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Queer Catholics and 'The Third Way'

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Attention Homosexuals:

According to Father John Hollowell of Bazil, Indiana there is a third way. He is the executive producer of a short film titled The Third Way by Blackstone Films in which viewers discover:

There are two camps basically: There are those that say you're going to Hell; God hates homosexuals. And then there are people who say over on this extreme, 'Oh, you can just live an active gay life, God loves everybody. It's okay.'

But there's another camp. The Catholic church puts forth a third way to treat every person, but in this case, particularly persons with same-sex attraction, to be able to say we do not in any way hate or condemn or fear or want to isolate you. At the same time, we can't embrace everything that you choose. So we're gonna choose this third way, and that way is love. We are gonna love you.

Finally. Thank you.

But wait, something seems amiss. Last summer, during the height of the Supreme Court hearings regarding same-sex marriage I had a blog-to-blog encounter with Father John Hollowell. A few months earlier, he wrote a post suggesting the red Human Rights Campaign symbol supporting marriage equality was "the mark of the beast." I responded; it was impassioned. Father John wrote a rebuttal. In reading several of his blog entries, I must say I did not sense anything akin to paragraph 2358 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that states:

"[persons experiencing same-sex attraction] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

In Father John's blog posts related to the LGBT community there is a sense of disrespect and insensitivity. A violation according to the Catholic church's own doctrine.

In terms of The Third Way, what a wonderful story arc and hero's journey! The melodrama and music! How it builds and builds and builds to a triumphant climax! It gives me goose pimples. The narrative, comprised of homosexuals once lost and now found, pivots between an abandoned, winter-cold crumbling church with graffiti, and a warm, embracing and unblemished sanctuary in the "new" enlightened Catholic church. Talk about tugging at one's heartstrings. I don't know about others, but I sure don't care to attend a decaying church with no windows or doors, one that is not protected from the elements and in which I'm the only congregant. I want the nice cozy church, the accepting one, the one where I can be me! And guess what? I can have it. You can too, gay people! Well, as long as you and I vow to live a chaste life.

Oh. Wait. There's the rub. As a gay man, I can be gay, I can act gay, I can even be friends with other gays, the church loves me just as I am. But I must not act on my orientation, my biology.

Is there an app for that?

In the short film one of the narrators says, "Those with same-sex attraction aren't being asked to do anything different than a heterosexual. We're all called to chastity, every single one of us."

Wait. Everyone is called to chastity? The definition of chastity is: the state of not having sex with anyone or the quality or state of being chaste. Um, I don't think that's a reality.

Now, I could point to the total and utter hypocrisy of being chaste in the Catholic church, but that example has been used time and time again. I find a particular statement by Sister Helena Burns, F.S.P., and "Theology of the Body" speaker, quite interesting. In the film she says there can be "lots of sex with no intimacy and lots of intimacy with no sex." In other words, in terms of same-sex attraction -- the film's phrase de jour replacing sexual orientation -- we as a society, especially the homosexual community, confuse intimacy with sex. According to Sister Helena, we gays can be intimate with one another without having sex. Isn't her statement the equivalent of taking weight loss advice from Fat Albert? I mean no disrespect to Sister Helena, or Fat Albert, but I don't think a nun is exactly the go-to person on embracing one's biology.

Sister Helena and Father John deny basic biological impulses, they choose to be chaste as their example, their way of living with God. It is part and parcel to their faith. Good for them. They are willfully giving up sex, not their assumed heterosexuality. They infer in The Third Way, because priests and nuns do it, homosexuals can too. In other words, gays need to marry God, not one another.

So why isn't the same being asked of all heterosexuals? Shouldn't homosexuals and heterosexuals be held to the same standards in the eyes of the church? In the eyes of God? We should all be chaste like Father John and Sister Helena.

Um, I don't think that's a reality either.

Here's the deal, pay close attention, I want to be clear: Homosexuality is not about sex! Sex is the opportunity to be intimate with the person one loves, gay or straight. Is sex abused by some? Yes, by both heteros and homos. But again, isn't taking advice from the Catholic church about sex and abuse the whole weight loss-Fat Albert thing all over again?

The manicured message of The Third Way is a misnomer. It appears to be about love. Isn't love supposed to be the guiding principle of the Catholic church? The guiding principle of all religions? As Christians we are followers of Christ. Christ says we must love one another. Yet in The Third Way, it seems, homosexuals are once again being told by the Catholic church that its love -- Christ's love -- comes with conditions. One must deny their biology in order to receive the love.

Extraordinary.

Even in high definition, with gripping backdrops, the film's narrative peopled with innocents offering witness or just recounting their personal journey coupled with the climb and crescendo of the music, and with cut-a-ways to the cross upon which Christ was crucified high atop a steeple, it's still the same old tired message repackaged. As my grandmother used to say, "They put lipstick on a pig."

Besides, Jesus Christ said nothing about homosexuality.

For additional information and research read 'The Third Way': A Depressing Study in Catholic, Ex-Gay Therapy

Check out more from J. Patrick Redmond at jpatrickredmond.com, Kaylie Jones Books, and follow him at facebook.com/jpatrickredmond