Wednesday, 25 July 2012

John, Peter, Judas

Warning: Many good men eavesdropping on us by reading this post may feel angry and helpless because they will want to beat some guy up but not even know who he is. If you can't take stories about really lousy men, then our Swashbuckling Protector will be happy to show you the exit.

One of the hardest things to talk about, as a Catholic woman, or a conservative woman, or even just a pro-life woman, is what jerks some Catholic, conservative or just pro-life men can be.

It is hard to talk about it because we share common detractors, people who want to paint Catholic women as oppressed minions and Catholic (conservative, pro-life) men as misogynist yahoos. Thus, when some of "our" boys are misogynist yahoos, it is particularly grating.

It is also hard to talk about it because as Catholic women, or conservative women, or just pro-life women, we have a complicated relationship with feminism. To a certain extent, the feminist project bolsters Christianity and therefore human flourishing, but then it gets nasty and creepy. For example, both my mum and I worked in the same building in Toronto as waitresses, 25 years apart. Mum had to worry about her bottom being pinched or patted by male customers. Thanks to feminism, I did not. But we all can list examples of the dark side. Unwed pregnancies were at an all-time low in 1950s England. Today one in three Englishwomen has had an abortion. One in three.

So here we are, most of us Catholic women or conservative women or just pro-life women, who want to get along with Catholic or conservative or just pro-life men. We are grateful for some feminist ideas and policies and deeply resentful of others, and we are shocked and horrified when some of the men who are supposed to be our allies act like absolute jerk-morons.

Thank heavens they're mostly not like that. There are lots of good men around, some of them brilliant like diamonds and others more like rough diamonds. There are guys like Saint John, "the disciple Jesus loved", and there are guys like Saint Peter, who messes up a lot, but he always showed a lot of promise and, bless me, he's really going to be somebody some day.

I met a lot of Saint Johns in my M.Div. years--the golden boys, guys almost too good for this world, in orders or the seminary or married at age 22, guys everybody loves--but I've met plenty more Saint Peters. Have I? Whoo!

I have a lot more patience with the Saint Peters now that I'm married, let me tell you. These guys come across like grizzly bears and put a lot of backs up, but underneath they have hearts like chocolate pudding cakes, all sweet and gooey. Do they need improvement and domesticating? Yes. And the right women, tough or simply patient women, could do it, too. I, being married, don't take their huffing and puffing personally anymore; I do my best to see what is under Saint Peter's huffing and puffing and appeal to his sense of humour.

And then there are the Judases. And the Judases are freaking scary.

One of the ways in which Catholic men can disappoint us the most is in their attitude towards chastity and birth control. It always amazes me that Catholic men can go to Mass every Sunday, even daily Mass sometimes, and sing in the choir and pal about with priests and complain about heresy, and then try to seduce girls or suggest to their fiancees that they should use artificial birth control for at least the first year of their marriage.

Saint John doesn't do this.

The Saint Peters, for all their weaknesses, can be brought to heel. They know what the deal is, and they also know "No means No" and that they're miserable sinners for even trying, and--perhaps after a lot of yelling and bluster and sulking and, ultimately, apologies, off they go to confession.

But the Judases.....

One of the worst men I ever met I met at Mass. Good-looking guy. Had good parents. Had a priest-pal. I thought he was a great guy. He wasn't so sure. I thought he was being appropriately humble and sorrowful for past sins.

The better I got to know him, the less I was sure that these sins were in the past. And years after pondering his stories, but without, of course, having a degree in psychiatry, I think he might have been a sociopath.

Hold on to your coffee cups for this one, girls.

Well, I hope the girl in this story is married to a great guy and has lots of kids and maybe even a grand-kid by now. I hope she has put what happened to her in high school behind her. I hope she doesn't read her story here. It's pretty damn bad.

This is a story about a Nice Catholic Girl and, she thought, a Nice Catholic Boy in her high school. They were in love. They were also very devout. They were very involved in church activities, and they spent lots and lots of time together. They made out a lot, as teenagers tend to do, because even Archie Comics seems to think this a perfectly harmless hobby and not, in fact, Nature's way of preparing human beings for sex.

Maybe, thought this devout Catholic boyfriend and girlfriend, they should have sex.

The girlfriend wasn't so sure. It was, after all, a pretty big sin. It didn't feel like it would be a sin, especially as they were so in love and were of course going to get married one day, but the Church said it was a sin.

The boyfriend was more inclined to think they should have sex.

The girlfriend didn't think they should have sex.

The boyfriend thought they should have sex.

They had sex.

As first times went, I guess it wasn't so bad, for the girlfriend timidly suggested later than they have it again.

