The column is at:
This led me to read Melinda Selmys’s three-part column from early 2007 issues of the National Catholic Register, that introduced the world to her conversion to Roman Catholicism, abandonment of her previous “lesbian” life (“lesbian” is in quotes here for a reason I will get to later in this essay), and her acceptance and ability to regurgitate the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality with what at times seems to be a kinder and gentler spin, but one that can’t sufficiently whiten the sepulture.
There is nothing like the zeal of the convert, and Ms. Selmys is perhaps as good an example of this sort of zeal as one could expect from even a St. Paul or a St. Augustine, though in her case she isn’t creating any sort of new theology, she’s trying to paint a thin veneer over the intrinsic evil and failure of right reason that is the underpinning of the Roman Catholic Church’s moral theology as it applies to homosexuality.
Let’s start with some sacred scripture to get us in the mood for writing. In Matthew 7:26-27, Jesus is quoted as saying:
26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
More instructively, this chapter begins with Jesus saying:
1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
I commend the entire chapter to the reader for reading and meditation – there is much in the teachings of Jesus that reflect badly on the way the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy has warped them over the nearly two millennia of the Church’s existence (depending on how one is counting – it could be from ca. 33 CE, or 325 CE, or 1054 CE, but for our purpose today, we’ll take the Roman Catholic branch of Christianity as all the others, connected to the trunk that grew from the first Pentecost).
In Melinda’s three part column from early 2007 she explains:
I knew nothing about natural law, had no concept of sexual complementarity, and had only the vaguest possible notions about the import of the sacrament of matrimony.
The most charitable thing I can say is that after reading the columns, is that while her thinking may have changed and she has been educated about Roman Catholic official teachings, she still knows nothing about those three things, and has been filled with all sorts of nonsense built up like a house of cards at the beach on the eve of an approaching hurricane and tsunami.
So Melinda placed herself in the position of an Abraham, trying to make a deal with God. If she was truly lesbian, she would not have been able to deliver on her promise. Having had one or more lesbian experiences and relationships could have made her as lesbian as Ann Heche, the well known hasbean who once had a relationship with Ellen DeGeneres. But some women, as Melinda later acknowledges, are more likely to have been bisexual.
She writes about:
women who experience same-sex attractions are more likely to identify themselves as bisexual
and when she describes how easy it was for herself to “change,” it indicates that, despite her claims to have actually been lesbian, she is more likely to have been bisexual, even though she does not come out and say exactly that, since it would ruin her message.
She tried to be straight, but found it easier to be lesbian. This doesn’t sound like the experience of the true lesbian who spends years attempting to live in accordance with societal dictates, getting married to a man and having children, before realizing that her true orientation is and always has been lesbian, and that she was only trying to assimilate before that.
In Melinda’s case, she found it easier to be lesbian.
Perhaps she felt it was going with some sort of flow (since she’s a convert, she didn’t have the pressure of Catholic parents trying to straighten her out), and she didn’t feel much in the way of societal disapprobation – at least until she started approaching the Catholic Church.
Let’s look at what she says:
I was emotionally reserved
a positive terror of being emotionally vulnerable.
I enjoyed male company — I actually vastly preferred it to female company, because men are much more likely to accept emotional reservation in their friends.
Men like to be friends with women who are intelligent, independent and emotionally undemanding, but they expect more emotional involvement from a woman whom they’re dating.
So, Melinda is indicating that she couldn’t be her "emotionally reserved" self and be with a man. This ultimately did not turn out to be true, but that’s how she seems to have felt at the time.
Men were my intellectual competition. They had the natural emotional strength that I desired and wanted to imitate. The idea of being vulnerable around them seemed not only impossible, but even demeaning. This meant, of course, that my relationships with men were entirely doomed to failure.
women weren’t a threat. I wanted romantic relationships, of course, but I didn’t want them to compromise my independence or my control. I always perceived my relationships with men as a power struggle.
With another woman I could always easily perceive myself as stronger, more intelligent and less dependent, and so there was no need for a struggle. I could have my romance, and still keep my distance.
So, for Melinda, it was just a matter of (a) not having found the right man, one who could understand her need for some “me” time, or (b) not being willing to lie to herself about her own nature and change so that she could be less independent and more subservient to a man. Let's look at more of her experience
In my own case, I was blessed with a very rapid healing process.
Once I had given up my homosexual practices, and embraced Mary as an ideal of femininity (more on this next week), I very quickly ceased to find other women attractive.
This last seems to militate more in favor of Melinda falling into possibility (a) – which is a good thing for Melinda, since it means she was most likely bisexual to begin with, and thus in her present heterosexual relationship, she doesn’t have to live a lie in order to act straight.
