God Wouldn’t Make People Gay if it Was a Sin?

Today I would like to address a statement that was thrown around after the publication of an article from this blog on the very popular Chastity Project Blog. After reading about my friend Jake, who experiences Same Sex Attraction and has found peace and love in the Holy Roman Catholic Church, many readers felt that it was “so sad” that Jake would be “unable” to “live a full life”, and that the Church was just “so bad” for denying Jake what is clearly a God given right, the joys of a romantic relationship with whomever he should choose.

I’m going to try to make this really clear. I’m even going to put it in capital letters, but don’t feel like I’m yelling at you. I’m not yelling.

BEING GAY IS NOT A SIN. ACTING ON IT IS.

God “makes” people certain ways all the time that he doesn’t want us to act upon. It’s called a cross. In Christian circles, a cross is often referred to as a struggle that one must carry throughout life.

Here are some examples of crosses that many people are called to carry, but called NOT to act upon.

Many people suffer from Depression; it is a combination of life experiences, hormonal imbalances, and natural (usually obsessive or anxious) tendencies that cause depression. Being depressed is not a sin, but committing suicide, or hurting yourself or others, is a sin.

Many people are naturally inclined to anger. Being angry is not a sin, acting out on it in a way that is unnecessary and hurtful is.

Many people (myself included) suffer from Anxiety. Being anxious is not a sin; acting on it in a way that makes one cold, hardened, and controlling, and therefore hurts others is a sin.

Many people struggle with pornography, which is a result of struggling with lust. Desiring sexual intimacy is not a sin, using others in order to gratify your desires is a sin.

God makes people with these crosses all the time. Actually, every single one of us is made with a disordered inclination (or a few) that we need to work our entire lives to control. This is the path to Christian perfection. Just because we are “born this way” (thank you Lady Gaga) doesn’t mean we have the “right” to act on it. A question that I get when I speak to young people about abstinence is, “But haven’t you wanted to have sex with your boyfriends?” The answer shouldn’t be shocking at all. Of course I wanted to have sex with them, that is why I dated them… I was attracted to them, they were attracted to me, I found out they were a good person, they love Jesus…Bam- the recipe for a great potential sexual partner. (aka. Husband)

But here is the catch… just because we want to do something doesn’t mean we should do it. Especially if it would disrespect the dignity of another or myself- and in comes the Catholic definition of chastity:

2339 Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery, which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.126 “Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end.”127

2349 “People should cultivate [chastity] in the way that is suited to their state of life. Some profess virginity or consecrated celibacy, which enables them to give themselves to God alone with an undivided heart in a remarkable manner. Others live in the way prescribed for all by the moral law, whether they are married or single.”136 Married people are called to live conjugal chastity; others practice chastity in continence:

There are three forms of the virtue of chastity: the first is that of spouses, the second that of widows, and the third that of virgins. We do not praise any one of them to the exclusion of the others. . . . This is what makes for the richness of the discipline of the Church.137

137: St. Ambrose, De viduis 4,23:PL 16,255A.

The above is taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and is by far not exhaustive, there are many more passages regarding chastity. However, there is not much regarding Homosexuality. It is treated as any other disordered passion, including lust, pornography, etc.   Here is what its says:

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,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 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.

That last paragraph (2359) could easily replace the words “Homosexual persons” with any of our names.

“Janelle is called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teaches her inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, she can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

That is not just for me, or people who struggle with SSA (I dislike defining people by their sexual orientation, or referring to them as gay), this is for each and every one of us. Right now, broader society is really bringing attention to this particular group. Soon I am sure people who struggle with polygamy, pedophilia, and other disordered tendencies will make their rounds much like those who support pornography and prostitution have in the past and still do. It is what it is. Our responsibility is to continue to live out chastity, continue to proclaim the Truth, and continue to hold our brothers and sisters to the highest accountability and respect.

In the same way that the Church and faithful friends help Jake to remain accountable, Jake also helps me, as a woman who experiences sexual attraction, to remain accountable to my vow of abstinence until marriage. None of us is better than the other nor are our disordered inclinations more or less holy. We are all just people dealing with various struggles, and we need to come alongside each other to help bring each of us closer to Christ. This is the true purpose of our lives.

“So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.13For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.14Do everything without grumbling or questioning,15that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,among whom you shine like lights in the world,16as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.17But, even if I am poured out as a libationupon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.18In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me” – Philippians 2:12-18

Why I Chose Love: Journey of a Catholic with Same Sex Attraction

A friend of mine, who has chosen the pseudonym Jake Stanwood, asked me if he could write about his journey with Same Sex Attraction as a Catholic for my blog.  My response was an unequivocal yes.  After reading this amazing story, I am blown away by Jake’s love for God and trust in his plan.  This story is truly inspirational.

