“What will I tell my gay friends?”

Back in what I suppose you could call “Phase I” of my conversion, when I had been looking into Christianity for a while and, to my great surprise, found it more and more compelling, there was one concern that weighed heavily on my mind: what would this mean for my relationships with my gay friends?

Three of my husband and my very dearest friends and many of our acquaintances are gay, and live gay lifestyles. And though I didn’t know many of the details, I knew enough about Christianity to be pretty sure that if I were to become a Christian I would be part of a belief system that said that there was something wrong with the homosexual lifestyle. It gave me pause. On the one hand, so much seemed true about this religion’s teachings. It seemed on so many different levels that I was on the right path here. But I just didn’t see how I was ever going to make sense of the teaching that homosexuality is wrong. The gay couples I knew didn’t seem to be doing anything all that different than the straight couples I knew. It didn’t feel right to say that Julie and Tom’s relationship was somehow superior to David and Mark’s when the sole difference between them was that Julie and Tom are of opposite genders and had a piece of paper from the state saying they were “married”. Who cares?

Something about the whole thing felt wrong. It seemed that what I would essentially need to say to my gay friends based on my newfound belief system (as I understood it) was, “As a person who is attracted to the opposite sex, I get a sort of ‘get out of sin free’ card as soon as I commit to sexual monogamy through marriage. Sex is a gift God gave us for pleasure…but only heterosexuals can indulge in that pleasure.” Based on that view, it made heterosexuals sound like some kind of chosen people. If God’s law is such that sexual acts between two people of the same gender are always wrong, even if those same acts might be committed by a heterosexual couple with no problem, it kind of makes it feel like God has something against people who are attracted to the same gender.

All of this nagged at me for months, and was a real sticking point for me in moving forward with Christianity.

Meanwhile, on a seemingly unrelated topic, I was just beginning to realize how amazing it is that we really do have eternal souls. As I’ve said before, I always knew it somewhere deep down in my heart, but it was just amazing to realize that it’s true, and to think about what that meant. Coming from a background of seeing human as advanced animals, a mere set of chemical reactions, this whole “soul created by God” thing was just mind-blowing stuff.

One thing about it all quickly jumped out to me: if all this soul/God/eternity stuff is true, then human sexuality is a very, very grave matter. I thought of sex, that same ‘ol thing I’d seen bandied about in the media and in pop culture all my life, and suddenly realized: Whoa! Hey! This is the process through which human beingspeople with eternal souls, dearly precious to God – are created! What a profoundly miraculous, sacred thing this is. What an unbelievable, undeserved honor that God would allow us to take part in co-creating lives with him!

After I let that huge concept sink in, I began to explore Christian teaching on sexuality more. It just seemed like this was an area where we really needed to bow our heads in humility before God, where we must tread with the utmost care and respect. I wanted to know more about how we could do that. I had been interested in Catholic theology for other reasons, so I read up on the Theology of the Body and Humanae Vitae. It was an easy sell.

The Catholic idea about how we can give human sexuality the respect and honor it deserves is one of those things that just sounded right to me. I actually didn’t even need to read too much about the reasoning behind it (though I did, and found it to be solid), because it just felt true. The theory that God would like for us to respect this sacred process by keeping our hearts open to the creation of life with every single sexual act, just kind of clicked for me. It seemed pretty plain that the great pleasure that accompanies the soul-creating act we call sex is just too perfect a tool for the devil to use to lead us astray, and that the only way for individuals and society as a whole to keep that in check is to never, ever intentionally sever the pleasure of sex from its life-creating potential.

And as I’ve said before, I was surprised at how far-reaching the implications of this worldview were. I suddenly saw practically every area of my life, my marriage, and the world in a different light — and one of those things was the issue of homosexual lifestyles.

Though the implications of this philosophy on sex were weighty and required great sacrifices, perhaps moreso for people with same-sex attraction, it didn’t strike me as unfair. It made sense to me that God wants sex to occur exclusively between a man and a woman not for some arbitrary “because I said so” kind of reason, but because that’s the only way we can leave our hearts open to the idea of creating life with every sexual act; that to commit a sexual act solely for the purpose of experiencing the pleasure it brings, to mentally compartmentalize the physical sensations from the amazing purpose for which God has given this to us, is a dangerous thing — whether done by two men, two women, or a man and a woman; and that when it comes to carrying crosses in the name of respecting human sexuality, heterosexuals don’t get to say, “No thanks, I’m straight.”

As I have learned from my own relatively small trials and stories of others who have faced far greater challenges, heterosexual couples often have to make great sacrifices to live this teaching. Does it compare to the sacrifice that this worldview would ask homosexuals to make? I don’t know. I’d imagine it’s different for each individual. But certainly, great selflessness is required of everyone.

———–

A quick disclaimer: I know that this post touches on a lot of hot topics, and that many of the readers of this blog see this issue from a different perspective. I hope my tone here is clear that I offer this in the spirit of a personal reflection on an important area of my conversion. I wouldn’t be sharing the full story of my path from atheism if I left this part out. But it’s not my aim with this post prove that I’m right or to criticize people who don’t see the world this way — certainly there is no shortage of people who use contraception, practicing homosexuals, or practicing homosexuals who use contraception who are better people and better Christians than I am. icon smile What will I tell my gay friends?

———–

UPDATE: Click here for a follow-up post. Also, I totally forgot that I’d already covered this subject here. Duh.

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85 Responses to ““What will I tell my gay friends?””
  1. Jonathan says:

    Jennifer,

    This is an issue close to my heart as my brother and wife’s best friend are gay. How have you been able to reconcile your friendships and relationships with them while remaining true to them and yourself? I could use some guidance in this area.

  2. Jennifer F. says:

    Jonathan -

    You know, I actually haven’t done anything all that differently. We still hang out with our gay friends frequently — from what I understand there’s no issue there (though I’m open to correction if I’m wrong). In terms of my relationships with anyone who has different morals or religious beliefs than mine, I follow the philosophy that Steve G. so clearly articulated here — I just try to set myself aside and let God work through me, to just be the best Christian I can be and leave the rest to God. :)

  3. Tienne says:

    Jen, I struggle with this so much. Your post is one of the best explanations of the Church’s position I’ve seen in a long time, much better than the simple “Homosexuality is disordered!” response I encounter so often. I feel it’s essential that we as Catholics approach the homosexual question foremost with compassion, and then with confidence in our brothers’ and sisters’ abilities to remain true to God despite their desires.

    The sticking point for me comes down to choice. Paul said it is better to marry than to burn, so someone who feels very strongly called to marriage is able to follow that vocation. There is room in Catholicism for a person with strong sexual urges to satisfy their needs, as long as they remain chaste and faithful to their spouse and open to the possibility of children.

    But the choice of celibacy is thrust upon those with a homosexual orientation. They cannot be called to marriage, they cannot ever find fulfillment. They are not allowed to choose the vocation that suits them. Instead, they are prohibited from expressing themselves and their love. The Church even says that the priesthood is closed to these people, except in rare circumstances.

    This is what I can’t understand. Our God, who is love, would not create a person who has no place inside the faith He has established for our happiness. Yes, we are all called to chastity. But for those of us who, like Paul said, burn with love and the desire for marriage, chastity includes sex.

    What is a homosexual Catholic to do?

    • I thought this response was excellent, and quoted “Our God, who is love, would not create a person who has no place inside the faith He has established for our happiness” in a discussion about the theology of the body. I think the discussion surrounded celibacy as a chosen vocation is important, as catholics we have to believe that the vocation God invites us to is the only way of living that will make us truly happy and fulfille in the way he wants us to be, and while we have a choice in our vocation in the sense that we can choose to follow it or not, we don’t get to choose what it is, and so from this perspective there’s really no difference whether it’s a gay or straight person.
      Still, while I agree intellectually, this isn’t a position I feel comfortable admitting to or sharing, and it’s probably the main sticking point for me in going further in faith. I have lots of questions and confusion about many catholic doctrines, but I’m happy for the Real Presence etc to be a mystery that may gradually be revealed to me. I’m not happy with telling my gay friends they must be celibate.

      PS. Is anyone aware of the Church’s position on gay people being in close, committed, celibate partnership with eachother?

  4. Jennifer F. says:

    The Church even says that the priesthood is closed to these people, except in rare circumstances.

    Is that right? (Honest question, I haven’t read up on it at all.) I know that there are some issues with men entering the priesthood who have recently been living active homosexual lifestyles, but I’d never heard that having same-sex attraction was a deal-killer in and of itself for the priesthood.

    But the choice of celibacy is thrust upon those with a homosexual orientation. They cannot be called to marriage, they cannot ever find fulfillment.

    Although couldn’t they find fulfillment the way, say, any person who is not married could? By serving God and serving others through ways other than raising a family?

    Also, this brings up something else I’d never thought of: *could* you have a valid marriage with someone of the opposite sex even if you weren’t physically attracted to them? What made me think of that was that I remembered that a couple years ago I talked to a guy who is attracted to men, but who married a woman. He loved her and was faithful to her and they had children. He talked about his kids ALL the time and just absolutely loved being a father. He truly dedicated himself to his family. I thought it was interesting. Obviously that doesn’t mean that that scenario would work for everyone, but that guy definitely did find a type of fulfillment in his life, even though it wasn’t fulfillment of sexual desires.

    Anyway, good thoughts. Obviously I struggle with this too. :) Thanks for the comment.

    • Trish says:

      “Although couldn’t they find fulfillment the way, say, any person who is not married could? By serving God and serving others through ways other than raising a family?”

      Jennifer, this statement does really concern me. I understand what you’re driving at. But really, you’re just trying to decide for other people what they may or may not find fulfilling, and whether or not that may be as fulfilling for them as marriage. You’re not really in a position to make that choice for other people. “Paul said it is better to marry than to burn, so someone who feels very strongly called to marriage is able to follow that vocation”. This specifically states that people who wish to be married should be permitted to engage in that commitment with each other.

      I would suggest that the biblical passage that people generally hang their hat on to decry homosexual union is widely misinterpreted. The Bible was written by people, under the guidance and direction of God, and it is prone to various interpretations. For example, “seven days” may not refer to seven 24-hour periods, because who knows how long a day is to God, an eternal being. By the same token, the one passage that seems to decry homosexual lifestyle may be about misogyny, or may be a direction specific to a group of heterosexual men … it may even be one biblical writer’s own prejudices sneaking into a religious teaching that has survived with the remainder of the book.

      I believe fervently that God is not a discriminatory being. I believe that God does not discriminate, that God creates us with a sexual orientation, and that God will not punish people for having the sexual orientation that God provided them with. It is illogical to believe that people with one sexual orientation have God’s blessing to reach fulfillment by acting on their desires, but that those of a different orientation must find other ways to fulfillment. It is punitive.

      I also believe that natural family planning is a form of birth control. By timing sexual encounters to occur during infertile periods only, we are absolutely not “keeping our hearts open to the creation of life with every single sexual act”. Rather, we are engaging in sex for pleasure, and with the fervent hope that no life will be created at that time. There is really no difference in timing sexual activity with the goal of not having children, using a prophylactic with the goal of not having children, and engaging in sexual activity with a partner you love and are committed to but who can’t have children with you with the goal of not having children.

      Further, infertile couples are permitted to marry and to engage in sexual activity with one another, despite the fact that no children will be possible from the union. There is really no difference between a heterosexual couple who wants children engaging in sex that they know will fail to create a life, and a homosexual couple who wants children engaging in sex that they know will fail to create a life.

      Now, I’m not trying to criticize Catholicism. But I am questioning some of these teachings. I don’t believe that sex is all about the creation of new life. If it were, then God would not create, for example, homosexuals or infertile people and still make sex pleasurable for them. Clearly, those people exist, they were created by God, and many of them still enjoy sex. Sex has multiple purposes. It creates life, it causes pleasure, it permits two people to be joined together as one in a very physical sense, it creates a close bond, and it allows a committed couple to feel very close to each other and express their love for one another physically. If there is love and commitment in place, then the gender of the parties involved doesn’t seem particularly relevant.

      I understand what you are trying to say, and I agree with you that God allowing us to participate in the creation of new life is very special indeed. But I don’t see this as an acceptable reason to deny people who differ from us the same rights that we all have – all heterosexual adult persons get to choose whether they wish to be married and to act on that desire if they wish. That same option should truly be available to all adult persons, regardless of gender. Though, if the Catholic church’s stance is that homosexual unions are prohibited, I will agree that those marriages should not take place in the Catholic church – we cannot sacrifice one freedom for another – we cannot say sexual orientation is more or less important than religion. But those unions should be permitted to be performed in other places and by other means – in other churches that do not have these teachings, or by way of the civil marriage ceremonies that so many heterosexual people already engage in. In terms of what laws are expected to uphold, equality is really the order of the day.

      A loving, committed relationship is a loving, committed relationship.

  5. Christine the Soccer Mom says:

    Jen, why do I even bother having a blog? I could just point everyone over here to read what you write every day.

    GREAT post, and, obviously, I’ve linked to you again.