This leads Melinda to a happy heterosexual lifestyle:
Within a few short years, I have been blessed with a husband whom I love tremendously, and with two wonderful children on whom to practice those maternal virtues that I once eschewed.
I will have more to write about that quote later.
As one can see, her lesbian experiences aside, if she is truly happy in a heterosexual role, then she is much more likely to have been bisexually oriented by nature in the first place.
Some of her statements about gay men are rather ludicrous. Examples:
In the case of men, these wounds are often the result of distorted paternal relationships.
Secondly, it suggests that many homosexual men will tend to reject Catholicism, or indeed any major monotheism, because they will subconsciously equate God the Father with their own father, and therefore they perceive him as an unappealing, judgmental figure who expects more of them than they are capable of giving, and who rejects them without understanding — or as a distant, unapproachable person who has little to no interest in them or their affairs.
Of course, Melinda does not know my friends Michael and Robert, who have had a long term monogamous relationship, got married in Canada, and when they returned to their Catholic parish in the Bronx, they were thrown out of the choir and asked not to come back to the Church. They, and Michael’s late mother Rae, found a more accepting spiritual home with the Episcopal Church.
Melinda also does not know of my similar experience. I was a cantor at my parish, but when I started transition I was asked by the associate pastor not to come back to the Church because I was “creating a scandal in the Church.” I spent three years in a Catholic seminary, and it took me some time to analyze the theology and discover that Unitarian Universalism is a much better fit for me. OF course, being a transsexual lesbian, I don’t think I come onto Melinda’s radar screen. Do I?
Melinda’s view of lesbians is similarly distorted:
This explanation may seem a little unlikely, particularly since many self-identified lesbians are highly masculinized, apparently invincible and frighteningly outspoken. It can be difficult to associate the wounded, vulnerable woman I described above with the short-haired, irate feminists that scream “pro-choice” slogans at Christians who protest abortion. What we must keep in mind is that the anger that fuels this sort of feminism must, necessarily, be derived from fear — no one can hate an abstraction like “patriarchy” so much that it turns them into an abuse-hurling lunatic unless their hatred is fueled by a genuine and deep-seated terror of real men.
This is terribly offensive and untrue. While I know a few radical lesbian feminist separatists who might, on a bad hair day, slightly resemble this horrific thumbnail sketch (and I may think they’re misguided in some ways, but they’re not in fear of some sort of “real men”), I wonder what Melinda might think of the maniac Catholic anti-women’s reproductive rights protestors who carry fetuses in jars of formaldehyde to wave at women going to see their ob/gyn doctors for medical care (and not even necessarily abortions!). I guess the anger that fuels their hatred of women is built on a genuine and deep-seated terror of real women being independent rather than slaves to their lords and masters.
Melinda mentions in the first segment (and repeats elsewhere, as a sort of meme) of her tripartite essay that she was afraid of complementarity in a heterosexual relationship:
The complementarity inherent in such a relationship demands mutual self-giving, and that self-giving seemed to compromise my sense of self.
But then, early in the second segment, she somewhat contradictorily acknowledges:
Even within a homosexual relationship there has to be some sort of complementarity . . .
There either is, or there isn't. Of course, one of the teachings of the Catholic Church is that there isn’t any complementarity in homosexual relationships – meaning that even with her zeal, Melinda may be skirting the edges of apostasy or even, gasp, heresy.
But what is “complementarity” in the first place?
Melinda gives us:
Complementarity is central to sexual attraction — we are designed to seek out those who are different from ourselves.
This is a very simplistic statement, and does not really reflrect the kookiness of the Catholic hierarchy's teaching. So, based on Melinda's definition, one may wonder, why would the Church teach this is possible only in a heterosexual relationship? Is it based on the physicality of a need to follow the cereal box top instructions for heterosexual sex? (For those who don’t understand that – the instructions are “Insert Tab A into Slot B.”) But that physical aspect, so central to the Church teaching, seems to be glossed over by Melinda in an attempt to be ingratiating.
Still, her underlying false assumption is that homosexuality is a psychological disorder. This leads to assertions that non-heterosexual sexual orientation cannot be a part of God’s Plan for some people, but must be based on some sort of psychological “wound” or “fear.” The false premise leads Melinda to a belief in a cure.
Here are some more quotes from St. Melinda along these lines:
their primary claim — that homosexuality is not a choice — really does reflect the experience of persons with same-sex attractions.
