My follow-up piece is up on First Things. There are a couple of qualms I have about the final form—for which I take full responsibility for having rubber-stamped it too quickly—which I’d like to clarify:
1) I should have spent more time emphasizing that whether one identifies as “gay” or as “struggling with same-sex attraction” depends significantly on one’s experience. I don’t want to negate the experience of those who identify as SSA; that may well be the best approach for them. Some of that is there in this piece, but it should have been clearer.
2) The quote from Melinda Selmys was not in my original draft, and on reflection I’m less sure that I’m comfortable with the role that it plays in the final piece. I would be more comfortable phrasing it thus:
In response, some say specifically that one should not regard homosexuality as a significant part of who one is; the line of reasoning here seems to be that it is exclusively a matter of temptation, and thus is something one fights against (the same variation, differently framed, says that being gay means engaging in or being open to engaging in homosexual activity). For some, this may be true to their experience, and I would agree in that case. It is not, however, my experience. I have experienced my orientation towards my own sex in a wide variety of ways. There is the purely sexual, but there is also the aesthetic, the emotional, the romantic. It would be erroneous to suggest that there is no connection amongst them, but it would also be erroneous to suggest that the distinctions don’t have real meaning for the way I live my life as a Christian, or that there is not genuine good which arises from the non-sexual elements of that orientation, which is not present in the purely sexual elements (on which, see the interesting thoughts blogged by Melinda Selmys).
Having said that, I would have omitted the following paragraphs with the actual quote.
3) Another point that was probably not made sufficiently clear in the original: I wanted to emphasize that the moral obligation I am talking about is something I feel, not something I would say applies to everyone who identifies as gay (or same-sex attracted). Different people have widely differing circumstances, and it’s not always prudent to do what I’m doing. Heck, as the professor writing to Rod Dreher noted, it’s not entirely clear that it’s prudent for me, but I’m doing the best I can!
Joshua Gonnerman lives in Washington, DC, where he is pursuing a doctorate in historical theology. His main focus is on Augustine, and he hopes to dissertate on Augustine’s doctrine of grace. He has also occasionally published in First Things, Spiritual Friendship, and PRISM Magazine, where he makes small attempts to help re-orient the way the Church related to gay people.