Thanks for sharing with it with us Ben.
I’d also direct you to look at his other post for that day on Sexual Identity.
I decided to take a peek at John Heard’s group “Dreadnoughters” on Facebook. It has a discussion board, and I think it is fostering a lot of healthy debate on topical issues.
I found this thread “Should SSA Catholics Have Boyfriends?“.
I feel, given what was discussed here, that there is hope for SSA Catholic’s seeking to have fulfilling and holy relationships.
Erik Huntzicker had this to say at the end of the thread:
“People, and institutions, can be wrong.”
But God cannot be wrong. Catholics believe that the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ, i.e. God, and therefore entrusted it with the guardianship of His truth. The moral teaching of the Church – especially when seen as also guided by the Holy Spirit – is therefore not seen as a human invention, an institutional behavior code, but as the command of God himself.
Therefore, if one stipulates to the divinity of Christ and to the fact the He founded the Catholic Church, then the Church’s teachings MUST be viewed as authoritative.
This does not mean that the Church has something to say on every little detail of life. For instance, it is clear that the Church teaches homogenital sex to be wrong. But the Church is silent on whether two men who are homosexually inclined can live together in chastity for the purposes of mutual love and support. In these cases the Church teaches the Christian to invoke prudential judgment and use his conscience – hopefully well formed – to make the best decision.
So there is considerable freedom to act within the Catholic moral framework, given that the intent of the one acting is in the spirit of Catholic moral teaching and for the greater glory of God. This is where a “faithful SSA Catholic” – or any faithful Catholic – can become mightily confused. It is expected that people of good will will disagree on many matters governed by “prudential judgment”.
Having this “externally imposed” moral structure does not relieve the Catholic of making moral decisions for himself. On the contrary, in very real ways, it forces him to do so. And it is when a person is compelled to make moral decisions contrary to his personal will or physical appetites that, as a person, he asserts those qualitites of his human being – namely reason and rational will – which distinguish himself from the rest of the created world. Therefore, rather than robbing a Christian of his human dignitiy and self-determination, the Church actually demands it and provides us with the best means of achieving it.
This thread is definitely worth a read for those of us who are feeling alone and conflicted.
I would just like to say here to my readers, I am not attacking religious institutions for their teachings, nor do I intend disrespect or disobedience to the Catholic teachings. I am simply raising the fact of unfair discrimination and hatred towards people just because they are homosexual. This is not what Jesus would do. And we have history to show it is not right: Treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, Slavery and violence towards African Americans, even the genocide in Bosnia. I think the same Christian attitude of love, respect and tolerance for the person should be shown towards homosexual people too.
I am writing this post after having read many religious discussion boards and other articles on the internet.
I am hugely concerned at the language and tone when used to discuss homosexuality. It seems people like to tar homosexual people with the same brush, used for criminal acts such as rape, pedophilia, murder and the like.
Words such as vile and disgusting are commonly part of discussion on the topic. Generalisations and assumptions are made. There is a lot of hate and prejudice out there. There is a lack of the respect, compassion and sensitivity called for by the Catechism, and a lot of the unjust discrimination is taking place. Even as far as 9/11 being blamed on homosexuals. There is a lot of sin in the world, much more abhorrent than simply being homosexual. This is sheer madness.
The recent child sex abuse scandal has likewise led to a witch-hunt, conveniently labeling the perpetrator of evil as homosexuality. I am not defending the actions of the offenders, on the contrary it is heinous to harm a child in anyway.
It is such bigotry and ignorance that lead to assumptions of homosexuality, and judgements made on people who are SSA. Is this not similar to the way Jews were portrayed as the evil in Germany? And the “black” people in the world? Anyone who is different, for whom we make no attempt to understand.
I seem to have had the misfortune of being born SSA, something which I had no choice over. Does this imply that I was also born evil? Do not all men have the capacity for evil? Why is it that Church’s are not hunting down men who commit adultery against their wives and families? Or those that have free sex with many women, even prostitutes? Or all the men who masturbate and view pornography? What about all the Catholics and Christians who download computer programs, CD’s and DVD’s from the internet? This is theft after all. Somehow being a homosexual is heinous, to be equated with rape or paedophilia.
I am not saying I am perfect, but I am not inherently evil. I have a strong faith in God, and am a very spiritual person. I participate in my church community, and give my time to help anyone who needs it. I have been celibate for a while now. If I am trying, why should anyone look at me differently, and judge me to be evil, or more capable of evil than anyone else?
