Gay Affirmative

gay-love2By Joe Perez

Today the war between homosexuality and religion rages on in the churches, mosques, and synagogues. Most conservative or orthodox or traditional religionists reject homosexual acts or the orientation itself as incompatible with ethical and righteous living. And worldwide these are the loudest voices and the most powerful and influential forces in society.

But things are changing surprisingly rapidly. In only a few decades gays and lesbians have made enormous strides towards social acceptability and won key rights and liberties. Governments in many nations recognize gay unions or marriages and attitudes have changed such that the sight of two men or two women kissing or holding hands in public does not arouse approbation.

Spiritual individualists (a.k.a. “nones” or the “spiritual, but not religious” types) tend to be more accepting of gay people because they have thrown off religions which they by and large view negatively. They have insisted upon being spiritually independent which gives them the freedom to choose their own attitude towards homosexuality rather than sheepishly obeying the dictates of church officials or fundamentalist doctrines. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your point-of-view.

But if you ask spiritual individualists for a rationale for their views, they are an incoherent and incohesive chorus. Some will tell you that discrimination against gays is wrong because it just feels uncompassionate or unloving or too judgmental. In other words, they root their disapproval of homophobes on their own individual feelings, whims. notions, and fancies. By and large, they don’t appeal to anything more substantial than their own conscience because they know better possibilities.

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The Practice Of Homophilia

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERABy Joe Perez

Homo- means same, and philia means love. Homophilia is literally love of the same. It applies to the love of same-sex couples, one for the other; more generally, it applies to any form of same-directed love.

Hetero– means other, and philia means love. Heterophilia is literally love of the same. It applies to the love of opposite-sex couples, one for the other; more generally, it applies to any form of other-directed love.

Bi– carries the meaning of two, and philia means love. Biphilia is literally love of two. In the case of sexual orientation, it means the love of both sexes; more generally, it applies to any form of love manifesting in two directions.

The practice of Homophilia is the practice of Love, seen from a gay perspective. Gays and lesbians teach us through the way they love about the practice of Homophilia.

The practice of Heterophilia is the practice of Love, seen from a straight perspective. Heterosexuals teach us through the way they love about the practice of Heterophilia.

The practice of Biphilia is the practice of Love, seen from a bi perspective. Bisexuals teach us through the way they love about the practice of Biphilia.

Love (philia) is the essence of the world we live in together and co-evolve. It is the essence of the real, not merely an emotion.

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Is Gay Pride A Sin?

gay-pride-picBy Joe Perez

Antigay zealots once placed a billboard in downtown Toronto that they intended for marchers in a Gay Pride parade. The billboard was a Bible quote: “This was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, Pride.”

The idea that pride is the worst of all sins is a common notion. Saint Augustine called pride “the beginning of all sin.”

Today, the religious right sees the depravity of gays not only in our sexual behavior but also in our “prideful” failure to acknowledge our own sinfulness. They call us egotists, narcissists and hedonists. However, our response to the religious right does not have to be as categorical and knee-jerk as their attacks. Gays need not reject religion altogether just because a group uses its theology as a weapon against us. Instead, we can take an open-minded look at pride to glean wisdom that we can claim for our own.

Judeo-Christianity is hardly the only tradition to condemn pride. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, and other wisdom traditions also have teachings that condemn egotism and arrogance. The Greeks understood pride as hubris, the exaggerated self-confidence of being foolish enough to ignore the gods.

Unfortunately, the spiritual wisdom about pride is frequently distorted by religion. Religions may go beyond condemning arrogance to actually teaching that human nature is corrupt, wicked, vile, wretched, and fundamentally sinful. In recent decades, gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and the transgendered have suffered some of their greatest humiliations at the hands of religion.

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The Importance Of Loneliness

lonely1“Loneliness is the inability to share your story, your Unique Self story. For most people, the move beyond loneliness requires us to share our story with a significant other. For the spiritual elite, the receiving of our own story — and the knowing that it is an integral part of the larger story of All-That-Is — is enough. But for most human beings, loneliness is transcended through contact with another person.” — Marc Gafni

Your Supreme Identity is calling to you from the essence of all things. It is your own essence, your deepest and most complete autobiography, your life story not only told but lived and constantly recreated. It is the force which not only remedies loneliness and gives us solace in our solitude.

