Friday, May 14, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI on Gay Marriage

On his recent pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, Pope Benedict XVI used the occasion to announce that he thought the greatest threat to the human race, apart from abortion, was gay marriage! To my knowledge no mention was made of the nuclear arms race; no mention of the destruction of the environment; no mention of disease, poverty and starvation which afflict the vast majority of humanity; no mention of the decrease in respect for the sacred value of the human person which has led to a remarkable increase in genocide, violence, murder, torture and enslavement. Which leads me to wonder what alternate universe the Pope lives in; what alternate reality is he dealing with?

In the past, many LGBT people bought into the religious message that their gayness was sinful and, if they expressed it, they would "suffer the pains of hell." So they had no alternative except to suppress their gay orientation and try to hide it by entering into a heterosexual marriage. The primary cause of divorce in Church courts was the homosexual orientation of one or the other partner which the Church recognized as adequate grounds for invalidating marriage vows.

But with the growth of LGBT spiritual movements over the past several decades (Dignity, Integrity, MCC, Acceptance, etc.) most gay Christians now see their gayness not as a curse but as a gift from God. Freed by the Holy Spirit from self hatred, they want to form loving committments to each other within the institution of marriage and many want to adopt children and raise them in a loving alternate family union.

This is what the Pope thinks is the most lethal threat to human civilization. On the contrary, I have argued in my blog: Gay Marriage: God's Gift To Humanity, the exact opposite is the truth. Gay marriage creates a new paradigm for marriage which will enormously strengthen the insitution.

Jesus Christ's message of equality and love has been contaminated by the institutions of patriarchy, male privilege, and the repression of the feminine. The time has come for the Church to cleanse itself and throw off these aberrations. Gay spiritual groups, I believe, are leading the way for the whole Church to bring about this transformation. The primary example of this liberation can be found in gay marriage.

The traditional paradigm for heterosexual marriage in Western civilzation has been the patriarchal model. This model had two essential elements. The first element was the belief in male superiority and female inferiority. Under this model, one bought a wife and she became the property of her husband. Over a century ago the philosopher Hegel made the point that where ever inequality existed between married partners, the fullnes of human love can not exist. In fact, marriage was considered a legal contract but not a sacrament for the first 13 centuries of Christian civilization.

In line with today's development of women's liberation, most women see themselves as the equal of males and refuse to accept the role of submission and obedience. Any effort on the part of the male to impose this role leads to anger. And anger is the best anti-aphrodisiac going. Marriage based on the patriarchal model is in serious trouble. Over half of all marriages end in divorce and that number is growing. Providentially, God's spirit has given us a new model for human marriage, the model contained in gay marriage .

In gay marriage both parties see themselves as equal, no superior and no inferior. The fullness of human love can only exist in partners who see themselves as equal. So gay marriage opens up the possibility of a happier and more fulfilling human love and one closer to the biblical ideal.

But there is a second and, potentially, more serious defect in the patriarchal model of marriage. Every human psyche has both masculine and feminine attributes. Both parties following the patriarchal model must accept only those aspects of their psyche that accord with their gender identity. Males, for example, should only accept the masculine dimension of their psyche amd suppress the feminine, which they then must project out onto their female partner. Women, in turn, must suppress everything masculine in their psyche and project out the masculine on their husband. Many psychically healthier women today, who are more in touch with both their masculine and feminine dimensions, and see themselves as whole persons, increasingly are unwilling to play the role of being mediators of the feminine emotional, spiritual and compassionate needs of men. They want a man who is a total human person in himself! They are demanding, and rightly so, that we men get in touch with our feminine dimension.

Many men, in turn, are coming into touch with both the masculine and feminine dimensions of themselves and refusing to play the role of being the mediator of the masculine needs of women for assertiveness and autonomy. It is this shift in consciousness that has caused the enormous amount of breakdown and divorce when heterosexuals try, with the Church's encouragment. to follow the traditional patterns of male dominance and female submission and refuse to recognize the equality of the sexes. Both genders are being called on to develop the fullness of their own humanity, so that they can approach each other as complete, independent persons and not remain essentially dependent on the other gender for their completion.

Once again gay marriage models a relationship based on both partners being totally in touch with both the masculine and feminine dimensions of their psyche and being able to call on both roles. The result is a more human and fulfilling love relationship between the partners. Human sexual love is always a love between two unique human persons. Animal love is based on gender. The bull does not care which cow he mounts. But human love is directed towards the uniqueness of the person... I love this unique women or man and no other will do. Catholic teaching tends to equate human sex with animal sex, basing it on gender difference and not on the uniqueness of the human person. Gay marriage then, rather than being a threat to the family, opens up a new paradigm for a fuller, more human and fulfilling love between the partners.

Which brings us back to the question : Why is Pope Benecict XVI so consistently over the top with his homophobia and so out of touch with the reality of the LGBT world? He was willing, at least unconsciously, to destroy the celibate gay priesthood by forbiding gay men the right to ordination. The only explanation I can reach to understand the ferociousness of Benedict's attack on the LGBT community is that unconsciously he is a self-hating gay man who projects out his fear and loathing on the gay community at large!


  1. "The only explanation I can reach to understand the ferociousness of Benedict's attack on the LGBT community is that unconsciously he is a self-hating gay man who projects out his fear and loathing on the gay community at large!"

    This is the unstated elephant in his theology and the source of all his compartmentalization. It is very difficult for one to write authentically about love when one hates oneself. I suspect this is precisely why Benedict defines love from an idealized intelluctualization of absolute 'truth', when in point of fact love is about relationship and healthy relationships are always evolving and growing into more transcendant understandings of truth.

    Your point about gay marriage threatening the gender stereotyping on which traditional marriage is based is a perfect example of an evolving understanding of truth. So is pointing out that this form of marriage necessitates projecting 'complimentary' gender traits on the other.

    As you have written, good theology can not come from bad psychology--especially unhealthy internal psychology.

  2. Great post. I totally agree with you, John. Unfortunately, there aren't many gay people who seek spirituality actively as that part of themselves was usually condemned in American society, which was my case. I am always seeking other people to share spiritual thoughts/beliefs and conversations, especially people who are also gay.
    Thanks for your blog and posts. Can't wait to share our thoughts together.