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Sexuality and Christian belief (Was: Homosexuality and the Bible)


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The passage is full of anticipation -- but not consummation.

I really hate these discussions, but I am drawn to them like a horrendous car wreck. But mostly I am curious about your approach here. Anticipation, but based on what? If not consummation, then, fantasy? ribaldry?

Really, trying to ween myself away from these discussions. But SoS invariably comes up in my discussions on art and often in terms this thread has taken.

Joe

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Dudes and dudesses, please get a grip. SoS is poetry. Subject to multiple interpretations. It's about sex and appreciation of beautiful bodies, but given the amount of innuendo and figurative language, not to mention whatever might be lost in translation from Hebrew to English, it's hard to assign a single solitary meaning to a given passage to the definitive exclusion of all other possible interpretations. So to say that a particular verse has more to do with anticipation than with consummation (and by "anticipation" I mean anticipation of sexual contact, not to put too fine a point on it) is not to deny what the book as a whole is obviously about.

5:2-6, for all its use of sexually charged language, recounts a missed connection between the lovers. The male lover comes to the door and calls to the female lover; she is thrilled (to put it mildly) just to know he is there; but by the time she opens the door he is gone. I have no interest in going all pseudo-Freudian on this passage to try to discover other layers of meaning, and anyhow, if I did, I'm not sure that what I concluded would be any more valid than Augustine's gloss on Ps. 137.

Interestingly, the ESV editors have broken the text into sections according to the speaker. And judging from how they've done it, it's not clear to me that those editors believe there really is a rivalry between Solomon and another male for the bride's affections.

Edited by mrmando

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Okay, so. Where do I begin?

Some big picture observations, to start with. (Kristen, you made me do this!)

I agree, first, with Attica that the sexual revolution can usefully be seen as a reaction (or overreaction, or misguided reaction) to earlier, overly negative and fearful sexual attitudes, commonly identified with Puritanism and Victorianism, both of which have roots in (though they are not identical to) medieval Catholic attitudes.

It's true, too, that medieval Catholic attitudes toward sex were (with caveats, to come!) deficient and overly negative, significantly due to Augustine's influence — ironically, not only because of Augustine's massive influence in general, but precisely because of Augustine's sexual history. Having lived with a woman and fathered a child gave Augustine great authority to speak on the subject to Christian clerics and religious seeking to exemplify the teaching of Jesus and St. Paul regarding celibacy.

I also agree with the source Kristen cites, not necessarily about everything, but that the early medieval view of sex was significantly influenced by prior classical views, particularly certain schools of Hellenistic philosophy (e.g., Stoicism) and neo-Platonic thought, which were hugely influential in early Christian thought.

Reason in Hellenistic philosophy was often seen as a divine element in man, elevating him above the beasts. Reason and spirit were exalted, in some cases, at the expense of the body, which was sometimes seen in a negative, dualistic light, e.g., as a fleshly prison binding the soul to earth, preventing it from rising to its proper heavenly sphere.

In the Christian world, these attitudes influenced the Gnostic and Manichaean heresies, and while orthodox Christians rejected these heresies, they were influenced in more subtle ways. The Pauline dichotomy of "flesh" and "spirit" was not identical to the dualistic Greek dichotomy, but the connection was easy to make. (Likewise the Johannine contempt for "the world.")

Pushing the matter back another step, the classical Greek exaltation of reason and skepticism regarding the body and the passions can itself be seen as a reaction (or overreaction) to earthy heathen practices: nature-worship, fertility cults, sacred prostitution, and so forth. Against the backdrop of Roman decadence, it was easy for the early Christians to perpetuate this overreaction, to treat sex with contempt because the dangers of its misuse, of its glorification and tyranny, were so evident all around them.

I'm not sure I would go so far as Chesterton in Saint Francis of Assisi in describing the medieval Christian journey into asceticism as a period of "penance" or "purgation." Still, it's quite possible to see its excesses and deficiencies in light of the opposite excesses and deficiences of earlier times.

Certainly there's some sense, at least if the Judeo-Christian worldview in any form offers us any wisdom at all, to Chesterton's description of how the human experience of sex seems especially prone to imbalance and exaggeration — not least when we try to domesticate it and treat it as no different from any other sphere of human activity:

What had happened to the human imagination, as a whole, was that the whole world was coloured by dangerous and rapidly deteriorating passions; by natural passions becoming unnatural passions. Thus the effect of treating sex as only one innocent natural thing was that every other innocent natural thing became soaked and sodden with sex. For sex cannot be admitted to a mere equality among elementary emotions or experiences like eating and sleeping. The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant. There is something dangerous and disproportionate in its place in human nature, for whatever reason; and it really does need a special purification and dedication. The modern talk about sex being free like any other sense, about the body being beautiful like any tree or flower, is either a description of the Garden of Eden or else a piece of thoroughly bad pyschology, of which the world grew weary two thousand years ago.

