13 May 2014

A Protestant Response to "The Third Way"

Because I know there are thousands of gay Catholic men in this country who still toil in the Egyptian bondage of their church's "at least we're not Fred Phelps" attitude toward homosexuality, I am moved to offer a response to this notion of the "Third Way."

Like Tony Blair's socialism, Catholic kindness toward those marginalized for being gay is fundamentally a dishonest operation.  The Church does not relieve you of the stigma of your sexual orientation, but lulls you into believing that the stigma is a special charism and that you are called to bind yourself, to march up to the top of Mount Moriah and prepare a firepit for your own soul, all in the name of "chastity."

The catch, if you will, to the gentle promises of acceptance and loving solidarity that the Church extends in this video, comes 34 1/2 minutes in, when Jason Evert states, "We are calling people who experience same-sex attraction to love through purity and sacrifice…"  Jason Evert is not going to join you in this purity and sacrifice, needless to say.  As a straight man and layperson he is under no obligation to renounce sexual intimacy.  He is on your side (and, yes, it is commendable that he confessed 'on behalf of his community' to the sin of homophobic taunting in high school:  I'd love to know how that was done), but you have to teach the rest of us how to be purer and more Godlike.

Another layman, the presumably heterosexual Chris Stefanick, tells us at one point (25:40) that "real fulfillment in life is achieved through love, and love is doing what's right."  Alas, just 'doing what's right' doesn't seem to cut it for those who are having a lot of difficulty with SSA (same-sex attraction, helpfully abbreviated to suggest some form of disability income!)  Practicing Christian virtues to your fellow man may not be sufficient for salvation when you're also lusting after him.

So we are left with the very same gradations of holiness that Martin Luther railed against in another form 500 years ago.  And yes, these gay guys in the video seem to have found peace with second-class status in their religious community, and made steps toward forgiving their oppressors -- a 'politick art' if ever there was one.  And maybe the Catholic Church is, as they say, misapprehended by the wider society and the "secular media".  (Is Stephen Colbert part of that?)  Nonetheless I know in my bones that trusting in one's own merits, in sexual restraint or otherwise, is neither a healthy spiritual practice nor a ticket to redemption.   The balm they're offering is not of Gilead, and when two roads diverge in a wood -- as the video's intro so clearly portrays -- plowing through the poison oak and briars and cutting a "third way" for yourself isn't always the best option.

No comments: