Tag Archives: sexual orientation

God’s Rainbow Realm (Matthew 13:44-46)

The kindom of heaven is like a buried treasure found in a field. The ones who discovered it hid it again, and rejoicing at the discovery, went and sold all their possessions and bought that field.

Or again the kindom of heaven is like a merchant’s search for fine pearls. When one pearl of great value was found, the merchant went back and sold everything else and bought it.

Mathew 13: 44-46

Untitled Self Portrait with C.B.M. by Kim Leutwyler @ http://www.celesteprize.com/artwork/ido:56554/

Let’s play “word substitute.” Instead of “kindom of heaven,” let’s read “sexual orientation” and “sexual identity.” The parables then would read sexual orientation is like an unknown treasure that once discovered brings great rejoicing. And sexual identity once discerned is as rich and glorious as a pearl of the greatest value.

If you are playing this game with straight friends they will not get how freeing and affirming these parables are. For them, sexual orientation and sexual identity have never been hidden or sought after. It’s hardly a treasure but more of a given constant. For queers, however, the discernment of deep identity markers which set us apart from the (hetero) norm can be either an experience of anxiety or liberation – often a mixture of both. Even more reasons for us to identify with the thrill of these parables. Leutwyler’s self portrait captures the sense of  “neediness” which lends urgency to the searching and boundless joy in the finding

-continue reading at  The Bible In Drag – Queering Scripture.

Exodus’ Official Position on Reparative or Conversion Therapy

The California House recently passed a bill outlawing reparative therapy for youth under the age of 18. The Senate is set to vote in coming days. With the media abuzz, we have had numerous calls from news reporters across the country, asking for our opinion and position. Many others have simply mischaracterized Exodus International as a reparative therapy organization. One such instance was a newscast on an ABC affiliate  in San Francisco. The reporter stated that our “members now live heterosexual lives—many with spouses and kids—because of reparative therapy”. We have written this statement to clarify our ministry objective which highlights the mission of Exodus International.

 Exodus International supports an individual’s right to self-determine as they address their personal struggles related to faith, sexuality and sexual expression.  As an organization, we do not subscribe to therapies that make changing sexual orientation a main focus or goal. Our ministry’s objective is to equip the Church to become the primary place where people of faith seek support, refuge and discipleship as they make the decision to live according to Christian principles.

We believe in a “gospel-centric” view, meaning that all people, regardless of individual life struggles, can experience freedom over the power of sin through a daily relationship with Jesus Christ, a commitment to scripture, and by being a part of a vibrant, transparent and relational community of believers found in the local church.  Exodus is partnered with more than 260 churches and support-based ministries who serve individuals and families experiencing a conflict between their faith and sexuality.

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Does Benedict Oppose Gay Priests?

Andrew Brown thinks so, based on the relevant passage in Seewald’s book. I hesitate to comment with any conviction until I have read the full passage myself, but the published extracts are disturbing and important. Up to now, there have been some signs of a more rational approach to homosexuality under this papacy, but some of these views strike me as just wackadoodle. Benedict is widely acclaimed as a great and subtle theologian, but he could do with some lessons in basic facts of gender and sexuality.
For example:
We could say, if we wanted to put it like this, that evolution has brought forth sexuality for the purpose of reproducing the species.

If he wishes to reason from evolutionary biology, he should read some evolutionary biologists. Joan Roughgarden, for instance. Both she and Bruce Bagemihl have shown that evolution is not purpose-driven for anything at all, least of all that of reproduction. Evolution is an arbitrary process, not a strategy, that works by creating diversity. Out of this diversity, heterosexual coupling and reproduction is one common by-product – but same sex coupling, same sex reproduction, and even adoption by same sex couples are also outcomes of that diversity. Furthermore, simple observation in the animal world also shows that in complete contradiction to Catholic doctrine, sexual diversity, even among opposite sex pairs, is by no means restricted to procreation. There is a great deal of non-reproductive sex too, for purposes ranging from group conflict reduction, through social bonding, to simple sexual pleasure. The animals, it is clear, pay scant regard to the Catholic Catechism.

