Just moments after I published my Camel in the tent post, I read a very long blog post by Ron Belgau, a writer on the SpiritualFriendship website. The title of his post was “What is ‘gay’?” From what I could glean just from the post, he is “gay”, as in homosexual, but homosexual in the sense of seeking deep friendships with other men. It was not clear to me whether sex was part of these friendships. He is a very good writer, and very precise with his terms and definitions. He also apologized for the length of the post, more than once, explaining that the degree of precision he was seeking necessitated the length. You may wonder, “is the word ‘gay’ that complicated?” He seems to think so. I do not. I followed a link in his blog to Denny Burke, whose website is subtitled A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture. Lovely, I’m surprised that he doesn’t have a meme of an exploding hand grenade as his masthead. Seriously though, I think he is right on. If you want, here’s the link. http://www.dennyburk.com/the-celibate-gay-christian-movement-what-do-we-think-about-it/
If you don’t want to read the entire post-and it isn’t long-here’s the main point: “I still think, however, that there is confusion about same-sex attraction. What I have been writing about in recent posts is in large part a response to the Christian affirmations of same-sex attraction that are on display in this article. Once the sinful elements of lust and fornication are removed, same-sex attraction is no longer same-sex attraction—at least not the way SSA has been defined clinically. The defining element of same-sex attraction is desire for a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex. Once that desire is removed, it is no longer SSA. It is just friendship. In that sense, same-sex attraction is not a means to better, more holy friendships. It is an impediment to them. When one feels himself desiring a sexual relationship with a person of the same-sex, the only appropriate response is repentance from sin (2 Tim. 2:22). It is not right or helpful to think of that sinful attraction as the foundation for building holy friendships. It is not.” How much clearer can you be? I can be yet more brief: The very existence of an alternative meaning of the word “gay”, which through hundreds of years meant happy and carefree (exactly what homosexuals are not), is evidence of something being covered up in order to market it to those who would find the truth unsavory. See my previous post, The camel in the tent, right after the word “desensitization”.
Mr. Belgau does not agree, but quotes another blogger, Chris Damian, who appears to be one of the Spiritual Friendship writers: “There are those who would say that identifying with the word ‘gay’ is a distortion of human identity, that it is reductionistic and confines someone’s entire identity to just one aspect. This is a danger, but this is hardly what I (and my celibate gay friends) are doing. Human language can only work in broad categories. We create words for things, even though words have a danger of confining things. People will always be bigger than the words we use to describe them, and words will always have the tendency to give us narrow views. But this danger shouldn’t keep us from using words. I am a man; I am American; I am single; I am 5’10”; I am hungry; I am tired: I am happy: I am sad; I am studious; I am foolish; I am fallen; I am sinful; I am hopeful; I am inquisitive; and I am gay. I’m not just any one of these things, but I am all of these things. You could ask me to not categorize myself in terms of my sexual identity because I am not just my sexuality; but if you’re going to do that, you might as well not ask me to categorize myself at all.”
That sounds oh so reasonable, but whenever I see “reductionistic” used in this context, it smacks of trying to avoid being pinned down. Belgau goes into a lengthy explanation of how being gay differs from being homosexual, and defends gay as the broader term, which includes celibate same sex friendships. Not so fast my friend. 1. If sex is not desired, no special term like gay needs to be even part of the discussion. 2. If homosexual sex was not unsavory to most people, and if sexual desire were not lurking in the background, the original meaning of the word gay would have been left alone, instead of being used to replace the word homosexual. Yes, the one syllable word DID replace the five syllable word. 3. When you see gay pride parades, do you ever see a sign that says homosexual pride? No, and not because it’s more difficult to fit it on a sign. What do you see? What is on parade? Celibate friendships? Or homosexual acts, both simulated and actual. Can you say “unsavory”? 4. The very idea you can remain celibate in the presence of someone you are sexually attracted to is ludicrous. How do you do it? Willpower? Not enough. Or is the Holy Spirit protecting you? If so, you would “flee temptation”, as Paul advised.
Like I said, Belgau and Damian have to use so many words to sanitize the word gay. Why even write about it, if not to make it more palatable? I think it’s pretty simple. Gay was the first word alteration, the opening salvo, of a new lexicon of desensitization.