September 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
As some of my readers know, barely half a week ago, I moved to Evanston, IL to pursue a master’s degree in vocal performance at Northwestern University. It’s been a bit of work to get settled in before things start to get really hectic. I’ve never lived on my own, so it’s kind of liberating, kind of exciting, and kind of daunting all at once. Thankfully there are several people that I know who live in the area, so I’m not all by myself. I actually got a chance to hang out with one of them this afternoon. We had a great chat, which made me feel a lot more relieved since moving here. Although I’m an introvert at heart, a combination of being in a bit of a stressful place and not really having much to do (since classes start about 9 days from now) can do wonders in the way of making one want to reach out. J
My first Catholic experience upon arrival happened the morning after moving in. I attended Sunday mass at St. Joan of Arc Parish, just a couple of miles from my apartment. In addition to participating in the sacrifice of the mass, I was also looking forward to the post-mass brunch that would be held to celebrate the installment of their eighth pastor that morning. The general atmosphere created by the congregants and the liturgy were very reminiscent of those celebrated at St. Francis of Assisi, my first home parish right down to the Marty Haugen mass settings, only the church and the number of attendants were smaller. What made this experience particularly special was what was served at the brunch: mimosas. Could these people show that they understand me any better than by serving alcohol after mass?
One thing I’ve happened to observe at random since arriving here is how friendly the birds are. I’ve been walking everywhere (since I’m not familiar with the transit systems yet) and I’ve seen tons of sparrows and pigeons everywhere. What I find interesting is that no matter how close you get to them, they don’t really ever fly away: they merely walk in a different direction. They sort of remind me of the deer on North Campus in Ann Arbor. They’re very domesticated and will often just look up when they see you approaching, but will go back to grazing once they’ve stared at you for a good twenty seconds. On occasion, they may even actually walk towards you. I sort of feel bad for throwing out those old, stale, unsalted pretzels now. I could have made some new friends.
September 12, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I found this article on my Facebook newsfeed this morning. Not new or surprising from a publication that unabashedly and decidedly leans right in the current culture wars, but it does raise some questions.
”The course is called ‘Deviant Behavior’ and the part of the course description in question states, ‘The behaviors that are primarily examined are murder, rape, robbery, prostitution, homosexuality, mental illness, and drug use.’”
I’m interested to know a couple of things:
1. Why is “mental illness” a chapter header in a book about deviant behaviors and why does the course description refer to mental illness as a behavior? While mental illness very well may be the cause of what could be classified as deviant behavior, mental illness itself certainly is not.
I think just to examine those two things, an audit of FUS’ course material is a good idea.
August 27, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Those who have read my blog for the past few months have probably seen the name Melinda Selmys pop up a few times. For those who aren’t familiar with her, she’s a Catholic writer, blogger, and speaker who is married with children and experiences same sex attraction. She likes to describer herself as “queer”, which she feels is a word that touches not only on her sexuality or sexual preference, but on her entire being (that is, being somewhat strange and removed from normative constructs of modern society).
Here is the talk she gave at the Courage Conference just last month:
August 16, 2012 § 2 Comments
Finally, something I saw this morning has inspired me to blog about something that isn’t related to being fabulous!
A friend of mine on facebook posted this article with the hopes that readers would also read her response. Even though, I didn’t find her response, I’m sure it would outstanding since the response was from none other than Rebecca Kiessling, one of the people toward whom the article is personally targeted.
I don’t know much about Gordon Dalbey, but I am very familiar with Rebecca Kiessling, who is a successful and excellent lawyer, international prolife speaker, and mother of five from Michigan who was conceived in rape.
Lynn Beisner, the author of the above-mentioned article, believes that her mother should have aborted her. She seems to think that despite all that her mother has been through (according to Lynn, her mother experienced “a traumatic brain injury, witnessed and experienced severe domestic violence, and while she was in grade school she was raped by a stranger and her mother committed suicide”), aborting her would have “made it more likely that she would finish high school and get a college education”. She continues with:
“At college in the late 1960s, it seems likely she would have found feminism or psychology or something that would have helped her overcome her childhood trauma and pick better partners. She would have been better prepared when she had children. If nothing else, getting an abortion would have saved her from plunging into poverty. She likely would have stayed in the same socioeconomic strata as her parents and grandparents who were professors. I wish she had aborted me because I love her and want what is best for her.”