Paul Tillich once wrote: “Language… has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.”

Being alone is part of the human condition in which we are often at our saddest, full of shame or fear or anger. It does not require us to be physically isolated; we can be desperately lonely in a crowd or amid loved ones if we have been prevented from being our true selves.

Loneliness is an impoverishment in the midst of the riches of community. It is a sign of a disconnect between the individual and community, perhaps caused by family strife or an inability to find a religious community in which one finds a home. If we find ourselves without community, our loneliness can provide the motivation for creating new communities of connection and love and acceptance.

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It’s Time To Begin The Conversation About A Theology Of Gay Marriage

gay-marriageBy Joe Perez

Now that the pope has changed the tone of the Catholic Church, is it necessary for him to change the doctrine? Andrew Sullivan writes:

“One of the great question marks still hanging over Pope Francis’ tenure as Bishop of Rome is whether any actual doctrinal changes will occur. Damon Linker has a provocative and honest piece out wondering if “liberal” Catholics even care about doctrine any more – because so many have been content simply to celebrate the sharp transformation of tone in the Francis era and the new emphasis on Christianity as an urgent and empowering and demanding way of life. Money quote:

I had assumed all along that liberal Catholics wanted to liberalize Catholic doctrine — that they wanted to bring the church, as I wrote in TNR, “into conformity with the egalitarian ethos of modern liberalism, including its embrace of gay rights, sexual freedom, and gender equality.” But here was a liberal Catholic telling me I’d gotten it all wrong. The pope’s warm, welcoming words are “everything,” Trish said, because doctrine, including that covering contraception and divorce, is “useless.”

As someone who, to be honest, has been exhilarated this past year by the re-emergence of a genuine, living, breathing Christianity in the Vatican, I’m not in the same camp as “Trish”. But it also depends on what you mean exactly by doctrine.

If by doctrine, you mean the core tenets of the Creed I recite at Mass by heart (or at least used to until Benedict added all sorts of anal-retentive clutter), then I do not favor any changes in doctrine. I believe in what I say. Sometimes, of course, it is hard to believe something that is beyond my real understanding. I’ve thought about, meditated on, puzzled over and marveled at the doctrine of the Incarnation, for example – for me, the most radical of all Christianity’s improbable claims. I believe in it until I can’t, at which point, I embrace a mystery – what Pascal called “the use and submission of reason.” But I am utterly unworthy – morally and intellectually – to offer any real critique of these mysteries; and because I feel and know the living presence of Jesus in my own life, because that presence seems to me both human and divine, and because Jesus has rescued me so many times from myself and from the world, I accept what I cannot understand.

Then there are questions of morals. And readers know I find the natural law arguments that I have been told to believe in about human sexuality and the family to be both incoherent and unpersuasive precisely as “natural” law. (See the relevant chapters in Virtually Normal and The Conservative Soul.) I see Aquinas through the prism of our modern, and far deeper, knowledge of human biology and evolution and my own human experience as a homosexual in modernity. But over the decades I have written on this, I haven’t done more than ask the Church hierarchy to confront and grapple with what I see as incoherence, or cruelty, or anachronism in its sexual teachings. I have, for example, been passionate in backing equal civil marriage rights; but I have never made a case for including gay couples in the sacrament of matrimony, because I think we need a much deeper and slower and conscientious discussion before we think about that kind of change in a two-millennia-old faith. But, alas, both John Paul II and Benedict XVI not only forbade such a discussion but also enforced some of the most insulting and condescending views about who we homosexuals are, spoke about us as inherently drawn to evil by our very nature, and refused even to address us as fellow-Catholics or as fellow human beings.

But Francis has changed that. He famously sent out a questionnaire to all Catholics asking for our views on questions of the family, of sexuality, and of our actual lives in the modern world. It’s in preparation for a Synod later this year in Rome to air those very subjects – the kind of honest, real dialogue Benedict spent a lifetime squelching, stigmatizing and censoring. No one knows where it will lead. But the dialogue is as important as any result. It’s a start. Glasnost is returning to the church again.”

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