Lessons learned from experience in the gay community
Here are some of the lessons I've learned from being in the gay community for a year and half over 25 years ago:
- The big problem is lust. Whether it be straight, gay, bi, transgendered, two spirited, or whatever... I now understand Jesus words, "Everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Mat 5:28) Jesus understood that the underlying problem to sexual sin is lust. When we get clear of lust everything else starts to "straighten" out. Many people these days think lust is a good thing. A dictionary definition of lust is "an intense or unrestrained sexual craving." That is not a good thing.
- Denial is not a good thing. People who are same-sex attracted need to have a place where they talk about it, whether it be with a spiritual advisor, or with someone who they can trust or in a group. The Church needs to be able to provide a safe environment where that can happen; an environment that is supporting, loving and free of the "yuck!" factor around sexual sin or struggle.
- People with same-sex attraction join the gay community because they are looking for somewhere to belong. The problem is that it is extremely unhealthy to create an environment that encourages people, who are questioning their sexuality, to physically explore crossed gender sexual relationships. Because when lust kicks in and is factored into orientation problems, it forges a powerful new denial that is much worse than being in the closet; it is denial of our call to chastity. This is why the Church must take up the responsibility for helping people with same sex attraction, rather than the gay community.
- The goal of a healthy life is not to express lust but rather to heal it through a relationship with Jesus. We don't think there is any other way to an authentic healing of our human sexuality. That is why it is so important that the Church step up to this.
Helping people with same-sex attraction is the Church's responsibility
The Catechism says this about same sex attraction:
...They [gay men and lesbians] must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These people are called to fulfill God's will in their lives... (2358)
. . .It's psychological genesis remains largely unexplained." (section 2357) .
..Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (Gen 19:1-29; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10), tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." 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
...The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is 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.
...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. (Catechism 2357-2359).
I don't know what healing will look like for you. Chastity means that we accept a biblical understanding of sex. It comes down to the word "vocation." Vocation means choosing what are we called by God to live out. Once we are "born again" in Christ, we are called to "carry this message to the world." For some same sex attracted people, recovery will mean complete healing, perhaps a hetero marriage. For others it will mean celibacy. For others there may be a struggle.
One thing I know for sure is that there is a difference between genders. Many advocates of same sex relationships think of gender as a sort of "Mr. Potato Head" game where the core of all people is the same and only the body parts are different. We believe this is wrong and that men and women are different to the core.
Father Bob Bedard once said that many men struggle with same-sex attraction because of poor childhood relations with their father. I thought that was simplistic when I first heard it back in 1988, but after speaking with hundreds of men who've struggled with same-sex attraction, It is part of the puzzle.
My personal opinion is that some people may be born with a "predisposition" to homosexuality, just like some are born with a predisposition to alcoholism or depression. In other words a combination of environmental and emotional circumstances may interact with certain predispositions resulting in what we might call "gay". I think that is quite a bit different from being born gay as an immutable characteristic such as race or colour. Some people who are born with a predisposition to depression become depressed, some don't. Some become depressed but after tuning their life over to Jesus, experience amazing healing and freedom from depression. I think any predisposition to any difficulty is a result of "original sin." Again this is just my opinion and I am in no way speaking for the Church here. What I do know is that Jesus has the power to overcome any sin, whether it be "original sin" or personal sin.
Lord Jesus, I thank you for all you have given me. I thank you for all I have lost. And I thank you for all the hearts that you've touched through me and the hearts that have loved me to health and happiness in your most Precious and Holy Name. Amen.
Scripture verses on the validity of a consecrated single life (no gay or heterosexual relationships):
Some people are called to a celibate life. Scripture often talks about this as a legitimate call from God. So don't despair if you have prayed and prayed and you are still feel you are not called to hetero marriage. Here are some Scriptures:
...his disciples said to him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry." But he said to them, "Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can."
1 Cor 7:6-9
...This I say by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.
1 Cor 7:24-35
...In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God. Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife... Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that. I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.
1 Cor 7:38-40
...So then, he who marries his fiancee does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better. A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord. But in my judgment she is more blessed if she remains as she is.