"No," said her boyfriend piously. "It's a really terrible sin."

And she was completely and utterly destroyed--as he meant her to be.

"The truth is, I enjoy hurting people who love me," said her boyfriend over ten years later, and I believed him.

I had met his parents, and the weird thing about his parents, who were very nice people, devoutly Catholic people, is that they were obviously afraid of their son.

Me, I don't even know men like that anymore. There's an old saying that a witch (or warlock) can't get into your house unless you invite him or her. I get just a whiff of that old Judas-evil, and I slam the door. I am not Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I know perfectly well the evils of demonizing people, so I am deliberately talking not of the devil but of Judas. But I have met two men who, without being criminals, without being socially disadvantaged in any way, intentionally chose evil again and again. One of them was Catholic, and he went to Mass on Sundays.

Admire Saint John. Be as patient with Saint Peter as you can. Watch out for Judas.


Young Canadian RC Male said...


While I appreciate your latest effort to help Nice Catholic Girls in their struggles with love, romance, and being Catholic, I think that you are also in this post adding a bit of paranoia to this and some women reading this will be more afraid now to trust NCBs, fearing they are secret sociopaths.

As an NCB myself, it sounds like I have to be a extrovert screw up to even have a chance now or should ass a little ``devil to my angel`` so to speak. While I sure as hell wont be a scuzbucket like this ass or a similar ex of a good NCG friend of mine who was being all `Jesus-y`` to get in her pants (efforts unsuccesful),I feel now that my service as an an occasional EF/Of altar server, my weekly (and occasional more than that) Mass attendance and my invlovement in parish ministry will make me a Judas.

A little clarification or advice would be nice here Seraphic cause I`m feeling a little less hopeful here. YCRCM

Seraphic said...

Ah. Men unfazed by pink walk among us again. I will have to fire Bertie.

YCRCM. The post is not about you. The post is not intended for you. The post is for nice, quiet, innocent girls who are cowed or disgusted by the good-at-heart rough diamonds in their midst and/or unaware that sociopaths can be found even at Mass.

I write at least five posts a week. I have written hundreds of posts on Single life on this blog and I have written thousands of posts since I first started blogging. And I have never told this story--a horrible story, a story that happened to some other girl, far away, over 20 years ago--before.

But it happened to this girl. And it could presumably happen to some other girl at the hands of some other guy. And I don't want it to. So I am telling this story--after pointing out that there are some amazing men (Saint Johns) and many, many, many good-but-imperfect men (Saint Peter's).

I'm sorry if you feel helpless because you want to beat up some guy you don't even know and can't. That is a good and typical male response to a story like this. But this is no longer a blog for boys.

Seraphic said...

By the way, I wish you wouldn't take the Holy Name of the Lord in vain. I know what you mean, but it is an inappropriate use of the Holy Name all the same.

Sarah said...

Somehow I think I posted my comment on the wrong post. Don't know how that happened. I assume it won't be hard to figure out which.

TGWWS said...

Nooooooo! I was in love with Bertie!

Gregaria said...

So how does one tell? If the sociopaths (that is, men who seem good but like hurting people) seem like St. Johns at first, how can you tell if they're actually Judas? You say you catch a whiff of them. What is the whiff?

Seraphic said...

Ah. Sarah. Read your comment. The point of the story is that he convinced her to do it, and once she had done it, he DELIBERATELY changed his tune, not because he was honestly sorry, but because he wanted to hurt her.

It was not a case of, "Oh gosh, I'm really sorry I made you do something you were previously uncomfortable with, and that I ought to have done either, and since then I have felt like a heel. I have sinned against God and you." It was a bait and switch.

Yesterday I talked about good guys who feel wretched after they have been seduced and break it off with the girls who cared so little for their values. Today's story is about a seducer who took his girlfriend's virginity and then threw it in her face with a pious little speech meant to hurt her where he knew it would hurt her most.

Gregaria, I don't really know how I know. I just sort of know, and I'm, like, get that man out of my house.

One dead giveaway, however, is the self-pity thing. "Oh I'm a bad man, sigh, sigh, sigh" or "Nobody appreciates me, sigh, sigh, sigh." And another one is when they tell you stories about how they have hurt people in a pleased way, like it was just the behaviour of a loveable rogue or even a victory over the stupidity of others. And the words "Maybe I should just kill myself" mean "I am a manipulative pig to whom you should never speak again."

If we actually LISTEN to what men tell us, and we actually PONDER what what they say about themselves says about them, then we will get to know them pretty quick. And I don't mean all the pretty things they say to us, if they do. I mean everything else.

