As my previous post suggested, I’ve been doing a bit of soul-searching lately, having arrived at a realization that has thrown me off balance these past few days. In essence: although I believe in what the Church teaches viz-a-viz homosexuality* and what it implies for my own kinda really gay proclivities, I am still nowhere near to being at peace with it. But I managed to trick myself into thinking that I had at least achieved that much.
Now I have to actually deal with this.
I mean, there are other people in my exact situation who find the Church’s teaching on this matter to be hard, but ultimately liberating and even consoling. And I believe they’re being genuine. But that attitude, in spite of my own efforts to think my way into it, remains foreign to me. I can understand the logic behind it, how it inevitably follows as a consequence of deeper truths about the human person in the Faith, but that doesn’t stop it from always striking a disturbingly harsh dissonance with my lived experience. Hence a lot of the arguments in favor of it – whether Thomistic, sociobiological or even just prudential – tend to fall flat with me. The only one which really does the job is the argument from authority, that if the Catholic Church is what I think she is, then I need to take it seriously.
Time hasn’t changed my attitude all that much. It’s vaguely disconcerting to find that, years after a rather Augustinian conversion, this is still a sticking point, something that feels foreign to me, something that, again, I’m just not at peace with. That I can academically study Catholic sexual ethics in a very orthodox setting and ultimately just feel like it was all just academic. I still wince at the idea that these desires which dig so deeply into me are ultimately in vain, and feel like I’m caught in some dreadful paradox.
This doesn’t make for good PR, but I do want to be honest about where I’m at right now. And being honest with myself in this regard does have an immediate upside to it: the dryness which has been plaguing my prayer life has gone away. It does feel a bit like I’ve been hit in the face with some cold water, spiritually speaking. Having realized that this isn’t a problem I can intellectualize myself out of has made prayer feel more vital and confrontational. I’d rather not wallow and be a sitting duck.
I mean, maybe that’s the ‘point’ of this phase of my spiritual life, to get away from an overly bookish approach to the Faith and really appreciate, in a visceral sense, the mysterious consequences of original sin, and how the Crucifix really is an image of a man nailed to a piece of wood. I dunno. Got no strong answers here.
I have been pondering lately how any spirituality which isn’t capable of really entering into suffering is just a kind of narcotic. And I do find some consolation in how Catholic tradition has never shied away from delving into the negative aspects of the human condition. And so you have the disturbing Psalms alongside the happy ones, and centuries of ghoulish art – not very nice, but there are some things you can’t be very nice about without somehow falsifying them. The belief that Christ’s light redeems it all doesn’t mitigate the misery implied, any more than his own divinity prevented his own suffering.
Anyway, I’d like to hold on to that.