The Tablet Blog
My gay son has been let down by the ChurchSue Smy, guest contributor
16 August 2012, 9:00
I have a gay son. He was able to tell me this around the age of 16. Perhaps he had tried before and I hadn't completely understood. My reaction? Worry that I hadn't realised this before, as no doubt he had; complete acceptance on my part and happiness that my son had felt able to tell me; anxiety, knowing the negative reaction he would no doubt receive from some other people.
My other children, my family and my friends have been completely accepting. Other acquaintances, including some church goers have raised eye brows while being embarrassed to discuss their views. A loyal priest from another diocese quite understandably reiterated the Church's teaching including the need for celibacy.
My son was once an altar server but in line with many young people he does not now feel any kinship with the Church. While not suggesting his sexual orientation is the only reason for him distancing himself he can hardly feel Christian love and affection from those who hold views that being gay is wrong and a disorder which can be reversed.
While the Church teaches that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered' - in my opinion, a very wrong view - gay people, and indeed sometimes their families, can only feel alienation, rejection and hurt from the very people who should be offering acceptance, support and love. My son is generous, loving and kind and I am proud of that. He should not be denied the opportunity that many of us have of sharing our lives with a partner in a loving, faithful and committed relationship and this should be without fear of disapproval or rejection.
The official view of the Church, though I know not always totally accepted by all clerics and lay people, has caused untold trauma to individuals and unnecessary stress to their families. I now find I question aspects of my Faith and wonder that the Church cannot recognise the humanity of the gay state. After are we not all made in the image of God?
Sue Smy is the mother of 3 children and member of the Portsmouth Diocese
14 November 2012 12:27 (41 of 41)
Gary Kirk, what is a homosexual act? Does kissing count as one, or hugging? What is 'intrinsically disordered', is this false doctrine in the Catechism that you like to refer to... Try reading the Bible... What 'homosexually active' people need, which btw doesn't just come to down to 'sexual acts', as in genital contact, but those in loving celibate relationships, is to stop being told the lie, that their love is disordered. It is love, and it is not a disorder, but the reductionist false doctrine in the Catechism is the only disorder here.
12 September 2012 23:09 (40 of 41)
Sue Smy's son and all sexually active homosexuals need the part of the Catechism that clearly states that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,' to be justified in terms as to what was Jesus' views on the matter.
11 September 2012 14:36 (39 of 41)
Gary, you keep referring to 'homosexual acts'. This is a very reductionistic view of sexuality. So is hugging the one you love a sexual act, or kissing? Also, homosexuality is not a 'practice'... If you were single, would you not still be heterosexual? I am not manipulating scripture in the slightest. I am simply following hermeneutical exegesis, taking into account the historical and cultural context, of the original Hebrew and Greek scriptures, and most importantly aligning the outcome with Jesus' commandments. Which translation of 1 Timothy 1:10 is it that you quoted? Have you looked at prior translations? You will find that they have been translated differently over the years, depending on the culture of the time. The word that many believe to be mistranslated is 'Arsenakoitai' - it has been heavily debated, but in Greek literature of the time, it was used to refer to men who basically raped other men, or engaged in prostitution - this is far from loving, consenual relationships. The Greek translation of the word, may be basically broken down to 'male-bed' or 'male-bedder' and was often used in other Greek literature of the time in relation to physical abuse or economic abuse, i.e. involving money. The New International translation reads 'for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers--and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine'. Regarding Matthew and Jesus' mentioning of Eunuchs - there are THREE kinds, and they were reffered to after Jesus spoke of the usual man-woman marriage. But not all will have a man-woman marriage - some are eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven (they will be celibate, i.e. priests) some are made so by others, i.e. castrated - so will not procreate. Some 'are born so from their mother's womb, i.e. gay people. The fact that the word was used to refer to gay people of the time, in other Greek literature is sound enough evidence for me. I would suggest that you read some of Boswell's work - he (as a Historian) found many Church documents from the 4th -18th Century, that indicate same-sex marriage was carried out by the Church. You are wrong when you say that every Pope has been against homosexuality. This is not so. Even so, I follow the words of Jesus and not Popes. I recommend an excellent book by Myers and Scanzoni, 'What God Has Joined Together?: A Christian Case for Gay Marriage'. It is written by two heterosexual Christians, one male and one female, and is well worth reading, as it gives great insight into this whole subject, from many different angles. Also, for a quick overview on 1 Timothy 1:10, see: http://www.fundotrasovejas.org.ar/ingles/articulos/myths7cor.pdf. God Bless
6 September 2012 12:06 (38 of 41)
