Friday, 16 March 2012

Gayness...


Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man's innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men's carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

Oft does the Sacred Liturgy contain words most apposite for our time and needful for us to know. I do think, however, that the stance of the Roman communion on this civil matter of the proposed redefinition of marriage is rather inconsistent. Forgive my ignorance but if homosexuality is as depraved, unnatural, perverse, ordered to the destruction of Christ's Church and the dignity of man as their doctrine makes clear, then why would they wish to treat homosexual people with any compassion or understanding? Surely the Scriptures admonish you to expel the wicked from among you? I am, of course, alluding to personal experience of Roman Catholics. They do not understand, and therefore there is no way that a thick mick priest can engage with a homosexual, in the confessional or otherwise, in a pastoral way. I think I speak with some authority when I say that homosexuality (and how I hate using that word! Do any of you seriously think that such terms encapsulate me?) is not a personal lifestyle choice, made on a whim, still less a temptation in the manner of food or drink. It is inextricably ontological, so utterly pervading that not a day goes by without the thought of it. I knew what I was far back into the earliest years of my life, and no amount of; ''no Patrick, boys kiss girls,'' made any difference to me whatsoever. You cannot reason your way out of it, or try to suppress it in the name of religion, as I did for so many years. That way leads to sadness and wrath.

What I find so strange about prejudice about homosexuality is where people think it is purely a sexual deviance - probably one reason I dislike such terms as ''homosexual.'' I think that a lot of gay men are driven purely by their bodies' needs, and I do not identify with the modern LGBT movement, or any aggressive activism bethought it of contempt for Christ's Church; but they err who equate all men together in this way. As I said, do you think that such terms as ''homosexual,'' ''pansy,'' or poofter'' portray an accurate picture of me? I am so much more than that. Can any Roman Catholics, so ''upright'' and ''sapient,'' explain why, as a boy, I preferred to go with my grandmother to the Royal Ballet than to the lake fishing with my father? Can any of you explain why I enjoyed helping my mother do the ironing more than other, more typically ''masculine'' pursuits? Why, for example, did I find music so moving as a boy that I was careful to listen only in the quiet of my bedroom, where people would not see my reaction thereto? Iconic women such as Audrey Hepburn and Judy Garland, so beautiful and so pure, stirred something ineffable in me, and bestowed on me a glow of tranquillity which even religion failed (and still fails) to bestow. I must have been no older than four or five years old when, at my grandparent's old house, I watched My Fair Lady for the first time, and turned to my grandmother, so beautiful herself, with tears in my eyes. She gave me a very knowing look, but an expression only of love and understanding.


To return to matters more pressing, naturally I oppose the coalition government's proposed ''redefinition'' of Marriage, for fundamentally personal reasons. I daresay it is highly arrogant and presumptuous of any government to challenge so ancient an institution as marriage in this way. It cuts to the very core of our society. Even from a secular perspective, marriage (in the traditional understanding of that term) is for the good of society because it provides a stable home for two people, a man and a woman, who come together to start a family. Are men of a certain Classical tradition excluded from this vocation? There is more to chastity than abstinence and mastery of our passions. Only God is the judge of men's hearts, He who brings every work into judgement. But in the civil matter of ''marriage equality,'' there are very delicate legal and moral questions at stake. Do we overturn marriage, an institution far older than England, the Church, and godless pressure groups, to satisfy the same? What I resent is the confusion the political Left seems to have between legal rights and moral obligations. Is it confusion, though? Political liberalism and secularism have together created a society in which expression of moral convictions at variance with that of the State is tantamount to some form of discrimination. If secular people truly want a separation of Church and State they need to stop crossing the line, and leave the matter of ''gay marriage'' to the clergy. But this is too reasonable for these latter days, is it not? The godless do not want an application of religion in their political lives, but they want to treat religious issues with an application of civil rights. How abominable this whole matter is!


For those of you who have a copy, I'd suggest reading letter number 49 in The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien, written in fact to C.S Lewis. As far back as 1943 Tolkien complained that it was ''intolerably hard to bring up Christian youth in Christian sexual morals (which are ex hypothesi correct morals for all, and which will be lost but which depend upon Christian youth for their maintenance).'' I agree, but I'm afraid this is too personal and depressing a matter to continue on what is primarily a liturgical 'blog. I thank God that I am gay; I do not consider myself crippled or at fault on account of it. But Glory to God in all things! Let us conclude therefore with a quote from the Word of God:

''Then Tobias exhorted the virgin, and said to her: Sarah, arise, and let us pray to God to-day, and tomorrow, and the next day: because for these three nights we are joined to God: and when the third night is over, we will be in our own wedlock.'' Tobit 8:4.