Okay, what's wrong with that? We see that Melinda thinks it's just a matter of "belief" but maybe with some biological factors involved:
there are numerous psychological and possibly biological factors involved that cause a person to feel that they are really, fundamentally and immutably homosexual.
homosexuality seems to be in the same sort of category as something like chronic depression or poor self-image
there are substantial differences in the psychological causes of same-sex attractions in men and in women
women who experience same-sex attractions are more likely to identify themselves as bisexual
In the case of men, these wounds are often the result of distorted paternal relationships.
Secondly, it suggests that many homosexual men will tend to reject Catholicism, or indeed any major monotheism, because they will subconsciously equate God the Father with their own father
Complementarity is central to sexual attraction — we are designed to seek out those who are different from ourselves.
the reasons underlying homosexual behavior are genuine emotional and psychological needs or fears.
People who experience these desires are people whose sexuality, and possibly the ability to identify with their own gender, has been wounded in some way.
Ah, there it is – I knoew it was only a matter of time - she found a way to include trans people in a phrase: “possibly the ability to identify with their own gender” – I think. It’s possible that she’s still talking about men who can’t form healthy friendships with other men.
But look at all those other quotes, quite pregnant with unstated assumptions about psychological disorders. The best truth test is to say the same thing about heterosexuality, and if it doesn’t seem true, in those cases not associated with reproduction, it’s also probably not true about homosexuality.
It is, therefore, not enough to convince them that homosexual activity is wrong.
Ah, Melinda doesn’t make the premise “homeosexual activity is wrong” – it’s just an unstated assumption.
There are plenty of people practicing homosexuality who believe in the immorality of their actions, but feel unable to stop because they don’t know of any other way to fulfill their fundamental, underlying needs.
And there certainly are many LGBT people who have been wounded by Church teachings into believing that being who they are is immoral. Melinda never explains the suicides that occur from the conflict between the evil teachings of the Church and the nature of the individual.
Here, she seems to get something right:
Many have gone through years of guilt and shame before finally deciding that any God who demands such an impossible sacrifice is cruel, and any church that rejects their sexual actions is unjust.
But then she goes off the deep end:
It is important, therefore, to seek to bring the healing power of God into their lives so that, rather than simply telling them to live chastely, we give them the emotional and psychological means by which to do so.
Exactly where is Melinda's theological grounding for this? Melinda, so clearly only slightly bisexual on the Kinsey scale, so easily able to assimilate as straight, thinks is must be easy for those whose actual nature is much farther up the Kinsey scale to “live chastely.”
St. Paul has a message for us here, one I have quoted before:
In 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, we read:
8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
So how can Melinda justify the fact that the Church does not endorse marriage for those who are naturally oriented toward the same sex and have high libidos?
I spent three years in a Roman Catholic seminary studying for the priesthood because I had been twisted into the belief that my gender identity issue was indicative of a calling of the Holy Spirit to the celibate life of the priestly life, where I could do a lot of good for a lot of souls while suppressing my nature and living with the pain. When I added the high libido to the mix, it turned out to be impossible.
I was told by a psychiatrist in 1970 that I couldn’t really be transsexual because I was sexually attracted to women. This was because, at that time, homosexuality was still in the DSM, and “we won’t cure you of one disorder to give you another one.” I did not realize I was supposed to lie and pretend to be straight as a woman to get the treatment I needed.
So I took the Church teachings at their face, and got married, fathered four children, and then there came a point after my younger brother died, that I could no longer suppress my nature. I tried, but I had to let myself out of the bottle, at least on a part time basis, while trying to keep my marriage and my family together.
After I lost my spouse, my family, my home, my friends and my job, and had been thrown out of the Church; then, and only then, I felt free enough to allow myself to be the real me, after all those years of suppression and pain, trying to give up my nature for the poor souls in purgatory. Life was hell, and I must have single-handedly emptied purgatory before I found peace in starting transition.
The struggle of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, and my transsexual sisters and brothers, cannot be denigrated by someone like Melinda, a bisexual-acting-heterosexual who is either living a lie with a lot less pain, or really was mostly oriented toward the opposite sex in the first place. I am guessing (actually, hoping and praying) that Melinda’s apparent bisexuality is the latter, one where there is little or no pain associated with the denial of nature. For those in or near Melinda’s apparently natural bisexuality, it is fairly easy to find a religious belief that is anti-gay and use it as a crutch to exit what a bisexual person would easily think of as an “alternative lifestyle.”
The experience of attempting to suppress one’s nature is so much more difficult, the farther one ascends on the Kinsey Scale. When you get to the people who are hardwired with a same-sex attraction, no amount of anti-gay religious faith will do anything other than usher in self-rejection and suicide. Those with a little bit of bisexuality, the “flip side” of a Melinda, might be able to cope with years of living a straight life while suppressing the most basic part of their nature.