R.Joy My interpretation of part of the passage you quoted to Sharon - 'and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.' '“ is Jesus saying that not everybody is called to marriage and gives the example of homosexuals making themselves celibate for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, reinforcing the view held by many that practising homosexuality is wrong. It does not mention that the rule only applies to Priests. I am not a theologian so my interpretation could be wrong. Also what about 1 Timothy 1 verses 9 '“ 10: 9 'He must understand that the law was not made for the man who lives right. It was made for those who do not want any laws over them, and for those who will not obey. It was made for those who do not respect God, and those who are bad people. It was made for those who do not respect anything that is holy or belongs to God. It was made for those who beat their fathers or mothers, and for those who kill people. 10 It was made for those who use sex in the wrong way and for men who have sex with other men. It was made for those who steal people, for those who tell lies, for those who make a promise that is not true, and for any other thing that is not right.' You seem to manipulate Scripture to justify your view that practising homosexuality within a monogamous relationship is sanctified by Jesus Christ and is Holy. This view has been rejected by every Pope and in my view is a great distortion of Scripture. You keep inferring that the gay lifestyle is not what I have experienced as an observer. I can only go on what I have experienced but on the grand scheme of things it is not particularly relevant to the debate so I agree to disagree and some of the points you make seem reasonable. Also gay men were diagnosed as mentally ill, criminalised and generally shunned by society only until relatively recently: within the last 60 years; so this discrimination, prejudice and generally being shunned by their communities might have impacted on their sexual behaviour. I have also met some seriously promiscuous heterosexuals but all of them have now settled into stable relationships. I would welcome someone like you as a friend and into my home: 'Love your neighbour as yourself' but still believe that the act is a sin based on Holy Scripture.
6 September 2012 10:40 (37 of 41)
While I sympathise with your son and yourself, 16 is hardly an age at which sexual orientation is fixed. Indeed, sexual orientation may be somewhat fluid for some people throughout life. It's simplistic for anyone to identify themselves as irrevocably 'gay' or 'straight' as an early age. Moreover, to identify oneself by one's sexual desires in such away, is surely unhealthy. It is saying almost: 'the most important thing about me is my sexual desires.' That is surely not true. We are multifaceted personalities. Sex is one part of our make up, but not the be all and end all. If it becomes the latter, then there is something badly wrong with us - we are obsessed. It is a mark of our over-sexualised society that people go around classifying themselves as gay, lesbian, bi or straight to complete strangers. I still think the Church has it right: sex is God's gift to married couples, for the continuance of the race and for mutual love and comfort. We all have same-sex (not same-sexual or homogenital) friendships and they are very important in life. Homosexual relationships lack the physical, emotional and spiritual complementarity which is inherent in married love. They also implicitly reject the divine gift of fertility. Try putting 100 heterosexual couples on one desert island, and 100 homosexual couples on another, and come back in 50 years' time to see the difference....
5 September 2012 12:51 (36 of 41)
The fact is the Church is obsessed with gender (the created) at the expense of love (the creator; love reflects God as God IS love, and it is the image of the creator [1 John 4:16]) thus I would conclude that this whole attack on the love of same-sex couples, and their need to marry, just like everyone else, along with the glorification of male-female marriage to the exclusion of all others who can't procreate because of their biological functions below the waist (or lack thereof), is an idolatrous absurdity (putting the created gender above the creator who is love and who is the creator of life, love and unity). It is also a reductionist view of sexuality, which is more than genitality; it is about unity, solidarity, friendship, sharing, growing in selflessness, self-perpetuation, companionship and spiritual and emotional intimacy. If we want to support the Darwinian evolutionary view, that love is only for procreation (advocated by the Church, as it seems the unitive side is brushed aside even though it should be the primary as there is no procreation of any form without it), then let's push the anti-same-sex marriage agenda. LOVE, is more than procreative in the biological sense of the word; it is a love that creates a life giving unity. Perhaps the role of gay people in the world, is to show people this truth - that love goes beyond procreation, and whilst the majority of the population will procreate, there are those who cannot (and were born so from their mother's womb) but they will still fight for love and for their God given right to make a holy, marital commitment to the one whom they love. Marriage is about LOVE & UNITY - NOT GENDER. Let us remember Galatians 3:28: 'for there is no longer male and female, you are all one in Christ. On a personal note, my love for my partner is pure and Godly; and where there is love God IS. We cannot procreate but our love is not all about 'genital acts' as the Church would imply in documents such as 'Homosexualitis Problema'; it is procreative in the non-biological sense of the word, in that we bring life to one-another. In fact it is a chaste love and one of holiness and love that allows us both to grow closer to the image of the Lord God, Jesus Christ, who IS love. Our love is as worthy of holy matrimony as much as any heterosexual couple. I am Pro family - and that includes ALL families, straight or gay. So, please, may we adhere to the words in 1 John 4:16: 'And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.'
5 September 2012 12:50 (35 of 41)
On to Paul's letter to the Romans and Corinthians, the first, was about Pagans engaging in promiscuous acts. In relation to Romans 1: 24-32, what have Pagans who were being promiscuous, and worshipping carved images of animals, and rejecting God by doing so, got to do with Christians who are in loving committed relationships? Also, 'the women who turned from natural to unnatural', what was this 'unnatural' way? It could have been anything but the missionary position. Paul describes what he saw, in the Greek, as 'Para-Physin', meaning unusual - slightly different to unnatural. Let us say though for argument's sake, that even if it means unnatural (which is heavily debated by scholars), then this was a case of heterosexual Pagans, who left their wives 'left the natural use of women' for 'unnatural'. The crime was not only adultery, but also turning from their natural sexual orientation. Gay people, do not have a heterosexual orientation to turn away from. They are naturally gay. So if a gay person were to leave their partner for promiscuous heterosexual sex, and started worshipping 'the creature, over the creator' it would be the same situation. Whether or not Para-Physin means unnatural or unusual, it was not the acts per se, but the context - that being one of idolatry and promiscuity. It was very common in the Roman culture of the day for there to be idolatrous sex rituals such as this. Romans 1: 24-32, is far, far removed from people who are naturally gay and in loving, committed, life-long relationships. The love that my partner and I share is not a sin. If my partner (or I) had the 'right' parts below the waist, then it would be ok to you & the Church. Yet our love is a God given love, & it is in no way revolved around lust like I might add many heterosexual relationships might be as well as some homosexual ones. Gender & biological parts below the waist are not what defines a righteous relationship. I have for many, many, many years studied Leviticus, Romans and Corinthians etc. through careful, hermeneutical exegesis, and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I was deceived by the Church into thinking that the way God has made me is a sin; it made no sense whatsoever. So I decided to study the scriptures in greater depth, as well as praying night and day for the Holy Spirit to lead me to the truth on this matter. Sexuality is not all about acts, like many sex obsessed people might like to think. It is about how we express our personhood, how we share, have companionship and friendship with our significant other. I have studied the scriptures in great depth on this. A short word on Corinthians 6:9 'Arsenakoitai and Malakoi' - these are the debated words, translated to many different words over the years, and neither of them mean homosexual. Arsenakatoi refers to the user of a male prostitute, the latter to the male prostitute.
5 September 2012 12:49 (34 of 41)
Gary, you say your experience supports that 'gay people have a greater number of sexual partners'... How can you possibly know this just from the people you have met? Have you done a comparison survey amongst both straight & gay people in the same sorts of places? Obviously the people you have met have, & I would guess they are mostly men? In my experience (from the people I have met), MEN per se, straight or gay, have a greater number of sexual partners. I doubt very much that gay people per se (from the people I have met) have a greater number of sexual partners. In fact, in terms of gay women, I would say they have the least. Perhaps gay men do have more in general, because we all know men in general have less control in this area, higher sex drive etc. & where there are 2 men involved, that may effect. I can only ask, the circles you have moved in, where you've met all these gay people, are they clubs and bars? I think the same would be for the heterosexuals you might meet if you frequented pubs, clubs and bars. I know many gay men who have had far fewer partners than their straight counterparts. In relation to St. Paul's writings, they are letters to the Church about what he saw of the Greek Pagan community & absolutely nothing to do with relationships. As for my theological grounding (which is derived through Biblical, hermeneutical exegesis) here is the first part: 'Jesus said, 'For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.' ' (Matthew 19: 11-12) The term 'Eunuch' was used to refer to three types of men: those who are celibate for the Kingdom of Heaven (i.e. Priests), those who were made eunuchs by men (castrated men) and those who were born that way - gay men. (Of course women are left out as per usual). Many scholars support this view and Greek literature of the time, will show that the term eunuch was used to refer to gay men! Jesus says that there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb. Science also shows us many pieces of evidence that suggest sexuality is determined in the womb. There are even obvious physiological differences in gay people; in the case of gay men they are usually lighter in terms of bone structure and more effeminate. Their brains have also been scientifically shown to be different to a heterosexual man's brain. The same is the case for gay women. For one example of the innateness of homosexuality see: (Bailey, M & Pillard, R, 1994. 'The Innateness of Homosexuality', Harvard Mental Health Letter: Vol 10, no. 7, p.4.) Also, see: S. LeVay, 'A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men'. Science 30 August 1991: Vol. 253 no. 5023 pp. 1034-1037.
5 September 2012 12:14 (33 of 41)
Sharon, Jesus actually affirms that homosexuals are born so from their mother's womb (Matthew 19: 11-12), the term used is 'Eunuch', used to refer to celibates, homosexuals and castrated men of the day. Science also supports this, see: Bailey, M & Pillard, R, 1994. 'The Innateness of Homosexuality', Harvard Mental Health Letter: Vol 10, no. 7, p.4. Also, see: S. LeVay, 'A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men'. Science 30 August 1991: Vol. 253 no. 5023 pp. 1034-1037. Jesus also clearly condemns abuse, and tells us to love one another. Paedophilia is clearly not love, but abuse of the trust of a child. It is not comparable to loving, consensual, committed, life-long relationships. Love is not a sin, and homosexuality is certainly not a part of fallen nature as neither is heterosexuality. The blogger you mentioned, simply stated that there is homosexuality in the animal kingdom, to portray that it is a part of God's diverse creation. Love is the image of God, thus love between two people who have the same biological parts, does not suddenly disqualify it from being called love. To do so is idolatry of the created gender, over the creator, love.
3 September 2012 21:15 (32 of 41)
Dear Sue, It is so sad that our beloved Church, which should be a source of love, often causes such traumas. I feel deeply for the pain you and your son have lived through. The late cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, whom many consider the true spiritual leader of our church, wrote that he had among his friends homosexual couples who lived as committed couples and were highly respected members of their communities. He opened a door to a change of attitude from what originates in the writings of St. Paul. According to a modern doctor of theology, Theodor Joergensen, St. Paul's negative attitude to homosexuality arose from the fact that at his time, the only known homosexual practises were orgiastic. In our beloved Church, bigotry and sublime love co-exist. Whatever we may think of some of the teachings, some of the priests, and some of the lay people, the presence of Jesus living is there, healing and nurturing. I hope this will always be a reality to yourself and your wonderful son. With every good wish - bless you both - Mette
3 September 2012 13:05 (31 of 41)
Alan (comment 22) Jesus also 'said absolutely nothing' about pedophilia. If we accept your two absurd theses that 1. Everyth thing that Jesus said in his earthly life is recorded in the Bible and 2. If Jesus didn't specifically condemn a specific sin by name, it must be OK, then you are also saying pedophilia is OK. Sue, yes we are all made in the image of God but we are all sinners and our sins (and our tendencies to particular sins which we ALL have) are NOT the image of God but the result of the Fall of Man and it is the job of ALL of us to work to eliminate them from our lives. But most absurd of all is the man calling himself 'Doctor' who claims that homosexual acts are OK because animals do them! Is that meant to be some sick ironic joke?
2 September 2012 14:14 (30 of 41)
R.Joy I do not dispute that you are in a loving monogamous same sex relationship but I do dispute your assertion that 'St. Paul's letters to the Romans and Corinthians, have absolutely nothing to do with loving, committed, monogamous same-sex relationships.' You have no theological basis to make that assumption. Saint Paul does not differentiate between monogamous and non-monogamous same sex relationships i.e. say the former is acceptable. I accept that lots of single heterosexuals have a number of partners before settling down but fornification is stated as wrong too; that is why people should not judge each other because most of us fall short of the teachings in some aspect of our life and the teachings do not solely revolve around what we do with or genitals. I have a wealth of experience of meeting gay people and my experience does support that they in general have a greater number of sexual partners, are much less likely to be monogamous - usually sharing other people - and older men are more likely to have sexual encounters with lot younger men in return for money. The Roman Catholic Church defines practising homosexuality as a mortal sin.
