Saturday, June 26, 2010

My time in Al-Anon pt. 2

The first post is available here.
In Al-Anon meetings we hear the three Cs describing our powerlessness over alcoholism: we didn't cause it, can't cure it, and can't control it. We begin to learn the basic Al-Anon premise of taking our focus off of the alcoholic and keeping the focus on ourselves. Hard as it is to look at our own part in our problems, acceptance of Step One brings relief from impossible responsibilities. We were trying to fix a disease - and someone else's disease at that!

Powerlessness. The first step of Al-Anon, like the first step of Alcoholics Anonymous and a whole host of other 12 step groups, begins with powerlessness. The biggest problem in my life - my husband's drinking - was out of my control. I wanted to cure him. I didn't want to give in to the idea that he must drink forever, and these people seemed to believe their spiritual principles would help him quit and stay sober, and maybe even find this "serenity" they all spoke of.

But Al-Anon said, even though 12 Steps was the best shot at sobriety he had, I couldn't cure him or control him. But he wouldn't go to the meetings. He always had some excuse why he didn't want to go, even if I offered to drive him. For all his talk of not wanting me to leave him, he wasn't making any effort to keep me.

Still, it was time to take my focus off of him and turn it to myself. Like most of the advice I got from Al-Anon, this was double-edged. As a brand new mom in financial straits and poor health, I had a lot of my own stuff to focus on, and being away from Roni and his problems was good for me. But it also invited me to ignore his bad behavior. After all, I shouldn't worry about that mote in his eye till I'd done an exhaustive "moral inventory" of everything I'd ever done wrong in my entire life and confessed it to my sponsor.

Of course, I hadn't caused Roni's alcoholism or his "problem drinking" and Al-Anon was quick to tell me that. Just as quickly, Al-Anon let me know it was important that I look at "my part" in his drinking. Let me say that another way: I can't cause, cure, or control his drinking, but I need to focus on my part of his drinking problem.

They kept telling me alcoholism was a disease. My husband loved that. He would remind me, gleefully ad manipulatively, "You took a vow before GOD to love me in sickness and in health. I have a disease! It's not my fault." But even as I accepted most of what Al-Anon told me unquestioned, it seemed like an imperfect analogy to me.

Maybe some people do have an allergic or addictive response to alcohol. They shouldn't drink. It's just incredibly simple to me. Okay, that's probably over simplisitc. I know I'm not a big fan of people saying the cure for anorexia is to "just eat" but really, that IS what an anorexic must do to recover. The most I could ever swallow the "addiction as disease" model was to think it might be like diabetes. Some people really do just have to abstain from sugar, and some from alcohol.

Still, they stressed, it was a spiritual disease. I should treat him just the same as if he had lung cancer. But having lung cancer doesn't make people violent. Drinking alcohol did for my husband (even worse was when the buzz wore off.)

I tried to get myself in line with Al-Anon principles. I tried to accept my powerlessness, my lack of agency. Later steppers would assure me this would be freeing. Once I turned my life over to God and quit trying to run things myself (which I was obviously no good at, or else why would I have to come to Al-Anon?) everything would be great.

Having a "conscious contact" with a "Higher Power" has nothing to do with stopping drinking. Of course, at the time I was very religious. Nothing drew me closer to God than a desperate attempt to salvage my marriage and to be a good godly wife and mother. I hadn't meant to play the part so soon, but I was damn skippy going to do a good job of it, now that I'd landed the role.

So how could I be the best I knew how, while getting myself out of "denial" and accepting my own powerlessness? A sponsor would guide me on that path.

(More to come soon.) Excerpt from "Paths to Recovery: Al-Anon's Steps, Traditions, and Concepts and use under Fair Use terms.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

My time in Al-Anon pt. 1

I've answered a couple Formspring questions on AA and 12 Step groups recently, and I've talked about why I think they are cults. What I haven't talked about in any depth is my own experience with these groups. This will be a series of posts, mixing in current research and data and my own memories of my two years in Al-Anon. I will try to show why I believe they are a cult, and provide evidence to back up my claim.

Initial Impression

I knew Roni's drinking and drug abuse was a primary cause of our marital strife. I thought if I could just get him to quit drinking, then we could work on everything else. I could hold my marriage together through sheer effort and force of will. I picked up a book on "Seven Keys to Sobriety." Apparently, if I just spent a few hundred dollars on vitamin supplements and kept my husband locked up somewhere for a week, I could detox him through the healing powers of alternative medicine and make him a brand new man. Unfortunately, I didn't have the couple thousand bucks it would have cost to do such a thing, before even looking at the expense of an inpatient addiction recovery center. We were going to have to do this on the cheap.

So I looked at Alcoholics Anonymous. I'd only ever heard good things about the group, and I'd even recommended on a vague sense of their good reputation that a high school boyfriend attend Ala-Teen meetings, to get help coping with his dad's excessive drinking and the violence that went on in their home.

I decided to attend an Al-Anon meeting. I'd heard it was a support group for the family and friends of alcoholics, and I sure needed some support. I had, after all, just gotten married, had a baby, and separated from my husband to go live with my disapproving mother. I had also just undergone unanesthetized surgery at a walk-in clinic to remove a staph infection that was killing me, and I had a broken ankle I couldn't afford to have looked at by a doctor.

I had my mom go with me and the baby, since I couldn't exactly drive with my broken right ankle. We got to the Methodist church and school about a mile down the road and looked for the meeting. It was in one of the classrooms -upstairs. I had brought my son's stroller, because I thought that would make it easy for my mom to keep him placated while I listened, but I hadn't counted on stairs. Two AA guys, meeting in the room next door, were kind enough to hoist the stroller up the stairs while my mom carried my son, and I hobbled up the stairs with my crutches, in a too-large borrowed walking cast.

My first impression was that the people in the meeting were off somehow. I told my mom as we left that they seemed like cult members. Some things stood out as "not quite right" like the part one lady read aloud about "only conference approved Al-Anon literature may be read." I was reading everything I could on addiction and alcoholism, and it seemed weird to limit myself to just one possible course of action. But, the women assured me, there really was no other way my husband would get sober. He needed AA and he needed it now.

Well, it was worth a shot. They themselves advised that I attend six meetings before deciding whether or not Al-Anon was right for me. So, it wasn't like I had to make up my mind right away. I could just check it out for a few more weeks, and I could always leave if I didn't like it, right?

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

No Preaching Zone

Why is it every other jackass who heard a Bible verse outside the bar one night thinks I want to be preached to? This is the entitlement I deal with from priviliged Christians.
Define 'good'. Some think good is killing those or at least confining those that don't agree with them. They view them as 'dangerous' to their idea of..ahem... 'good'. And as a result they become devils like Stalin, Mao etc. who mass murder 10's of millions of people.

Without some absolute all seeing discerner, one also might think they are doing 'good' by helping some person...who then takes the strength we give them and uses it to go destroy others.

There is a God who calls people from this mindset which, historically, has led to mass murder. People hijack anything that fits the culture and appears 'good'. People have done it with religions incessantly through the ages.

However that doesn't affect the fact that there is a God who loves people and came himself to sacrifice himself through his omnipresent spirit for any who would put their trust in him. That leads me to a goodness that allows others to live freely even though they hate me. In fact I help them if they are in distress rather then rejoicing in their doom. You can't find that kind of love outside of Jesus Christ who was God in the flesh.
No "hello, I am a Christian and I saw one of your YouTube videos." No "How are you?" Just "Define good." How about this jackass - go look it up in a dictionary! It takes less time to type a word + "define" into your Google search bar than it does to send me an email.

Next we've got, "Some people mass murder." Some people are serial killers, and it appears a strict religious childhood is what leads them to do things that make the rest of us scratch our heads in disgust and bewilderment. However, that's hardly a reason to paint all religious people as serial killers. (They're just *potential* serial killers. Relax, atheists!) Just one more reason to fight against childhood indoctrination and sexual repression, eh?

Ah, here I'm being told that atheism is somehow equivalent to being a "destroyer" (whatever that means, since Mr. Let Me Demand a Definition hasn't defined this.)

Let's see, well apparently an atheist mindset has historically led to genocide. Never mind that there is no dogma to atheism, no cause to die for, no paradise to go to. Never mind that atheism was not the motivation for either Stalin or Mao (and certainly not the Catholic Adolf Hitler.)

For the last paragraph, we've got the "he died for you, you miserable fucking sinner" guilt trip! Of course this only works on people who actually think being born human is something horrible to atone for. And he'd be remiss if this random person submitting unrequested preaching neglected to tell me what a good noble suffering martyr for his faith he is. People hate him. It must be because he's such a good Christian, and not because he's a bigoted anti-atheist jackass people don't want to associate with. Yeah, that's it.

