More on same-sex marriage and gay lifestyle
response to my article of August 4 "Where
do you stand on the issue of same-sex marriage?", Laura Kuntz has sent
the message and reflection below. Thank you Laura. I'll put a few comments at
end of article.
I didn’t want to write a long response to your thoughtful response to me on gay marriage because I think you, in your blog, are trying to do something bigger than that – I think you are trying to uncover and discover, and see what happens. And, I think you’re doing a good job of that.
You also seem like a loving guy, so, I’m going to respond in detail here to your comments about gay folks:
Richard Giannone, a retired Fordham University English professor who is gay writes in his recent autobiography, “Until I came to New York at the age of 32, in August 1967, I shared my gay identity with only a few close friends. That’s the way it was then, before Stonewall: Get a job, keep it, survive the dangers of gay life -- blackmail, loss of job, street beatings, religious censure, arrest, countless forms of legal harassment, and murder. Safety trumped freedom. I lived, worked, and prayed in fear. I certainly could neither respect nor trust authorities.”
Gay folks have come a long way from this point, thankfully, and I’ll bet you’d agree with my comment, “thankfully.” Obviously, Richard’s life, at that point was one of fear. But, now gay folks are calling the question. They are saying, “I don’t believe you when you say you love me, when you call my God-given way of being in a life-long, loving, relationship sinful, wrong or ‘objectively disordered.’”
In the civil arena, they follow on with, “Doesn’t my relationship deserve the dignity and legal protection of a civil marriage license?” In the church arena, they are saying, “Doesn’t my God-given way of relating merit being accepted, supported, and, yes, honored?” They add, “Am I not worthy of being considered a child of God, too, just as I am, and including the way I relate?” They don’t buy the argument, “I love the sinner, hate the sin,” and, if I were in their position, nor would I. The bottom line is that they are calling us on our theology. And, it is really, really important, if we are people of love, that we wrestle with this.
This calling of the question by gay folks, their families, and their friends, can raise hackles. After all, in the scheme things, this is a relatively new issue. Sexual orientation was articulated by the psychological profession only 150 years ago. It was only about 40 years ago that that same profession formally stated that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and is healthy and simply one of nature’s derivations. (40 years is not much time in spiritual years, but it’s a long time for gay people and their loved ones to wait.)
How do we wrestle with this issue? Well, of course we can read. We can talk to our colleagues and friends. We can look to the teachings of our church or the general consensus in our community and/or family. But, the key method of wrestling should be (yes, I use the word “should”) listening to gay people, one on one, directly, over and over again. Seeking to understand what they are saying, why they are saying it, their life experience, what drives them, what they want for themselves, how they see themselves and God. I think this same “should” stands for judging or evaluating any group of people. And, I think as we get to know people, quite frankly, we tend to stop judging and evaluating. We simply want what is best for them. Being with people is our great teacher.
So how would gay people (or their close family or friends) look at the comments of Frances or at your concerns about the physical health of gay men who have an active sex life?
I think they would say that the thinking of Frances is outdated and in the minority. That the current, formal position, of the psychological profession is that:
- Homosexuality is innate, whether by nature or nurture or a combination (and the profession doesn’t know which it is).
- That quality gay relationships are healthy, physically and emotionally, and are life-giving.
- That attempting to get gay people to reduce or change their gay orientation to one that is inactive or heterosexual is potentially destructive and harmful.
The psychological profession works with a lot of gay people. They’ve spent a lot of time on this and have done a lot of research – for more than a hundred years, actually. But, for me, more importantly, the current formal stance of the psychological profession is confirmed by my personal experience. When I was 22, my roommate began realizing that she might be lesbian. She was not a rebel in any way. She also had plenty of boyfriends. Over several years, she went back and forth in this area, and by her late 20’s, she was in a lesbian relationship. As she went through her journey, I knew she was leaving a lot behind: our joint friends, broad acceptance, the opportunity for children, possibly the love of her family. I don’t think this is a route she ever would have chosen, and, in fact, I believe that her journey took courage and sacrifice. In our parlance, she picked up the cross, but in so doing, was rewarded with an authentic journey.
Then, my beloved sister, Stephanie, came out in her mid 20’s after having lost touch with our family for two years. That was a painful and worrisome two years, where I tried to contact her several times. Then, all of a sudden, she announced that she was flying home to visit and bringing a friend, a woman. We were so glad to see her. Stef also is not a rebel. She’s easy-going, likeable, and likes to be liked. She had plenty of boyfriends, as well. I don’t think that being lesbian was a route Stef ever would have chosen either.