31 August 2012 21:42 (29 of 41)
Reading some of the unloving and dogmatic comments on this subject I am very pleased that I have chosen to follow a spiritual path not aligned to a religious institution. I know that Jesus and his teachings were about Love and compassion, like many other great teachers. The law of love, not fear. I would ask those who take such a rigid approach to look into their hearts and see what God is saying to their soul, rather than an external authority. Namaste.
31 August 2012 16:28 (28 of 41)
Gary, it sounds like you haven't met very many gay people. To summarise all gay people by speaking of who you've met on the 'gay scene' is a very, very poor way of trying to see what gay people's relationships might be like. Have you been on the 'straight' scene lately? Perhaps what you'll notice is that within all areas of the human population, there are those that frequent clubs and bars at a certain age, & go there to meet people, because they've not yet settled down. I myself am a Christian, & I also happen to be gay - God made me this way, & the biological functions below the waist of my partner, does not affect the righteousness of our relationship. My partner and I love one another, and our love is holy and chaste. We honour and cherish one another, in a stable, committed, monogamous relationship. St. Paul's letters to the Romans and Corinthians, have absolutely nothing to do with loving, committed, monogamous same-sex relationships. 1 John 4:16 says 'God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them'.
30 August 2012 8:54 (27 of 41)
So do we just ignore what Saint Paul said on this matter and the teachings of the main Christian Church? Protestant churches who have allowed open gay relationships - particularly amongst their clergy - have saw the number of their worshippers drop not increase as you suggest. I know of nobody on the gay scene that I have met who is in a stable relationship. There are a few who are in a civil patnership but none of them are monogamouus to each other. I am pleased that you have managed to remain faithful to your partner and have found happiness. In the end only God can judge.
29 August 2012 22:32 (26 of 41)
Anthony: blessings to you and your partner/husband. I will be 72 in a month and my partner and I celebrated 40 years together this past May. Contrary to stereotypes that certain people love to foist on the undereducated, we are not the minority within the lesbian and gay circles we know. Of course, we are urbanites and can live happily and openly. Folks in rural communities have it much worse, primarily because of the vile treatment they would receive if they tried to live open lives. The sooner Sue's son knows this and learns how to protect himself, the better off he will be.
29 August 2012 10:49 (25 of 41)
I shall be 81 in a month or so and have been in a loving gay relationship for 45 years. We have gay friends, many of whom have been together for more than 50 years. We know of priests both gay and straight who are in relationships. One gay priest is very senior indeed being a professor of canon law and a tribunal judge. God's love is unconditional for us all and the Church should move forward in this 21st century otherwise it is doomed to failure.
29 August 2012 0:08 (24 of 41)
Gary Kirk: surely you are not equating bisexuality with being exclusively lesbian or gay? You are not being told by the church to forego sexual expression of your love to one half of your bisexual nature.
28 August 2012 12:09 (23 of 41)
No Alan, I do not think that slavery is OK. There are mixed references to Paul's view on slavery. Because Jesus said nothing directly against homosexuality itself does not infer that he thought it was okay - is anything not directly commented on thought to be morally permissable? - nor can we ignore Saint Paul's letters on the matter: Romans 1:26-27In the Epistle to the Romans 1:26-27 (English Majority Text Version, EMTV), Paul writes ' For this reason [idolatry] God gave them up to passions of dishonor; for even their females exchanged the natural use for that which is contrary to nature, and likewise also the males, having left the natural use of the female, were inflamed by their lust for one another, males with males, committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was fitting for their error. 'Ě I Corinthians 6:9-10 Amplified Version (1987): 'Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived (misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality' I Timothy 1:9-10 King James Version (1611): 'Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.' Why should adultery be condemned by Jesus but practising gay people - notoriously unstable relationships - be exempt from sexual sin? Saint Paul replaced circumcision with baptism - men all over the world have him to thank for saving them from being forced mutilated with reduced sexual pleasure: being wrongly diagnosed with paraphimosis and circumcised as an adult; I know from personal misery what I am talking about in this respect. We ignore the recordings of Saint Paul - a circumcised former Jew and murderer of Christians before his conversion - at our peril.
28 August 2012 4:41 (22 of 41)
So exactly what did Jesus say about homosexuality? Actually absolutely nothing. BTW Paul thought slavery was OK--do you?
