Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Are there closets in heaven?"

More Catholic Babel over sexuality in the Church of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

I'm becoming more convinced that Pat Buchanan is right: we are an "infantile nation," which makes AmChurch an infantile religion. Look, it's all quite simple in a way and really doesn't demand all the adolescent blood, sweat, and tears that people are pouring into the sexuality wars. Here it goes: we are far, far more than our sexuality. That's pretty much it.

Yes, sexuality is a critical aspect of our human nature. But it's extraordinarily complex (and therein lies its simplicity). It cannot be reduced to biology/genetics on the one hand, or individual choice on the other, nor is it just social/cultural conditioning. Why can't it be a multivariate thing or a "mystery," as is everything else that's truly human? I really don't see how this is a controvertible point at least from a Catholic POV.

Sexuality is but one dimension of our individuality. It is NOT identical with the self, personhood, or one's identity. Therefore there is no such thing as a "homosexual" or a "heterosexual," ontologically speaking. Humans have the capacity to reduce themselves to one dimension of their appetites, as in the case of over/undereating, but few would accept that individuals are reducible to their eating habits and inclinations. I may be a bulimic, but that's just one part of who I am, and not a very good part at that. It's not just eating, we do it with our political ideologies, ethnicities, families, anything appetitive.

Eros is poorly understood in American culture. Rather than seeing the erotic in all dimensions of our humanity, we've fragmented, demonized, reified, ontologized, and fetishized it. As Catholics, we should have no problem admitting that the erotic underlies all intimate human relationships, including those between family members, friends of the same sex, even between ourselves and Christ. Eros does not mean sexual, coital, or erogenous, though they all are clearly dimensions of it. Eros is also expressed through our food, our music and arts, through our liturgies and prayers. It's a good thing in and of itself. We'd save ourselves a lot of trouble if we created a culture that celebrated a healthy sense of eros in which we can admit same-sex attraction without automatically fearing the onset of sex, with all its naughtiness and eroticism. Same-sex attraction needs a culture that isn't afraid of it and thus can properly guide, mold, and sanctify it. We don't live in that culture unfortunately. When bishops and priests play right into this "Dignity" game, they're capitulating to this radically eros-phobic culture's terms. They're no longer true shepherds but wolves in sheep's clothing.

There's nothing in the sexual teachings of the Church that exempts heterosexual behavior from the judgments laid upon homosexual behavior. If I have any complaint with the Church's predominant magisterial and pastoral approach to homosexuality, it's in the way its communicators have made homosexuality out to be a special case, something ontologically different from heterosexuality. In so doing it buys into the world's definitions of what eros is. But sin has corrupted eros in human sexuality, all of it, which therefore needs redemption and deification. To obsess over sexual orientation (or the silly issue of which gender in general really turns your erogenous zones on) is a myopia that's causing so much of this distracting and foolish sturm und drang we call sexual politics.

Church teachers on sexuality need to tie together more explicitly how pornography, sex addiction, adultery, masturbation, fornication, pederasty, pedo/ephebophilia, sodomy, etc. are all of a piece in the mind of the Church; they're all distortions and perversions of human eros. Whether heterosexuals are committing them or homosexuals are committing them is really a secondary issue, if one at all. In this sense, "homoes" aren't all that different from "heteroes."

Things get really messy when gays demand that the Church not just accept them as sinners like all the rest of us, but their hypersexualized anthropology (sexuality-is-identity). And the Church rightly rejects this anthropological doctrine, which derives mostly from the same victimization culture that demands America view blacks as ontologically victimized blacks first and foremost. This anthropology is just as, if not more, dehumanizing as homosexual acts themselves. The evilness of homosexual acts derives from this demonic anthropology. So I refuse to look at my self-proclaimed gay, straight, bi, or whatever friend as a sexual orientation. Sexual orientation doesn't even have the same ontological density that race/ethnicity does because it is far less determined by genetics than skin color, and the Church doesn't even grant skin color ontological status.

The Church ultimately calls us to one sexual orientation: spouse-sexuality, not heterosexuality per se. I'm not supposed to be attracted to every member of the opposite sex. Rather my sexuality must be oriented, expressed, trained, and sanctified towards my spouse exclusively, whether that be a wife, husband, parish, diocese, Christ, apostolate, or mission. But being a "spousesexual" is not normlessly determined by individual will and desire, nor is it primarily a "pelvic" matter. Like everything else it must conform to natural and divine law. Hence, the otherness of human gender is implicated and requires that spouses be Other to each other. Homosexual unions cannot be spouses in any Christian sense because they deny the otherness of gender, which is carved no less into our very DNA and our theological origins as male and female. If the Logos did not think human gender mattered, it would have assumed hermaphroditic flesh or angelic androgyny.

In conclusion, is homosexuality disordered? Yes, no less than heterosexuality in the modern world is, but differently nonetheless. We go off the rails once we start differentiating sexual heresies quantitatively, rather than theologically. Too many Catholics think the Church teaches homosexuality to be more sinful than heterosexuality, as if sin operated on a scale of one to ten. The Catholic gay agenda is warped for its anthropological heresy. The hyper/pan/heterosexed culture we live in is warped for its denial of eros and ascesis. Are there "closets in heaven?" Of course not, but heaven is redeemed, deified eros. Only the most grotesquely childish, infantile religion would suggest heaven is a place where we get to freely express our sexual deviancies like finger paint.

Catholics who have same-sex orientation definitely have a difficult cross to bear, one I dare not suppose comprehension, but so do porn addicts and pedophiles (calm down, stop being defensive; of course they're not morally equivalent, for what it's worth). Sexual orientation is no more and no less under the jurisdiction of individual will. Therefore, to speak of SSA simply as a matter of choice on the one hand or determinism of any kind on the other is ridiculous. Redemption is never just about individual choice or will. It is a participation in the divine energies of Christ. It is a battle in which holy ascesis and virtue determine victory and defeat. But any Catholicism that plays to the gay agenda is a clear path to disaster and theological suicide.