12 comments :

  1. "a thick mick priest"

    Nice! I wish you a happy St. Patrick's Day!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Other than your point about the ontological reality of being gay, pretty much everything else you've said here is self-loathing rubbish. Given your drift towards places like St Magnus, no doubt you'll grow out of this absurdity soon enough. Finding someone you can commit to might also help to evolve your views, but that takes a fair while.

    For a good argument about the current marriage consultation, try Ruth Gledhill's interview with Jeffrey John from earlier in the week. There's an extended transcript of the interview on Thinking Anglicans: http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/005412.html#more

    I hate to play the troll, but...

    The fact that even your thick-mick Irish Chaplain will cheerfully marry an infertile couple wholly negates the point about man+woman=childbearing, and that with the full sanction of everything the hierarchy has to offer.

    The Hierarchy's collusion in the current bout of public obsessing about contraception and abortion is simply a symptom of the decadence of the Roman communion in recent decades. Conservatism as an end in itself seems to be filling the church with the Holy Spirit, wouldn't you say?

    The social problems you identify here are a product of the debasement of Rightist politics, which has played no small part in the presentation of Church teaching on various issues over the last forty or more years. I could go on for ages about why the current discourse about human rights is a product of neoconservative ideology rather than residual academic Marxism (how many of these queer birds have you met lately? My last sighting of the beast in real life was at least five years ago, and it was the best afternoon I've had since then. Most flesh-and-blood academics are busy reporting research activity and writing grant applications to be serious about any particular ideology these days), but maybe a dose of authentic contemporary Leftism, a la Terry Eagleton or Slavoj Zizeck, might help you to understand why your ideological commentary is so lacking in content as to be beyond meaningless.

    Pax tibi.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And how, pray tell, is the Church or State supposed to know that a heterosexual couple is "infertile" BEFORE they're married?? BEFORE they've at least tried to have children?

      Yes, yes, you can bring up cases where, accidentally, it might be unambiguous (a hysterectomy, extreme old age)...but the very fact that I can ask this question about infertility itself seems to demonstrate that a couple may be "structurally" or "virtually" procreative (even if they turn out, after the fact, to be sterile) in a way a same-sex couple simply cannot be said to be.

      Delete
    2. And how, pray tell, is the Church or State supposed to know that a heterosexual couple is "infertile" BEFORE they're married?? BEFORE they've at least tried to have children?

      Yes, yes, you can bring up cases where, accidentally, it might be unambiguous (a hysterectomy, extreme old age)...but the very fact that I can ask this question about infertility itself seems to demonstrate that a couple may be "structurally" or "virtually" procreative (even if they turn out, after the fact, to be sterile) in a way a same-sex couple simply cannot be said to be.

      Delete
    3. And how, pray tell, is the Church or State supposed to know that a heterosexual couple is "infertile" BEFORE they are married? Before they have at least "tried" to have children (ie, preformed the sort of act open to it)?

      Sure, you can think of some cases where, accidentally speaking, certainty on this question would not require "trying" the act itself (a hysterectomy, extreme old age--though, some women have had children very late thanks to hormone treatments reversing menopause). But the very fact that I can even ask this question about opposite-sex couples would seem to indicate that they are "structurally" procreative as regards their union (even if, after the fact, they turn out sterile) in a way that same-sex couples simply are not (there is no need to "try" there to see if they can have children).

      There is a different between INfertile and non-fertile. Me sitting here typing at my computer is non-fertile; no conception results. So is washing the dishes, gardening, and painting (though, no sexual desire or pleasure is involved in any of those either). We wouldn't call any of these acts "infertile" just because no conception results, because they're not the sort of act from which we'd expect one to result. They aren't the sort of act ordered towards fertility, so they can't be INfertile, merely non-fertile.

      It seems to me that contraceptive or homosexual sex acts are non-fertile, not infertile. They simply aren't the sort of act we'd even expect to lead to procreation, so they can't be called "infertile" anymore than brushing my teeth. To be "infertile" implies an act of the sort ordered towards fertility that is merely frustrated. Indeed, if two men, or a man and woman using a rubber, don't conceive...we wouldn't conclude that either of them was sterile, because they haven't engaged in the sort of act which could "test" fertility (which would require the sort of act ordered towards it).

      Believe what you want about the moral question, but there is a clear conceptual difference between the two types of act. Homosexual or contraceptive sex is not equivalent to merely infertile sex. The former is NON-fertile.

      Delete
    4. And how, pray tell, is the Church or State supposed to know that a heterosexual couple is "infertile" BEFORE they are married? Before they have at least "tried" to have children (ie, preformed the sort of act open to it)?

      Sure, you can think of some cases where, accidentally speaking, certainty on this question would not require "trying" the act itself (a hysterectomy, extreme old age--though, some women have had children very late thanks to hormone treatments reversing menopause). But the very fact that I can even ask this question about opposite-sex couples would seem to indicate that they are "structurally" procreative as regards their union (even if, after the fact, they turn out sterile) in a way that same-sex couples simply are not (there is no need to "try" there to see if they can have children).

