Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Celibate Homosexual

To go along with the post I made below about Benedict on Gender, I decided, after much consideration to link to an unpublished article that I wrote for a magazine that didn't take it. It can be read on my personal Blog, Poetreader:

http://poetreaderpacht.blogspot.com/2008/12/celibate-homosexual.html

15 comments:

Otto said...

What an encouragement! Your story must make "Left wing Liberals" gnash their teeth in anger and make the "Right wing Conservative" types want to hide you away somewhere because you make them uncomfortable. What a crown of Glory you are sure to receive by Gods Grace and what a crown of Glory will be yours to give back to Christ on that Day.

poetreader said...

Well, thank you, sir, for such kind and surely unmerited words. It certainly was never my choice to become a spokesperson for this kind of issue. and it is both awkward and uncomfortable to be thus exposed. When I began to be drawn into speaking out, I told Him, "No Way!", He told me, "Oh, yes!". and so it came to be.

ed

Mark said...

Dear Poetreader:

You have given us a master class in introspection and humility. I'm convinced that if the general discussion on sexuality and morality was elevated to this intellectual and ethical level, many would see celibacy as a gift, and not as a burden.

May I add that the value of celibacy should also be appreciated by those who are married. During times of physical indisposition, extended business travel, or occasional plain boredom, this discipline must be adhered to for the good of the family and one's soul.

Those, who by the grace of God, lead happy and chaste lives, are a living contradiction to the loud crowd that sees sexuality as a controlling force in our psyche.

poetreader said...

Dear Mark,

Thank you also for your kindness. Introspection, yes. I've developed that to the point where it becomes a genuine fault, to where I am far more likely to be thinking of MY spiritual state than of God Himself, and far more likely to be considering what others think of me than what God thinks of me. These manifest not humility, but a really troublesome pride that I have to deal with daily. I find myself liking it when people call me humble, but I know it's not really true at all.

You're right. Celibacy is not just the calling of a few, but a spiritual discipline that everyone is called to undergo. Sex, like food, is a wonderfully beautiful creation of God, created to be enjoyed. However, the Catholic Church has always stressed the need of fasting as a part of the use and enjoyment of food. The good thing is not to be used and enjoyed without limit. Likewise, even within marriage, there's something awry about having all the sex one wants, whenever one wants it. Such an attitude only leads to dissatisfaction and disappointment. I've a friend, a young father whom I mentored for years, whose marriage has broken apart, largely out of his inability to live with the fact that his wife wanted less than he did, and his consequent willingness to seek it elesewhere. This is all too common a story. Purposeful and agreed abstention is part of the healthy sexual life of a married couple.

This is strange. It never occurred to me that the close of a fruitful life as a Protestant preacher would lead me into a lay ministry heavy on thoughts of sexuality, but it seems to be so. So be it. I'm feeling drawn toward other somewhat related topics. Stay tuned.

ed

Mark said...

Temptation to be proud of one's humility - I wonder if this is the Devil's attempt at humor?

Narrow indeed is the road.

poetreader said...

Yes, "humbler than thou" is one of the most troublesome manifestations of "holier than thou". The humbler one perceives oneself to be, the more Christlike one is likely to feel, and the prouder one tends to become of one's spiritual attainment. Spiritual pride is indeed a problem, and a subtle one. I know myself to be a very proud person, tending to value the gifts I realistically have to recognize as of they were of more weight than my undoubted sins and weaknesses, more than sufficient (alas), were it not for Jesus, to exclude me from Heaven. It's a battle I need to fight every day.

Yes, Satan, in his perverse humor and dark glory, is terribly good at using even the best in us for his nefarious purpose. The Scripture says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

ed

Canon Tallis said...

Ordinarily I would not comment on a post like this, but Otto's remarks about "right wing Conservative" types - of which I am certainly one - wanting to hide Ed away strikes me as a slander. His courage and his sense of duty, to say nothing of his humility and candor, make him a hero to many of us for the very reason that we are just what we are.

