John McNeill in a strong critique of Benedict’s recent comments on gay marriage in Portugal wonders what alternate universe the pope inhabits. It is also possible to wonder what the pope knows about human sexuality.
McNeill’s analysis is a strong indictment of the traditional catholic teaching on sexuality and a condemnation of Benedict’s continual attacks on gay people and gay marriage. In Portugal Benedict inferred that gay marriage is the most insidious threat to the human family. In the same article McNeill blasts Benedict for overlooking so many real threats to the human family from nuclear war to inner city violence.
In a particularly profound part of his critique, McNeill says of Benedict’s theology of human sexuality that the pope equates human sex with animal sex. It seems to me, Benedict's knowledge of human sexuality is more mechanistic. Sex for the pope is like the man and women in the picture in the plug and receptacle costumes. McNeill says that Benedict’s theory of human sexuality is based on gender difference and gender complementarity and not on the uniqueness of the two individuals entering into a marriage relationship.
McNeill argues that Benedict does not understand the reality that when two unique people enter into a marriage relationship it is much more than a fusion of biological opposites. McNeill moves far beyond simple gender complementarity as a basis for the marriage relationship pointing out that the two individuals bring a range masculinity and femininity to the relationship not based on biological gender.
Here are the two relevant and extremely significant paragraphs from John McNeill’s article. You can read the whole article here.
“Every human psyche has both masculine and feminine attributes. Both parties following the patriarchal model must accept only those aspects of their psyche that accord with their gender identity. Males, for example, should only accept the masculine dimension of their psyche and suppress the feminine, which they then must project out onto their female partner. Women, in turn, must suppress everything masculine in their psyche and project out the masculine on their husband. Many psychically healthier women today, who are more in touch with both their masculine and feminine dimensions, and see themselves as whole persons, increasingly are unwilling to play the role of being mediators of the feminine emotional, spiritual and compassionate needs of men. They want a man who is a total human person in himself! They are demanding, and rightly so, that we men get in touch with our feminine dimension”
“Many men, in turn, are coming into touch with both the masculine and feminine dimensions of themselves and refusing to play the role of being the mediator of the masculine needs of women for assertiveness and autonomy.” …”Both genders are being called on to develop the fullness of their own humanity, so that they can approach each other as complete, independent persons and not remain essentially dependent on the other gender for their completion.”
In McNeill’s analysis that coming together of two unique human persons to form a marriage relationship is much more than the coming together of two people at the level of gender difference. A further reality is that over the course of a relationship these two unique individuals will access differing aspects of his or her masculine/feminine polarity as they mature together.
McNeill’s conclusion is powerful saying that the coming together of two people whether male and female, male and male, or female and female in a marital relationship is much more than the coming together of two biological gender opposites. McNeill offers that there is a whole range of masculine and feminine psychic energy that comes together in a marriage relationship. This opens up so much more what the reality of marriage is. The reality is that when two people come together to form a committed relationship, marriage, that it is a union formed on a psychic, emotional, and spiritual level. Benedict’s theory of human sexuality is very one dimensional.
Instead of condemning gays and gay marriage Benedict should be praising it. Here is McNeill's powerful rebuttal. “Gay marriage then, rather than being a threat to the family, opens up a new paradigm for a fuller, more human and fulfilling love between the partners.”
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