26 August 2012 22:49 (21 of 41)
The Church teaches that practising homosexuality is a sin. It does this based on Old and New Testament teachings. Saint Paul states quite clearly that practising homosexuals cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. What sort of Church would ignore the Bible to please individuals? The Church also teaches that God loves homosexuals and that homosexuals should not be unreasonably discriminated against. I am a bisexual man who has had major issues to do with sexual orientation, paruresis and excessive and uncontrollable arousal issues. I would prefer to be heterosexual - I regard not being so as a great burden. My experience on the gay circuit has been extreme promiscuity, unstable relationships, open ended relationships, age disparity relationships due to poverty in Thailand, loneliness, greater alcohol abuse and mental illness, greater risk of HIV, more likely to be atheist or against Christianity, denying parents of grandchildren anbdchildren of a mum and dad as nature and God set out. Homosexuals should be welcome within the Church but the Church should not ignore what Saint Paul or Jesus said just to please the 5% of the population or less who have same sex attraction.
26 August 2012 21:50 (20 of 41)
As a long time reader of the Tablet who has now ceased attending mass due to a) sex scandals in the church and b) unwarrented tinkering with the liturgy, I am wryly amazed by Catholics still questioning gay participation in the Church. surely everyone knows by now that most Catholic priests are closet gays (although i have known some brave souls who have priavetly come out - and I thank God for them as a mother similar to Sue). My son is delightful, law abiding, and devout, would that some of the so-called 'religious' bigots who form the rump of the roman catholic church could say the same. I'm unlikely to darken the door of the Church in the furture, sadly, whilst the present incumbent of the 'holy see' holds court over the annihilation of the church.
22 August 2012 21:57 (19 of 41)
Caradon: The only distinction between the gay and heterosexual lifestyles is their numeric proportions of these different models. Why should such a difference exist at all? I suggest that the key lies in the similarity between the popular image of the gay lifestyle and that of some straight single men, especially as young adults: a hedonistic pursuit of pleasure and sex. Most heterosexual men grow out of this, and eventually settle down (or attempt to) to a life of marriage or settled partnership, and family. One factor in this is social pressure '“ it's the model they have been socialized into, and sooner or later they conform. For gay men, it's different. The social pressures, the legal structures, and religious authorities in many cases operate in the opposite direction: away from marriage and family. Is it any wonder that so many lesbians and gays get stuck in what is more accurately described as a 'singles lifestyle'Ě than a gay one? If the churches and political conservatives truly wanted to reduce the frequency and visibility of this lifestyle, they should support, not oppose, marriage and family equality, granting legal and church recognition to same sex marriages or other unions, and encouraging adoption by all suitable adoptive parents, without discrimination on grounds of gender identity or orientation.
22 August 2012 12:25 (18 of 41)
You know, I'm Jewish (and bisexual), and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an Orthodox rabbi who has a gay brother said this: 'Being gay breaks two commandments: don't have gay sex, and have a family. That's 2 out of 613 [commandments for Jews in the Bible]. I told my brother, 'Go do the other 611'.' Ok, the Catholic Church doesn't agree with homosexuality, but your son is not just gay, is he? There's a great deal he can do to develop a better relationship with G-d, and 'not be gay', to judge by the rate at which G-d is creating us, is something that matters far more to individuals than Him.
20 August 2012 21:41 (17 of 41)
The Church is profoundly concerned about all her members. Your gay son may be a wonderful person but he is at risk. His membership of the Church is an extraordinary privilege, as it is for all of us. Think of the tens of millions who are not even baptised! But your son IS baptised. He is a member of Christ's body, the Church. All that matters is that he becomes holy - sufficiently holy to enter heaven. For him, as for us all, this will be lifelong struggle. Frankly, today's sophisticated 'Gay World' can go take a running jump. He needs it like a hole in the head.
20 August 2012 18:29 (16 of 41)
What follows is everything that Jesus said about homosexuality:
20 August 2012 17:14 (15 of 41)
In response to Dr. Edser, Before we discuss the morality of sexual acts, we first need to ask what sex is for. For heterosexuals, procreation is one of the ends of sex, even if some couples do not choose to (or are unable to) realise this end. Procreation is the real reason why humans are morally obliged to be monogamous. The rearing of children, as Aquinas observed, is best accomplished when there is a mother and a father who are committed to staying together for life and taking care of their children (and grand-children). Chimpanzees and bonobos don't raise their young in this way; for them, monogamy makes no sense, either biologically or psychologically. Homosexual acts are frequent among bonobos, and these are certainly not monogamous. So my question is: if there's no good reason why homosexual bonobos should be monogamous, then why, in your view, should homosexual humans be? Or are you saying, as a Christian, that you think it's quite OK for homosexuals to have affairs with several people of the same sex? But if that's what you're saying, then why shouldn't heterosexuals who can't (or don't want to) reproduce have the same freedom? But if they do, then what becomes of the commandment, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery'? Acknowledging that gay sex is OK thus leads to a reductio ad absurdum. Lastly, what about bisexuals? Are they 'born that way' too? Is it right for them to have simultaneous relationships with men and women? Being gay may be an orientation, perhaps an unchangeable one, but that does not make it good. Nor does it mean that the orientation is part of one's identity. Having said that, I agree with Sue that God loves us all, no matter how broken and damaged we are, because we are all made in His image. No-one deserves to be hated because of an orientation, whatever its cause may turn out to be.
