Monday, June 9, 2008

"I Kissed A Girl (and I Liked It)"

So I was sitting at a stoplight the other day - windows down, radio way up, cruising through the pre-sets. Finally...fantastic beat, enjoyable female voice; I proceeded to jam. Wait, what was that? Como say, "What?"
"I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chapstick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don't mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right...
Us girls we are so magical
Soft skin, red lips, so kissable
Hard to resist so touchable
Too good to deny it
Ain't no big deal, it's innocent"
A little research on YouTube later that night told me the song was from Katy Perry's album, Just One of the Boys.

Now I'm right there with Katy - to a point. I too have kissed girls, and really, really liked it. But I'm a dude, and Katy, as you can see, is an attractive, young lady. I think it's a mistake for her to be kissing girls, experimentally or in any other way.

You probably knew I was going to say that though - I mean, the blog is "Just a Catholic"; and it's common knowledge that, at least historically, Christians have believed homosexual behavior to be a sexual sin. The crazy thing is though, even though I "tow the party line," I don't consider myself a homophobe, bigoted jackass, or "hater." And if you'll give me a moment or two I'll explain why:

First, just because we human beings have the ability to do something, it doesn't mean we should. That goes for everything from the use of nuclear weapons, to girls kissing girls, to purchasing a Kenny G album. Seriously, all of us agree that there are some actions human beings shouldn't perform - murder immediately comes to mind as a universal. I can't think of a culture that celebrates theft, treason, betrayal, or slander either. Now I'm not trying to equate homosexual activity with the malevolent sentiments accompanying any of those activities; I simply want to remind you that objecting to certain behaviors is a trait common to all of us.

I'll continue by saying that each of us have struggles, and some much more than others, with strong impulses and inclinations. During my day job I work with young people who have autism and other developmental disorders. I see some strong sensory needs and some very startling attempts to have them met- tactile input sought through slapping your teacher or oral-motor sensation through licking your neighbor's corduroy pants. The overwhelming urge is there; the child didn't choose it, and he/she shouldn't be looked down upon for it. At the same time, however, those are behaviors not deemed acceptable, and we look for ways to help the child meet his/her needs in a different way. Myself, I have seen some of the people I love most struggle with clinical depression. I've seen them not want to get out of bed, to dread living through the next day; and yet, despite those incredibly strong emotions they had the conviction that they had go on, that their lives were a gift from God and that however bleak it appeared, they didn't have the right to end them. And thank God they didn't!

So coming at the issue of homosexuality, or any issue for that matter, as a Christian, I begin with the conviction that we have a Father in Heaven with loving, and specific, desires for His children. We can recognize many of these desires by looking at the moral norms common across the entire globe, engraved upon our hearts you could say. There are a number of moral issues however, where God's will seems murky to us - and many of these seem to cluster around how we express ourselves sexually. I don't think we should be surprised by this - the intensely physical and emotional nature of the act is intoxicating; it's very easy to become confused, to begin following our own impulses and inclinations instead of God's.

This is one of the reasons we Christians believe God spoke to the world through the prophets of Israel, even going so far as to become one of us. He came to cut through the confusion that arises from our impulses and inclinations, whatever their root - genetic, environmental, psychological, social, etc. - and make clear His intentions for us. He spoke with compassion for our condition, compassion for our struggles; but He did not mitigate the Truth. Part of that truth is that homosexual behavior is wrong. Those struggling with same-sex attraction are not helped when we Christians adopt an attitude of, "It's not right for me, but who am I to say for you?" In the midst of depression my loved ones wouldn't have been helped by my saying "Intentionally ending my life isn't right for me, but who am I to say for you?" No, their lives were preserved because of a truth, a conviction, that transcended their psychological bent (and genetic predisposition to depression, in many cases).

When Jesus told His disciples, "Judge not, lest you be judged" (Matthew 7:1), He wasn't telling them to withhold judgment as to whether a behavior was right or wrong in God's eyes. That ignores the entire rest of the Sermon on the Mount (three chapters in length); that type of interpretation is a complete betrayal of the context. Jesus' very next words were, "For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged...You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" (Matt.7:2-5). In other words, if you want to see our Father's will spread through this earth, you have to begin by letting His Truth transform you; only then can you bring it to your brothers and sisters out of a desire for their well-being, instead of from some false sense of moral superiority.

And what is this Truth that we Christians should bring to our brothers and sisters struggling with same-sex attraction? We find it in those first pages of Genesis, in the creation stories God delivered to the world through Israel:

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." So God created man in his own image...male and female He created them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen.1:26-28).
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed (Gen.2:24-25).

The one God (Who is a plurality of Father, Son, and Spirit) created the sexual union of man and woman - a oneness that brings forth a new, third life - to mirror His own inner Life! Human sexual love reflects the Trinity; it is an integral part of the claim that humanity is in God's image! And this inner life of God consists in a love that is freely given, eternally faithful, and overflows with Life. As it is in Heaven, so should it be on earth; that is God's intention for us. So if you're a Christian walking around with the idea that "sex is dirty," drop it. That wasn't the teaching of the Old Testament, of Jesus, or His Church. If you got that idea from a minister or a devout family member, you've been misled.

But homosexual acts do not have a place in God's plan. The male and female complementarity is completely absent, as is the possibility for new life, a child, to emerge from the union. God's plan has been written into our biological makeup; reproduction is possible only through the union of male and female gametes.

If one wants to come at the matter from an evolutionary standpoint, I think one has to recognize that homosexual sex is aberrant. Natural selection favors those traits which aid an organism to survive and pass those traits onto offspring. In nature's book sex is solely about reproduction; impulses and urges are simply a means to an end. Homosexual sex has quite an enemy in natural selection!

Homosexual acts are in conflict then with God's intention for us, both as reflected in biology and special revelation (through Judaism and Christianity). Up until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association recognized homosexual attraction as a disorder. Our brothers and sisters struggling with same-sex attraction, no matter its origin (whether it be genetic, environmental, etc.), are experiencing a struggle that the majority of us do not. The 1994, Catechism of the Catholic Church expressed it well:

They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's cross the difficulties they may encounter
in their condition

These brothers and sisters need Truth, not saccharine -coated crap that "I'm o.k., and you're o.k." No, we are all members of a fallen race. I need God's grace, and His people's help and encouragement, to keep moving forward under my own crosses, and people facing same-sex attraction need those same supports to move forward in life despite the sexual impulses and temptations they face. For our culture, and especially the Christians within it, to say otherwise is a betrayal of our call to speak the truth in love.

Let me point you toward some groups helping those with same-sex
Courage Community

National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality

And Katy Perry my friend, I like your sound; but out of love I'm telling you that I disagree with your lyrics. Will you give what I've written a little thought? Please? Alright, I'm taking your silence as a maybe. God bless.

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