Yglesias Award Nominee

by Matthew Sitman

“Honestly, I think if I were in your situation, with what I take to be your beliefs and aspirations and attractions, the odds are that I’d end up seeking exactly what you’re seeking — a stable, long-term same-sex relationship. And I don’t think there’s anything in my political worldview that would deny that aspiration a place in society, or deny you the opportunity to pursue happiness. …

I don’t see a way for my church — and yours by baptism — to bless same-sex unions absent a true doctrinal revolution, which if it happened would essentially involve Catholicism becoming a very different kind of church and faith than the one that I understand it to be. (The issue isn’t just a matter of reinterpreting a few biblical passages; the conjugal, procreative view of marriage is woven into Christian doctrine in ways that would require truly radical revisionism to undo.) So the position of gay people who are raised Catholic or Christian, or feel drawn — or in your case, perhaps someday drawn back — to Christianity is, I expect, going to continue to be fraught and complicated and uniquely challenging, at least barring some sort of shift that I can’t conceive of at the moment.

This fraughtness will take (and already takes) various forms in a post-closet world:

There will be churches that bless same-sex unions, but they will have an at-best-uneasy relationship to their own scriptures and traditions; there will be gay Christians who attend more orthodox churches while maintaining relationships that conflict with their faith’s official teachings, and who live (like all of us, but more so than many) with unresolved tensions in their spiritual life; and there will be gay Christians who embrace some sort of celibate vocation, and try to carve out or revive (as various gay Christian writers are trying to do) forms of religious community that are specific to their situation.

If I were attracted to men and otherwise held exactly the same theological views, my beliefs would impel me toward the third option. But as I suggested at the beginning of this response, it’s entirely possible that under those circumstances my beliefs would bend or break, and I’d end up in a different situation, a different church, or simply end up lapsed, skeptical, secular.

What I’d want for society, though, is for all of those different possibilities to be available, and for them not to be necessarily set against each other: For the love and fidelity of gay couples to be respected, and for gay people to be free to pursue happiness the way most straights pursue it, but for the door to still be open to other ideas and possibilities as well,” – Ross Douthat, answering a question from a gay, lapsed-Catholic reader.