Terence, I thought this piece by Jamie Manson was really well done, and I’m not surprised with the number of vehement comments directed against her and her thinking.
Over on Bill’s blog he and I got into a short discussion which leads me to believe misogyny is more of a symptom than maybe the actual cause of the sexual dysfunction in church theology. I don’t think Western culture has ever placed any value on men maturing in their sexuality. This is certainly true in the clerical culture in which denial is the preferred psychological mode.
In the highschool mind set sex is all about performance, titillation, and orgasm. Sexuality as an expression of an intimate relationship is a secondary issue. Women in this level of sexual understanding will first be a means to an end, rather than an equal participant. From this starting point it’s not hard to see where sexually immature men could develop a theology in which women were then also less worthy of life than the fruit of the male seed–again women were to be a means to an end. The more compliant women were in both situations the better.
I strongly suspect the idea of gay marriage is threatening because it takes gay sex to a far more mature level in terms of relationship than straight men want to credence. It might give their wives ideas about sexual equality.
What I found interesting about Jamie was that in a piece that was about the Anglican venture, she quickly appeared to veer off topic into the whole area of sexuality. But she was right to do so, because the Anglican embrace can never affect directly more than a relatively small number of people in the English speaking world. But it does expose for discussion very different interpretations of sexuality, whihc affect us all.
The comments were interesting too – and I thought there a lot of very supportive ones as well as the exclamations of horror. A response to my own comment asked whether I believed sex was only about pleasure – which makes your point exactly. There is an assumption that sex is either about making babies or about sensual gratification. There is no recognition that gay men in particular may also be interested in sex as a deep interaction with another person. I agree with you that the opposition to gay marriage is not always about simple hostility to us. Many people are happy to tolerate us as an amusing type, especially when we stick to the stereotypes as dancers, hairdressers and decorators- witty, stylish and trendsetting. But when we start to move out of those stereotypes, we become threatening: the more we resemble them, the more they can see how much they are like us.
Terry, this is a fascinating posting that fills in some blanks for me. I hadn’t taken time to research Jamie Manson’s background. Because you did so and posted about this, I think I now have a clearer picture about why she is attracting some of the hostility she is receiving due to her NCR posting.
I intend to read anything I can find of hers now. It’s clear to me that what she writes is rooted in powerful experience–a voice I’m happy to hear more of. Thanks for posting this.
The “research” wasn’t difficult. I first read her original story a long time ago, and then saw it again featured on “Gay Catholic Forum”, and was thinking of using it anyway on something about the margins – a theme we were discussing some time ago. All I really needed to do was to check she was the same person – and bingo!. But the same check did show she has since had a number of postings at NCR, which I agree will be worth reading carefully.,
Of course, the Vatican is wrong about sexuality. We all know that. And frankly, it’s always easy to attack the Vatican. It’s a safe sport – I’ve done it myself. But I think there’s a deep issue here, that no one I’ve read has raised: What is the church doing about the millions of gay Catholics who suffer discrimination and isolation (and worse) in societies less liberal than ours? What are WE doing to help these voiceless brothers and sisters? This really troubles me, and I don’t have an answer.
You’re right, Jeremiah. Simply attacking the official teaching is all too easy. The point of my post was not simply to state the obvious, but to show that the different issues are linked, so that we need to form alliances. We also need to show those who struggle under the burden of this teaching, that there are alternative interpretations of Scripture, tradition and natural law. We also need to encourage the development of spiritual practices which will give us direct experience of God to set aside the pronouncement so the Vatican as you do so well at Gospel for Gays.
The question you raise is far more tricky. I feel this particularly with a background and continuing strong interest in Africa, but I too do not have any answers. I do know, though that the outcry at the beginning of the year over Vatican failure to condemn a UN resolution did have some (modest) effect. Although they did not endorse the resolution, the outcry did lead them to soften their initial stance. So, although it seems to be a simplistic and inadequate response, it does seem that to some degree, the Vatican is now more sensitive to protest than they used to be – as was also dramatically shown in the response to the outcry over the lifting of the excommunication on the SPXII bishops, and later to the the withdrawal of a conservative Austrian bishop who ahd been named for a controversial promotion.
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