Dr Stuart Edser
20 August 2012 12:47 (14 of 41)
Dear Sue, As a gay man myself (and a Counselling Psychologist in Australia) who has run the gauntlet of both Catholic and evangelical/pentecostal repudiation of my sexuality, I would like to say to you that I very much understand your son's hurt and his reluctance to be part of anything that is so rejecting of his very self. I have argued a case in my book Being Gay Being Christian (2012) that the Catholic Church's position on gay sexuality is wrong, unfair, and harmful. This position is based partly, on incorrect interpretations of Scripture, just six verses '“ three in the OT and three in the NT, all of which can be better understood with a more sophisticated approach than a mere face-value approach as you get in evangelical fundamentalist churches, but even more strongly, on ancient and medieval perceptions of natural philosophy. The problem with saying that gay sexuality is an intrinsic disorder based on natural philosophy is that: 1. it is not a disorder in any kind of psychological sense, having been thoroughly researched for decades and proven not to be; 2. it is not unnatural for gay people to be emotionally and physically attracted to people of the same sex '“ science has shown very clearly now that there is a large genetic and biological component in the determination of human sexual orientation including gay sexuality. We are more than likely born gay so the science seems to be saying. Most gay people will tell you that they knew they were different when they were little children and that that difference became sexualised around the time of puberty when attraction becomes conscious. What is unnatural for a gay person is to try to become involved with a person of the opposite sex just because church or society or family pressures them into it when their orientation is clearly gay; 3. placing all the emphasis on physiological plumbing neglects the fact that human sexuality and desire is so much more than 'which bits go where'. It is also a highly emotional, cognitive and spiritual phenomenon; 4. the fact that gay people cannot procreate (together) is not different to straight people who choose not to have children. The lack of the possibility of conception cannot be held over against gay people when most of the Catholic straight world does not hold to this teaching; 5. there is now copious evidence for homosexuality in the animal kingdom with over 1500 species identified as exhibiting the phenomenon. It is part of the natural world we all live in with evidence such as this putting paid to declarations that it is unnatural. We know that approximately 5% of the population statistically is gay. We know that there have been gay people around since the time of recorded history. We know that gay people have been identified in every culture on planet earth without exception. We know that a gay sexuality is a life-long orientation that is neither wilfully chosen nor wilfully changed. It is stable across the life-span. It is not a behaviour. It is an identity. Sexual orientation, gay or straight, is a component of the self, as much a part of who I am as is my intelligence, my personality, my handedness or my eye colour. Gay people who have trod the path of sexual identity formation can and do live lives of wholeness, wonder and of flourishing. There are millions of gay Christians throughout the world, people such as myself, who love God, follow Jesus and participate in the life of the Christian church in any of a hundred different ways. They are no more 'inclined to moral evil' than anyone else is. I have been calling for the Church to revisit its teachings on gay sexuality, to stop ignoring the science and to stop holding its pronouncements exempt from analysis and scholarship. And I am not alone in this. I hope you and your son are blessed with great love and laughter as you share your journey as mother and son together. And tell him hi from me in Australia. ïĀŠ www.beinggaybeingchristian.com
20 August 2012 0:00 (13 of 41)
Chico I wish I could meet that priest, who has such intimate knowledge of The Almighty's feelings. He must be a very holy man indeed to be in such confidence with God. We mere humans always limited The Almighty with our feeble human boundaries, and are unable to accept that the Almighty is so much bigger than we can ever comprehend
19 August 2012 23:57 (12 of 41)
Why is it that the Church spends so much time worrying about what goes on in the bedroom; and so little time worrying if people have a bedroom, or even a home!!!!!!!