Finally, we have complete rejection of ANY goodness that doesn't come from this guy's brand of religious faith. All those Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, and secular humanists who do good? They don't count. They don't even exist, after all.

Here was my reply. I'll admit, I'm cranky today, but preaching is never welcome. I don't email random Christians and demand they defend their faith to me. I don't go tell them why I think god is stupid. I do that on my own blog and in my own videos. People are free to find my opinion, but I'm not aggressively preaching.
Read on secular humanism, and take your preaching elsewhere. I am not receptive. I have blasphemed the holy spirit. I am irredeemable according to the Bible.

Go away you bigoted fuck head.
Short and swee-, er, concise. But I don't think I could have stated, "I'm done now" more clearly. Yet, he could not leave my irredeemable soul to the hell his god has already doomed me to. No, no. Good Christian defender of the faith that he is, he must continue his campaign of unwarranted preaching! He MUST throw pearls before "swine."
June 24 at 4:14pm
I'm not receptive to secular humanism. Later then bigot. bye. YOu are obviously the bigot since you can't reply with logic but rather insults

June 24 at 4:14pm
PS I think I'll post this conversation everywhere. lol!
June 24 at 4:14pm
PS I'll bet you're really a jr. high boy .
Oh yes, it was not one but three replies! Wow, he really showed me. Boy did he put me in my place. Well, you know what the Bible says.

"Ye shall know them by their love."

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Friday, June 18, 2010

June 28, 1998

I swayed to the music, my hands raised skyward, singing and crying out to God, with tears streaming down my face. Hallelujah, hallelujah. Oh, I needed to turn back to him. My chest ached and I felt the weight of my betrayal.

I was doing things a good Christian girl shouldn't. I was skipping school, smoking pot and cigarettes, and worst of all, flirting with witchcraft. But not right here in this moment, in a wood frame room with hundreds of other convicted and crying teens at a Vineyard Christian Fellowship teen Bible camp in Georgia. Here, it was just me and Jesus - a time to get right with God.

At the far end of the open room, the band played and sang out prayers into the warm June night, as fireflies lit up past the four corners or the open-walled building frame. I could feel the Holy Spirit moving through the crowd, and I was overcome with emotion. Outside, rain began to pour.

"Oh, please Jesus, forgive me," I begged. "You are holy, holy, holy," I said aloud. It didn't seem strange at all to speak out loud to God; everyone around me was doing the same.

I focused on all the ways I wasn't pleasing God. My mind ran over a litany of my sins and transgressions, and I felt polluted by my sinful nature. I considered my recent interest in the occult. I believed witchcraft was real, even if most people who dabbled in it were total amateurs. That didn't mean Satan couldn't use the occasion, that open door, to infest them with demons. Yet, I sometimes read my horoscope, which I knew was wrong.

I looked down at my left hand. On my middle finger I wore a wrong that I thought God might not like. It was a silver band with a raised moon and stars, and a clear blue lacquer slapped over the top. It came from Claire's and probably sold for about $8. I can't remember if I bought it or stole it. I did quite a bit of that at 15.

I confessed my treachery to Jesus, sobbing anew. I found myself face down on the pine floor, prostrate before my God and my youth group. Compelled, I rose up and walked to one side of the open air room, toward the benches that lined the edges between the thick wood beams keeping up the roof. Leaning out into the wind and the rain, I chucked the ring with all my might, and as it arced into the air, a stroke of lightning lit the sky. He forgave me.

Over the course of that opening night worship service, kicking off a week's long Christian summer camp program, I tried desperately to get back to the comfortable feeling of closeness with Jesus I'd once known. Kids from my youth group, and from a group in Greensboro, North Carolina laid hands on me and prayed for me. Prayed that God would be the father I'd never known, prayed that I would follow His will, prayed that he would shower me with His love and His grace.

I spent three solid hours crying on the hard wood floor that night.

I think this is the kind of experience most Christians don't realize I've had, when I say I don't believe in their god. I did believe. Every element of a "relationship" you believe you have with Jesus, I thought I had. And it's not because I really was overcome with some holy ghost. I just believed it. I believed in Jesus and in repentance and in conviction and in the Rules. I believed in the holy ghost and that God tried to talk to me through both music and the weather. I believed the things I needed to believe to create an emotional experience like the one I had "with Jesus" that summer night in Georgia. Without those beliefs though, there's really no chance of a holy spirit "moving" through any crowd. You never see Christians "slain in the spirit" at the checkout, or else overcome by the Holy Spirit in their cubicle. No. Experiences like this are almost always confined to highly stressful or highly religious situations. Because the ghost isn't real, but the memory of it is.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Homophobia: The Untold Story pt. 10

Finally, at long long last we can finish this accursed book of bigotry! Today's post will be the completion of my longest series to-date (and for awhile. I'll be looking at short stuff next, I promise.)

Susan Brinkmann told us at the outset that open homosexuality was threatening the Christian (Catholic) way of life. She intimated there was a conspiracy amongst doctors, therapists, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and shadowy, nefarious "gay activists" to hide the TRUTH about homosexuality - that it is a deviant lifestyle of anal sex with strangers and AIDS and butt cancer. And wanting to adopt children because you're unfit and selfish and only care about yourself, unlike all those straight couples who spend thousands of dollars on in vitro fertilization because they absolutely have to have a kid with their own DNA and couldn't possibly use that money to support children who already are alive and starving to death in dusty countries. See, they can't be selfish because they're not gay. It's obvious!

We learned that the government is secretly pushing through two radically new kinds of families, which will of course bring about the destruction of American life and three separate "classes" of children. And they're doing it even though they know it will do these things (we aren't given their reasons, of course. That's top secret.)

Susan let us know that since two doctors said some things she and NARTH can quote mine, that proves definitively that there is absolutely no genetic cause to homosexuality. Actually, since this one guy Fitzgibbons told her so, she knows that the real reason people act gay is because they aren't following their god-given patriarchal penis-and-vagina roles. Oh, and of course they're all hurt and angry and their parents did a terrible job of raising them. Not as bad as she seems to think gay people would do though. I mean, after all, she found a priest who is neither a husband nor a father to explain why gay people should not get married or have children, because, after all, they are completely selfish people. I mean obviously, that's why they like someone with the same gonads!

Did I miss anything? Oh yes. Being gay will kill you and lesbians don't really exist. Gay people only want one-night stands and you really should just trust her on this and ignore all the gay couples fighting for their right to get married. Finally, Susan had to fill us in on the big "untold secret" about homosexuality - Church teachings. I mean, after all, they got their own section so obviously, Susan thinks these are secret and that we haven't all heard every hateful and bigoted thing ever preached from St. Peter's Square. Yesterday we looked at God's requirement for love - that it be "free, total, faithful, and fruitful."

Okay, time for the hate.
Union with God
But the meaning behind Church teaching on human sexuality goes deeper still.

"Experience attests that even in the most wonderful human relationship, that 'ache' of solitude isn't entirely satisfied," West writes. "We still yearn for 'something more.' If sex really was our ultimate fulfillment, then marriage would be nirvana.' . . . The marital embrace, as beautiful as it is, is only a foreshadowing of what's to come — only a 'sacrament' (sign) of something far greater . . ."

Union with God.
Look, the fact that some of us moan or bellow "oh god" mid-coitous doesn't mean sex is in some way "holy." Oh and as far as marriage being "nirvana" (interestingly Buddhist choice of words) married sex is comically and notoriously not as wild and passionate as single sex, overall.

Who ever said that sex "really was our ultimate fulfillment" and what does this have to do with your vain and desperate attempts to force homosexual people into heterosexual boxes? People aren't gay because they're sex addicts. They aren't gay because they don't know anything about love or fulfillment or connection with another person. Hell, plenty of gay people believe in gods, so it isn't even that they're "worldly." They're just gay. Despite Susan's best efforts to lie and distort the facts, I still don't believe homosexuality is a social ill or any of my fucking business. And when I say it's not my business, I don't mean "so keep it in a closet of shame." I mean, be free to be who you are as long as who you are hurts no one (which is why I encourage open homosexuality instead of open bigotry.)
This is what G. K. Chesterton meant when he wrote, "Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God." Our desire for union with an "other" will never be ultimately satisfied until we are united with our Creator. "God created sexual desires as the power to love as He loves," West writes. "And this is how the first couple experienced it."
That may have been what Chesterton meant, but I'm pretty sure at least some men knocking on the doors of brothels are looking for a quick lay with a piece of strange.