…..Okay. Wow, but…okay.
Maybe Lynn’s mother couldn’t pull herself up or she didn’t have the resources upon which she could rely to do it for her, but still, this isn’t a convincing testament to why Lynn herself should have been aborted. If she wanted to talk about why abortion should have been legal when her mother was in gestation, then that would have at least made more sense given what she’s arguing and what the circumstances were. If, however, we’re to believe that Lynn’s mother’s life was pretty much messed up, perhaps even beyond fully repair before Lynn even came into the picture, what the heck is supposed to make us believe that her life would have gotten better after an abortion? That’s a pretty big leap if you ask me.
If that isn’t enough to insult anyone who’s had a hard life, there’s this:
With that constellation of factors, there was a very high statistical probability that my mother would be an abusive parent, that we would spend the rest of our lives in crushing poverty, and that we would both be highly vulnerable to predatory organisations and men. And that is exactly what happened. She abused me, beating me viciously and often. We lived in bone-crushing poverty, and our little family became a magnet for predatory men and organisations. My mother found minimal support in a small church, and became involved with the pastor who was undeniably schizophrenic, narcissistic and sadistic. The abuse I endured was compounded by deprivation. Before the age of 14, I had never been to a sleepover, been allowed to talk to a friend on the phone, eaten in a restaurant, watched a television show, listened to the radio, read a non-Christian book, or even worn a pair of jeans.
If this were an anti-choice story, this is the part where I would tell you how I overcame great odds and my life now has special meaning. I would ask you to affirm that, of course, you are happy I was born, and that the world would be a darker, poorer place without me.
It is true that in the past 12 years, I have been able to rise above the circumstances of my birth and build a life that I truly love. But no one should have to make such a Herculean struggle for simple normalcy. Even given the happiness and success I now enjoy, if I could go back in time and make the choice for my mother, it would be abortion.
I talked briefly about the citing or mentioning of statistics in a previous post not directly related to this issue, only it was against American conservatives. The same objection still stands. How statistically analyzable was it that Lynn Beisner would “rise above the circumstances of [her] birth and build a life that [she] truly love[s]“? You know what statistics is? It’s essentially flipping a coin 100 times to see how many times it comes up heads vs. how many times it comes up tails. We live in a world that transcends statistics. I’m not saying that they aren’t useful, I’m just saying that using the concept of statistics to justify aborting a child is just ludicrous. So many people have risen above the circumstances of their birth, their childhood, etc. through the help of decent human beings, by God, and by sheer will. Statistics speak nothing to the human spirit. It wasn’t statistically likely that I would be graduated from one of the best universities in the country and going off to a peer of said university to pursue a masters, not by a long shot. There are people have come from similar situations to or worse than her mother’s and created fulfilling, healthy, and happy lives for not only themselves, but for other people. She claims to be coming from a place of concern and sober analysis of her and her mother’s circumstances, but the whole thing reads like a caterwauling bitch fest. The way she just repeats the statement that is both the premise and the point of the article doesn’t make me think she thought deeply about the matter. It reads more like she’s telling herself the same thing over and over again so that eventually it will seem like fact.
I myself have had challenges to overcome in life, some of them even related to my mother, who hasn’t had the easiest time either. She grew up one of eight children (1 boy, 7 girls, so, y’know, lots of peace, quiet and stability in the house). She had to deal with things like abuse, trauma, and depression and their financial situation was not ideal (far from it). Her mother died at the age of 43 from lupis when my mother was the ripe ol’ age of 19. She ended up raising four children by herself, one of whom isn’t with us due to breast cancer, and she can still say that she loves her life, loves her kids, and that she did the best that she could do, and it was actually worth something no matter what anyone else says. I can say that no matter how low I’ve been in my life (and I’ve felt pretty low), I’m glad that I’m alive and I’m glad that my mother did the best that she could to raise me even though it was one of the hardest things she’s had to do. I’ll admit that neither my life nor does the life of my mother sound this tragic, but it still stands that I know of people who have come from equally hard lives, even some that were harder, and I don’t hear them saying anything as nihilistic and immature as this.