We know that we are fallen and sinners all, but that the grace of our Lord and Savior is what makes life as Christians possible for all of us. We all struggle with our sins, but few of us can be so candid about them and the journey to make us as whole as we can be on this side of the divide. Further some, perhaps many, of us have made or heard too many confessions to believe that we are in a position to Lord it over any of our fellows and it is precisely that which makes life in Christ as wonderful and exciting as it is.

Ed does not make me uncomfortable. Indeed, it is the "Eds" of this world that convince me and others of the truth of our Lord's gospel. It really does and can change folks so drastically that they hardly can themselves recognize the distance from their old selves which it has brought them. The miraculous thing is that even with this very great change in their being, God has managed to conserve so much of the person he created them to be.

In the Eucharist we tell everyone to "love your neighbor as yourself," but who is our neighbor for which the commandment is given. As a 'right wing conservative fascist hyena' I believe our neighbor is as much those sinners who have not as yet heard and accepted Our Lord's Gospel as it it those such as Ed who daily show us how to live it. It is the thieves on the crosses, the woman taken in adultery and even Left Wing Liberals who would gladly suppress every evidence and manifestation of the Christian faith. And I am a "right wing Conservative" precisely because I accept and believe that truth even as I must ask My Lord's gracious forgiveness because I am not always able to live up to His glory!

I rejoice that you praise Our Lord's achievement in Ed; I do as well. But neither of us should act as another tempter and that to a greater sin. Remember that we all have our own temptations and our own sins which we should be offering as part of our daily sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, asking both to be forgiving and to forgive.

May you know Him in grace, mercy and glory!

poetreader said...

Canon Tallis.

I am enormously glad you decided to comment on this post, and I thank you for the warmhearted and open expression of the Gospel you have expressed. I'm pleasantly surprised at the openly affirming comments I've seen since I posted this article. I'm not used to such gracious treatment and have seldom received it from people of any theological or political stripe.

However, I have to say that you seem a bit overly sensitive. I see Mark's comment as being deliberately evenhanded, and very accurate for considerable numbers on both sides. I do receive scorn from the left for my insistence on celibacy, but I have been treated shabbily, sometimes with suspicion, sometimes with anger, sometimes with embarassment by conservatives (with whom I am to be numbered on very many issues), and it is these that have caused me the most problems. It was indeed strong and committed Conservative Christians, whom I continue to respect, who blocked the publication of this piece. You know, it's harder to be kicked by friends than by enemies.

That much is simply and regrettably true, but your gracious and Gospel-filled comments here demonstrate what I would have said anyway, that there are many conservatives who would not do so. Thank you.

ed

Sandra McColl said...

Canon Tallis: yes, we are all fallen and sinners, and if there's one thing I'd have liked to see more treatment of in Ed's excellent article, it's the fact that our nature is fallen. All too often, the 'affirming' types appeal to physical or psychological reasons why some people's erotic instincts are as they are, and demand to be permitted to put into practice what is 'natural' to them. But surely any 'natural' tendency any of us have to promiscuity or homosexuality, or the observed 'natural' tendency of men to want more than women are generally all that keen to provide, are consequences of the Fall. Viewed zoologically, we should probably be putting it about all over the place; viewed from the point of view of theological anthropology, however, I suspect (since I am quite ignorant as to matters of theological anthropology, but ignorance has never prevented my shooting my mouth off about a subject), such behaviour isn't natural at all--not, at least, according to the nature with which we were originally intended to be created before original sin got into the mix. Perhaps somebody a little more theologically literate might like to enlarge on this, if it is at all worthwhile.

The 'affirming' types forget that we are called, not to affirm, but to deny ourselves. Perhaps somebody a bit theologically literate might like to enlarge on this, too.

Finally: great one, Ed. Onya!

poetreader said...

Thanks, Sandra.
You've presented some interesting thoughts for further consideration. Since I seem fated (may I be so bold as to say "called"), whether I want to be or not, to keep returning to similar subjects, I expect that I will be addressing these matters sooner or later. It would be really good if someone else more academically qualified might also step into the fray. These are some of the most important issues for both Church and society in these strange days.

ed

Canon Tallis said...

