Priestly Pedophilia/Ephebophilia

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Toby Johnson's books:

Toby's books are available as ebooks from, the Apple iBookstore, etc.

Finding Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret III

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III

Gay Spirituality

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

Gay Perspective

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe

Secret Matter

SECRET MATTER, a sci-fi novel with wonderful "aliens" with an Afterword by Mark Jordan

Getting Life

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE:  A Fantastical Gay Romance set in two different time periods

The Fourth Quill

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

Two Spirits
TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams

charmed lives
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: GaySpirit in Storytelling, a collaboration with Steve Berman and some 30 other writers

Myth of the Great Secret

THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell

In Search of God


Unpublished manuscripts

About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

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  Toby has done five podcasts with Harry Faddis for The Quest of Life

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  Articles and Excerpts:

Review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

About Liberty Books, the Lesbian/Gay Bookstore for Austin, 1986-1996

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

Why gay people should NOT Marry

The Scriptural Basis for Same Sex Marriage

Toby and Kip Get Married

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

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Gay Consciousness

Why homosexuality is a sin

The cause of homosexuality

The origins of homophobia

Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness

What is homosexuality?

What is Gay Spirituality?

My three messages

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

Queering religion

Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men

Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?

The purpose of homosexuality

Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality

What the Bible Says about Homosexuality

Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men

Varieties of Gay Spirituality

Waves of Gay Liberation Activity

The Gay Succession

Wouldn’t You Like to Be Uranian?

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

The Mysticism of Andrew Harvey

The upsidedown book on MSNBC

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"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

You're Not A Wave

Joseph Campbell Talks about Aging

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?

How many lifetimes in an ego?

Emptiness & Religious Ideas

Experiencing experiencing experiencing

Going into the Light

Meditations for a Funeral

Meditation Practice

The way to get to heaven

Buddha's father was right

What Anatman means

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

Cutting edge realization

The Myth of the Wanderer

Change: Source of Suffering & of Bliss

World Navel

What the Vows Really Mean

Manifesting from the Subtle Realms

The Three-layer Cake & the Multiverse

The est Training and Personal Intention

Effective Dreaming in Ursula LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven

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Gay Spirituality

Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

The Mann Ranch (& Rich Gabrielson)

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Two Loves

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

Freedom of Religion

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The Gay Agenda

Gay Saintliness

Gay Spiritual Functions

The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.

The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

Proposal for a study of gay nondualism

Priestly Sexuality

Having a Church to Leave

Harold Cole on Beauty

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Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Not lashed to the prayer-post

Monastic or Chaste Homosexuality

Is It Time to Grow Up? Confronting the Aging Process

Notes on Licking  (July, 1984)

Redeem Orlando

Gay Consciousness changing the world by Shokti LoveStar

Alexander Renault interviews Toby Johnson

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Mystical Vision

"The Evolution of Gay Identity"

"St. John of the Cross & the Dark Night of the Soul."

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths

 Eckhart's Eye

Let Me Tell You a Secret

Religious Articulations of the Secret

The Collective Unconscious

Driving as Spiritual Practice


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

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The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey as archetype -- GSV 2016

The  Gay Hero Journey (shortened)

You're On Your Own


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Seeing Differently

Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil

Allah Hu: "God is present here"

Adam and Steve

The Life is in the Blood

Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"

Seeing with Different Eyes

Facing the Edge: AIDS as an occasion for spiritual wisdom

What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?

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The Vision

The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

A  Most Remarkable Synchronicity in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis

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The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby

Part 2: The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara

Part 3: Jesus and the Resurrection

Part 4: A Course in Miracles

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The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

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Joseph Campbell, the Hero's Journey, and the modern Gay Hero-- a five part presentation on YouTube

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About Alien Abduction

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance

Intersections with the movie When We Rise

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

Toby at the California Institute

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

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Kip and Toby, Activists

Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.

Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement

About Hay and The New Myth

About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"

About Michael Talbot, gay mystic

About Fr. Bernard Lynch

About Richard Baltzell

About Guy Mannheimer

About David Weyrauch

About Dennis Paddie

About Ask the Fire

About Arthur Evans

About Christopher Larkin

About Mark Thompson

About Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

The Alamo Business Council

Our friend Tom Nash

Second March on Washington

The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the "Statement of Spirituality"

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Book Reviews

Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook

Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer

The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter

The Gay Disciple by John Henson

Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry

Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr

Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois

Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson

Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low

Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman

The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman

Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor

Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine

The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada

The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook

The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther

The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel

Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak

Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez

Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr

Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano

The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo

The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar

Occam’s Razor by David Duncan

Grace and Demion by Mel White

Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso

The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery

The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass

Love Together: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy and Communication by Tim Clausen

War Between Materialism and Spiritual by Jean-Michel Bitar

The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal

Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal

The Invitation to Love by Darren Pierre

Brain, Consciousness, and God: A Lonerganian Integration by Daniel A Helminiak

A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides by Andrew Harvey

Can Christians Be Saved? by Stephenson & Rhodes

The Lost Secrets of the Ancient Mystery Schools by Stephenson & Rhodes

Keys to Spiritual Being: Energy Meditation and Synchronization Exercises by Adrian Ravarour

In Walt We Trust by John Marsh

Solomon's Tantric Song by Rollan McCleary

A Special Illumination by Rollan McCleary

Aelred's Sin by Lawrence Scott

Fruit Basket by Payam Ghassemlou

Internal Landscapes by John Ollom

Princes & Pumpkins by David Hatfield Sparks

Yes by Brad Boney

Blood of the Goddess by William Schindler

Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom by Jeffrey Kripal

Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson

Jesus in Salome's Lot by Brett W. Gillette

The Man Who Loved Birds by Fenton Johnson

The Vatican Murders by Lucien Gregoire

"Sex Camp" by Brian McNaught

Out & About with Brewer & Berg
Episode One: Searching for a New Mythology

The Soul Beneath the Skin by David Nimmons

Out on Holy Ground by Donald Boisvert

The Revotutionary Psychology of Gay-Centeredness by Mitch Walker

Out There by Perry Brass

The Crucifixion of Hyacinth by Geoff Puterbaugh

The Silence of Sodom by Mark D Jordan

It's Never About What It's About by Krandall Kraus and Paul Borja

ReCreations, edited by Catherine Lake

Gospel: A Novel by WIlton Barnhard

Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey by Fenton Johnson

Dating the Greek Gods
by Brad Gooch

Telling Truths in Church by Mark D. Jordan

The Substance of God by Perry Brass

The Tomcat Chronicles by Jack Nichols

10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort

Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same Sex Love by Will Roscoe

The Third Appearance by Walter Starcke

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann

Surviving and Thriving After a Life-Threatening Diagnosis by Bev Hall

Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods by Ronald Long

An Interview with Ron Long

Queering Creole Spiritual Traditons by Randy Conner & David Sparks

An Interview with Randy Conner

Pain, Sex and Time by Gerald Heard

Sex and the Sacred by Daniel Helminiak

Blessing Same-Sex Unions by Mark Jordan

Rising Up by Joe Perez

Soulfully Gay by Joe Perez

That Undeniable Longing by Mark Tedesco

Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman

Wisdom for the Soul by Larry Chang

MM4M a DVD by Bruce Grether

Double Cross by David Ranan

The Transcended Christian by Daniel Helminiak

Jesus in Love by Kittredge Cherry

In the Eye of the Storm by Gene Robinson

The Starry Dynamo by Sven Davisson

Life in Paradox by Fr Paul Murray

Spirituality for Our Global Community by Daniel Helminiak

Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society by Robert A. Minor

Coming Out: Irish Gay Experiences by Glen O'Brien

Queering Christ by Robert Goss

Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage

The Flesh of the Word by Richard A Rosato

Catland by David Garrett Izzo

Tantra for Gay Men by Bruce Anderson

Yoga & the Path of the Urban Mystic by Darren Main

Simple Grace by Malcolm Boyd

Seventy Times Seven by Salvatore Sapienza

What Does "Queer" Mean Anyway? by Chris Bartlett

Critique of Patriarchal Reasoning by Arthur Evans

Gift of the Soul by Dale Colclasure & David Jensen

Legend of the Raibow Warriors by Steven McFadden

The Liar's Prayer by Gregory Flood

Lovely are the Messengers by Daniel Plasman

The Human Core of Spirituality by Daniel Helminiak

3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Religion and the Human Sciences by Daniel Helminiak