The Garden of Eden reference, of course, recalls to mind that the very first consequence of man's rebellion against God was the experience of shame, specifically shame of nakedness, sexual shame. Our bodies are good, but they are also a source of shame. The organs of generation are good, but fallen man instantly knows that they must be covered up. There is a need for modesty. The Victorians and the Muslims with their burkhas may have taken things to extremes, but there's something there right from the start.

Within several generations of Adam, polygamy makes its first appearance. In Genesis alone, both concubinage and polygamy mark the stories of God's chosen patriarchs, along with references and allusions, veiled and otherwise, to incest, sodomy and rape.

I've already had occasion to note the penchant of the Hebrew scriptures for euphemism, metaphor, ellipsis and circumlocution in this area (though as Peter notes explicit language was available if it was wanted). Even the Song of Songs, for all its eroticism, is hardly frank or explicit; on the contrary, it elaborates on this penchant for figurative language sometimes to the point of opacity. (Obviously the difficulties it poses for us are significantly a matter of cultural context, and some of its figures were surely, as Peter suggests, transparent to its original audience. In other cases, though, its artful language may have been as unclear as some pop song lyrics today.)

Appetite and pleasure generally are seen in the OT as goods, but goods that must be moderated and regulated, not only through the avoidance of sin but through disciplines such as fasting. This could apply to sexual appetite as well, as when God commanded the Hebrews to abstain from sexual relations for three days before receiving the Torah at Mount Horeb.

In the NT, Jesus takes for granted that his disciples will continue to fast ("When you fast," he said, not "if," and the preservation of his words in the early Jesus tradition and the Gospels is an indication that fasting was indeed practiced in the early Church). Jesus' teaching on "eunuchs for the kingdom," and St. Paul's preference for celibacy and somewhat concessionary attitude toward marriage, as well as other strands of NT teaching (e.g., the reference in Revelation to those who "have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins," and of course Mary's virginity) contributed to an early Christian exaltation of virginity and (almost inevitably) a relative devaluing of marriage, despite insistence on its goodness and holiness.

One NT passage warrants special notice: St. Paul's teaching that, unlike every other sin, the one who sins sexually commits sins "against his own body." While this saying may seem somewhat obscure (e.g., doesn't the glutton also sin against his own body?), it resonates with the sense, suggested in the Hebrew scriptures and certainly present in early Christian belief, that sexual sins, while they may not be morally worse than other sins, are somehow different or graver in some way. For whatever reason, sex is unlike other appetites — and not just unlike, but a special problem of some kind. The Chesterton quote above is very much to the point here.

A mark of the early Christians was their heroic fearlessness of death, not only facing martyrdom but also facing disease and plague, which did not deter them in their works of mercy. This appealing fearlessness reflected the premium they placed on faith and charity, but it also reflected, it seems to me, an ethic of detachment from worldly entanglements that seems less appealing to us today.

At a time when Christian converts with pagan families or even pagan spouses might face opposition of various kinds within their own households and fidelity might mean death, Jesus' "hard teaching" about "hating" family members and even one's own life carried greater weight. In an age of martyrdom, attachment to pleasure and fear of suffering were especially prone to be a stumbling-block to salvation.

The early medievals, like Augustine, didn't personally face imperial martyrdom, but they were profoundly shaped by the example of those who had. They were also, as noted, influenced by classical thought, and aware of the earthy excesses of much of paganism which had also shaped Hellenistic and neo-Platonic thought. That doesn't mean their mistakes weren't mistakes, but it puts them in some perspective.

In modern times, Christian thought has been more struck by the ratification of our human nature in the doctrines of man's creation in the Imago Dei and of the Incarnation. From this perspective, normal human attachments and affections are primarily seen, not as potential sources of temptation or possible rivals for God, but as divinely created and redeemed modes of existence defining the parameters for how we as human beings are to glorify God in our lives. In a word, we are humanists, if Christian humanists.

Of course, this humanistic attitude also dovetails with our age's default milieu of moralistic therapeutic deism, which is primarily interested in God insofar as He can help us live the lives we want to live. Perhaps our humanism, like the medievals' ascetic rigor, warrants at least some cross-examination and additional perspective. (I say this as a dyed-in-the-wool Christian humanist.)

By the same token, perhaps the medievals' ascetic rigor warrants at least some rehabilitation — particularly if it isn't entirely as negative as it's sometimes been portrayed.

