Sunday, July 18, 2010

Compassion for the Closeted - And the Real Hypocrisy Behind It

Recently someone on my Facebook list posted a link to a scandalous story. In it, the president of a prominent Catholic high school in the Midwest had been caught in a sex sting, groping an undercover police officer in a park notorious for anonymous gay sex.

You'll notice I've refused to give any personal details here. It's bad enough this fellow has been forced out of the closet in his home town. Does he really need a kinky heretic like me adding to his misery?

There are different reasons different people keep their sexual identity away from public view. Whatever that reason, we should lean towards respecting them. If the person in question is a public figure renowned for "promoting family values", then exposing such hypocrisy seems more important than privacy.

In this case, however, we're dealing with a private individual with no record of espousing anti-GLBT propaganda. Yet he's also caught in the dilemma of having to deny his desires for intimacy and pleasure out of obedience to church doctrine. Well, you can only do that for so long. Is it any wonder, then, that he resorted to such risky action?

So I feel compassion for this fellow, and I hope he can find a way to come to grips with his sexuality, and to reconcile it with his faith. I feel that way for so many who feel they are caught between competing desires - the erotic and spiritual - and hope that they and their families and communities will come to see that these need not be mutually exclusive.

What really bothers me is the real hypocrisy behind all of this. Men like this school administrator can confess their sins, do their penance, and be forgiven for what is seen as a temporary lapse in moral judgement. If, however, they chose to live in a committed loving relationship, then all bets are off. Thus the churches which continually condemn anything outside of "traditonal marriage" wind up showing greater tolerance for behavior which is furthest away from that ideal.

This is the problem with a sexual moralism which fixates on form instead of being concerned with content. The forms are so many, contradictions and conundrums are inevitable. And in all of this, where is the value of love - not just for those who repent and obey church doctrine, but those who are willing to question bravely how those doctrines do more harm than good?


  1. ((((There are different reasons different people keep their sexual identity away from public view)))

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but if he'd really kept his sexuality out of the public view, he wouldn't have been arrested in the first place.

  2. @CC: My take on this was that, after years of feeling obligated to deny his desires, the pressure was too great, and desire overrode common sense. It's also likely that he had frequented this spot for some time, and finally got caught.

    Either way, look at how the Catholic Church typically responds to such: Confess, repent, promise to be a good boy, and nothing more need be said. On the other hand, if he were in a committed loving relationship - surely preferable to hitting on strangers in a public park - the church hierarchy would come down on him like the proverbial ton of bricks.

    My point is that we need to understand all of the factors behind stories like this, especially how conservative religious groups and their leaders have contributed to the misery and hypocrisy of so many of their members.