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Homosexuality: My Journey Into The Catholic Church

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“The material covered was very raw and moving, especially in how it was related it back to your personal journey. Our team likes the content.” - Steve Duran, Lighthouse Catholic Media

Previously featured on the Courage International home page: www.couragerc.org.

Part 1: Listen to Testimony HERE 

Personal Testimony 0:00:00 to 0:45:00
Unscripted Question and Answer 0:45:00 to 1:20:00 

Part 2: Clarifying Chastity, Celibacy, and Abstinence

 

A discussion around this question will be relatively fruitless unless one has an awareness and an understanding of the virtue of chastity itself. Note that the virtue of chastity is not the same as abstinence or celibacy. However, all three are very important and distinct facets of our potential journeys towards personal growth. To accurately communicate about objective truth, we must consider these facets to be distinct at all times.  If we use them interchangeably, then we will be participating in the inhibition of truth. Brief clarifications aimed at highlighting the differences are as follows:

a) Abstinence

To abstain is to simply not do something (and yes, you can even abstain from “doing nothing”). Abstinence is actually celebrated in our culture – for example, we celebrate athletes who choose to abstain from eating junk food so that they can better maintain their nutrition, and who also choose to abstain from free time so that they can train rigorously. We even elevate these people to be models of how we should strive to grow. Our world contradicts itself by celebrating abstinence in this regard, but then implying that to choose to abstain from sexual activity is “ridiculous” and or “unnatural”.

b) Chastity

To be chaste is to abstain for the glory of God above self (or anything else of this finite universe). This virtue transcends the realm of sexuality and is applicable to all facets of our lives. It pertains not as much to our behaviors as it does the state of our hearts. For example, a person might be open to growing in the virtue of chastity, and might even be striving to live chastely, but might not yet be successful in actually living chastely. Likewise, a person can abstain from sexual activity, but not have a chaste heart. Further, a person can become engaged in sexual activity while being chaste! That is, chastity does not mean “No sex!” – it does mean that if there is sex, it is “holy and virtuous sex”. In any case, a heart that is open to growing in the virtue of chastity will draw a person (over time) away from unchaste pursuits. Again, the degree to which a person is open to growing in that virtue reflects the state of their heart. The state of the heart needs to be more important of a focal point than assessing one’s precise behaviors, because the state of the heart is what motivates us into action.

c) Celibacy

While abstinence pertains to behavior and chastity pertains to the motivations behind behavior, celibacy is simply a discipline (not a “rule”), wherein people who are already striving to live chastely, are not having sexual relations.  All of us are called to be open to growing in the virtue of chastity, but not all persons are called to commit their lives to celibacy. However, note that at any point where a person who is striving to live chastely (with regards to sexuality) is actually not having sexual relations, they are already practicing a temporary form of celibacy. In short, there is no celibacy without chastity, but there is chastity without celibacy. “Celibacy” without chastity is not celibacy at all, but is merely abstinence.

Part 3: Audience Questions, Comments with Written Answers

What would you tell someone who thinks the Church limits people who experience same-sex attractions by teaching the chaste lifestyle?
I would invite them to see how the virtue of chastity is something not reserved for people who experience same-sex attractions. The Church calls all of us to be open to growing in this virtue (among others), regardless of our attractions and or inclinations. If someone was to ask that question, it would seem to reveal to me that they did not realize that the Church treats all of us in the same way by recommending us to pursue holiness by way of growing in these virtues.

I would also invite a person to examine how the virtue of Chastity (or putting Christ first) pertains to more than the physical aspect of our lives. Chastity also pertains to the emotional and the mental aspects of our beings, with the latter being arguably more important because our self-concept (which influences the lens through which we view our lives) is what influences how we respond to our emotional and physical drives and desires.

In short, I would like to invite them to grow in their understanding of the virtue of chastity, and how when lived out, leads to a joyful life. This joyful life is exemplified in ways I never knew possible by so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ who I have met through Courage International, who are honest with themselves about the existence of their attractions, but who make the conscious decision to strive to grow in that virtue (among others). They inspire me every day, and quite frankly, I have never met anyone with as much joy as the people I have come to know and grow with via the Courage network.  Courage has got to be one of the best secrets of the Church – I just wish it wasn’t so secret!

How would you begin to help someone who deals with same-sex attractions? The first thing I would do is not approach them as though it was my duty to “help” them. If there is a presupposition that a person who experiences same-sex attractions “needs help” (on account of their same-sex attractions and or way of self-identifying), then we are saying “you are not well, which is why you need help”, and that doesn’t go over well with people who don’t perceive that they need “help”.

Instead of thinking about how we can “help” people who experience (not who “have”) same-sex attractions, we need to simply think about how we can better walk with them towards the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to examine our own lives to ensure that we are the living, walking, breathing reason why they might want to grow in the virtues of Christ. That is very important because that is a call for all Christians – it does not discriminate against those who experience same-sex attractions, as though they are a group of people deserving of a special form of punishment.  Chastity is not a punishment – as all people who choose to live chastely know. However, before I made the decision to be open to growing in the virtue of chastity, I absolutely thought it was some form of terrible idea – because I had not yet tasted its joys and freedoms. But now I have – and for several years, and I’m not ever looking back!