 

“We love you no matter what sexual orientation you choose to live out.” These are the words of a father to me, his 15 year old son, 10 years ago. Um…  Awkward? Up until that point my dad had never talked to me about sex, and the topic was never mentioned again. I remember every little detail about the conversation: The sweaty palms, cold freezing office space, and the awkwardness created by the long wooden desk separating us from talking like normal people. How did I respond? I said nothing. Absolutely nothing. I stared at him with a blank face and ran back into my room crying and thinking about how the heck I ever got into this mess.
“Great….even my parents think I’m gay” “That person at school thinks I’m gay too, maybe it’s because of the way I talk” “Wait…maybe I should change the way I talk?  That will make me look manlier” “Crap that person is totally staring at me and thinks I’m gay” These are just a few of the crazy thoughts that constantly ruminated in my head. Talk about feeling paranoid. It always felt as if I was split in between two worlds. One side was telling me “Just come out of the closet, hook up with someone, embrace the fact you’re gay!”  The other side, (far less appealing) said, “If anyone ever finds out! You’re dead!! Don’t ever talk about this to anyone.”

Praise God, He created a Church that has given me a third option, that doesn’t seem like it’s going to drown me in lust or turn me into a stoic that’s being internally destroyed by his desires. I have chosen the path to Chastity. I have chosen the path toward authentic love and sexual self-control.

Is this easy? NO.
The sexual temptations have always been there for me, and I suppose will always be. I am not afraid to admit that until the day I die I will probably always be attracted to men. However, I don’t think this aspect of my cross has been the greatest struggle. The greatest struggle has been my interior life. Having same sex attraction and being Catholic is hard (well, being Catholic is hard).  It is a unique/heavy cross to carry, and a very painful one. It comes with its share of anxiety, heartache, tears and boogers. Us folks, who have SSA, we struggle with a lot. Among those things are body image, father wounds, bouts of depression, feeling less masculine, and a lot of us aren’t good at sports (which makes it harder for us to bond with other men). Growing up I always felt different and uncomfortable around other men, as if I was unworthy to even be called a man. However, I think it’s especially difficult to carry out this chaste lifestyle in the midst of today’s hyper sexual culture.

 The culture today has become increasingly pro-gay. Just take a look at shows like Glee, Modern Family, or anything Lady Gaga… this stuff didn’t build up overnight.  While this DOMA thing was taking place my Facebook newsfeed exploded with red equal sings. The younger generation has become largely accepting of the gay community.  I’m glad that people are starting to become less homophobic and are speaking against gay bullying. However, this doesn’t mean that I’m for gay marriage or I think people should pursue same sex relationships.

It just doesn’t fit human sexuality or natural law.  Just because I have an inclination to do something doesn’t mean that I should follow it. When we pursue sexuality outside of the way God designed for it to be we can find ourselves in messy situations. Hence the high promiscuity, infidelity, and STD rates associated with the gay community. But of course the media will never portray it this way, living a gay lifestyle is portrayed as glamorous and fulfilling.  I am not saying that every gay person is living a promiscuous life and is carrying an STD on them. I have many friends who identify as gay who are hard workers and are doing awesome things with their lives. However, I will not deny that amongst the “gay scene” multiple partners and infidelity rates are pretty high. Homosexuality has to be identified more with behavior, than with identity.  That’s how the gay movement has progressed so much they’ve turned it into its own culture. The minute we reduce ourselves to our sexual orientation, we lose sight of who we really are.
I’ve chosen to never engage in a sexual relationship with another guy and remain celibate, despite the fact there are times I feel the ache of this desire. This may seem like a total fail in the eyes of the world, but am I really missing out on much? Chastity gives me so much more. It gives me the ability to live out healthy and loving relationships with both men and women. It is giving me the opportunity to bring healing to areas of my masculinity that have been gravely wounded. It respects me for who I am, allows me to appreciate beauty, and recognize the dignity in every person. This has involved a lot of wrestling with God. Many people think wresting with God is a bad thing. FALSE. You can only wrestle with someone who is close to you, so in a way wrestling with these attractions has drawn me closer to God. It is a cross, but with every cross the Lord is always right beside us.
Yes, I realize that I will not always get what I want. I can’t tell you about the hundreds of days I felt I just wanted someone to hold and be intimate with. Sometimes I look at happy couples and wonder if I am missing out!  But, I understand that fulfillment goes much deeper than wanting someone around. I find fulfillment by being in relationship with the God who created me to be fulfilled by Him, and in community.

The truth is, I love being Catholic.

The Church loves me. It desires what is best for me, and sometimes this kind of love hurts, because it doesn’t always feel good. However in the long run it guides me to a much more fulfilling life and a more adventurous one. No, the Church is NOT a bigoted institution that hates gays. Quite the opposite. I have never met as many loving and understanding people as I have in the Catholic Church. I am incredibly fortunate! I have many friends in the Church that know about my struggle and are there to support and encourage me along the way. I have a choir of saints and angels who are constantly interceding for me, a mother in heaven that deeply loves me, and a God who bears his very self in the Eucharist each and everyday.   If you ask me… I’ve hit the jackpot.