Ultimately God is the Judge, and he can see into our hearts, and read our minds. He knows what is inside.
I know, I am a person full of love, faith, and tolerance for the diversity of God’s creation. I am human, but I am trying hard, and praying that I can live out the truth and values of my faith.
I am hoping that over time, people will learn, and that the words in the Catechism of the Catholic Church are understood and practiced by all Christians. I hope that bigotry, ignorance, intolerance, hatred and violence towards homosexuality will be replaced with love, compassion, support and understanding. It is a lonely path to walk, and SSA people need all the help we can get.
Today in my wordpress browsing, I came across a blog where the post of the day discussed how homosexual relationships had higher compatibility than heterosexual relationships. You can read Pat’s post here…
Here is my response
Your post is tending to say “Gay relationships are highly driven by sex” which then implies they do not really have any long lasting deep emotional connections.
I am an SSA man, but I don’t have that same sex drive, and if anything, I see in myself a higher level of EQ than some men. And for me, I am looking for that deep emotional attachment in a relationship first and foremost.
Also, I know lots of straight men who don’t have the voracious appetites for sexual pleasure that you say men have. And they have deep emotional attachment to their wives. I will accept this is not as common, but it does exist.
Additionally, I feel your comment on Gays and Lesbians considered as ethnic groups as further isolating homosexual people. Ethnic ghettos are bad news, you can see this experience all over the world. If people don’t mix out there in the world, we tend to be blinkered, and very limited in our thoughts and experiences. How can we understand one another if we stay on our side, and they stay on theirs, and never interact? This even goes on inside the homosexual community, with gays discriminating against lesbians, and even worse, amongst themselves.
And perhaps this is why I prefer to use SSA (Same-Sex-Attracted) rather than gay in describing myself, because gay has become, like you say, an ethnicity. There is too much baggage. I am attracted to men. Period. The rest is superfluous, a stereotype and lifestyle that people are brainwashed into thinking they must subscribe to. I am a lot more than my SSA. It doesn’t define who I am, it is merely a part of my human complexity.
Yes, it hasn’t been easy for homosexual people in the past, and we have needed a loud voice to be heard and get the rights and freedoms that have been hard won to date, but it is now time for homosexual people to evaluate what is happening now.
We have been fighting for equality, for the right to live the same as anyone else in society, but now we are tending to exclusivity, isolation, and separation from everyone else through the “gay” lifestyle.
Shouldn’t we be looking to build on our victories, and instead continue to strive for acceptance, and to be integrated into our heterogeneous world.
And just to avoid misinterpretation:
Heterogeneous: diverse in character or content.
In my opinion, sexual orientation does not define us, but rather is just a part of our human complexity.
Apart from this, there is the separation, segregation, isolation and exclusion of anyone else who does not belong to the lifestyle. Pat says
“Gays and lesbians can be considered ethnic groups. As such, we share a certain humor, culture and experience. We are drawn together and made stronger as a group by social marginalization. Homosexual relationships can benefit from this by having more in common with each other.”
Isolation is not an answer to marginalisation. It can only make things worse. This idea that gays and lesbians are an ethnic group seems dangerous to me. This “ghettofication” only serves to further widen the chasm between homosexuals and heterosexuals.
What do you think?
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.”
This post started from a conversation I had with Lindsey (from *! [emphatic asterisk]). Thank you for starting me off! To everyone else reading, I am sorry it is long, but it is a complicated issue.
In all of the current “Gay Marriage” debate, there is a lot of discourse on what marriage is, and what a relationship is. Even the church’s all weigh in with views, denouncing homosexual relationships as disordered. I am in no way arguing for gay marriage (though I do believe in legal rights to protect a same-sex-couple financially for example).
I would like to share my insight into what a homosexual relationship can be.
When I was 22 I met my soulmate. He was a lot of firsts for me. (He was not my first kiss, but he was my second! 😉 )
It started on gay.com of all places. I don’t mean to be judgmental, but it is not the nicest of places. People tend to cruise there for random fun. It’s just not my thing. But that night, it all seemed it was a chance by design. I was about to give up for the evening, maybe for a while. I had just not had any luck finding someone for months and months. But like quitting smoking, I was going to quit it tomorrow 😛 Then someone in the chat room piped up: “Someone, say something!”