What kind of pants do clouds wear? Thunderwear!

Can you give me some tips to be an example to homosexuals who live in a lustful life?
The best thing we can do is pray about how we can emulate the love of Christ. That means, we really need to look not to “the things we are doing”, but rather the spirit in which we are doing them, so that each one of our moves is motivated out of our love for Christ, for the service of all humankind.

One of the first ways we can exemplify that is by approaching this topic without judgement, and without assumption. We cannot judge that just because a person says “I am gay”, that it means anything beyond that they experience same-sex attractions. We might be able to make reasonable guesses based on how much we know about them, as to their degree of openness to (and awareness of) the virtue of chastity, but we cannot assume that they are closed to that virtue – or that they in particular are living lustful lives.  In other words, we cannot assess the heart in which they live their lives, nor is it our jobs.  All we can do is be the living invitation of the beauty and joy of the virtue of Chastity. If we do a good job of living that virtue (which will help us grow in other virtues as well), then perhaps maybe more people will decide that they too want to taste that peace and joy that we experience on account of our openness in that way.

Thank you so much for coming and talking. I’m not Catholic, but I went through and am going through the same thing. I also had a similar “aha” moment in my freshmen year of high school.

How might I respond to the assumption of many people that same-sex attraction is 100% a choice?
Remind them that they did not specifically choose who they were attracted to. Be sure to use the phrase “specifically choose”. There is a deliberate reason for this, and that is this: every decision we make forms us in some way or fashion.  In particular with pornography, the choice we make to consume that (really it consumes us of course) influences the nature of our sexual appetite – we become attracted to that which will give us a greater “high”. What that will look like is anyone’s guess, but it is a great example of how our a choice (to entertain our lustful heart) can lead us to be attracted to an entirely different array of things, while none of those newly formed attractions are indeed “a specific choice”.

The better thing to do would be to simply ask them where they learned what they are saying, and simply offer an open invitation to learn more about the topic of not just homosexuality, but sexuality altogether. Invite them, elevate the standard of your conversation so that it pertains to all types of attractions, and then pray with them. Trust God that He will open hearts on His time.

What advice would you give to people who experience same-sex attractions (or who know people who do) about what their next step should be (if they are Catholic and are trying to live chastely)?
Here is what I think might be valuable – if they are already striving to live Holy Chaste lives:
1) Accept yourself, and recognize that the attractions simply are what they are.

2) Pray for the graces to continue to grow in the virtue of chastity.

3) Surround yourself with other persons who are striving to grow in virtue as well. Think about it: just as if you stand neck deep in horse poop, you come out smelling like horse poop, if you stand neck deep in “virtue”, you come out smelling like “virtue”. In other words, the people you hang around with will have an influence on how successful you are at growing in those virtues.

4) Let go of the idea that people “should change their sexual orientation”, and instead come to embrace that we should all be “oriented first and foremost to Christ”. In other words, let go of the “gay-straight spectrum” (with regards to how we see each other) and instead begin to see each other first and foremost according to how Christ sees us – as His beloved.

5) Don’t ever put parameters on what the Lord can do. One of the biggest tragedies is that many young people believe that as soon as they experience same-sex attractions, it means they “are gay” and that is the end of the story. For them (and me) the hope of having a “traditional” family is crushed, and we often begin to believe that we may be single “forever”.  Maybe chaste singleness is your call, maybe it is not. Perhaps it is chaste spousalship. To be closed to that is to be closed to what God might have in store for you. But that won’t happen without chastity first being embraced wholeheartedly.

Simply put, the Lord call us all to exemplify a chaste heart – and through that, I have seen the Lord place an opposite sex spouse on the hearts of people who experience same-sex attractions. Not everyone, but a great deal – many more than you would ever hear about in the mainstream media (which basically works to ensure these people never hit the news). This often gets confused by the media as some form of self-deception, but the world that is closed to chastity cannot speak for the potential fruits of the virtue of chastity. Should we pursue chastity though “to get a spouse”? No. That would be an unchaste pursuit and intention – for it puts our will above the Will of God, and what he might have in store for us. Quite simply, we have to all humble ourselves to His Will, and be open to His calling, whatever that may be. For many of us, it will mean living a single life, however, we are never alone when we live a single life for the Lord. This I know, because I am living it right now – and I have never felt less isolated in my entire life.

Many people who have both a relationship with God and who experience same-sex attractions struggle with the idea that if they are to maintain both, they must accept the idea that they must be chaste for life. How did you come to grips with this idea?
Here is sort of the journey I went through…
1) We are all called to be chaste for life.

2) Not all people are called to be celibate (I think you might have been referring to celibacy in your question).

3) I had to let go of this idea that chastity was a punishment. Of course, when I didn’t know any other way of living, it did seem like a punishment. It was more of a subconscious transformation of my heart that I was only able to come to recognize after the fact.

4) I have come to learn to trust God, and I have already come to know of His Mercy, and also His power, and through that have come to know that my plans are not His plans.

