had given him. I needed to make him more accessible to me as a human being. I neededto remove his shroud.
In the Chariot Allegory Plato described our minds as a chariot pulled by twohorses. The charioteer represents rationality, and he holds the reins and uses the whip toassert his authority. One horse in the team is well-bred and well-behaved. The other isobstinate and difficult to control, barely yielding to the whip. As a man experiencingsexual attraction to other men, that desire was like the obstinate and difficult to controlhorse. Once a man discovers that meeting another man eye to eye—and holding thatcontact for just a moment too long—betrays his interest, he can neither unlearn it nor stopdoing it. He forever becomes a participant in this silent communication between men, andtherefore is always at risk of losing control over the obstinate and high-spirited horse.
Some have suggested that my father, then only thirty-two, was no match for thespirited team of horses that killed him. But my Uncle Glen, who knew my father best andloved him as much as I do, insists that my father was an excellent horseman. He and mydad would get wild mustangs through the Bureau of Land Management and bring them toour farm in Nebraska. They would break the untamed animals so they could be riddenand later be sold as well-trained horses.
My uncle cried as he described the day of my father’s injury. My father had awell-trained team of horses but wanted to break in this new, partially trained horse he’drecently purchased. He hitched the inexperienced horse with the steadiest and best one inhis mature team, trying to train the new addition. My father was alone with the team inthe hayfield when something spooked the horses. The two horses came running full boredown the lane and up to the barn pulling the hay wagon behind and my father beneath it.As they reached the barn, they found themselves stopped abruptly because the hay wagonwas too wide to fit through the doorway. Even a good horseman is not always a goodmatch for untamed horses.
Pope Benedict XVI, while still Cardinal Ratzinger, apparently didn’t put muchstock in Plato’s allegory. He wrote that the essence of being human resides in one’sreason, and our conscience must guide our physical passions. Homosexual “inclination,”according to Ratzinger, is not a sin, but homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered.”Cardinal Ratzinger said that homosexual behavior is not a right. He also said that no oneshould be surprised if violence is directed at those who engage in homosexual behavior—an all too feint condemnation of violence based on hate.
Many gay men believe that once a man has been tempted to homosexual behavior,he has little choice but to give in to it. Charles Darwin thought sexuality was biologicallydetermined. In
The Descent of Man
, Darwin wrote: “At the moment of action, man willno doubt be apt to follow the stronger impulse; and though this may occasionally prompthim to the noblest deeds, it will far more commonly lead him to gratify his own desires atthe expense of other men.” The subtext of Darwin’s message is evident: We frequentlydo not operate using only rational thought even when our decisions have painfulconsequences to others. It is in this contentious and rigid environment that men andwomen who are attracted to members of their own sex often enter when seeking answersto questions about their sexuality.
When we speak of the “self,” we are talking about the core of our being, theuniting principle that underlies all of our subjective experiences. The self incorporatesour genetic programming with the lessons our parents and culture have taught us. We