I know, this is now post number 4 for today. But after speaking to my friend tonight, I felt motivated to write. I apologise if it seems I tar all Protestant churches with same brush; I do not seek to single them out, but rather, I am trying to relate the story of a brother in Christ, and his personal battle with SSA in his Christian life.
I have always thought of all religions to have a hostile stance towards homosexual people, but tonight I realise that the Catholic Church actually has compassion for people with SSA.
In my reading on this topic, I have been made aware of organisations who are there to cure SSA people of their homosexuality and put them on the “straight” path so to speak. These ex-gay organisations use agressive therapy to cure. Some that come to mind are Exodus International, NARTH, Courage.
While these organisations seem well intentioned, I believe they are treading dangerous ground. The jury is not out on what causes SSA, so any applied therapy is at best a stab in the dark, and the possible ramifications of these attempted conversions on SSA persons is unknown. It could cause possible mental, emotional and spiritual damage, and have possible repercussions on future heterosexual partners and families.
I will direct you at this point to have a read of this article on John Heard’s site Dreadnought, which outlines the Catechism relating to homosexuality. John has covered it well so I won’t repeat it all here. But I will pull out some salient points.
“2357 … It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained.”
To date, there is no conclusion as to where SSA originates from. Is it genetic? Nature or Nurture? 2357 shows that the Catholic church acknowledges there is currently no answer, and thus is not attempting to draw conclusions from where no data exists.
“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.”
These two sections show that the Catholic Church’s acknowledges SSA does exist, and calls for compassion, dignity and respect towards people who are SSA. They call for a life of chastity, but no where are they calling for the SSA person to submit themselves to psychotherapy or other forms of conversion.
My friend comes from the Protestant tradition, and is currently having a hard time from his church. He has experienced what I believe to be terribly un-Christian behaviour. He has been thrown out of a number of churches on suspicion of being homosexual (even though he was not actively seeking a homosexual lifestyle, and from my conversations with him, he has not even participated in a homosexual act to date).
Lately, he has sought counsel from his pastor, and is now being asked to submit to ex-gay therapy for conversion to a “straight” life. And although he has served in a ministry with dignity and the faith of Christ, because he refuses to submit to this therapy, he is now barred from any service in ministry.
I cannot believe this has happened! Jesus came for everyone, not just the virtuous. Judgement is reserved for the Lord God alone, and we are expected to show charity, compassion and mercy to our brothers and sisters on this earth.
This is one area that highlights the differences between Catholic and Protestant traditions. It makes me feel happy that I am a Catholic, and sad that we cannot as Christians unite in living as Jesus taught us.
I will finish with a quote near the end of John’s post, as I feel it gives real hope to SSA Catholics and Christians in knowing that a life lived in celibacy is not necessarily a life sentance of isolation and loneliness:
“Indeed, depending on the strength of one’s will-power (and the Church does not expect men to be perfect, only to try as hard as humanly possible to be so) such a teaching could even leave room for deeply intense, passionate friendships, boyfriends and male with male unions.”