Ed,

I will admit to being sensitive on the subject because of the perpetual smears of those of us who are. If the person who blocked the publication of your piece thought of himself as a "Conservative" my response would be that he was not nearly conservative enough.

In my youth - and I am much older than Father Hart - I knew priests whom I believed to be homosexual in orientation, but whom I also knew to be celibates and entirely devoted to Our Lord and the Apostle's doctrine. Sometime later, long after I had departed the diocese, I heard that they had been ensnared by the rise of the homosexual agenda and ceased to be celibate. One died of it but the other came to realize that he had made a very dear mistake and repented himself of his sins. I owed both of them a great deal and my sorrow over their fall and the death of the one will be with me until my earthly end. But I am not ashamed to rejoice that the other turned again to the Gospel and made his peace with God and the Church. To do and be otherwise would be a betrayal of the gospel and our Lord.

Really living up to the Gospel is a constant challenge and I fail in it constantly. But I also repent and confess my failures, rejoicing that I have a Savior, one who as St John says is "an advocate with the Father." I know that there are those who think themselves both Evangelical and Catholic Churchmen who have not and, tragically, will not come to grips with that reality. But I am totally aware that I am with the Publican and am not ashamed to echo his cry.

poetreader said...

Canon T,

I appreciate and understand the reactions you have had, and I appreciate the warm and open attitude you manifest toward those of us whose temptation is different from that of others, but may I be so bold as to make some observations that might look critical, but are not really intended to be so?

1. I have been abused and mistreated by "liberals", by "conservatives, and by "middle-of-the-roaders", and I have found reasonable people of open mind and willingness to actually communicate and to be supportive in all these camps. I've observed that the correctness or incorrectness of one's opinions seems to have little bearing on how one lives them out in the world. People with whom I am in very substantial agreement on basic issues are just as likely to stab me in the back, or to be supportive of me, as are those whose opinions on the same issues are nightmare-inducing. It's just the way fallen, sinful humanity is. not being "conservative enough" has little if anything to do with it.

2. I am not being critical of your views (I probably agree with most of them) in saying that I sincerely hope you don't actually identify as "Right wing". Every dangerous opinion, whether in theology or in politics, is neither more nor less than the overemphasis of a truth until it becomes false. Good theology, philosophy, politics, or science are attempts to find the point of balance where truth is really present. That's what classic Anglicans have meant by such terms as via media - not compromise, but the proper and true balance. One may differ with another as to where the balance point may be, but balance is essential. There is no limit to the seeking for an extreme view, and the result is invariably both false and destructive. I suspect Otto is in agreement with me in using that term "right wing" for people who claim to be conservative, but who in attitude and opinions have actually become radicals of the right, fully as dangerous as radicals of the left.

3. Something I've been learning from walking the peculiar road I walk: Jesus was not using hyperbole when he said, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you ... Rejoice and be exceeding glad..." You see, if I am wrong, then I am morally obligated to be thankful for correction. If I am right, I'm no better than the Lord who was beaten and killed for my sins, nor than any of the great cloud of martyrs. I often find myself taking umbrage at what someone says intending to hurt me. I do it, but it's wrong, and unseemly for a Christian, expressive of a kind of pride that I have no right to hold.

I hope this is not taken as confrontational. It's not meant to be. It comes with a deep and sincere thanks for the Christian attitude toward such as I that you are displaying. May that attitude come to be more widely held and lived.

ed

Otto said...

Agreed.
For the record BTW, I am a deeply committed moral and political conservative. Current military officer, registered republican, small gov., less regulation, no federal reserve,etc... So i apologize if you thought I was slandering you. There's an old saying that goes: "if the shoe fits, wear it. If not, don't buy it.

Canon Tallis said...

Ed,

I have given long and prayerful thought to making any reply to your last comment because there is so much in it with which I can not but agree. But if in our use of expression we normally opposed "right wing" with "wrong wing" instead of "left wing" would it equally upset you? I write this because I view things between right and wrong and not right and left. I choose to search for the Truth and commit myself to it and Him.

