Thursday, November 3

The fundamental disconnect

So, last week the Boston Pilot (the official publication of the Arch-diocese of Boston) published an editorial written by the USCCB associate director for policy and research, Dr. Daniel Avila.  In it, Dr. Avila advanced the notion that same-sex attraction is of the Devil.  And I quote,

"In other words, the scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil. Any time natural disasters occur, we as people of faith look back to Scripture's account of those angels who rebelled and fell from grace. In their anger against God, these malcontents prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. They continue to do all they can to mar, distort and destroy God's handiwork.

Therefore, whenever natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God."
Daniel Avila, "Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction," The Boston Pilot
Sharp readers will note that the article itself has been pulled with a retraction/apology which says that somehow Dr. Avila's editorial was published without a nihil obstat or imprimatur. I can and have argued on multiple occasions as to why the 'natural law' argument is fundamentally flawed, as well as how the 'intrinsically disordered' position is explicitly contrary to both the Deposit of Faith and the Catechism of the Church. The more I have pondered this, though, the more that it begs 'some fundamental questions', as the article title states.

The most fundamental of these is the understanding of what constitutes an intimate relationship.

The noted anthropologist Helen Fisher defines the parts of a relationship as lust, attraction and attachment, with what she is calling lust being analogous to what Avila is calling 'attraction' - being the only one of the three which has anything to do with sex.  Her research has shown that the drive of lust is the least powerful of the three.  For those of us who have actually been in a long-term relationship, her research 'proves' what we have known all along - that long-term relationships have little to do with sex.  They are about being with the other person, sharing your lives (both in good and bad) and working together. It's chicken soup and fluffed pillows when they're sick, TV on the couch and cooking in the kitchen together. It's putting up with his family (and he putting up with yours), laughing about 'that one time' and conversations with just knowing glances. Can sex be a part of that? Yes, but even then it's about being together, not the quick fix.

And this is the root of the disconnect. These concepts are as foreign to them as the form of celibacy practiced by clerics is to us. There is no frame of reference, no way of understanding.  No class or book can teach you what it really means.  Individually and collectively, the celibate clerical class has no possible way of grasping or understanding these things.  They must be experienced for oneself and those experiences are gender-independent.


  1. Tim I pray all the time that Catholics get this concept of attachment in relationship. What angers me probably more than Avila's drivel is the Vatican's insistence on seeing relationships soley in terms of sexual dalliances--marriage just lasting longer and producing children. Love is not about the sex, it's about the relationship. Sex is another communication tool with in the love relationship.

    Sex has to serve that communication function because it takes so long to raise a human child to independence.

    The other thing that irritates me no end about Vatican sexual teaching is that none of these men seem to understand the female body has an external source of orgasm that has zero to do with reproduction. It exists strictly for pleasure. Idiots one and all. I imagine if they were asked they would confirm Mary didn't have one of those 'thingies' either.

  2. Blast you, Colleen. I was going to just check my email real quick as it's horribly late. Now, there's a post in my head which needs putting to paper which talks to this.