Paul writes – While not definitive (by his own admission) Jason Goroncy has written a very useful post on William Stringfellow and his homosexuality. Included in that post are also links to three very useful posts on homosexuality by Ray Anderson. While I struggled to get my head around what he was saying and the practical implications it nonetheless offers some interesting ways of framing the questions theologically, and read in conjunction with the likes of James Alison, Rowan William’s The Body’s Grace (likewise linked from Jason’s post for those of you who haven’t read it) Kenneth Leech (indirectly and in relation to HIV – his essay “’The Carnality of Grace’: Sexuality,Spirituality & Pastoral Ministry) and Gareth Moore O.P.
Here’s an excerpt from Jason’s post:
“...There are a minimal number of references in Stringfellow’s own work to the question of homosexuality. That Stringfellow says abundantly more about Jesus Christ than he does about himself is, I think, significant in itself. One place where Stringfellow does speak to the question of homosexuality is in his essay ‘Loneliness, Dread and Holiness’, published in The Christian Century on 10 October 1962. Significantly, the essay is a reflection on 2 Corinthians 12:8–9a, ‘Three times I besought the Lord about this that it should leave me; but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”’
In that essay, Stringfellow begins by recalling the loneliness which is ‘as intimate and as common to men as death’, and ‘the void [which] may be mere boredom’, and then proceeds to note all the places that exploit and profit from that transient loneliness and boredom ‘promising that time will be consumed for those who pay the price’ – whether it be a dance studio, a club, a bar, with ‘prostitutes or homosexuals or whatever one wants’ – even if it means relieving the loneliness in lust. ‘These are’, he writes:
‘establishments often populated by those who realize that loneliness is more than the burden of time and who are beguiled by another fiction: that loneliness can be conquered by erotic infatuation. Here are folk, whether men or women, whether looking for the same or the other sex, for whom seduction becomes a way of life, who insist on the importance of what meets the eye – physique, clothes, the appearance of youth. Here are the lonely whose search for a partner is so dangerous, so stimulating and so exhausting that the search itself provides an apparent escape from loneliness. But when a partner is found for an hour or a night or a transient affair, the search immediately resumes, becomes compulsive. And while erotic companionship seems more appealing – and more human – than resignation to boredom, while touching another may be more intimate and more honest than watching another, no one may really find his own identity in another, least of all in the body of another. Perhaps this is the most absurd fiction of them all: the notion that is present, primitively, in erotic partnerships but also very often in other relationships – between parents and children, in friendship, in marriage – that one’s own identity must be sought and can be found in another person’...”
Also insightful is Michael Westmorland-White’s “comment” appended to Jason’s post.
You can read Jason’s full post here.