Does the first couple mean Adam and Eve? Because, again Catholics, I thought you accepted evolution. How on earth can you say they are a myth and still expect me to treat them like historical figures simultaneously? At least creationists are consistent.
But remember, original sin robbed us of this ability to love as God loves. This is why we need a Redeemer. Jesus didn't die and rise again just to give us a kind of coping mechanism for sin. As the catechism states, "Jesus came to restore creation to the purity of its origins." (CCC2336) He came to give us what we lost. That's why the Church claims that our longing for union can only be satisfied in Christ.
Okay, so God made us with this desperate need for love, but he also made us with original sin, so we're incapable of giving each other the kind of love we supposedly need. And you want to give Jesus credit for "giving us what we lost" when his Daddy was the one who rigged the game to begin with? Gee, that's swell. But none of this has anything to do with the lives of gay men and lesbians. Not even a little bit. It's just what you guys have decided god says, without, you know, actually proving he's real or anything. Kind of silly, really.
The good news is that through genuine conversion of heart to the message of life found in Jesus Christ, we can all be liberated from what John Paul II calls the "domination of lust." His grace can accomplish all that we cannot.
Gee, through the power of Jesus I can pretend I'll wait till I get married, and instead just wait an extra 18 months and then not use a condom? I mean, that's what happens to teenagers who take purity pledges at least. Jesus doesn't really seem to help them with their "domination of lust" and he certainly doesn't help pedophiles in the Catholic clergy. So why demand of gay men and women what you would never demand of heterosexuals - abstinence for life, with no calling, and no permission even if they do feel called to serve in the church? Because you are bigoted. Yes, Susan, it really is that simple. There is no vast secretive gay conspiracy and the gay agenda is just to be treated as well as straight people. Your hatred holds no place in that agenda. Your hatred is archaic and unwelcome and it is losing traction.
John Paul II said, "If we live according to the truth of our sexuality we fulfill the very meaning of life." God's plan for human sexuality is the answer. With it we can destroy the culture of death and bring a glorious new springtime to the face of the earth.
The truth of sexuality for homosexuals is that they are sexually attracted to people of the same sex (you know, they're gay.) So, if they live according to that truth, maybe they will fulfill their own lives, and damn your meanings all to that hell your so fond of telling me I'm headed to.

Never trust the Vatican on a culture of death when they're the ones keeping AIDS strong in sub-Saharan Africa. When they say they want a culture of life, they want a culture of no prophylactics, no birth control, and no abortion. No thank you!

We will have a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell signed into law (if not yet enacted) this year. We will continue to see more straight Americans stand up for the rights of their queer neighbors. We will grow as a society and accept these civil rights and we will be better for out. Our children and grandchildren will be astonished at the hatred we see today, like we are astonished at the treatment of African-Americans prior to and during the fight for their civil rights.

The best I can say is that Susan and her ilk are among the dinosaurs of thought, and their breed will grow endangered and hopefully one day extinct. Open racism like that displayed by members of the KKK is no longer socially acceptable, and I hope that one day very very soon open homophobia like the Catholic Church's is treated with just as much horror and disgust.

And, as I'd surely be remiss if I didn't include this
Contact Susan Brinkmann at or (215) 965-4615
Peace to all and to all gay rights!

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Homophobia: The Untold Story pt. 9

I'm gonna try to wrap this up in the next two posts, because if I try to fit it all in today, this post will be about 50 paragraphs long, and that seems a bit much for even the most devoted Anteater. Let's dive headlong into the muck and bile that makes up "Homosexuality: The Untold Story" by Susan "Bigot" Brinkmann. (Previous posts can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
It's no accident that during this time of immense sexual confusion, God sent us the great gift of Pope John Paul II.
I didn't realize God gifted popes. (Can you return or exchange such a gift?) I thought the Council of Cardinals voted on them. Also, while the Catholic church certainly seems to be confused about sexuality, I don't think the rest of us necessarily are. I know I'm not.
Two-thirds of what the Church has ever said on the subject of human sexuality in her 2000 year history has been said by this Pope. Although he didn't change what the Church teaches, he expounded upon it and put it into a more contemporary language that might better equip Christians to carry the message of Jesus Christ into the modern world. This new way of teaching about human sexuality has come to be known as the "theology of the body."
Wow, that is an undue influence. The massively huge Catholic Church - claiming over a billion living souls as their own - tells people all across the globe what to do with their sex lives, and 2/3 of what it's ever said on the subject came from one solitary man? Did he have his Infallibility Drive turned on the whole time, or are some of these fallible pope statements?
God's Plan for Sexuality
"According to John Paul II, God created the body as a 'sign' of his own divine mystery," explains Christopher West, moral theologian, author and speaker, who is considered an expert on the theology of the body. "This is why he speaks of the body as a theology, a study of God."
Really? I don't remember the Bible saying anything about the body being a "sign" of god's divine mystery. (What is it with Catholics and mystery?) So, is this something Johnny Paul came up with on his own?
Because God Himself is the source of the complementarity of the sexes, when He created man in the image of Himself, he created both a male and a female. They were then directed to "be fruitful and multiply" by becoming "one flesh."
Now hang on a minute, this guy is quoting Genesis and the creation myth. You know - Adam and Eve, that whole thing the Vatican claims is just an allegory? How do you decide which of God's supposed edicts to Adam and Eve were literal quotes from God and which were merely parts of an allegorical myth? There's no discernible criteria I can detect, and I doubt a reliable one exists. Oh, and "complementarity" sounds nice and pleasant till you remember the Catholic church has no respect for women, so when they stress gender differences it isn't in a misguided by well-meant "separate but equal" kind of way. It's in a "Get back in the kitchen and start squatting out youngin's" kind of way. Charming, don't you think?
This was the original vocation of man and woman, to unite their bodies and produce life, but to do so in the "image of God" which means it must bear the following characteristics: it must be free, total, faithful and fruitful.
You know what isn't free? Love that's forced. Gay women love women, and forcing them into marriage and procreation with straight men (or "ex gay men") will not lead to a total or free love. (Likewise, forcing gay men into heterosexual marriage will not make them straight.) I wonder, at what stage in evolution (which the Vatican accepts) did man start to be "in the image of God" and no longer in the image of our evolutionary ancestors?
This teaching was not something invented by the Church but taken directly from Scripture. From the book of Genesis onward, "The Bible uses spousal love more than any other image to help us understand God's eternal plan for humanity," West writes. "God wants to 'marry' us. (Hosea 2:19) to live with us in an 'eternal exchange of love.'"
God wants to marry us like Hosea's cheating whore bride! (I remember reading that book of the Bible when I was about 13 and being absolutely baffled by it.) And what does any of this "God's plan" stuff have to do with the legal rights of homosexual persons to marry, adopt, and provide healthcare for their families? Unlike Vatican City, the United States is not a theocracy (despite the bleatings of many sheep who have no clue what our Founding Fathers thought or wrote on the subject.)
The marital analogy is used because it best describes what God intends for us — to love as He loves, and to be united in that love with an "other" as well as with Him. We were made for love and communion and this desire is inscribed into our very bodies. West calls it the body's innate "language," but it cannot achieve its desire without an "other." Male and female have a built-in desire for an "other"- not a "same."
Except for homosexual males and females who DO have a built-in desire for "same." That's kind of the definition of homosexuality, you twit. I've explained before in other posts why I would not want a love like God's, and why I think it is far inferior to earthly human loves. And I think it's important to remember that the Bible uses the Father analogy an awful lot, too. So, we're supposed to marry our dads, got that?
Authentic Love
But it goes even further. Because humans have a soul, their union should far surpass the mere sense level of animals, and should involve the spirit as well as the body. In other words, it should be love that unites them, not just a physical urge.
I am certain that the love my lesbian friends feel for their partners, and the love my gay friends feel for theirs, is more than "just a physical urge." Again, I wonder, at what point in the evolutionary process do Catholics believe humans aquired souls? Do bonobos monkeys have souls? They share 98% of our DNA. Is our soul located in that 2% of our genome they do not share? How about cows? Do cows have souls? Where on earth do you draw the line when God did not breathe into Adam's lungs after crafting him from the soil? If you accept that we evolved by natural selection (whether you think a god guided that process or not) the arbitrary introduction of a metaphysical supernatural soul for one specific species out of the millions which have ever existed seems suspect. Especially since there is no proof that such a thing as a soul exists.
And this love that unites man and woman is meant to mirror God's love, which has certain characteristics: it is free, total, faithful and fruitful.
Now honestly, where does it say sexual intercourse is supposed to be godly or god-like? Really, I'd like to know. And while you're at it, please give me a reason to suppose whatever book your referencing is worth believing.
As West writes, ". . . .This is exactly what spouses commit to at the altar . . . to give themselves to one another without reservations, to be faithful until death, and to receive whatever children God wishes to send them."
That may be what Catholics vow to, but it is not what all spouses do. According to NARAL, 98% of women in the US use birth control at some point in their lives (which seems high to me as well, given that some women are lesbians and some women don't use birth control for religious reasons.) That means almost all of us are trying NOT to be "fruitful" when we have sex, at least not every time. There are also plenty of loving child-free-by-choice heterosexual couples, who simply do not want or need biological children of their own. Hell, a third of us have even had abortions.

