Saturday, October 28, 2017
A Gay Man Returning to the Catholic Church?
It was in an online discussion of Milo Yiannopoulos’ interview with the Jesuit magazine America. Myself I thought Milo had done a great job of it. Matt, a 20-something gay friend of mine, who’d grown up in a very Catholic town, weighed in to say he was stunned a Jesuit magazine had even agreed to interview Milo. This same friend had recently surprised me with the news that he was attending Mass again. He'd even gone to Confession.
I’d describe Matt as brilliant, precocious, complex. Though part of Catholic culture, he’d always criticized the Church, and for the years I’ve known him was certainly far from being a “practicing Catholic”.
Our discussion that day, in chat, is very brief, but I want to post it because it allowed me to summarize a few points I keep wanting to make--points that also relate to Milo's interview.
Thing is, Matt was already despairing over his future as a practicing Catholic. Here’s how it went:
MATT: Meh. I probably won't go back to Church. I don't want to live a celibate life, and I can't be arsed spending time around people who consider me fundamentally immoral and spiritually disordered. Some crosses are too heavy to bear.
MYSELF: But here's the thing--the point, if I may raise it, that I think you're missing. I don't think any really serious Catholic will think you're "fundamentally immoral". Or rather: they will think we are all fundamentally immoral.
The mistake of post-1960s Westerners is to assume that we are fundamentally defined by our sexuality. This is why we’ve been subject to so much of the SJW cultural ranting regarding this whole question. I myself have come to realize that this shift in the definition of the person is more a late effect of Protestantism, bending toward Gnosticism, than anything else. The shift has taken in many Catholics too. But it's a mistake; it's a modern perversion of the faith. Even the coded definition of people as hetero or some letter of LGBTQwerty is a modern invention. Most cultures through most of human history have just recognized that humans are sexual.
Something eccentric is going on with us. We're out on a limb in our basic anthropology, and we're moving further and further out.
So if I were you, I'd keep thinking this through. And I don't think you're even close to fundamentally immoral. You're probably more fundamentally moral than plenty of the others attending Mass. Milo in his interview was right, I believe, to recognize that he has sin, but that the sin society defines him for is not his worst sin--rather that pride is a more dangerous sin.
One option is to, as it were, cordon off your sex life for the time being. By which I don't mean to actually become celibate, but rather to allow the contradiction to exist, but put it aside while you keep faith with those aspects of the Church's tradition that you can.
I haven't had coffee yet, so I'm not so sure these points are well put. But I think they're very important--that we've been more or less brainwashed by the culture into assuming that our definitional center is sexual behavior. It is not. Even most of the Christians around us are in this respect more "late modern Westerners" than they are Christian. But you don’t have to be.
MATT: Good points. And thanks for the advice! Maybe I’m being over-dramatic on this question.
I'm not all that obsessed with sex anyway. I just worked myself up into a tizzy thinking, "Who are THEY to demand that I be celibate!"--without realizing that, in theory at least, all Catholics could spend their lives celibate if they go unmarried.
I'll keep thinking these things through, and continue with my experiment. In any case, I'm not in a relationship at present.
* * *
And that was that. Myself I don’t know how most gays or lesbians will react to my points, but I do stand by them as important. The contemporary world, especially post-1960s, has sex on the brain in ways that warp what is essential in both the meaning of personhood and the meaning of faith. And, I'd add, in the meaning of sex itself.
Have some deadpan with your coffee. Check out Idiocy, Ltd. Dryest damn humor in the West.