Only the Good Parts by Daniel Curzon

Four Short Reviews of Books with a Message

Life Interrupted by Michael Parise

Confessions of a Murdered Pope by Lucien Gregoire

The Stargazer's Embassy by Eleanor Lerman

Conscious Living, Conscious Aging by Ron Pevny

Footprints Through the Desert by Joshua Kauffman

True Religion by J.L. Weinberg

The Mediterranean Universe by John Newmeyer

Everything is God by Jay Michaelson

Reflection by Dennis Merritt

Everywhere Home by Fenton Johnson

Hard Lesson by James Gaston

God vs Gay? by Jay Michaelson

The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path by Jay Michaelson

Roxie & Fred by Richard Alther

Not the Son He Expected by Tim Clausen

The 9 Realities of Stardust by Bruce P. Grether

The Afterlife Revolution by Anne & Whitley Strieber

AIDS Shaman: Queer Spirit Awakening by Shokti Lovestar

Facing the Truth of Your Life by Merle Yost

The Super Natural by Whitley Strieber & Jeffrey J Kripal

Secret Body by Jeffrey J Kripal

In Hitler's House by Jonathan Lane

Walking on Glory by Edward Swift

The Paradox of Porn by Don Shewey

Is Heaven for Real? by Lucien Gregoire

Enigma by Lloyd Meeker

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson

Toby Johnson's Books on Gay Men's Spiritualities:

Perspective cover
Gay Perspective

Things Our [Homo]sexuality
Tells Us about the
Nature of God and
the Universe

Gay Perspective audiobook
Gay Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Matthew Whitfield. Click here

Spirituality cover
Gay Spirituality

Gay Identity and 
the Transformation of
Human Consciousness

Gay Spirituality   is now available as an audiobook, beautifully narrated by John Sipple. Click here

charmed lives
Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling

edited by
Toby Johnson
& Steve Berman

secret matter
Secret Matter

Lammy Award Winner for Gay Science Fiction


Getting Life
Getting Life in Perspective

A Fantastical Romance

Life in Perspective audiobook
Getting Life in Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Alex Beckham. Click here 

The Fourth Quill

The Fourth Quill

originally published as PLAGUE

The Fourth Quill is available as an audiobook, narrated by Jimmie Moreland. Click here

Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo

with Walter L. Williams

Two Spirits
audiobookTwo Spirits  is available as an audiobook  narrated by Arthur Raymond. Click here

Finding Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret III
Finding Your Own True Myth:
What I Learned from Joseph Campbell

The Myth of the Great Secret III

Search of God in the Sexual Underworld
In Search of God  in the Sexual Underworld

The Myth of the Great Secret II

The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell.

This was the second edition of this book.

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Toby Johnson's titles are available in other ebook formats from Smashwords.

Priestly Sexuality

There is a message behind the ongoing priest pedophilia/ephebophilia scandal that is being missed—especially by the current LGBT argument that the Church is wrong to connect the crisis to homosexuality.

What the crisis reveals is that being gay tends to make people more religious, more sensitive, more committed to service. That’s the implication of the revelation about priestly sexuality. What seems to be shocking to the public is there are gay men in the priesthood, because the public doesn’t understand homosexuality (or priesthood, for that matter). The crisis indirectly shows that “essential gayness” makes people “better” people, the way we used to think priests were “better” people (when we didn’t know about their sexuality and thought of them somehow as essentially eunuchs).

What the crisis reveals is that the Church's false and hypocritical condemnation of homosexuality—and sexual experience, in general—can have devastating consequences for these gay men who sought to give their lives to God by joining the Church, only to find a complex set of confusing and false double-binds in priestly life. Because the Church is so benightedly anti-sex and anti-gay, these men are effectively driven crazy (I use that word non-technically) and they do things beyond the pale and maybe even without knowing what they're doing.

Priests ARE gay because gayness is a holy kind of consciousness. Priests are sexual criminals because that truth is denied and vilified by the Church. It's Christian teaching about the nature of human incarnation that is wrong. And the proof is the “fruits” of that teaching—to use Jesus's test for veracity: “By their fruits you will know them.” Belief in the anti-sex doctrines and myths results in bad sexually–related behavior.

And on top of all that, the trauma in the lives of the victims is so much, much worse because of the conflicts, guilt, shame and embarrassment around sexuality and homosexuality the Church inculcates in them to protect its own closet.