Melinda doesn’t seem to understand that there is such a thing as a “cafeteria Catholic” who can accept some of the Church’s teachings, but finds it possible to reject the evil teachings.
Of course, as a zealous convert, Melinda is going to be inclined to accept the whole illogical and unreasoning faith as a matter of blind faith.
Interestingly, Melinda tries to infiltrate:
Persons with same-sex attractions, even the most strident, anti-Catholic, shamelessly sexualized demonstrators, are not the enemy. They are our own people, who have fallen into enemy hands, and it is our responsibility as Christians to do anything necessary to win them back.
So she gives Catholics tips as to how to approach converting gay people:
First, while it is important to be conscious of the psychological problems that may underlie a homosexual orientation, it is equally important not to openly psychoanalyze.
How patently patronizing.
Secondly, it is usually not a good idea to go into a deep discussion of the moral theology of sex unless they absolutely insist on doing so.
There is a very good reason for this – and that’s because the Roman Catholic Church’s moral theology of sex does not stand up to a non-bigoted reasoning person’s understanding of natural law.
but it is usually sufficient to say that, yes, as a Catholic, you support the Church’s teachings on homosexuality and believe that homosexual behaviors are morally wrong
How trite – it’s just fine for Melinda to believe that “homosexual behaviors are morally wrong” for her own self – but there is no right for her to believe that they are morally wrong for someone else. That is the sort of judgment that Jesus condemned – the judgment that people who are by their nature different must subscribe to the exact same moral code.
Look at Romans 1:26-27 with my eyes:
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile lusts; for both their females changed the natural use into that contrary to nature;
27 and in like manner the males also, leaving the natural use of the female, were inflamed in their lust towards one another; males with males working shame, and receiving in themselves the recompense of their error which was fit.
The key to this is “contrary to nature.” If one’s nature is heterosexual, and one is Christian, then homosexual activity can be seen as contrary to nature. But of one is by nature gay or lesbian, then acting against nature takes on a different connotation – and it is the attempt to live a lie that would be sinful.
I can go toe-to-toe with Melinda Selmys or Robby George, on both sacred scripture and natural law, and I won’t come out with a scar or a bruise. So please don’t assume that Christianity has anything to do with Roman Catholicism, which I’d prefer to think of as “The Augustinian Heresy” these days. But that would lead us into deeper theological discussion in which I would be tearing down the whole structure of traditional Christianity that starts with Original Sin and leads inexorably to the Resurrection. That, sadly, is the sideshow, not the kerygma, of the Good News. But more on that at another time.
Melinda tells us:
if you tell someone suffering from same-sex attractions that their sexuality is objectively disordered and their behaviors are immoral, but that you love them in spite of their sexuality, they are going to call you a hypocrite.
And, perhaps she should tell that to Pope Benedict. But of course, Melinda must believe that he’s infallible. (Well, that’s only when he speaks ex cathedra, but that’s a nuance we can almost ignore since so much of what he wrote as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is almost as binding on traditional non-cafeteria Catholics, even if it is ludicrous and contrary to sacred scripture.)
their genuine personality traits — aspects of themselves that actually are part of the way God made them — are psychologically bound up with their homosexuality.
Melinda does not realize that in many cases, their homosexuality itself is actually a genuine personality trait. She’s stuck in this whole Freudian reparative therapy trap.
What is necessary, therefore, is to show them that someone can love them, and love all of the things that they erroneously associate with homosexuality, without actually loving their sin.
One has to assume that it is a sin in the first place. It is not. The house of cards may proceed to fall.
Make the faith appealing. Show them a God who is patient, merciful and loving, a God who brings healing to a world broken by sin.
But one does not have to posit a world broken by sin to have a God who is patient, merciful and loving. All one has to do is reject the pomps and works of the Antipope in the Vatican.
At the time I didn’t even remotely understand the logic behind his request, but he had died for me on the cross, so he had the right to ask that I give up something as relatively minor as my sexuality for his sake.
Sexuality? Minor? Easy for a nearly-straight bisexual woman to say. Of course, the “Jesus died for me on the cross” is a part of traditional Augustinian heresy style Christianity that a good Pelagian would reject. Jesus taught a lot of good things – but the things that got added later by the followers who were trying to Mithra-ize him, were not very fair. Jesus was executed by the Romans as a political agitator for the incident in which he started a riot at the Temple. Perhaps it was a trumped up charge. One wonders who “the Son of the Father” really was – and that was what “Barabbas” means – Were Jesus and Barabbas the same person?
But let’s again turn away from theological speculation and toward Melinda’s essay.
When it comes to homosexuality, Melinda advises that:
It is best, therefore, to rely on the documents and statements put out by the Vatican.