And (despite the Vatican's best efforts) none of those things are illegal in the United States. Birth control pills, condoms, and abortion are all allowed here, while gay marriage is very often not. I'll give the Catholic Church "credit" for being consistent (consistently wrong) on sex. They do oppose ALL forms of sex that aren't actively getting sperm into an egg, including masturbation (although the anal rape of children seems to be okay. I mean, it's gotta be better than spilling your seed on the ground like Onan, right? God killed that guy on the spot, but child rapists are allowed to live out their lives in comfort and anonymity.)
Every time this couple unites themselves in the marital embrace, they are, in a sense, renewing those vows. This is the proper reflection of God's 'marital' love for us, in the 'marital' embrace of those He created in His own image.
Sorry, but you haven't gotten to this yet. How exactly does God's 'marital' love for us result in sexual reproduction of live young, descended from single-celled organisms billions of years ago? While you keep insisting his love is "fruital, faithful" blah blah blah, you haven't shown it in anyway. Don't tell, show.
When one understands the "soul" of Church teaching about human sexuality, it becomes clear why she maintains that homosexuality, as well as adultery, premarital sex, contraception, do not image God's free, total, faithful and fruitful love.
Look, saying over and over again that's God's love is "free, total, faithful and fruitful" is one thing, but actually demonstrating your claims have any basis in reality or hell, even scripture, is quite another. Lazy freaking theologians.

Anything that is a true moral evil must cause some demonstrable harm. Contraception is a demonstrable GOOD. Family planning is good for children. It increases the odds that children born will be wanted, prepared for, and provided for. Masturbation hurts no one until you get a wrist cramp. Premarital sex is every individual's choice to do or not to, and homosexuality is just love pointed in another direction. It is love. How can you so hate love? I just don't get it.
Homosexual unions and the use of contraceptives are not "marital"as God's love is "marital" because they are not fruitful. Premarital sex is not 'marital' because without the self-sacrifice of commitment, it is not total. Adultery is not 'marital' because it is not faithful.
If love is not total without the self-sacrifice of commitment, why won't you let homosexual people get married? Why won't you LET them make that "self-sacrifice?" And, once again ad nauseum, where's the freaking evidence that your god's love is "marital" if "marital" means fruitful, total (which apparently means self-sacrificial), and faithful? Weren't the Israelites once his favorite chosen people and isn't that no longer true according to the teachings of the Catholic Church over several genocidal and anti-semitic centuries? That doesn't seem all that "faithful" to me.
But does it really make a difference if we follow God's plan? The answer to this question can be found in the sad global statistics on divorce, domestic abuse, sexual disease, abortion. "The truth of the Church's teachings on sex is confirmed in the wounds of those who haven't lived it," West writes.
Fact FAIL. It looks like India had the lowest divorce rate of selected countries in this table, with 1%. Perhaps following a Hindu god's plan for marriage is the real key? And let's see, sexual disease is certainly not helped by the Church's teachings on condoms. Oh yeah and abortion? Isn't a social ill, but even if it was, teaching abstinence rather than contraception increases the incidence of abortion. So if you want to prevent abortion, start promoting condoms, and stop trying to convince people that sex isn't fun.

The sacrifice of remaining chaste outside of marriage doesn't seem so bad when one considers the enormous social ills that a chaste lifestyle can prevent. But even more important, by remaining chaste outside of marriage, we keep sexual activity within its intended context.
Actually, remaining chaste does seem pretty bad to me. I don't think it's worth denying my natural healthy human urges and desire fpor intimacy because you think sex is always and only for procreation. I disagree, as do millions of birth control users around the globe.
Any other approach to human sexuality diminishes not only the nature and meaning of married love, but the nature and meaning of God's love as well. Sexuality is reduced to a mere sensation and lacks the true gift of self that constitutes authentic love. The longing for union that is stamped into our very bodies becomes distorted and confused, driving us hither and yon in search of a satisfaction that does not exist outside of God's plan.
Human sexuality does not equal marriage, and marriage does not equal sex. How many times do I have to spell this out? The "longing for union that is stamped" into the bodies of homosexual people is for a union with someone of the same sex. They're GAY, not "distorted and confused." There's a lot of satisfaction to be found in doing it like rabbits with condoms and contraception. There's a lot of satisfaction to be found in intimacy with the one you love. Stop fetishizing fetuses and remember that sex is about the two people doing it, not any gods or future children.

You are wrong on sex, Vatican. You are wrong, and you are rapists.

More tomorrow.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Homophobia: The Untold Story pt. 8

Will the homophobia never cease? At least we're getting towards the end. Quick rundown of the 7 previous posts...
  1. Asking Christians to not be bigots in the workplace is discrimination against their right to discriminate (seriously.)
  2. No one is born gay, because Fitzgibbons says so.
  3. You're gay because you throw like a girl.
  4. You're gay because you're a raging narcissist.
  5. Gayness kills.
  6. You're not really gay, just hurt and angry.
  7. Your parents made you gay.
Can there be anything more staggeringly stupid and hurtful left for Susan to say? It turns out, there can.
According to Jeffrey Satinover, M. D., a psychiatrist and member of the Department of Politics at Princeton University, there is no more important reason to prohibit same-sex marriage than the effects it would have on children. And he doesn't say this for sentimental reasons. He says it because it's sound science.
Ugh. Yes, it's all about the children, isn't it? I mean, you've so criticized and maligned the parenting of straight couples - you know, the ones who produced all those broken queer kids - that now, you must tell us why gay parenting would be even worse. (Though from the way she's been writing this "horror story" you'd think there could be nothing worse than producing a homosexual child.)

And who is this Satinover? That name seems familiar. Oh yes, I Googled him for our second post in the series, for making unsubstantiated claims. To refresh your memories, this is the MD who has written books on homosexuality, quantum physics, and the "Bible code." In other words, I'm not sure this man's idea of "sound science" matches up with, well, reality.
"In every area of life, cognitive, emotional, social, developmental ... at every phase of the life cycle ... social evidence shows that there are measurable effects when children lack either a mother or a father. ... The evidence is overwhelming. Mountains of evidence, collected over decades, show that children need both mothers and fathers."
Codswollap. If this is your reason for opposing same-sex marriage, then you should also be 100% opposed to divorce. You should be against single-mothers like me ever having sole custody of our children, because after all, "children need both mothers and fathers." I suppose it is easier to claim there are mountains of evidence than to show it. Perhaps what the evidence shows is that children do better in situations with TWO GOOD parents, regardless of gender. I don't think having my alcoholic father around while I was growing up would have improved the things that were wrong with my family. I know having my alcoholic and abusive ex-husband around would not better for my son than the struggles we do have. At least we have them free of abuse.
(To view some of this evidence, go to the Family Research Web site and read the report entitled "Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples." The report lists 56 such studies, including research done by the National Center for Health Statistics, the U.S. Department of Justice, University of Chicago and peer-reviewed publications that appeared in the Archives of General Psychiatry, Journal of Social Services Research, and the American Sociological Review.)
I did go ahead and take a glance at the sources cited on FRC's page, but let me just tell you quickly about my own experience with the Family Research Council: They talked smack about me to the press (wow, I feel so Sarah Palin!) Back in February, FRC director Jeanne Monahan wrote a blog post about me on the FRC blog and said, "Supporting her decision to abort her baby unintentionally does a grave injustice to Angie, her unborn child, her son, and even her boyfriend. Abortion kills one person and wounds at least one additional person." So clearly, facts are not of the highest order at FRC, as my abortion hurt no one. (Seriously - how is it doing a great injustice to my son to give him the life he had *before* I got accidentally pregnant? Who knew keeping things the same was so controversial.)
Exposure to both sexes is vitally important to the developmental needs of children because it helps them to form their sexual identity, but there are many more areas where children are affected by the parenting of a mother and father. Researcher Henry Biller, who has written several books on the subject, explains some of the key areas:
"Even if the father and mother behave in generally similar ways, they provide contrasting images for the infant ... Mothers and fathers have different verbal styles when communicating ... Involved fathers are more likely to stimulate the infant to explore and investigate new objects whereas mothers tend to engage their infants in relatively pre-structured and predictable activities ... The father and mother offer the child two different kinds of persons to learn about as well as providing separate sources of love and support. ..."
Whoa boy. Moms are too protective (because all women and all mothers are exactly the same) and dads are tough guys (because all men and all fathers are exactly the same.) I was a tomboy as a kid, and I try to be a "dad" to my son - I rough house with him and encourage him to try new things, and encourage him to poke things with sticks (just not bears.) Yesterday we worked with tools together, and he got to use the screwdriver with my assistance. yes, I'm protective and emotional and nurturing, but I'm also encouraging and one of the things I encourage is independence. Growing up with a strong, independent mother will not make my son into a pansy or a homosexual. Either he's gay or he's straight or he's bi, and frankly I don't know which of those it is yet, but it doesn't matter. Women can teach their sons to play ball and dads can braid their daughters' hair. Sex organs do not equal personality.

