Collect for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity

O God, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal; grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Silence in Heaven

I learned with sorrow yesterday that Julie Rodgers, a chaplain at Wheaton College in Illinois and contributor to Spiritual Friendship, has changed her views. An alumna of Exodus, she has been a wise and kindly voice for the traditional Christian view of sexual ethics hitherto; now, however, she has changed her mind, and believes (as I understand from the post she wrote) that God blesses same-sex sexual relationships on the same basis as heterosexual ones. She has also, in a move that I think worthy of particular respect (as so many church officials fail to do this), both explained her change of mind publicly and resigned her post at Wheaton on account of the difference between their beliefs and hers.

If you are expecting to read a vilification, or even an argument against, Miss Rodgers' decision, I'm afraid you have come to the wrong place. I disagree, obviously; although I have confidence in the sincerity of her convictions, and the sincerity of her change of convictions, I am a Catholic precisely because my own confidence reposes wholly in the Holy Ghost as the teacher of the Catholic Church, and what Rome teaches with her full authority I therefore unconditionally accept -- the same could scarcely be expected of Miss Rodgers as an evangelical. (Which isn't to say I wouldn't like her to become a Catholic, either, but I would like everybody to become a Catholic.) But this piece is not fundamentally about the basis, or the details, of my disagreement with Julie Rodgers.

This is about the paltry response from traditional Christians. I don't mean that they have not said enough in quantity. I mean that the support, respect, and compassion that we need to live as LGBT believers have been crucified on the cross of a culture war. Morality is not the casualty of the culture war, brothers and sisters; we are -- lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, intersex people, every kind of person whose sexual attractions or gender identity don't fit the normal (and admittedly beautiful) mold -- Christians, and non-Christians, and ex-Christians. He looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

The thing that has saddened and appalled me has been the knee-jerk response of blatant disbelief, when it comes to the homophobia she talks about as a stock element of traditionalist Christian culture. I'm saddened by Julie Rodgers' change of mind, yes; partly because I believe she's mistaken about matter of theological fact, and partly because it's a very lonely experience to see a former co-worker, as it were, depart. But that is as nothing to my fellow traditional Christians, whose unbridled hatred, scorn, identity politicking, language policing, reduction of me and my queer sisters and brother to the status of perverts and sexual maniacs, co-option of our witness, accusations of covert doctrinal subversion, and charges of deceit and self-deceit, so exhaust us all as to make every one of us question on a daily basis whether we do want to continue being a part of the church -- not least of the Catholic Church.

Nah, I think this cross is good here. See ya, I'm going to Orange Julius.

If you have a hard time believing me, consider the following list:

Chad Allen, actor
Jamie Bakker, author and pastor
Vicky Beeching, Christian musician
John Boswell, author
Michael Bussee, founding member of Exodus
Tony Campolo, author and pastor
Gary Cooper, founding member of Exodus
Eliel Cruz, author
Rachel Held Evans, author
Robert Gant, actor
Jennifer Knapp, former Christian musician
Justin Lee, author and founding member of the Gay Christian Network
Stephen Long, author
John Paulk, former administrator with Exodus
Julie Rodgers, author, former chaplain at Wheaton College, and former Exodus member
Dan Savage, author and former Catholic seminarian
Steve Slagg, author and Christian musician
John Smid, author and former administrator with Love In Action
Peterson Toscano, author, actor, and former Love In Action member
Matthew Vines, author and founding member of the Reformation Project
Jim Wallis, author

Every one of those people once espoused the traditional view of homosexuality, and every one of them changed their minds -- often after years of attempting orientation change and/or celibacy (of those I've listed, only Bakker, Campolo, Evans, and Wallis are straight, though many are ex-ex-gay). All of them spoke, in many cases before they made any public noises about reconsidering their beliefs, of the coldness, bigotry, cruelty, neglect, and willful stupidity of many fellow believers as one of the major trials they had to deal with, often a far weightier one than the actual cross of being attracted to the same sex.

Equally, among those of us who retain the traditional view -- espousing what the Catholic Church has taught about sex for millennia -- I don't know of any one of us who hasn't also spoken about Christian homophobia, regardless of the tradition we hail from: Ron Belgau, Melinda Selmys, Lindsey and Sarah (who blog without last names partly, I gather, due to the years of homophobic harrassment they've had to deal with), Seth Crocker, Matt Moore, Aaron Harburg, Joshua Gonnerman, Eve Tushnet, Wesley Hill, Joseph Prever, Matt Jones, Aaron Taylor, Jeremy Erickson, Chris Damian, and indeed, some heterosexual and cisgender believers like Mark Shea, P. E. Gobry, Warren Throckmorton, Elizabeth Scalia, Lazar Puhalo, and Mark Yarhouse.

