I apologize for such sparse posting. I've been busy transitioning into the whole being an adult thing. And honestly, I've been a little depressed. A lot of that, I imagine, has to do with the transitioning. (Incidentally, every time I hear the word "transitioning," I think of some transgender person saying something like, "I'm transitioning right now" or something. As if it's some sort of separate state of being.) It's weird how one always gets depressed during life changes. Even good life changes. There's always something sad about changing.
Also, my life changes are somewhat difficult. I did not opt for the big firm world, so every day is sort of an uphill battle trying to figure out how to make the practice grow. (I'm sure big firm work is an uphill battle as well, but in a different sort of way.) Luckily I have a partner I'm working with to help me along. And my father. Who is aging right before my very eyes. An old lawyer himself, he is having such trouble seeing.
It's depressing for other reasons, too, I think. In that school (and I guess youth) are most definitely over. I can't say, "I'll get on with my life after school" anymore, and the pressure to get married, buy a house, have some kids, etc. is beginning to grow to critical mass. My dad, the other day, on the way home, said the strangest thing to me. He was trying to figure out my future, and he said something like, "I assume you're going to want to find a wife or something else someday?" There's two way to take this, I think. One, a live in girlfriend? or something. Or two, the more terrifying and peculiar one, a boyfriend. My dad, whom I have not told I am gay, is hardly a defender or supporter of homosexuality. In fact, he often refers to homosexuals as "faggots," but there was a certain tone, like an "I just want you to be happy, however you do it." It made me uncomfortable. For about a million reasons.
My dad is a great man. The best I know. So don't get the wrong idea. It was just an odd experience that, I think, highlights the reality of a person who chooses celibacy in his 20's for reasons that are not socially acceptable. I could tell my dad, of course, which I probably should, but that has not presented itself yet. No gay person enjoys telling his parents that. And then my friend, a girl I'd mentioned on here before, called me, very upset. She was crying after talking to another gay friend of hers. She was saying, to me of all people, that it's not fair what homosexuals have to deal with, that God should just fix it, because sexuality is such a core part of what makes a human what he is.
She believes that people are supposed to pair up to face all the other problems in life, so homosexuality (or any other sexual disability) is uniquely and especially crippling. I didn't necessarily disagree with her! But I had to explain to her that sexual release is not necessary to human flourishing. I don't know if she believed me, or believed that. I'm not sure how she'd actually frame it, but as a Protestant, she thinks (at least somewhat secretly, and I'm not sure she'd directly admit this) that homosexuals should try to get fixed (through God, or whatever) so that they can be happy and live their lives as God designed. There's a lot of difference between Protestants and Catholics here, I think, probably going back to how each views concupiscence, but I don't have anything developed here. I will say this, though, and as no criticism to my friend (very few of my friends would call me crying, pouring out empathy for me!), I often do not like how Protestants approach homosexuality.
Anyway, that was a long introduction, but I guess it leads into what I want to discuss here. I've mentioned this before, but it's something I genuinely struggle with sometimes, and I want to give it a fuller treatment. I'm referring to the problem of prudishness. I call it a problem because I genuinely think it is a problem. The religious world, at least the Catholic one, I think, does a good job of instilling the general idea that lasciviousness is a bad thing. At least, it's always a clear theme of religious teaching.
But I don't think it makes it clear, exactly, where the line is. When we're talking about masturbation, or sex, or whatever, it's pretty obvious. Avoid intentional sexual release outside of the appropriate context. Got it. But what if we're talking about looking at an attractive celebrity? This is always a difficult struggle, and I think not getting it quite right often leads to scrupulosity and prudishness. For example, I'm listening to the radio or reading some news story, and they mention some male celebrity. Assuming I don't recognize the name, I want to know who he is, what he looks like, who he is. So what do I do? If he's an actor, invariably if I image search him, I will get pictures of him without his shirt on. No big deal, right? Well, no, it often is a big deal. I usually quite like the pictures I see. Is this immoral? It doesn't seem like it, but what if I click on one of the pictures, even if it's just from a news site? Some near occasion of sin? Often, just looking at a few of the pictures will send my mind on a path it shouldn't go.
So, should I just avoid it altogether? Not search anyone's name? Is this reasonable? It sounds a little, I daresay, ridiculous. It sounds like the sort of people everyone mocks. Even the decision making process sounds ridiculous. It's just a picture. It was done out of genuine curiosity. Even if it were done out of sexual interest, it's hardly grave matter. It's as grave as a guy looking twice to catch a glimpse of a beautiful woman. I often feel like this is a uniquely modern problem. Everything is so absurdly hot. All the time. There is no popular culture that isn't. And I do not mean this as an excuse to sin. There is no justification for searching on, pleasuring myself, hiding it, etc., no matter how strong the temptation is. I just mean that the modern world is set up in a way that a person must seek prudishness to avoid lasciviousness. This, in my opinion, is a very serious problem.
Of the two, prudishness is clearly superior, but it is not desirable in itself. Sex and beauty are magnificent things to be appreciated with honesty and fervor. Chastity does not demand that we not enjoy our sexuality or not enjoy beauty, but instead demands that we enjoy our sexuality appropriately. For the homosexual, this just so happens to mean celibacy in many cases, but it also does not mean that every homosexual must join a monastery and read phone books all day. He is supposed to live his life, as anyone is.
I've no answer to this problem, and please do not think that I am justifying inappropriate behavior. Oftentimes the line is obviously clear. While it is more difficult to discern appropriateness in the moment (after one is already turned on), it is usually obvious after the fact. No, you didn't need to see the naked picture of the person. No, you didn't need to watch a sex scene from that movie because you were curious. But other times, I genuinely have no idea. One thing always leads to another, in that order.
And this, I suppose, has made me a bit depressed. As I move on to the next stage in my life, I have difficulties discerning what should limit me. The worst part about overly scrupulous thinking is not the results, necessarily, but the process. Scrupulous people probably often make the right choices. But the struggle they go through, the doubt, is unbearable. Moreover, I get annoyed that it's even a problem in the first place. While common to every man living in the modern world who believes in some level of decency, it is especially difficult for homosexuals, I think. Every slip is a reminder of your inescapable problem. So you want to avoid it all. In doing so, you turn yourself into a prude, a person who ends up hating life and the beauty it holds. No doubt a sin in its own sort of way.