Saturday, January 22, 2011

About That Twelve Step Program For Gay Men--Where's The Courage In That?

Twelve step programs are at their most ineffectual when they try to change mother nature.

For some reason I seem to be practicing 'article avoidance behavior'.  There have been a couple of news worthy events which have either punched a button of mine, or are just too unbelievable for my brain to handle.  It could be both.  The story about the twelve step program for gay men--notice it's only for gay men--has been written about extensively, but not by me.  Then finally my curiosity about the actual twelve steps finally overcame my avoidance behavior.  So here are the twelve steps:

We admitted that we were powerless over homosexuality and our lives had become unmanageable. (I can think of dozens of straight men who could say the exact same thing about their own sex lives, and I have dealt with an uncounted number of the female wreckage they left behind.)
 We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.  (Oh my.... I guess one has to admit being gay is the same as being insane. Unless this is a typo and they meant sanctity.  I kind of doubt it.)
We made a decision to turn our will and our lives to the care of God as we understood Him. (A truly humble person knows they aren't capable of understanding God.)
We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (In a system which teaches that gay is a ticket to straight to hell, any such inventory under the direction of the Church would take a certain amount of fearlessness.)
We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (The intrinsic nature is the problem in Catholic thought---which takes gay way beyond addiction.)
We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of our character. (Gayness is not a defect, but petitioning God to remove it is delusional and that is a defect.)
We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings. (And when God is done removing all one's shortcomings, the gay part will still be there because gay is not a shortcoming
 We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make direct amends to them all.  (Wouldn't it be nice if our bishops took this one seriously?)
We made the direct amends to such people whenever possible except when to do so would injure them or others. (This one too.)
We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of God's Will for us and the power to carry it out.  (Once again, no one can claim to understand God--least of all any Church that actually claims they do.)
Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.  (Can't wait for KC produced DVD.)


Anyone who is familiar with Twelve Step programs will notice a few deviations from the norm in this particular twelve step program.  That happens when one is trying to stuff a square peg in a round hole.
I'm still trying to figure out what in the world this program is attempting to accomplish.  If it's to help a person modify abusive exploitative sexuality, a twelve step program for that already exists--and it works with either gays or straights.  I suspect this program at core is not about addictive abusive sexuality.  It's about reinforcing 'correct Catholic thinking' about gay sexuality.  I also suspect it's sort of aimed at seminary types who could probably get a seal of approval if they participate in this program. 

There is also no compelling reason not to start a group for straight single men, and that might actually help accomplish a reduction in abortion and unwed motherhood. So I'm wondering why there is no group for straight single men.  The amount of destruction left behind by irresponsible ego driven straight single men is legendary and it's effects on society are far more damaging.  In fact the Diocese of Colorado Springs could start with the Air Force Academy which has already gone through a number of scandals involving the rape of female cadets.  Date rape is exploding on all our college campuses and that's not happening because of gay men. Virtually every college and university fraternity could support such a twelve step group. The Church could also start a group in the inner city where marriage before sex is about as likely as caviar with dinner.

I really want to know why straight single men are always left out of all the sexual discussions?  Is it because the Church actually has no courage when it comes to dealing with straight men and the repercussions of irresponsible straight sex?  That would be my guess.  It doesn't take courage to focus on the supposed flaws of a sub group already thoroughly conditioned to accept such a focus.  This is just more abusive marginalization dressed up as a pastoral initiative.  It's also an abuse of the Twelve Step therapeutic approach which is targeted at addictive behavior, not romantic attachment.  And maybe that's what's bugging me.  The Church seems incapable of seeing homosexuality in terms of romantic attachment just as it's seemingly incapable of seeing aspects of single male heterosexual activity in terms of an exploitative and outright selfish 'lifestyle'.

For me personally, I see this myopic blindness as a result of the true position of women in Church thinking--somewhere far far behind men and boys.  The Church has always recognized men and boys can be sexually exploited so of course gay men need twelve step groups. After all back in the day St Damien didn't give his rants about clerical sexual abuse over girls and women. His rants were over exploiting men and boys. Given this long history it's no wonder there are no Church sanctioned twelve step Courage groups for straight men. Women and girls have historically been accused of bringing on their own abuse.  Like gays, women have promiscuous 'lifestyles'.  Straight men are never described as having a sexual 'lifestyle'.

As for lesbians, they only get on the radar in Chaput Catholicism when they do maternal attachment stuff like put their children in Catholic schools.  Then the reaction doesn't even pretend to be pastoral.  Every good Catholic knows instinctively that lesbians are incapable of healthy maternal attachments. This is in spite of the fact recent data show lesbian couples are actually very good at raising children. The best actually.

