June 26, 2009 12:27 am

    It is very objectionable to call gay pride parades vice parades. They are events of great political importance, securing recognition for gay people. It takes great courage to take part in such event in Moscow, Peking or other homophobic cities.

  156. Joseph permalink
    June 26, 2009 12:30 am

    “The equipment in homosexuality doesn’t jibe” — this is your bottom line, Gabriel??? This is the wisdom you have learnt from Catholicism???

    Consult the experience of gays who have found unitive significance in their sexual lives and you’ll find that the level of functionality/disfunctionality is much the same as for heterosexual relations; consult bisexuals who have operated on both sides of the fence — some of them say there is no real difference at all!

  157. Joseph permalink
    June 26, 2009 12:32 am

    Contraception is sinful and degrading to both partners???? Is this the wisdom of Catholicism? No wonder millions are fleeing the Church!

  158. Mark DeFrancisis permalink
    June 26, 2009 12:10 pm

    HA’s usage of Arendt’s sexual relationship with Heidegger as a means of discounting her thought may require that he christen a new category of logical fallacies.

    Any takers as to what we could name this new species?

  159. Mark DeFrancisis permalink
    June 26, 2009 12:15 pm

    I suggest “the copulative fallacy”.

  160. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 26, 2009 1:07 pm

    Joseph Says June 26, 2009 at 12:24 am
    “Gabriel, being discreet (sic) [thank you. a lapsus pennae] suits most gay men, who have not desire to flaunt their sexual or private lives. But the problem is that it leaves young and vulnerable gays in the lurch. Parents are liable to think their gay children are diseased or need to be exorcized (!) because there are not enough ‘out’ adults to create a more rational attitude to homosexuality in society”.

    Generalities again. “Parents are liable to think…”. This was the purpose of the bishops’ statement about gays “Always our children”.

  161. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 26, 2009 1:10 pm

    Joseph Says June 26, 2009 at 12:27 am
    “It is very objectionable to call gay pride parades vice parades. They are events of great political importance, securing recognition for gay people. It takes great courage to take part in such event in Moscow, Peking or other homophobic cities”.

    Perhaps in Moscow and Peking. But have you seen the parades in NYC and San Francisco and other places in the U.S. They have much deliberately provocative sexual behavior: bondage, whipping, leather shows. Many gay people are offended by them.

  162. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 26, 2009 1:17 pm

    Joseph Says June 26, 2009 at 12:30 am
    GA: “The equipment in homosexuality doesn’t jibe” —

    “this is your bottom line, Gabriel??? This is the wisdom you have learnt from Catholicism???”.

    No, they are the simple facts I have learned from biology [and experience]. Littel to do with Catholicism.

    “Consult the experience of gays who have found unitive significance in their sexual lives and you’ll find that the level of functionality/disfunctionality is much the same as for heterosexual relations; consult bisexuals who have operated on both sides of the fence — some of them say there is no real difference at all!”

    Putting an engorged penis into an anus; having an engorged penis sucked; liking an anus; licking a clitoris… All this you find unitive? Certainly these occur among heterosexual activities. So also does bestiality; incest; pederasty.
    Are they unitive? Or are they merely heightening of sexual ecstasy?

  163. Gabriel Austin permalink
    June 26, 2009 1:22 pm

    Joseph Says June 26, 2009 at 12:32 am
    “Contraception is sinful and degrading to both partners???? Is this the wisdom of Catholicism? No wonder millions are fleeing the Church!”

    No. It is the wisdom of the world. It is the making of a woman a sex toy, as also of the man. Contraception is a device of the whore house.

    Te president of a Society of Providers of Sexual Services complained bitterly: “Nowadays you can get it from any college girl without having to pay”.

    [Note: college girl].

  164. June 26, 2009 2:14 pm

    It’s only necessary to call it Gay Pride because gays have been treated shamefully for so long. It’s exactly the self-flagellating attitude and guilt that presented the Catholic church with a bill for billions. An unhealthy approach to sexuality necessarily perverts and stunts, thus the emotional maturity level of many priests that found its match in teenagers.

    Not to mention that morality based on an ‘ick’ factor is downright hilarious. This is why lesbians are never paraded as objects of derision and contempt – even the ‘faithful’ find it difficult to be outraged by them.

    It is rather telling that the good Christian folk get outraged over gays in such disproportionate manner. In the end, it’s not about ‘natural law’ but plain ressentiment on elementary school niveau.

    “Gays want the right to get married” – “But…but…but…they’re fags!” That’s the argument in a nutshell.

  165. David Nickol permalink
    June 26, 2009 2:35 pm

    Putting an engorged penis into an anus; having an engorged penis sucked; liking an anus; licking a clitoris… All this you find unitive?

    The Catholic Church has no moral teachings against such activities (between married partners, of course). As one of my high school friends said, in awe, after covering sex in religion class, “Catholics can touch anywhere and kiss anywhere, as long as you end up right.”

  166. David Nickol permalink
    June 26, 2009 2:41 pm

    “Gays want the right to get married” – “But…but…but…they’re fags!” That’s the argument in a nutshell.

    Gerald,

    Yes! That’s also the argument against newspaper articles about gay people in the Chicago Tribune.

  167. Joseph permalink
    June 26, 2009 3:34 pm

    Gabriel makes an “engorged penis” sound quite monstrous — but I thought most men are quite happy to have such vigorous organs? A retreat director once spoke to seminarians about “the dreaded morning stiffness” — and was greeted with some hilarity!

    As to which orifice the monstrous organ enters, I would suggest that this need not undercut the attestation of gays who say their sex lives are unitive.

  168. June 26, 2009 9:40 pm

    This thread is becoming sinful. Get a hold of yourselves.

  169. brettsalkeld permalink*
    June 27, 2009 12:09 am

    I let this go on about as long as I could bear, especially considering that I (intentionally) didn’t write anything about the same-sex marriage debate as such. I was more interested in discussing how people who believe that marriage is a necessarily two-gender institution conduct themselves in a culture that sees this position as morally equivalent to racism, i.e. intrinsically evil.
    There were many sideshows and personal attacks, but what put me over the edge, if you are interested, was the description of certain sexual acts in a way that was so obviously intended to shock and offend that if THE sex act itself were described in parallel terms it would, itself, seem a most unholy and degrading procedure. God gave us all of our anatomy and when God finished, God saw that it was good. I think people on both sides of this debate can acknowledge that, at least.

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