And there is nothing better, to me, than to use materials from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the most authoritative source for Roman Catholic teaching, excepting only an encyclical from the Pope.
I’ve cited the following before - in my very first post on this Blog in 2007, entitled, "Will They Be Numbered Among the Goats?:"
Let’s look first at the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. When he was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the current Pope (the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) dismissively cited the story of Sodom and Gommorrah as follows "Thus, in Genesis 19:1-11, the deterioration due to sin continues in the story of the men of Sodom. There can be no doubt of the moral judgement made there against homosexual relations."*
*LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE PASTORAL CARE OF HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS – Homosexualitatis problema (Epistula de pastorali personarum homosexualium cura), October 1st, 1986, §6, paragraph 2
Apparently, the Pope has not read the story of Sodom as written in the Book of Genesis. It is a story that involves the suspicious and inhospitable inhabitants of the City of Sodom, who did not approve of strangers from outside the city who were visiting Abraham’s brother Lot.
They wanted to communicate their lack of hospitality for Lot’s visitors, by gang-raping them and then throwing them out of town. It was the ancient equivalent of tarring, feathering and riding out of town on a rail.
The idea of the gang rape of the visitors, was a very macho sort of thing – to show the visitors that the men of Sodom were "real men" and the visitors were "less than women."
This sort of misogynistic attitude, this mistrust of people who are different, or who are strangers in our midst, is not a characteristic of gay people, who are often slurred when they are called "sodomites."
What the Pope and the Christianists refuse to understand, is that the punishment of Sodom was meted out to those who do not accept strangers, and who hate people be-cause they are different. The real "sodomites" are the people who have a rabid hatred of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, because we are different, because we are strangers, because we are eunuchs.
But Melinda points out a document from THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE FAMILY entitled THE TRUTH AND MEANING OF HUMAN SEXUALITY.
This can be found at:
And the truth is, much of the document is perfectly fine, as far as it goes, as a guide toward educating adolescent Catholics, at least the straight ones. But let’s focus on some of the strange parts:
Creating the human race in his own image... God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being".
Somehow, this seems to be somewhat in contradiction to St. Paul raising celibacy to the highest level, not to mention Aquinas on the topic of perpetual virginity being the highest calling.
Still, this doesn’t yet state that it has to be a one-man, one-woman kind of love.
Femininity and masculinity are complementary gifts
still does not automatically imply that a couple has to be one with only a Tab A and one only with a Slot B. After all, in Genesis 1:27 we learn that each of us is created in the image and likeness of God as male and female. But we gradually get to:
14. When love is lived out in marriage, it includes and surpasses friendship. Love between a man and woman is achieved when they give themselves totally, each in turn according to their own masculinity and femininity, founding on the marriage covenant that communion of persons where God has willed that human life be conceived, grow and develop. To this married love, and to this love alone, belongs sexual giving, "realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and a woman commit themselves totally to one another until death".
Still, with the exception of the allegation of exclusivity “to this love alone” if one excludes same-sex couples from the married state. IF one accepts that same sex couples can share their masculinity and femininity to the extent that each has some of each in their nature, then this exclusivity becomes clear that it is only within the married state that this sort of sexual encounter is blessed. But for a Church that denies the sacrament to those who are not heterosexually oriented, at least without requiring them to deny their God-given natures, the allegation of exclusivity is either inapplicable or false.
God does not require the impossible – so if someone is truly gay or lesbian, it is clear with the use of right reason that sexual activity in a committed monogamous relationship outside of marriage, where the parties are not otherwise under disability and where marriage is not available because of societal prejudice cannot be sinful.
But the document goes further:
it makes them capable of the greatest possible gift, the gift by which they become cooperators with God for giving life to a new human person.
If this was descriptive of heterosexual relationships only and not as an exclusive statement for everyone else as well, then this can make sense in a Catholic context.
Of course in that version, the calling for many heterosexual people, those who cannot contain themselves in chaste and celibate means in accordance with St. Paul’s teaching, is to a committed marriage relationship in which the possibility of children is admitted.
But what of those heterosexual people who know they do not have the temperament and would never make fit parents? Must they be relegated to celibacy? Or must they get married and create children they can’t properly raise and don’t really love? It is all well and good to see the creation and rearing of children as a very good thing – but to make it exclusive is wrong.
16. As we will later observe, virginal and married love are the two forms in which the person's call to love is fulfilled. In order for both to develop, they require the commitment to live chastity, in conformity with each person's own state of life.
Where the Church denies married love without requiring people to live a lie as to their nature, and requires those people to live a “virginal” chaste life, The Church is condemning many to failure – “it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” But for those who are truly gay or lesbian marriage is forbidden and virginity is an impossible goal, there can be no sin in acting on their natural impulses. God does not require the impossible.
