I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 2008 and I have various issues with depression (a seasonal thing best described as malignant cynicism), self-esteem (which my mother, rightly, says I don't need), a distinct lack of confidence and a fear of confrontation - an easy target for bullies. I am also lazy and resentful. Those would be sufficient to bar me from ordination these days, but there is much more. I am also homosexual. Now, before we get into the ethics of labelling I am using these terms for the purposes of convenience. I have my own views about homosexuality, which are influenced both by St Paul and Quentin Crisp. Trying to explain this odd combination to most people is usually a colossal waste of time because most people make assumptions about the word "homosexual" and about people in or out of "the closet." My openness about it is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it indicates to secularists that I am not ashamed and that I may be in an unnatural relationship with another man; both of which I am not. To men of faith (this is not solely limited to Christians - see here), I am already suspect. They think that the inclination is a lifestyle choice based on a belief, and, despite my actual beliefs, has led to a number of unpleasant and humiliating experiences, chief among them my gratuitous expulsion from a church to which I had devoted several formative years of my life. But to both secularists and men of faith alike my openness about this cross to bear seems to equate in their minds with an unquestioning support for equalities, diversity, gay pride, abortion, and other abuses. Please let me tell you unequivocally: it does not.
"And his wife looking behind her, was turned into a statue of salt." Genesis 19:26.
So what are my views about homosexuality tangential to the rest of Creation, the present life of men, and so on? Well, the obvious source for any of our positions in life should be God's Word, in which we read (attend):
"Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet." Romans 1:24-27.And so the orthodox doctrine on homosexuality is that it has its uttermost source in idolatry. As a result, God gave them (an idolatrous nation) over to "vile affections," and so on. To me, this does not mean that individual homosexuals are necessarily idolaters; many of them are, but that the idolatry of the nations to which they belong is written in them and manifests as sexual attraction between men and between women. I have no doubt there are other manifestations too but we're not here to account for those. Now, there is an obvious parallel between the decadence and apostasy of the West and the seeming rise in homosexuality. Where aforetime a homosexual was seldom someone you had met but was never someone you knew personally, nowadays we all probably know at least one. Congregants at many of England's most prestigious churches will see one celebrating Mass every Sunday, mincing about in a lace alb whilst the clandestine boyfriend sits in the pew. Most of my past friends have been homosexual and believe me I didn't go out looking for them! But readers will have noticed here that assignation, immoral soliciting and crude invitations into the beds of various men have invariably been turned down.
Of course, much as I despise the world (1John 2:15), I am not immune from worldliness. I doubt any but the most austere and isolated monks are, such as the anchorite I saw in Kathara. Someone said to me recently that my openness about being queer was "courageous." Is it, though? It might have been a century and more ago, when men like Karl Ulrichs and Robbie Ross were as open as they dared and withstood the hydra of public contempt. Quentin Crisp said it was a miracle he'd reached old age, and many times bewailed his lack of luck with a cheap, untimely death. These days, with so many safeguards, being "out of the closet" is no more courageous than having brown skin or wearing a hijab; it's called ad hoc ethics and multiculturalism. But I choose not to hide behind those safeguards. In my never-ending search for a less humiliating job I never tick the "equal opportunities" box. And so the only opprobrium with which I have to contend every day is that of the ugly Slavic men who laugh at my appearance at church, or comments like these and these (and these, and these) from people I've never met who do so from the safety of anonymity online. Of course, my appearance and manner are against me. I am not ostentatious but I am one of those persons who just looks queer. My appearance probably facilitates situations like this.
Tell me he isn't beautiful...
I could go on but I've said enough about homosexuality. To sum up, I would say that my ambivalence is inevitable. It saves me from hypocrisy. I accept the orthodox doctrine for reasons which I have already explained. But if sodomy goes on without my knowledge I won't be the first to stone the sodomites upon discovery of the sin. I don't think homosexuality should be against the law either, even in a "perfect" society in which the law is based on the Eternal Law of God. There must be a distinction between crime and sin, and two men "working that which is unseemly" behind closed doors may have implications for their own immortal souls, but, I would argue, no more than someone who decides he can't be bothered to attend church on Sunday. I am neither proud nor especially ashamed to be queer. I don't want to feel sexually attracted to women. If anything, my existence is a burnt sacrifice. My openness is more about shewing to the church and world that there are those of us who live life without scandal, just trying to stagger on. Or would you rather I were back "in the closet" and had a number of secret love affairs? I put it to you that the world would be a merrier place if none of us had peccadilloes. "And all things that are done, God will bring into judgement for every error, whether it be good or evil," Ecclesiastes 12:14.
As for the third point, namely having no tendency to question authority, well I am deep down an anarchist and a leveller. I see no prudence, wisdom or goodness in doing what you're told, believing and thinking what you're told, and worshipping in a certain way for no other reason than somebody in authority has mandated that. That is why I despised Lady Diana Spencer, who put her personal happiness before her duty to be a miserable wife. It is also why I despise John Zuhlsdorf, who is an obvious charlatan. I was scolded in my old parish for speaking plainly about what I think of him as a person and a "priest" (with dubious orders...), for no other reason than I ought to have a modicum of respect for his office. Why? I don't go to church on Sunday for one measly collect! So why would I want to read his recycled rubbish about the "extraordinary form?" And who wants to fund his extravagant lifestyle? But to come back to me, because this is about me (!), I am ostracised because I think this way. Because I don't hold with the 1962 party line; because I don't hold with imaginary liturgical "directions;" because I won't walk in the shadow of the London Oratory; because I think that "pope emeritus" is an unprecedented and rather silly title; because I have a mind of my own, I would not be suitable. I am not willing to jump through hoops in order to try and appease a dubious system. If a doctrine about a bishop says one thing, and the empirical evidence says another; or if liturgical history says one thing, and the pope declares another, I am not going to betray intellectual and moral integrity by making the facts fit the theory. My allegiance is first, and will always be, to the Truth, not ideologies and lies.
As Crispina said in The Magdalene Sisters of another priest, "you're not a man of God!"
Of course, this doesn't hold out much hope for somebody with no job prospects and for someone who thinks about little else but religion.