Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Witherspoon: Robert George representing the Catholic far right

Robert P. George, co-founder of both the Witherspoon Institute and National Organization for Marriage takes to the Witherspoon blog to explain Catholic teachings on homosexuality in light of the mid-term report from the synod. George isn't a flame thrower like Tony Perkins. No, George is far more pernicious through subtlety and the credibility of occupying and endowed chair at Princeton. His hate speech is couched in the language of a tenured college professor. George has a way of floating a theory in one paragraph and then accepting it as truth in the next. The product is intellectually dishonest rhetoric. Anything from Witherspoon (associated with Opus Dei) represents the very far right of Catholic culture.

George writes:
One sentence in the relatio’s treatment of the pastoral care of same-sex attracted persons has generated a good deal of confusion—provoking criticism from traditionally minded Catholics and arousing futile hopes among liberals. It takes the form of a rhetorical question:
Are our communities capable of providing that [i.e., providing "homosexuals" a "welcoming home"], accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
George doesn't attempt to answer the question directly. Rather, he attempts to transform sexual orientation into something that is religiously malleable.
The concept of “sexual orientation” obscures more than it illuminates because it is deeply ambiguous. As any social scientist will tell you, its meaning is notoriously unstable. It can refer to one’s self-understanding. Or to one’s inclinations: fleeting or lasting, exclusive or dominant or not; to certain forms of sexual partnership or affective companionship or both. Or to what one does—ever, or perhaps just consistently.
No. There is nothing ambiguous about the concept of sexual orientation as the continuum of romantic attraction; male, female, both or neither. There is nothing “unstable” about its meaning. If anything is notorious it is the penchant of religious conservatives to dishonestly transform sexual orientation into behavior in order to conform to scripture. Homosexuality is distilled to same-sex attraction which is kind of like a drug or alcohol problem. It's nonsense.

George continues:
So, for example, some Catholics identify as “gay” despite wholly embracing and living by the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage. Why? They use “orientation” to refer to a very broad set of dispositions to, and gifts for, deeply committed companionship and service—dispositions and gifts that they think are distorted or perverted, not truly fulfilled, by same-sex sexual contact.
“Some” is really minuscule. These people never develop their sexuality at all. It's a heavy price to pay for acceptance by one's religion. Of course some people give up sex entirely (or at least attempt to do so). They become neurotic Catholic priests, deacons and Opus Dei numeraries. George goes on:
With such a capacious sense of “orientation”—as something only accidentally linked to disordered sexual desire—one can easily say that it can produce good fruit: e.g., what the Catechism calls “disinterested friendship” to which same-sex attracted persons are called. Some Catholics who firmly accept the Church’s teaching and live by it view “orientation” in this sense as the sign of a special vocation to a sort of ministry of deep but decidedly non-sexual friendship.
Did I mention that George is pernicious?  “Accidentally linked to disordered sexual desire?” What? It's not an accident that gay people want to have gay sex. There is nothing disordered about it. In the real world sex drive is perfectly normal and natural. George should consult with real social scientists at Princeton. They would inform him that homosexuality is a natural variant in nature. What seems disordered is leading a life in slavery to Bronze Age texts. The men who wrote those ancient scrolls had no understanding of the natural world around them. Indeed, they thought that the Earth was the center of our universe and that the sun orbited the planet. Why should we accept as any more credible the notion that homosexuality is disordered or evil?

Not to beat a dead horse but much of the harsh language of the Church concerning gay people came from then Cardinal Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict). Ratzinger is an ambitious (celibate) theologian and a catechist. He is most certainly not a social scientist. If someone wants to opine on sex it would be nice if they had some from time to time.

George continues:
Indeed, even the temptations that might accompany such an “orientation” can—like any cross—bear fruit in the lives of those who experience them and everyone they affect: in greater sympathy for those marginalized or deemed “abnormal,” for example, and in deeper identification with Christ crucified.
It's not a temptation and it's not something that might accompany anything. Gay people are predisposed to having sex just as straight people are predisposed to having sex. To expect people to live celibate lives is what is generally disordered. Celibacy is abnormal (you simplistic fuckwit).
I myself think that “orientation” and associated terms (“straight,” “gay,” etc.) are too problematic—too misleading, too suggestive of differences as morally and spiritually important as those denoted by “male” and “female”—to be worth using. I think their use sows confusion.
It's not problematic for most same people. There is nothing misleading at all. At the edges of the continuum people identify as gay or straight. In the middle-ground they identify as bisexual. I am currently reading the autobiographical Neanderthal Man by Svante Pääbo. Dr. Pääbo is the world's leading authority on ancient DNA and the director of genetics at the highly prestigious Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. Within the book Pääbo mentions, very matter of factly, his bisexuality; at times having both boyfriends and girlfriends. He is very comfortable in his own skin which might be conducive to his enormous success as a scientist. George wants people not to accept who they are and not to be comfortable. George is in the business of shaming people and that's a damned shame.

It is people like George who create bat-shit crazy people like Robert Oscar Lopez or Doug Mainwaring or even Janna Darnelle.

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