Beyond that, any guy who keeps trying to convince you to have premarital sex with him, even after you have told him off, is a bad guy. Every guy in the West--pagans, atheists--is taught No means No, and so it is particularly shameful when a Catholic or other Christian guy keeps trying. Shame on them.

Seraphic said...

'Kay, I have fixed the story to make it more clear.

american in deutschland said...

Well *I* appreciate your warnings, Auntie S. I haven't trusted too many boys/men with much of my very personal life, but the main time that I did and realized my trust was ill-founded, it was with a boy/man who wanted to seem oh-so-religious and wiser-than-me, and his "grooming" technique included lots of conversations about the Faith. Some men with serious issues or actual pathologies WILL fasten on to those they perceive to be weaker or ego-feeding, and are just as likely to be religious if they were raised in it. As a kid I actually had a good foundation of trustworthy, good men in my family and my church community, and was anti-feminist (so I thought) like a good little evangelical. But in getting older and hearing stories from outside my own social circle (or within it), I've come to see that being naive is not a virtue, even if fear or wariness is unpleasant. It's not being man-hating to look at the sheer statistics of rape and sexual abuse, from incest to the porn industry, and see that male violence against women is not some great exception to the rule in our society (or most others). Men shouldn't get all huffy when this is said to them. They should think about what they can do to change the facts.

That's my little feminism speech of the night, I guess!

american in deutschland said...

But to follow that up, I leave you with this link:

Seraphic said...

Yes, I saw that new item. Their families can be proud, and their girlfriends and their girlfriends' families will honour them all their lives.

Sarah said...

Ah, okay, thank you for clarifying!

American in Deutschland: those stories are at once heartbreaking, and encouraging that there are still men like that out there.

Young Canadian RC Male said...

Oh I guess you mean The J term I used. Yes, you are correct. I meant to say in fewest words that this man faked being a practicing roman Catholic to try and use her. In fact, this man was exactly what you describe as a Judas and by seeing this post, it only hardens my resolve to never be such. So guess you could say your post reached an unintended audience with a positive effect.

And since you have now clarified your purpose of this blog, I'll refrain from commenting in future. I still will add it to my following list though because I do say it's worthwhile to follow (for both sexes) and there aren't as many good catholic dating/advice sites offering such wisdom from a Catholic perspective. That and I'm happy to raise your stats :)

Finally, I do desire to find a blog like yours but from the male perspective. Maybe BA could attend to that or you can recommend a good source? I'd do it myself but am woefully under qualified by education, age, and status. Peace seraphic, YCRCM.

Anonymous said...

I've dated a Judas - a Judas who made me feel like dirt for not sleeping with him, who denigrated his ex-girlfriend for sleeping with him, and who occasionally had fantasies about raping me because I wouldn't sleep with him.

He also went to Christian mass every Sunday with his family.

With that said: he is also fundamentally different (i.e. without a conscience) than every other person I've met in my life. Declaring a N-but-misguided-CB to be a Judas is wrong: it does a disservice to the NBMCB as well as those who have been victims of Judases.

Innocence is a virtue; naivete is not. In fact, it flies in the face of another virtue - wisdom. Seraphic has a good list of warning signs. Here's a great one:

I had met his parents, and the weird thing about his parents, who were very nice people, devoutly Catholic people, is that they were obviously afraid of their son.


S.L. said...

I dated a Catholic guy who was a true sociopath, although I didn't realize he had a mental pathology until after the fact (I've come to find out most people who encounter sociopaths don't realize they're dealing with a sociopath until AFTER the damage has been done). I was attracted to him because he was quite brilliant and worked for the Church, and I naively assumed this was a good indicator of his character. I should have recognized the red flags right way, though. He was very adamant about calling me his girlfriend even before we had a good chance to get to know one another, and he would initiate very intense make out sessions in highly inappropriate places, like outside or around the church where he worked. It made me feel very uncomfortable at times, but, I naively thought, he worked for the Church so he naturally would have my best interests at heart and wouldn't hurt or use me, right? Wrong.

After his intense and passionate interest in me waned, he suddenly, out of nowhere, became very cold and condescending toward me, making me think I had done something awful to warrant his snide, cutting remarks. I became extremely self conscious and even felt like I was going insane from all the manipulative things he would do and say. One day I was lying in bed sick as could be and he came over to tell me that he was breaking up with me because he was going to discern a calling to become a monk. I was flabbergasted. Not least of all because he NEVER mentioned that he had any inclination to want to become a vowed religious. In fact, just the opposite, he constantly talked about wanting a family--not a life of celibacy! Talk about deception and manipulation. I was floored.

