In one of my comment boxes below, a reader named “valientmauz” offered the following post:
This response may seem strange to you, but here goes.
I am a gay woman. I am a former Catholic. I do not agree with the Church’s position on many issues, sexual identity being at the top of the list, followed closely by the ordination of women.
That said, I am BOTHERED by my community’s response to Catholics.
I wholeheartedly support the right of the Catholic Church to believe and preach Catholic teaching.
I have no idea how religious rights and gay rights (as now constituted in Bill C-38 can coexist.
As a former Catholic, a gay woman, and a Canadian, what can *I* do to make sure that *your* rights are respected?
Let me begin by saying welcome to “Waiting in Joyful Hope”! I do not find your presence here strange, and indeed I welcome it. The Internet is an amazing tool for people of all backgrounds and ideas to come together.
I appreciate what you are saying in your post, and I also appreciate the integrity with which you offer your comment. My delay in replying is because I really do want to take your question seriously. With regards to “your community” I presume you are referring to the gay community. Apart from the suggestion to start a blog :-), here are my thoughts:
- Defend freedom of speech
Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in a paraphrase of Voltaire’s thought, famously expressed a key principle of freedom of speech: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. It seems to me that this can be a key principle within the gay and lesbian community with regards to a developing a modus vivendi with the religious believers generally, and the Catholic Church specifically. Irritants will arise, as free speech itself does have limits: for example, speech meant to arouse violent passions can and should be restricted (inciting a riot is still a crime), and in turn it should be recognized parents do have the right to direct what free speech will be directed to the impressionable minds of their children. But the general principle I’ve cited I think is a good place to start.
- Support gays and lesbians who wish to live chastely
There are a great many persons out there who live with some degree of same-sex attraction, and among them are individual Catholics who desire to live according to the Catholic teaching on chaste sexual behaviour. Just as there are many heterosexuals (myself included) who seek to live a chaste unmarried life, we should not be surprised to discover that there are homosexuals to seek to do the same. And yet persons with same-sex attraction often report that they get very little support within the gay community for the idea of celibate chastity. Certainly, mutual support groups like Courage are often held in contempt, and people like Dave Morrison are bitterly criticized. If the issue really is maximizing freedom and choice for gays and lesbians, it seems to me that this should include the freedom to not be sexually active, and that people who — in freedom — choose this path, should be supported.
- Join the pro-life movement
You may be wondering why I have thrown this in here, but it is my conviction that participation in the pro-life movement will open the eyes of many gays and lesbians to the reality that the Catholic Church is not the enemy many think it is. There is a lot of talk lately about the possibility of pre-natal (and even genetic) factors that contribute to the development of a homosexual orientation. Now imagine a test could be developed to detect such factors while the baby was in utero. How many parents would choose to abort such a child? Plenty, I’m willing to bet, and because the gay liberation movement is so beholden to radical feminism for its philosophical background it really has no basis from which to object. What you would then see is the odd spectacle of Catholic bishops and priests (myself among them) standing up to defend the life of these unborn (potentially) gay and lesbian human beings. If only out of self-interest, gays and lesbians should be members of the pro-life movement in a proportion quite a bit larger than their percentage of the population.
- Zero-tolerance for the sexualization of children
It is terrible to say it, but there is a segment of the gay population that proposes that minors be legitimate objects of sexual desire and contact with adults. The North American Man/Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA, was founded to promote pedarasty as a legitimate lifestyle. Its website offers its stated aim: “Our goal is to end the oppression of men and boys who have freely chosen, mutually consensual relationships.” And one of the key articles on the site is entitled “Man/Boy Love and the Gay Movement”. (To my readers: I simply refuse to provide links to these things. Look them up for yourselves if you really want to see what’s what.)
Now I know that there are many voices in the gay community who denounce such organizations, but the community does not always speak with one voice. There has, for example, been consistent opposition to legal projects to raise the age of consent for minors from within the gay community. Both EGALE and CLGRO also submitted briefs in opposition to Bill C-2, which aims (among other things) to prevent child pornography. Finally, many of the sex education programs proposed now for our schools are so graphic in their presentation that they undermine the virtue of modesty, a virtue designed to protect privacy and the right to conscience. Perhaps you, valiantmauz, can be a voice within the gay community to keep a focus on the protection of our children’s innocence, and a support for the rights of parents (of whatever background) to have a more direct supervision of this key area of the development of their child’s character and identity.
- Resist sexual idolatry
The first chapter of the letter to the Romans, which is so painful for many gays and lesbians to read, equates homosexual sexual activity with idolatry. I always found that unusual, until someone pointed out an article from the gay publication Xtra to me, entitled Fear of daisychaining. It could easily be a classic description of sexual idolatry.
What is idolatry? It is the elevation of something which is in itself good, to the status of being a good far beyond what it deserves, until it becomes something to which we pledge our lives and around which we construct our personalities. Sexual activity can easily become a form of idolatry, if we invest too much of our self-identity in it, and seeks from it a greater degree of happiness than it can promise. At a minimal level, we deny any legitimacy to the “hate the sin, love the sinner” argument of our opponents, because we *become* our sexuality to an almost religious level. Fr. Benedict Groeschel writes that he always resists identifying people by labels like “gay” or “lesbian”, because those terms imply a whole personality structure and way of life. Instead, he prefers to refer to such individuals as persons who happen to have a particular sexual orientation. But Fr. Benedict’s distinction between “person” and “act/orientation” is strongly resisted within the gay community, something which will have poisonous consequences in the long run. In life we regularly separate Person and Act with principles like “hate the sin, love the sinner” — principles parents apply every day when they discipline their children. Rejecting this principle per se leaves very little foundation left upon which to construct an ethical system, unless your only source of ethics is the raw exercise of free will itself. And in that case, anything goes, like this proposal from within the gay community to explode even the idea of monogamous gay marries to include polyamorous ones. In the end, worship of an idol becomes worship of self — a terribly lonely place to be, and ultimately a source of slavery as we end up serving the idols we set up.
In the end, valiantmauz, I suspect that many individual gays and lesbians think along the same lines as you. For myself, the central social issue isn’t really homosexuality, but homosexualism. The former is an orientation, the latter an ideology, whose most radical proponents seem to have control of the public voice of the gay community. Not all within the gay community agree with this ideology, however, and some even fear that the radical proposals it put forward will result in a dangerous backlash. John McKellar of Homosexuals Opposed to Pride Extremism is one of them. Perhaps you should give him a call, valiantmauz…..I’m sure he’d be happy to know he isn’t alone.