Cured Like Blindness?

Some interesting thoughts from Letters to Christopher.

I think it is problematic to link any sort of change of a dramatic nature such as a change of sexual attractions to whether or not someone has “come into the knowledge of Jesus Christ,” as Scott seems to suggest. This sort of thinking has damaged a lot of people with same sex attraction by placing unrealistic hopes and expectations on their life of faith. If change doesn’t happen, it’s because they haven’t grown in their knowledge of Christ? It’s clear to me that the man born blind in John 9 really had no “knowledge of Jesus Christ” other than hearsay, until after he was healed. It was the love and will of God that caused the man’s sight to be restored. It wasn’t some sort of gauge of the depth of his relationship with Christ.I think of St. Paul, whose “thorn in the flesh” wasn’t healed, (which many scholars believe was related to poor eyesight.)

Surely if having a “knowledge of Jesus Christ” is the reason someone finds healing of his woundedness, St. Paul would have qualified!If I live with SSA, it is for my good and for my sanctification. If God somehow decides to heal this disorder within me, it too will be for my good and for my sanctification. That would be the reason–not because I had suddenly “come into a knowledge of Jesus Christ” more than I had the day before. I know that whatever He allows in my life is for my good, and indeed is what will actually cause me to grow in my knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I think well meaning people should avoid suggesting to people like me that the greatest sign of God’s love and power in our lives will be evidenced when we see our attractions change. I simply don’t believe that’s what God is concerned about, as much as He is our sanctification and trusting all to his Divine Providence.I have no doubt that God has the power to change such things in my life. I just don’t think He finds it that important that my attractions change, nor do I. I trust in His will for my life, and I’ve now come to see my SSA as a “severe mercy,” and wouldn’t rewrite it out of my life. If God wills it otherwise in the future, I say “Thy will be done.” If it stays in my life until I’m dead, I’ll thank God He allowed it in my life, and say again, “Thy will be done.”It is as unwise and imprudent to tell people with SSA that God will change them when they “come into a knowledge of Jesus Christ” as it is to tell a cancer patient, or a deaf person, or a man without a limb that they will receive physical healing when they “come into a knowledge of Jesus Christ.” Certainly God has the power to heal and change, but He so often doesn’t do this–because He, and only He–knows what is good for our souls.

So I live in trust, and caution against Christians proclaiming what Scott proclaimed to me, while still believing that it is possible to hope for change, for those who desire it. However, it should never be linked with the supposed depth of relationship with God, but only related to God’s benevolent Providence. We can only find peace in this life when we trust that God’s will is always being done in our lives, and this, I think, is truly what we must strive for if we desire to “come into a knowledge of Christ.”Thank you Scott, but I would caution you and others against saying things such as this to people with same sex attraction. I think it is misguided, and reflects a confused theology (at least in terms of Catholic teaching) about theodicy.

H/T Orthodox and Gay.

By the way, annoyed tonight by this title to an article elsewhere.

Sliding down the slippery slope: If two gays or lesbians can marry, why can’t three? Or what about bisexuals?

I tweeted this.

Lo and behold, the title then changed to:

Sliding down the slippery slope: If two gays or lesbians can marry, why can’t three? Or what about bisexuals in love with individuals of each sex?

‘Cos that’s so much better? For what will probably not be the last time (seeing as I already said “for the last time” above), the defining point of a “bisexual” is that they are attracted to those of both sexes. If they want to have relationships with more than one person at the same time then that makes them a polygamist (or polyandrist). Their bisexuality has nothing to do with it. Heterosexuals and homosexuals are all perfectly capable of being polygamists.

Do you know what? I have no idea what the technical description is for someone in a polyamorous relationship were some members are bisexual AND have sex with other members of both sexes. But I know one word it isn’t. “Bisexual”.

Stigmatising a whole group of people is bad enough. Stigmatising them because you fundamentally misunderstand the meaning of a word?

20 Comments on “Cured Like Blindness?

  1. Well said on bisexuality. Gagnon has noted that men often want multiple sexual partners – does that make them “polyamorous”? Many a conservative (c.f. Jill) still has a a hard time diffferentiating homosexuality from paedophilia!

