They help challenge the Church’s current stance towards homosexuality.
I'm glad you talk about Augustine and I've always kind of been fascinated regarding the changes in sexual teaching in the Church and I'm often reminded that for most of Church history it basically taught what you can have sex and enjoy it, but only if you intend to have a child ... and marriage is a compromise with the fallen nature of human kind (of course today it is a sacrament). Part of what bothers me is that ToB kind of opened up at least straight sexuality and admitted that sexual relations were a good in and unto itself (and Humane Vitae flirted with this) It's almost schizophrenic in that on one hand the Church wants desperately to hold on to connecting sexuality to procreation yet also open it up to thinking about it as an genuine expression of love. I think, if anything, work on the Church's teaching regarding sexuality is very unfinished and these two seemingly diametrically opposed ideas need some creative and Spirit inspired inquiry. Thanks for your writing on this.
What if you reverenced the act of YOUR creation? You have dignity, you are made in God’s image. The act that created each of us should be treated as sacred, holy. The act that creates each of us deserves respect.
As a woman it is hard to forget that act brings new life no matter how much I may want to use it to express love and devotion. A young woman’s formation with menstruation, bodily changes and the monthly reminders creates a very different reality regarding the act.
Civilization depends on the act to create the next generation, another reason to treat it with reverence and respect.
Acts that imitate the act of life shouldn’t cause people to disrespect or disregard the sacredness of the act of life that happens between a man and a woman, but we don’t regard the act as we should. We are casual about it, make a joke of it, make it a vulgarity (I.e. your f-bomb), make it a selfish act. What if you treated the imitation acts with respect out of reverence for the real act, the act that produces life and conveys love.
All imitation acts (contracepted acts , homosexual acts) can distort the fullness of the act of life. Who does this hurt? Ultimately, it makes the act of your and my creation less precious and beautiful.
"If straight Christians get to paint over the views of those early “negative” theologians when it came to sexuality and desire, then don’t LGBTQ+ Christians get to do this as well?"
Presumably the reason we do not get to do this, is that, for the CC, straight sexuality is - evils such as concupiscence apart - morally & teleologically good. Whereas homosexually is "intrinsically disordered" and "can by no means be approved". So that it is not morally & teleologically good. So that, in the nature of the case, a gay relationship, however real the affection, care for each other, generosity, faithfulness etc., shown in the course of it, would be impossible to regard as a good thing.
I think the quotation is comparing things that - if one holds to the Church's teaching on homosexuality - are not in reality analogous, but are instead crucially different.
From the POV of the Magisterium of the CC, I think a same-sex union is wrong, not incidentally or indirectly, but entirely, intrinsically and directly - unlike a canonically valid marriage, which will be wounded by human sin, but not, in itself, be a sinful undertaking. That seems to be the thinking anyway.
The CC has always allowed for the possibility of holiness within marriage; that there could be such a thing, was not thought up in the last few years, but goes right back to the NT. Whereas the Church has never allowed for the possibility of holiness in even a committed and faithful gay relationship.
Chris, this is an insightful and inspired piece. I very much enjoyed the clarity and depth of your analysis. I can tell you have struggled with this issue and are motivated by a genuine desire to bring some measure of relief to LGBTQ+ Catholics striving to reconcile their sexuality and faith. As I am all too well aware, the Church is often less than helpful on this front.
I strongly agree with you: The Church must work toward "a more dynamic integration of Augustine and John Paul II and a general rejection of the theories peddled by West and Evert." As you note, the true impact of JPII's ToB on the Church's approach to human sexuality is still unfolding. While I welcome what this has meant in terms of love and sexual erotic expression for heterosexual Catholics, there is still much serious work to be done for LGBTQ+ Catholics who, quite frankly, have been either ignored (at best) or harmed, as you effectively point out above.
Keep up the excellent work.
I love this article, as I do your other research.
I appreciate the effort to include several survivors' experiences alongside the thorough research.
I think there’s a basic methodological error in the following approach:
1) I have a certain experience that inclines me to certain kinds of behavior. 2) But since official church teaching condemns said behavior, I have a conflict to resolve. 3) Rather than accept that my will and experience is not the final arbiter of what is true and good, and undertake the difficult work of purification of the will and metanoia, I will concentrate my attention on demonstrating that my inclinations are justified and the church is wrong… so that it’s the church that should change, rather than me.
It’s very easy to reason poorly out of one’s concupiscence, and the result can be a kind of warmed-over rationalization, deeply informed by a hermeneutic of suspicion, which causes one to look at the world through a specific lens of brokenness and to re-read all of the tradition in the light of what one desires to be true.
A surer path is to accept the wisdom of a mystic like Saint John of the Cross, who wrote: “Since a double measure of bitterness must follow the doing of your own will, do not do it even though you remain in single bitterness.”
Everything surrendered to God with generosity and trust is, in the end, transformed and made resplendent when it is then received back from God transfigured and illuminated by a wisdom and joy that can only be received from the Creator, not produced by the creature.