In Defense of Desire

Posted by Censor Librorum on Feb 12, 2009 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Lesbians & Gays

In Defense of Desire – The Theology of James Alison is an article in the January 30, 2009 edition of Commonweal Magazine.   It was written by Christopher Ruddy, associate professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Here is an excerpt:

“Alison builds his argument for the goodness of homosexuality by drawing from Catholic teaching on creation, original sin, and salvation. As (the Council of) Trent taught, human nature retains its integrity, even after the Fall. No dimension of human desire is therefore instrinsically evil–that is, irredeemable–because it is capable of being rightly ordered and healed. Salvation is the perfection of human nature, not rejection.

As Alison lays out the argument, Catholicism has long taught that people are heterosexual by nature, and that homosexual activity is thus unnatural. But this teaching conflicts with the growing recognition that homosexuality is a way of being, not simply a way of acting; unchosen, it belongs to one’s nature or essence. Drawing upon the scholastic axiom agere sequitur esse (acts flow from being), Alison maintains one cannot hold both the homosexual inclination is natural or involuntary and that homosexual acts are inherently evil. ‘Either being gay is a defective form of being heterosexual,’ he reasons, “or it is simply a thing that just is that way”–a reality, like “rain, tides or left-handedness,” as he puts it elsewhere. Alison affirms the latter position, and consequently holds that homosexuality is morally equivalent to heterosexuality. Like rain or tides: arguments from nature, for so long used to condemn homosexuality, now become its greatest support. ‘Natural law is our friend,’ Alison writes; the gay or lesbian person is saved in the perfection–not the rejection–of his or her homosexual nature.”

Dr. James Alison, 49, is a Catholic thelogian, priest and author.   He lives in London.   Visit his website.  jamesalison.jpg

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One Response to “In Defense of Desire”

  1. Stanislaus J. Dundon, Ph.D. Says:

    The argument about “being” as opposed to “acting” will never succeed without open discussion with persons who have succeeded in returning to a heterosexual lifestyle. That these may return to homosexual practices may prove only that acquired appetites are hard to erase.
    It is intriguing to me that successful psychological/psychiatric treatment of persons afflicted with extreme narcissism who happen to be gay has often resulted in a loss of homoerotic drive. Some of the stories of priest-sexual predators reveal them to be persons of astonishingly narcissistic bent.

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