And her mother couldn’t put her up for adoption. No, really, that’s what she says in the article in case you missed it:
An abortion would have been best for me because there is no way that my love-starved, trauma-addled mother could have ever put me up for adoption. It was either abortion or raising me herself, and she was in no position to raise a child.
First, that line of thinking makes literally no sense. Wouldn’t it be objectively better for a woman who was statistically likely to be (and actually did turn out to be) poor, under-educated, and abusive to give her child to someone who was more apt to raise her? The way she frames this is just incredibly odd.
Second, the birth mother of Rebecca Kiessling was raped and Rebecca was the result and even she felt that it was in the best interest of herself and of Rebecca that she be raised by someone else. While understanding that giving up one’s own flesh and blood to someone else to raise can be very hard, wouldn’t it logically follow that one’s reticence to give a child up for adoption meant that she was willing to love and raise the child as best she could, regardless of the circumstances under which she was raising the child? It’s really not a complicated situation, despite our tendency to call situations in which we have conflicting emotions “complicated”.
What I find particularly fascinating is that she claims that Rebecca Kiessling and Gordon Dalbey, two prolife speakers who escaped the hand of an abortionist against odds, are engaging in “emotional blackmail” by telling their stories of how, through seemingly insurmountable odds, they made their lives better. She then goes on to adamantly pontificate that “We cannot argue against heroic, redemptive, happy-ending fairytales using cold statistics. If we want to keep our reproductive rights, we must be willing to tell our stories, to be willing and able to say, ‘I love my life, but I wish my mother had aborted me’”.
Let’s get one thing straight: the abortion debate hinges on one question and one question alone: is the unborn child a human being, vested with the rights of every other human being who is born (including the right not to be murdered), or is the unborn child not? If you don’t believe that a human life exists at the moment a human sperm fertilizes a human egg, then it would logically follow that abortion is okay. If so, then it would logically follow that to abort a child is to murder it. Plain and simple. This whole analyzing isolated circumstances, both real and hypothetical is really useless when it’s really a matter of pure philosophy. When you call abortion a reproductive right as does Lynn Beisner, then this whole agonizing over who should be aborted and who shouldn’t be based on circumstances is really just a smokescreen to hide the overarching belief that abortion is no big deal. Get the “thing” out of you and get on with your life.
Call the work that Rebecca Kiessling and Gordon Dalbey do what you would like, but it must logically follow that what Lynn Beisner did with an article like this is just as emotionally blackmailing, only in the opposite direction.
August 8, 2012 § Leave a Comment
For the past month I was tethered to a university dorm building with, at varying points, 40-110 pf some of the most musically talented high schoolers in the country (and some parts of the world). I was one of eleven counselors for MPulse, the U of M summer arts institutes that happen every summer.
I conceivably could just lay out all of the good, bad, ugly, and downright insanely awesome goings-on, but I’ll let it suffice to say that it was an incredible experience in which I grew tremendously.
In the meantime, I’ve taken up running to be more active and more healthy overall. It’s been going well and showing no signs of letting up. Yay fitness!
As for my blog, I’m half contemplating a name change. I didn’t set out to make this blog about the gay issue, but it seems that it’s where my journey is taking me now. I have other things on my mind to discuss, but this one is probably the closest to my heart and to my experience, particularly as a Catholic, which makes sense. This, apart from abortion, is one of the most divisive issues on the public mind today, within and without the Church. When you decide not to take a particular “side” on the issue, but take an above route, it puts you in the midst of a lot of tension. Personally, I see nothing wrong with being in the midst of tension, so long as I can maintain my own autonomy. Others may feel that I’m narcissistic, attention-seeking, or childish for it, but I just like to think that at this point, I’m unphased.