There came a point where I had made a decision to offer my life for His service, in whatever capacity I was called, and within that brought all the more strength to grow in the virtues, and to be at peace within them. With that, over time, the fear I had in my heart about “being alone” subsided, as I came to know more and more that I was not alone at all! I was surrounded by people who love me for who I am, and who are willing to walk with me all the way to Heaven. Now just praying that I actually get through the gates when the time comes! Haha. It ultimately came down to this question: “Why am I trusting myself over God? My life is a trainwreck!!” Once I faced that, probably around 8 years ago or so, I realized that I had to die to my ways and my fears, and just learn to trust again.

You were born Catholic, how would you address people who experience same-sex attractions who have no sort of religious background and are not interested in pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ?
I would start by helping them understand that to me, it doesn’t matter where someone is in their life, their journey is important and needs to be respected because it has brought them to where they are today.  I probably wouldn’t address people in this situation unless they specifically asked. Rather, I would pray for them that perhaps they might want to ask questions about this topic. If it was a classroom session sort of thing and I had a group like that in the audience (maybe I did tonight even!), all I would be able to do is share my story, and how I have come to know that in my journey towards greater self-honesty I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer self-identify and define myself in any form or fashion that is “reductionist” in nature. I can share my journey, and that it about it, and I would hope and pray that their hearts might be softened to be open to such a story. Here again comes the whole matter of trusting God. Anything that is good that arises out of this is all by the Grace of God. I simply would need to trust God above myself, and just offer myself in the way He was calling me. That would come clear of course with prayer and frequently receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. Trust God above self. There, I said it in four words.

Is there a different approach you would take to evangelizing a person who experiences same-sex attractions, as opposed to someone who does not?
Well, the Church calls all us of to strive to exemplify Christian virtue, regardless of our sexual attractions and or inclinations. The Church also calls to be the living reason of why someone would want to grow in deeper relationship with Christ in the first place. All we can do is use our lives in the way we are able, to help that become a reality. So, to answer your question: no, I hope to walk with anyone who will walk with me, to our Lord Jesus Christ. J

How do you suggest going about encouraging someone who experiences same-sex attractions to not act on their attractions, especially if they have rejected Christ in their heart?
This may sound like a cop-out, but I would pray for them, and ask others to do the same. If a person has already rejected Christ in their heart, then they have already also rejected the virtue of chastity. If a person has rejected the virtue of chastity, they have definitely rejected the notion of chaste self-concept, and if they have rejected the idea of chaste self-concept, then their coming to fruition in their perception in self, will have nothing to do with striving to grow in the virtue of chastity.

This closedness to the virtue of chastity must be responded to with prayer. I don’t mean like performing a prayer circle and like ambushing the person – like the kind of “prayer camps” they show on TV and what not. When I see that sort of thing, my heart breaks because while prayer is good, there are far more better (and less damaging) ways to inspire a person to actually want to grow in relationship with Christ.  Prayers are still good (for everyone), but it is how we pray, and what we pray for, that makes the difference.  To know the “best” way per any circumstance, you need to make sure it is not “your way”, because if it is “your way” then chances are pretty good it is not God’s way. We are the ones who have to pray and let go before we get into the business of declaring the “best” way to reach someone. That’s a humbling process to go through.

What would you say to people who argue that the Church hates gay people because the Church does not support same-sex marriage?
I would invite them to consider how myself, and more and more people from all walks of life are coming to embrace the Catholic Church, despite being permitted the experience of same-sex  attractions. Truly though, if someone is arguing that, it is likely a good indicator that their mind is made up about things. In that case, pray. My favourite thing to say is “Let’s look into this a little deeper”, because often times those who have their mind made up, are repelled and or frustrated at the idea that they have anything to learn at all. It is really sad. But for some reason they think the way they do. That means that you need to pray for their heart to soften. At the very least, if it were me being “argued at”, I would invite them to explain how I could possibly exist – and know that I am loved by the Catholic Church, and that the Catholic Church is where I can call home.  He would have to explain away my existence in order to be justified in his argument (and believe me, they will try to do this).

What is blue and smells like red paint? Blue paint!

What is your opinion on same-sex marriage, and how do we address this as Catholics?
It is as simple as the matter of chaste-self-concept. The Church does not affirm any persons to become further invested in a life in which they are embracing an unchaste self-concept. That means, if you wholeheartedly self-identify and define yourself according to your sexuality (in any fashion), the Church is not able to affirm you towards becoming further invested in that way of seeing yourself, whether it by giving you a pat on the back, or by officiating a ceremony by which you will come to deeper fruition within that identity. It has nothing to do with “picking on gay people”, and everything to do with elevating the standard by which we see ourselves, so that we can come to wholeheartedly embrace identities that reflect the fullness of who we are. In addition to that, it of course has to do with the reality that the Church can only uphold that which is true, and thus must affirm us towards the truth that the infinite is greater than the finite, and that we should thus anchor our self-concepts on the infinite in order to experience the greatest possible degree of joy. Sigh.

The Church simply wants us to embrace greater truth because when we do that we reflect a greater degree of self-honesty with regards to who we are and how we fit into this world. We are so much more than “gay” or “straight”… there is just so much more to the picture. It all comes down to this: people who are pursuing chaste self-concepts are not out there striving to come to fruition in an unchaste self-concept. Pursuing a same-sex marriage is preceded by the pursuing of a same-sex relationship, and a same-sex relationship (as a means of fulfillment) is preceded the wholeheartedly embracing of the idea that “being gay is who I am”. So the very first and foremost thing that any Christian needs to look to is the matter of identity embraced – the matter in which we specifically choose to self-identify and define ourselves as persons. It all starts there.