I am a conservative because I believe that in the cultural war in which we are currently engaged one must choose life and people over ideologies and fanaticism. That is, with the possible exception of a fanatical pursuit of all truth.

It is because of this that I think we are probably talking past each other rather than to or about each other. I don't and haven't seen what you have written as being confrontational but an attempt to understand, to find an understanding in the words which each of us must use because of our own particular history. And in this day and time that can be a very difficult task indeed.

I appreciate the 'via media' as an image of choosing between the faults on either side, but we as Christians (and I hope as Anglicans) are called to the straight way and the narrow gate and such conduct as you have experienced by those with whom you largely agree, the betrayals, the stabbing in the back lie entirely outside of acceptable behavior for anyone.

I guess this is a way of saying that I see no room for "two integrity's" between which good men can disagree and choose . . . if they want to stand before the throne of judgement with as clear a conscience as possible. I believe in what you wrote that you have chosen the "right way" and that you are also setting it forth for the edification of the rest of us in the hope that we and all others will also choose that way. I especially rejoice that you have done so given your past experiences with those who seem not either to remember or keep our Lord's commandments.

poetreader said...

Father, we are going to disagree about probably a multitude of smaller matters, but I'm coming to recognize in you (to my surprise, I must confess) very much of a kindred spirit, and I am finding you (in the particular matter at hand, a cause, obviously, very close to my heart) to be a valued ally. Thank you for that.

Having said that, I find it necessary to comment on what is really a linguisitc matter, that makes communication of much that we both hold dear considerably more difficult than it need be. You said:

"But if in our use of expression we normally opposed "right wing" with "wrong wing" instead of "left wing" would it equally upset you? I write this because I view things between right and wrong and not right and left. I choose to search for the Truth and commit myself to it and Him."

I catch and appreciate your point here (at last), but I have to express in no uncertain terms that your choice of wording does not communicate to those to whom you are speaking. "Right" and "Left", in both politics and religion have come to have, each, a specific complex of meanings that, toward the center are fairly descriptive of a more 'conservative' or a more 'liberal' view of things, and not necessaruly an ideology per se. However, to say "right wing' or 'left wing' is to speak of extremism, of a rigid ideology, and of an exclusionary attitude that breeds anger, rejection, and even hatred. If you identify yourself as 'right wing' you are (to almost any listener) putting yourself in a camp I'm sure you don't want to be identified with. Either wing is, by definition, fanaticism. There are limits as to how far one can move in either direction, and limits in how far one can identify oneself with any grouping.

For myself, I am staunchly conservative in theology, committed to the Catholic faith, seeing in classic Anglicanism the best expression of that that I can find. I love the Prayer Book, with a passion, but I am not adverse to enriching it from the Missal (a place we will differ) but entirely adverse to conforming it to the 79 or the Novus Ordo (I'm sure we agree here). I am opposed to abortion, to the practice of homosexuality, and even to contraception, as also to divorce and remarriage (even to most so-called annulments) -- but I am even more opposed to the condemnation and exclusion of those who hold a different view or practice. They are to be welcomed insofar as they can be welcomed without accepting sin, precisely as our Lord Himself made himself the friend of sinners and received criticism for that.

I am further committed to favoring the poor over the rich, to combatting all forms of civil injustice, to a very large degree of social gospel -- as part and parcel of the Gospel of salvation, not as the center of concern.
I frankly see this range of opinions to be at the heart of the Gospel, and not to fit any descriptions of left or right, or, for that matter, of conservative and liberal. I'm a Christian and am a bit uncomfortable at being labeled further, as every label conveys things to the hearer that I would consider false, even if it largely contains those concepts that I do hold.

Father, with what I've been hearing you say, I'm convinced that any existing label is just as inappropriate for you. Your self-description heretofore has led me to expect something quite other than the gentle, if firm, man of God I am beginning to perceive. I'm glad, finally to be getting to know you.

In Him
ed