Shortly thereafter, I slowly began to learn of his true colors. People started sharing unsettling details about him with me, including the fact that he had a known reputation for "preying" on younger girls. And I learned he was two-timing me, seeing another girl at the same time he was stringing me along. I was disgusted with him, but also with myself for having been so stupid not to have seen it.

I found out he was rejected from the monastery after they psychologically evaluated him. They told him that he wouldn't be allowed to enter, no doubt because he had to confess to his seriously manipulative and malevolent tendencies.

Forgiving him was one of the hardest things to do. It took months and months. I also had to work hard at forgiving myself for the immense amount of guilt and anger I felt for not having seen it earlier.

I share this story, not to make women more cynical and skeptical about Nice Catholic Boys, but just CAUTIOUS! Some men use religion to mask their deep seated psychological problems. Don't assume a man has good character because he can speak articulately about theology and attends daily Mass. There are some wolves in sheep's clothing. I am grateful and thank God, however, that a large, overwhelming majority of men are NOT.

Joan of Quark said...

Auntie, I'm afraid this is one of your best, and I'm so sorry that has to be the case.

I've met them. Thankfully I haven't dated them - or slept with them! But like you, I knew of other girls who this kind of thing happened to.

It's not the Faith, and it's not the Church - it's the Old Enemy, who gets into a heart like that quite young and starts twisting it round. In that man's life, there's often a history of childhood exposure to sexual interference or porn.

Your use of the name Judas is an excellent analogy - it's the heart that goes rotten first, and the rest just follows.

God bless the Peters and Johns; I do love them more and more as I get older (although the Johns used to give me the yips a bit).

Mustard Seed said...

This gave me the heebies! (as in, heebie jeebies) It definitely makes a good case for keeping one's eyes WIDE open from the beginning of the process of dating. I have an unfortunate tendency to go into things with very rosy vision, and I know this is pretty normal given how exciting dating can be when you're first getting to know someone (and hopefully even moreso after you meet the right person). Anyway, I guess the balance to be struck is between not being naive, but also not being cynical.

berenike said...

I've known a psychopath - an elegantly dressed, carefully but not excessively groomed, Traddy, beautifully-pre-war-Warsaw-flat, pious - and a complete poo.

Actually, I know another - not a Traddy, but a Pillar Of The Church, a Patriot, a Charming (now Elderly) Gentleman. Drove his wife to death through exhaustion and now his disabled daughter is bedridden because of him.

If he's pious but there's something odd - run away. You can always come back if it turns out he's not mad. If all your friends say "really, don't do it", he has a massive row with your family the first time they meet and never makes it up, ... don't marry him, eh? And if he makes you cry on your wedding day, and when you have gone outside to cry he says to people who point it out "ah, she's always like that" - leave the reception with your parents, not with him.

Seraphic said...

Yes. Actually, I know a girl who DID go home with her parents, and it was fine.

Evelyn said...

I married one of these men, and barely escaped with my sanity. The signs are *always* there. Sometimes it is really hard to acknowledge them because they just don't fit with the rest of his persona. Trust yourselves and your perceptions, NCGs, and love yourself enough to refuse to look past the red flags. One indicator--if he has many acquaintances to do stuff with, but has no real, long-term friendships wherein he has learned to do the kind of interpersonal maintenance necessary to a marriage, it may be because he is not capable of it.

Urszula said...

I found this post to be actually really helpful, although a bit scary. And I don't think it will make all NCGs run for the hills when they get involved with an NCB - it's just helpful to have a reminder that people/men with psychological problems can be found everywhere - even in church. I'll never forget the story of one of my acquaintances who got date raped. She didn't report anything, but saw her rapist the next day - in front of her in the line for Communion.

The reason I think this is an especially important - albeit painful- message to convey is that we women have a tendency to feel sorry for men, to excuse their behaviors, to forgive or explain them away even when they repeatedly hurt us. And unfortunately this tendency can be reinforced by wrongly-understood or wrongly-communicated 'religious' reasons. I have recently been witnessing a trend of NCGs ignoring/not giving enough weight to diagnosed psychological problems and issues of their partners. I understand the innate desire to want to help or even 'rescue' someone but I often feel they don't know what they are getting into - and that not enough people try to dissuade them from it. No, prayer and 'offering it up' won't make problems disappear like magic - and I wouldn't counsel those methods to girls who aren't yet married or have children with these men.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and there is one site that helped me enormously when I was trying to explain away the disturbing behavior of my then-boyfriend: reading some threads in the "Family Life" forum of the Catholic answers site which described wives trying to escape from/cope with husbands with narcissistic personality disorder. An eye-opener it was when I realized he had some of those very distinctive traits.