Kristen's quotation is from a term paper written by Paul Halsall, then a graduate student, now a PhD (Fordham) who self-identifies, FWIW, as an "English Historian who just happens to be Gay, Catholic, and a Democratic Socialist." (As one would expect, Dr. Halsall has noted that while this paper "may still have some interest," it "does not represent my current ideas, or what I would regard as publishable material.")

I'm uncertain whether anything in Halsall's brief account of negative medieval attitudes toward sex is clearly false, though of course it (necessarily) oversimplifies, and in some respects it's misleading, AFAIK. (Not that I'm any expert! I'm just doing my best based on my own eclectic readings.)

For example, let's take the trope of marital sex being permissible only "if you did not enjoy it too much." While "inordinate" or "immoderate" attachment to pleasure was certainly a concern in medieval thought, how did the medievals define what was "inordinate" in this regard?

Opinions differed, of course, and there were dyed-in-the-wool anti-hedonists who considered reason bound to take offense at any bodily pleasure (in which case no pleasure could be "ordinate"!). But this was apparently not the predominant approach.

For the most august medieval authority of all, the Angelic Doctor, Thomas Aquinas, "immoderate" or "too ardent" passion consisted in preferring sexual union to union with God as one's last end. That is, idolatrous sexual passion was "immoderate." This view was also advocated by others, including St. Bonaventure and St. Bernardine of Siena.

Another definition held that passion was "immoderate" if a man would not be deterred from seeking it with his wife even if, hypothetically, she were not his wife — in other words, if he were willing to sin mortally for it. This view was also advocated by, among others, Bonaventure again, indicating that the two standards are really two sides of the same coin.

Note that what is really at issue here is not the intensity of pleasure ("how much you enjoy it"), but one's level of attachment to or desire for such pleasure, which must, like all attachments, be radically secondary to devotion to God.

In that regard, while St. Thomas agrees that sensible pleasure must always be regulated by reason, his way of defining that in relation to the sexual act is extraordinary. He says: "The delight which occurs in the matrimonial act, although it is most intense in quality, does not exceed the limits fixed by reason before its commencement, although during this delight reason cannot set the limits."

In other words, in the throes of sexual union, passion overwhelms reason, and yet the spouses have committed themselves to this act while in command of their reason, so that it was chosen freely, by rational spouses capable of rejecting idolatry. Again, by the "limits" of delight Aquinas means not their intensity, which reason has no power to govern, but our attachment to it and the lengths we will go to for it.

Aquinas's theory of pleasure in sex was linked to his larger theory of pleasure in general. While, as noted above, some extreme Christian asceticists insisted that reason must spurn all pleasure, for Aquinas the moral character of pleasure depends on the moral character of the act occasioning it; "the pleasure proper to a worthy activity is good and that proper to an unworthy activity bad." Aquinas says that the marital act is good, and therefore the pleasure experienced in it is also good — however intense it may be (however much you may enjoy it).

So. I'm not sure how much that settles, but it's certainly a place to start, and today it looks like a place to finish too.

Edited by SDG

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Thank you SDG. With a couple of quibbles, I'm still finding myself nodding along with the overall gist of what you've expressed.

Couple of thoughts. While I completely agree that there IS something to the idea of modesty. It does get a little tricky when it comes to culture. For instance in some cultures a womans ankle showing out from underneath her dress could be a sexual turn on, whearas in our culture its most likely no big deal. We also could see a girl in a bikini and barely look twice, whereas 50 years ago this would have had steam blowing out of a guys ears.

Culture is in flux in these things, in some ways our culture is more modest than it was in the 60's and 70's, in other ways, not so much.

I'd also agree that not all of early Christian asceticism was necessarily negative. Of course there was a period in medieval times when it largely became that way. But some of the early asceticism could be viewed more along the lines of far Eastern thought, like in the martial arts. The idea of mastering and taming the body in order to help bring the person into more of a fullness of life, of good living. Not of punishment or condemenation.

Edited by Attica
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Couple of thoughts. While I completely agree that there IS something to the idea of modesty. It does get a little tricky when it comes to culture. For instance in some cultures a womans ankle showing out from underneath her dress could be a sexual turn on, whearas in our culture its most likely no big deal. We also could see a girl in a bikini and barely look twice, whereas 50 years ago this would have had steam blowing out of a guys ears.

No argument there.

