Who is Michael Voris?
Michael Voris can best be described as the Rush Limbaugh of the conservative Catholic world. A caustic self-righteous self-appointed “orthodoxy” police who comments on Church and American politics. He spends most of his time in my professional opinion, making poorly produced videos. Videos that decry the hierarchy and biased character assassinations. Additionally, he does commentaries on hot-button political issues. The archdiocese of Detroit, where he is based, refused to allow his organization to be called Catholic because of how much of a royal pain he has been. His videos frequently talk about how gays are ruining everything in the Church. He is polarizing to say the least. When I first discovered him I just kept praying he’d go away, but like Donald Drumpf, doesn’t seem to be anytime soon.
When I’m in a more forgiving mood I allow individuals to self-identify as they please. In large part however, it’s me forcing myself to play semantic games. I go into detail elsewhere about what I think it means to be gay and why as a Catholic I find it perfectly acceptable to claim that identity. In a recently released video Michael Voris has admitted to having sexual relationships with men. He also claims to have had sexual relationships with women. I have no doubt. My question is about the ratio. Does he experience predominantly homoerotic desires? If he does, that’s all it takes in my book to call him gay. I’ve suspected he’s gay. His hatred of homosexuality is so palpable in his speeches that I’ve only seen it in other self-loathing gays and myself. Before I came to (better) terms with my sexuality there was nothing I hated more than homoeroticism. This in large part gives me enormous compassion for the guy.
There are a lot of jokes that are going to be made at his expense. Frankly, while I hope many are merciful, I believe he is going to reap what he sowed. For example, though dost protest too much, why does he still have his company in Fabulous Ferndale? Only a gay man would be so vain as to keep that haircut, no wonder he’s still single, THAT’S why he still loves the Latin Mass etc…
I’m not Michael Voris’ therapist so all of this is just speculation on my part. I sincerely hope people understand that what I’m writing is not intended to be a character assassination. For context, I’m going to put myself out there and open up to serious criticism, which unfortunately will probably eclipse my main point (as will grammatical mistakes). However, for those of you who have ears to hear, maybe you’ll start to get it.
When I was a teenager discovering that I was gay, I was unable to come to grips with it. In large part this was due to being raised in a conservative environment. I frequently heard (and occasionally hear) talk about how gays were the biggest threat to society along with homophobic jokes etc… the usual fair. Nevertheless, the biggest challenge I had was coming to terms with the consequences of following church teachings. It seemed God was condemning me to a life of loneliness. Being raised charismatic I had a lot of magical thinking and messiah complex stuff going on that prevented me from facing the fact that if I decided to try and live the way the that was prescribed to me, I would indeed suffer immensely. Suffer seemingly unnecessarily when there was a solution easily available. I spent thousands of dollars and read volumes on so-called reparative therapy. I conducted an almost perpetual internal inquisition. I wanted to find some solution, any solution to being gay. Having been rejected from several religious communities, I knew that wasn’t an option. There are tons of guys that go that route. I know more than I care to admit who are currently ordained or soon will be.
My solution to the self-hatred and loneliness was ultimately to be in community. Yet, the kind of community that would really be sustaining emotionally is not available. I recognize it really isn’t the Churches fault. It’s more a consequence of suburbia and global capitalism. The increase in wealth and technology has resulted in having more wealth and space, but less community. Not an inevitability, but a reality.
It’s difficult for me to write this, but at a certain point after questioning everything else, I began to question the Church. I’m not going to pretend like I’ve got it all figured out, I don’t. However, there’s a big fat myth that the Church is as clear about this throughout time as many apologetics worshipers want to believe…or that the reasoning is a solid.
Doubt or Delusion?
At the end of Michael Voris’ video he claims to “KNOW” unequivocally that what the Church teaches is true. He relies on a binary narrative of sinner once, now striving to be saint. It’s a rallying cry that honestly just makes me want to cry.
Perhaps whats most disturbing to me in the tail end of his video is his certainty he would have been damned had he died. Never mind the fact that the council of Trent says clearly you cannot know with certitude if you are in a state of grace or mortal sin. It is a great irony that he proclaims that several times so forcefully given the title of the video. Michael Voris displays what I consider to be an epidemic in the church: semi-pelagianism. Pelagianism is the heresy that one can merit heaven without grace. Semi-pelagianism is that one can have faith without grace. In large part the practice of Christianity today has become an ideological subculture fostered by a pseudo-intellectualism hell-bent on enforcing the ethics of a bygone era. The sense of mystery and horror in the face of the messiness of life has been replaced by respectable performances that are shadows of the ancient rituals of the past. We want clarity of teachings and simplicity of action. The goal seems to be to have a certitude that results in moral concordance.
