Forced gay celibacy…why?

As I’ve mentioned before, the Church’s treatment of LGBTQ people played a big role in my gradual fall away from the Church (of which I am still formally a member). After I became Catholic, I got to know a few people who identify as “celibate gays” – they fully acknowledge their sexual orientation but live “fully in accordance with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality” (that is, homosexual orientation is totally fine, but any and all gay sex acts are necessarily abominable to God).  Coming from Evangelicalism, it was quite refreshing to see sexual orientation acknowledged as being real and that it was okay to identify as gay – very different from what I observed in Evagelicalism (case in point: some discomfort over Wheaton College hiring a celibate gay woman because she identifies as “gay”).

LGBTQ celibates have become a visible and vocal group within conservative Christianity in the last few years – the Washington Post even recently ran an article about these people. This gay celibacy movement is diverse – from chaste coupling to monasticism to singleness. But, as I’ve observed this growing movement, I’ve been growing largely uncomfortable with it. In response to the Washington Post article, Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington (D.C.) wrote a long-winded reflection on it: Continue reading

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Human value and protecting God

I came across this post on Rational Doubt from a former pastor on how praising God often comes at the expense of denigrating humanity in many Christian circles.

I’d probably sung the song a hundred times, swaying to its gentle melodies with arms uplifted and eyes closed.  It was one of those praise choruses evangelical Christians love to sing, a few words repeated over and over again –

“You alone I long to worship.  You alone are worthy of praise.”

We sang until we were oblivious to our surroundings and open to the Spirit.  Having practiced this form of spiritual reflection often, I was startled when my inner voice said, “That can’t be true.”

[…] Every human life had worth.  Nearly everyone did something worthy of praise.

[…] Of all the religions I’ve studied, Christianity has the poorest opinion of human nature.  Christian theology, rhetoric and music often praises God’s magnificence at human expense.  According to orthodox theology, we are born into sin, doomed from our first breath.  Though Christianity says we were created in God’s image, that image was quickly and irrevocably broken and twisted by sin.

[…] When my children were born, I didn’t look at them and despair[…] While I knew they would make mistakes, I saw this not as a moral failing, but as a necessary process.  What I expected from them was not perfection, but eventual maturity, the ability to live life with wisdom and sensitivity[…] Eventually, I realized my opinion of my children was more praiseworthy than God’s opinion of me.

This was something I grappled with growing up Evangelical. Why do good things happen if humans could do no good? If no one could do good, why do we spend so much time shaming certain acts? If no one could do good, why do we spend time pushing for laws to try to force people into good acts? Why should I trust that my parents, or teachers, or pastors if they’re depraved humans like me? Continue reading

Purity culture and real life: “have sex already”

During my drift from faith, I encountered this post by Hannah Ettinger that helped me shake off whatever ghosts of “purity culture” still lurked in my closet:

Here is my best advice for good Christian kids looking to get married: have sex already.

I’m watching too many couples play Russian roulette with their lives because they aren’t listening to their gut instincts about who they want or need to spend their lives with because they happened to have found one person somewhat enchanting and willing to play the Christian marriage game and the stakes are: your whole future on this decision, made in the worst possible state of mind, horny celibacy.

[…] Within Christian purity culture, sex, as an unknown and desirable thing (known to be powerful and good, but forbidden), necessarily becomes the bullet that we imagine blowing our brains out with if we pull the trigger at the wrong time, and we trick ourselves into believing that marriage will somehow protect us from spiritual suicide by pre-marital sex. We can’t know better if we’re still treating sex as a huge scary-and-wonderful unknown entity, but you’d think that our elders/wisers/more-experienced influencers would bother to let us in on the game before we sign on the dotted line.

[…] Thus, when we good [read: virgin] Christian kids decide to accept this system, trusting our parents and pastors’ terms and wisdom, and denying ourselves basic understanding of ourselves as sexual beings (which we are, but they help us overlook this by telling us that perpetual fear and denial of sexuality is a form of healthy [and therefore godly] sexuality), sex as an unknown other becomes a non-factor in our choices for who we date and who and when we marry, or it becomes the secret but driving factor for who and when we marry. It must remain secret as a motive, because everyone knows that marrying just to have sex is a bad idea, but there is no other alternative for healthy, safe, and consensual sexual experience when we have bought into this system.

And if we are unlucky enough to be just a little too horny to effectively deny the existence of our sexuality until the approved time and place (the wedding night), we are caught in an impossible place where in order to keep being Good Christian Kids, we have to not question what our parents and pastors have told us—which is, essentially, that everything I just laid out in layman’s hermeneutics about biblical sexual ethics is lies and that God’s best plan for sexuality is total ignorance and total commitment to one person and one form of sexual experience forever and ever, amen—and to jump through all the Christian social hoops to land in bed with someone and not get ostracized or shamed for wanting to have sex in the first place.

I’m awake for about 17 hours a day. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say I have sexual activity every day (ha!) for an hour (let’s pretend this is pre-children, before foreplay’s thrown out the window). That would mean I spend just under 6% of my time awake having sex. Now in real life, I (along with nearly everybody else) don’t have sexual activity every day for an hour, so it’s actually closer to about 1-2%. That means that I spend 98-99% of my time awake doing non-sexual things. And, yet, during my time as a conservative Christian, the vast majority of moral imperatives had to do with sex. Continue reading

The “pro-life” movement is about sex, not life

Today, I came across this post on Salon‘s website, discussing a video by Cosmo in which they interviews so-called “side-walk counselors.” There were gems such as this:

“Men and women are made different,” Father Andrew Beauregard explains on camera while protesting at a clinic, “in that women, as the church teaches, reach their full potential in motherhood.” There’s a tight if inhumane logic to this thinking: Women exist to give birth. Thus, if a woman is choosing not to give birth, she is not working as she is supposed to. Which means she must be broken and needs fixing. Ergo, “counseling.”

Continue reading