I'd also agree that not all of early Christian asceticism was necessarily negative. Of course there was a period in medieval times when it largely became that way. But some of the early asceticism could be viewed more along the lines of far Eastern thought, like in the martial arts. The idea of mastering and taming the body in order to help bring the person into more of a fullness of life, of good living. Not of punishment or condmenation.
That's certainly part of the puzzle, yes. In Christian thought, additionally, there's also the reality of concupiscence, of wayward passions and unruly inclinations unsettled by original sin (however that's understood). Ascesis is apprenticeship in self-mastery, both with respect to acquiring self-discipline and with respect to getting our wayward passions under control.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Thoughtful response, Steven. Despite our fundamental disagreements throughout this thread, I agree with most of the overview you presented.

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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Thanks for the brief feedback so far, all. I'll continue my line of thought as I have opportunity … and eventually this will lead to the answers Greg has been asking me for. (You see why I've been slow to answer, Greg? smile.png I know you only wanted yes or no answers, but this is how I have to do things.)

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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  • 2 months later...

Worth mentioning: In NBA player Jason Collins's "coming out" article, he wrote:

I'm from a close-knit family. My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding.

Which is a clever way of undercutting/sidestepping the typical conservative response. Maybe not entirely fair, of course, but clever.

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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I'm getting gay married in 2 1/2 weeks! We'll be skipping the song of solomon reading in favor of some Wendell Berry.

Congratulations!!! What state are you you getting married in?

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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  • 1 month later...

Since this thread now addresses the general topic of sexuality, I'll post this here... I watched The Sessions this weekend, which of course addresses the issue of the severely handicapped and sexuality. (And by severely, I am referring to those like O'Brien in The Sessions who are completely unable to care for themselves, are unable to use their hands to bring self-release in the area of sexuality and whose prospects of marriage are effectively zero)

This recent Vice piece (Warning:tastefully done but very NSFW!) more or less prompts the same question as the film, i.e. are there morally acceptable ways for the severely handicapped to express their sexual urges or does the Church demand complete chastity? Are there no exceptions to this? Caregivers provide physical and sometimes emotional relief for the disabled, so is it morally unthinkable for them to sometimes provide masturbatory relief as as part of a more holistic approach to caregiving?

Edited by Greg P

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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That's an interesting question, Greg, but I'm not sure it follows from watching The Sessions, which isn't about masturbation but is about a man who pays to have sex with another woman. Actual, physical sex between two people.

I know you've pushed the envelope in talk of what might be sexually permissable, but before we delve into the "masturbatory relief," I'd like to know if you think what the movie depicted, which was a form of "relief" that goes far beyond masturbatory, is acceptable. I didn't, although the idea of some sort of sexual relief for the disabled is not something I have a blanket answer for. I just know that in the case of The Sessions, I pretty much checked out as soon as the moral dimension (which was raised, the movie's credit) was dismissed (in a way so embarrassing that I thought the moral dimension would have been better left out of the story).

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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That's an interesting question, Greg, but I'm not sure it follows from watching The Sessions, which isn't about masturbation but is about a man who pays to have sex with another woman.

I think both the Vice piece and the film raise a similar issue of the severely disabled and their sexuality; something (apparently) commonly confronted in palliative care and yet rarely discussed. To what degree do we allow these patients who typically cannot marry (thru no choice of their own) and are incapable of self-gratification, to express their sexuality? I don't have an answer, if there even is one, but i found it compelling that a form of therapeutic masturbation seemed, in the case of the Japanese caregiver, to provide some clinical relief and provide a sense of well-being to her "patients".

Re: the Sessions-- I'm not willing to necessarily "give a free pass" as the priest admittedly does rather glibly in the film, but I'm probably apt to be a lot more sympathetic and permissive than the average religious conservative. The poor man wanted to experience what a woman felt like. I didn't get my feathers ruffled over that or the fact that he plunged into the prospects with a "sex doctor" with relative abandon.. I mean, really... in that predicament, which one of us wouldn't be thinking the exact same thing? He was of necessity ostracized and confined to his iron lung most of the day. His quality of life lower than almost humanly imaginable, with no hope of recovery. His opportunities to have a normal relationship-- sexual or otherwise-- were for all practical purposes, nil. Would not some form of sexual relief be permissible, under a Christian worldview for such individuals, even if it wasn't intercourse?

Edited by Greg P

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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Would not some form of sexual relief be permissible, under a Christian worldview for such individuals, even if it wasn't intercourse?

I'm not sure about some form. But I feel confident that the form of relief he actually pursued wouldn't be/isn't permissable. I also question the woman's characterization of herself as a "sex surrogate" (do I remember that correctly?) and not a prostitute. I'm not sure I see a distinction.

EDIT: I don't mind this discussion here, but should we move some portion of it, or the subsequent posts, to the dedicated discussion on The Sessions?