And so many have been lost to us. Dan Savage apostatized; Daniel Pierce was beaten by his own family and thrown out of his home; Matthew Shepard was tortured to death; Gwen Araujo was strangled; Tyler Clementi killed himself out of humiliation; Leelah Alcorn killed herself to make a desperate point.

We are beaten. We are bleeding. Stop saying you're doing this because you love us. Your brand of love has resulted in twisted psyches, broken families, suicides. Stop saying that it is our own sins coming back to haunt us; that is an evasion, and what is more, an invitation of divine judgment -- for it is clearly written that with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Do you wish your own sins to visit you, rattling their chains in the night? Our anguish is not coming out of nowhere; it is the anguish of those who, at best, wonder whether they are loved at all by our fellow believers, and often believe that Christians are incapable of loving us -- never having seen it.

Those who have eyes only for the (in my opinion, legitimate) threats to religious liberty in this country, and have perhaps never knowingly dealt with a gay person in their own lives -- even, maybe, wouldn't be homophobic if they did, except by accident -- seem to have a difficult time believing that these stories of homophobic harshness, rejection, and even violence are credible, save perhaps in far-off pars of the world like Russia or Nigeria or India. Nonetheless, every single one of the names I've mentioned above -- including every victim of murder and those driven to suicide -- hails from the good old US of A. We are not immune; there are those who would say we are not safe.

Stop talking about us, fellow Christian, and talk to us. We were never meant to bear this cross alone, any more than you were meant to bear yours alone; Jesus Himself did not bear His Cross alone, accepting help from Simon and Veronica. Our anguish is not a guarded secret. There has been no need to break seven seals on the scroll of our pain and call for silence in heaven for half an hour to read it; we have read it from the housetops -- and, too often, been met with the order to seal up what the seven thunders have said, because you saw no reason you should care. You were not, after all, your brother's keeper. Put your fingers in our hands and your hand into our sides, and do not be doubting, but believe: we are suffering. We need you.

Am I proposing a change in the Church's teaching? I have repeated until I am blue in the face that I'm not, and there are still people who won't believe me. But a call for holy compassion should not sound to anybody like a call for a change in belief. When you can't distinguish mercy from doctrinal laxity, there is something deeply wrong with you, spiritually. When your doctrine does not include the obligation to show compassion, it is you, not we, who are the heretics.


  1. Feeling rather wordless at the moment.

    Well, maybe not quite. I'm sorry, Gabriel, truly and deeply sorry. There isn't much in my life that I regret more than having once been complicit in--and occasionally actively part of--the callousness, the silencing, the shaming, the culture of cruelty. It's people like you and Julie Rodgers who changed my heart, people who are honest both about their identity and about both the good and the evil that they've seen in church. Consider me one of your victories, and know you have been the mercy of God to me.

  2. Excellent post. It's all good, and the last two paragraphs are especially powerful.

  3. Gabriel, thank you for this post. I hope I'm not one adding to your pain. God bless you.

  4. It's way too late for that, the churches, particularly the Roman Catholic church, has made it a us vs them fight in so many countries for ever so long. Now, when you make it a us vs them issue, the other side is going to make sure it's not you. As the church haemorrhages more and more people like those you listed, it'll turn slowly but surely into an ever more concentrated brew of conservatism and bigotry.

    1. That's a possible future. But I am confident, based on not only my faith but also my study of history, that it won't pan out. Faith is, in a sense, incommunicable; but there are many controversies in Catholic history, many of them between one side advocating a rigorous approach to sin and the other a merciful one, and the merciful side has always won -- from the debate over the power of the keys in the second century down to the decisive condemnation of Jansenism in the eighteenth, "mercy triumphs over judgment." I hope and believe that it will happen again.

      That is not for one moment to downplay or excuse the homophobia displayed by many Catholics, or even to ignore the mere well-meaning witlessness that often vitiates the attempts of Catholics (both lay and clerical) to fellowship with and support gay people. All that is tragic at best and reprehensible at worst, and there is hardly any excuse to be made for it -- only frank admission of our corporate and individual guilt, remorse, apology, and any restitution we can offer.