  6. Irish Eye says:

    Jennifer,

    I’ve been reading your blog for about a month now, and had read some of the stuff you’d written previously on the gay issue a few weeks back.

    I am a cradle Catholic, long lapsed, who has been coming back full-force over the past 6 months. But, the gay issue was a big sticking point for me. You wrote previously about the connection between birth control and gays (as far as society’s perception of marriage and its purposes)… and that was a big revelation for me (as I’ve also been struggling with coming to terms with the Church’s teachings on b.c. and NFP).

    Anyway, just wanted to say “thanks.” You’ve really done a lot to help me work through some issues. I still waffle a bit on the gay issue, but what you said in this post is so true… and really, has made me appreciate my marriage so much more than I ever did.

    Thanks!

    Jen M.

  7. Melanie B says:

    Tienne, You wrote:

    They cannot be called to marriage, they cannot ever find fulfillment.

    I think this sentence points to the root of the problem: a huge reason we have such a hard time with same-sex attraction is that our society is so completely astray on the entire issue of sexuality in general. Correct me if I’m misunderstanding but the core assumption here still seems to be that being fulfilled = being sexually satisfied.

    And you say: “There is room in Catholicism for a person with strong sexual urges to satisfy their needs, as long as they remain chaste and faithful to their spouse and open to the possibility of children.”

    I think this betrays a misunderstanding about the nature of chastity within marriage and the self-sacrifice it may often involve. In a faithful Catholic marriage there may be seasons (even years) where for one reason or another one or the other spouses sexual needs are not being “satisfied”. Chastity within marriage means having respect for one’s spouse and for the sexual act and often it entails relinquishing one’s own sexual gratification and not having a release for those strong sexual urges.

  8. Tienne says:

    Melanie B –

    I definitely agree that our society is astray on the issue of sexuality in general. But I think we have a bit of a misunderstanding. I’m not saying that the point of marriage is to sexually satisfy yourself; it’s certainly true that there are many sexless marriages out there for various reasons. But there’s a big difference between marital chastity where one or both partners are temporarily sacrificing their sexual needs for the good of their relationship, and mandated, lifelong celibacy.

    Also, I never meant to imply that the fulfillment that comes from a marriage is solely sexual in nature. A big part of marriage is the fulfillment of growing a relationship with someone who makes you happy. That fulfillment is closed to homosexuals as well. The Church effectively assigns them a lifetime of limited friendships.

    True, sex is not the be all and end all of existence. But celibacy is a calling reserved for those in Holy Orders. It must be chosen with a joyous heart as a sign of a new life dedicated to Christ. Since laypeople are not called to be celibate, imposing it upon unwilling homosexuals just doesn’t make sense to me.

    • Elizabeth says:

      After my last relationship ended, I sensed the possibility of being called to leading a single life. I am not homosexual, but I think that my emotional capacities may not be what a most people experience. This prohibits me from feeling for another human being in a romantic way. It hurts to know this.

      Homosexuality is not the only disorder of the heart which prohibits people from having splendid marriages. It is also not something that cannot be overcome by grace. Homosexuals are not doomed to live a lonely life. Everyone has their obstacles to joy and happiness, due to a fallen nature.

      If I cannot overcome my lack of romantic attraction, I will gratefully accept God’s call to the single life. If I sense that God is calling me to be married, but do not have that romantic feeling that most people have when they get married, I will accept that as well.

      We ask God each time we say the “Our Father” To give us our daily bread, which is anything that we need to experience life the way he planned for us.

    • Mary says:

      I know this is years later, but I just felt called to point something out.

      “celibacy is a calling reserved for those in Holy Orders” is not true. Not everyone gets married OR enters Holy Orders. I know many older Catholics who have remained single and consecrated themselves to God without entering any kind of sacramental order. Those people are also choosing to live a life of celibacy.

      Though I understand your point that it boils down to the idea that homosexuals don’t actually get to ‘choose’ celibacy. But I wouldn’t say that I specifically ‘chose’ to get married. I followed the path that God had laid before me, even when I was contemplating much different roads in life.

      • Cindy says:

        I have to agree with Mary.

        There have always been men and women who never married; either by personal choice – or not. The terms: old maid, spinster, and perpetual-bachelor come to mind.

        Many have the desire to marry, but aren’t able to because of physical, mental, and/or emotional disabilities, and/or physical deformities.

  9. Kate says:

    Jen,

    Does it bother your gay friends that your views have changed? Or do they not realize that that your views have changed?

    Tienne,

    There is no gaurantee, sin and the world being what they are, that any individual, regardless of orientation or sexual appetite, will marry. I have some single heterosexual friends who would find your assumption that they have it easy very aggravating and insulting. And even within marriage, sexual appetite must be sacrificed for the good of the other, over and over again. A marriage based primarily on lust may not be as evident or as prone to judgement as a homosexual lifestyle, but it sinful nonetheless.

    I have a few friends who are trying valiantly to lead chaste lives despite homosexual inclinations, and they are fascinating people to talk to. I wouldn’t want to trade trials with them…but it was interesting to realize that they wouldn’t necessarily want to trade trials with me, either.

    Great post Jen! Thoughtful, as always.

  10. Tienne says:

    Jen,

    The governing doctrine of the Church prohibits the ordination of homosexuals, but in recent years (since the 60′s) it’s been loosely interpreted with sometimes disastrous results. Many seminaries adopted a “Don’t ask don’t tell” policy and stopped teaching classes on celibacy and the government of ones own sexuality.

    In 2005 the Vatican issued an instruction that reiterated the dangers of ordaining homosexuals. It says in part: “In the light of such teaching, this Dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called “gay culture”.”

    They do make an exception for those whose homosexual tendencies are the result of immaturity, which I understand means that those who are exploring their sexuality (or would consider themselves as “bi” in society’s vernacular) can be admitted to the priesthood if they are committed to living a celibate life and working on their tendencies.

    Those, however, who are truly, biologically gay, cannot be admitted.

    I fully understand and support this teaching. The priesthood (or any community of clergy) is a close brotherhood which relies upon a community of like-minded men to emotionally support each other. It requires same-sex communal living. For someone who struggles with homosexual tendencies, the temptations would be far too burdensome.

    Although couldn’t they find fulfillment the way, say, any person who is not married could? By serving God and serving others through ways other than raising a family?
    If that’s what they’re called to, yes. Certainly. But it doesn’t seem fair that they’re not given the choice, like the rest of us are. I’m glad you posted about this, hon. It’s very important to discuss the issue, I think.

  11. Tienne says:

    Kate –

    There is no gaurantee, sin and the world being what they are, that any individual, regardless of orientation or sexual appetite, will marry. I have some single heterosexual friends who would find your assumption that they have it easy very aggravating and insulting.

    I apologize if I seemed flippant when I said that someone who is called to marriage is able to follow that vocation. It’s certainly not to be entered into lightly, or for no other reason than lust.

    But again, I feel there’s a fundamental difference because homosexuals are not given a choice. The rest of us can prayerfully reflect upon our calling. Are we meant to marry? To serve the world as single people? To take Holy Orders?

    Homosexuals have no choice.

  12. lyrl says:

    …[heterosexual couples] can leave our hearts open to the idea of creating life with every sexual act; that to commit a sexual act solely for the purpose of experiencing the pleasure it brings, to mentally compartmentalize the physical sensations from the amazing purpose for which God has given this to us, is a dangerous thing…

    Not all heterosexuals can leave their hearts open to creating life with every sexual act. Couples where the woman is pregnant, menopausal, or has had a hysterectomy for medical reasons are just as physically incapable of generating new life through the sexual act as are homosexual couples. Similarly for couples where the man has been diagnosed as azoospermic. And yet heterosexual couples in all these situations are allowed by church teaching to enjoy intercourse, and homosexuals are not.

    Infertile couples can be open to life through adoption. I don’t understand why homosexual couples should be any different.

  13. GLouise says:

    I think you’re brave to post on such a “non PC” topic!

    I’d be interested in knowing the Catholic church’s position on many of the latest psychology that says people are “born gay,” and that there’s no hope of being otherwise. Hot topic!

  14. GLouise says:

    PS. Al Mohler has been covering this topic that has been raging in the Episcopal and Lutheran churches of late. Thought you might find it interesting reading!
    http://www.albertmohler.com/blog.php

  15. Xavier Martel says:

    Jennifer,

    I was happy to see your amazement at our eternal souls. I rarely appreciate this to its fullness – I think a lot of us just expect immortality without thinking how thoroughly immortality violates everything we know about the universe. If you can appreciate the magnitude of the gift that’s being freely offered, it makes the “sacrifices” much more bearable.

    Of course, living in the world makes this view difficult to sustain (unless one is cloistered.)

    Anyway, it seems to me that you have forcefully reiterated that “Homosexuals have no choice.” It seems that this is the equivilent of saying that all homosexuality is biological. In this light, homosexuals are singled out for a “cruel trick of God” who “made them homosexual” and thus denied them full participation in procreation.

    But, of course, if some homosexuality is not biological, but conditioned, or even freely chosen, then you have to restrict your “cruel trick of God” to just the biological homosexuals. It seems to me that if, as you assert in accord with the Theology of the Body, the sexual act cannot be divorced from the openess to procreation, then biological homosexuals can be distinguished from that other group of “cruelly treated” – the infertile. The similarity between these groups is that the sexual act cannot result in procreation. The difference between these groups is that the monogomous homosexual has knowingly entered into a union in which procreation is impossible (in that sense similar to those who use contraception). And regardless of the biological pressures on the homosexual person, entry into this monogomous union IS a choice.

    Further, if you extend the “cruel trick of God” to the retarded, the physically disabled, or the abysmally ugly, you will find that there are vast numbers of people who are denied the particular circumstance of monogomous, heterosexual, potentially procreative sexual union.

    Finally, it is easy to see the homosexual as a victim, because of the misapplied Christian virtue of tolerance. I say misapplied, because this virtue has been confounded by secular notions of individualism which means that where we still recognize sin at all, we only recognize it as “harm to another person.” We do not commonly see how a person’s private or consensual actions can damage the community.

    But this is, of course, contrary to the doctrine, fundamental to the Body of Christ, which recognizes the communion of the faithful. Entry into this communion presupposes that private sin is not private. Thus, having little understanding of this communion, we draw a distinction between the perversion of the pedophile who engages in “nonconsensual sexuality” by the nature of the object of their affections, and the homosexual who engages in “consensual sexuality” with a willing partner. We draw this distinction only because we are trained in a secular neo-Lockian mindset with regard to ethics, and we consider morality something entirely private.

    Sure – you can construct a philosophy in which homosexual behavior is not intrinsically wrong. But this will be a philosophy that is entirely secular, and one which simultaneously denies the very concept of duty. In this naked secularism, there is condemnation, but neither is there charity.

    Any real social system constructed on such a basis will ultimately be utilitarian (thus forcing duty to re-enter the equation ala Bentham and Mills), and homosexual behavior fails the utilitarian test on several levels, showing that in any possible system, homosexuality is disordered.

  16. :o) says:

    beautifully expressed post on such a sensitive issue. I have a dear friend who would love to get married but has not met someone. She is called to be celibate and offer that suffering to God. The same thing for those with homosexual attraction. They have a cross to bear which is being alone and celibate.

  17. Melanie B says:

    Tienne,

    “But celibacy is a calling reserved for those in Holy Orders.”

    That is false. Celibacy is the calling for all people who are not married. The Latin Rite of the Catholic Church also happens to only call to the priesthood those who already been called to celibacy. The vocation to celibacy comes first. The Church only calls to the priesthood those who have already discerned a calling to the celibate life.

    And then consider this analogy (from an article about Mother Teresa): “Let’s say you’re married and you fall in love and you believe with all your heart that marriage is a sacrament. And your wife, God forbid, gets a stroke and she’s comatose. And you will never experience her love again. It’s like loving and caring for a person for 50 years and once in a while you complain to your spiritual director, but you know on the deepest level that she loves you even though she’s silent and that what you’re doing makes sense.”

    Sometimes the vocation of marriage does require celibacy. That’s just one example. There are also people who have divorced and remarried who have since reconciled with the Church and because of children are staying with the second wife, but are not allowed to have sex. The Church doesn’t just pick on people with same-sex attraction. All Christians are called to chastity according to their state in life.

    Your explanation of why the Church excludes homosexuals from the priesthood is incomplete. The real reason is that priesthood is a role of fatherhood, which proceeds from an integrated and healthy masculinity. ?by nature masculinity is complementary to femininity and a healthy man is capable of a relationship with a woman; but it is the good that he sacrifices. In fact, all true vocations entail a sacrifice of a good (married people sacrifice the good of a life devoted exclusively to prayer and communion with God) and a homosexual has no good that he’s sacrificing in that sense as the only sexual relationships he’s drawn to are disordered. By that I mean that they are not ordered to the proper good of sexuality which is cooperation with God’s plan for the creation of new life.