Hmmmm. That's another part of my problem.  Now a days Catholics are asked to believe hierarchical teaching IN SPITE OF THE FACTS.  Which leads me to believe our hierarchy should take a twelve step rubric to heart.  The one that says 'Let go and Let God'. If they did they might find out they really do not understand the mind of God, and if they got that far down the road to spiritual awakening, some of them might actually begin to get over themselves.


  1. This is excellent. Great comments about the 12 steps and wonderful commentary overall. That is interesting how the Church doesn't say anything about promiscuous hetero men. If a man lives a wild life, exploits women and later becomes a priest then he is lauded as a "real" man. How many of the right wing Catholics have a lot of respect for priests who have a some notches on their belt while at the same time looking down on and denigrating celibate gay priests. Food for thought.

  2. The picture at the beginning of your article should have a picture with a bishop in it. Perhaps he could be saying - "I'm a bishop and I am addicted to authority."

    In deed, it might be a good exercise to write out a list of a 12 step program for bishops if only to get at what kind of sickness they are exhibiting these days.

  3. This 12 Step program for gay men is worthy of many rants, in my opinion. Perhaps it is worthy of a book of rants.

    Excellent points Colleen, one of which is about "understanding God." Whoever believes that gayness is a defect and/or addiction is also saying that God must be addicted and defective too, and God should go to a 12 step program too and conform to man's notions of understanding God!!! After all, gays do not create themselves or their sexuality, neither do heterosexuals, and understanding people understand that. People who are open to receiving new understanding of God and his creation, is a lot different than saying that one 'understands all there is to know about God.'

    I am wondering who in the world could possibly imagine they had all the truth about God there is to know and knew all they could possibly know about God and his creation in the entire expanding universe throughout time and eternity as to insist on telling God's creation to change and to stop any more creativity and diversity and evolution, unless it conforms to one's false notions of God's creativity? Yet this is what the Church does time and time again.

    This 12 step program for gay men is like someone who is color blind insisting that green leaves are really not green and that they need to change and turn grey via a 12 step program to conform to a false vision of reality. It's pretty crazy.

  4. Sex is a touchy subject. Where to begin?

    The church's teachings are obsolete scientifically. They actually work against the accomplishment of their goals.

    * Onanism, Preconceptualism & the homunculus: The church does not conceive any purpose for sex beyond conception. Masturbation and contraception are considered to be sins as serious as murder. Why?

    Ancient understandings of human life and reproduction were based upon the idea that a complete human being was contained within the sperm. The microscopic human was then transferred to the woman whose primary purpose was reproduction. She was clearly inferior and subordinate to the man in all matters, save one. Misogyny is related to original sin. Augustine leads the church to see pleasure as sin. See: (Sex, sin and salvation, What Augustine really said)

    The Old Testament contains many examples of polygamy. This may be the origin of the prevailing lax attitude toward more promiscuous male sexual behavior. Promiscuous women were condemned. Later, adultery is condemned but with inequitable consequences.

    And today? Reliable scientific surveys show modern men may have slightly more partners than women do in their lifetimes. But not for long. Modern women now act more like men in every respect because there are fewer social and cultural restrictions. (More smoking, more cancer, more sex, more partners etc.)

    It isn't just the predatory behavior of single men that must be considered of high priority. What about the sexual behavior of women too? That's about 90% of the problem of the church's teaching on sexuality. It isn't just about reproduction for people who expect to live 80 years. How should one act morally as a sexual human being?

    Only about 10% of the population is gay. This disproportionate response is probably due to the relatively high percentage of gay clergy, a frightening thought to the Vatican.



  5. The last time I was in a straight relationship, and I swear it will be the last....
    He suddenly became eager to make us long-distance, moving half-way around the world. Oh, but would I forward his mail for him? Sure!
    A letter came which got opened by accident. It was from a woman in what is known as a bad part of town. It started "Hi, Hot Sexy Lover," and from there, got much worse. That ain't the half of it, she went on to tell him that he was about to have a great-grandson.
    No wonder he was so eager to leave! That was the end of us. And yet, wherever he is, there is no question in my mind he's making the same messes. He needs those 12

  6. p2p I'm all for teaching responsible sexuality to both men and women. The Church seems to be all for teaching responsible sexuality to heterosexual women and gay men and that I think needs to change.

    You bring up an important point that I haven't seen very often. More people are living long beyond the normal range of fertility when the pro creative emphasis on sexuality becomes pointless. It seems to me this would be another compelling reason to revamp the thinking about how sexual activity fits in the over all scheme of things.