Thursday, September 23

Dogs, Gays, Geese and Reasonability

I realise that this is the third post in a row about 'teh gay', but something which has been rattling around in the back of my head just popped.  Please bear with me on this.

There is a dog.  She's a good girl, to be sure, and she knows full well that I shan't tolerate any of the pets doing their business in the house.  But, if I don't walk her as I used to or otherwise allow her to go outside, then there's not much choice now is there?  I mean, theoretically she could hold her water for the whole time, but...yah.  Of course, the cat has the same prohibition against crapping everywhere, but she has a litter-box that I provide.  So, if I keep to that regimen of not walking the dog but she must not do it indoors, then who's at fault when there's a mess?  The well meaning dog or me?

There is a gay boy. He's a good Catholic, to be sure, and he knows full well that the Church shan't tolerate anyone having sex outside of marriage.  But, if the Church won't condone same-sex marriage like it used to or otherwise allow any sexual release, then there's not much choice now, is there?  I mean, theoretically he could be chaste, but...yah.  Of course, his straight brother has the same prohibition against extra-marital sex, but he has marriage that the Church provides.  So, if the Church keeps to the regimen of no same-sex marriage but no extra-marital sex, then who is at fault when there's 'a mess'?  The well-meaning gay or the Church?

My point in this isn't to argue for or against the concept that sex is a fundamental bodily function which 'can't be helped'.  Instead, what I'm looking at is a matter of reasonableness.  For Christians, the choices regarding sex are simple: chastity, marriage or some form of sin.  Yes, there are some who can be chaste, but even in orders which call for chastity it has always been a problem, and those orders are voluntary.  For over half of the Christian tradition, same-sex marriage (under various names) have existed and been a valid alternative, but since the Church turned intolerant towards women, Jews and homosexuality in the 14th century, marriage is a straight-only option.  Thus, the only alternative that the Church condones involves harming the relationship between man and God.

In a more general sense, one can make the same argument for the gay boy in a society which says promiscuity is wrong but won't let him get hitched.  Don't prevent him from doing what everyone else can do and then castigate him when he exercises the only other option available....and especially do not castigate those who don't have another option whilst turning a blind eye to those who can get married and yet are promiscuous.

"If you don't eat yer meat, ye can't have any pudding."
"'s Friday.  The Church says I can't have any meat, either." 

The point is that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If we say that the only way to be good is to do [X], then everyone must be given the opportunity to do [X].

Just sayin.


  1. Yes, that's exactly the problem if you are Christian and gay: a classic double-bind, a Catch-22. And it will run you quite literally crazy. I know, I spent years searching the scriptures for the tiniest loophole, but there isn't one.

    I know some ingenious folks nowadays think otherwise, but I don't see it that way. And even if you can come up with a clever exegesis, you still run smack-dab into the brick wall of homophobia, even in many liberal-leaning churches. As an Episcopal priest I used to chat with put it, "The unwritten rule is, we don't mind if you're gay, as long as you don't talk about it in church." But I'm past the point of needing or wanting to play that kind of game now. Or of needing anyone to tell me what I can or can't do with my own body.

    BTW, your comments on church-blessed same-sex marriages are no doubt based on John Boswell's "Same-sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe," which I found very exciting when I first read it. A brilliant scholar who died much too soon. Alas, I've never been able to find any other serious, well-credentialed academic historians who support his views and interpretations - have you?

    Nice blog you have here, keep up the good work.

  2. Thank you for the kind words.

    There has been some follow-on work done in recent years regarding 'early church' Same Sex Unions (SSUs), but Boswell is certainly the foundational work which everyone and everything goes back to. I would highly recommend his other major work, Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality for a scholarly discussion of a Historical-Critical interpretation of what Scripture says vis a vis homosexuality. A thumbnail sketch would be that the Old Testament says the prohibition is a cultural signifier for Jews, but not an anathema, while the New Testament says don't pay the temple prostitutes for sex and don't deny your nature and have sex with the 'wrong' sex (defining wrong as being those against your nature).

    Regarding churches being accepting, I've found that it depends a lot more about the general social attitude of the area. I presently live in a very open and affirming area of the country and my own church community is quite welcoming to the LGBT community in general.

    One point to mention - your opening statement paints with a bit overly-broad brush by saying that all Christian faiths are against SSUs. Though the Roman Church, one main-line Protestant (Southern Baptist) and (to my knowledge) all evangelical Protestant churches forbid SSU, there has been a great shift in the Anglican/Epsicopalian, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian churches over the last few years and most of the Independent Catholic Churches will perform SSUs. I expect that, as the fight for same-sex equality will be won in a generational fashion, so to will the acceptance of homosexuality within the general Christian community.

    Thanks again for your comments.



  3. Of course, the Baptist and the Catholic churches take in many, many millions of adherents, right? I did say "many," not all, and I'm aware of the slow, general trend among some Protestant churches, and that not without lively debate and controversy; but of course a lot depends on where you live. In the vast reaches between the two coasts, America is still a very homophobic place. Probably as you suggest in another generation or two, things will be different, but we're not out of the woods yet.

    I have both of Boswell's books; brilliant stuff and interesting hypotheses, but where's the confirmation by other scholars? And by the historical record? That's what I've not come across yet: if you know of some such sources, please blog those, I'd be interested in reading.

  4. Regarding further study, I will admit that my personal focus at present is elsewhere and I haven't read nearly as much as there is out there. A few sources which leap out include Gareth Moore's A Question of Truth, Jack Roberts' Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality and Daniel Helminiak's What the Bible really says about Homosexuality.

    One thing I find missing is any serious criticism of Boswell. Louis Crompton's Homosexuality and Civilization is the only scholarly work I have found which has questioned Boswell and his analysis basically says (30 years after the fact) that he was too selective in his sources. That said, his analysis is so fundamentally anti-Christian that I wonder if his own bias as a pioneering same-sex advocate who suffered at the hands of the Christian Right shows through.
    If he is going after Boswell, it's only as a sideswipe - his big target is Foucault, whose 3 volume discussion on sexuality is recommended if you can get through the dwarf-star-dense prose.

    Hope this helps a bit.



  5. No thanks, I'm full. Think we are sitting on different ends of the log on these questions, but that's fine, and it's your blog. Peace, bro.