  5. The Church teaches me to think of myself in terms larger than just my sexual attractions. It, therefore, has been a surprise to many of my in The Church teaches me to think of myself in terms larger than just my sexual attractions. It, therefore, has surprised many of my interlocutors that, should I wish to experience that, I'd go to the MCC church or even just a gay bar. In those venues, I can confidently discuss Disney trivia, Patsy Cline, or just the best places in town for barbecue or croissants. No one finds it odd that I pine for Ann Blyth's autograph or questions the My Little Pony/Terminator fanfic I sometimes write (though, maybe they ought to). At the Carholic church, for those who know, every topic of conversation becomes related to my sexuality. Every hobby, every interest becomes scrutinized through that merciless lens. I've even been asked about my masturbatory habits over coffee and doughnuts at church socials.

    It's hard not to arrive at the conclusion that this isn't a sign; a message. Once my attractions are known in orthodox circles, there is no Christ that is preached to me Who is not, ultimately, a hectoring authoritarian, legalistic and quick to damn; Who has no need of me and will rub His Cross in my face as if to say "look at the great costs I have incurred and how nevertheless inadequate they are compared to your loathsome and disgusting affections."

    I wish I could love Christ again, but at the moment, my anger is too great.

    1. I can appreciate that. It's not easy to get over any anger; still less, anger with the justification of experience like yours. For what it's worth, I am terribly sorry that my brethren have treated you so stupidly and unlovingly, and I hope that I have not contributed to your difficulties.

    2. A) You flatter yourself.
      B) We may live our lives differently, but at least when you talk about homosexuality, you know what you're talking about and I know about the sacrifices you've made to live the way you do. I have nothing but respect for that, which means…
      C) I flatter yourself as well.

  6. Been there, Irksome, just get the hell out of these orthodox circles.

  7. To the commenter Michael: I'd remind you that you were banned from commenting as of last year, due to your continual and wholly groundless accusations that I am lying about my orthodoxy, to say nothing of the ugly language you have to offer to others like me and even other commenters here. If you insist on reading the blog (I don't know why, since I can't imagine you enjoy it or find it edifying), that is of course your own business, but I will not publish anything you have to say at any point; you have been slandering me and my friends from the beginning of your time here. I'd ask you, if you will, to meditate on Matthew 5.21-26 and James 3.1-18, and to pray for God's grace, which is the sole source of hope for us all. I would also ask you, since as I said I will interact with you no further, to leave me alone.

  8. As a gay/celibate/Catholic, I sometimes wonder if God will save non-conservative/non-traditional Catholics.

    1. I sure hope so. Otherwise, given that I'm not at all attached to conservatism and absolutely terrible at celibacy, I'm screwed six ways from Sunday.

  9. If all you’re saying is that Christians need to be nice to homosexuals and treat them as equals, then I’m with you. Beyond that, you need to accept that it’s an issue that confuses a lot of well-meaning people.

    For example, I have heard gay (and non-gay but pro-gay) Christians say that there should be special ministries to homosexuals, but which don’t emphasize the need to be chaste, which is insulting since chastity is not particularly emphasized in heterosexual singles ministries. At this point a lot of Christians scratch their heads: We’re saying that homosexual sex is immoral and that homosexuals cannot marry, yet we’re to have ministries for homosexuals. If the point is not to encourage homosexuals to be chaste, then what’s the point? If it’s just for the purpose of prayer and living the Christian life, then why does it have to be a homosexual ministry in particular? Is it just for them to socialize with other homosexuals? If it’s to share their struggles in living the Christian life, how can it do so without emphasizing chastity in particular? If the purpose is to emphasize other virtues/vices, then again, why does it have to be a homosexual ministry in particular? Don’t all Christians struggle with various virtues and vices? Why segregate homosexuals?

    So, my view of the matter is that homosexuals are absolutely as welcome in the Church as anyone else, should have access to all the sacraments and ministries under the same conditions as anyone else, and should be treated charitably and with dignity just like anyone else. If they need anything more than this, or anything special that others don’t get, I’m sincerely at a loss to know what it should be.

    1. That's straightforward and well-presented, and I thank you for posing the question. The answer is tricky to express, but I'll do my best.

      To begin with, I certainly accept -- if imperfectly -- that good-hearted people can be rather at a loss about why LGBT matters are an issue in the first place, or how to think about them, or what to do, etc. I've known too many Christians who wanted to help but were genuinely uncertain how to, not to believe in a great deal of bona fides; and, as a traditionalist myself, I don't start from the premise that the historical Christian view of sex is intrinsically bigoted. Additionally, I don't believe (nor do most of the Christians I have met) that there is, in itself, anything specially bad about homosexuality (as a disposition) or gay sex (as an act).

