Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Elizabeth Scalia on Homosexuality

Over at First Things, Elizabeth Scalia has a thoughtful post on homosexuality.  I confess that I often find her too snarky and almost didn't click on the link.

In fact, snark is where she begins, rolling her eyes at an awards-show winner, as he claims exuberantly that gays are "exceptional people."  But then she pauses, and wonders...
Perhaps homosexuals are in fact “special and exceptional others,” whose distinctions are meant to be noted. Perhaps they are a “necessary other” created and called to play a specific role in our shared humanity...
I have a theory that our gay brothers and sisters are, in fact, planned, loved-into-being “necessary others,” and that they are meant to show us something of God from a perspective that we cannot otherwise broach...
If that is so, our homosexual brothers and sisters deserve a full participation in our human adventure, right down to the “plans of fullness, not of harm; to give you a future and a hope.”
But those plans, in the life of every fully-engaged human, involve not just gifts but also challenges, not just “yes” but also “no,” not just satisfaction, but also sacrifice, not just ourselves but also obedience. That’s the fullness; it comes from embracing the plan, but it is not easy.
What she is saying, I think (but check out the comments, they're all over the place), is that being gay is a gift from God that comes with a special mandate to love -- and, I suspect, she'll add that that such love is only fully realized as the gift it is when it is expressed in ways other than having sex.  Indeed, if being out means being sexually active, Scalia argues (crediting Camille Paglia) that gay artists work best in the closet.

Maybe I mis-read her.  I agree with her that gender identity and sexual orientation are primary modes of being human, not social constructs that can be endlessly deconstructed. So then, if hetero-sexual sexual activity is primarily about procreation, must a same-sex orientation be primarily about something other than sexual activity?

Or is it possible that same-sex sexual activity is the "necessary other," part of plan of the "fullness" of sexuality?

I am not sure.  I do appreciate that Scalia is assuming that there is a particular integrity in the same-sex orientation, and asks, in a careful way, what it might be.

But still, I wonder about the potential extension of this argument as, in the background, I hear an application of it to another "very special" group, women, whose form is claimed to be so special that it literally cannot receive the sacrament of holy orders.

Hmmmm. What if most of us are "necessary" "others?"  Necessary to whom?