Spit in the Face

Have you ever had someone spit at you? I don’t just mean “toward” you, and I don’t mean on the playground in third grade. I mean as an adult, has anyone ever actually spat in your face?

That’s what happened to me yesterday on my way home through Capitol Hill. An unpleasant encounter with a taxicab driver ended with him spitting at me through the open drivers-side windows of both our vehicles.

He quickly sped off, leaving me shocked, angered and wanting to lash back at him. I called the cab company and the DC taxicab commission and followed with what formal avenues were open to me, but what I continue to be struck by the extreme level of anger that this incident brought about. I wasn’t just angry, and I wasn’g just really, really angry… I was ANGRY!!!

As I sad quietly in my bedroom later last night, trying to calm down and think through why I was reacting in such an extreme way, I kept thinking about what the US Catholic bishops did earlier this week in approving new guidelines for those ministering to gay people. It occurred to me that what happened with the cab driver was actually the second time I had been spat upon in as many days — the bishops and their so-called guidelines for pastoral care having done it the first time.

These guidelines continue to move the official teaching of the Catholic church further and further away from the more moderate approach taken by the official church over the past forty years. The bishops have embraced language that is out of sync with the rest of the sciences in refusing to use the term “orientation” and instead speaking of “homosexual inclination.” I’m not sure what inclination actually means here, but it certainly doesn’t convey the meaning that the rest of science has come to understand by orientation, namely an inherent (I would say God-given) and unchanging quality or characteristic at the very core of one’s identity as a person.

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