So I got some random linkage attention from Catholics a little while ago. Anyway, some of them seem interested in drawing out what they perceive to be the differences between Catholics and Evangelicals on these issues.
From the Catholic Report (July 5th):
The Catholic Church takes a unique postion within the world of faith. While Evangelical Christians believe God would never create someone this way and liberal Christians believe people should act upon their feelings, the Catholic Church takes a different approach. The Church believes these feelings may be there for some but they are not to be acted on. This means the Church gets attacked from all sides. Evangelicals say God would never create anyone this way and liberal Christians think we are terrible for not letting people act on their feelings. The Church believes that in the Fall (Garden of Eden) disordered parts of nature came into being. Therefore, they are not to be acted on whether they be homosexuality, pornography, addictions of all sorts etc.
In response to this I’d just note that there is a lot of diversity among us evangelicals regarding what to make of homosexual attractions. Many of us do believe, similarly to Catholics (I think), that a homosexual predisposition could be a result of the Fall. I don’t necessarily see that competing with other origin stories though–I see it as complementing them.
I simply don’t think we understand sexuality or its causes very well yet. It might turn out that the tendency to homosexual attractions is inborn. It might turn out that it is caused some other way. It might be different for different people. I am agnostic on the subject, and cannot understand all the dogmatic proclamations about it being made on all sides.
And somebody wrote into Catholic and Enjoying It, saying among other things:
PS. It’s interesting that a lot of what she describes has been written about by the Saints, and indeed, it seems to me that perhaps the Evangelical world does not quite have the vocabulary to describe it.
Um, I’m not sure this person is saying this, but just to be clear, let’s not blame my own ignorance and/or lack of eloquence on The Evangelical World. They have enough to answer for, like that Statue of Liberation Through Christ monstrosity and Touchdown Jesus, without being taken to task for my shortcomings.
Also, I am familiar with a small handful of these Saint characters. I’ve read stuff by Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux, John of the Cross, and Teresa of Avila. I also have been greatly blessed by the one volume of the four-volume version of the Philokalia that I own. There are some Saint types in there (Mark the Ascetic, John Cassian, Hesychios the Priest, Neilos the Ascetic, Diadochos of Photiki, John of Karpathos) although I don’t know if they count as Catholic saints or just Orthodox ones. Also, thanks to John the commenter who dropped me a note about the Ignatian Exercises, I’m now learning about Ignatius of Loyola. Who seems like a cool guy. But maybe not quite as cool as that other Ignatius, the one who said, “I am the wheat of God, and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of God.” Now THAT makes me shiver.
Anyway, where was I? Yeah, so, I’m not totally oblivious to the existence of these people who experienced astounding depths of intimacy with God, who had amazingly penetrating understandings of certain spiritual truths, who wrote down their wisdom to share it with the rest of us. I’m really grateful for them. I don’t really get the whole veneration/devotion thing, or a lot of other things about the Catholic view of their saints, but I’m grateful for them nonetheless.
It’s just that I feel awkward using their spiritual vocabulary to talk about my own experience. So, for example, I guess I feel that calling some of my spiritually rough and dry times a “dark night of the soul” would be kind of like calling the sonnet-shaped drivel I churned out daily for my beloved in high school “poetry.” Or like calling the clumsy comedic routine my husband and I perform with a ball on a court under a hoop raised ten feet off the ground “playing basketball.” I think it calls for giant scare-quote gestures at least.