    In the Gospel, Christ says that some people choose to be eunuchs for the kingdom of God, set apart from those who are involuntarily eunuchs. Christ makes the distinction between the two kinds of celibacy and it is this teaching that the Church draws on when she excludes men with same-sex attraction (who would thus be involuntary eunuchs) from the priesthood.

    Finally, priesthood is not a choice a man makes. It is an answer to a call God makes and is only a choice in as much as those who hear the call can either respond with a yes or with a no. The Church’s role is to help a man discern whether or not he has been called. But ultimately it is neither the Church’s choice nor the man’s choice, it is God’s choice.

    To be called: that is the true meaning of “vocation”. I did not really “choose” to be married in the sense that you are using the word. God called me to marriage and I said yes to his call. The model of the perfect Christian is Mary who says “let it be done to me according to thy word.” One can either accept God’s will or refuse to accept God’s will; but the full range of possible “choices” is not truly ours to make if we want to align ourselves with God’s will for us. That is true for all of us, not just those with same-sex attraction.

    And for all of us, married and single, there are crosses to bear which we did not choose. Marriage is truly a wonderful state; but it is not free of self-sacrifice, of dying to self. Ultimately all of us must embrace the cross if we want to follow Christ.

  18. Melanie B says:

    Tienne,

    (Sorry to add to a long post.)

    I forgot to say that none of us chooses the crosses we must bear. All of us pray the prayer of Christ at Gethsemane: “Lord, let this cup pass from me, but not my will but thine.”

    I prayed it consistently when I was single, but I haven’t noticed that I’ve started praying it any less now that I’m married. The only thing that might have changed is I might be getting a little better at asking God to make my suffering redemptive.

    All this argumentation about whose suffering is worse than whose seems to me rather childish in light of Pope John Paul II’s admonition: “Don’t let your suffering go to waste.”

  19. Tienne says:

    Melanie b –

    I really appreciate your comments. This is an issue where I’m struggling to reconcile my mind to the Church’s teaching, and you’re doing a wonderful job presenting sides I hadn’t thought of.

    I agree, we don’t choose who we are, or what God calls us to be, we can only choose how we respond to Him. Nor do I think there’s any merit at all in playing “Who’s cross is greater.” We’re all given the cross we’re meant to bear, and the requisite grace to bear it (if we are willing to turn to God and accept that grace.)

    I don’t want to quibble about celibacy vs chastity, but I am right that, as used by catechists, “celibacy” means vowing never to marry. It is the operative function of observing perfect chastity. http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/ncd01799.htm
    http://www.therealpresence.org/cgi-bin/getdefinition.pl Lay people may freely choose to take a vow of celibacy, but it is not required of them. Chastity, however, IS required of everyone at every stage of life, and refers to controlling ones sexual desires and expressing them only in moral ways.

    Blessed Mother Theresa is incredibly wise, yet even in that most painful example, there is always hope. The wife could wake up from her coma. Or she could die and free the man to find love and marry again. At the least, these people have had whatever time they did have together, time to fully participate in one of God’s most beautiful gifts to humanity. Time to perfectly express their love. All of this is denied to homosexuals, most especially the hope. There is no chance at any point in the future their “tendencies” will change. They are locked into their state for the rest of their lives.

    Sometimes life is difficult. Quite honestly, if life isn’t hard, I don’t believe you’re doing it right! We are certainly all expected to bear our crosses with grace and dignity, turning to God for the strength we need. Marriage is not easy. Single life is not easy. Holy Orders are not easy. But most practicing Catholics are happy and fulfilled in their vocations. For every moment of frustration my children give me, they give me ten moments of joy. This is not to say that children are only worth having because the good outweighs the bad. But it’s clear that there are positive and wonderful aspects of marriage despite the challenges it presents. The same is true for the priesthood. Celibacy is difficult, as is the poverty which many priests accept, and complete obedience to the bishop, communal living, the exhausting schedule, etc etc. Yet almost all priests can talk about the profound fulfillment of offering the Mass, or of seeing one of their parishioners through a difficult issue, or any one of a number of small graces that make the vocation worth the struggle.

    Where are the fulfilled, happy homosexuals who receive God’s love and support as they bear their cross? Who are the homosexual saints they call upon to intercede for them? If homosexuality, like any cross, is given by God as a trial to refine one’s soul, then where are the success stories? What are the rewards?

    Please be patient with me. I’m not trying to be argumentative, but to honestly resolve this dilemma. I appreciate your insights.

  20. Tienne says:

    Xavier Martel -

    It seems to me that if, as you assert in accord with the Theology of the Body, the sexual act cannot be divorced from the openess to procreation, then biological homosexuals can be distinguished from that other group of “cruelly treated” – the infertile. The similarity between these groups is that the sexual act cannot result in procreation. The difference between these groups is that the monogomous homosexual has knowingly entered into a union in which procreation is impossible (in that sense similar to those who use contraception). And regardless of the biological pressures on the homosexual person, entry into this monogomous union IS a choice.

    There is, first of all, ample evidence to illustrate the biological nature of homosexuality. That there are people who choose to engage in homosexual activities despite also possessing heterosexual tendencies, or that there are people whose homosexual tendencies are psychological in nature, does not negate the reality of a biological homosexual. The formers can be “healed” through therapy, prayer and moral fortitude. Those who are truly homosexual have no recourse; they cannot change who they are.

    In the example you use above, you compare homosexuals to infertile couples. I won’t pretend that I fully understand the trials of either group, as I’m a heterosexual married woman with two biological children. But it seems to me that a couple who is infertile, despite the pain and anguish that must cause, have other options to fulfill their need for a child. Adoption, for instance. Moreover, infertility is not a “disorder.” It’s a condition. A state. Sometimes, in the case of endometriosis, it has a cure. Nor does the Church suggest that infertility is grounds for an annulment, so the vocation of marriage is still open to those who cannot procreate, whether or not they know of it before the wedding.

    Individuals with such severe mental retardation that they can never marry would likely not know what is being denied to them. As for the ugly and disabled, you have only to look around to find plenty of people who have found love despite their disabilities. The Church does not prohibit someone paralyzed from the waist down from marrying, or someone who is deformed, or someone with Downs syndrome, provided the spouse is aware of the condition and willingly accepts it. I do not think your analogies hold.

  21. rhinemouse says:

    Where are the fulfilled, happy homosexuals who receive God’s love and support as they bear their cross?

    Well, one of them is living in my parish and helping run half-a-dozen liturgical ministries. As far as I can tell, he lives quite a happy life. There are also some writing
    online.

  22. P says:

    Two comments:

    1. In response to, “laypeople are not called to be celibate” — nuns are laypeople, as are monks, as was St. Joseph.

    2. Sometimes an extreme example can shed some interesting light on the situation. Here is a little known fact – almost all serial killers are impotent. They are incapable even of self abuse. The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis division has noted that most serial killers fall into one of a few categories:

    – Serial killers who only achieve climax during the act of homicide

    – Serial killers who do not achieve climax during the homicide, but are capable of self abuse to the point of climax with sufficiently vivid memories of the event. Often, these types will collect “trophies” or “return to the scene of the crime,” as the cliche goes, in order to revive their fading memories. Inevitably, their response to a given set of memories fails to satisfy, and they kill again.

    – Serial killers who abscond with the body to engage in the perversion of necrophilia.

    So unknown to most people, serial killing is actually a sexual orientation. Needless to say, whether we understand it or not, there are certain people whom God has chosen not to be able to fulfill their sexual desires in a lawful way. Such people are called to celibacy regardless of their status in secular or religious life.

    We may not understand why God does that – we cannot pretend that He does not. Deciding to say, “ok, maybe homosexuality isn’t a sin after all,” doesn’t solve the difficulty, it just translates it to a different set of perverse inclinations. No society in history has ever accepted homosexuality and then stopped there.

    As a final note: don’t think for a second that being “normal” so-called makes you anyone any more righteous. No one chooses whether they receive one talent or five.

    Someone might object that it isn’t fair to compare murder and sex. The Bible disagrees:

    “But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28

    “And whosoever shall keep the whole law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of all. For he that said, Thou shalt not commit adultery, said also, Thou shalt not kill.” – James 2:10-11

    The serial killer and the man watching a porn are both operating from the same radical principle: that the will of God takes second place to their carnal desires. It is absolutely necessary for ALL people to submit all of their desires to the will of God, without exception. Mortal sin is mortal sin. So judge no one; pray for all.

  23. Renee says:

    I’ve been researching and researching on documents from the Church for a while.

    Here is one called “Always Our Children”

    http://www.usccb.org/laity/always.shtml

    Another is an article from the Knights of Columbus.

    http://www.kofc.org/un/publications/columbia/detail.cfm?id=255760

    “The Church does not condemn homosexuals or homosexuality. Every person, created in the image and likeness of God, possesses a dignity and worth that demands respect and compassion from one’s brothers and sisters in the human family. While the origins of same-sex attraction are not yet scientifically clear, most of those who are so oriented do not choose this sexual attraction. A man or woman cannot be blamed or condemned merely because he or she experiences such an attraction.”

    People understand the Church’s teaching, when they realize that heterosexuals are neck high in the very same sin. As the blogger, Courage Man recently noted… “Homosexuals did not start the sexual revolution. They were simply too few … But then they asked ‘if it’s OK for everyone else, why not us?’ ” Why not indeed?”

    As I pray for marriage, I always pray for the Courage Ministries.

  24. Catholic Mom says:

    Jen,

    This is a wonderful discussion and a very thoughtful presentation of a difficult topic. I would like to go back and answer the question posed in the title of your post. You tell your gay friends the same thing you tell your friends who are co-habitating without being married or who are openly sexually active and not married. The trick is to continue to be a loving friend without putting yourself in a position that is forced to condone their behavior. For example, I have no problem entertaining people of all stripes in my home. However, I will not offer an unmarried couple (either heterosexual or homosexual) overnight accommodations in my home that include their sharing a bedroom. If they are true friends, they will understand and out of respect for me, they will not ask me to compromise my values.

    The Catholic Church is very clear that there is no condemnation or lesser view of those with same sex attractions. It is the homosexual activity which is sinful. Just as heterosexual activity outside of marriage is sinful.

    We are all sinners in our own way so that is never a barrier to friendship unless such an association becomes an impetus for our own sinful behavior. For example, it is a mortal sin to miss Mass unless there is a significant reason such as serious illness that prevents you from attending Mass. If you find you are skipping Mass because a friend applies great pressure on you to miss Mass, then that friend may need to be avoided. The reason is not because your friend is sinful, but because you are unable to resist the temptation to sin this friend provides.

  25. Jennifer says:

    Jen:

    Have I told you how much you rock? :)

    The thing about the “gay lifestyle” as it were is the way it reduces human beings to a very, very small portion of their appetitive nature.

    Could you imagine a whole CULTURE being built around, let’s say, “missionaries” who only like to have sex in the missionary position? That they would take over resort towns in America’s coastal community and develop their own fashion, music, and art? And wear bumper stickers and tattoos announcing their preference to the world?

    It’s a bizarre notion, is it not? So there MUST be more to the “gay lifestyle” than simple sexual proclivity. There is something else at work there, something right, and ORDERED…

    I do believe that it is not an accident that homosexuals are disproportionately represented in the arts–which leads me to believe there is something about the artistic temperament that may be well-served, in certain kinds of talent, if the male libido is turned inward and toward creation of another order, you dig?

    Which is why the call to celibacy for homosexuals may not be a PUNISHMENT but a deeper calling toward other abilities of a genuis order, the kind that changes the world entire.

    Of one thing I’m sure there is a special vocation for those we call homosexuals–and their sexual appetites are merely a small symptom of a greater force at work within them. A force for good that can be drained or turned to decadence by the pull on their male libido toward unattached release.

    This is a subject dear to my heart–as you might imagine, as a theatre artist, I have many well-loved colleagues
    and friends who are gay as well as more than a couple of equally well-loved family members.

    I have lost gay friends when my Catholicism became more devout. Not because I rejected them (how could I? wasn’t Jesus known to party with prostitutes and tax collectors?). They rejected me. There is so much pain and anger and it troubles me deeply.

    However, I do accept the bottom line of Church teaching for all the reasons you described.

    But here’s the deal: My gay friends are no more sinful than my BIL and his girlfriend or my FIL and his girlfriend who live together without benefit of matrimony.

    Or my friends who have had a civil ceremony but have not received the sacrament.

    Or the ones who use birth control.

    What about the ones who may be committing acts of sexual perversion within their heterosexual, married relationship?

    If you see where I’m going it very quickly starts to get very deeply into the territory of NONE OF MY BEE’S WAX, you dig?

    Not to mention that previous to my reversion I was not exactly pure myself. Mote in my own, etc. etc.

    Who knows how these sins are weighed in the eyes of the Lord? Are two committed homosexuals sinning more or less than the live- in (or married, even) heterosexual couple who contracepts or aborts any life that enters into their sexual relationship?

    At least the homosexual relationship is not irresponsible and careless about any living body except their own–any heterosexual transgression immediately involves the possibility of other living bodies who may or may not enter into a safe environment as a result of their union.

