Monday, August 10, 2009

Gays and Lesbians and Churchiness

David Gibson has an essay up at Politics Daily, "Why Gay Guys are Churchier Than Their Straight Bretheran." Of interest was Gibson's mention of an argument by Christian de la Huerta (in the book "Coming Out Spiritually"), that "gay people are, among other things, forced to mediate across the gap between their sexuality and spirituality, a divide straight Christians do not have to negotiate."

This is thought-provoking in itself, obviously straight Christians DO have to negotiate a divide between sexuality and spirituality, what's different for straights is that the terms of the negotiation are often pre-determined -- and, increasingly, many straights find these terms to be problematic for a number of reasons, not least of which is that they're androcentric.

But there's a further claim in the argument cited, that the experience of negotiating the sexuality/spirituality divide is good formation for ministry, making "LGBT people especially adept at helping others navigate a world of binaries, in particular the frontier between the physical and spiritual worlds." This makes sense, though I'd note again that the world of binaries like physical/spirital don't exist in a vacuum, as they are often also shaped by gender and sexuality binaries.

Thus my hunch, reading Gibson, is that, particularly for Catholics, the experience of gays is quite different than the experience of lesbians. Consider his title, which speaks to male experience. My guess -- data, anyone? -- is that lesbians might rate fairly high on indexes of "spirituality," which is not the same as "churchiness." In other words, the world of Catholic liturgical practice might work fairly well for gay men, and not so well for lesbians -- so, when it comes to Catholicism, are we talking about homosexuality and Catholicism, or "male-identified males" and Catholicism?

While we're on the subject, I'm very much looking forward to this: James Alison, "Something for Everyone: Gay Catholics as Good News for a Changing Church," at Fairfield University, September 22nd, 8:00 pm, Dolan School of Business, free and open to the public.

UPDATE: Get Religion is commenting on the recent APA rejection of "reparative therapy." Here's the first post (and is that an extremely weird book cover or what?). Here's the second post, on Stephanie Simon's provocative article in the Wall Street Journal, that highlights the experience of some who choose to reconcile a gay or lesbian orientation with traditional Christianity.