Quoth Noli Irritare Leones :
On the one hand, I do tend to default to assuming that people are struggling sexually, they weren’t meant to be celibate.
I think in a lot of cases this is true. I think most people are supposed to be married. I think far more people should get married than actually are. I don’t think everyone is cut out for celibacy. I think that Paul guy was onto something when he wrote to those people in Corinth on the subject.
But I just worry that for too many evangelicals, this idea that if you’re struggling you weren’t meant to be celibate is a driving force behind bad theology and worse decisions. On the one hand it is taken by some pro-gay Christians to mean that gay people who don’t enjoy celibacy should form same-sex partnerships. (i.e, “I am struggling, so I am not supposed to be celibate. I am not interested in hetero marriage. Therefore, I should enter into a gay relationship, regardless of those other verses. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best I can muster. If it is better to marry than to burn with lust, then surely it must be better to be in a committed monogamous same-sex relationship than to struggle so precariously, right? Even if it’s not “God’s best” for me.”) On the other hand, it is taken by certain exgays and their allies to mean that God absolutely WILL change anyone who’s having a rough time with celibacy or will miraculously take aware their sexual desires, which I think fosters a whole range of false expectations and resulting disappointment or worse.
What we need to remember to balance all of this, I think, is that God’s commands are His enablings. We need to trust, as Augustine prayed, that God will grant what He commands. When we see commandments and moral teachings in Scripture, we don’t need to ask, “Gee, am I really cut out for all that?” If He commands it, by His grace He will strengthen us to do it if we seek to obey. It may not be pretty, but it will be possible. We need to embrace strenuous spiritual struggle as part of life. I do not believe that God will call someone to celibacy if they are absolutely incapable of it. But I think we all far underestimate what we are capable of with the grace of God working in us. It’s kind of like exercising, when you’re running or doing situps or whatever and you’re feeling like you’re at your limit, and you think, “I absolutely cannot do any more!” But if you have a friend encouraging you and pushing you onward, you find that you can often do a lot more than you thought you could. Our limits are rarely where we think they are.
From And Also With You:
Where things get tricky is with her comments on the ex-gay movement as a Protestant phenomenon. First, she characterizes the recent Vatican document on homosexuals in seminaries as declaring that “homosexual attractions are necessarily a manifestation of spiritual and emotional immaturity.” I’m not sure that the Vatican document says that; on the other hand, I’m not sure it isnt true.
Perhaps I’m erring in the conclusions I’ve drawn. I must admit that I do not read many Vatican documents, nor am I as up-to-date on Catholic discussion of homosexuality as I might be.
But it seems to me that the logic of the statement was: A certain degree of maturity is necessary to be a priest. Therefore, men with non-transitory homosexual attractions should not apply for the priesthood. Now, there’s a missing premise needed to make the argument make any sense, and that premise is: Men with non-transitory homosexual attractions lack the necessary maturity. I don’t know how else to read it. I’ve read the statement several times. I’ve read a few commentaries on it and discussions of it. I understand that this topic is soooo last December, so I’ll refrain from posting abundant quotes to support my interpretation. But that’s how it looks from this outsider’s vantage point. If I’m missing something that I should be getting, I’d be grateful for explanation, either via the comments or email to disputedmutability (at) yahoo (dot) com.
I don’t object so much to the Vatican’s decision to bar gays from entering the priesthood, given the circumstances. But my own opinion is that the real reasons for doing so, the possibly legitimate reasons, have nothing to do with this Freudian stuff. Readers of this blog will soon discover (if they haven’t already) how deep my antipathy for that stuff goes. To elucidate my position a little bit, it’s not that I deny that parental issues or other environmental factors may play a role. For all I know they might. What I do deny, with every fiber of my being, is that persistent homosexual attraction is conclusive evidence of stunted development. I say this not because of myself, but because of others. I have known people who through therapy and/or spiritual practice have healed whatever issues they may have had, and yet remain as same-sex attracted as they ever were. And besides that there’s the fact that I’ve never really noticed much of a correlation between sexual orientation and maturity of any sort.