18. "Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy".
For those who are called to celibacy, this is god advice. For those who are made different by God but are not called to chastity, this is an impossible requirement. Celibacy must be freely chosen, not imposed by circumstance.
Parents are well aware that living conjugal chastity themselves is the most valid premise for educating their children in chaste love and in holiness of life.
Eventually, we’ll figure out what “conjugal chastity” means. But the document only provides mystical-sounding double-talk.
If it means what I think it might mean, then modern married Roman Catholics are called to have sex only when the woman has ovulated and it is possible to fertilize an egg – which we know is possible to figure out by taking the temperature of vaginal mucus, as recommended by the rhythm method. Married Catholics, to be chaste, then may reasonably be required to refrain from sex except during such a fertile period, and that in this way they are allowing the Spirit to act. To have sex at other times when it is possible to know the woman is not fertile, must be sinful, since it does not give the Spirit the opportunity to act to assist the procreative function. I wonder how many married Catholics would be willing to admit honestly that they could live perfectly chaste lives without sin with these limitations. All one has to do is count the number of children – if a couple in their 40’s does not have eight or nine children, and cannot establish a physical impairment, one with the inclination to judge them the way they judge us, could reasonably infer that there was some sort of sin going on within the marriage.
The Church’s theological thinking about the nature of heterosexual sex is the result of the Manichean influence of the Augustinian heresy (the Western branches of Christianity) on much of traditional Christianity. Instead of a genuine expression of mutual love, sex becomes dirty and sinful even within a marriage, except when there is a genuine possibility of a child being conceived.
The Church wisely does not require the physical impossibility of requiring a one sex act to one child correspondence. Perhaps this could happen with a hypothetical Opus Dei type married Catholic couple, who, if they have sex and don’t conceive, might get to spend the rest of the month self-flagellating and wearing the hair shirt in penance until the next ovulation bump.
30. Christian marriage is a sacrament whereby sexuality is integrated into a path to holiness, through a bond reinforced by the indissoluble unity of the sacrament: "The gift of the sacrament is at the same time a vocation and commandment for the Christian spouses, that they may remain faithful to each other forever, beyond every trial and difficulty, in generous obedience to the holy will of the Lord: ?What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder' ".
As usual, the Church misunderstands Christ’s teaching – divorce should not merely be the choice of a husband who under the old Jewish law (still in Islamic Shariah) only needed to say “I divorce you” three times to be free of a wife who had no similar option. Again, we’re off topic, but only making a point that Melinda’s special document is rather faulty. Divorce should not be the province of a man’s decision alone.
So let’s see what the Document Melinda Recommends says about sex other than heterosexual sex:
103. Masturbation particularly constitutes a very serious disorder that is illicit in itself and cannot be morally justified, although "the immaturity of adolescence (which can sometimes persist after that age), psychological imbalance or habit can influence behaviour, diminishing the deliberate character of the act and bringing about a situation whereby subjectively there may not always be serious fault". Therefore, adolescents should be helped to overcome manifestations of this disorder, which often express the inner conflicts of their age and, in many cases, a selfish vision of sexuality.
104. A particular problem that can appear during the process of sexual maturation is homosexuality, which is also spreading more and more in urbanized societies. This phenomenon must be presented with balanced judgement, in the light of the documents of the Church. Young people need to be helped to distinguish between the concepts of what is normal and abnormal, between subjective guilt and objective disorder, avoiding what would arouse hostility. On the other hand, the structural and complementary orientation of sexuality must be well clarified in relation to marriage, procreation and Christian chastity. "Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained". A distinction must be made between a tendency that can be innate and acts of homosexuality that "are intrinsically disordered" and contrary to Natural Law.
Especially when the practice of homosexual acts has not become a habit, many cases can benefit from appropriate therapy. In any case, persons in this situation must be accepted with respect, dignity and delicacy, and all forms of unjust discrimination must be avoided. If parents notice the appearance of this tendency or of related behaviour in their children, during childhood or adolescence, they should seek help from expert qualified persons in order to obtain all possible assistance.
For most homosexual persons, this condition constitutes 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 fulfil 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 from their condition". "Homosexual persons are called to chastity".