    I know you say that all evangelical churches aren’t as mental as the one I haunted (and that haunted me) but much of the miracle cure discourse flows naturally (or at least illogically) from the evangelical Family Values overvaluation of marriage. (And yes, I mean overvaluation. Should the orhtodox regard catholic priests as intrinsically inferior to married men?). This problem is compounded by evangelical acceptance of pentecostal nonsense – if you think mickey mouse pastors can raise the dead, then shifting someone on the kinsey scale is pretty small beer.

    Out of interest, what do you think about the notion that a celibate, stereotypical gay man, i.e. the witty, camp, kind and fabulous sort that ladies love, is living out a calling and displaying self-sacrifice (aforementioned celibacy) – is he still guilty of (from a biblical perspective) gender discordant behaviour? One reason I found it hard to take st.silage’s homophobia seriously as a moral position was the fact that your average normal glasweigan man would regard the camp, posh, effete , huggy, happy-clapping, weepy, bitchy male denizens of evangelical churches as at least as pejoratively “gay” as literal active (or indeed passive) homosexuals.

    • We have to be very careful about what we call “gender discordant behaviour”. Often Gender Concordance is culturally conditioned. The key aspect in this man’s life is his acceptance and avowal of a traditional sexual ethic, not whether he has fabulous dress sense.

      • Perhaps gender-stereotype discordant behaviour would be better, but presumably there are some area (feminist attacks on the institution of marriage?) where you, as a conservative, think that many a so-called stereotype is actually a god-given role? I’m genuinely curious if you think that if homosexual practice in the literalist sense is a sin but a stereotypical gay man who doesn’t have sex is ok. Hooting fratboy morons like Mark Driscoll (who, tangentially, is a chubby monday morning quarterback that your average queen could beat up without breaking a nail, but I digress) do talk about the importance of “manly” behaviours (as opposed to “just don’t have gay sex”). To give Driscoll the benefit of the doubt, I’d imagine that he believes that the Bible does indeed mandate “men behaving like men” in areas outwith the sexual. I’m interested on what your take on this is. Can one be stereotypically gay, not have sex, and still (aside from the issue of identifying as gay rather than post-gay etc) be ok from a biblical/evangelical perspective?

        • I’m going to ignore the comments and questions about Driscoll until you can learn to frame an argument without an insult.

          As for the overarching question, yes I think there are some clear calls in Scripture as to roles by sex. But I’m interested in what counts as “stereotypically gay”. My experience is that hanging around a gay environment often brings out such behaviour but remove someone from that environment (and more importantly remove the need to have to try and stand out) and such behaviours can diminish over time.

          Often some gay men exhibit what are very male characteristics (nurture, protection) but in a very feminine way. There seems to be a deliberate disconnect of maleness and masculinity. Make of that what you will.

          • well, take the example of coming out. It leads to and involves honesty with self and others and allows people to become themselves in a fruitful way i..e. the sensitive, funny boy can now be proudly sensitive and funny instead of having to engage in heterosexist banter. If he can still “be himself” and just not have sex then that’s all well and good, but I think it’s dishonest to tell gay people that its merely same-sex genital contact that’s frowned on when in reality a person’s entire identity is at fault. I think behaviour can be “stereotypically gay” and “natural” – Matt Lucas once had a good piece in Attitude arguing that a number of gay men are indeed “effeminate” , and that it’s unfounded and potentially indicative of homophobia (in this context, the self-loathing kind) to view them as attention-seeking queens who should knock it off. Don’t many gay people seek out gay bars because they can be themselves in a way not true of their local small town straight bar, rather that it being a case of them thinking that they need to “act” camp (for example) in order to fit in?

            • But I’m talking about something else – leave the gay bars, clubs and chatroms behind and people do begin to change. Yes, some men are effeminate,but sometimes that effeminacy changes character when moved to a different environment. There is a clear difference between someone who is naturally gentle and someone who puts on a show, knowingly or unknowingly.