We need a “new myth” that is psychologically sophisticated enough to honor sexuality and human incarnation and shape it positively. You'd think that is what Jesus was talking about 2000 years ago with his comment about who gets to throw the first stone, but his followers sure distorted the message.

The priestly pedophilia scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church and challenged the authority of the hierarchy tells us that there is something wrong in the Catholic teachings and doctrines about sex and embodiment. Priests are pedophiles not because pedophiles become priests but because priestly indoctrination warps men's judgment and their experience of embodiment. These men are victims of religion who end up acting sometimes in grossly inappropriate ways without conscious understanding of what they're doing.

There may be some men, even some homosexuals, who were attracted to the priesthood because of the power it could give them over other people, sexually and emotionally. But they are not certainly most priests. Most priests today joined at the end of parochial school or high school when they were 13 or 17 years of age. Such earnest young men were driven by na´ve zeal, selfless generosity, and the tenets of Catholic doctrine to renounce the things of the flesh entirely for the sake of God's immaterial, ethereal Kingdom. These boys don't join the priesthood because they think it will be a good way to get sex. If anything, they believe they will be able to give up sex entirely—and should, in order to be good boys.

The media-driven sensationalization—and the legal claims for huge settlements of Church money—distort the reality of priestly “pedophilia.” What is properly called child molestation is predominantly a heterosexual phenomenon, with homosexuals no more likely than heterosexuals to sexually abuse prepubescent children. For what the priests were doing, ephebophilia would be a more correct term, love of post-pubescent teenagers, the mentoring pattern which some cultures—Classical Greece, the usual example—institutionalized as honorable and beneficial. (Of course, even so, you have to wonder how these priests could have been so ignorant of the laws about age of consent.)

An article on by Fr. Edward L. Beck cites statistics:

Of about 3,000 reported cases of sexual misconduct among priests committed in the past 50 years, only 300, or 10 percent, of those cases involved true pedophiles. Pedophilia is psychologically classified as sexual attraction to prepubescent children, younger than 13. Ninety percent of the reported abuse cases involved Roman Catholic priests classified as ephebophiles, those attracted to teens between 13 and 19. Of those reported cases, 60 percent were homosexual abuse and 30 percent heterosexual abuse, according to the 2004 John Jay Report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In the media and in court, the sexual gestures of the accused priest are characterized as ravishment and child-rape to evoke images of forceful penetration—what frustrated, angry adult males do to females. Heterosexual dynamics get projected onto the situation, because the media, the courts, and the public don't understand homosexual sexual dynamics.

With gay understanding, we may see that, while some of these acts truly are crimes of rape and molestation, often they are far more innocent, well-intentioned, if terribly misguided and grossly inappropriate, gestures of affection. More likely, we can imagine, these adult priests, obsessed with religious imagery and driven by it to suppress sexual feelings, had come to revere the innocence of the young boys in their care. They see in those boys their own lost boyish innocence. They covet that innocence. And they desire the boy who incarnates it. They likely experience their desire as something totally different from sex, perhaps even as something holy. It certainly isn't the heterosexuality they vowed to abjure. They may believe they can save a youth from a dysfunctional upbringing. They may project onto a boy serving at their altar that this innocent youth too has a religious vocation and think their affection for him a sign of God's electing the boy to the next generation of priesthood. Drawn by the vision of Christ in the boy, they reach out to touch that vision and find themselves totally unprepared for the sexual emotions and compulsions that follow.

Media attention has made it appear that those coming forward to report that years ago they were traumatized by the homosexual advances of priests and to sue the Church for damages are now heterosexual adult men. About half the victims who've organized to challenge the Church cover-up of priestly sexual misdeeds are women; they weren't victimized by homosexual advances. And, of course, some of the victims are gay, but they're not the media focus. Were gay adults all similarly traumatized or were they, perhaps instead, liberated? There is no media attention, after all, given to proclaiming a priest had had sex with you and, even though it might have been embarrassing and a little creepy at the time, you've got good attitudes about your sexuality, have no recriminations against him, and no desire to claim money because of it.

The heterosexual adults, male and female, are right, of course, that they should not have had any sexual, especially homosexual, experience forced upon them. And it would have been especially inappropriate for it to come from a priest. But wasn't the psychological trauma caused less by the priest's advances than by society's and the Church's hysteria around sexuality and homosexuality?