    Ech. It’s a tall order. As is the vocation toward marriage or celibacy. I can’t fault a gay man who has a sexual/romantic relationship any more than I can for a Catholic couple who dates and “slips”–we are fallen people with terrible weakness.

    We are also a grieving and lonely people who seek comfort in each other, and not always in an ordered way.

    But we are still worth a bloody death on the cross, ya know?

    We can all be redeemed and the higher call will always lead to greater happiness for ourselves and those who touch us.

    Which is to say.

    Um.

    Everybody.

    Awesome topic expressed in real terms.

  26. Jennifer F. says:

    [I haven't had a chance to read the comments since yesterday, so I apologize if any of this has already been addressed. Later this afternoon I'm going to catch up on comment reading, but I just wanted to throw this out lest I end up muttering to myself all morning...]

    Tienne -

    One other random thought that just popped into my head (after seeing some eHarmony ad…)

    I think that one thing to consider is that the concept of marrying your “soul mate”, choosing your spouse based almost entirely on how much you click with them, is a very new concept in human history. I’m no expert on the subject, but from what I understand the purpose of marriage has traditionally not been thought to be about finding fulfillment by making a life partner out of someone you’re really jazzed about.

    I think that marriage has always been understood to be about creating a new family that will properly pass down your family’s reputation and status, to create a new generation that stands for the ideals of your clan. Arranged marriages were very common — e.g. a person of the upper class was usually not free to choose whomever to marry; a person of lower class may be set up in an arranged marriage simply because their parents could no longer afford to support them. I’m sure that many, many people throughout history have ended up in marriage to people for whom they had no sexual attraction whatsoever. That wasn’t considered to be a very important part of marriage (again, from what I understand — I’m no social historian though). So, with that view of marriage, would it be so much worse for a homosexual to be set up with someone for whom they had no sexual attraction vs. a heterosexual? I really don’t know, but I think the case could be made that it has not traditionally been *that* much worse for people with same-sex attraction than for anyone else.

    Now, there’s still the issue that in our society heterosexuals get a really sweet deal that we have almost no constraints on who we marry, so we can choose spouses with whom we really click. But I think the argument could be made that maybe that’s not an entirely good thing — perhaps the skyrocketing divorce rate has something to do with our thinking that marriage is about “clicking” with your “soul mate” to whom you’re very sexually attracted…that doesn’t exactly make for super solid partnerships since those factors could change.

    Anyway, just some random thoughts off the top of my head. Just wanted to throw it out there.

  27. Melanie B says:

    Tienne,

    I appreciate your honesty and your struggle. I appreciate that you are willing to listen and ask questions and not reject the Church’s teaching out of hand.

    The terms celibacy and chastity are not used properly by many Catholics, even catechists. Although the word “celibate” is often used in a limited way to refer to only priestly celibacy, in the strictest sense celibacy merely means to be unmarried. Thus anyone who is not married is technically celibate even if they have not taken a vow of perpetual celibacy. I couldn’t follow your second link; but went to the website and looked up celibacy. The definition given discusses both lay celibacy and ecclesiastical celibacy. in any case, however you define the words all people are called to live chastely and if you are not married that means not having sex.

    It’s funny that you asked where are the stories of men and women with same sex attraction living heroic lives because right after I posted my reply to you I was talking about our conversation with my husband and I suddenly had the strong urge to post a link to this story that I read just yesterday about exactly that, a man with same sex attraction whose story was a profound witness of a man embracing the suffering God had sent him. (His story isn’t specifically about same-sex attraction; but in describing how he approaches another area of suffering in his life, I think you can see the radical and joyful embrace of the cross.)

    He’s only one example. The blogger on whose site I found the story, David Morrison, is another. Another commenter here mentioned Courage, a Catholic organization whose goal is to help those with same-sex attraction follow the Church’s call to live chastely. I know personally a woman with same-sex attraction who is struggling to heroically live the Church’s call for her and who has to some degree been healed of her same-sex attraction.

    It isn’t hopeless as you claim. Some people are healed of same-sex attraction. Of course, some are never healed. But even those who are not may still find a degree of comfort in struggling heroically and conforming their wills to God’s. I can’t personally speak as to what consolations they are capable of receiving, yet I am certain that God’s infinite mercy is capable to providing consolation to anyone.

    I agree that those of us who are not afflicted with same-sex attraction can never know how deeply those who are suffer. And yet for me their suffering is no greater a mystery than the mystery of how a just God can allow any human suffering.

    As to whether homosexuality is at root a biological, psychological or sociological problem, the Church hasn’t spoken on that and I don’t think it ultimately matters. Sin is sin and we must avoid sin and seek the good in all things. A parallel condition is alcoholism. It is a terrible affliction and it pretty clearly has biological roots. But we don’t therefore say you can’t help it, you were born that way, go ahead and drink yourself into oblivion. To drink to excess is sinful and leads to other sinful behavior. To remain sober is a heroic daily struggle and yet to fail to do so is to fall into sin. AA clearly teaches that sobriety is not something which man can find on his own; but can only achieve it through God’s grace. I would suggest that the same applies to chastity. Alone we cannot achieve it; but with God all things are possible.

  28. Tienne says:

    renee, melanie b, rhinemouse –

    Thank you for the links!

    Jen -

    I don’t know if that kind of arrangement would really work. History aside, my understanding of marriage is that God gave woman to man to be his companion, not to serve primarily as the vessel by which he can pass down his values to the next generation. The constructs society places around a marriage have varied through the centuries and from place to place, but I think the ideal is found in the very first book of the Bible: “It is not good for man to be alone.” It’s very true that the Church places great emphasis on the procreative and nurturing aspects of marriage. But I can’t help feeling it’s somewhat akin to prostitution for a woman to serve as no more than a uterus and housekeeper for a homosexual (or heterosexual) man who desires a family, or in the reverse, for a man to serve as sperm donor and breadwinner to a woman who wants to play house. The basis of a marriage ought to be love, as God loves His spouse: the Church. Hosea and the Song of Songs are meant to illustrate for us the beautiful, selfless, all-encompassing nature of spousal love that is the ideal marriage. Upon that love is built a family where children are welcomed as gifts from God and raised with the tools to be moral, faith-filled adults whose lives glorify God.

    In that light, it’s entirely inappropriate for a person with homosexual tendencies to enter into marriage. I feel it makes a mockery of what a marriage should be, it’s unfair to the spouse, and most of all it presents a bad example to the children, who will grow up without an example of normal, healthy male/female relations.

    Though you’re right: the pendulum has swung too far the other direction if society values the “connection” between spouses more than it values the sanctity of marriage itself!

  29. Kate says:

    Tienne,

    I know more than one young man who is valiantly seeking to live according to God’s will in their life despite homosexual tendencies. One of them confided that when he did satisfy his sexual desires, he was always left emptier than before – it was so undignified, and the physical damage that this behavior eventually did to his body (I’m talking incontinence, not AIDS or any infection, just the physical effects of homosexual ‘sex’) left him ashamed and unhappy. I rather suspect that, even were society to completely embrace homosexual unions, it would still be a largely unfulfilling lifestyle.

    But I’m getting sidetracked. All I wanted to say is that I know men who are living under this burden, and finding fulfillment and satisfaction in other pursuits, in their friendships, and in relationship with God. They are as actively seeking their vocation as I am, as convinced that God has a plan that will bring meaning to their lives and to their suffering.

  30. SH says:

    I think gays (esp. male gays) have much harder temptations because they can find sexual gratification very easily. That must make it harder to resist. It must be similar to being an alcoholic vs. being a marijuana smoker. Alcohol is available at your corner store, but how do you buy marijuana even if you wanted it?

    Also, I have a gay brother, and I have been close with many of his friends over the decades. The one thing that has always struck me is that they don’t really “bond” like male-females do. They are more like good friends who are roommates who have sex with each other. I’ll give a few examples. First, gay couples (at least, gay male couples) very, very often have multiple sexual partners. Orgies (and drugs) are common in gay culture. A lifelong, monogamous bond is very rare. Second, when gay men “get married” they almost never pool their resources fully the way that male-female couples do. If one comes into the relationship with a lot of money and the other with none, you can bet that the large sum of money is going to stay in an account in the rich guy’s name. But husbands routinely hand everything over to their wives and treat it as “community” property. People can disagree with me on these things, but I’ve seen them again and again and again over several decades with my brother’s friends. I know I am right. There is a very different and less bonded, less profound “feel” to a gay male relationship than to your typical male-female marriage. Third, when gay men get sick, of AIDS for example, their party boy friends disappear within a few months. The people you will find at their bedsides are their mothers, their sisters, their female friends, and occasionally a father, brother, or good male friend or two. That has been my experience. Lots of gay men can vouch for me on this one, but unfortunately they are all dead. The living gay men probably don’t want to acknowledge that this is true and that they are surrounded by so much temporary “loyalty.” A life lived without women is not much of a life.

    The point I am making is that by prohibiting gay males from entering into lifelong “marital” relationships with other men, the Church is not prohibiting them from fulfillment. The Church is prohibiting them from a horrible mistake. Sin is bad because it hurts you. The Church prohibits sin the way a doctor prohibits smoking – for your own good. A gay lifestyle is a very, very harmful and physically and mentally unhealthy way to live. Again, lots of dead gay men can vouch for me on this one.

  31. Linda M says:

    Jen, thank you for a great post. I lead a young adult group for my Episcopal church and recently finished a study of Theology of the Body in a DVD lecture format by Christopher West. It was amazing to watch the mindset of our group members, including my husband, change before my eyes. We all came away from this profound study with a deepened understanding of the sexual union and how dramatically different God’s will in this area is from the cultural message. We learned that sex must be free, full, faithful and fruitful.

    Now as Anglicans, you must understand, that fruitful part is not just different from the way the world sees sex, but from the teachings of our church. We were the first to give the ok to contraception in 1930, our priests may marry, we have had female priests since the 70′s and now we have a gay bishop. Although our parish is very orthodox and opposed to gay ordination, the idea that contraception is sinful is totally foreign! Yet, it is clear that the change to allow it by the church radically altered the meaning of sex – take away “fruitful” from the act and all that is left is pleasure. From there, it is no big leap to move sex from sacrament to recreation. If sex is just recreation, do it however and with whomever you want. This is precisely the way the world thinks and even good Christians have absorbed this mindset. The culture says that to deny someone sexual gratification is wrong, oppressive, narrow-minded, etc. How easily we fall prey to lies!

    The Theology of the Body lesson was so well done and so well presented that I now have a group of single 20 something Anglicans who think more like good Catholics regarding sexuality. Shocking and wonderful.

    Your comment about soul-making is beautiful and right on target.

    Melanie B’s comment regarding the need for priests, representing fatherhood, to be fully masculine, is thought provoking. I also particularly agree with Xavier’s comment. Lastly, there is no actual evidence that homosexuality is biological – but, as several have pointed out, even if it were, homosexuals are victims of the Fall of Man and the resulting darkened desires in mankind – not specially selected victims of a cruel God.

    Love your blog!

  32. Melanie B says:

    Tienne,

    One more link… this blog entry addresses many issues this discussion has touched upon and is written by a Catholic man with same-sex attraction.

    This is also at Sed Contra.

  33. lyrl says:

    (This post is specifically in response to Xavier, but I would be curious if anyone has more information on the Church’s position on marriage after menopause.)

    if… the sexual act cannot be divorced from the openess to procreation, then biological homosexuals can be distinguished from… the infertile. The similarity between these groups is that the sexual act cannot result in procreation. The difference between these groups is that the monogomous homosexual has knowingly entered into a union in which procreation is impossible…

    Not so. My mother (a nurse) once assisted in a hysterectomy on a 16-year old. (It had just been discovered the young woman had been born with no cervix, and while she had, unbeknown to her, started menstruating, the blood had been draining into her abdominal cavity.) Whoever married her would have “knowingly entered into a union in which procreation is impossible.” Ditto for menopausal women.

    I’m not aware of any Catholic teachings that heterosexuals in these situations cannot get married – their intent is not contraceptive, their condition was caused by God. From Casti Connubii: Nor are those considered as acting against nature who in the married state use their right in the proper manner although on account of natural reasons either of time or of certain defects, new life cannot be brought forth. I do not see a homosexual relationship as having any more contraceptive intent than a relationship involving a known, permanently infertile partner such as a woman who had to have a hysterectomy. To me, biological homosexuality is a natural defect just like being born without a cervix.

    …you can construct a philosophy in which homosexual behavior is not intrinsically wrong. But this will be a philosophy that is entirely secular…

    So the many Protestant faiths that do not consider homosexual behavior wrong are not actually religions?

    …homosexual behavior fails the utilitarian test on several levels, showing that in any possible system, homosexuality is disordered.

    “Fails the utilitarian test?” Homosexual couples benefit society in all the same ways that heterosexual couples do. Their fertility rate may be lower (not zero, as many gay couples adopt and lesbians often have biological children with donor sperm), but children are certainly far from the only benefit married couples offer to society.