      There is a different between INfertile and non-fertile. Me sitting here typing at my computer is non-fertile; no conception results. So is washing the dishes, gardening, and painting (though, no sexual desire or pleasure is involved in any of those either). We wouldn't call any of these acts "infertile" just because no conception results, because they're not the sort of act from which we'd expect one to result. They aren't the sort of act ordered towards fertility, so they can't be INfertile, merely non-fertile.

      It seems to me that contraceptive or homosexual sex acts are non-fertile, not infertile. They simply aren't the sort of act we'd even expect to lead to procreation, so they can't be called "infertile" anymore than brushing my teeth. To be "infertile" implies an act of the sort ordered towards fertility that is merely frustrated. Indeed, if two men, or a man and woman using a rubber, don't conceive...we wouldn't conclude that either of them was sterile, because they haven't engaged in the sort of act which could "test" fertility (which would require the sort of act ordered towards it).

      Believe what you want about the moral question, but there is a clear conceptual difference between the two types of act. Homosexual or contraceptive sex is not equivalent to merely infertile sex. The former is NON-fertile.

      Delete
  3. Shane, a slight aimed at ill-informed, simple Anglo-Irish priests in the mould of the great Fr Ted rather than anything anti-Irish on my part.

    Ludovico, erm thanks I guess. If by finding someone to whom I can commit means finding a partner, all I can say is that I am not really interested. Homosexuality (or whatever you decide to call it) may be ontological, but so also is one's personal, moral disposition where these matters are concerned - I think. I am more like Kenneth Williams than Quentin Crisp or Oscar Wilde, more than anyone I have ever met; just as nasty, just as snobbish, just as alone. Loneliness is something quite different. I just desire to feel close to God.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It sounds to me like you are what my best friend likes to call a "50s fag," meaning that you would have been far more comfortable in the pre-Stonewall, pre-gay liberation homosexual culture. The picture of Audrey Hepburn is a dead giveaway. There was a lot that was attractive about that culture and much that I myself identify with. When I was living in England something of that culture still survived in the older Anglo-Catholic churches like St. Mary's Bourne Street. I don't remember detecting much of it at St. Magnus the Martyr (although the first time an Englishman made a pass at me was at St. Magnus). The modern construction of homosexuality is very different, very political, and very lacking in the sort of aestheticizing that I suspect comes naturally to you. It is very lonely being an outsider, not just among insiders, but among other outsiders as well. But, as I'm sure you know, you can't pretend to be other than you are for the sake of convenience. I wouldn't even if I could. I love Audrey Hepburn.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am an Audrey fan too, but my true love is Kate Hepburn. As for the guys: Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, and Henry Fonda.

    ReplyDelete
  6. ''I thank God that I am gay; I do not consider myself crippled or at fault on account of it.'' I could have written these words myslef, for they express my own feelings and thoughts regarding myself. I am perfectly happy being the way God made me: as Marcus Aurelius wrote: ''Wish not for anything else than what befalls you, and that which it brings with it. For what else would better become you?'' In his book, Marcus Aurelius writes much of a person's own particular nature to which one must be true and according to which one must live (rather than a general suprahuman nature). I must admit, though, that i did not read your whole essay, Patricius, but only the above sentence. The reason being, that i do not wish to find anything in your words to object to, as i fear that i might, (though perhaps i would not...), for I am overlysaturated with anti-gay prejudice already, and can take no more in. Again, Happy St. Patrick's Day to you! May the Triune God, our Lady of Knock and Saint Patrick bless and save Ireland, too.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I don't agree 100%, but I truly appreciate this entry.

    I am a celibate gay Christian, thankful indeed for every part of that statement. As a gay man I am what I am, however that came to be, and have no theory on that score, nor want one, other than the realization that I seem always to have been so, as far back as memory will stretch. My history is, in many ways, very similar to that of Patricius, meaning that I've always been different in very many ways from other boys and men, meaning also that, because of those differences I have been able to help certain boys in ways that most men could not, with a kind of love that would not otherwise be available. Yes, I am powerfully drawn to boys and young men, and would not have it otherwise, but this kind of attraction does not bind me to physical sexual expression, any more than another man is bound to ravish any woman to whom he is attracted. That is for the marriage bed, and marriage has always been of a man and a woman open to bringing forth children.

    One who is not called to marry is called to be celibate, and celibacy is not some horrible deficiency, but a special gift of God. I am a human being, gifted by God with free will, and thus with the ability to deny such desires when they would lead me to do what is outside the will of God. There is blessedness in that for those who must, for whatever reason, remain unmarried

    ReplyDelete
  8. Patricius - thanks for this post. I don't take everything you say exactly as you say it, but broadly I agree and am glad not to be all alone in such matters.

    Edpacht - I feel just the same - I am in a similar situation myself - thanks for your comment.

    ReplyDelete