              • Yes, but are you talking about someone changing from one authentic behaviour to another, or merely “butching it up” in order to fit in? I wouldn’t call the latter any kind of significant identity change. Although I do concede that I’m not sure how you can determine what form of behaviours are performative, and which are authentic, or even if that essential distinction is a valid one.

  2. I don’t believe all same-sex attracted people can change, no matter how deep their faith. Some undoubtedly can. But sexual activity(of whatever persuasion!) is a behaviour, it is not like blindness. Every person can be chaste, and countless millions have.
    Please don’t put words into my mouth, Ryan. I have never said that. Try very hard to post something without mentioning me.

    • Jill, as always, all my opinions can be factually sourced For example, in the last thread you referred to the Reading case of a teacher abusing pupils and contrasted it with the press response to the catholic abuse of children which you claim was the work of “homosexuals”. The boys in the teacher case were 15-17. The average age of boys abused by priests was much younger. Hardly the best analogy is it? And, unless you want to the teacher case to be labeled “heterosexual abuse” then why do priests raping boys need to be called “homosexual abuse”?

      • Sigh! It’s really quite simple. Most (nearly 90%) of the abuses by priests were on post-pubescent boys. I cannot understand why they are labelled as paedophiles when paedophilia is abuse of pre-pubescent children, both boys and girls.

        Roman Polanski was not labelled a paedophile – nor the teacher mentioned above. This label only appears to be attached to priests. Peter Tatchell is not accused of supporting paedophiles, nor is Harriet Harman, nor Richard Dawkins, nor Germaine Greer, nor Stephen Fry, nor Philip Pullman, all of whom have expressed support for under-age sexual activity – or at least suggesting that it is not harmful.

        Let’s not go through all that again.

        I am quite happy to be friends, Ryan (aaaah). I have never considered you anything else – but I would prefer you to address me directly rather than tell everybody else what you think I have said (and getting it wrong!)

        • Yes Jill, but the issue is not just your objection to the paedophile label – although SOME of the boys abused certainly were pre-pubescent – but the term you wish to replace it with. Again, why should sexual abuses of boys be called “homosexual” sexual abuse when you do not demand the same standard of heterosexual abuse? I find it interesting that you invoke Greer; one could say that the fact that a woman teacher seducing 16 year old boys warrants many a “wish I had a teacher like that!” downplaying of the severity of her misdeeds in contrast to the response given to male teachers having sex with 16 year old girl pupils is primarily indicative of the double standards of our male bashing society, not anti-RC prejudice.

          And ultimately two wrongs don’t make a right. The fact that Roman Polanski does not get the criticism he deserves – I quite agree with you on that point – is no reason to defend the Catholic Church, which has paid out BILLIONS in compensation over the rape, and systematic cover up of the rape, of innocent children (and, yes, some innocent 15 and 16 year olds too)
          If you give me specifics of the comments made by Fry, Pullman etc I’ll appraise them on their own merits. However, would you agree that some countries have ages of consent different from the UK – but this does not mean that this represents a willful enabling of paedophila? (You can concede this and still argue that the ages of consent still function as de facto enablers of paedophiles of course)

    • I think we might need to impose a “Jill Embargo” on Ryan. Perhaps Ryan you could try a week engaging with arguments people make rather than the person?

      I’m going to write a blog piece later on one of the doctrinal points issued by the new “Restored Hope Network” in the US because I think it strikes at the heart of this very point.

      • I am not engaging in Ad Hom. I have said, repeatedly, that Jill is no doubt a wonderful person in real life. I am addressing her argument and use of evidence. For example, here I’m addressing the legitimacy of one of her analogies and explaining why I think it’s a poor one. How is that ad hom?

        • In this case I’m happy to accept that it’s not ad hom. But what I guess I’m asking you to do is to engage with the issue directly at hand rather than continually harping back to other things people have said.

          Both of you mean well and both of you are very welcome here. But we need to find ways to discuss things with each other in a way that moves the conversation forward.

          • Fair point, duly noted. For the record, I of course apologise for any offence any of my comments have caused to Jill. Let’s be friends again! :)

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