Just the other day I posted a link to Fr. Check’s recent interview in the Catholic forum of a website dedicated to Christianity and all things homosexual. The majority of people there have reached a point where they believe that God blesses and endorses same sex relationships, basing this belief on gay “theology.” The minority are people who have embraced traditional teaching about sexuality and have chosen to live a life of abstinence. I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that though there is a great divide between the two, one thing they share in common is that they generally view the Courage Apostolate with great disdain. Being rather stubborn, naturally contrarian and inclined to speak my mind, occasionally I’ll post things about Courage to see what bubbles up from to the surface. It’s always a fascinating exercise, and I’m never sure exactly what angle the reaction will take, but I know it will generally be critical.
I always enjoy it when someone there resorts to saying that I must have a miserable life, or when someone there says things similar to what I was actually told there, “no one would ever want to be you.” I always grin when I read these sorts of silly comments, and my internal answer to that is well, that at least I want to be me, so that theory goes out the window. There’s at least one person who wants to be me.
People there on both sides of the issue seem to find it inconceivable that a person could actually believe everything the Catholic Church says about homosexuality, accept it, embrace it and yet still be psychologically healthy and lead a fulfilling life. I’ve always left those interactions shaking my head and wondering why they think as they do. This most recent round of comments though provided me with an epiphany of sorts: the vast majority of criticisms of Courage are based on straw men.
I’ve found the criticism there (and elsewhere) tends to come from two extremes. On the one hand, you have the people who have chosen to live the way they want to live their lives, and get angry that the Church still clings to Natural Law when thinking about sexuality. They don’t like Courage because we believe what the Church teaches on homosexuality. On the other hand are those who also embrace Catholic views on sexuality, but in opposition to Church teaching, have chosen to embrace a gay identity, and get angry that the Church uses language like “objective disorder,” or that the Church is disinclined to ordain people like me to the priesthood. They tend towards viewing homosexuality as something to be celebrated in their lives, as if it’s the component of their life which makes them so interesting and fascinating, and to which they seem to attribute so many traits in their life that they find admirable, which I’ve always found to be very strange. The first camp views Courage as self-righteous prigs. The second camp views us as repressed men and women filled with self-loathing and shame. I address both angles in my post, and I figured since I took the time to write a response there, I might as well post it here:
It’s always a fun game to read criticisms of Courage.On the one hand, we’re told that we’re all filled with spiritual pride, and that we think we’re more virtuous than other people, that we all think we’re wonderfully spiritual and well balanced individuals, and then on the other hand, we’re told that we are filled with shame and self-loathing, that we’re an organization that serves a purpose for those who are sex addicts (with the tacit assumption that we are all addicted to sex). I’ve been told that we’re all living very unbalanced and unhealthy lives, that we have bizarre psycho-sexual views of the world and of our own sexuality, and in essence that we’re repressed and chronically depressed people.When it comes, criticism of Courage is always done in extremes, and the entire Apostolate is painted with one broad brush. Where the paint bucket comes from however is from either end of the bell curve: either we’re Pharisaical self-righteous holy rollers with an authoritarian fetish, [something I’ve been accused of there] or pathetic, mopey people with miserable lives who have a “sad vision” of human existence [another accusation leveled against me there].It’s always entertaining to see what criticism comes next. In the meantime, we keep sharing the good news of the Church, and the Apostolate continues to grow, well, because of course, Courage actually embraces everything that the Church teaches, about everything. No existential angst about identity, or the unreasonable demands of chastity, or disliking the Church’s language and teaching about homosexuality or worrying about what the world thinks about the Catholic Church and sexuality, since, well, the Holy Spirit’s in charge of all of that. In the meantime, we just live our lives with an honest acknowledgment of our need for God (God forbid: some meetings actually start with one of the 12 steps–though depending on who you ask, that’s a sign of A). that we do it out of a self-righteous false humility, or B). because we’re unbalanced sex addicts barely holding it together) and then try to help our fellow members lead the lives they’ve chosen to live for themselves. We pray for each other, and then we go get a beer and enjoy each other’s company. It’s just awful what the Courage Apostolate is and does in people’s lives.In all of my talks where I speak and promote the Courage Apostolate, one component that I particularly take great relish in is disabusing people of both sorts of criticisms, which is easy to do, since they’re both so extreme in nature to be easily seen as caricatures.