A Gay Man I Consider a Saint
Some folk who have not read the blog for long or who are afflicted with short or selective memory might form the notion that, because I criticize Bullies for Homosex such as Dan “Hooray for Inciting Rape!” Savage, bullying is all I see in the gay community.
Not true. One of the people I admire most in the world, who I regard as an inspiration and, very likely, as a saint was a gay guy who lived here in Seattle named Perry Lorenzo. You can get something of a sense of the man from his blog. Dunno if he was celibate or not and, frankly, regard it as none of my business. All I know is that the guy was clearly a man who loved Jesus, loved his Catholic faith, and taught a huge number of people about it, both gay and straight, in a way that was immensely attractive and uplifting for everybody who encountered him. He was also one of the most learned people I have ever met and a profoundly humble man. He was, for many years, the director of education for the Seattle Opera. Had a brilliant knack for speaking the Catholic tradition to the cultured despisers of tradition here in Seattle. His funeral, which he planned himself as he was dying, was one of the most beautiful and Christ-centered liturgies I’ve ever experienced. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if half the congregation was not Catholic: a testament to his greatness.
Some Catholics (and some of my gay readers) will probably be surprised to hear that I’m not interested in whether or not he was celibate. Not my business. That’s between him and God. (I had a reader write me in some degree of scandal after I posted on his death because he apparently had a partner he lived with. If memory serves, I expressed to my reader a deep lack of interest in that fact since a) Not. My. Business and b) merely living with his partner is not proof of anything anyway, either about his relationship with his partner, nor about his relationship with God.
So do I contradict myself, since it’s not a secret that I agree with the Church that homosexual acts are sinful. I don’t see how. If Perry was an active homosexual, it’s none of my business and certainly not mine to judge. After all, I also agree with the Church that my own acts of gluttony are sinful and even gravely so. But I don’t believe God has abandoned or rejected me and I trust his grace to help me slowly become conformed to Christ, so why should I believe for a second that somebody like Perry, who manifested such abundant and beautiful fruits of the Spirit was not pleasing to God and was not doing his best to strive for God? On the contrary, I regard him as a role model and greatly admire his deep, generous and true faith. I hope he prays for the Church in Seattle and I think he is (not was, God rest his soul) one of the great ornaments of the Church.
There are other gay members of the Church for whom I have a similarly high regard. Some are celibate. Some, for all I know, may not be. Since I don’t see it as my mission to peer into other people’s private lives, I wouldn’t know. What I know is the fruit of the Spirit I see in their lives. Toward whatever weaknesses they may have, I think hells general attitude is summed up by Screwtape’s wise counsel: “Keep from the patient’s mind the thought, ‘If I, being what I am, can consider myself a Christian, why should I assume that the faults of my neighbor render their faith merely hypocrisy and convention?’” I choose to dissent from Hell’s urging to judge, lest I be judged.
I take this attitude toward people who struggle with same sex attraction. I take it, likewise, with people who are same sex attracted and *don’t* struggle with it. Not my business what they do in their spare time. I take it with Christians and with non-Christians. Though I will happily tell you, should you ask, that I consider same sex attraction one of the myriad forms of concupiscence, I will also point out that concupiscence is not sin. And if somebody embraces this particular form of concupiscence and indulges it, I will say what I say about all such choices to sin: God forgives sin so who am I to judge? Indeed, I have talked to priests who tell me that there are people they counsel in gay relationships for whom it best to allow the relationship to continue since, for reasons specific to that relationship, it would result in something more destructive to end it. I can completely believe this (which will no doubt shock some of my more conservative Catholic readers for whom scorched earth is always better then accomodating human weakness). There is, after all, often real love present in homosexual relationships, however disordered, and love should be strengthened and perfected, not crushed with contempt. At the same time, as a person who has never even been tempted to this particular form of concupiscence, I don’t feel myself Chosen by God to tell homosexual persons what they are supposed be doing beyond, “Seek Jesus Christ because he is the true source of the happiness you seek.” I suspect Perry Lorenzo would have said the same. So if some gay person’s confessor or spiritual director takes a lenient approach to weakness I’m not going to offer my ignorant opinion to the contrary. God knoweth my confessor has often been lenient and merciful to me.
The only thing I will not do is pretend that concupiscence is a God-given gift or lie that indulgence of sin is really an expression of virtue. Nor will I sit by when a thug like Dan Savage tries to intimidate and bully some defenseless kids into that pretense, or some gay goons beat up people who disagree with them or smash their property. I object to them, not because they are gay, but because they are bullies–exactly as I object to people who bully gays. But that’s it. My attitude to homosexuality, whether inclination or act, is therefore actually rather benign. If gays wish to live together, or have the benefit of law to protect their property, I don’t think it’s the job of the state to stop them. Not all sins should be illegal. I leave most matters between homosexuals and God and ask only that I not be subjected to demands to celebrate disordered appetite, acts contrary to nature or to pretend that an ontological impossibility is a marriage.
But mainly, I think of Perry Lorenzo, one of the finest Catholics and disciples of Jesus I have ever known and ask his prayers as I pray for him. He is one of my heros.