  34. lyrl says:

    In response to Melanie,

    …priesthood is a role of fatherhood, which proceeds from an integrated and healthy masculinity. By nature masculinity is complementary to femininity and a healthy man is capable of a relationship with a woman…

    Um, so does this mean that men who consider themselves asexual (not interested in sexual activity with anyone, man, woman, or self) are also not allowed into the priesthood? Only those who burn with desire are priest candidates? That doesn’t make any sense to me.

    In response to P – the fact that we agree disordered sexualities exist in no way implies that homosexuality is disordered.

    No society in history has ever accepted homosexuality and then stopped there.

    No society in history has ever accepted monogamous homosexual relationships between equal partners. The Greeks and Romans had older men having homosexual relationships with boys, and these relationships were generally expected to end as the boys became men and the older men got married. One cannot argue that bad things happen to societies that accept monogamous homosexual relationships between equal partners, when no society has done that before.

  35. lyrl says:

    And coming to Jennifer’s comments, “gay culture” came into being because gays were excluded from mainstream culture. A culture only develops in a group that is in some way significantly isolated from other groups. As homosexuality has become more accepted, gay culture has been fading away. Or become less gay – when I went to MBLGTACC while in college, one-third to one-half of the people I met there were straight.

    Back to Melanie comments, alcoholism is pretty clearly destructive. My grandfather died of complications of alcoholism. My uncle spent time in prison for behaviors driven by his alcoholism. Integrating homosexual relationships into mainstream society and subjecting them to the same pressures heterosexuals feel to enter into and remain in monogamous lifelong relationships of which raising children is a large part is not such a clearly destructive behavior. I personally do not believe it is destructive at all, and that in fact excluding homosexual relationships from mainstream society results in highly negative consequences as described by SH.

    A lifelong, monogamous bond is very rare.

    In America, about 2/3 of heterosexual marriages will experience adultery by at least one partner. 50% of marriages end in divorce. The rarity of lifelong monogamous heterosexual bonds hasn’t stopped society from accepting that as the ideal relationship. Despite such high rates of negative outcome, the Catholic Church has never called marriage a “horrible mistake.” And many of the successes among heterosexual marriages are due on large part to societal pressure and social norms that help people do the right thing even when faced with temptation. By excluding homosexual relationships from mainstream society, these relationships deprived of the buttressing support society offers to heterosexual relationships. Considering this, it’s a wonder that there are any lifelong monogamous bonds among homosexuals, not that they are rare.

  36. Jennifer says:

    lylr–

    I think you miss the point–there are plenty of marginalized people out there who do not create a culture as rich and as pervasive as “gay culture” is–which points to something unusual about “gay lifestyles”–for some reason it is steeped in a tremendous aesthetic sensibility.

    That doesn’t simply arise from being marginalized.

    Otherwise we’d have pop stars who are singing songs played at clubs only left-handers attend.

    It is similar to marginalized ethnic groups–but there, their “culture” arises from the desire to preserve a social and cultural heritage, a heritage that is threatened by some cultural displacement (like slavery or forced emigration).

    Post-Stonewall queers now have a heritage but it is a created one.

    This is to the point that homosexual identity is way more complicated than who they are attracted to and what their sexual behaviors are. There is something DIFFERENT about homosexuals a giftedness that sets them apart even before (or lets say after) the sexual proclivities they believe causes them to so designate.

    And are you serious? Gay culture is fading away. I don’t know where you hail from but having lived in the East Village and now very close to Provincetown, it is anything BUT. And the borders of these gay “ghettos” so to speak are expanding almost hourly.

    And how do you explain recent phenomenon like Will and Grace? Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and even HGTV?

    Gay culture is predominant insofar as it isn’t always even visible, since so much of Western culture has been created and promulgated by homosexuals.

    This isn’t a criticism it is an observation of what
    “homsexuals” (again–I despise the fact that groups are identified solely by their sexual behavior) have to offer our society and our culture.

  37. Kate says:

    Because someone asked:

    There are too many biblical examples of God reversing infertility to deny infertile people the right to marry. But the church does not consider a marriage that cannot be consummated a marriage. This is an especial burden to men and women with genital malformations or men with incurable impotence, though there are pumps and meds and things that will allow most anyone with the equipment to engage in marital intercourse, so these cases don’t arise often.

    In Other Words: The presumption is that if you are open to life, even if it is unlikely to result (as with an infertile couple), God can (and will) do as he wills. Remember, Sarah was post-menopausal and considered infertile when she bore Abraham’s babies. Elizabeth was considered infertile when she had John. But if you can’t even put tab A into slot B, then you can’t marry, as the Church understands marriage.

    And don’t bring up the Holy Family. They are an exception, for a pretty obviously exceptional reason.

    When it comes right down to it, homosexuals cannot marry because they cannot have sex. To be blunt, while they can engage in various forms of sexual stimulation and give each other sexual pleasure, what they are doing is not sexual intercourse. Like any other two people incapable of engaging in marital relations, they are not capable of consummating a marriage, and thus could never ever have a valid marriage.

    Well, not with each other, anyway.

  38. lyrl says:

    …I despise the fact that groups are identified solely by their sexual behavior… – I try to follow the guidelines as explained by Wikipedia in this area:”Almost always use terms as adjectives rather than nouns, thus, black people, not blacks; gay people, not gays, and so on” and also “For people the terms “gay” (often, but not always, used for males only) and “lesbian” (which is used for females only) are preferred over “homosexual,” which has clinical associations and is often considered pejorative. However, homosexual may be used in describing people in certain instances, in particular in historical contexts. For sexual behaviors, “homosexual” may be acceptable.

    We may be using different definitions of the word “culture”. To me, shows like Will and Grace and Queer Eye are exactly what I was talking about when I said gay culture is becoming less gay – those shows are predominantly marketed to straight people. They are an example of a mainstream culture that includes gay people, but isn’t (to my eyes) gay in nature. A different example of some aspects of a culture becoming integrated into a different culture: Christianity took the idea of monotheism from Judaism, which likely took it from Zoroastrianism, but monotheism is not considered “Zoroastrianist culture” – it has been integrated into Christianity, and is now part of Christian culture.

    For what it’s worth, I went to college in Chicago and graduated four years ago. Yes, gay neighborhoods are expanding – but at the same time they are becoming less gay. My very straight brother-in-law lived in Boystown for three years before he got married and moved to the suburbs.

    As with ethnic groups that are accepted into and choose to participate in mainstream society, the tendency of gay culture is currently toward integration with mainstream society. For groups that are accepted, it takes conscious effort and a lot of work to maintain unique cultural practices. An example of a cultural practice unique to gay people is the hanky code – which has died out. Another example of a custom unique to people who are gay is the horribly misguided practice of bug chasing, which I sure hope will die out, and soon.

    Other cultures: Slavery – in America’s history, people brought here from Africa had their culture completely obliterated. They were deliberately separated from people they shared a cultural heritage with, and put in groups that spoke mutually unintelligible languages. The rich culture of African-Americans was developed due to isolation from mainstream American culture, not preserved from any heritage. I do not believe the difficulties faced by left-handed people in our society creates the social isolation felt by closeted gay people (both of which I’m sure pale in comparison to that felt by people enslaved in a foreign land).

    Homosexual people are not unique in having, as a group, different talents than the general population. For example, people native to Kenya have a higher proportion of long-twitch muscle than most other peoples, enabling them to dominate long-distance racing events. The differences between the average man (stronger, better spacial skills) and the average woman (better communication skills, more nurturing) are another example. And certainly some aspects of these talents may be enhanced if a person chooses a celibate life – nuns living in a convent devoting their lives to nurturing the community, for example. But I can’t think of any talent (the artistic ones typical of gays included) that could not be enhanced in other ways when supported by a healthy marriage. I also don’t follow (or am misunderstanding) the logic that because the average gay person has unique talents that (in this argument) better benefit society if they are celibate, homosexual people as a class should all be celibate.

  39. lyrl says:

    Kate, thank you to replying to my question with such clarity.

    On infertility, there are not only Bibilical cases, but cases all the time in modern life of “infertile” couples conceiving. Infertility is really a misnomer for most of these couples; there has been some attempt to shift the medical terminology to “subfertility”. This was why I specifically referred to conditions for which there are no documented cases of conception: current pregnancy, hysterectomy, azoospermia, menopause. One could also add removal of the testicles or ovaries (done in cases of cancer, for example) to this list. I think the case of Sarah in the Bible could be argued either way – it says her periods had ceased, but does not say for how long. It’s very common for women near menopause to have long cycles, and there’s no evidence Sarah met the modern definition of having gone a full year with no menstrual bleeding, or if she just went, say, six or eight months and figured (incorrectly) that was it. (And the extra-nitpicky part of me is going to put in here that Sarah only had one child, not “babies” plural.)

    In any case, sure, an omnipotent God could miraculously make a menopausal woman pregnant, or a woman whose partner has no testicles. Or a member of a gay couple. To me, because pregnancy in all of these situations would defy natural law as we understand it, distinguishing between them on the basis of “potential fertility” to allow marriage in some cases but not others does not make sense.

    You have also brought up an issue of Catholic theology I find interesting but have read very little about – the “intercourse-only” rule. The only explanation for this I have read is because other forms of sexual activity are considered contraceptive, and contraception is wrong. But that’s not consistent with other Catholic teachings (which I’m sure is because of my lack of knowledge – I have a lot of respect for Catholicism’s consistency on moral topics, even in areas where I disagree). Specifically, I’m thinking of Pope Pius XII’s statement that women may take the pill for medical reasons unrelated to contraception (source). To control endometriosis would be one example of a medical indication where a woman could take this contraceptive medication with no contraceptive intent. Similarly, the Catholic position that the contraceptive effects of breastfeeding do not fall under the prohibition on contraception – because there is no contraceptive intent.

    I have not read Catholic commentary for other situations, but one can image more where contraception might be used with no contraceptive intent: use of a diaphragm during menstruation to reduce the mess of intercourse at that time, for example. One can also imagine many reasons for non-intercourse sexual activity that do not involve contraceptive intent. And yet these acts are still prohibited by the Church.

    Again, I appreciate the previous poster responding to my question with such candor. I know this is a unusually frank topic. But it does significantly impact other areas of Catholic theology I’m interested in (family planning and homosexuality), and I would be very grateful to, if not have a more in-depth explanation here, be pointed toward resources where I can expand my knowledge in this area.

  40. Kate says:

    Mmmm…

    Lyrl, I would need a lot more time to cover all that. It looks very simple and consistent from the inside, but I’m sure it all looks very strange from the outside.

    On one hand, you’re talking about cases of double effect – when an action is allowable despite a foreseen and unintended side effect.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_double_effect

    You’ll see that one of the requirements of the principle has to do with proportionality (# 3, the good effect must outweigh the bad effect). So, in your example of the couple using a diaphram because they dislike messy menstrual sex, the ‘good’ effect doesn’t come close to outweighing the gravity of the bad effect of violating the nature of the sexual act. (Though I have heard of Catholics using natural menstruation cervical caps during sex, which are not contraceptive.)

    The use of the Pill has caused quite a bit of debate. If there is any chance that the pill is, as some maintain, abortifacient – any chance at all, even a rather slim one – then there are no situations grave enough to merit its use, except possibly an immediate danger to the health of the mother.

    Besides, there are sooooo many other hormone therapies that don’t have to interfere with ovulation or implantation, and I know conscientious Catholic women who have gone to great lengths to find these therapies because they felt morally obligated to look for another way (another principle of double effect – if there is another way of obtaining the desired effect without the undesired bad effect, it must be used). The pill is, generally, bad medicine, because it doesn’t actually regulate or normalize anything. In some cases, it can cover up problems for years while they worsen (fibroids, for example).

    It’s not enough, in sexual matters, that contraception not be the intended affect. In fact, intention, while important, is not the central issue when it comes to the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of marital relations. The central issue really is the act, itself, and the meaning that it is believed to possess and convey. To intentionally thwart the procreative meaning of the act changes the nature of the act in a way that renders it, well, no longer itself. This the prohibition on contraceptives. Whereas an allowance is made for the use of NFP, because even though the intent might be similar (to postpone the conception of children until some more suitable time), the act is unsullied. The gift is not spurned. The meaning is unchanged.

    Because sex has more than one meaning, this goes another direction as well. Seperating the procreative from the act is also sinful. So, Catholics are not to conceive their children through ex utero methods. Procreation is not supposed to be separated from the action and the meaning of the unitive marital act. Yes, God is omnipotent, and so he could bring about conception in all sorts of ways outside that of the marital act. But He does not will to do so, because that is not how He designed us, or sex. There is some deeper good in His design that is lost when it is violated. When we come together in sexual union, we co-operate with His design of our bodies.

    Hmmm…it’s frustrating to see it so clearly – to know it so clearly – and not know how to communicate it well. The closest I can get is to say that sex is sacred, more so than can be broken down into bits of dialectical reasoning. So the church protects it as much as She can, just as she protects all the mysteries learned and entrusted to her. The boundaries are not always clear, but that’s more reason to be cautious about crossing them. In this case, we are talking about the mystery that creates marriages, that brings life -souls!- into the world, that sustains unity between men and women, that forms the beginnings and the foundation of families. And we use it, and abuse it, and think of it an entertainment, or a mere biological drive, or a necessity to create children, or any number of ways of belittling and making it less than itself.