Addendum to “What the Church teaches as opposed to what the Church DOESN’T teach concerning homosexuality”
June 24, 2012 § 4 Comments
It was brought to my attention by a friend that my definition of objectively disordered may have been less than harmonious with the meaning intended by the author(s) of the Catechism. The fourth definition that is given is probably the one that is more in line with the intentions of the author(s). My mistake.
As it happens, the phrase “objectively disordered” did not appear in the first edition of the English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It was, as the first paragraph of the link above shows, changed to be more harmonious with what was laid out in the 1986 Letter to Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons written by then Prefect of the CDF Cardinal Ratzinger. Basically the powers that be were afraid of people misunderstanding the nature of the homosexual inclination (ie. the inclination toward homogenital acts *qua* acts) presented in CCC 2358 in relation to what was written of the acts themselves in 2357. Welp, now that that’s all cleared up, there’s so much understanding and meaningful discussion that we can build off of that’s happened over the past 20ish years or so. :l
An online acquaintance made a striking observation of the layout of those three paragraphs that I only superficially realized while writing my last entry:
There are three paragraphs that address homosexuality specifically and directly: 2357-2559.
It’s important to note the progression found in the catechism through these three paragraphs…
In 2357 the catechism begins with acts that are intrinsically disordered.
In 2358 the catechism discusses “this inclination” as objectively disordered. “This inclination” is referencing the “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” and not “men and women.”
In 2359 the catechism ends with “homosexual persons”
I find it absolutely essential to note that within the Roman Catholic Church, the homosexual orientation is almost exclusively tied to the desire for homogenital acts. This particular form of reductionism appears elsewhere in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, especially as it discusses acceptable forms of birth control.
It does make sense that so many take the Church’s language very hard when you look at how it’s laid out. As I said, amid writing my post, I was even aware of such a phenomenon, and I think it may be because I was vaguely remembering this person’s comment, but it’s also because this layout in itself seems so troubling. It has the uncanny ability to make the reader say to his or herself “okay, no gay sex”, then “okay, my desire for gay sex is objectively disordered…does this mean my desire for intimacy with another person of my gender or my attraction to the things I like about him/her are objectively disordered (which I actually did believe for a long time)?…No, of course not, but….” and it sort of puts him or her in this mental limbo between accepting him or herself and almost, dare I say, hating the same. Today a lot of the talk on homosexuality is tied up in identity politics. Well, talk about identity crisis! It almost makes an aversion to a gay identity seem as though it exists more out of shame than out of any assent to orthodoxy, and the politically sanctioned badge of “SSA” for anyone who dare admit not being heterosexual as sort of the gold star of David, the scarlet letter, the clanging bell and the cry of “unclean”. And it’s sometimes scary, the number of people who will deny any such thing on its face, but will, then again, not agree to a more positive or even neutral alternative than the “homosexual condition” being one of suffering, and that any joy derived from the experience is derived in spite of the condition and never because of it. Largely this is because, as I said in my last post, there is a mentality that is prevalent in today’s Church that reduces the entire experience or “condition” of the “homosexual person” to his or her “inclination, which is objectively disordered…”. It’s easy to turn the entire experience into a hangman’s noose when it is observed in such a way. I’m not going to discount the experience of those who do experience their sexuality that way, either. I’m simply advocating for myself and for others who don’t see things quite that way. I’m speaking not against the doctrine put forth by the Church, but against the false doctrine trumped up by unauthoritative individuals who say that the experience of the same-sex-attracted is one that is negative and is ultimately something to be overcome, or even something that is “not so important” and therefor something to be ignored altogether and not something to be given to God and made into something extraordinarily beautiful by grace.