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I'm just gonna throw this out: I thought to ask while watching the Vice video, Are the services provided for women as well? Turns out their website addresses that question on it's homepage, which I find rather disturbing:

We haven't pursued this because we haven't received any requests from them ... There is the possibility that some clients choose not to speak up because it's too painful for them to do so.

But there is also the possibility that these women don't even want the service and people around them are making this an issue.

In some ways it's wrong for people to speak as if they understand the needs of disabilities when they don't.

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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I didn't find the response on the website disturbing at all. For the record, i did find the Vice story extremely sad, disturbing and oddly, touching. The fact that only men have requested service, may speak to the cultural reservations of women in Japan. It may speak to the overwhelming biological needs of men. I don't know.

Would such a service be less problematic if there was a mechanical device of some sort that facilitated this process for the disabled, instead of a direct human agent?

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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I didn't find the response on the website disturbing at all. For the record, i did find the Vice story extremely sad, disturbing and oddly, touching. The fact that only men have requested service, may speak to the cultural reservations of women in Japan. It may speak to the overwhelming biological needs of men. I don't know.

Or of how men view women in Japanese culture?

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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Alan Chambers of Exodus International apologizes to the gay community. There's also apparently going to be an announcement tonight about changes in the Exodus organization.

Recently, I have begun thinking again about how to apologize to the people that have been hurt by Exodus International through an experience or by a message. I have heard many firsthand stories from people called ex-gay survivors. Stories of people who went to Exodus affiliated ministries or ministers for help only to experience more trauma. I have heard stories of shame, sexual misconduct, and false hope. In every case that has been brought to my attention, there has been swift action resulting in the removal of these leaders and/or their organizations. But rarely was there an apology or a public acknowledgement by me.

And then there is the trauma that I have caused. There were several years that I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions. I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today. They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there. The days of feeling shame over being human in that way are long over, and I feel free simply accepting myself as my wife and family does. As my friends do. As God does.

Edited by Tyler

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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Tyler said.

:There's also apparently going to be an announcement tonight about changes in the Exodus organization.

Like this?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Here is what the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) [the denomination in which I hold standing] did this week at our biennial General Assembly: http://bit.ly/18rsBW7

 

I wish I'd been there to share in it.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is "old" news now, but Pope Francis' statement to the press over the weekend is still a headline story. Of course some conservative Catholics are quick to point out that the Pope's statement doesn't quite say what the media thinks it says, that such statements are not so contrary to Pope Benedict's positions and that this buzz is mostly liberal spin, intended to forward the homosexual lobby.

 

As a non-Catholic, I take a less cynical approach to the buzz. Seems to me like a very hopeful, positive development for gay priests (and there are many) and for homosexual Christians, of all denominational stripes.  

On the flipside, it's hard not to smell conservative's fear when bloggers like Akin have to immediately issue a 1,500-word, multi-point clarification on what the Pope *really* meant in his off-the-cuff remark to reporters.

Edited by Greg P

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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Ross Douthat:

Now it’s certainly true, as a host of Catholic writers quickly pointed out, that this doesn’t depart from official church teaching on human sexuality, and indeed invokes the language of the Catechism (commissioned by John Paul II and overseen by Joseph Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI) to make its point. Which, means, in turn, that a lot of the more breathless coverage has exaggerated the significance of the pope’s words, and overhyped the gap between what he’s saying and what his predecessors might have said.

But at the same time, the context of the remarks — the specific subject being addressed, and the larger pattern of Francis’s words and deeds — do magnify their significance beyond the “newsflash: pope still Catholic” norm that defines a lot of these soundbite controversies. First, the pope does seem to have been talking specifically about gay Catholics in the priesthood. Indeed, according to this translation, the words quoted above followed a question about the case of Monsignor Battista Ricca, a recent papal appointee with an alleged gay relationship in his past, which inspired Francis to a long riff about the importance of forgiving past sins. And given that Benedict XVI’s Vatican specifically reasserted the rule that men with a “deep-seated” attraction to the same sex should not enter holy orders, the tone of Francis’s remarks alone — the forgive-and-forget response to a particular case, and the broader “who am I to judge” — does seem striking and newsworthy. Consider, by way of contrast, what Benedict said to Peter Seewald, his longtime interviewer, when asked about the subject of gay priests: . . .

The settings are different and the questions are different, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vatican issued a clarification shortly explaining that the official rules for seminary formation are still very much in effect. But still, such a tonal difference, from ”the miseries of the Church” to “who am I to judge,” on a fraught, high-profile topic is surely newsworthy, even if the news media inevitably offered misinterpretations of its significance as well.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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