Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Catholicism and Same-Sex-Attraction - Part 2 The Act Itself

This is the post i've been putting off for years.  I don't really want to write it.  So many people already have, i almost don't see a point to adding my voice to the fray.  But maybe i'll say something unique, maybe i'll impact someone whom others have missed.  Maybe...
      I've already written Part 1 and you can't leave a series uncompleted.  (I'm looking at you Swordquest!)  I would just ask, before reading this post, if you haven't already, go back and read Part 1.  It sets the tone for the series and hopefully establishes my position.  Basically, if you read Part 2 without first reading Part 1, you sacrifice the right to call me hateful, intolerant, close-minded, spiteful, ignorant, bigot or a stupid-jerk-headed-poo-poo-face.  So long as you read Part 1 first, i'll contend myself with the knowledge that i tried and you can call me whatever you wish.
      As i set out on this particular sojourn, i want to be very careful of what i say.  I'm not interested in passing judgement on anyone.  Each of us has a unique temptation set.   In fact, as far as what i have to say here, it doesn't matter in the slightest if you are gay, straight, lesbian, bi-gender or tran-sexual.  There are, basically, three ways of dealing with a temptation.  It doesn't matter who you are or what the temptation is.  These three responses are about as universal as it gets. 
      The response that takes the most flak is resisting the temptation.  You stare it in the face and say "NO" until you inevitably give in or go crazy.  Catholics don't like this tactic because it doesn't work.  Secular folks will speak poorly of it because it drives you insane. Pretty much everyone (maybe not puritans) will tell you it leads to self-hatred and depression, suicidal tendencies and perhaps even bed wetting.
      A second response is to simply give in.  Accept who you are and embrace your desires.  A lot of people will tell you this is the best option.  This view says, "Do what makes you happy."  Meaning, do what grants you the greatest immediate satisfaction.  I don't need to appeal to Christ or Catholic teaching here.  Buddha, Confucius, Mohammad, Socrates and a host of others will all tell you the same thing; Short term gratification leads to lasting misery.  Unless your desire is to love God and neighbor, this is definitely the wrong response.
      Before i look at the third response, i will try and explain why these first two don't work.

      Buddha had a lot to say worth hearing.  One of the things he says is that all desire leads to suffering.  This is true.  Now, his solution is to eliminate all desire. (Makes since, right?)  Confucius would agree that all desire leads to suffering but would disagree with the solution.
      Confucius (In accord with my Catholic faith) distinguishes between right desire and wrong desire.  Wrong desire grants temporary happiness but inevitably leads to a lasting suffering.  Right desire comes at the cost of temporary suffering but grants a lasting joy, true happiness.  Consider this in regard to pornography.  The first time, you look at pictures of girls or guys in swim suits, and that satisfies, for awhile.  But soon you need to look again, only now you need more, you need erotic poses.  Next time you need nudity, then sex, then video...  Eventually, no matter how many hours you spend in front of a computer screen, you cannot find images that satisfy.  This desire has left you empty, with nothing to show for it but a very large credit card bill and a lot of suffering.
      Right desire is the exact opposite.  Perhaps as a child your parents dragged you to an art museum.  In boredom you suffered through an endless lineup of stupid painting after stupid painting.  Minutes seemed like hours.  But then, this one paining catches your eye.  You don't know why, but you are drawn to it.  Something about it lightens your burden, gives you a sense of joy.  You stare at it for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, examining every nuance, until you parents forcibly drag you away.  Some time latter you return to the art museum, looking for that painting, but it's gone.  You begin to look at others, examining them for that trait you found in the first.  And you find it.  It's beauty.  Each time you come you find more of it.  Whereas before, you would look at twenty paintings in a minute, now you can spend twenty minutes looking at a single painting.
      With wrong desire, the more you indulge it, the more you need to be satisfied.  With right desire, the more you receive of it, the less you need.
      All right desire consists of truth, goodness and beauty.  We can pursue these desires, it is okay to give into them.  (to pursue truth, goodness and beauty; to love God and neighbor; same thing)  At times we may abstain from a lesser good in order to receive a greater good.  But these are topics for another time.
      When we pursue wrong desire we inevitably find nothing but suffering.  When we actively resist these temptations, we are desiring a falsehood, we are desiring to be someone else.  You create a contradiction within yourself where you both desire to have cake and desire to not have cake at the same time.  Either you give in and hate yourself, because who you are is someone who ate cake, or you resist and the unfilled desire for sweet, moist, chocolaty goodness eats at you.  Holding on to your wrong desires will destroy you, whether you are fighting and wrestling with them or indulging them.  There is only one thing to do.
      You need to let them go.  There are only so many hours in the day.  If you spend 24 of them pursing truth, goodness and beauty, you will not have time to pursue sex or drugs or chocolate cake.  And here is the best part; truth, goodness and beauty do not exclude sex, drugs or chocolate cake.  When untied with marriage and procreation, sex becomes a right desire, it leads to greater happiness.  If you are married, i would advise having more sex. (and don't use contraception; large quantities of procreative sex leads to large quantities of children, large quantities of children leads to large quantities of birthday parties, large quantities of birthday parties leads to large quantities of chocolate cake. (contraception is an impediment to chocolate cake, so don't do it!))
      For Catholics love and meaning ought to be recognized as almost equivalent.  Love gives meaning and is the natural response to meaning.  Meaning is expressed in the world through truth, goodness and beauty.  Don't waist your time pursuing something else.  Nothing else matters.  Love truth, love goodness and love beauty.  You will find meaning, and meaning will give you joy.  Everything else will pass away.

      The undefended assumption here is that gay sex, that pursuit of sweet man flesh, is a wrong desire, which will lead to misery, to suffering.  I could write a philosophical treatise defending this position, but it wouldn't matter.  The most convincing argument is lived experience.  Go live it.  Go experience whatever life you want to.  If you find i'm right, the Church will still be here when you get back.
      True love is to desire that which is best for another.  This is what the Catholic Church desires for us, what God desires for us.  I would encourage you to consider carefully what the Church says, to offer God a place in your life.  Know that your loved and go find the meaning in your life.

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