Can Catholics who suffer from same-sex attractions make good parents?
Anyone can become a good parent – and we become better parents when we learn to love our children in the way that God loves us, fully and self-sacrificially, and of course with enough love to hold us accountable for our decisions. Many parents in opposite-sex relationships are persons who experience same-sex attractions, but have simply chosen to live out their vocation as fathers and mothers within that relationship, out of their love for God, which motivates them to place their family above themselves, and to continually strive towards the virtue of chastity. I know these people – it is virtually unheard of in the mainstream media, but it is way more common than you would think.

The point is that just because a person experiences same-sex attractions, it does not mean that they are destined to “be gay” or that they would be bad parents. Rather it simply means that there is an attraction. However, like any person who experiences any attraction, we simply need to place God above our attractions and remember that we are here for Him above ourselves – in our lives, and in how we see ourselves.  Simply put, if everyone would do this more, or better, this world would be a different place.

One final note – and I could have opened with this…the whole idea that people who experience same-sex attractions “suffer” on account of those attractions, is a very delicate concept. We cannot ever take for granted that people “suffer” same-sex attractions because we truly do not know how they are perceiving it. If a person does not think much about it and certainly does not consider themselves to be suffering on account of their attractions and or inclinations, then it might be considered quite offensive to them that people think they are suffering. Regardless of what we think about that situation, we have to remember that what we say truly does matter with regards to how someone might respond. In short, the less assumptions we make, the better.

Do you read First Things? And if so, did you read the article in last month’s issue called “Against Heterosexuality”? (Because a lot of the stuff you said about attractions and identity sounds similar)
No, I don’t think I have – but it sounds interesting. Send me a link via the organizer please – I would love to check it out. Thanks for the heads up!

What percentage of people who experience same-sex attractions had a sexual assault in their life?
This is a question that I don’t think anyone can answer with any degree of certainty. What we do know is “not all”. In fact, it would be very counter-productive for us to assume that persons who experience same-sex attractions have experienced a tragedy such as this. However, it would be good to be mindful of typical indicators just in case it did occur, and you are in relationship with them to a degree where you could help them find someone to talk to if they were ready. Again – it boils down to relationship.

The other big thing to remember is that with online pornography gripping nearly the entirety of the younger generation (girls and guys), we know that it is influencing sexual appetite. Persons who become same-sex attracted through pornography might never have experienced any form of inflicted abuse from another person. However, at this stage of our world, I would assert that pornography might be one of the greatest factors influencing (subconsciously) what a person is attracted to – again without a specific choice, but still the result of choices being made (the choices to consume pornography).

What steps did you take in coming to terms with your sexual abuse?
I had a turning point in my life where in my heart I knew that I had to forgive him. This came after quite a journey of growing deeper in relationship with Christ – which brought me to let go a lot of things of this world. It also brought me to the point of realizing that I am to love those who I “might not want to love”, and that the most profound showing of love is to genuinely pray for the well-being of someone’s soul.  I found that after this turning point, I was much more at peace, and that I “had my life back”. Meaning, the anger and hurt, no longer festered inside of me. Rather, I was free. Forgiveness set me free to enter a new chapter of my life. But it was God’s love that motivated me to forgive.

What are some sources to give to people to learn about the Church’s teachings on same-sex attractions?
I would start by first inviting people to regularly attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I know this might not seem related, but within that Sacrament, we experience the Grace of God in a profound way – even if we don’t “feel” it. In that Sacrament, we humble ourselves to share our shortcomings with a person (acting in persona Christi), but it is through that act of humility, motivated by our love of Christ, that our hearts begin to soften to others. This matters greatly so that as we come to learn about the topic of homosexuality as a whole, we can do it while being more aligned to the heart of Christ.  The angle by which we approach this topic will influence how we internalize our understanding of it. Thus, frequent and regular Reconciliation is the first “source” I would “give to people” (really, it is God who gives this to us).

Following that, the next thing to do would be to recognize that resources in which the fullness of Catholic Church teaching is not capable of being reflected, are resources that might be “good”, but should never be considered “enough”. These would be resources in which there is no distinction made between ones non-specifically chosen attractions and or inclinations, and one’s specifically chosen way of self-identifying and defining themselves. In other words, resources in which words like “gay”, “straight”, “heterosexual”, “homosexual”, “transgender”, “bisexual”, “queer”, or any of the “ex” labels (like “ex-gay”), are not clarified to make the distinction between our non-specifically chosen attractions and or inclinations, and how we specifically choose to self-identify and define ourselves. If you find a resource that does not consider those to be distinct, you know that within it, the fullness of Catholic truth cannot be reflected, and thus, you should keep that in mind when assessing the resource and what (or how much) it has to offer.

As well, if those sorts of terms are used as nouns, in effect to say “Gays and Straights”, as in ”Gay-Straight Alliance” (prevalent in Canadian culture), we would know right away that the resource is using those terms as a means of defining people, which is counter to Church teaching because defining ourselves first and foremost according to those terms (according to one facet of our creation) is to not define ourselves first and foremost according to our relationship with God (our infinite Creator). That is, to define ourselves and each other in that way, is to embrace and ascribe unchaste identities, which contribute to ourselves and others coming to develop an unchaste self-concept.