If these people had been raised to understand all sexual activity to be wonderful and beautiful and an experience of God's vitality in the physical world, would they have ended up adult “victims”? Was the traumatizer the inept, psychologically crippled priest or the Church doctrine that made into a trauma what—in a VERY different setting, of course—could have been a simple, playful human interaction?

The homosexually-repressed priests fall in love with the wrong boys. Their gaydar has been rendered defective. Because they have been indoctrinated and traumatized themselves into denying homosexual feelings, they may be self-righteously judgmental toward obvious pre-gay, sissy boys. Having been required by the Church to be themselves “straight-acting and straight-appearing,” they fall for boys who are straight-acting and straight-appearing—and really straight.

Straight teenage boys aren't the proper object for the priests' affections and ministrations. These young men won't benefit from learning that the condemnations of homosexuality are a cover for a secret and a technique for pulling the wool over the eyes of the breeding masses. But sexually mature gay teenagers might very well benefit from a relationship with a priest—not, of course, from Father prematurely and inappropriately manipulating them into adult sexual intercourse. That simply shouldn't happen. But from Father mentoring them in the ways of the world, letting them in on the Church's secret, and telling them how beautiful and innocent and beloved by God they are—and how blessed that they'll grow up to be gay men. (Such an honest and intimate, but totally non-sexual, relationship with a priest when I was in the seminary dramatically helped me become a proud and psychologically healthy adult gay man.)

A question that remains unanswered—and maybe unanswerable—is whether priests and other religious have always been pedophiles, i.e., sexual initiators. Catholic seminarians joke about the so-called jus primi noctis (“right of the first night”), according to which, supposedly, in ancient times the feudal lord or the presiding priest had the prerogative to sexually initiate a virgin bride on the first night of her marriage. Perhaps one of the traditional functions of the priesthood was to initiate young people into sexuality. That's not to defend it, just to question what's actually been going on.

It's a joke in modern American society that parents can't bring themselves even to have the “bird and the bees talk.” They become tongue-tied by their reluctance to see their beloved babies grow up to sexual adulthood and by their own sexual awareness of their children. Parents are confronted with feelings that cannot be allowed into consciousness. Fathers can't initiate their sons into masturbation. Mothers can't show their daughters how to feel the pleasure their bodies are capable of experiencing.

Sexual maturity ends the innocence of childhood; sexual, emotional, and relational issues displace the simple concerns of the playroom. Delaying that is a boon to the children and an aid to their maturation. The offense of sexual advances towards children shouldn’t be understood as the sex, but the theft of childhood.

Yet they are going to become aware of their physical urges. Their genital organs are going to mature. That's inevitable. So who should teach sons and daughters how to touch themselves and to celebrate human incarnation in feeling flesh? Shouldn't it be priests? Who better should understand how to place all these feelings in the context of ego-transcending love? Who better to tell boys how to bring themselves to orgasm without snickering and embarrassment? Who better to teach them—at the proper age, of course—the Body Electric techniques for finding ecstasy in sexual arousal?

Obviously it isn't going to be the Catholic priests of today's Catholic Church, with its anti-sexual, homophobia-justifying agenda. To find such priest-initiators we have to recall those hunter-gatherer days when the religions worshipped the Great Mother and celebrated her mysteries with reverent orgies and transcendence-inducing orgasms. To find such priests perhaps we have to create a metaphorical history of such a matriarchal time. Perhaps we need a radically new religion.

Considering the trauma, belligerence, and violence that our current anti-sexual, patriarchal religions have produced, perhaps it's not just the altar boys who've been f--ked by the priests. All of us have had the wool pulled over our eyes.

The ecclesiastical solution to the scandal has been to blame homosexuals in the priesthood and to act surprised that there are such men in their midst. Of course, there are homosexuals in the priesthood. Priests are likely to be gay. They are supposed to exemplify self-sacrifice, generosity, sensitivity, kindness, and non-competitiveness—all the traits of gay men.

Celibacy is said to keep homosexuals out of the Church, but celibacy is actually not the renunciation of sex, but of marriage and childrearing. Sex is, of course, indirectly forbidden because, according to Catholic doctrine, sex is only lawful in the state of marriage. Celibacy originated in the need to avoid widows and children becoming the responsibility of the institution. Church property couldn't be allowed to pass through inheritance outside the Church. Priests can't have heirs.

