(Sorry, Ron, for stealing for your title)
We’ve written a lot here at SF about Crisis Magazine’s profiling of the “New Homophiles” over the past couple of weeks. I think a lot of the response is because this is the closest that we’ve come to direct engagement with the people that tend to cause us frustration: the people who seem to be responsible for behaviours that we would characterize as “homophobic.” For me, at least, there’s always a hope of being able to engage in constructive dialogue both with the LGBTQ community, and also with those within the Christian community who struggle to be able to present an even remotely charitable response to homosexuals. In one of Ron’s earlier blog projects he used the image of a bridge, and I always thought it a very beautiful image for what it is that we try to do: we are attempting to make of our lives, our thoughts, even our bodies a bridge connecting the Christians church with LGBTQ people.
The response that we’ve received from Crisis shows us that, at least with some people we still have an awfully long way to go. Today Ron tweeted a link to the forums at Suscipe Domine, which you shouldn’t read unless you have a deep desire to go home and cry into your oatmeal. (As you can see, I’ve included the link in order to help you in this project. Please consider offering up your tears for the GCN conference this weekend.)
I’ve just broken Josh Gonnerman’s first law of staying sane on the internet: I went and read some of the comments on Chris Damian’s Crisis article. I probably had the same reaction as most other Spiritual Friendship readers who made the same mistake. It seemed like the responses had nothing to do with the article. I rankled at the too-familiar accusations of “relativism” “spreading confusion” and “pride.” Damian’s article seemed to so clear, so lucid, so charitable and full of good will that I couldn’t understand how it provoked that kind of response.
Then my husband suggested that instead of getting angry I should try to think about the Crisis readers the same way that I think about people on Truth Wins Out. When an ex-ex-gay says something that I really disagree with, or calls the pope emeritus Pope Palpatine XVI, I very quickly and easily forgive them. I understand where they’re coming from, I see their hurt and I don’t feel inclined to blame them if they say something insensitive about my faith. So my husband suggested that I try to find a way of relating to and understanding the way that Crisis readers feel when they post the kind of comments that make my blood boil.
Josh Gonnerman has already written a fine response to Austin Ruse’s Crisis Magazine article. There is one point that I wanted to address that I didn’t think he covered, which is the belief within a lot of conservative Catholic circles that any kind of intimate friendship between men and women is “playing with fire.”
I suppose that I should begin by pointing out that I am a convert—that’s true of most of the people here on Spiritual Friendship, but many of my friends and colleagues here are converts from Protestant churches that share this kind of suspicion when it comes to mixed-sex friendship. I’m a convert from liberal Anglicanism via atheism so I was never raised with any of these ideas. It was always just normal for me to have male friends, and it was normal for my male friends to have female friends.