Why I Call Myself a “Gay Catholic”

“Gay” is a silly term. That narrow category misses the complexity of the human experience. And given the way that language grows and develops over time, I don’t think it will last the century. Just as “gay identity” has usurped “homosexual identity” in the culture at large, I now see “queer identity” coming into prominence. In a tumultuous rise and fall of “acceptable” language, the constant change of words demonstrates the fragility of identity politics. But I insist on calling myself a “gay Christian,” a “gay Catholic.” Continue reading “Why I Call Myself a “Gay Catholic””

What is sexuality?

“When we talk about love, we mostly talk about ourselves, especially if we can discreetely praise ourselves in the process.” -David O’Connor

I’ve been writing about issues related to Catholicism and homosexuality for several years, and some of my readers’ confusions have come from my use of the word “sexuality.” I make assertions that cut against common parlance. For example, I recently asserted that unmarried Catholics should be more sexual. In a post on chastity and sin, I asked, “What would it mean for the celibate person to have a flourishing sexual life?” And I have insisted that gay Christians need to live out their sexualities in a positive way in order to pursue the Catechism’s “integrative” approach to sexuality.

Part of the confusion comes from readers familiar with my commitment to the Catechism. They don’t always see how my claims cohere with it. I take the Catechism at face value. So when I advocate a “flourishing sexual life” for gay persons, I don’t mean pursuing sexual-genital activity. But people want to know what I (and the Church) mean by “sexual” in these conversations. Continue reading “What is sexuality?”

Do we want gay Catholics to be chaste?

In my first post, I discussed two approaches to sexuality. The first approach, the “avoidant approach,” focuses on how to avoid concupiscence. It sets this avoidance as the grounding point for responding to human sexuality. The second approach, the “integrative approach,” focuses on bringing together one’s sexuality so that it can be lived out fully. While many Catholics promote the former, the Catechism’s presentation of chastity adopts the latter. Continue reading “Do we want gay Catholics to be chaste?”

Two Views on Chastity and Sin

In my previous post, I wrote about two approaches to human sexuality: the “avoidant approach” presented by many Catholics, and the “integrative approach” presented by the catechism.

Sin no more

These approaches are analogous to a discussion of sin in John 18:11. There, Jesus tells the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.” A common reading of this passage teaches that Jesus commands her to no longer commit adultery, or any other active sin. But this reading misses more nuanced and compelling translations of the Greek text. Continue reading “Two Views on Chastity and Sin”

What we get wrong about chastity

Two years ago, Paul Blaschko wrote about issues during his time as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. For example, when Blaschko approached a priest on staff about beginning a group to discuss issues related to sexual formation, the priest “seemed confused by the request” and asked what these issues would include. Blaschko identified such topics as sexual identity, masturbation, and pornography. The priest simply responded, “I don’t think anyone who masturbates should be in seminary.” He further said that the disclosure of masturbation or habitual “impure thoughts” would represent a “serious formation issue.” After that conversation neither Blaschko nor his classmates brought up the idea again, wondering whether openness about these issues could lead to dismissal from seminary.  Continue reading “What we get wrong about chastity”

Is the Catechism homophobic? Depends on who’s reading it

In a recent interview, Father James Martin voiced a common concern over the catechism’s language on homosexuality. He said:

“I’m no theologian, but I would say that some of the language used in the catechism on that topic needs to be updated, given what we know now about homosexuality. Earlier, for example, the catechism says that the homosexual orientation is itself ‘objectively disordered.’ But, as I say in the book, saying that one of the deepest parts of a person — the part that gives and receives love — is disordered is needlessly hurtful. A few weeks ago, I met an Italian theologian who suggested the phrase ‘differently ordered’ might convey that idea more pastorally.”

I would be open to changing (or “updating,” as Fr. Martin has put it) the catechism’s language on homosexuality. But, contrary to Fr. Martin’s commentary, not because I believe the language is incorrect or out of touch with reality, but because almost no one uses or understands this language in its proper context. The language is not wrong. It’s misunderstood. And this leads to some of the worst pastoral approaches to the issue, from both the right and the left. Continue reading “Is the Catechism homophobic? Depends on who’s reading it”

“The Gay Issue”: Broadening Same-Sex-Attraction

This post is the fourth post in a series on understanding “same-sex-attraction.” The three previous posts were:

One very complex concept that I have discussed is the idea of “attraction.” Defining and understanding the idea of attraction can be very difficult. What does it mean for a person to be “attracted” to another? What does this attraction consist of? What are its limits? By now, it should be obvious that when I use the words “same-sex-attraction,” I am using them somewhat differently from how most people use them. Most people use the words “same-sex-attraction” as the Catholic Church defines homosexuality, “relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex.” In particular, they understand same-sex-attraction as a desire for sexual pleasure with or from someone of the same sex. For these people, same-sex-attraction may also be called same-sex-lust. If this is the proper understanding of same-sex-attraction, then same-sex-attraction is intrinsically disordered. Continue reading ““The Gay Issue”: Broadening Same-Sex-Attraction”

“The Gay Issue”: Within Catholicism

This is my second post on understanding “same sex attraction.” To read my first post, “On Terminology,” click here.

For those who are Catholic, the first place to look for understanding these issues is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism is “a complete summary of what Catholics throughout the world believe in common.” The text dedicates three paragraphs to “homosexuality.” These paragraphs are placed within a section on “The Vocation to Chastity.” The first paragraph describes the Catholic understanding of homosexuality. The second rejects any unjust discrimination against those with “homosexual tendencies.” The third calls homosexual persons to chastity. Continue reading ““The Gay Issue”: Within Catholicism”