Monday, April 12, 2010

Theology of Fallibility: Part I

A theology of fallibility lies at the heart of Jesus' teaching. That theology was a major part of Jesus' message at the last supper as recounted in the gospel according to John. This theology has enormous implications of the structure of the Church that claims to be based on the teaching of Jesus. In my next three blogs I will deal with this theology and its implications.
The themes of this series of blogs is dealt with in a fuller way in my book , Freedom,Glorious Freeedom: The Spiritual Journey to the Fullness of Life for Gays, Lesbians and Everybody Else.

What is Maturity?
A healthy maturing process is the process by which we separate off from our dependence on parents, family and religious authorities and become autonomous adults, make our own choices and take responsibility for them. Maturity is defined as the ability to live one's life according to one's own insights and feelings and no longer live in a continuous effort to meet the expectation of others. Theologian Sebastian Moore even goes so far as to write that "living your life to meet the expectations of others" is a form of sin. On both the psychological and spiritual levels, maturity means the ability to discern what is the true self and to find the courage to act out that true self.
God blessed us with fallible parents, It was precisely where our parents were wrong that allowed us to separate off from them. Had they been infallible it would have beem close to impossible for us to mature into autonomous and responsibile adults.

In his book on the spiritual journey of the poor in the base communities of Central and South America, Gustavo Gutierrez, a Peruvian liberation theologian, expressed the same understanding of spiritual maturity. The title of his book, We Drink from Our Own Wells derives from famous saying of the medieval monk, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux:"Everyone has to drink from his (or her) own well!" Spirituality,Gustavo writes, is like living water that springs up from the very depths of our own personal spiritual experience.

D.W.Winnicott, an English child psychologist, wrote: "Every child knows in its bones that in its wickedness lies hope; in its conformity and false socialization lies despair". Winnicott meant that most children remain hopeful that they will continue to be loved and respected even when they do not conform to parental expectations.. But if a child believes that the only way it will be loved is by conforming to the expectations of others and hiding the real self in a closet, it has already despaired of life.

Many of my clients in my psychotherapy preactice remembered a secure, joyful childhood, which came to an abrupt end when they discovered their spontaneous feminine self or, if they were lesbian, their spontaneous masculine self, was totally unacceptable to their parents. The rest of their lives they spent an enormous amount of their psychic energy trying to suppress that unacceptable masculine or feminine dimension of the real self.

Maturity for a gay person must include coming out of the closet, just as spiiritual maturity must include coming out of the closet with God. We must risk that we are loved by God just as we are. We must "take a chance on God".

Part II of Theology of Fallibility will explore the underrstanding of spiritual maturity proclaimed by Jesus at the last supper. It was precisely where our parents were wrong that allowed us to separate off from them  that we were able to mature and become responsible adults. We need the same kind if fallibility in our spiritual leaders in order to mature spiritually

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