As for the "father and mother" providing two separate sources of love and support, how few people do you think are involved in a same-sex marriage? (Hint: More than one, less than three.) Gay couples involve two people, who happen to share genitalia. Those commonality in sex does not prohibit gay couples from providing their children with two separate sources of love and affection. Duh. Basic math people - I really shouldn't have to spell this out so clearly, but I know John McCain was thrown by this during the 08 elections.

According to science, there are hundreds of nuances about men and women that even newborn infants can readily distinguish and that make a difference in the way the child develops.
"According to science?" Well, that narrows things down a bit. Science also says there are nuances between heterosexual and homosexual men and women, but Susan doesn't think those are worth mentioning. No, no, just the differences between men and women. (Conform to your gender roles!)
But aside from these developmental and psychological effects, there are also significant peripheral issues that come with same-sex parents that place additional risks upon children. For instance, the ramifications of the health risks outlined in Part 3 of this series and concerns about the stability of the relationship.
"Additional risks" - wait, what were the risks in the first place? All you've said is that men aren't women, and kids do better in two parent homes (sometimes, a qualifier Susan failed to include.) If we're going to say sick people can't have children, well then I guess a lot of heterosexual parents are about to have their children removed. I mean, if illness or terminal illness is reason enough to preemptively keep children from being with their parents who love them, then I guess we should have hospice just automatically report all their patients' minor children. And if stability of relatioship is a problem, then we absolutely need to remove all children from single-parent homes, or homes with divorced or separated parents. Their relationship simply isn't stable enough for the children!

If you're going to use these as arguments against gay marriage, please be assured, I will show you how they are also arguments against straight marriage.
The breakdown of marriage in America has already had devastating effects on society, especially on children, without delivering yet another blow to this most fundamental structure of society by eliminating it entirely. If heterosexual marriage is protected, children will at least have the benefits of its stabilizing influence in their surrounding familial relationships.
Heterosexual marriage is not under "attack." Gay and lesbian people who want to get married aren't doing so as some kind of stealth plan to eliminate marriage entirely. And obviously, heterosexual marriage hasn't been doing squat to be a "stabilizing influence" in the lives of children, when most of us grow up in so-called "broken homes." (I consider my home to be fixed now that I got rid of the abuser.) If anything, heterosexual marriage has shown us that vows aren't what keep a family together. (Love is.)
This is why Satinover stresses that society's compelling interest is to ensure not only the mere propagation of the species but humankind's well-being too, which is the whole purpose of heterosexual marriage. Heterosexual marriage is a societal structure and without it, society crumbles.
Wait, what the heck does "propagation of the species" have to do with marriage? I've gotten pregnant outside of marriage, and you know Virgin Mary and I aren't the only women who ever have. Marriage is not necessary for breeding, you twat. And of course, there are sexless marriages, or sex-filled marriages of couples using birth control, or who suffer from (or greatly appreciate) infertility.

Now are Susan and Satinover ever going to provide justification for these claims? I mean really - society crumbles without heterosexual marriage? Then it seems like banning gay marriage is a big waste of time. You should be far more concerned with banning heterosexual divorce. Out homosexuals will never enter heterosexual marriage, so don't waste your time on them. Focus on heterosexuals - they're the ones ripping apart the fabric of society by getting divorced, right?
And yet this is precisely what the courts are about to do. "And they're going to do it without any impact studies," Satinover said.
Well, it's not like you've put forth any impact studies either!
The same courts that demand multi-million dollar environmental studies before allowing someone to so much as dig a hole in the ground "are going to massively reshape the social landscape" without a single study being conducted. And it will do so in spite of mountains of empirical evidence showing the negative effects on society that occur when the family structure breaks down.
I know this was written before the massive BP oil spill choking our oceans (my Gulf of Mexico - home of the beaches where I spent my childhood building sandcastles and burying my siblings, and where I taught my son how to swim.) The government hasn't done enough to ensure environmental safety when someone "digs a hole in the ground" and that's why we see heartbreaking images like this.
What was your point again, Susan? Something about the Big Bad Oversighty Government not doing enough to ruin the lives of gay Americans, and being Big Old Meanies to big oil? Oh that's right, you were trying to equate the coming together or two people in love and commitment with the tearing apart of society. Yeah..... I don't get it. Gay people getting married aren't going to stop straight people from getting married. Lesbian married couples don't make heterosexual couples get divorces. I seriously don't understand how hetero-bigots think gay marriage will effect them.
The second point against homosexual marriage is that it doesn't just create a second societal structure, it actually "smuggles into existence ... two radically different social structures," Satinover explained.
You mean one resistant to patriarchy? I've long supposed the reason conservative theists are so obsessed with homosexuality is that it flies in the face of gender roles. Who wears the pants? Who's on bottom? I know many gay and lesbian friends who have been asked, point blank, by relative strangers, "How do you have sex?" If both parties are the same sex, then sex-based roles aren't so easy to enforce.

Reading this has only provided more evidence that homosexuality is seen as the threat, and patriarchy is promised as the answer.
There are same-sex marriages between two women and between two men. "They have utterly different demographics, life spans, health and behavioral characteristics, and sexual behaviors. ... They are as different from one another as men are from women. If you were to create gay marriage, you end up with three totally different marital entities." We would have heterosexual marriage, female gay marriage and male gay marriage. This new set of marital structures will, in turn, produce three new classes of children.
"Classes" of children? What the hell is wrong with you, Satinover? And you know what, straight people aren't so great. I mean, Susan spent all of "Prevention and Treatment: Part 4 of 6" telling us how shitty heterosexual parents are, for producing all those gay kids by being absent and abusive and too loving and overbearing and weak and all those other contradictory things they're supposed to have done to "cause" their child's homosexuality.

I don't care if a child has straight parents, gay parents, bi parents, one parent, divorced parents, married parents, cohabitating parents, separated parents, or lives with a grandparent. Why on earth would you suggest judging children by their parents IS true and SHOULD be? Classes of children. Wow, that's just such an incredible amount of douche-baggery for one sentence.