      Why then do I speak and write as I have? Not because of any inherent difference in the character or needs of LGBT people, but because of how American Christians have *in fact* handled things over the last several generations. In other words, while we may profitably abstract homosexuality for theological discussion, we must also realize that when we do so, we are precisely working with an abstraction. And you never meet an abstraction; you only ever meet people -- which means dealing with them partly on the basis of knowledge obtained through analysis and/or authority (the two fundamental sources of all theology), but also in terms of their own immediate situation. And *that* means doing one's best to deal intelligently with their personal, cultural, and historical context.

    2. A partly parallel example is that of race. (I get kind of annoyed with this parallel sometimes, since LGBT people haven't suffered the same kind or degree of horrors that ethnic minorities in this country have, but that aside.) The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter strikes some people as weird; if all lives matter, why only bring it up in the case of black people? But of course the answer is that valuing black lives, specifically, is the thing our culture has a problem doing, at any rate in contrast to white lives. (Whether one feels this best conveyed via hashtag is, for our purposes, beside the point.) It's the cultural and historical problem, which then manifests itself in individual lives, that's under discussion there, rather than any different value in black lives -- indeed, their equal dignity is the fundamental point.

      So here. The protests made by many Christians, whether cis-het or queer and whether progressivist or traditional, about the treatment of queer-identifying people by Christians are (when they're expressed sensibly) about a culturally and historically rooted problem among American Christians, not about LGBT people needing or being entitled to special treatment.

      If your own experience hasn't shown you any mistreatment of gay people, well, that would be one of the reasons I write these sorts of pieces. Few people are likely to notice things that aren't part of their own lived experience. It is, also, possible that you happen to be in a sort of enclave -- no culture being homogeneous.

    3. Taking your own example of gay ministries illustrates the practical ramifications. One of my complaints about the approach some Christians take is that the only problem they see is the desire for gay sex -- in the abstract, once again. But, as I think Eve Tushnet said, nobody has a vocation of "no." Not-having-sex is not a calling; and when all we have to say to gay people is "Don't have sex," we are failing them. This isn't because of anything specially sex-centric about gay culture, in my opinion; our *entire* culture in this country is sex-centric, whether we consult secular promiscuity or Christian idolatry of marriage, to the point that many people who find themselves called to celibacy are at a loss as to how to conduct their lives. Having been raised as an evangelical, and now as a Catholic convert not headed for a seminary or a monastery, I'm often at a loss myself -- I'm not starting a family (like I was raised to expect) or going into professional ministry or the cloister (as I've long admired); what now?

      And that "what now" isn't just "what do I do with my genitals?" It covers the whole range of intimacy and affections that most people do get from marital relationships. Learning to navigate a life in which marriage is *not* anticipated, in a culture which is overwhelmingly geared toward either marriage or something that approximates it, is something that exceedingly few people can do on their own, and it's something that we're going to need help and support in doing.

      That in itself isn't an argument for gay ministries as such. However, when it comes to dealing with things like understanding ourselves (both as people and specifically as believers) in the context of same-sex desire or genderqueerness, dealing with homophobic bullying and abuse, etc., I think there's a good deal to be said for queer ministries. There is, too, the issue of educating fellow Christians in how best to support us, something that's highly variable and not always intuitive (for example, some of my guys friends used to be hesitant about using touch with me, not out of homophobia but out of a desire not to make me stumble; this was well-intentioned but terribly unproductive, because it just left me touch-starved and therefore likelier to misbehave). And note how all of this comes back, not to gayness as such, but to what it means to live as a gay person here and now. It is that, and only that, that can be an object of lived-out justice and charity; they can't be offered to abstractions.

    4. I can't say that I'm sure I totally get you, but I hope I'm getting your general drift. I think you're saying that not only have homosexuals historically been abused by Christians, but also, even Christians who have repented of such abuse continue to reduce homosexual persons to "gayness" in the abstract, which in turn they consider "the enemy" of the churches. I assume you would agree that there may be some legitimacy to the idea of the "gay rights movement" being an enemy to the Christian churches, at least the more traditionally oriented ones, insofar as it accuses such churches of hatefulness mereby virtue of retaining traditional and authentic Christian sexual morality, and try to bring economic and political pressure to bear on them for this reason. The problem is when these churches lump this specific type of enemy in with "gayness" as a whole and treat the whole kit and kaboodle, including gay individuals, as the enemy. Am I getting anywhere close?

