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I have been trying to think of whether to say something about the “gay Christian” debate that has sputtered rather intermittently into life around here. One does not want to give gratuitous offense. I have found myself strongly drawn to the arguments of Austin Ruse (who has written herehere, and here at Crisis), and not very much to those of Ron Belgau or Elizabeth Scalia here at FT. But how to put it?

Fortunately for me, Anthony Esolen has put it with his customary clarity at The Catholic Thing, and I can associate myself wholeheartedly with his formulation of the problem:

Suppose John is tempted to steal. Whenever he sees beautiful things that don’t belong to him, he begins to covet them. He muses about how he might filch them and get away with it. But he does not go through with the imaginary thefts. He knows that the law of God forbids it. “I’m a kleptophile,” he says publicly, and is praised for being honest and brave.

What value are we to attribute to John’s inclination to steal? Absolutely none—he’d be far better off without it. It is a distortion of his true nature. Suppose John says, “See, I am being celibate with regard to other people’s things. Am I not virtuous?” We must answer, no, not at all, and warn him against making of his frailty a mysterious object of pride.

Do read the whole thing. He has touched the nerve at the center of this conversation. Are we talking about an identity, or a temptation?

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