And I did. And there was every chance that I might not have met him. I might have closed the window before he replied. The internet connection might have dropped out (dial-up in those days). Who knows. But it did happen.
And after a few weeks chatting online, then on the phone, we finally met. That day I was so nervous, but at the end, I thought I had met my soulmate. He was going to be with me forever. From that day had begun my spiritual bond.
Over the 5 years, our relationship was also sexual, but because of our secretive circumstances, it wasn’t a constant. And not that it mattered much to me. What else I had was wonderful. His presence was with me, even when we were not together. We talked all the time. We spent a lot of time on drives together, holidays together. He shared my circle of friends. He loved my family, especially my mother, and I loved his family too. We went to dinner at all different places, saw movies, theatre, symphony and opera together. We snuggled on the couch together, we kissed. On our holidays away, I slept next to him, I woke next to him. We cooked together, we ate together. We watched TV together after dinner. I was teaching him to drive a manual.
Because we both lived at home with our respective parents, we couldn’t always enjoy physical aspects to our relationship (and physical does not just mean sex). But I still felt close to him all the while. I would wake in the morning with him on my mind, and go to sleep thinking about him. I’d text him on my way to work, and he’d text back when he got a chance. We planned our future together. We wanted a vegetable garden. We wanted a dog. We enjoyed our escapes to the Blue Mountains, and he loved to go bushwalking.
While now that has all come to a sudden end, it did exist at the time.
When it ended, that close connection was severed. The pain and the loss, it was excruciating. There was no communication, and I never knew exactly why it ended, though there was someone in the middle, that much I knew. I spent my time cyber-stalking, piecing fact together from clues. In the end what I learned showed him to be a stranger to me. That hurt even more than the sudden end. It broke all my trust. For me, it was like he had died. I had lost him forever. The extent to which he had changed is dramatic. Even though he still exists on this planet, my first love is dead.
Where does this leave me today?
The Catholic Church is apparently quite explicit about how it views homosexuality/same-sex-attraction. It states the homo-genital act is sinful, and homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered”. It calls SSA Catholics to a life of celibacy, much the same as for single heterosexual people, and heterosexual couples before marriage.
Since the breakup, I will admit, I have lost interest for sexual intimacy. It was never that important to me. What is more important to me is the companionship, the closeness of bond one has with a partner. The bible talks about different love, and I can state there is different love in our lives. My parents love me, like no other. My sister loves me too, like no other. My friends love me dearly too. And above all, God loves me, unconditionally. And my partner loved me. And though there was all this love, each love was different.
It is in our human design, that we are meant to have that bond, to become one with another. That does not change even for homosexual people. I am not interested in the sleazy sex that is often assoscated with the stereotypical gay community, a different night, a different guy (or perhaps more than one!). The same pattern I just mentioned can also be said for heterosexual men. The Church doesn’t do much jumping about that though, do they?
I am a monogamous guy. I want that one to share my life with. The love that two people share in a relationship is so different than that experienced anywhere. As with “straight” people, it is every bit as deep and meaningful for “gay” people.
While I am now seriously considering a celibate lifestyle, I can’t see that I wouldn’t be allowed to hug or kiss another man. Since it is not a sin for premarital kissing and hugging in a heterosexual relationship, I don’t see that as being sinful in a homosexual relationship. Hugging and kissing are socially acceptable modes of communication in any case, that are expressed daily, in public with all manner of people. A peck on the cheek in greeting, a quick kiss on the lips goodbye as ones partner departs on a business trip, or a comforting hug for one who is in pain.
The biggest question for me is, am I ever going to find someone who would feel the same, who could feel complete in the closeness we would have together, even without the sexual act? And if that person is out there, and we did live together chastely for the rest of our lives, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, supporting and loving one another, contributing to our community and working to live out our Catholic faith, does God really condemn that as a sinful, disordered life?
God did create Eve for Adam, so that he would not be alone. By that, it is intrinsically a human need for a life companion. In my case however, I was created as I am, with a same-sex-attraction, and though that be the case, it has not absolved my human need for that other person.
I would like to share the following prayer published on Dreadnought’s site:
Prayer for SSA Catholics:
Pray for us, Blessed John Henry Newman, that our friendships may come to the fullness of truth, and radiate purity, in Him. May we serve the truth, like you did, and know Him when He shows Himself to us.
I’m also looking for other prayers, so if anyone can help in this search, please drop a comment.