    5. You write, "I'm not starting a family (like I was raised to expect) or going into professional ministry or the cloister (as I've long admired); what now? ... Learning to navigate a life in which marriage is *not* anticipated, in a culture which is overwhelmingly geared toward either marriage or something that approximates it, is something that exceedingly few people can do on their own, and it's something that we're going to need help and support in doing."

      In "a culture" geared toward marriage? Are you imlpying that some cultures are not so geared?

      Anyway, this is not a new issue. There has always been a significant proportion of the population who neither marry nor enter the priesthood or religious life. I have a sister and a best friend who fall into this category: Devoutly Christian (and heterosexual) but for various reasons never having married, nor having discerned a vocation. And yes, they do wonder what they are to do with their lives. But the answer seems to be simply, live them, one day at a time; pray regularly; cultivate virtue, and so forth. What more is there to say? It may be sad in some ways, but then not all marriages are happy either. (There are also some indubitable upsides to being single.)

      A "ministry" of some sort for people in this category seems like a fine idea to me. What's a pickle, is that in the case of heterosexuals, such a ministry would probably take the form of a "singles" ministry, perhaps divided into young singles and older singles. And singles ministries tend to be oriented towards providing a way for people to get together on the path to marriage; which, obviously, wouldn't do homosexuals much good. The type of ministry that seems applicable to homosexuals would be one directed at people who have resigned themselves to being single for life -- which category my sister and my best friend certainly do fall into. It could address the question, Once one has realized that this is the state of affairs, what is one to do? But again, this need not be a ministry directed specifically at homosexuals. Homosexuality is just one of the "various reasons" why a lot of people don't marry. (Some don't marry because they are not attractive to persons of the opposite sex; others don't marry beause they're not attracted to persons of the opposite sex. Which group do you suppose is larger?)

      You write, "when it comes to dealing with things like understanding ourselves (both as people and specifically as believers) in the context of same-sex desire or genderqueerness, dealing with homophobic bullying and abuse, etc., I think there's a good deal to be said for queer ministries"

      Do you have a specific idea what a gay ministry should consist of, and what it should do? Is it more or less a mutual support group, something like AA (not equating gayness with addiction, but in AA groups, people come together to share their challenges and successes and offer mutual encouragement in a non-judgmental environment)?

    6. Re your first comment, you're right on target. And I do definitely agree with you that the war between Christendom and glistendom is by no means entirely the fault of the former. LGBT activists have contributed to the conflict as well, in their own way and degree (which I say with less shyness than I might as a former, if very unimportant, LGBT activist.) The chief reason I spend the bulk of my time on this blog talking to fellow believers is that I think we need to concentrate on our own side of the problem -- which I dare say most Christians would, in principle, accept.

      Getting to your following questions: I wouldn't quite say that there are cultures that aren't geared toward marriage -- I mean, it's certainly one of the basic institutions of civilization, so that a culture without marriage would be as strange as a culture without government or a culture without religion. (Such societies do exist, but no one could mistake them for the form that human society usually takes, whether that's bad or good.) However, I do think that our own culture over the last century or so, in contrast to earlier eras, fails to understand, support, and respect the idea that some people cannot marry, or choose not to, or never get a chance to. This is partly because of the decline of Christianity as a social force, but also because the churches themselves -- with the exception of the Catholic and Orthodox, as a rule -- do not seem to expect or accept celibacy; and, in sheer numbers, most Americans are either Protestants or post-Protestants (and the God in whom one doesn't believe can, in His own way, be as influential as the God in whom one does believe). Catholic and Orthodox Christians haven't been altogether immune to this mindset, either, though the disciplines of monasticism and clerical celibacy have kept the category more firmly present in their minds. So, when I called ours a culture "overwhelmingly geared toward marriage [or more broadly, sexual relationships]," the operative word there is "overwhelmingly".