And of course, there are already children with gay parents and lesbian parents. Marriage does not equal breeding and children are not necessarily the product of a marriage. Again, duh. I shouldn't have to point out something so patently obvious. Why, Satinover, why do you choose to be so obstinate and hateful? If we are concerned about the stability and health in the homes of children with gay parents, as Susan is pretending to be, then we should support gay marriage, because it will provide certainly legal assurances toward stability, and because healthcare benefits can no longer be denied to same-sex partners if they are spouses, meaning gay parents have the opportunity to love longer, healthier lives. If our concern is for the children, we should be doing everything possible to help their families, not condemn them and act as though these children really are in some way second-class citizens. Barf.
"This third point ties the first two together," Satinover said. "We know that motherlessness has a different impact on children than fatherlessness does. Therefore, we have every reason to expect that children raised in female unions will turn out to have a different set of problems than those raised in motherless unions. These children will be different from children raised in heterosexual unions. So we will create three different classes of children."
This entire faulty argument rests on the premise that "children raised in heterosexual unions" have a homogeneous experience. That's absurd. Some children are raised in wealth, while others in poverty. Some grow up with love and support, others with physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. Some children will have good health, while others will not (and this concerns you, you should support single-payer universal healthcare.) Some kids are only children ad others come from huge broods of Quiverfull arrows. There is no universal child-of-heterosexual-parents experience or "class" and Satinover knows it. This is bullshit, plain and simple, and it is dishonest as hell. Because Jeffrey Satinover knows that there are gay parents in the world. These children already exist - they are not hypothetical. We ca decry their existence like Jeffrey (a total jerk) or we can say, "Welcome! Your family is welcome, too. You belong." Which is truly kinder for the children? Who here shows compassion?
What's worse, the government "is deliberately setting out to create two new and different classes of damaging situations. ... In spite of a mountain of evidence staring it in the face that this is surely going to have devastating effects on children."
Oh yes, the government is setting about trying to create "damaging situations" so they can have "devestating effects on children' because.... huh? This is delusional and there's not a shred of evidence (despite all these claims of "a mountain.")
Some years back, Satinover served as an expert witness against same-sex adoption in the Florida case, Amer v. Johnson. "The state of Florida wanted me to argue that the reason the ban should be upheld was because homosexuals made bad parents and I refused to do that. I said in my testimony, if two homosexuals wanted to adopt a child, I would have no objection to it if one of them was a man and one of them was a woman."
"You can be gay. You just have to act straight. See? I'm not such a bad guy!" (Urge to scratch out eyes with cat-like sharp nails rising, rising....)
What mattered more was that the man and woman, homosexual or not, were willing to act contrary to their own desires in making the sacrifice to provide a stable home for the child.
Why does this matter for homosexuals, when heterosexuals are never asked to do this? No, heterosexuals are encouraged to love their co-parent, because it provides "stability to the relationship" (a concern Satinover had before for the children of gay couples.) Gay people in heterosexual marriages are miserable, and most of them eventually end the marriage, probably with both parties hurt (and of course, any resulting children.) Which is it that matters Satinover, stability or sacrifice? Why do straight couples get to shoot for stability (which we fail at, epically) while gay people are called to sacrifice their happiness on an alter of heterosexual worship?
"What counts is the willingness to put one's own desires in second place. It has nothing to do with homosexuality, per se, it's the fact that if two men or two women insist on adopting a child, they thereby prove by their insistence that they know nothing about the needs of the child and are so selfish and ignorant of what children need, that by their very insistence they prove themselves unfit to be parents."
My lip is curled in a sneer. This is putrid. If they "insist on adopting a child" - yeah, how dare they try to provide a loving home for an already born child that could really use it, when they should be heterosexuals, pumping out their own babies and never adopting, and standing outside abortion clinics telling *other* people to put their kids in foster care, but doing nothing to help the situation. Yeah, that's how you prove you're "fit" to be a parent - by having sex with someone with different organs. Don't you people know that? After all, the ability to have penile-vaginal intercourse without fantasizing about someone else is the true test of good parenting. No, adoption shouldn't have anything to do with a family's ability to provide a good loving home. It should have everything to do with their penises and vaginas. I mean really, that's what this is all about at the end of the day, isn't it? The Christian obsession with penises and vaginas (and I bet if any of them read this, they'd giggle at those words.) See, when straight people adopt it's because they want to provide a loving home for a child, and because their family feels incomplete. When gay people insist on adopting, they're just doing it to destroy the fabric of society with their selfish insistence on loving and marrying someone they're actually attracted to like all those unselfish straight people do. Right. What a tool.
The Florida courts decided in his favor.
Which is a tragedy.
Even though science clearly supports her position, the Catholic Church was vilified last summer when it issued a similar opinion in the document, "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons." In it, the Church clearly stated its concern for the effects of gay marriage on society in general, and children in particular.
If you say hateful shit, you're going to get called on it. Stop with the martyr trip. The Catholic Church is its own freaking country and has an obscene amount of wealth for an organization which pays so much lip service to poverty.
"The absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development." The Church cites the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as asserting that the best interests of the child should be put first in these situations.
Ah, and I'm sure the "best interest" of a child is to live in a group home? I cannot count on both hands the number of girls and women, boys and men I've known who were sexually abused in foster care. Your methods deprive children of both experiences of motherhood and fatherhood.

And "sexual complementarity" really means patriarchy. Patriarchy will solve everything! It'll keep your kids straight and stop society from crumbling. Right, because oppressing half the population and denying even the existence of natural homosexuals is how to make the world a better place. Fuck you.

We've heard what the bigots have to say about gay parents destorying America by adopting the unwanted children of failed heterosexual parents. Now let's hear what someone intelligent and compassionate (and gay and an adoptive father) has to say on the subject.

The child of gay parents "is a wanted child, an anticipated child, a prepared for child." And you dare to paint this as being against the best interests of the child? The Catholic Church deserves to be vilified for a position like this. It is vile.
Meanwhile, the case for gay marriage continues to go forward and opens many new doors that most of us would prefer to keep closed. "Among the likeliest effects of gay marriage is to take us down a slippery slope to legalize polygamy and polyamory (group marriage)," writes Stanley Kurtz, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institute. "Marriage will be transformed into a variety of relationship contracts, linking two, three or more individuals ... in every conceivable combination of male and female."
Polygamy? Wow, you mean, like Biblical marriage??

Legalized group marriage is already well underway. There has been a rash of lawsuits filed by polygamists, and same-sex couples are already suing for the right to include in their marriage a third party who was used as either sperm donor or surrogate mother to produce a child.
Actually, I can see the purpose of this, given the threats to homosexual families. (Unlike heteroseuxal families, where all you have to do is insert Tab A into Slot B and you have the right to do practically whatever you want unquestioned.)
Even though many of the people who are fueling this push for legalized gay marriage are acting out of genuine compassion, their sentiments are sadly misdirected. "All they can think about are the rights of the adults," Satinover said, "and the kids can go hang themselves."
Screw you, Satinover. It is precisely because I actually do care about those kids that I support gay adoption. It's because I care about kids and adults that I support same-sex marriage. Kids have a right to a loving home, and bans on gay adoption prevent that. I'll close with a video I made awhile back, expressing my support of same-sex marriage and gay and lesbian adoption. I'll be back soon to wrap up the end of this drivel, with "In the Image of God: Church Teaching on Human Sexuality" brought to you by the world's largest and best funded pedophile organization! (NAMBLA's gotta be jealous.) Till tomorrow - peace, and stay out of strangers' sex lives.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Homophobia: The Untold Story pt. 7

