Homosexuality and the Resurrection of Disability

The Catechism teaches that, while all people are equal in dignity, God also makes differences among people. “These differences belong to God’s plan, who wills that each receive what he needs from others, and that those endowed with particular ‘talents’ share the benefits with those who need them. These differences encourage and often oblige persons to practice generosity, kindness, and sharing of goods.”

I have not always appreciated the ways in which God has made me different. For a long time, I used to pray that God would make me stop being gay. It gave me particular struggles. It made discernment difficult. It was painful. All I could see was a disordered and broken part of myself that I’d rather do away with. I had failed to grasp the truth that, as C. S. Lewis once put it, “every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will ‘turn the necessity to glorious gain.’”

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Whose Gayness? Which Homosexuality?

I have an essay that has been published over at Ethika Politika today, a combined response to four recent articles pushing the “don’t say gay” claim.

In it, I explore the meaning and value of gayness from a historical perspective in conversation with two queer intellectuals—Michel Foucault (a lapsed Catholic atheist) and Marc-Andre Raffalovich (a devout Catholic convert from Judaism). Here is a brief taste:

History always involves a certain amount of anachronism, of reading the past in light of the present, precisely because history is something constructed in the present. Despite professing to be an attempt to raise our level of moral virtue (and I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of this profession), the “don’t say gay” claim, applied to history, robs gay people of almost all of the great examples of moral virtue they have. By ripping up our current cultural framework for the understanding of sexuality, we might legitimately claim that men like Hopkins and Raffalovich weren’t really gay at all, but at what cost? Once you’ve redefined faithful, orthodox gay Christians out of existence, and once you’ve erased them from history, the claim that you can’t be gay and a good Christian simply becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You can read the rest here.

Sin and Sexual Minorities Part 1: Introduction

In Christian discussions about sexual identity issues, the notions of “sin” and “morality” often come up. Typically, gay sex is in focus. There are often complaints about how the gay community is promoting particular sins or forms of sexual immorality. As someone who holds to a traditional understanding of sexual ethics, I agree with some of these concerns.

However, I think this is a far too limited way to view sin and morality. Christian morality cannot be reduced to sexual ethics; other issues are critically important as well. Furthermore, many complaints by Christians demonstrate much greater concern about certain sins committed by sexual minorities than about sins committed against sexual minorities, if sins against sexual minorities are acknowledged at all. Sins against sexual minority people are in fact serious and common, and as Matt Jones discusses in “What Is Love?,” true concern for sexual minorities requires us to acknowledge and fight these sins.

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Sexual Ethics and the Trinity

God reveals Himself primarily as Father. What does that mean for our understanding of marriage?

Even in Christian culture, marriage is often seen primarily as a romantic and erotic union between a man and a woman. Thus, it has become more and more common, when we want to speak theologically about marriage, to talk about the image of Christ as the bridegroom of the Church.

Moreover, the widespread availability of contraceptives has made children seem a somewhat secondary, and voluntary, addition to marriage. Christians are not as inclined to reflect deeply on the connection between marriage and children as earlier Christian generations did.

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The Story that Led Me Here

It all started in the first grade: my deep affinity for stories. For as long as I can remember, I’ve made sense of the complexities of the human experience through stories. I found solace in my suffering by resonating with others’ stories. I found answers to some of life’s big questions in the context of stories. And I’ve made an ongoing decision to allow my own story to fuse into the greater one that’s been whispered through the Scriptures, through the historical Church, through the God who came to dwell among us to invite us into His giant story of restoration.

It’s within the context of that beautiful story of redemption that I make sense of my experience as a woman who likes women and loves Jesus. I declared to myself that I was gay when I was fourteen years old, and then to my family at the age of seventeen. Shortly after coming out, I was taken to an ex-gay ministry where I spent a decade learning about the way of Christ with some incredible people that I treasure to this day. I found a community who loved Jesus and extended endless grace to me, a community I desperately needed as a confused teenager trying to make sense of a chaotic existence.

During my decade with Exodus, I grew to love Christ more than anything else in the world. God’s giant story of redemption was the foundation of every teaching, every piece of advice, every reason behind every step I was encouraged to take at every point in my process. But inherent in the redemption they proclaimed was an assumption that redemption entailed a shift in my orientation—a shift from gay to straight. So I stopped my old habits, confessed every attraction, shadowed straight girls, dated cute guys, and stopped calling myself gay because as a man thinketh, so he is. But I was still a girl who liked girls. I was still gay.​

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Talking about Bicycles

One of the common criticisms of a traditionally Christian sexual ethic is that it forces a lot of gay people into involuntary celibacy, which some find very lonely, painful, frustrating.

I want to start by saying I think this critique is at least partially right. Trying to be faithful to a Christian sexual ethic without the support of either a spouse or a religious community is difficult. When you add misunderstanding by many in the Christian community, the task is only made more difficult.

In this post I want to focus in particular on how to be honest about all that is painful and difficult, while still holding firm to the hope that obedience to Christ is good for us, that by conforming our lives to His will, we will blossom and flourish in some meaningful sense, even if we also face significant struggle.

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Why the Church and the World Need Celibate Gay Saints

Recently there has been a “coming out” pandemic amongst celibate gay Christian bloggers. First Matt Jones—previously known as “Jordan” but now blogging under his own name at A Joyful Stammering (and Spiritual Friendship)—went public about his identity. Then Catholic blogger Steve Gershom revealed to the world that he is actually Joey Prever.

For two reasons, this trend is good news for both the Church and the world. The first, as Matt Schmitz points out, is that given the increasing acceptance of homosexual relationships in the West, the Church can no longer expect its teachings on sexuality to be credible if they are presented merely in syllogisms. If gay people are to be convinced that the Church has something to say that is worth listening to, that message will be best received when it comes from gay Christians themselves, and is shown forth in their lives. If the Church wants to speak credibly about homosexuality it must be prepared to speak “in the first person,” just as it has recently made an effort to teach the truth of Christian marriage by canonizing married saints and encouraging first-person experiential accounts of living out the Church’s teachings on marital love.

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My Early Education

This is the third in a series of posts looking at my Catholic Faith, and how it relates to my life and my sexuality. Click to see the first and second installments.

I consider it a strength of my early upbringing that the particularities of sexual identity were not a primary topic of discussion. Although words like “gay,” “straight,” and “bisexual” were known to me, I felt no urgent need to make these categories a significant part of how I viewed myself.

From the age of about five, I attended St. Joseph Catholic School in Bryan, Texas. It was a small parish school; I don’t recall my class size ever exceeding thirty-five students. I grew up in a loving family, with a mother, a father, a brother eighteen months younger than me, and a sister about three years younger than him.

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