The Denver Catholic Register interviewed Father John Harvey, the founder of Courage, the Catholic Ex-Gay Ministry. Unlike Exodus, Courage places more emphasis on physical acts of sex than on “gay identity”. And while they do repeat the bilge coming from NARTH, their purpose is driven around the notion of chastity rather than a change in orientation.
Nonetheless, Father Harvey makes some statements in his interview that are odd – and in some instances comical – and which demonstrate the Church’s schizophrenic approach to gay issues. Take, for example, Father Harvey’s rationale about the “intrinsic evil” of same-sex sexuality:
If [the] two purposes of communion of bodies in love and children are not accomplished, the act is evil.
OK – on the face of that, it’s ridiculous. Father Harvey is saying that any sexual union that does not result in children is evil. So if you are infertile for any reason, no marriage and sex for you. (UPDATE **)
Now, I’m sure Father Harvey would say that he’s talking about the act itself which never results in children as opposed to the individuals who may not result in children. But I’m not a big fan of arbitrary rules against gay people that are justified by arguments that are not also applied to straight people. And I think it is a HUGE jump from “does not result in children” to evil.
In an amusing (to me) anecdote, Father Harvey also discusses a man that he counseled every week for 30 years:
I know somebody in his 80s now and he’s not bothered by this presence at all.
I’m not sure if Father Harvey knows that time probably was as much a part of this man’s “success” as was the good father’s 30 years of weekly counseling.
Courage shares the Catholic Church’s tremendously arrogant assumption that they hold all knowledge, that their teachings are by definition “natural”, and that truth can be determined by Papal Decree rather than by objective observation*. And they also trumpet the “objectively disordered” (as if the Church were objective about anything) and “intrinsic evil” language of the Church and, indeed, seem to be lodged in the homophobic end of the Church in the United States.
But to its credit, Courage does seem to be more interested in their constituents than in politics. And their site, though strongly endorsing NARTH, does not seem to be deluged in bizarre and hateful bogus “statistics”.
This interview is the first half of a two part article. I look forward to what ‘jems of truth’ Father Harvey will have for us next week.
* I’ll admit this is biased. And I apologize to any Catholics who are offended by this characterization. I am aware that there are a great many Catholics who do not operate from this position and that the Church as a whole has been extremely instrumental in the nurturing and care of Western society. But I do think the current Pope does see the Church as always correct, the dictator of what is “natural”, and the authority on civil as well as religious issues. And that is the direction in which I see the Church moving.
** In commentary below, I’ve been informed that it actually is the policy of the Church to deny marriage to infertile heterosexuals. While this seems cruel to me, at least it is consistent. However, I’ve yet to see a cent spent by the Church to enforce this rule while many millions have been spent to seek to impose in civil law the church doctrines against gay couples.