    I should stop now. It’s late, and I’m afraid I’m not getting any clearer as the hours go by, though I am getting more fervent. But you’ve given me something lovely to meditate and pray on tonight – the mystery and wonder of marital union!

  41. Jennifer says:

    l-

    I think that we agree on more than we disagree and that there is some hair splitting going on.

    There are several issues I would like to take head on (which is the sign of a very interesting and intelligent conversation, indeed) but it is outside of the scope of this venue (like the idea that African-American culture doesn’t preserve any legitimate African heritage which of course, it does, thanks to the 1970s–couldn’t resist that one!)

    My overarching point is that the people who designate as “homosexual” based solely on sexual behavior actually have other characteristics that bind them together, like a heightened aesthetic sensibility and it is from this that gay culture (which really is just a subset of Western culture as a whole) emanates, regardless of their sexual tastes.

    I wasn’t intending to berate anyone who uses the term homosexual, (queer, homosexual, gay, whatever) simply to call into question the social practice of naming a group and having the members of that group identify themselves with a particular sexual practice.

    It seems very reductive of the human being and places a disproportionate emphasis on sexuality which is only a part of the whole human person.

    Very interesting points, though.

    (I still disagree that absorption into the mainstream is dissipating gay culture–I would argue that it is strengthening it, but again, it may be splitting hairs.)

  42. lyrl says:

    Is the principle of double effect applicable here? I thought it was, and added a reference to it in the Humanae Vitae Wikipedia article (diff). Another editor removed it (diff) with the comment that the principle of double effect did not apply, although it was a “common mistake”.

    I also attempted to use the principle of double effect when comparing the mechanisms of action of breastfeeding and hormonal contraceptives in a previous discussion. There, I was told by other commentators that any potential negative effects of breastfeeding on embryos did not need to be weighed against the goods of breastfeeding (as the principle of double effect would require); rather, the lack of contraceptive intent was all that mattered.

    Kate and the other people I’ve referred to above all seem both sincere and well-read on this subject. I’m not sure what to think about the conflicting opinions on whether double effect applies here.

    I am curious as to how in-depth official Church sources have gone on theology behind the “intercourse-only” rule. The Church is not infallible in all its teachings, and has changed positions on other issues in the past. The teaching on contraception (meaning chemicals, devices, and “contraceptive mentality”) is so thoroughly explained and uniformly affirmatively supported by so many recent popes that I’ve seen more than one source that I respect consider it an infallible teaching of the Church. By contrast, if the theology behind the prohibition of homosexual marriages is relatively undeveloped, it leaves the door open to the possibility that when the Church clarifies the boundaries in these areas, some cases of homosexual marriage may end up on the same side of the boundary as use of NFP by couples with serious reasons to postpone pregnancy. Which is why I would be interested in sources discussing the theology behind the “intercourse-only” rule – they may disabuse me of this notion.

    (As an aside, any device that impedes blood from flowing out is going to impede sperm from swimming in. The extent of the impedance may be low compared to condoms – so some may say such devices are “not contraceptive” just like they say withdrawal “doesn’t work” – but there will be a level of contraceptive effect.)

  43. lyrl says:

    j – I agree, it sounds like we’re on the same wavelength for much of the points we’ve covered. Thank you for the interesting discussion.

  44. Anna says:

    lyrl,

    Maybe I can help a bit with the double effect bit. To start with, let me say that “contraception” is not simply having sex without making babies. It is taking sex which God has made to be fertile and, through human means, to MAKE that sex unprocreative.

    So marrying someone who is infertile is not contraception. Homosexual acts are not contraception. (Although they have in common a lack of respect for God’s purpose for sex, as Jen F got at).

    Taking the pill for medical purposes definitely falls under double effect, and is moral or immoral according to the principles of double effect. The pill IS contraception, so the contraceptive effect has to be unintended, proportionate reason has to be there, etc.

    Compare this to the breastfeeding case. On the one hand, it is similar, because breastfeeding can suppress ovulation, just as the pill is supposed to. At least one Catholic group actively encourages Catholics to use breastfeeding to reduce fertility and explains how to best accomplish that. And the Church has not said anything at all against this.

    Breastfeeding is not considered to fall under double effect. Ultimately, this relies on the idea that the reason that contraception is wrong is because it violates God’s plan for our bodies’ fertility. Breastfeeding and the associated infertility is understood to be part of God’s plan, which means that the infertility is ultimately from God, even if the woman tries to breastfeed in such a way as to enhance it. It isn’t something which humans have done to their bodies, it is something which God built into us. Therefore, there is no contraception present which could need to be justified by double effect.

    In the same way, NFP is seen to respect God’s plan because it does not render someone infertile who is by nature (that is, by God’s will) fertile. It only uses the infertility which God has given women during certain times.

    I hope that helped.

  45. Kate says:

    lyrl,

    Homosexual acts are so obviously outside God’s plan for sexuality that, even though the theological reasoning behind the prohibition may change and improve(this is how doctrine develops, as we seek better ways to understand the received wisdom safeguarded by the Church), the prohibition itself will not change. This is pretty explicitly one of those prohibitions *not* superseded by the new covenant, as evidenced by numerous references in the Epistles.

    The Church holds a positive vision of sexual and family life, which Her theology seeks to clarify and support. Sometimes it’s tricky making distinctions between what are allowable shortcomings from the ideal, and what are not allowable because they encroach too much on the heart of the matter. But that positive vision has not changed and will not change, because it is part of the Church’s mission to protect it.

  46. lyrl says:

    On double effect – I asked the person on Wikipedia I had seen comment on this, and they quoted me an article the said using condoms for disease prevention did not fall under double effect, that it was completely non-contraceptive because of the lack of contraceptive intent. I gather that what situations double effect applies to is still being debated among Catholic theologians.

    In response to Kate’s comments – I’m only familiar with the alleged homosexuality references in the Pauline Epistles, not any in the other Epistles. For the Pauline ones, at least, there are certainly many Protestant theologians who do not believe Paul’s writing are relevant to the Christian debate on homosexuality today. Here, for example. I’m ignorant of whether there has been any Catholic response to these writings.

    And to everyone who has responded to my questions and tried to help me understand this issue, thank you.

  47. Anna says:

    Lyrl,

    Double effect is specifically used for situations when there is an effect which is not intended; that’s the whole purpose of it. Using contraceptive devices for disease prevention has contraceptive effects which are not intended. That’s why it’s precisely the kind of thing which double effect does apply to.

    But yes, theologians still debate the whole thing. For example, some theologians think that using a condom is intrinsically evil, so that double effect cannot be used to justify it, even for disease prevention. Others maintain that double effect does justify it. If others maintain that double effect doesn’t apply to using contraception for disease prevention, I would think they don’t understand double effect very well. But maybe they know something I don’t. Certainly debate on the subject isn’t going to surprise me.

  48. lyrl says:

    The article that was sent to me defined contraception as a moral judgment, not as an action. The comparison it used was to the action of killing a person – depending on the intent behind the killing, a moral judgment such as “murder” or “self-defense” can be applied to the action. Killing a person in self-defense is not murder, and the principle of double effect is not used in determining that. This person (Martin Rhonheimer) argues that, for the same reason, using a condom to prevent disease is not contraception. Using that definition, double effect does not apply. Not that this definition has any widespread acceptance currently, but I think it’s an interesting position.

    Sorry for taking so long to reply on an old thread – it took me a few days thinking about the article to feel like I had a good enough grasp to attempt to explain it. And now I think it’s so neat I want to try explaining this concept, but I don’t have anywhere else to post it. So thank you for reading (anyone who still is).

  49. Anna says:

    Lyrl,

    But self-defense is actually the classic case of double effect. Innocent person A kills Aggressor B; this may appear to be murder, but the murder is not intended; the intention is to save A’s life, which is a good intention (and proportional to the evil result). Therefore the action is justified and person A is not guilty of the sin of murder.

    Double effect is precisely there to make the point that when an effect is unintended, the sin of intending that effect is not there. It also puts conditions on this statement.

    If double effect doesn’t apply to self-defense or contraceptives for disease prevention, then what could it possibly apply to?

    It’s not that I’m disagreeing with Mr. Rhonheimer’s basic idea that using contraceptives for disease prevention is not the sin of contraception, because there is no contraception intended. It’s that I’m disagreeing that that has nothing to do with double effect.

  50. Debra says:

    Melanie said “Correct me if I’m misunderstanding but the core assumption here still seems to be that being fulfilled = being sexually satisfied. “

    Tienne spoke of chastity being forced upon a gay by the Church.

    Chastity isn’t forced onto a person by the Church. The Church doesn’t force anything; God gave us free will. Chastity is part of our relationship with God. In today’s world, we have the habit of wanting to understand God and then we will pledge our fidelity to him. God doesn’t work that way. He wants us to pledge fidelity and demonstrate through obedience. From that, He graces us with understanding over time as we are ready for it. Each revelation, no matter how small, brings us closer to God. Slowly, in His time, we understand more and more. He also allows us to see ourselves from His eyes, which are loving :>)

    Being truly fulfilled only comes from having our eyes on God. When we try to control things instead of letting God be in charge, we take our eyes off Him. While we may find temporary satisfaction in the human sense (satisfaction of a human need), we do not find the peace that comes from fulfillment without God.

    Melanie also stated “I think this betrays a misunderstanding about the nature of chastity within marriage and the self-sacrifice it may often involve.”. I’ve been scanning through posts (my first visit here) and I would like to suggest that everyone on this blog consider reading or watching videos of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. His wisdom is so simple and profound. As for sacrifices, Bishop Sheen says When we sacrifice we do not give anything up. Instead it is an exchange…we exchange that which we sacrifice for peace in Christ and our soul. Thinking of sacrifices as an exchange makes sense and gives one strength to keep all eyes on God.

    On a separate note, I am not prepared to spend an immense amount of time giving references for your investigation but, please note that research on the brain over the past 10 years has made incredible strides regarding human behaviour. While we are prewired with very basic set of connections in our brain, most are gained from life experience. Additionally, those that we are born with can be destroyed by life experience. So predispositions are simply that…a predisposition, not an absolute orientation. In other words, the old belief that gays are “born that way” is looking very unlikely. Evidence by the story of basketball start Sheryl Swoopes http://catholiceducation.org/articles/homosexuality/ho0102.html . How many of us have even heard her story? Very few. It received very little publication because it undermines the “born that way” myth.

    This article is a bit technical but uses sound science to make its point: http://www.narth.com/docs/breiner2.html

    Reorientation therapy can be effective because the same sex attraction is typically secured through life experience rather than genetic predisposition: http://www.catholictherapist.com/media_s.asp?id=20

    So with all of this new knowledge on SSA, one can be put at ease talking with gay coworkers and acquaintences, or interacting with gay friends and relatives. After all, we love them nonetheless. But it can be less of a mystery when we have the Hope of the Spirit that healing can occur. If it doesn’t occur fully in this life, God will take care of it in the afterlife.

    My sister-in-law once commented that she thought it was creepy that I was visitng my lesbian cousin. I said “Why? She’s my cousin! What I find creepy is the married or so-called “committed” men in the office that are always checking me out and/or making hits on me..that is CREEPY. I’ve never had a lesbian hit on me but have had way too many men try it”. I find hypocrites creepy! God made us in His image and He isn’t a hypocrite!

    For gay Catholics who are otherwise committed to the teachings instilled by Jesus Himself, I suggest considering taking the 19th annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. It will start the process to healing the relationship with God.
    :>)

  51. Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin says:

    I am certainly coming late to this party. I do that a lot.

    Tienne said, “All of this is denied to homosexuals, most especially the hope. There is no chance at any point in the future their “tendencies” will change. They are locked into their state for the rest of their lives.”

    I am sorry, but I must disagree with this. First, I am aware of absolutely no evidence that same-sex attraction is in any way a genetic trait. Second, I am certain that genotype is NOT destiny — it can always, to some degree, be overcome. But foremost because of the nature of God, who never gives us burdens we are not meant to carry, and who can do ALL things, including reduce or even eliminate disordered sexual desires, of which I would consider pedophilia, not same-sex attraction, to be the most pernicious.

    If you don’t believe me, check out CourageMan’s archives. He has described a decline in his same-sex attraction.