You're jumping in late, if you're just starting now. So, I'll summarize for ya! We're taking a thorough look at Susan Brinkmann's ebook for "Homosexuality: The Untold Story." First, Susan taught us how acceptance of homosexuality hurts the freedoms of Christians who want to discriminate against gay people, and that homosexuality is a choice. Then, we found out that men are gay because they suck at sports and we ignored lesbians. Susan and her favorite quack Dr. Fitzgibbons also said profound selfishness is the cause of homosexuality, and that being gay will kill you. Oh, and they also let us know that if those queers would just let go of their anger, why then they'd be straight! Obviously, statements like these require mocking (and factual debunking), and I am only too glad to do my part. Let's pick up where we left off yesterday.
Prevention of same-sex attraction disorder remains largely with parents because the roots of this condition are laid early in life. Father John Harvey, the founder of Courage, a support group for people with same-sex attraction who are striving to live chaste lives, published a new book especially for parents entitled, Same-Sex Attraction: A Parents Guide.
So a priest runs a group for guilt-ridden Catholic homosexuals, and wrote a book on how to blame parents for making you gay. Excellent. And what exactly is Harvey's expertise in this matter? He's not a psychiatrist. He's not an out homosexual, as far as I can tell from my research. He's just a man without a sex life (presumably.)
First, he explains what Church teaching is — and what it isn't. "One must carefully distinguish between the condition of homosexuality and homosexual acts. The condition of same-sex attraction is not a sin, but it is an objective disorder in the adolescent or adult person. If one gives into the desire for same-sex acts, one always sins."
This careful distinguishing between being gay and anal sex certainly has been lacking throughout Susan's writings. Indeed, you might think lesbians didn't exist at all, from the way she presents her "evidence." Now I must state clearly here: Homosexuality is not a "disorder." It may be less common. It may not result in children (as some heterosexual couplings will not result in children.) It may not be your personal orientation, but none of those make homosexuality WRONG. And you can guess what I think of the Catholic Church's opinions on sin.
The Church takes no position on whether or not a person with same-sex attraction should attempt to change their sexual orientation. Her concern is chiefly with the soul of the individual, which is why She insists that unmarried persons, whether they have same-sex or opposite sex attraction, live chastely.
I always forget the church is a She to Catholics, but it should be obvious, what with all the men wearing dresses. Tell me, how can you be chiefly concerned with the part of a person which has never been shown to exist? What a waste - to devalue every other (real) part of a person and focus all your energy on their mythological soul.
In the Catechism, the Church expresses the belief that people with same-sex attraction do not choose that condition. " . . . For most of them, it is a trial." (CCC2358) For this reason, she insists that they be treated with respect, compassion and especially sensitivity. "Every sign of unjust discrimination . . . should be avoided. These persons are called to . . . unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition." (CCC2358) The struggle to live chastely is one in which all unmarried Christians share, whether they are homosexual or heterosexual.
Even if it is a struggle they all share, only the homosexual persons are given no reprieve in Catholic doctrine. And all this martyrdom of uniting with "the sacrifice of the Lord's cross" is a great way to make oneself miserable. It's not a great way to live a rich and fulfilling life, though. I'm glad discrimination is called out, but of course, everything the Catholic Church does regarding gay people IS discrimination - from saying gay men can't serve as clergy (of course women NEVER can,) to opposing same-sex marriage. Whether or not you treat a person "compassionately" while discriminating against them does not change the fact that what you do is wrong.
Parents should make themselves fully aware of Church teaching in order to properly guide their children. Father Harvey also suggests that "Parents need to talk to their children, give their child thorough instruction on the purpose and meaning of human sexuality, and the beauty of marriage as a union of a man and woman. . . . You can't talk to your kids about homosexuality alone — it needs a background. First you have to talk to them about theology and God's plan for the human person, then heterosexuality, then homosexuality."
Of course you can talk about homosexuality without talking about theology or God. It's what secular people (both believers and non) do every day. We deal with the world at hand, and not the scribblings of goat herders millenia ago. If my son is gay, I want him to have every right and opportunity he will have if he is straight. I want him to be able to find love, marriage, family, community, and hope. And I do not want the Catholic church or any other church getting in the way of that future happiness.
He highly recommends the writings of Christopher West on Pope John Paul II's "theology of the body" for this purpose.
Remember kiddies, you can't stick it in your bum OR use a condom OR any birth control. It's better to get an STI which will punish you for not being a virgin, or have lots of children you can't provide for - no matter what the physical risks to you - as punishment for being a slut. (This is never a problem for priests because they are "celibate" or else having sex with virgins. And even if they do get pregnant, in these cases abortion is apparently okay.)
Children should learn how to relate well to both parents and should see them expressing affection for one another. "Youngsters need to see their father and mother embrace regularly. Often, children with same-sex attractions come from a home where they don't see their parents embrace. If a child comes from a home with no sign of affection between parents or siblings, it's difficult for a child with same-sex attractions to rightly order his affection and attractions.
This has nothing to do with homosexuality. Where is the evidence that children raised by gay parents don't see affection in the home? They don't see heterosexual affection, but they may still see affection. Now let's look at the underlying assumption here: that kids raised by straight parents are automatically raised in happy, loving environments. Obviously, there is no such thing as spousal abuse, sexless marriage, or incest in heterosexual families. After all - they aren't "objectively disordered."
Because a major cause of same-sex attraction can be an absent or distant father relationship, Father Harvey strongly recommends that single parents find a relative who can serve as a good same-sex role model for a child. "A single mother needs to find an uncle or someone in the family to relate to her son, and vice versa with a single father and his daughter."
Now remember - there's no evidence that growing up in a single-parent home makes you gay. Susan hasn't even tried to present any; she's just had Fitzgibbon's make the claim, and now Harvey. Even if homosexuality was caused by life events and environment, rather than genetics and prenatal hormone exposure, "because church doctrine says it's bad" does not actually constitute a good enough reason to condemn someone to a life of involuntary celibacy. If your child is gay, so be it.
Part five of the series will address the complex issue of homosexual marriage from both a sociological and theological point of view.

To read more about the information contained in this article, visit the Courage Web site at or the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality
I'm gonna leave this links to you, Anteaters, or for another time. Tomorrow we'll talk about gay marriage. Bring your bouquets and cummerbunds!

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Homophobia: The Untold Story pt. 6

Oh yes, it's time for another installment of Catholic anti-gay bigotry. So far we've learned that homosexuality is a plot to persecute Christians in the workplace, there's no single gay gene (therefore sexuality isn't genetic?), poor hand-eye coordination causes The Gay, being selfish makes people gay, and that having gay sex will give you anal cancer. Let's see what Susan has in store for us today.
Treatment and Prevention part 4 of 6

One of the two great pioneers of the irreversibility of same-sex attraction, Robert L. Spitzer, officially reversed his position. The release of his October, 2003 study (Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 32, No. 5, October 2003, pp. 403-417) revealed that therapy not only changed sexual orientation in a significant percentage of cases, but it also proved helpful in other areas of the person's life. He concluded that the mental health profession should not prevent people from this kind of therapy, should they desire it.
We went over this earlier. (Has anyone else noticed how repetitive this ebook is?) Of course, earlier our author Susan at least had the decency to say he "seemed to suggest" he'd changed his mind. Now she's claiming he "officially reversed his position." In actuality, here's what Spitzer said about people like Susan quote-mining him this way.
"It bothers me to be their knight in shining armor because on every social issue I totally disagree with the Christian right..." He calls as "totally absurd" the beliefs that everyone is born straight and that homosexuality is a choice.
That's not really the reversal she's inferring or claiming (or making up) now is it?
The other pioneer, the Salk Institute's Simon LeVay, had already reversed his position in another under-publicized event in the year 2000, in a Spanish homosexual publication, Reverso.
Again, Susan is exaggerating at best, lying at most likely. In the Reverso interview, LeVay said, "Science cannot tell us what constitutes core identity." Susan gave us no reason to believe he meant "Science cannot tell us why some people are gay." She just hasn't.

Even if both these men personally believed homosexuality was reversible, like NARTH does and claims they do, that would not mean they were right.
If a person does want to explore the possibility of a change in their sexual orientation, what kind of therapy is available and what are the success rates?
Therapy is for mental health, not for sexual orientation. To quote the APA again, "There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of reparative therapy as a treatment to change one's sexual orientation."
Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, who has practiced child and adult psychiatry for 27 years, reports that when people with same-sex attraction disorder (SSAD) are treated, a number of studies have found that one-third get better, one-third get mixed results and one-third do not get better.
Which studies have found this? For those of you just joining us, Fitzgibbons has been practicing psychiatry (not therapy) since homosexuality was considered a mental health disorder, in a town of about 1400 people. He remains Susan's sole interviewee for the entire ebook. This is the best she could do (which may say something on its own.)
"Frequently, young men come into treatment because they are troubled by the lifestyle and a fear of AIDS," Fitzgibbons writes in Origins and Therapy for Same Sex Attraction Disorder, "an inability to establish healthy committed relationships, sadness, weak confidence and the fear of an early death. They are tired of the lack of commitment they have found in the homosexual lifestyle and they do not want to continue to be used as sexual objects."
Remember folks, SSAD is (so far as I can tell) something Fitz here made up. It's not in the DSM-IV. It's not a recognized condition. It's just what he calls homosexuality, so he can pretend to have a cure.

Furthermore, I wonder how many lesbians seek orientation-reassignment therapy because they're afraid of getting AIDS from their partners? Throughout this book, homosexuals are really just gay men, and homosexuality is really just anal penetration. Lesbians have been little more than an afterthought.

A lot of people have what I like to call "the slutty years" - straight people, gay people, bisexual people. And again, if all these horny homosexuals want nothing more than a little butt pirating, why are they trying so hard to get married?
Fitzgibbons' practice has been in the nature and treatment of excessive anger. Because a large percentage of gay men, and a somewhat smaller number of lesbian women, suffer from the sadness and pain associated with either a father or peer rejection, which often results in anger, he found himself treating more and more people with SSAD.
Wait a second - Fitz is an anger management doc? And he's decided that, because everyone he sees is angry, including his homosexual patients, anger is the cause of homosexuality? I don't even think confirmation bias begins to cover the fallacies in this guy's thinking. It'd be funny, if he wasn't teaching people to hate an integral part of themselves.
"Many of the emotional conflicts that lead to SSAD begin very early and this may explain why some homosexuals feel they were born that way. . . .When a person is hurt in a relationship, a series of reactions occur. First, sadness develops, then anger accompanied by low self-esteem, and finally a loss of trust. It is essential to resolve the anger associated with all these types of betrayal pain. . . . The work of therapy is, in part, to understand and resolve the betrayal pain."
This second part isn't even universally true. Being hurt by someone does not always or necessarily cause a person to have low self-esteem. Sometimes there's far more hurt than anger. Yoda had this better.