It is important to note that resources in which those clarifications are not made, there still might be a great deal of value in reading and understanding. They may correspond to the state of someone’s heart in a way that reaches them in a more profound level. All we need to do is recognize that there is a spectrum from the absence of truth to the fullness of truth, and if we are sincere about understanding the Catholic Church, we must continually strive to grasp greater degrees of truth. Of course, this is a journey, and we are simply starting from wherever we are starting from.

There a number of good resources out there on this topic, but it is not possible to list them all. However, with your understanding of the difference between non-specifically chosen attractions and or inclinations and specifically chosen way of self-identifying and defining ourselves, and with your understanding of the role and significance of identity ascribed and embraced (as it pertains to how we perceive we should pursue fruition), you will be able to assess resources more effectively, and thus be more likely to continue on your journey towards deeper truth and understanding.

It can all be summed up like this: it is our job to present the truth upheld by the Catholic Church, in a way that becomes the reason why someone might want to grow in deeper relationship with Jesus Christ within the Catholic Church. No resource can do that, better than you, the person. That is why you are the first resource. Beyond that, I would contact Courage International for resources that have been approved and vetted. Courage International is the only ministry in the world that has the blessing of the Vatican, for its work with persons like me. There are many other groups that try to claim Catholicity, but all you have to do is examine whether or not they uphold the idea that we should grow in a chaste self-concept. You will find they do not. Courage however does, and within it, receives us where we are, and invites us to walk together along this road to deeper understanding – where we come to grow on our own terms. They don’t put a box around us, in fact they lift it off of us. The resources the use also reflect that – the love of Christ, and the journey together.

Is there a difference between saying someone “is gay” and saying someone ”has same-sex attractions”?
Yes there is definitely a difference. We so flippantly say the former, when we should be saying something more like the latter. The former is where we ascribe an unchaste identity label onto a person. This contributes to the social-practice of embracing unchaste identity labels – which when wholeheartedly embraced (whatever the attraction), influence a person’s journey towards fulfillment to be more anchored on their coming to fruition within that identity. When we say the latter, we elevate (correctly) personhood to be greater than sexuality, and we clarify in our language that we are specifically talking about a person’s non-specifically chosen attractions. This reflects a greater degree of truth than saying someone “is gay” or “is straight“, because when we speak in those terms, we mesh together that which is not specifically chosen (attractions) and that which is specifically chosen (the notion of identity embraced – even if it not yet embraced by that particular person).

Further, to say someone “has” a particular attraction, embeds the notion of permanence. However, as any sexual-minority advocacy group will tell you, sexual attractions and inclinations are fluid – they move along a spectrum. While we don’t specifically choose them, we do make decisions in our life that will influence them (for example looking at pornography has a profound effect on sexual appetite). Because sexuality is fluid (different from sex which is XX or XY), and is something we experience as a part of the human experience, it is far more prudent to speak in terms of “attractions experienced”, as opposed to something you “have”. When we speak in terms of “attractions experienced”, it also deteriorates the notion of permanence. It is ironic how there can be mobility between sexual attractions and or inclinations among the sexual minority categories, but there cannot (so the world says) be mobility towards “opposite sex attractions”. Yet there can be mobility to “bisexuality” which contains opposite-sex attractions.

This approach of the world as you can probably easily see, is illogical – and we cannot reflect honesty about who we are, when we embrace an illogical position about who we are. The point being is that just because a person experiences xyz attractions today, it does not mean they will experience xyz attractions for their whole life. It would be imprudent to claim this to be true, when everything about neuroscience speaks against it (our brains are consistently changing in structure based on what we do in our lives). That is why it is most prudent to annihilate the concept of “permanence” when referring to any form of sexual attractions or inclinations experienced, and we can do that by no longer speaking in terms of sexual attractions and or inclinations being something we “have”.

Also, saying “have” can be misleading with regards to how people might perceive our approach. This matters because how people perceive us might influence whether they are open or closed to us. Think about it. You “have” cancer. You “have” AIDS. You “have” the flu. If we say someone “has” same-sex attractions, we need to know that many people will perceive that we are lumping that in along with other ills of the world. Whether you think it is accurate to do so or not, needs to come in second to the reality that if you do this, there will people who will close themselves to you, or even become hostile towards you. While we know that is a part of being a faithful Catholic in a world that is hostile to Catholicism that does not mean we must limit ourselves to approaches that are of that fashion. If there is a better way to evangelize, use it. That is why we need to have the precision of a surgeon with our language and approach when evangelizing on this topic.