    Straight from the Vatican’s own online English-language etext version of the Catechism, the Church’s teaching on homosexuality:
    “”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"
    Chastity and homosexuality

    2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,140 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”141 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
    “”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"
    Again, on contraception
    “”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"
    2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.157 These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:158

    Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality…. the difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.159
    “”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"

    Regarding love in marriage, I have the example of my parents, who were married for over 40 years, till death did them part. They taught me that love is not a quiver in the liver nor a lurch in the heart, but a choice — to seek always the best for another while giving completely of yourself.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Jennifer,
    I just found your blog and feel that I have found a home. I was raised in an Atheist household and became a Catholic in 1996, something that was farthest from my life and imaginings. Often I have felt very alone with my struggles over reconciling my old views and actions related to certain doctrines (e.g. abortion, sexuality, atheist and homosexual friends, etc.), my pre-Catholic lifestyle, views, etc. I feel different than my Catholic friends because of my pre-Catholic life. I believe I am able to have more empathy and love for those who live in grave sin because they don’t have free use of their will or don’t understand Catholic Doctrine, or aren’t Catholic or even Christian. I have only read a little of your blog and I can’t wait to read more. Thank you for sharing your spiritual journey and your wisdom.
    Patti Zordich
    Cary, NC

  53. Justin Blade says:

    I am a Catholic, tho more spiritually associated with the Old Catholic order than Roman Catholicism of which I officially am, however the core beliefs are identical but I would be honored if you would take a few minutes to read my blog bottom topic up at http://riverineden.blogspot.com

    Warm wishes and God Bless.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Were I one of these gay “friends” of yours, and knew that you actually STRUGGLED with this, I’d drop you like a bad habit.

  55. queerchristianbelfast says:

    Thanks for dealing with this issue, although I would be very skeptical of the idea that you cannot be gay and a Christian. I highly recommend Elaine Sundby’s book “Calling the Rainbow Nation Home” if you want to better understand what gay Christians go through. It’s the best book I’ve ever read on the subject.

    I would also advise people to use caution when comparing gay people to people who have premarital sex – gay Christians are just as against sexual sin as you are! We also believe sexual relationships should be reserved for a lifelong committed relationship (sadly in many states we cannot legally marry, but that doesn’t mean we cannot pledge ourselves to our partners for life before God)

    Remember that it is very easy for a heterosexual person to take a stance on this issue. People who believe it is morally wrong get to feel good about themselves that they are defending the Gospel, and people who believe it’s okay get to feel good about themselves for standing up for civil rights. But in the middle are real people who are being used in a game of doctrinal football.

  56. Anonymous says:

    A friend of mine sent me your blog site and I’ve been reading quite a bit about the homosexual issue. I am married 21 years and went all through Catholic schools(k through college). I never learned the teaching regarding marriage and sexuality. It was a long and difficult journey. We now have 7 children ages 6-20 yrs. We are still learning what a chaste marriage means. I have a sibling who is a practicing homosexual and trying to reconcile his lifestyle forced me to take the plank out of my own eye before I tried to take the speck out of his regarding the Church’s teaching. I have to say that it isn’t easy to live a chaste marriage and it’s virtually impossible with out God’s grace, That is why the Church has given us the sacraments. I think when I read how the Church imposes it’s views on homosexuals, I don’t understand that mentality. The Church never imposes itself, but it does propose what makes us truly happy. Does that mean happy equals easy? Absolutely NOT. Take a look at the cross of Christ and you will see what it cost Christ…everything. Marriage does the same. It costs everything. A chaste single life also costs! To be a follower means carrying a cross. We don’t choose it (usually). But we sure do create a lot for ourselves. What is hard is raising children and having certain views imposed on them and labeling anyone who doesn’t embrace homosexual lifestyles as a “bigot”. That has been a burden. I feel we owe our children the beauty and innocence of family life and marriage. Sometimes that means protecting them for a time from those who seek to change their innocent minds. It’s even harder when it’s a family member you love. This is where prayer and fasting can have great benefits. I suppose the Church hasn’t done a very good job of getting the message out about what marriage IS…then we can better understand what it IS NOT. On another note, we all have some sort of area in our lives that we have to work on. Some have same sex attractions, others have trouble with lust, some with impatience, anger, etc. That doesn’t mean we seek to justify behavior just because we have a certain inclination. We all have to form ourselves to become like Christ. Lastly, I’d like to suggest that if you want to conquer yourself, the 2 best methods I’ve found are 1.to get to know Mary the Mother of Christ and
    2. learn everything you can about the Eucharist and love Him.
    With God all things are possible. God made us for Himself and He knows what makes us truly happy. We also must come to realize that some people prefer the darkness because it’s scary to consider the Light of Christ. As JPII said “Be not afraid.” Christ will see you through if you decide to come into His light!

  57. Anonymous says:

    On the subject of homosexual friends. I believe all that the Catholic Church teaches. Also the scriptures. When a friend or anyone sins, we are to tell them and try to let them know the error of their ways. God wants all people to be saved. We do have a responsibility to try to save our souls, and the souls of everyone. Jennifer am I on the right track. John P

  58. Michelle says:

    I have to be honest…I started getting a little frustrated with you there at the beginning…thinking…havent you READ the Bible. LOL.

    I'm glad to see how your thoughts changed. I have to agree.

  59. Anonymous says:

    The sexual revolution of the sixties is largely to blame for all these problems. Once a society sees sex as a mere recreational activity, homosexuality will become rampant and there are no reasonable arguments against it any longer.
    From there everything goes upside down. Selfdonating, sacificial love in marriage becomes bad, adventurous, promiscuous sex becomes good etc etc.
    When a whole culture becomes sexually debased and inverted it becomes impossible and pointless to seek out one group for criticism.
    For that reason I have developed this line of conduct for me personally and it works for me: in this freak-culture I try to treat all the deluded people (me included) with humility and kindness and leave the Governing and Judging to God. I feel joy when I see goodness and love in sexual affairs, I feel sad when I see coldness and exploitation in matters of sex. In this crazy age for me the only possible way to preach is is to encourage the former where ever I see it and disencourage the latter.
    Ultimately the only solution is for the whole culture to return to God and the ways of sacrificial love.
    Until that happens I see for myself no basis in practical conduct to act differently. You can only be 'countercultural' up to a point. After that you can no longer participate in society.
    And I see it as Biblical: in a world full of sinners, you cannot and may not be picky…
    As for our duty to call the fellowsinner on his sin: I frown at coldness and exploitation in sex, and that leaves me more than enough to do…

  60. Liesl says:

    I stumbled upon your blog and I just want to say that I love reading your thoughts and insights about your personal journey! I was born and raised Catholic but I recently have "come into my own" in terms of my faith and I am enjoying learning more and more each day about the wonderful Catholic faith! But everything dealing with sexuality and theology of the body is something that I have been reading into and meditating on a lot recently, and I just wanted to let you know that your post really described some of the thoughts I've been having as well as touched upon some things that I haven't even thought of! Thanks for sharing your journey!

  61. Oranur says:

    I am a 24 year old gay male, Catholic and ex-seminarian, i will share my story with you and with everyone that is willing to listen to me.

    I came out of my seminary because of reasons that have nothing to do with homosexuality, however my world crumbled after i got out, i realized that my whole life i wanted to be a Priest and all of a sudden my life had no purpose, and no meaning. That brought me into a deep existential crisis…a Crisis that disarmored my heart, mind and soul to the Truth about myself, one of those truths was that i was really gay, i had been fighting with it my whole life and managed to cheat myself into brainwashing my own min to convince me it was not that…..However this time i did not have the mental energy to fool myself anymore….

    My existential crisis became even deeper, and more severe that anything i would have imagined, I loved my Church, i loved Christ and God with all my heart, and i say this with tears in my eyes because God knows its true and i am not afraid to say it, but after i accepted that i was gay, and always had been since i have use of memory, i felt isolated, suddenly the family i knew and served with all my heart, the same Church Family that i was willing to give up my own life to suddenly turned against me calling me disordered, judging me…But none really wanted to listen to me, i have always been disciplined in matters of chastity, i wanted to give my virginity to Christ the day of my ordination…..

    I encountered confessors that would have sent me to hell right away if i told them i was gay, i suddenly found "holy" people that preached that gays were like beasts…that i myself was a beast.

    I realized since my seminarian formation that celibacy was going to be a huge challenge on me, i always wanted to be a parent, i am the oldest son in my family…

    I soon realized that i had nowhere to go, no place to look for comfort but Tabernacle, there i cried alone at the end of the mass when none would see me. I felt like an animal begging for mercy before the last breath, i asked God to take my life away and i still do everyday, I really want to feel loved, and accepted, i want to share my life with another human being, i want to feel not so alone in this path of life…but i can't.

    I know who i am, and i know i could be a miserable man, that maybe i am the most repugnant of men, but i felt love towards another man once, i loved him so much that i gave up on him, so he could go on, and taught him everything i knew about God.

    Right now i really want to commit suicide, there is no way for me to feel fulfilled and loved in this world I am withering away in anguish everyday, Depression, Panic attacks, anxiety that causes me insomnia for days straight, no medication seems enough to calm down my anguish and struggle i have been in since struggling with Homosexuality and Church's Teaching

    I feel so tormented at Mass, because i see with my own eyes how my family rejects me, how they don't even care what i am passing through, How i cannot partake in the Holy Sacrament that i so reverently adored everyday at the seminary, the same bread of life that brought me to tears because i felt so honored when i was assigned to take it to the sick.

    I beg you, pray that God may take away this miserable life of mine before succumb and take it away myself.

    • Mary says:

      Oranur,

      With tears in my eyes I pray for you. The picture you paint of the tortured man begging at the Tabernacle is so beautiful. Would that we all turned to God in such a fashion!

      I have nothing but prayers for you. Psalm 30: Complacent, I once said, “I shall never be shaken.” LORD, when you showed me favor I stood like the mighty mountains. But when you hid your face I was struck with terror. To you, LORD, I cried out; with the Lord I pleaded for mercy: “What gain is there from my lifeblood, from my going down to the grave? Does dust give you thanks or declare your faithfulness? Hear, O LORD, have mercy on me; LORD, be my helper.” You changed my mourning into dancing; you took off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness. With my whole being I sing endless praise to you. O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.

      Psalm 71: You have sent me many bitter afflictions, but once more revive me. From the watery depths of the earth once more raise me up. Restore my honor; turn and comfort me, That I may praise you with the lyre for your faithfulness, my God, And sing to you with the harp, O Holy One of Israel!

      Psalm 86: Hear me, LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and oppressed. Preserve my life, for I am loyal; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; pity me, Lord; to you I call all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant; to you, Lord, I lift up my soul. Lord, you are kind and forgiving, most loving to all who call on you. LORD, hear my prayer; listen to my cry for help. In this time of trouble I call, for you will answer me.

      The whole of Psalms 88 and 91 I pray for you. I encourage you to read the whole book. The Psalms have been my very dear friends in times of terrible trouble.

  62. Oranur says:

    I am a 24 year old gay male, Catholic and ex-seminarian, i will share my story with you and with everyone that is willing to listen to me.

    I came out of my seminary because of reasons that have nothing to do with homosexuality, however my world crumbled after i got out, i realized that my whole life i wanted to be a Priest and all of a sudden my life had no purpose, and no meaning. That brought me into a deep existential crisis…a Crisis that disarmored my heart, mind and soul to the Truth about myself, one of those truths was that i was really gay, i had been fighting with it my whole life and managed to cheat myself into brainwashing my own min to convince me it was not that…..However this time i did not have the mental energy to fool myself anymore….

    My existential crisis became even deeper, and more severe that anything i would have imagined, I loved my Church, i loved Christ and God with all my heart, and i say this with tears in my eyes because God knows its true and i am not afraid to say it, but after i accepted that i was gay, and always had been since i have use of memory, i felt isolated, suddenly the family i knew and served with all my heart, the same Church Family that i was willing to give up my own life to suddenly turned against me calling me disordered, judging me…But none really wanted to listen to me, i have always been disciplined in matters of chastity, i wanted to give my virginity to Christ the day of my ordination…..

    I encountered confessors that would have sent me to hell right away if i told them i was gay, i suddenly found "holy" people that preached that gays were like beasts…that i myself was a beast.

    I realized since my seminarian formation that celibacy was going to be a huge challenge on me, i always wanted to be a parent, i am the oldest son in my family…

    I soon realized that i had nowhere to go, no place to look for comfort but Tabernacle, there i cried alone at the end of the mass when none would see me. I felt like an animal begging for mercy before the last breath, i asked God to take my life away and i still do everyday, I really want to feel loved, and accepted, i want to share my life with another human being, i want to feel not so alone in this path of life…but i can't.

    I know who i am, and i know i could be a miserable man, that maybe i am the most repugnant of men, but i felt love towards another man once, i loved him so much that i gave up on him, so he could go on, and taught him everything i knew about God.

    Right now i really want to commit suicide, there is no way for me to feel fulfilled and loved in this world I am withering away in anguish everyday, Depression, Panic attacks, anxiety that causes me insomnia for days straight, no medication seems enough to calm down my anguish and struggle i have been in since struggling with Homosexuality and Church's Teaching

    I feel so tormented at Mass, because i see with my own eyes how my family rejects me, how they don't even care what i am passing through, How i cannot partake in the Holy Sacrament that i so reverently adored everyday at the seminary, the same bread of life that brought me to tears because i felt so honored when i was assigned to take it to the sick.

    I beg you, pray that God may take away this miserable life of mine before succumb and take it away myself.

