Thursday, June 14, 2012

You can’t have a vocation of "No."

Writing about gay kids in Catholic schools, Eve Tushnet chides the Church by insisting that "You can’t have a vocation of No."  Interesting.  This author seems to imply that saying no to urge or desire, whatever that might be, is not possible or at least not tenable.  If we pressed her point, we would have to give up all sorts of things that we have sacralized -- from staying away from unhealthy foods and eating right to drugs and tobacco.  It was not that long ago (okay, it was) when the whole anti-drug campaign in America was "Just Say No."  Well, perhaps Ms. Tushnet would suggest that sex is one of those things about which it is impossible to deny while the other things are within the realm of self-control.

It seems that the Church is the lone voice speaking to the culture that "no" is not only within our vocabulary but it is the wisest and most positive path you can take in so many instances.  Saying "no" is not all the Church says but it is the beginning of the conversation.  You cannot begin to speak of the benefits or morality of self-denial until first you admit that saying no to self is itself a virtue.  The Church begins with the proposition that saying no is not only possible but it is beneficial to us and to our culture.  Indeed, the rule of desire is not freedom at all but the worst of all possible prisons.

According to St. Paul, it is self-denial and self-control that is the very mark of our new lives in Christ and the fruit of holiness worked by the Spirit within us.  It is his whole argument in Colossians:  If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  (Colossians 3:1-2 ESV)  In addition, consider the other explicit mentions of self-control (big word for saying "no"):  For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.  (Titus 2:11-14 ESV) or But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)  or      But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.  (Galatians 5:22-25 ESV) or Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.  (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV)  -- I could go on and on.

Ms. Tushnet is telling us that it is not a vocation to say "no" when clearly it is the Christian vocation born of our baptismal death and rebirth.  For a school of the Church to offer another option is to deny the very mark and virtue of Christ's work in us and the Spirit's power over our natures captive to the dominion of desire.  

Right now gay teens hear a robust “Yes!” from the mainstream media and gay culture. From the Church, they hear only a “No.”  To this appeal from Ms. Tushnet, I would suggest that it is not only gay teens who hear this "no" and if the Church's voice is silenced we are left with only the "yes" of our culture and its addiction to desire.  It was, after all, desire that got us into trouble in the first place.  No is not the only thing the Church says but it is one very important word, heard only from the Church, to a world in bondage to the consequences of our "yes" to all that seems, feels, and is judged right because we desire it.


Anonymous said...

oooh oooh ooh

Another opportunity to be express how scandalized we are by nasty homosexuals without actually presenting Gospel or hope of salvation.

Thankfully there was some Gospel included in the quoted Bible verses or this would have been a completely unLutheran post instead of mostly unLutheran post.

Anonymous said...

What post were you reading mate?

This post was about self denial and self control taught by the church as opposed the if it feels good do it mantra of the world.

There are non so offended as those who want to be offended.