What does the Church teach and what have you learned about how to live out chastity as someone who experiences same-sex attractions? What about marriage?
The Church upholds that chastity is the way to a joyful life – and that we are all called to live chastely, regardless of our attractions and or inclinations, and regardless of our state in life (married or single). That means there is such a thing as chaste sexuality (and don’t get that mistaken with a boring sex life – imagine how awesome it would be to share the fullness of yourself in a fully self-sacrificial way, for the Glory of God – without being a subject of someone’s lust, and without being used to merely satisfy a person’s carnal desire). How awesome would it be to engage in a purely chaste sexual oneness, with your spouse, with whom you have committed to honor God, while fully inspired by the infinite love and fulfillment of God? If God has it in the cards that I should have a spouse, that would be the type of sexual relationship it would be. Why settle for less? I have been used, and I have been the user – some of you know first-hand, that “it is never enough”…and that is why we keep looking for more when in that cycle. Why settle for less, when you can choose to pursue a holy and chaste relationship! :)

What about marriage? God will only call us into chaste relationships. My number one concern is uniting my heart to the heart of Christ. If God decides to place a woman onto my heart (which I am open to – I cannot put parameters on what God can do), I know that this said person (if she exists) I will be able to get to know through the heart of Christ, unified in his service at the foot of the cross. And I’m good with that. If you were to have a spouse, wouldn’t you want them to be unified to Christ as well? And that is why I am patient, and am okay with the potential reality that that might not occur. Why? Because my life is for God – and this was a joyful self-offering. I live out my vocation, in joyful chastity, open to His calling for me. Will there be marriage? I don’t know – but I don’t have to know. I just have to trust that He has a plan. So far, that trust has never let me down, and in fact has blown away my expectations over and over again. It is for that reason, I am not concerned about that (or many other things of this world). Marriage would be great, but God’s plan (whatever it is – and which may include marriage), is greater. :)

What do you think about a full chaste relationship between two same-sex persons? Will that be considered a wrong relationship?
A fully chaste relationship between persons is what the Church calls all of us to enter! Same-sex or opposite sex! However, the fact that you asked this question makes me think that the virtue of chastity needs to be clarified. Simply remember this: there is physical chastity, emotional chastity, and also a chaste identity (which leads to a chaste self-concept). A relationship between two people of the same-sex that is fully open to the virtue of chastity is an awesome thing, because within that relationship, they will be seeing themselves wholeheartedly first and foremost in relationship with God, and thus will encourage each other to pursue fruition within that identity (of being a beloved son or daughter of the Most High – which means to grow in the virtues of chastity, humility, and obedience (recognizing that the 2000 year old Church has more wisdom than… you).

However, we all know Christians who are saying that they can be “gay and Christian” – and while their are half way correct (they can experience same-sex attractions and live authentically Christian lives), they are also halfway incorrect, in that you cannot be closed to a chaste identity (by wholeheartedly embracing the gay identity) and still claim to be fully Christian. Rather, to be closed to a chaste identity (and thus a chaste self-concept), is to be closed to the fullness of Christianity. That is a specific choice.  However, the notion that those who wholeheartedly self-identify according to their sexual attractions and or inclinations are “not good Christians” is a very dangerous (and inaccurate) notion – for people will be as good of a Christian as they know how – once they know Christ.  Once a person comes to know Christ to a deeper degree, they will be motivated to be open to growing in the virtue of chastity, and that will be reflected within their way of self-identifying and their resulting self-concept. One cannot serve two masters – he who promotes that which is unchaste, and He who promotes that which is chaste.

In short, we all need to grow in our understanding of chastity, and then live the joy of that virtue, so that people will see it not as a punishment, but as a freedom – or as a way out of an unfulfilling cycle (with our concept of fulfillment of course being attached to how we truly see ourselves – which reveals our earthly attachments (or lack thereof). Chaste same-sex relationships are awesome. I love my same-sex friends…chastely, and we are united in our sharing of our greatest concern, which is the health and well-being of our souls – which is why we pray to continue to grow in that virtue and others. It’s a joyful life, but I can imagine how difficult it would be for someone to understand it, had they not walked the walk, or experienced the joy.

So, is your identity “opposite” of your sexual attractions if you want to be accepted into the Church and are “homosexual”? I feel like doing that would be wrong for your moral identity or maybe I’m misinterpreting.
Yes, you are misinterpreting. As much as society tries to paint it as otherwise, the Catholic Church receives all of us wherever we are at in our lives, in whatever way we choose to self-identity and define ourselves, and whatever our attractions or inclinations might actually be. Society seems to try to paint it as otherwise because the Church does not affirm us in ways that further invest us into identities that are centered on anything other than first and foremost our relationship with God.
It is a worthy cause for society to try to misrepresent the Church, because it keeps people from pursuing a deeper understanding of what the Church actually upholds as truth – and when people are prevented from (often through social pressure) coming to understand the Church position in a deeper and more complete way, they often falsely justify attacking the Church. However, this general societal attack against the Church for not affirming persons into becoming further invested in either the “gay” or “straight” identity, reveals that society itself is either closed to coming to know the Church in a deeper way (which to me points to believe that society actually being bigoted), or that society knows and simply wants to tear our youth away from the Catholic Church (which points me to believe that society hasn’t changed since the times of Jesus’s Persecution).
Society seems to be closed to the idea that anyone should grow in understanding of what the Catholic Church actually stands for, and does a good job to pressure and shame people who actually do want to pursue that understanding.  Take for instance that I can be received by the Church, be fully honest with myself about the attractions I have been permitted to experience, and can journey together with all other members of the Church to grow in virtue – especially the virtue of chastity (physical, emotional, and in identity), but I virtually have to do it in secret.   Here is why: when I share my story, there are people who try to protest the idea that I should even be heard, and who try to claim that I am deceiving myself (about what I am not sure). In other words, they are closed to understanding more, and or try to do a character assassination. Why does my story, and the stories of other people like me, cause such a backlash? That is something worth considering. Rather, it is something I invite you to consider.
So in short, my identity isn’t “opposite”. It’s elevated to a whole new level – to the level of “chaste”, as in a chaste identity. And the Church accepts all of us where we are…but simply calls us to grow in our openness to the virtue of chastity. The world rejects chastity, and thus the world rejects the Church. So please don’t be fooled into thinking that the Church does not accept people where they are. That is a falsehood that the world has perpetuated in order to prevent people like me from ever seeking to grow in the Catholic Church. It’s tragic, and it reveals in the world the Truth of the Catholic Church – otherwise there would not be such a concerted effort to rip people away from the Church.
 