June 15, 2012 § 14 Comments
In my announcement of pieces which became one piece on what the Church does teach as opposed to what it does not teach about homosexuality, I mentioned some friends of mine who blog or write about this matter. Joshua Gonnerman recently had two pieces published by First Things Magazine in which he talked about the negative experiences that many gays have within the Church and how they need to be remedied and why he identifies as a gay Catholic respectively. Melinda Selmys, author of Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism, comments on the same through her blog of the same name. Ron Belgau writes from his blog, Spiritual Friendship on matters of sexuality as they relate to living out the Church’s sexual ethic while maintaining important, close, fruitful, and life-giving friendships. Of course, last but certainly not least, I also mentioned Mark Shea and the pickle he got himself into while painting an, as far as we know, orthodox Catholic man who was also gay and lived with a companion in a positive light.
All of these people have experienced not only vitriol being thrown on misunderstandings of their words and ideas, but on their very names because of the completely orthodox things they have been willing to say. It is my hope that in this post I can plant the seed of understanding in the minds of those who may be lurking or are in the middle but would be inclined to believe the accusations brought against them.
One of the biggest hurdles we need to collectively jump toward having an honest discussion about homosexuality in the Church today is knowing precisely what is a matter of Church teaching and what is not. Here, we have a framework:
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
While there are letters of a pastoral or other nature that have been released by the Church on the matter of homosexuals as people in relation to whatever (holy orders, for example), while they may contain traces of official teaching (usually some variation of the citation above), they’re hardly worth going into concerning a look at what the Church teaches about homosexuality itself, seeing as that is not their purpose. I know that they are often cited or even used in themselves in arguments of a more political nature (should same-sex couples adopt; should males who experience same-sex attraction be ordained), but I will stick to the Catechism for now and perhaps come to those questions later.
Apart from the wonkiness of her definition of homosexuality in 2357 being essentially the acts of whom she qualifies in other places as “homosexual persons” (more on that here and a bit here from my friend) and not simply of relations between members of the same sex period, the Church gives us a working definition. Since this matter of semantics never really comes up on general discussions between Catholics of any stripe or sexuality, I don’t think it needs to be addressed much here. Most people don’t even pay attention to that detail and conclude that the Church is opposed to the acts on the grounds presented later in the paragraph. What’s important in this instance is that homosexuality is being defined as acts.
Now, as for the rest of the paragraph, We don’t really get to anything catechetically relevant until “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture…” and then we meet our first buzz phrase: grave depravity.
What does it mean for something to be depraved?
If we use the definition here, we see that the Church is condemning the act of homosexuality as one that is seriously corrupt and evil. No surprise here.
We go a bit further and then we get to our next buzz phrase: intrinsically disordered.
I have discussed what the words “ordered” and disordered” mean in a theological sense and I think it bears repeating here. In order for something to be properly ordered (meaning, in accord with divine intent for its existence), after the thoughts of St. Thomas Aquinas, there has to be an objective good toward which it is intrinsically ordered. The Church teaches that sex had between a man and a woman in marriage is intrinsically ordered toward the union of husband and wife and for the propagation of human beings. Since there is no objective good toward which sex between two men or two women can be ordered, then it is disordered. Pretty simple to understand without doing any verbal gymnastics.
Another thing that I think bears examination is the word “intrinsic“. From the definition provided by the link, we find intrinsic to mean something along the lines of “of its very nature” or “in accord with its essence”. Sexual acts between two members of the same sex are intrinsically disordered, as in “disordered at the very core of their existence”.
It’s when we go to 2358 that the topic gets personal and pertains to those who are inclined to such acts due to being attracted to the same sex. From the perspective given in the 2357, “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” and “[t]his inclination” must be taken to mean a deep-seated tendency or an inclination to do what was described in 2357 (ie. to have sex with someone of the same gender). It is called “objectively disordered”. Since we know what disordered means, let’s take a look at the meaning of the word “objective” when used here. From the definitions given, the ones that most suits the context in which it is used fall under the umbra of objective reality (that is, fact either perceived or not perceived and not inherent to the nature of said thing, but is nonetheless, true). The meaning of “objectively disordered” in this context more or less means the same thing for the inclination (whether deep-seated/deeply entrenched or merely spontaneous and transitory) to steal or to murder or to cheat on one’s spouse to be objectively disordered. It’s the theological language that the Church chose to use in its discussion of the inclination to have sex with members of one’s own gender. That’s really it is.