Hey, maybe fear is the real problem here, and not anger. Fear of an early death or of AIDS (flamed by anti-gay crusaders bent on keeping HIV labeled as a gay disease); fear of being alone; fear of being ostracized by family, community, or god. Yoda might be onto something, when it comes to why people would go to Dr. Fitzgibbons to have their sexual orientation changed.
His goal is not so much to change their sexual orientation but to help them overcome their emotional pain. He does this by helping his patients let go of their anger through three levels of forgiveness: intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. As a result, many are helped in resolving their homosexual attractions and behaviors.
If his goal wasn't to change his patients' sexual orientation, why is that what you're writing about Susan? Oh yeah, I forgot. You're not very honest. I do have one more question though. How does on spiritually let go of anger? Anger is an emotion, not a spiritual condition. Oh, and anger has nothing to do with homosexuality. Notice how Susan didn't even try to cite any real studies to back this up? We're just supposed to take her word and Fitz's.
When he adds a spiritual component, the recovery rates are much higher. "My approach is very similar to the one used in addictive disorders," he writes. "Significant healing rarely occurs unless some form of spirituality is brought into the healing process by turning the emotional pain and compulsive behaviors over to the Lord."
Aw, how cute. He modeled his practice after Bill W*! Fitz here seems to think that involving god-belief in addiction recovery helps. Well, let's look at the evidence. In reality, Alcoholics Anonymous has a "success rate" equal to or less than the spontaneous remission rate (people who just give up drinking, with no intervention or treatment program.) According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, Volume 12, Number 4, Octor 1995, p. 3,
There is a high rate of recovery among alcoholics and addicts, treated and untreated. According to one estimate, heroin addicts break the habit in an average of 11 years. Another estimate is that at least 50% of alcoholics eventually free themselves although only 10% are ever treated. One recent study found that 80% of all alcoholics who recover for a year or more do so on their own, some after being unsuccessfully treated.
Homosexuality, on the other hand, is not a disease or an addiction, and has no "spontaneous recovery".
Some of these compulsive behaviors are difficult to overcome, such as sexual addiction, which is a major problem with many in the homosexual lifestyle. This is especially true when the addiction is accompanied by extreme narcissism. "Sexual addiction with extreme narcissism causes serious illnesses and early deaths in many young men and we must take some steps to change a very dangerous trend," writes Fitzgibbons. "Prozac or other anti-depressants can help to a degree. They will cut down sexually compulsive behaviors, but they will not resolve the emotional pain leading to the attractions."
Homosexuality is not a compulsion. I've got OCD; I'm also bisexual. None of my compulsions - NONE - are sexual in nature. They all have to do with germs, and counting, and checking things. There's nothing "compulsive" about me being attracted to beautiful women. And Dan Savage doesn't love his husband and son because he's a narcissist, or a sex addict, or in emotional pain. He's gay and he loves his family. It really is that simple people.
Children subjected to sexual abuse may often be predisposed to homosexual behavior and are difficult — but not impossible — to treat. "One can work at trying to help the client understand and resolve the anger against the abuser, if for no other reason than to alleviate the abusers negative influence," Fitzgibbons said. "We need to help those who have been abused before they become sexually addicted or involved in sado-masochistic practices. Only when, through forgiveness and God's grace and healing, they are free from the dark side of abuse will they be able to develop a healthy identity."
Sorry, but where's the evidence for a causal relationship between child sexual abuse and adult sexual orientation? Oh that's right - there isn't any. Susan quoted earlier some statistics about the prevalence of child sexual abuse among homosexual adults, but that's not the same as showing a causal link. The old man who licked and touched beneath my dress did not make me bi. I liked girls before that, and can remember being romantically attracted to another little girl on my block. (I think she liked me, too.)

And you know what? I'm not actually mad at him any more. Yes, he hurt me. He confused me. He took advantage of my vulnerability, that my parents had instilled in me. He was a very sick man, and he is probably dead by now. I do not need a hell for him to suffer in forever. He can't harm anymore.

I'm not a sex addict, and I'm not into BDSM. It was only when I escaped "God's forgiveness and healing" (and what on earth does an abuse victim need forgiveness for?!) that I was able to form a healthy identity. It's only free of the clutches of religion, free of the perfectionism and rebellion cycle, free of your god and his abominations that I am able to stop hurting. I am not somehow sullied by not being a virgin, and I am not still under the influence of a man I haven't seen in nearly 20 years. I own myself, and myself is bisexual.
This is one of the reasons why Fitzgibbons and many other doctors who treat this condition warn against the dangerous practice some schools are taking in referring at-risk children and teens to groups that will lead them even further into the homosexual lifestyle. Many of these children are experiencing same-sex attractions because of serious emotional problems in their lives, problems that should be dealt with, not pushed aside at the urging of homosexual activists.
Lots to take apart here, so let's be thorough. We'll start with "doctors who treat this condition." What condition is that again? Would this be more of the made up SSAD? And I have to wonder who these many doctors are. Much in the same way that reputable scientists accept (and understand) evolution, reputable psychiatrists accept sexual orientation. So, I'm guessing what Susan really means is "the mailing list of NARTH."

Second, what does Susan mean when she refers to "at-risk children and teens?" Usually that phrase applies to children who are in poverty, or are otherwise at risk of becoming criminals, drug addicts, or similar. Yet, I suspect Susan is using this loaded phrase to instead refer to children who are homosexual, and she sees as being "at risk" of adopting a "homosexual lifestyle." I admit, this is just what I'm reading into it, but I'm basing it on the last five posts of her drivel I've had to wade through.

Okay, these "groups that will them further into the homosexual lifestyle" she's talking about? Yeah, I have a feeling that's groups like the Gay-Straight Alliance and the Human Rights Campaign. I was part of the GSA at two of my high schools. Nobody ever said anything about getting me involved in some "homosexual lifestyle" of bareback sex and casual sex. Mostly we talked about things like coming out, if our parents knew and how they were handling it, and just regular teenage life. Certainly no one was suggesting I brush aside my emotional problems. The GSA was a great place of support. It was not what Susan paints. And these "homosexual activists" she mentions are of course gay rights activists. In school environments they're involved in implementation of Safe School programs and other anti-bullying techniques. Better watch out for those homosexual activists! They'll tell your kid he's fine just the way is. And we can't have that now, can we?

If you recall, a few posts ago Susan was talking about the correlation between homosexuality and suicide. Groups like the GSA work to reduce those suicides, and they don't do it by "curing" homosexuality, but by embracing it. Your attempt at playing the Concerned Citizen card has failed due to lack of sincerity.
Prevention of same-sex attraction disorder remains largely with parents because the roots of this condition are laid early in life. Father John Harvey, the founder of Courage, a support group for people with same-sex attraction who are striving to live chaste lives, published a new book especially for parents entitled, Same-Sex Attraction: A Parents Guide.
So a priest and a bunch of gay men get together for meeting on how to be celibate? Sounds like something Catholics would do. In all seriousness, yes the roots of sexuality almost certainly are laid down early in life, in fact, before we're born. In 2003, researchers found difference in the involuntary blinking startle response of participants. Gay men responded in a manner more similar to heterosexual women, and lesbians responded in a manner more similar to heterosexual men. The startle response is controlled by the limbic system, which also controls sexuality. One of the researchers, Dr. Qazi Rahman, said, "The startle response is pre-conscious and cannot be learned...This is very strong evidence that sexual orientation may be 'hard-wired' in this region" of the brain." Want more? Okay.

Okay, researchers at the University of Texas of all places found differences in the spontaneous otoacousitc emissions (tiny noises our ears make) between the ears of heterosexual and homosexual women. A Swedish experiment in 2005 involving pheremones and PET scans revealed that heterosexual women and gay men responded to the smell of male pheromones with activity in the part of the brain that deals with sexual response, while heterosexual men had no such response. Heterosexual men did, however, respond to female pheromones, while homosexual men did not. Then there's sweat. Lesbians, straight women, and straight men are all turned off by the smell of a gay man's sweat. Gay men are not. From the Associated Press, "In particular, [lead researcher] said finding differences in body odor between gay and straight individuals indicates a physical difference> It's hard to see how a simple choice to be gay or lesbian would influence the production of body odor, he said." Parents, you are not making your kids gay or straight (at least not in a postnatal sense.)

Let me leave you with a parting song on "the Lord's" views of sex - a song about anal sex and God. I'll get into the rest of this tomorrow. Ciao!

* Bill Wilson & Dr. Bob Smith were cofounders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Their group was modeled off of the cult both men were members of, the Oxford Group, which had 6 steps. Bill W. broke each step into two parts. Those were slightly edited over the years (ie, to changed God to Higher Power) and the resulting steps are the infamous 12 Steps of today. Within AA, the founders are called simply Bill W. and Dr. Bob.

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