      As to the hardships of celibacy, no, it certainly isn't a new issue. However, partly due to the preoccupation with sexual love that so largely shapes our culture, it is one which I think we (in contrast to our ancestors) have a specially difficult time grasping, because of our own predispositions. And merely recognizing our predispositions, though necessary for any thoughtful life, isn't enough; re-training is needed in order to integrate ourselves, which is a lifetime's task for anybody even in advantageous circumstances. I tend to think, too, that the fissiparation of families makes celibacy disproportionately and unnecessarily hard. I don't only mean divorce here, but also the reduction of the family from a full clan down to the "nuclear" family of dad, mom, and 2.5 children (all five halves of which are expected to move out on adulthood, lest the relationships continue to flower and learn from one another). Obviously this difficulty is not something that can be dealt with through any number of LGBT ministries, however ideal, but I think it's an important aspect of the problem, and that traditionally Christian LGBT people -- who, as a rule, don't start families, but are still culturally expected to move out and live on their own -- are therefore burdened with a more excessive and lonely cross than was perhaps common in previous generations.

    7. You speak -- and others, including friends of mine, have spoken before -- of the fact that the only way to live a celibate life is to live it, one day at a time. You may well be right. You're certainly right that not all marriages are happy. However, if the only answer really is that it just has to be lived one day at a time, then the answer fills me with horror. That may be my own problem; that said, I don't believe I am the only one who has that problem. (That, alone, might be sufficient reason to pursue LGBT ministries, or at any rate ministries to lay celibates.) The thing is, at any rate for someone in my state of life and with a temperament like mine, it's hard to distinguish between what you've written and one of our half-secret nightmares: that we will have to spend every day with no one to share our hearts with, each day like the one before it, watching everybody else enter ministry or get married and begin raising children and grandchildren, and that then, at the end, as we lay dying -- still alone -- we'll realize that we just spent an entire lifetime unhappy.

      A phantasm, a false terror? I sure hope so. But, from here, there's not a lot else I can see -- helping others feels like a band-aid rather than a life-giving solution. The fact that I don't see much else doesn't prove that there *is* nothing else, and I know LGBT celibates who are both happy and untroubled by the fears I've expressed. But, as has been said, it is not the healthy who need a doctor.

      All of this does apply to celibates in general, at least as laymen and laywomen. It might well be better to aim for that group than for LGBT people specifically; I couldn't say. It does, to me, feel different in the case of heterosexuals, simply because (up to a certain point) those who haven't vowed themselves to celibacy still have the possibility of marriage on the table. That may be naivety or even sour grapes on my part, though it's not an uncommon thought, either.

      Whether such a ministry existed or not, though, I don't think it would answer all the needs for which we as LGBT Christians need support. Our life experiences will always be significantly different from those of heterosexuals (even if, for personal or cultural reasons, the significant difference isn't that important to a given person). The AA analogy isn't too far off. I must admit that I don't have a good idea of how it would work. I'm part of one or two queer Christian social networks; they're very informal, but supportive and affectionate. However, that's rather more like an oasis: to be blunt, we hide there, because it's somewhere we can be ourselves without being judged or harassed by fellow believers (or fellow LGBT people who disapprove of our theological convictions). Of course, some of us are out in our everyday lives as well, but even in those cases, it isn't usually in our everyday lives that we vent our frustrations or open up about trials.

      In an ideal world (or at any rate an ideal church), perhaps, we would be able to be that open no matter whom we were with. But, right now, in this place, neither I nor most of my friends have found that to be the case. It's in response to that particular, defined problem -- as opposed to an amorphous metaphysical conceit about something inherent in gay people -- that I write as I do, and suggest what I do.

  10. "Additionally, I don't believe (nor do most of the Christians I have met) that there is, in itself, anything specially bad about homosexuality (as a disposition) or gay sex (as an act)." --- I've read certain writings by saints and such that basically said, homosexual sins are THE WORST evil, despicable, vile sins and that there's a special place in hell for active homosexuals. Even though I'm striving for chastity and celibacy, stuff like that really, really makes me angry and resentful for some reason. It feels like we're already at a "spiritual disadvantage". We're reduced to being deviants. Sure, we may not act on the impulses, but regardless, even just walking and breathing, we're just...messed up.

    1. Sorry, I should have stated that more carefully; when I said that most Christians I've met don't take a vitriolic view of homosexuality, I did literally mean those I have met and spoken with in person. I have met a handful, and read a great many, who have displayed immense, horrific hatred for homosexuality, and I will make no defense of that; it has no Biblical foundation (the Bible spends a lot more time talking about vices like gossip, stinginess, and envy than it does on homosexual behavior), and its historical genesis is as much political as theological, as far as I can tell. As to being provoked to resentment at these judgmental and uncaring attitudes, that's perfectly reasonable; the only response a Christian can make is to forgive (or, if that proves too difficult, to at least work toward forgiveness), but to say that is to admit that it needs forgiving.