There is thereafter the obligatory appeal to treat those for whom this may constitute “a trial” with respect, upholding their dignity, and not to, in any way, present a sign of unjust discrimination. Whoopee.
Finally, we have the exhortation for chaste living. The phrase “disinterested friendships” comes up in the final paragraph and it is a point of some contention regarding how close is too close regarding friendships between members of the same sex, especially if both parties are same-sex attracted. Based on the link to a page that differentiates the meaning of disinterested with that of the word for which its meaning is often mistaken, uninterested, we find disinterest to be a component of many of the relationships that we all share with various people in our lives. To be a good friend, I strive not to let my own personal interests block my view of what is good for my friend and I would hope that my friends attempt the same of their relationship to myself. The Church does not yet have any actual teaching on friendships that cannot be construed to apply to every relationship we each have.
So, what’s the problem?
The problem arises when you have a faulty conflation of the “inclination” (a singular, abstract noun that is not constructed from other entities) mentioned in 2358 with the term “sexual orientation” (a singular, abstract noun which is constructed of sensory entities that deal with predisposed or acquired preferences and while overall, varying from person to person, is more or less contained within the camps of straight and LGBTQ…). When the Church specifically speaks of the homosexual “inclination” in paragraph 2358, she refers to an inclination to engage in the acts which she unequivocally declared to be “intrinsically disordered” and from what I can gather from the text, nothing else. This is why writers like Melinda Selmys and Joshua Gonnerman aren’t wrong for the things they say. One common objection that is made on this matter and is often used to construct a huge argument that basically amounts to a wicker man in which they are attempting to burn the person with whom they have disagreement is that “‘objectively disordered’ has to mean something, right?” What they don’t realize is that while the homosexual inclination is itself objectively disordered, the overall experience of the homosexual, even including falling in love, is not objectively disordered, and while people like those aforementioned are trying to illustrate a way in which the homosexual person’s experience can be construed as good, even their attractions, which are not inextricably tied to their desire for sex, they are not trying to say that the homosexual inclination itself is good. No one is trying to make this claim or back it up in any way whatsoever. Again, for good measure, I will repeat, once and for all:
No orthodox Catholic believes the homosexual inclination is itself good or even bad. It is objectively disordered and bears no moral consequence in itself.
This reminds me of a conversation that I had with my friend Mark concerning an email exchange he had with someone else concerning the nature of sexual attraction. The other party was arguing that every emotion or attraction that can be tied to strictly sexual desire is inextricably tied to it and therefore cannot be extracted from it even if not acted upon. This is my friend’s response, which I think is an excellent one:
“Well, we’re disagreeing about “sexual attraction” even means, though. I wouldn’t disagree that “sexual attraction” (ie, attraction based on the male or female sex) is a good way to define sexual orientation, heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual, etc. I just disagree that “sexual attraction” is equivalent to “an inclination to have sex with them.”
I don’t think that’s the most common understanding, as you claim. I think if you told people that, to you, heterosexual meant an inclination to, specifically, have sex with members of the opposite sex…they probably would think you were a sex-obsessed pervert and wouldn’t want you around their children.
It means that a guy likes guys, or a girl likes girls. This really isn’t that hard, it’s common sense. It disturbs me that all these conservative Catholics, in their attempt to essentialize subjective experiences with these operational definitions they use…always wind up so focused on sex acts. It’s bizarre, and most people would think so.
Everyone knows what liking men or liking women means. If you can only wrap your head around it by thinking of it specifically as ultimately “an inclination to have sex with”…I’m not sure how you can support heterosexuality anymore than homosexuality, as opposed to trying to force some sort of “spouse-sexual orientation” on people (ie, where they are attracted only to their current spouse).