Homosexuals, especially in the old days before the Gay Rights Movement and the awareness in society of gayness as a psychological phenomenon, enter the priesthood because they aren't motivated to pursue sex with women, marriage, or parenthood. They're just the kind of men the Church needs. They're drawn to the religious life because the Church provides the doctrinal explanation for their disinclination toward heterosexual sex. The Catholic Church helpfully declares that sex is the greatest temptation and boys shouldn't even look at girls for fear of arousing sinful passions. Is it any wonder young, unaware homosexuals would seek refuge in the Church?

To solve the pedophilia problem, the Church needs to offer a sex-positive vision, a doctrine of sexual pleasure that allows priests to form sexual bonds with women, perhaps women priests—or with other conscious gay adult men—and that utilizes modern technologies to prevent conception. The Church needs to embrace masturbation (perhaps as meditative, spiritual practice—the way some modern gay men are doing), contraception, even abortion in the service of body-positive, celibate (i.e. childless) sex lives for priests.

Instead, Church authorities address the scandal by driving out the openly gay, sexually aware priests. They say they're getting rid of the bad apples, leaving only properly repressed heterosexuals in the ranks. This leaves the Church with the even more confused, conflicted, repressed men in various stages of nailing shut their closet doors. Proclamations of the evil and inherent disorderedness of conscious gay people ring with hypocrisy.

Everybody sees that the real “crime” is the hierarchical cover-up. The bishops—even the Pope—lied and shielded the child-abusers to protect their own public image and fundraising abilities. This has been partly, of course, out of the same kind of loyalty that causes police officers to protect other police officers and doctors to protect other doctors, but perhaps also out of the bishops' innate understanding that the sins of the priests often weren't as heinous as the scandal has made the public believe.

But the bishops are in great part responsible for the public's hysteria, and the hysteria indeed makes the priests' behavior heinous and its consequences traumatizing. (Secrecy and cover-up always make sexual abuse far more emotionally damaging than the actual act of sex itself.)

Conscious gay people’s awareness of the secret homosexual slant to things and our own understanding of the innocence of homosexual affections allow us to see that the bishops demonstrate a certain understanding and sympathy for the pedophile priests. Perhaps the bishops see this is not something new and that the ephebophile priests' behavior though not acceptable is at least “understandable.” (That’s the word Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, used about violence against homosexuals.)

But then instead of finding somebody to blame, why don't the bishops defuse the hysteria by telling the truth about homosexuality? As Church historian Mark Jordan describes in The Silence of Sodom, the real crime is that the Church knows it's a gay institution and understands the homosexual peccadilloes of its priests while fiercely denying the truth and ratcheting up its rhetoric against homosexuality to bolster the denials. The Church's sin is being soft on conflicted, closeted homosexuals in its midst while being hard on open, self-affirming gay people in modern, secular society. The Church opposes gay rights, fights gay marriage, objects to safe sex education, and condemns homosexuality as unnatural and disordered—all to protect its own secret.

Priests serving in the Church, and especially idealistic young seminarians, identify themselves as gay not in rebellion to Church authority but out of personal integrity. They're not necessarily violating their vows: One can be openly gay and proud and be sexually continent. For men (and women) in the Church, it's an act of courage, psychological health, and honesty to tell the truth—to themselves, to their brothers or sisters in religious community, and to God. Openly gay priests and seminarians aren't disobedient, they're heroic. They're telling that truth about the Emperor's new clothes. They are not the ones who need to be disciplined.

But maybe gay priests should be leaving the Church—for their own sake. Conventional religion—with its antiquated understanding of human psychology, rigid rules of social behavior, and neurosis-inducing attitudes toward embodiment—is not the place for gay men. Gay men are spiritual and spiritual men are usually gay. These men deserve a religion that enables them to flourish as the saints they are, not one that cripples their sexuality and shapes them into predators. What a terrible waste of good gay lives!

This article is based on material from Toby Johnson's Gay Perspective: Things our [homo]sexuality tells us about the nature of God and the Universe (White Crane Books, 2008).

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Toby Johnson, PhD is author of nine books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, four gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality and editor of a collection of "myths" of gay men's consciousness. 

Johnson's book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness won a Lambda Literary Award in 2000.

His  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our [Homo]sexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was nominated for a Lammy in 2003. They remain in print.

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III tells the story of Johnson's learning the real nature of religion and myth and discovering the spiritual qualities of gay male consciousness.

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