    • Lilacs says:

      Oranur, I’m praying for you. God loves you! I want to encourage you and Tienne and others to take a look at this website, it is written by a faithful gay Catholic man who’s about 28. http://Www.stevegershom.com He discusses how to resist temptaion, how to deal with the rejection, self-denial, and suffering that comes with being a chaste gay Christian, and especially how to deal with depression. I hope you are still reading this, and doing better.

  63. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary says:

    Oranur -

    the same Church Family that i was willing to give up my own life to suddenly turned against me calling me disordered, judging me…

    I am so very sorry to hear that you were the object of such terrible treatment. It is really unfortunate when Christ's supposed followers don't actually show people the love of Christ.

    Please do seek help if you're having suicidal thoughts. There IS help out there, and there IS a path to happiness and joy for you. If you don't know of a therapist, you could contact your local Catholic Charities office and they could set you up with someone. (I don't think you'd have any issues with receiving the poor treatment that you did in your local parish community — the CC people I've met tend to be extremely sympathetic and understanding.)

    God bless you. You'll be in my prayers.

  64. Bettie says:

    I am really amazed at the progressive attitude that i’m seeing about homosexuality here! (I am not a Catholic, just searching for religion that seems right to me) One of the major issues I’ve had with Christian churches is the hatred and fear of homosexuality. I am a child of lesbian parents, so it has really affected me personally because of having to defend my belief that God made us as we are and that loving someone should not be treated as an ugly, unforgivable thing. I understand the belief that God wants marriage to be between a man and a woman for the sense of procreation, but what about those gay couples that love children and want to either adopt one of the many children that don’t have homes or create their own by surrogate or donated sperm? Technically they are expanding their families, what would Catholicism say about this? I’ll definitely be sticking around to read more =)

    • Carolyn P. says:

      The Catholic church does not hate gay people at all. They just will not and cannot accept sexual practices that are considered abominations to God. It is crazy to think people are born gay. God would not do that to someone! And if you do research on the internet, there are MANY people who have repented of the gay lifestyle and now live 100% straight. People, gay or not are all born innocent little babies. Some people become gay later in life due to confusion, or sexual abuse (LOTS due to this), or from whatever social circle they end up in. I am sure I will get some backlash here, but I will only say what I know is right, and right out of the Bible. Jesus is JESUS, we cannot pick and choose out of the Bible what kind of God we WANT Him to be for us individually!

  65. Aldous Buttersworth says:

    I think we have to choose, did God make all that is good? Or did God make everything, good and bad?

    If we decide the former is true under Christian guidelines, homosexuals are no the product of God, but rather Satan. And thus, we as Christians have just created second-class citizens.

    If we decide the latter, our only defense is that God works in mysterious ways. Would his mysterious ways be making people homosexual to test their faith and see if they can rid themselves of homosexuality? Why would a loving God do such a painful things to someone, by making their biological needs not only different from the majority, but make it morally wrong? Does he still have a chip on his shoulder from his angrier days of the Old Testament? Or is it merely that we use “God’s will” as an excuse to justify our fear and lack of understanding of those minorities different from us?

    It wasn’t that long ago in our history that mentally ill people were considered posessed by daemons by many Christians, and that being anything other than fair-skinned was punishment for being a sinner. We’re talking a matter of decades, here . . .

  66. Danielle Cook says:

    I feel like you took the right approach, I too was in a situation as yours except my friends are young an i just didn’t know what to say to them but with prayer an more studying of my bible i found the answer all i can do is tell them what i believe and not judge them based on how they feel, or like. But i have received good ideas from you i will use and again keep up the good work.

  67. Gillian says:

    the eternal soul link doesn’t work….
    Gillian recently posted..Mild Persecution

  68. Luisa says:

    Dear Jennifer,

    I know this is an older post, but I just discovered your blog this past weekend and I just read this post. I want to echo the comments that were posted in 2007…
    Thank you so much for sharing your perspective and the Church’s stance on homosexuality so clearly. I am a junior at a university that has a great and very active LGBTQ community, and have found myself becoming friends with (really awesome) gay people on campus. Since then, I have been struggling with this issue because I am a cradle Catholic and no one has ever discussed or explained this issue and the Church’s stance on it very clearly. I’ve only done a little bit of research on this, and your post certainly helps me a ton.

    Anyway, thanks so much for sharing your story!

  69. Annaliese says:

    Jennifer, this is a beautiful post. I only wrote about the same issue on my blog recently as Gay Marriage has been very much in the media. You have articulated the Churches message very well, and I appreciate so much that you really highlighted the acceptance of the person and not the sin. I don’t think that any person with same sex attraction will ever come to Christianity if we point our fingers at them and condemn them. Much love and compassion is needed.

  70. Carolyn P. says:

    Hi, Jen, love your writing! My issues with gay people is this: Plain and simply, the Bible says homosexual acts are an abomination to God. It is not judging for me to quote this, and if we’re smart and God-fearing, we will take it seriously. I have no problem with people-gay or straight-in general. I hate absolutely no one, thank goodness. BUT, I cannot and will not support the gay lifestyle. As far as having gay friends, why not? How can we as Christians witness to the very people who need it, if we run from them screaming in fear that their ‘gayness’ is contagious. Jesus commanded us to LOVE our neighbor, not try to love them. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s a practice Christians and everyone else in this world need to follow. Blessings to you!

  71. Carol says:

    Jennifer, I just found your site today and am very impressed. I don’t blog, I am aware that this post is a year too late, but I can’t stop thinking about Oranur. My heart breaks for this man. If Oranur would walk up to me today, I would say, “Oranur, God made you, God loves you and He has a plan for your life. Please don’t despair.Don’t take your life. I can see you are an intelligent, articulate man who loves the Lord and humanity. I will pray for you every day. We, as the body of Christ, need you here!” I understand all the intellectual arguments about our gift of sexuality, but we need to begin by loving each other unconditionally. No one should feel so alone in the church. I hope this man is still alive.

  72. Robert H. says:

    Thanks for sharing. You touched on a dimension that was unknown to me. Everyone needs to know more about gay issues and how deep they are. I think that is a start towards saving lives that don’t have to be lost.

    My prayers for strength and guidance for all people like you.

  73. Natalia says:

    Hi Jen, I just found your blog through a Catholic friend of mine. I am an Orthodox Christian, and although we share some similar views on the purpose of sex (and sex only within heterosexual marriage) there is some discordance between the Orthodox and Catholic views on contraception. Up until now I have always been really thankful that we Orthodox “get off easy” in some ways (we’re supposed to plan for a family, but that doesn’t mean every sexual encounter has to plausibly result in pregnancy, hence, after discussion with a spiritual father or mother it is plausible to use certain forms of birth control… but you probably know all this). Anyway, this particular argument for the reasons why the purpose of sex does not fit within homosexuality really has illuminated my mind to further understanding the purpose of sex itself. Thinking about it this way really makes sense, and I’d been struggling to understand what was “so wrong” with homosexuality otherwise.
    Although I don’t *want* to change my view since that is so hugely demanding, I’m definitely going to be searching out this issue much more carefully. I don’t really understand how NFP can be part of the equation though, if each time you have intercourse should be a possibility for pregnancy. How can it be okay to use NFP?
    Anyway, most of all… THANK YOU for your excellent writing and argumentative skills and I really appreciate the honesty with which you tackle these issues!

    • Great to hear from you, Natalia! I highly recommend the book The Good News about Sex and Marriage by Christopher West for answering those questions about NFP. The short version is: With NFP, you’re not going out of your way to sever the life-giving properties of the sexual act – even if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, the possibility is still there. In a way, I think the answer to the “why is NFP different than contraception?” question is answered by the fact that everyone is so daunted by using it: It is *because* we realize that it preserves the life-giving possibilities of the act that we’re so freaked out about it. :) Anyway, Christopher West does a better job with that question than I do, but that’s some food for thought. Thanks for your comment!

  74. Kev Jang says:

    SH wrote : I think gays (esp. male gays) have much harder temptations because they can find sexual gratification very easily. That must make it harder to resist. It must be similar to being an alcoholic vs. being a marijuana smoker. Alcohol is available at your corner store, but how do you buy marijuana even if you wanted it?

    Also, I have a gay brother, and I have been close with many of his friends over the decades. The one thing that has always struck me is that they don’t really “bond” like male-females do. They are more like good friends who are roommates who have sex with each other. I’ll give a few examples. First, gay couples (at least, gay male couples) very, very often have multiple sexual partners. Orgies (and drugs) are common in gay culture. A lifelong, monogamous bond is very rare. Second, when gay men “get married” they almost never pool their resources fully the way that male-female couples do. If one comes into the relationship with a lot of money and the other with none, you can bet that the large sum of money is going to stay in an account in the rich guy’s name. But husbands routinely hand everything over to their wives and treat it as “community” property. People can disagree with me on these things, but I’ve seen them again and again and again over several decades with my brother’s friends. I know I am right. There is a very different and less bonded, less profound “feel” to a gay male relationship than to your typical male-female marriage. Third, when gay men get sick, of AIDS for example, their party boy friends disappear within a few months. The people you will find at their bedsides are their mothers, their sisters, their female friends, and occasionally a father, brother, or good male friend or two. That has been my experience. Lots of gay men can vouch for me on this one, but unfortunately they are all dead. The living gay men probably don’t want to acknowledge that this is true and that they are surrounded by so much temporary “loyalty.” A life lived without women is not much of a life.

    _____
    SH, your dilemma of wanting to show Christian love to people living in that lifestyle and yet making a stand for what our faith states is a real dilemma many Christians face. It is easy to jump to conclusions or to judge and condemn homosexuals or those living that lifestyle, when we need to remember too that heterosexuals are about as knee-deep in sins like fornication, sexual promiscuity and so on, and also, deep down inside, what homosexuals search for like all of us regardless of orientation is a need for meaningful relationship. Without meaningful relationship, all humans–homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual or whatever–are bound to fail in the way they understand themselves and their purpose in relation to God and the church too.

    A few of my best friends are gay and live the homosexual lifestyle. Granted that some of them do not make the best of choices and enter relationships based more on the need to satiate sexual yearnings, with the element of the “utility” of human bodies thrown in(my best friend himself gets attracted to muscular men who are like himself, an alpha-male by American standards), I think that deep down inside, there is really an emptiness sitting in within the homosexual lifestyle, and it starts very much with the need for meaningful relationships of a platonic nature with the same sex for them. If many of them had been loved unconditionally regardless and despite of their sexuality, and loved for the image of God which still resides in them, then perhaps we as Christians would not have driven them away from the church and from Biblical scriptures as well, but would have admonished them in a way to come to seek healing in Christ.

  75. Therese says:

    Regarding the whole thread about having Gay Friends, and how to reconcille being a Christian Catholic with their lifestyle-
    We are all- whether we are married, single, a clergy, or have same sex attractions- called to put God first in our lives. so our concern for our soul needs to come first before anything else.
    regarding Tiennes comments that married people choose to not be celibate, and those in holy orders choose voluntarily to be celibate, and implied that only homosexuals who want to follow Gods teachings have celibacy imposed upon them.
    Not true.
    like many out there I married and had children. Yet now after 20 plus years my husband made the choice to abandon our marriage. yet I am married in Gods eyes and cannot seek out another love interest/husband for as long as my spouse lives. Celibacy has been forced upon me. I have chosen to remain faithful to my vows and instead consecrate my life to our Lord. He is my spouse during this time and if need be for the remaining 40-50 years I have left on this life.
    One of my children has this issue of same sex attraction. we call it same sex attraction instead of calling them Gay because having this tendancy, this attraction does not mean one has to/is forced to embrace it and live that lifestyle, no one is forced to act it out sexually. Yet for some reason some people have this cross to bear, this struggle.
    Courage is the apostalate that helps those with same sex attraction follow Gods plan for living a chaste life. I have no doubt this is a hard struggle.
    Melanie B is so right in her comments that regardless of what path we are called to, or what path God puts us on/ or by our choices we end up on- we all have our crosses.
    often we did not choose those but nontheless God who is an all wise Father will help us bear them.
    I know that because of my crosses, my deep pain at being betrayed/ abandoned by my husband, and this struggle to love/connect/ pray for my child who currently is embracing the homosexual lifestyle,: God has used this for his good.
    no suffering goes to waste. I have embraced my faith in a way that I would not have otherwise if I had not been thrust into this pit! I am forever changed.
    Encourage is the ministry/apostalate that ministers to parents like myself who know that for our children to live sexually active homosexually will not bring them true happiness , neither in this life, and especially not in the next.
    we are encouraged to grow in our faith, to learn, educate ourselves about this topic and frequent the sacraments as much a possible.
    Our Lady of Cana is the group that has helped me along the path of remaining faithful to my marriage sacrament despite a society that promotes otherwise.
    Oranur you are in my prayers. As someone who felt called to the priesthood I know you have a love for the Lord. HE will help you. There is no pain, no struggle that he himself has not suffered. As one priest early on in my struggles told me- keep your focus ( your eyes) on Jesus. regardless of our circumstances in this life he alone is our joy, our hope.
    eternal life is our goal.