How do you encourage someone who is non-Catholic to live a chaste life, whether they experience same-sex attractions or opposite sex attraction?
If someone is non-Catholic and non-Christian, they probably won’t see the virtue of chastity as something to be upheld, as the virtue of chastity implies an offering of self (to place below God) for God’s greater glory. However, if you are referring to how you might encourage a person to abstain from sexual activity, then I would suggest striving to be the living example of what joyful chastity actually looks like, so that they can see it and know it in their heart, via their relationship with you. Reading them a list of stats about STIs and potential risks, as true as they are, won’t likely transform a heart. If anything, they might get someone to stop – for a while – while believing that they are denying themselves of what their “true nature” is calling themselves into. It could bring about a temporary abstinence, but it doesn’t address why the heart wants what it wants.
Best thing – be the living example, and don’t be fearful of others who try to shame you for striving to live chastely.  Remember the irony that most people want a chaste spouse (if they desire a spouse at all), and not someone who has “been around”. Many people value the virtue of chastity, but they don’t realize it – or they have irrationalized their own unchaste behavior as though they are “above the law” of what might happen.  Newsflash for everyone: “If you want a Victoria’s Secret woman, you gotta be a GQ man” – meaning, if you want a virtuous woman, you need to become a virtuous man…and it is never too late to start. A virtuous woman will be very unlikely to settle for a man with an unchaste heart.
Approaching this idea in that way helps it pertain to the heart, as it reveals what a person wants in a spouse, and then draws them to look at themselves. This way, it is their own introspective journey, and not one they are being forced into by anyone else. It always needs to be one’s own journey out of an unchaste life.  You can help them by being the living example of what joyful chastity looks like. Share that boldly with every step you take in your own life, and be humble about it as your reward will be a deeper unity with Christ.
You said you let go of your dream of having a wife and kids. So what is your new dream? Or at least what are the options God could be calling you to?
I love this question…because so many people think that as soon as you experience same-sex attractions, you are destined to be single (and lonely), and forced by the Church to deny yourself of “who you are”. When people begin to think this way, what they have revealed in their own hearts is that what God can do, belongs in a box, defined by their own understanding. The problem with that, is because the Author of our universe is not subject to this universe, he can do anything (if you want something really cool to real, Google search “Eucharistic Miracles”). The point being, that we cannot put a box around what God can do.
With regards to the whole wife and kids thing – at that point in my life, the extent of my understanding of my destiny was confined to my limited understanding of my situation. I truly did give up those dreams. However, the reality those were my dreams, and at that time, I was not open to the idea that God might have something else in store for me. Over the years, I have become more open to the reality that God has His plan, and I have my plan, and he has shown me over and over again that His plan (though usually much more scary at first) is always the plan that brings the greatest joy in the end. God’s plan for all of us is to unite our hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ, and in doing that, we let go of our attachment to this world, and let go of our fixation on our own plans, and instead begin to desire in our hearts, to fulfill God’s plan for us. Years ago, I could never have made sense of this, as this for me was largely a retrospective realization.
The short story is that God’s plan for me, and all persons, is to grow in His virtues – it is really that simple. It is really that simple. And in growing in His virtues we come to realize that there is joy in being open to that (even though we might not get “what we want” of this world. However, we begin to realize the merits of joyful sacrifice – how there is joy in offering our lives for others, for the service of God. And, having tasted God’s love for me after taking some risks (for example sharing my life), I know more than ever that it is His love that motivates me – to simply want to help others experience His love as well. That is the evangelistic call that all Christians are called to exemplify, as best we can given our life circumstance – and of course to do it with humility (which is something I need to continue to grow in as well).
With all that God has done in my life, I have let go of the idea that I am destined to a life of singleness (and lonely). In fact, I was far lonelier when I was involved in an unchaste lifestyle, because the activity was never about true love, and always about satisfying loneliness and or physical inclinations. I had enough of that- because it gets old – and it stays unfulfilling. However, I remember one day God calling me to redirect my attention from trying to find a mate, to trying to unite my heart with His. And in no uncertain terms, it was made known to me in my heart, that if there was someone out there for me, it would be someone who is also striving to unite their heart to the Lord, and is striving to grow in the virtue of chastity. It was really that simple – and with that, I found peace, knowing that I was in a state in life where my heart was being prepared for spousalship – to either another person, or the Church in some form or fashion.
But who might be chaste? Someone who clings to an identity label that elevates sexuality to be greater than God? Nope. The person for me, if God has it in His plan, is a person who has embraced the virtue of chastity – physically, emotionally, and within their embraced identity (in how they see themselves). Perhaps this person exists, perhaps they don’t. Either way, I am at peace (and joy) because I am striving to keep God first in all that I do. Of course I come up short at times, but His Mercy is greater than any sin I could ever commit, and His forgiveness frees us from the chains that bind us. I wish people would seek to humble themselves to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation!! it has changed my life – and like think about it – chances are you are going to tell someone your secrets anyway, it might as well be a priest. :)
