By Daniel Mattson
May 16, 2012
This morning, I wrote a rather lengthy response to a troubling blog entry, with the rather provocative title, “How To Win A Culture War and Lose a Generation.”
This was my response:
Let me start my comments by saying first, that “I’m one of them.” I’m a guy who likes guys. I’ve been attracted to guys for as long as I remember, but have always believed the unified teaching of the Christian faith on this issue. So much so, that at a time when I really wanted to be with a man, I didn’t modify my beliefs like those at the Gay Christian Network who are Side A do, I instead willfully said to God, “I’m done living by your rules.”
The question that I always come back to when it is concerning love is this: what does it mean, to truly love another? Is love whatever we say it is? It seems that the definition of love we have now has essentially become exactly that. I say what love is, and no matter what that looks like, then it is love, because I define it as such. C. S. Lewis wrote about St. Augustine’s view of love and virtue this way, in Abolition of Man: “St. Augustine defines virtue as ordo amoris, the ordinate condition of the affections in which every object is accorded that kind and degree of love which is appropriate to it.” The classic definition of love in Christian philosophy through the ages has been, “to love is to will the good of the other,” which is akin with Christ’s definition, loving others as we would love ourselves. The caveat, in that, of course, is that we don’t always love ourselves in the ways in which we would if we could see ourselves through the eyes of God.
The call to love, I’ve become convinced, must be determined not by our particular concepts of love, or the way others may want us to show love to them, because in some cases, to acquiesce to the way some want to be loved is to actually not love them at all. I will tell you this: I recently went to a priest (I’m Catholic) and out of compassion, he told me to find a man and settle down with him, so that I can be happy. That was not love, though the priest believed he was loving me. His compassion towards me, and my loneliness, was not love, in the truest sense, since I know that my subjective concept of what I think might bring me earthly happiness is not the way that I will be happy, ultimately. Some aspects of my life which make me unhappy could be mitigated: I could have a companion to come home to, other than my dog; I could have a sexually active life and enjoy that aspect of the human existence; I could have someone to travel with and plan my life, but ultimately, those forms of happiness are not worth the cost of disobeying God.
God says no to us, and to me, in particular, because he loves me. The younger generation needs to understand that God’s commandments lead us to the blessed life, and one of the hallmarks of showing our love for God, as Jesus told us, is to “keep his commandments.” If you are a Christian with LGBTQ friends, and you urge them on in believing that God is “Side A,” or ever has been “Side A” concerning this subject, you’re not doing them any favors. You’re urging them on in believing a lie about themselves, about God, and about what will make them happy.
Look to the life of Dan Savage as a case in point. We now live in an age in which openly gay men and women readily admit that monogamy in gay relationships doesn’t mean faithfulness in sexual fidelity–it means you live in an open relationship, which understands that one’s “needs aren’t being met,” and so though you share a life/home together, from time to time, one needs to go taste the waters of a distant shore. Is there anything about that which resonates with God’s view of love? “Our needs not being met?” Love is “laying down your life for one another,” right?
Or do you think that because a man is a gay Christian, he will be able to be faithful? There is something inherent in homosexuality that is never satisfied. The common experience of other gay men reveals that to be the case: just google the phrase “gay monogamy.” Serial infidelity is now expected to be the norm, and it’s not a secret–it’s become a part of the culture, since gay men have readily admitted that it’s nigh on impossible to stay sexually faithful. Why is this? I am convinced it is because there is a hunger within someone like me which can never be satisfied in the arms of another man.
We live in a day and age where we have chosen to believe that everyone’s happiness will come to them in the manner and ways in which they have decided they will be happy, and that the most important virtue now is to defend and celebrate whatever means it is that they have chosen for their happiness. Marriage is now being sacrificed on this altar of “happiness by whatever means a man decides for himself,” and somehow this has become the greatest virtue, and the greatest expression of love, and indeed, the greatest sign of Christian virtue.
Our love for others must be guided by the truth about humanity, and that truth comes to us through Christ himself. Distilled to its essence, as he taught us, we need to love God with all our hearts and souls, and to love others, as we would love ourselves (if we knew the manner in which God would have us love ourselves). God isn’t opposed to homosexuality in Scripture because he wants someone like me to be lonely: his commandments are a seal of protection against the false belief I have of what I think will make me happy. His commands, telling me not to fulfill my desires, is the path to peace and happiness–even if there are moments where I may shed tears over the loneliness I may feel.
When I see how much the younger generation encourages their LGBTQ friends in embracing a man-made label about themselves, and when they encourage Churches to change the 2,000 year teaching on marriage, I don’t see love. I see a mockery of love, a love which encourages others in a false notion of what will make them happy. The younger generation who is weary of the culture wars has been duped, and are in my mind, victims of the war. Seek out those who have lived this life, who will be honest with you, who will share with you the scars of infidelities and jealousies which are rampant in this way of life. Don’t just be guided by Glee, or by Ellen DeGeneres: seek out the lived experience of those who once lived this way, and found it to be empty. Be objectively open to the possibility that society has gotten it wrong, and the Church, and Christianity has been right about this forever. I’m one victim of the world’s view of homosexuality–it has only brought me pain and sorrow, and I am grateful that God’s commands provide me a hedge of protection. Though it causes me loneliness at times, it is not onerous, but rather it is an abundant and precious loneliness, filled with peace of soul.