The thoughts and experiences of a temple-worthy returned missionary who experiences same-sex attraction.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine
This blog post has been floating
around Facebook and I finally decided to check it out. I'm so glad I did!
This post greatly reflects my own
personal experiences, and it's so refreshing to hear a similar perspective from
a young man from a different branch of Christianity. As much as I'd like to juxtapose my
commentary after every line, I think you'll get the picture without it:
"I have heard a lot about how
mean the Church is, and how bigoted, because she opposes gay marriage. How
badly she misunderstands gay people, and how hostile she is towards us. My gut
reaction to such things is: Are you freaking kidding me? Are we even talking
about the same Church?
When I go to Confession, I
sometimes mention the fact that I’m gay, to give the priest some context. (And
to spare him some confusion: Did you say “locker room”? What were you doing in
the women’s . . . oh.) I’ve always gotten one of two responses: either
compassion, encouragement, and admiration, because the celibate life is
difficult and profoundly counter-cultural; or nothing at all, not even a
ripple, as if I had confessed eating too much on Thanksgiving.
Of the two responses, my ego
prefers the first — who doesn’t like thinking of themselves as some kind of
hero? — but the second might make more sense. Being gay doesn’t mean I’m
special or extraordinary. It just means that my life is not always easy.
(Surprise!) And as my friend J. said when I told him recently about my
homosexuality, “I guess if it wasn’t that, it would have been something else.”
Meaning that nobody lives without a burden of one kind or another. As Rabbi
Abraham Heschel said: “The man who has not suffered, what can he possibly know,
Where are all these bigoted
Catholics I keep hearing about? When I told my family a year ago, not one of
them responded with anything but love and understanding. Nobody acted like I
had a disease. Nobody started treating me differently or looking at me funny.
The same is true of every one of the Catholic friends that I’ve told. They love
me for who I am.
Actually, the only time I get shock
or disgust or disbelief, the only time I’ve noticed people treating me
differently after I tell them, is when I tell someone who supports the gay
lifestyle. Celibacy?! You must be some kind of freak.
Hooray for tolerance of different
viewpoints. I’m grateful to gay activists for some things — making people more
aware of the prevalence of homosexuality, making homophobia less socially
acceptable — but they also make it more difficult for me to be understood, to
be accepted for who I am and what I believe. If I want open-mindedness,
acceptance, and understanding, I look to Catholics.
Is it hard to be gay and Catholic?
Yes, because like everybody, I sometimes want things that are not good for me.
The Church doesn’t let me have those things, not because she’s mean, but
because she’s a good mother. If my son or daughter wanted to eat sand I’d tell
them: that’s not what eating is for; it won’t nourish you; it will hurt you.
Maybe my daughter has some kind of condition that makes her like sand better
than food, but I still wouldn’t let her eat it. Actually, if she was young or
stubborn enough, I might not be able to reason with her — I might just have to
make a rule against eating sand. Even if she thought I was mean.
So the Church doesn’t oppose gay
marriage because it’s wrong; she opposes it because it’s impossible, just as
impossible as living on sand. The Church believes, and I believe, in a universe
that means something, and in a God who made the universe — made men and women,
designed sex and marriage from the ground up. In that universe, gay marriage
doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the picture, and we’re not
about to throw out the rest of the picture.
If you don’t believe in these
things, if you believe that men and women and sex and marriage are pretty much
whatever we say they are, then okay: we don’t have much left to talk about.
That’s not the world I live in.
So, yes, it’s hard to be gay and
Catholic — it’s hard to be anything and Catholic — because I don’t always get
to do what I want. Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want
and I’ll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion. Something not worth living or
dying for, or even getting up in the morning for. That might be the kind of
world John Lennon wanted, but John Lennon was kind of an idiot.
Would I trade in my Catholicism for
a worldview where I get to marry a man? Would I trade in the Eucharist and the
Mass and the rest of it? Being a Catholic means believing in a God who
literally waits in the chapel for me, hoping I’ll stop by just for ten minutes
so he can pour out love and healing on my heart. Which is worth more — all
this, or getting to have sex with who I want? I wish everybody, straight or
gay, had as beautiful a life as I have.
I know this isn’t a satisfactory
answer. I don’t think any words could be. I try to make my life a satisfactory
answer, to this question and to others: What are people for? What is love, and
what does it look like? How do we get past our own selfishness so we can love
God and our neighbors and ourselves?
I've been told for nearly a decade
that my Church is cruel towards gays and that there's a witch hunt mentality in
my religion. And I'm like, "Are we talking about the same religion?!"
I've been a member for over two decades and in spite of my sexuality I've never
been the recipient of hatred or bigotry. Ironically, the only source of
animosity and hatred I've experienced in regards to my sexuality has been the
crowd of people parading themselves as "tolerant."
I also appreciate that this author
addresses that being a Christian with homosexual tendencies is difficult. Not
getting what you desire isn't easy, especially in this case, but just because
you want something doesn't mean you should get it. Sometimes (or all the time)
the "natural man" wants gratification, but conquering, subduing, and
controlling these urges prepare us to worthily meet God. One of the major
characteristics of essentially any major religion is an element of sacrifice.
The religion that doesn't require much of you doesn't have much to offer in
I'm proud to stand in solidarity
with other Christians experiencing same-sex attraction and yet are committed to
their conversion to Christ's gospel.