Let’s address masturbation first. It is not a sin, in moderation. Really. The scriptural basis for the erroneous teaching is the sin of Onan, who spilled his seed on the ground. But let’s look at the story. In Jewish tradition, there was no heaven. The promise to Abraham was that he would have many descendants, and religious Jews believed that a man truly lived on through his children. Thus if a married brother died without children, a Jewish man was obligated to take in the brother’s widow and have sex with her to give the dead brother a surrogate child, so that he could live on into posterity. But Onan was a younger brother, and we know from the story of Esau and Jacob that the elder brother got the inheritance – this meant that if Onan’s older brother had no children, Onan would inherit from their father. But if Onan got his widowed sister-in-law pregnant, then the baby would inherit through the brother’s line and Onan would get nothing. So Onan decided to take in his sister in law, and have sex with her, but did whatever he could to make sure there would be no child. Onan’s sin was in denying his brother eternal life, and in selfishly coveting the inheritance. It was not merely the “spilling his seed on the ground.” There is no scriptural authority whatsoever for masturbation to be viewed as sinful. But there is a lot of Manichean guilt that can be tapped into if it is seen as a sin.
Similarly, the worst that can be said about male homosexual activity is that at best a single act might be forbidden, and that would be the true misogynistic “Sin of Sodom” in which heterosexual men anally rape (I.e., use them as they would use a woman) male enemies and strangers to show that they were the real he-men and the enemy or stranger was less than a woman. A loving homosexual relationship was not forbidden – it is clear from 1 Samuel 18 that David and Jonathan were married to each other.
There is nothing in sacred scripture that condemns female homosexual activity. The only scripture that gets used on lesbians is the misquote of Romans 1, and that only refers to women acting against their natures. A lesbian would sin by marrying a man, not by having a loving and committed relationship with a woman. While the relationship is not explicit, it is clear to me that Naomi and Ruth are the epitome of a loving female relationship. At our wedding, Trudy and I used the same vow as Ruth made to Naomi, though we did leave out the “may God punish me severely” part as unnecessary, at the suggestion of the celebrant.
There is a lot more I could write about the fallacy of Church teaching in the area of non-heterosexual sexuality, but I think this illustration from Melinda’s cited source is sufficient to make the point.
So let’s get back to the last part of Melinda’s essay.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with Church teaching, you’re going to need to be able to present the teachings in a charitable and compassionate manner. It is tremendously important that you use the right language.
That is, you have to lie about the Church teachings, which are truly not charitable or compassionate, but are rather patronizing and schizophrenic.
I avoid the use of “gay” or “lesbian” unless I am discussing a person’s choice to identify themselves as such . . . I do this because “gay,” “lesbian,” “queer” and so forth are the terminology used by the homosexual community, to denote a permanent and fundamental state.
So, Melinda is projecting her easily-accomplished slightly bisexual choice on those whose God-given sexual orientation is firmly hardwired as gay or lesbian.
I tend to prefer “person(s) with same-sex attractions,” because that is the language used by Courage — a Catholic group for people struggling to live a chaste life in spite of temptations to homosexuality.
That’s fine. It’s a clearly neutral term and I will find It as acceptable as using “person(s) with opposite-sex attractions,” to describe a heterosexual or sometimes a bisexual person in a heterosexual context.
It is advisable to avoid using terms like “unnatural” or “objectively disordered.” They are perfectly accurate, and if they are understood properly they are not at all offensive. The problem is that they sound offensive even though they aren’t, and they’re easily misunderstood.
Accurate? No, they’re lies. They’re based on false premises inconsistent with a true rational understanding of Natural Law. Natural Law does not require that all human beings have the same nature. It is a sin to limit God to that percentage of nature that conforms with societal expectations and to call the rest of the diversity unnarural.
It is much simpler to paraphrase — rather than saying that homosexual acts are unnatural, say that they contradict the purpose for which God ordained sex.
Melinda, and the Catholic Church, fail to look at the larger perspective. Rather than correctly seeing heterosexual acts within a man/woman marriage for the intention of procreation as only a part of the natural world, She (and they) erroneously see it as the only game in town, other than the highly unnatural states of celibate life and of permanent virginal chastity, to which only a very few are called.
Then Melinda comes up with a good thing!
reason, and not feeling, must ultimately be the compass of morality
But, sadly, Melinda throws reason out the window. However, the following is not so bad:
we believe that God has ordained all things in order to serve the good of his creatures. Therefore, regardless of what we might feel at any given moment, when we use things in accord with God’s design, they will ultimately serve our good.
The problem is that Melinda only sees a part of God’s design, perhaps the part that applies to her, and perhaps one that doesn’t. I am not in her head, but if she is wracked by self-doubt about her bisexual choice of an exclusively heterosexual life after experimenting with the other side of her sexuality, she may have made the wrong choice. But since her heterosexuality came so easily, I can only conclude that she was very near the heterosexual end of the Kinsey Scale in any event. It is much less likely that she was experiencing a straight equivalent of the “living in denial of our true nature” kind of existence – I can believe Donnie McLurkin’s story might support such a hypothetical underlying nature, but that does not ring true of Melinda’s story. She’s not straight, she is bisexual, but has chosen since her conversion to only express her heterosexual side, so to speak.
