Thursday, May 02, 2013

On the cruelty of love

Rhode Island today became the tenth State to legally recognize same-sex marriage. Before the ink had dried on the law, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence had issued a letter to the faithful of Rhode Island. In it, he reiterates the Church's teaching on homosexuality ("same sex attraction" is one of the ickiest phrases possible and I think that is its intent) both as orientation and as action. He also reiterates that the Church loves its homosexual members. The Catechism itself says that there must be no unjust discrimination against homosexuals.

But this is a strange sort of love. On the one hand, the Church teaches that all homosexual activity is "intrinsically disordered," while recognizing that for most gay men and lesbians their orientation is deep-seated (even though the inclination is itself is, in the words of the Catechism "objectively disordered" and "a trial").

The story is that there is a large group of people for whom this inclination is deep-seated—I think, the Catechism almost wants to say "innate," but for the deep problem this causes and which is not actually avoided—but that this inclination means that they are disordered, broken, at the very center of their affective being. (Since this disorder has been around in almost all cultures through time, one might almost think that God gives some people this inclination.) But, having told them this, and essentially recognizing that there is no way that this brokenness can be fixed and they may never act in any way on this afflictive inclination—and, according to the last pope, they are so broke that they may not be ordained—we nonetheless love them.

The love that tells me how horrible I am and then pulls me to its bosom is, in many ways, worse than the hate that just tells me I'm horrible. And, really, once you've taken this position, what discrimination would be unjust? Given the intrinsic disorder, wouldn't almost all discrimination be just?

It is a hard and ever harder thing to even think of this as part of my cultural identity, but to lose it is to lose so much.

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