Our stories, in their simple unadulterated truth, offer the best defence we have against the lies that are the fragile foundation of formal Vatican teaching on same sex relationships. These plain lies are manifold, from the claim that our sinfulness is demonstrated in the story of Sodom (not so), or the claim that it is “indisputable” that Scripture disapproves (immediately contradicted by the many theologians who have so disputed), or the bland assertion that homosexual “acts” are purely self-indulgent self-gratification. This last assertion, based on absolutely no evidence, is perhaps the most egregious of all.
Even conservative Evangelical theologians, grounded in their own personal experience of how a personal, sexual relationship can lead both partners through mutual self-sacrifice closer to God, have recognised that precisely the same process can work in same sex couples. Vatican bureaucrats, starved in their own lives of this particular path to the divine, fail to recognize it in others. Yet basic mathematics has a simple remedy: to disprove a proposed universal rule or law, all that is required is a single counter-example.
In my own life, I have already provided that counter example. My own experience was that the attempt to live strictly within Vatican rules on sexual ethics led me to drift away from the church. Living honestly as gay led me back in. Of course, the counter argument could be that the proposition was never intended to be universal, just a general norm: then we need more than a single counter-example. We need a mass of them, all testifying and bearing witness to the error in the teaching.
The Vatican itself, in “Homosexualitatis Problema” urges us to remember the Biblical injunction to “Speak the Truth in Love“, and “The Truth Will Set You Free“. There are both theological and political reasons for telling our stories: there is a clear biblical instruction to do so, and doing so will go a long way to undermine the bland, entirely unjustified assumptions underlying Vatican hostility. Destroy the foundation, and we can pull down the entire edifice. This Saturday, 12th June, I shall be going in to London for a meeting of the RCC of the LGCM (“Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement”), where this precise idea, of telling our stories. is the major theme for the day.
The principle, as I have summarised it above. is one I have long promoted. Duigan McGinley, in “Acts of Faith, Acts of Love: Gay Catholic Autobiographies As Sacred Texts“, goes one step further. He says that telling our stories is not merely helpful, it is sacramental. The tales that we tell, he says, deserve to be taken seriously, as sacred texts.
“For too long, gay Catholic lives have been shrouded in the secrecy advanced by official Catholic teaching. For many gay Catholics, the “closet” remains a powerful metaphor for the secrecy and shame which keep many of us to keep our sexual identity hidden. At times, the decision to remain “in the closet” is carefully calculated and deliberate. At other to,es, the closet is forced upon us from outside. Yet it is in this context that gay Catholic must reconcile their sexual and spiritual lives. Gay Catholic autobiographical acts reveal the delicate interplay between sexuality, spirituality, and the many other components of identity which make a person unique.These acts of self-disclosure – of confession – stand as revelations of God’s intervention and actions in hay Catholic lives. I offer an interpretation of Matthew 10:27, on open and fearless confession:
What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight. What you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.
When a gay Catholic takes the risk of narrating his gay identity, transforming what was once secret and publishing it for public dissemination, his public act becomes a “whisper from the housetop”.
So, I say unto you…….
Obey the voice of Scripture, obey the clear command of the Church: tell it like it is, even if (especially if) in this respect, it is not what the ivory tower Vatican moralists want to hear.
- “The Sexual Person”: Bishops, Theologians Clash on Sexual Ethics (queertheology.blogspot.com)
- “Finding God in the Erotic”: Fr Donal Godfrey (queering-the-church.com)
- Celibacy and a Wounded Church: Readers’ Observations (queertheology.blogspot.com)
- What Gay Catholics Have Done: Suicide (queering-the-church.com)