Bisexual people by their nature, and with a desire to do so, can do that, while truly gay or lesbian people can’t, or they may try, sometimes very hard, but it causes too much psychological stress to live the lie and they come to terms with their nature, commit suicide, or live with unnecessary guilt.
Someone who is involved in a homosexual relationship is, by virtue of the fact that they are pursuing a lifestyle that God cannot sanction, frustrating God’s plan for their vocation.
Melinda cannot see what God’s intention for that other person is. It is the height of condemned judging for her to do so. God’s plan for that person is between that person and God – and it is not for Melinda or the Roman Catholic Church to judge that person’s true calling.
If they are called to a life of chastity, to bear their homosexuality as a cross, then they are turning away from that cross, and therefore also turning away from a deeper union with Christ and from the means of their salvation. If they are called to accept God’s healing, and to eventually enter the married state, then they are rejecting the gift of a spouse which God wants to offer them.
But seriously, how can Melinda say this? How does she really know what God wants for those other people? She can only know what God wants for her. What if they are truly called to a chaste but homosexual life in a committed relationship that should be legally sanctioned as a marriage? How dare the Church teach that it is evil and immoral for same-sex couples to enter into a legally-sanctioned civil marriage? And how dare Melinda buy into the aggressive immorality of the Church’s teachings in this regard.
When I converted to Catholicism, I thought that my sex life was over. I still believed that homosexuality was fundamental and immutable, and that I was a lesbian. I had no expectation that when I turned my sexuality over to God that he would be able to heal it.
God actually had nothing to do with Melinda's so-called “healing.” It was the choice Melinda made to believe in a God as portrayed by the Roman Catholic Church. She chose to adopt a religion that teaches an un-Christian bigotry against natural homosexual behavior, and as a slightly bisexual woman, she was easily able to choose to act straight – she did not have to deny her entire nature, only a part of it. Her projection of the ease of her conversion onto others, so she can act as a mouthpiece for the Roman Catholic abomination being inflicted on those who are different and believe differently, is an affront to God and an eclipse of Reason.
I began by believing that I was confined to a homosexual lifestyle by factors beyond my control, and ended by discovering that God had something more wonderful than I imagined possible in store for me.
Somehow this, at least the first part, does not ring true – but hey, it’s Melinda’s story and she can tell it how she sees fit. I can’t tell her what her story is, I can only use the clues she gives to interpret it.
As I have come to realize over a painfully long period of time, the Church that rejected the real me is a false Church. Its teachings are a perversion of the teachings of Christ. Only cafeteria Catholics who reject the most evil of the teachings while adhering to the harmless superstitions have any chance at not being numbered among the goats.
Within a few short years, I have been blessed with a husband whom I love tremendously, and with two wonderful children on whom to practice those maternal virtues that I once eschewed.
On the one hand, this is wonderful news, assuming Melinda is truly happy and is not self-deluded by her faith. On the other, if I were to uncharitably judge Melinda on her own merits and using her own beliefs, in the way she uncharitably judges those who do not share those beliefs, we could ask something like this:
Wait – Melinda, are you unchastely having sex at any time except your most fertile times? Are you doing other things with your husband than the officially sanctioned “procreative act?” I would imagine that unless the two of you are incredibly strong-willed, you should have four or five children by now, unless you’ve been married less than four or five years, in which case you’re probably right on track. In 20 years of marriage, my ex and I produced four children, and I am sure that if we paid more attention to the temperature of vaginal mucus, we could have produced twice that many in that time. The first two came rather quickly, but then they came five years apart. I am not sure how long Melinda has been married, but it does not seem to me that she is being a good enough Catholic wife and mother, unless it really has only been a short time, or there is a “cafeteria” somewhere, hidden beneath her zeal to go on the talk circuit to sell more of her books and push the false teachings of a seriously misguided Catholic hierarchy.
Melinda can be praised for finding her path, but she should not falsely claim that her path is for everyone. Melinda's speech at Notre Dame is likely to be as ojectionable as the cartoon recently run in that school's newspaper. But who would expect a Roman Catholic institution to be fair, anyway?
P.S. I found something today in which Melinda writes that she has been married nine years and has five children - that pretty much jives with her being a good Catholic in accordance with those strange "moral" teachings about sex, so those rhetorical questions do have a personal answer - based on the available evidence, evn if I really wanted to, I couldn't "judge" her practicing of Catholicism as being internally immoral from a Roman Catholic perspective, but perhaps from a Malthusian one.