Te Deum!

The Supreme Court of the United States, a few minutes ago, said that same sex couples have the right to be married in all 50 states.

The Te Deum was traditionally sung in celebration of some event, an expression of thankfulness for a source of great joy.   Today is a day for celebration!  I know this will be really stick in the craw of lots of Catholics, but I don't care.

Special congratulations to my friends Neil and Mike.  I could not be any happier for you.

I would also like to say something to those out there who are in the process of putting on sackcloth as we speak.  In particular, I would like to direct your attention to what Richard Beck calls "Orthodox alexithymia."  Beck, from the perspective of a psychologist, makes a simple but profound claim--rationality without an emotional component is not a pure form of reason; it is sociopathy.

Orthodox alexithymia is produced when the intellectual facets of Christian theology, in the pursuit of correct and right belief, become decoupled from emotion, empathy, and fellow-feeling. Orthodox alexithymics are like patients with ventromedial prefrontal cortex brain damage. Their reasoning may be sophisticated and internally consistent but it is disconnected from human emotion. And without Christ-shaped caring to guide the chain of calculation we wind up with the theological equivalent of preferring to scratch a doctrinal finger over preventing destruction of the whole world. Logically and doctrinally such preferences can be justified. They are not "contrary to reason." But they are inhuman and monstrous. Emotion, not reason, is what has gone missing.

The approach to marriage made by the opponent of same-sex marriage either runs the danger of, or fully falls into, orthodox alexithymia.  It is a privileging of an abstract, intellectual construct ("the institution of marriage") over the sharing in the joy of people who love each other and want to express that love to the world.  No theology of marriage can be complete unless it looks at the faces of the people who have just been told that they are allowed to marry and reckons with what they are experiencing.  Or, at least, no theology that we want any part of.

Catholic theology does not have a monopoly on orthodox alexithymia--Beck's preferred example is hardcore double predestination Calvinism--but it does have a long track record of it.  And, on these contested sexual issues, it has boxed itself into an "alexithymic" (if that's a word) place.  So, I would ask those who are upset today to do something for me.  Spend some time looking at these pictures:

If you can't be happy for the people in these photographs, if you can't feel the emotion that they are feeling, if you can't connect with them on a human level, I would strongly encourage you to take some time and think about what that says about you.  And what it says about where your theology has brought you.


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