This is the it that really winds me up:

“….  homosexual candidates cannot become priests because their sexual orientation estranges them from the proper sense of paternity, from the intrinsic nature of priestly being.”
The clear implication here is that gay men are “estranged” from a proper sense of paternity.  Hoo boy! This betrays some really nasty ideas about the nature of priesthood, with its glorification of “paternity” over “maternity”. As any number of people have observed over the abuse crisis, the priesthood would be a great deal more caring if we allowed some more maternal qualities into it – but I leave the ladies to take up that theme. I am more concerned by the cock-eyed idea that gay men lack “a proper sense of paternity”. There are millions of gay daddies out there -just you try repeating this crap to their children (mine, for instance).  The presence of a strong sense of paternity is also amply demonstrated by the strong demand by gay male couples to be approved as adoptive parents, a demand which is confirmed by the strenuous and wrong-headed efforts by some Catholic bishops to prevent legislative approval for gay adoption. If there were no sense of paternity, there would be no demand, and no need to oppose the legislation.
The evidence from the real world is that gay men can indeed be fathers, some of them are so, others want to be so  – and the evidence from empirical research, not theological ivory towers, is that collectively they are at least as good as any others (even in some animal species). Some individuals are exceptional parents. The suggestion that their lack of a “proper sense of paternity” excludes them from the priesthood is just plain hooey.
Then there’s this:

If someone has deep-seated homosexual inclinations–and it is still an open question whether these inclinations are really innate or whether they arise in early childhood–if, in any case, they have power over him, this is a great trial for him.
If he had made any attempt to investigate the real experience of these people with “deep-seated tendencies” he would surely known that the “trials” they experience are not based the orientation itself (which many impartial experts and many societies see as a source of spiritual strength), but the prejudice and homophobia they encounter – such as the profound ignorance displayed by Benedict himself.
The three statements I have commented on share an important characteristic: they are used to support major decisions of church discipline and sexual ethics, but are based on absolutely no actual evidence, none whatever. This is what gives theology a bad name.

“The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion.”

— Thomas Paine, in The Age of Reason
Paine overstates his case, but the examples above show he has a point.
Benedict has often emphasized that theology needs to be based on both faith and reason. He is right – but I wish, oh how I wish, that he could apply his widely acknowledged powers of reason to something based on, you know, evidence, from science or anthropology. Ground it, in fact, in reality.
(Here are the full extracts quoted by Andrew Brown in the Guardian. Read the full article, with his useful commentary, at the Guardian “Comment is Free“)

“The Congregation for Education issued a decision a few years ago to the effect that homosexual candidates cannot become priests because their sexual orientation estranges them from the proper sense of paternity, from the intrinsic nature of priestly being. The selection of candidates to the priesthood must therefore be very careful.
The greatest attention is needed here in order to prevent the intrusion of this kind of ambiguity and to head off a situation where the celibacy of priests would practically end up being identified with the tendency to homosexuality.”
“Sexuality has an intrinsic meaning and direction, which is not homosexual. We could say, if we wanted to put it like this, that evolution has brought forth sexuality for the purpose of reproducing the species. The same thing is true from a theological point of view as well. The meaning and direction of sexuality is to bring about the union of man and woman
And, in this way, to give humanity posterity, children, a future. This is the determination internal to the essence of sexuality. Everything else is against sexuality’s intrinsic meaning and direction. This is a point we need to hold firm, even if it is not pleasing to our age …
Homosexuality is incompatible with the priestly vocation.
Otherwise, celibacy itself would lose its meaning as a renunciation. It would be extremely dangerous if celibacy became a sort of pretext for bringing people into the priesthood who don’t want to get married anyway.”
“The issue at stake here is the intrinsic truth of sexuality’s significance in the constitution of man’s being. If someone has deep-seated homosexual inclinations–and it is still an open question whether these inclinations are really innate or whether they arise in early childhood–if, in any case, they have power over him, this is a great trial for him, just as other trials can afflict other people as well. But this does not mean that homosexuality thereby becomes morally right. Rather, it remains contrary to the essence of what God originally willed … For, in the end, their attitude toward man and woman is somehow distorted, off centre, and, in any case, is not within the direction of creation of which we have spoken.”

“are human beings with their problems and their joys, that as human beings they deserve respect, even though they have this inclination, and must not be discriminated against because of it. Respect for man is absolutely fundamental and decisive.”

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