Faith and Certitude
I’m sorry, but if you know, you don’t have faith. The whole point is that there are things which are epistemologically beyond us that we must take on faith. We use reason to determine what is worth accepting, but ultimately faith and hope extends beyond any certainty. As it should. Many would argue that our faith can be stronger than our everyday trust in other things. If that’s the case for you, great. There’s no one I know who can say that honestly. I’m practically more certain my car will start than that the virgin Mary appeared at Fatima. We all wrestle with whether or not what we believe is true. If we didn’t, I kind of doubt we could call it faith.
This is in large part where I have begun seriously questioning how credible the authority if the Latin church is for things like the catalogs of what constitutes grave matter, the Latin understanding of mortal/venial sin in general, whether or not the church has ever changed teachings on morals (without linguistic gymnastics it’s hard to tell with things like charging interest and slavery), what authority does the pope really have? Etc… Ironically, my love for the Traditional Latin Mass and traditionalism introduced the most doubt I have in the authority of the Vatican or Latin church hierarchy. My main point is that things aren’t cut and dry. I have a real hard time with absolutism of any kind. Perhaps I’m infected with modernism. Perhaps I’m just a realist. In the end, my experience attempting to convince myself that all homoeroticism is evil, when I experience it as very good, has been exceedingly futile and almost destroyed me.
Why it’s probably impossible to be gay and Catholic
This is where I really begin to have compassion on Michael Voris. The challenge of attempting to live a “chaste” lifefor a gay man, as defined by contemporary conservative sexual ethic commentators, extends beyond simply resisting the inordinate temptation to get off. Everyone has inappropriate sexual urges they must resist. Secular movements are naturally arising that resist the toxic influence of pornography. The difficulty, no tragedy, is one of the greatest natural joys in life, is seen as a cause of damnation. What many straight people don’t understand is how difficult it is to fall in love with someone and have that love indefinitely stifled. Friendships, poisoned by the constant threat of what is taught to bring damnation. Can you imagine the agony of seeing your beloved both as your greatest cause of joy and potential cause of sorrow? The bigger problem with sexuality today is the disintegration from the natural course of things. Whatever you might think about it, homoeroticism comes naturally to me. As an extension of that affection for another man. An intense intimacy unhindered by the frictions caused by being of a different gender.
Michael Voris might have felt that, or might still feel that, for another man. His loneliness might be magnified by the longing for a particular lover. Meanwhile his conscience, fortified by filial duty to his deceased mother, exacerbated by a thirst for drama common to gay men, and the expectations of the subculture he belongs to, causes him to hate the thing that may have given him joy. To be constantly on that razors edge of seeking to win the impossible praises of the divine and even more absurd acceptance of his perception of Catholicism, while battling what comes natural to him, and to everyone, seems horrifying. That desire to know and be known, to love and be loved. To relish in the sensuality of our bodies as an expression of our interior life. The forces that bring life can only be parallel by the forces that bring death. Hate can keep love at bay, but love defeats even death.
Where do I stand with homoeroticism then? I’m not sure. I’m still figuring it out. What I can say is I know it is impossible for me to live as a Catholic, be gay, and not act on it without being miserable. That could be the point. Salvation is impossible without grace after all. It just seems right now (and for a LONG TIME) God has refused me the grace to believe it is wrong, and to live like it is, without what I perceive to be self-destruction. There’s a huge list of questions I will be thoroughly investigating for the next several years to clear it up more, but I don’t know if it will ever be clear. For now I will say I don’t believe homoeroticism is always, absolutely wrong. I have faith that it could be, but I doubt it.
Charity and Mercy
My motto is “excellence through humility for the sake of charity, for where charity and love are Christ is and only God alone satisfies.” I pray for Michael Voris. I think he has done and probably will do a great amount of damage. I think he has perpetuated a culture of hatred towards sexual minorities among others. In the end though, who am I to judge? I pray he finds peace. I hope I’m wrong. I hope he really has discovered all he claims. However, I don’t think it’s very charitable for me to pretend that his voice does not betray a different reality. Like the countless sour-faced melancholic sermons I’ve heard on the joy of the Lord or the teeth-clenching “God bless them” I just don’t have time for that level of self-deception. It is my suspicion he doesn’t know how merciful the Divine One is. What I’ve discovered through all this is that Christianity is about being saved by mercy. It isn’t about learning the rules. It isn’t even really about following them. It’s acknowledging we can’t. We should allow ourselves to be swept up in the resonance of eternal being. You not only have permission to exist, but God is willing it, right now, with unfathomable love. I wish I could show everyone in the world how beautifully loving and amazing God is. If there’s anything I could wish it would be that everyone would love God. I’ve only tasted a tiny bit, more than I could ever merit. I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for it.
I posted this on my Facebook wall the day he posted the video. Perhaps thatt is more than a bit serendipitous. Pray for me and my (probably) gay brother Michael Voris.