19 August 2012 22:13 (11 of 41)
@Chico Unfortunately both homosexual acts and masturbation is 'mortal sin' according to the official Catholic teaching. See the Catechism or other sources. So there are not possibilities at all for gay people to have sexual pleasure, alone or with a partner, whatever the secular laws say. Not only is in principle 'sinful' to engage in sex with a person of the same sex, such sex cannot be legitimate anyway because it lacks the procreative element, i.e. the possibility of conception. Often, however, the unofficial opinion of priests, at least in my country, differs from official teaching. For instance, I have confessed contraception twice in my life. Both times the priests were very surprised, one of them openly told me not to worry about it and the other could not understand why I was confessing that because 'you are going to continue using that, aren't you?', yet reluctantly confirmed that that was the official teaching of the 'Vatican'.
19 August 2012 18:51 (10 of 41)
In Christ there is no east west, male or female. As the sister in law of a gay man who hates the church for rejecting him for who he is the church needs to act more like Jesus and show unconditional love. As for the disordered bit - who knows? but gay people certainly shouldn't be condemned but just loved.
18 August 2012 16:01 (9 of 41)
I wouldn't think any differently of you or your son at church. I think love is love, and pain is pain. If you can understand love and pain then you are a human being just like most of the rest of us. I hate the segregation and politics that surround christianity. I believe in love, just as God believes in love, a life with love is a far better one in my opinion, regardless of whom you find love with. Such admiration I have for your comment. God Bless.
18 August 2012 11:25 (8 of 41)
For Sue Smy, her son and others, you might like to read a very positive piece from David Pocock, an Australian rugby player, who is also a Christian and has written a wonderful piece on why he believes that gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered people certainly are children of God and have a place in the life of the Christian Churches. His piece is from the Australian Broadcasting Commission's Religion and Ethics site as follows: http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2011/12/02/3382170.htm
18 August 2012 11:05 (7 of 41)
I think this is an issue which concerns people more and more. God made some to love others of the same sex and I am sure He does not disapprove of the expression of their love by intimacy. Committed long term relationships are good and same sex ones I now believe should be accepted by the church. I would have strongly argued against that some years ago.
17 August 2012 23:40 (6 of 41)
Sue: your son is fortunate to have discovered the attitude of this church toward him and other LGBT people early in life so he can be about moving on and learning to live without what he once thought was valuable. I waited until much later in life and the dusting off one's sandals is much harder. But he will be better off in the near and long run.
17 August 2012 23:01 (5 of 41)
In one sentence: Jesus loved the sinner, and condemned the sin. You will find nothing contrary to this simplicity about Jesus in the Gospels. I am certain and sure Jesus loved homosexuals, even sexually active ones no less than he loved the woman caught in adultery but not her sin - just as he never condones adulterers and fornicators, whatever helpless (condoning?) parents might think of their sexually with-it offspring. The thinking and (il)logic displayed here is that same selfish mentality that leads so many catholics to embrace euthanasia and abortion as so humane. How many of these relativists are honest enough to admit it is their comfort and release from their personal suffering and inconvenience that this attitude reveals.
17 August 2012 21:38 (4 of 41)
It would be very easy for me to say, your son belongs to a vast band of saints who are persecuted by being left out of the love of the Church - total neglect - and leave it at that. But it is important that parents, such as yourself speak out, reminding the Church of the meaning of its name - Catholic - and that Jesus did not just preach but 'commanded' unconditional love. Know that you and your son are greatly loved. With prayers. Graham
17 August 2012 11:16 (3 of 41)
My heart goes out to you Sue. I have a close family member in this position.I cannot believe Jesus rejects gay people and thank God in many parishes gay people are loved and valued members of the community. these young people are not to blame if they walk away from the Church but Jesus will never desert them, even if they do not know it. Let the spirit guide our church leaders to look again at the better understanding of human sexuality which objective research has now brought us and show the love which Jesus offers to all of us.
17 August 2012 6:36 (2 of 41)
This blog contribution very accurately reflects the siutation in our family. A little personal story illustrates the bizarre nature of the church's position. A priest once advised me to inform my homosexual son that although homosexual acts with others offend the Almighty, it is legitimate for a homosexual find sexual relief in masturbation! I have often wondered whether this is a generally held position within the hierarchical church.
16 August 2012 20:44 (1 of 41)
A brave mother and an even braver son! Your son has tremendous honesty and integrity, qualities so often missing in those we hear speaking of little else but the disordered nature of homosexuality!
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