Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New Home


So it's been a while since I've posted anything here -- partly because I have been getting ready to launch a new blog hosted by Patheos, and partly because I was getting so swamped with spam from India that it was taking me forever to sift through to the real comments.
But the point is, I now have a Brand New Shiny Spiffy Blog. The new blog is a little less focused on sexuality related issues, so I'll still occasionally be posting stuff here if it's too specific for a more general audience (say, for example, that I decide to weigh in on the TERF vs. transwoman wars...) but for the most part I will now be posting at Catholic Authenticity.

I've opened the new blog with a short series on why I am a Catholic. Also, there's a new goofy headshot of me looking stunned for you enjoyment and edification.
So come check out the new blog. Subscribe. Follow. Read. Join the discussion. Should be fun.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Right to Forgive

I've come across a number of scandals recently where the rhetoric of forgiveness has been used to shelter people who are manipulative or abusive. In most cases, this seems to be driven by a very understandable desire on the part of Christians to put into practice the teaching that mercy will be shown to the merciful. The problem is that in the process victims are often sidelined, silenced or even chastised for being “unforgiving.” This represents an abuse of the virtue of forgiveness, and it's based on a misunderstanding of what forgiveness means

Monday, March 23, 2015

Alphabet Soup

Within present Christian discourse on homosexuality it is common to divide the playing field into two camps: side A and side B. These terms are sometimes confusing for people who aren't knee-deep in the conversation, so I offer a brief explanation:

Side A – Side A Christians believe that God sanctions loving, committed relationships between people of the same sex. They usually argue that the word “arsenokoitai” in St. Paul, which is usually translated as “homosexual” doesn't necessarily have that meaning – basically, that a homophobic reading of Scripture has become so deeply entrenched in Christian culture that it is enshrined in our English Bibles, but that it's not there in Paul. They would argue that St. Paul was condemning abusive same-sex practices, like pederasty and the sexual abuse of male slaves. As for Leviticus, it's a set of ritual purity laws and huge swathes of it have been out of use in Christianity since the First Council of Jerusalem.

Side B – Side B Christians believe that there are strong Scriptural and traditional reasons for believing that God originally intended marriage to be a union between a man and a woman ordered towards procreation, and that sex is reserved for such unions. A gay or lesbian Christian may have particular gifts or charisms related to their sexuality, they shouldn't be ashamed of being gay and should not expect their orientation to change, but they are called to live chastely.

Are these the only positions that people can hold? Certainly not. One of the difficulties that often arises when we're having these conversations is that people will say things like “queers believe,” or “Christians say,” or “according to the gay community...” These are absurd statements because they assume that there is one Christian perspective and one gay perspective. In practice, this means that if someone has read a statement by one gay person or one Christian and they disagree with it, they will behave as though it the universal belief of everyone on the “other side” of the debate. So, as a fun exercise, here are 24 other possible positions that people might hold:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Neurological Intersex?

Having talked a lot about the need to include trans voices in the conversation, I'm thrilled that one of my friends offered to do a guest post. Edie is a transgender Catholic studying for a Masters in Theology.

by Edie Fetch

Recently, Carlos Flores of UC Santa Barbara wrote an article that’s been making the rounds among those sectors of Internet Catholicism concerned about trans issues. I felt that, as a transgender Catholic who is at least making a healthy go of trying to be both, it would be beneficial to engage Flores directly.

This is obviously something deeply personal for me; it is not solely an academic question but speaks about my deepest experience of myself. It has been an ongoing existential challenge for me, and one which I spent years deeply resisting. I even spent a year in seminary as part of my attempt to reify and strengthen the hard walls of the strict binary which I found myself constantly straining against.

That said, my goal here is not polemic; neither is it entirely personal. I am addressing Mr. Flores as a fellow ethicist and traveler, and assume nothing but the best of intentions.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Neither Man nor Woman

I've written a few posts about trans issues here and at Spiritual Friendship, and I've realized from my com-box that I probably need to help readers understand better where I'm coming from so that hopefully more of my Catholic readership will be able to follow me.

When I started looking at this issue I had a fairly typical traditional conservative Catholic point of view. I believed (and still believe) quite strongly in sexual complementarity, that sexual identity – male or female – matters tremendously in terms of the formation of personality, and that there is a serious theological dimension to the creation of humanity male and female.

It seemed to follow from this that people should clearly and simply fall into one category or the other, and that becoming oneself would always involve embracing a sexual identity based on more or less obvious bodily characteristics. I didn't have a well thought out position on trans issues; in so far as I thought about them at all, I simply adopted the position that I encountered in most Catholic media. I felt that acknowledging trans identities, legally or personally, would involve co-operating with delusion. More importantly, I feared that such acknowledgement would undermine Scripture and present a serious challenge to the Church's teaching on a variety of issues from marriage and sexuality to women in the priesthood.

So how and why has this changed?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Absurdity of Transgenderism: A Stern But Necessary Critique of The Witherspoon Article

The Witherspoon Institute recently published an article by Carlos D. Flores that bills itself as “a stern but necessary critique” of the “absurdity of transgenderism.” The article attempts to refute the most common defences of trans identities, arguing in particular against the proposed legislation known as “Leelah's Law” that would attempt to prevent parents from forcing trans kids into therapy to try to correct their gender identity.

The arguments that Flores presents are flawed on a number of levels, but there is one example that he discusses at some length that I would particularly like to engage with because it might provide a more helpful way for conservative Christians to think about and understand how we ought to respond to folks with trans conditions.