For those of us who have witnessed gay folks struggle with their journey, we simply tend to come from this viewpoint:
- They wouldn’t have chosen this.
- They are children of God, and God made them and their journey.
- Their long-term, committed relationships seem beautiful, loving and life-giving.
- Therefore, their relationships are good.
And, I think gay folks come to this same conclusion.
Instead of coming to the above conclusion, the Catholic church teaches that gay folks sin when they participate in an intimate relationship with another person. They hold what to me is an extreme, impractical, and unkind view, that from the time a gay person realizes that he/she is gay (about age 15+/-) and he/she dies (age 85 to 95), he/she, for those 70 to 80 years is never to have an intimate relationships, sexual experience, life partner, or a “better half.” This is the only group of people for whom the church mandates this. Everyone else has a choice of celibacy or marriage. The implication of this teaching is clear – “you were made wrong,” and, essentially, “keep it in the closet.”
With regard to statistics on physical health of gay folks:
· Heterosexual people get plenty of sexually-related diseases: herpes, HIV, hepatitis, etc. In fact, HIV is running rampant in Africa due to heterosexual sex. If we say that male gay sex is wrong because it is at times related to disease, then is heterosexual sex wrong because at times it is related to disease?
· Lesbian sex is associated with a very low rate of disease. Does that mean it should be the preferred method of sex?
The Scottish bishop made a claim that gay men die, on average, earlier. I have not seen credible evidence on this that teases out the effect of AIDS. Of course, heterosexual Africans, on the average, are dying earlier due to AIDS as well.
I know plenty of very decent, intelligent, mature gay men. There is no way that they would not be careful of their health. And there are lots and lots of ways to express sexuality with a partner (most married couples in long-term relationships know this). I cannot believe that they would not be aware and take action on what they believe to be healthy for themselves. And, I think we have to trust them to do that. Here is an article that offers a bit of info on this area.
But, I think the question is not is the gay sex act good or bad, or is the heterosexual sex act good or bad, but, instead: when we do it, how, and with what motivation? A great source for looking at this is Margaret Farley’s book, Sexual Ethics. In my mind, she lays out demanding, but excellent, principles.
John, if you've reached this point, THANK YOU FOR READING this long email. And, thanks, again, for "being out there," and seeking to do what you can to move this church away from hurt and back towards love and dialogue.
Thank you Laura for above reflection. This sure is not a simple topic.
As I said in my August 4 article, I think Jesus would warmly welcome gay people. No doubt there must have been some among the "outcasts" he often befriended
Therefore I think the Church should do the same. This means Communion for gay people, albeit in a way that does not send the wrong message to young people
But at the same time, gay people, like everyone else, have a voice in their DNA continually saying "Can I love God and others a bit better? Is there anything in my way of life that is contrary to the Gospel?"
would encourage people to read Can Homosexuality Be
Healed? by Francis MacNutt. He mentions many issues raised in your
e.g. "It was only about 40 years ago that that same profession formally stated that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and is healthy and simply one of nature’s derivations"
Francis explains (p.36) how in 1973 the American Psychiatric Association gave in to extreme pressure from gay lobbyists, even though most psychiatrists disagreed with the vote. The change of policy was the result of intimidating lobbying, not conviction
Francis is the only author I know who courageously discusses the medical aspects of anal sex. All the medical evidence indicates that the back passage (of male and female) was not meant to be penetrated by anything....and if it is penetrated, it easily tears, bleeds and is disease-prone. The good intentions and motives of sincere people practising an activity are not relevant to assessing the safety of the activity, just like the good intentions and sincerity of drivers is not relevant to assessing the safety of their vehicles' steering, brakes etc
If you know of any article that addresses this problem, not in terms of "heterosexuals also get diseases" but an article with medical information about the safety or otherwise of anal sex, please let me know
The safety or otherwise of anal sex is basic to the whole question of (male) same sex marriage. But no one wants to talk about it. It's a taboo subject. Would that a kind doctor might post an article on this topic.
websites also worth checking:
Exodus International Desert Stream Regeneration Ministries
bless everyone honestly open to dialogue on this very special topic.
This website will publish any respectful article on this topic