So to actually answer the question: I don’t know what God is precisely calling me to, but I don’t need to know. I just need to trust, and then to listen, and of course to seek wise council so that I know not to run with my own thoughts. Like really – what assurance do you have that your thoughts are “right”? I have no assurance, so that is why I combine my thoughts with prayer and wise counsel, so that I can be better in tune of God’s call for me. Maybe there is a spouse in there, maybe not. Either way, I’m good with His calling to grow in the virtue of chastity, and that is never going to change – in fact, strength to grow in this virtue (among others) further indicates that I am in the right place. I love my life. But I am here because of people like you who never put me, or God, in a box.
How would you respond to the claim that gay-identifying people can be happy in a monogamous same-sex relationship? Please my response very carefully. I know that people can be happy in a monogamous same-sex relationship. We all have to recognize that people can be happy at various places in their journey through life. To assume otherwise is not an assumption we can make. However, I would assert that someone who says this simply does know of the joy that is found in the virtue of chastity. Reason being, if they are defending their own relationship, then it would indicate they have clearly wholeheartedly embraced an unchaste self-concept. If they are defending the relationships of others, then it would indicate that they have clearly wholeheartedly embraced the idea that others should embrace unchaste self-concepts. In either case, there is an inhibition of the virtue of chastity (which may or may not exist on account of one’s specific choice).
In other words, while people might be happy in a monogamous same-sex relationship, what you need to ask yourself is whether you are able to affirm any form of relationship in which there is an inhibition of the virtue of chastity. Perhaps in this case it would be in the matter of identity – which forms self-concept. That is, because a same-sex relationship is entered as a means of fulfillment only by people who first and foremost pursue fruition in their personhood while seeing themselves “as gay” (and so forth), we know that same-sex relationships are merely an aftereffect of people first embracing unchaste identities (identities centered on their sexual attractions and or inclinations).
For this reason it should be of no surprise that it is ultimately the virtue of chastity that is rejected by the world. This gets twisted by the world to mean “the Church rejects people”, when really it doesn’t. It’s people who reject the truth that the Church upholds… the truth that living chastely, and being open to continually growing in virtue, is something that will bring us joy, regardless of our attractions. As Pope Francis alludes to though, we need to be the living example of that joy. :)  
As persons, we were made for intimacy. I assume your intimacy is similar to a priest, but where do you find intimacy, love, protection, in men and women of this earth?
I primarily find intimacy, love, and protection, in God. Here is the thing – people are unreliable. People come and go. Why would I invest my life into finding that which will bring me joy, first and foremost in things (people) who are unreliable? it doesn’t make sense for me to do that. In fact, if I really want to be honest with myself about how I am more likely to find what I am looking for in that regard, I must look to God first. He is infinite. People are not infinite. I already know that the infinite God provides more than what any finite person could ever offer. Also (and this is a bonus) the infinite love of God isn’t fleeting – it doesn’t come and go depending on how someone feels, or what happens (even if I do something really silly).
With that being said, it is not that I have detached myself from this earth or the people of this earth, but rather I strive to pursue those things first and foremost through God.  If there is to be another person by which to share on these earthly joys, then that person for me will also share that unified desire to seek that out first and foremost through God. Believe it or not, that is the Hallmark of an authentic Christian spousal relationship – to place God first, spouse second, and self last. If both people are placing God above themselves and each other, then the joys to be experienced in intimacy, love, and protection, are all made manifest in a fashion that is infused with God’s infinite love.
To place those desires first and foremost onto your spouse, when you should be first and foremost offering your desires to God to fulfill, is a sure-fire way to deteriorate (and ultimately destroy) a relationship. We are not to seek from our spouses, the infinite love that only God can give. However, if both spouses seek to grow in relationship with Christ first and foremost, their unity in that objective will draw them closer together throughout their lives, until the end. This is not to say that all Christian relationships are “perfect” or will even last, but rather that those who are Christian who are unified in their approach via their desire to place God first, spouse second, and self last, reveal a joyful way of living that this world virtually does not even know anymore. I have seen it with my own eyes – it is mind-blowing. That is the type of intimacy, love, and protection I would like to experience, if it be in God’s plan for me. If not, I’m not worried. I am more joyful know as a single person striving to live chastely, and striving to seek God’s intimacy, love, and protection first and foremost, than I ever was as a single person trying to find all those things in another person. It might seem out of this world to some people, but that’s where I am at – I have tasted the joy and I am not looking back! :)

 

No questions. Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing! Thank you for being open to my journey. God bless you!