I suppose you might still demand a more precise definition of what “like” means. “Like in what way??” To this I think, indeed, we can ultimately only appeal to experience.
In a similar vein, define “sadness,” “anger,” or “fear.” I’m not sure we really can boil them down to an “essence.” These emotions are really nothing other than scripts of associated behavior. But the association together is ultimately arbitrary, no? Why, when sad, do we cry, vocalize in a certain way, act mopey, etc?? Who knows really, that’s simply the script associated with sadness!
At most, I think, we can define these states based on the type of stimuli that cause them. Sadness it the script of thoughts and behavior associated with a loss of some sort. Fear with something dangerous or too dangerous to confront. Anger with something offensive, or with a threat we feel we can confront.
But can any of these passions be boiled down to some “essential” behavioral end or telos? I don’t really think so. They’re defined and united more by “where they come from” rather than by “where they’re going” if you see what I mean.
I mean, if we were to try to define a unifying telos for these passions with some single organizing act…what would it be? For anger, assumably, it would be some sort of violence. And yet, I doubt anyone would describe their anger (usually) as “an inclination towards violence,” as if anger finds its end or proper behavioral telos in violence! No, violence is one possible expression within the repertoire which is the performance (internal and external) of “anger”…but it is by no means the only one, nor some sort of essential organizing feature of that script.
Likewise, in “sexual attraction,” in “liking guys” or “liking girls”…I think it’s ridiculously legalistic and involves a sort of naivitee to try to “essentialize” the construct by imposing some sort of systematic organizing logic onto it. “Attraction” is a repertoire of associated behaviors (mental and external) constructed together with reference to a common pattern of causes (ie, “where they come from” rather than “where they’re going.”) In the case of heterosexuality, this means a (sometimes arbitrary seeming) set of behaviors (including thoughts and speech) related to members of the opposite sex as such, in the case of homosexuality it means the same thing for members of the same sex as such.
Nor is it all reactions, necessarily, to same or opposite sex stimuli as such. Obviously, the same stimuli can (in different contexts) invoke either fear OR anger (or both!) Certainly heterosexual men have certain reactions to males as such, and homosexual men to females as such. The question is what script they are constructed into. If a threat makes you “fight,” that’s anger. If instead it’s “flight,” that’s fear. And yet anger can also including yelling, turning red, getting silent, stewing in angry thoughts without acting, etc, and (as I said above) I don’t think anyone would describe this as some sort of natural inclination to violence, necessarily.
…Children, for example, may have no idea what sex even is. And yet children generally still demonstrate some sort of sexual attraction.”
To conflate or to interchange the overall orientation (the overall experience of the homosexual) with the singular inclination to engage in same-sex sexual activity is not only incorrect, but has been used by some members of both the laity and the clergy (albeit mostly in good faith) to educate homosexual persons within the Church about themselves and has caused very much confusion and hurt feelings.
Furthermore, with much of this culture war having been fought on the front of psychology, there is much conjecture concerning the psychological genesis of homosexuality, a genesis which both the psychological community and Mother Church admit “remains largely unexplained”. There has been much research given to it and we have found certain patterns within homosexual people that point to a genesis, but for every pattern, there are also outliers. We don’t know if it has one common or more varied sources of genesis. I have my own thoughts on where homosexuality does have its origins, but they hardly matter. The most important thing to remember in light of this is that the Church does not have, nor does she claim to have) the aptitude or the divine charism to determine any of this. The Church does not teach on matters of human psychology. She teaches on matters of faith and morals, and those concerning homosexuality are presented in the three paragraphs cited at the top of the page.
All of this is the only thing that writers like Joshua Gonnerman, Melinda Selmys, or Ron Belgau are trying to get at when they talk about homosexuality in light of Catholic teaching. They aren’t trying to appeal to some “queer theology” that contradicts what the Church has already taught. They’re trying to bring about a change in the way homosexuality is culturally perceived by not only Catholics, but by everyone and I very much respect and admire their work.