On the anniversary of the event that brought this country together, the Star Tribune ran an op-ed column that reminds us of the kind of thing that drives us apart.
In a weird little piece titled, "Some people can make the gay go away," the Star Tribune gives over valuable opinion real estate to a local Catholic priest who encourages people to just ignore their "same sex attraction."
Father Jim Livingston, a local priest and "get the gay out" advocate, was writing in response to another recent opinion piece, in which a man named Ron Bates recounted his years of shame about his own sexuality. Bates, raised a Catholic on a rural farm in Minnesota, fought against his homosexuality for years.
Bates wrote about his fraudulent, nearly sexless marriage to a woman, and the years he spent praying for God to "change" him. It didn't work.
But Father Livingston has a perfect response: Just pray more -- and if that doesn't work, just don't have gay sex, and then you're not gay!
Before we delve into Livingston's magical thinking, let's consider Bates's misery, as detailed in his column, originally printed on August 31:
My marriage never worked.It didn't, and instead Bates came out at the age of 54, annulling his marriage and starting a new life as a gay man. According to Bates, a surprising number of annulments granted through the Catholic Church are due to one spouse's homosexuality.
The sexuality was mostly repulsive, and that was communicated indirectly to my ex-wife. That is the most unfair part. She was one of the innocent victims in the masquerade of "I'm straight."
For years and years, I would prostrate myself on the floor and ask God to change me. Maybe if I just pray more, fast more, do more "works of charity," the male attraction will go away.
"Wouldn't it be better," Bates wondered, "for the church to acknowledge that gay people exist and allow them to come out as teenagers so straight-marriage statistics would improve?"
Father Livingston, we presume, has the answer: No, it wouldn't be better. Please just keep your gayness in your pants.
Livingston acknowledges that Bates was fighting against his true identity for the first 54 years of his life. But, if you just twist everything you know about reality, you'll see Livingston's point: That some people are just gay because... society puts pressure on them to be gay?
Stay with him, here, if you can:
It took Bates 54 years to find his life direction after an imprudent start.Great point, Pops. Being gay is all the rage these days. Think of all the memorials to Matthew Shepard after he was tortured to death, and all the awesome publicity those Anoka-Hennepin students have gotten since their suicides. But Livingston has the solution.
By the same logic, many young people could be trapped for years with a mistaken gay or lesbian identity, goaded on by our disintegrating, sexually untethered culture.
To quote from South Park's Stan Marsh: "Don't be gay, Sparky. Don't be gay."
Bates was not able to pray away his same-sex attraction, but some people actually do. And others, while unable to avoid homosexual temptations, still live lives of chastity and virtue by the grace of God and with the help of good friends.Perhaps the best way to find your own peace with these pieces is to consider the taglines that ran with Bates's and Livingston's collective Op-Eds. Livingston, it turns out, is the lead chaplain for something called Faith in Action, which promotes chastity as a permanent solution for people experience "same sex attraction." Oh, and also, the church is against masturbation, so, good luck with all that.
Bates's tagline, given the headline -- "Growing up Catholic and gay in Minnesota" -- speaks for itself:
"Ron Bates married his same-sex partner in Toronto in 2006. They live in Florida."