Sexuality and the Church Part 2

*Warning: The following may contain mature subject matter. If you are uncomfortable with, or offended by reading about sexuality, proceed with caution.*

In the first part of this series, I talked about how the Church’s restrictions on sexuality really bothered me. I felt like it was no one’s business what I did in my bedroom, and I couldn’t see any reason for boundaries. I had always been taught that Homosexuality was a choice, and I was still operating under that assumption. But that started to change as I had more exposure to the world outside of my upbringing. Why would anyone make a choice to be part of a persecuted minority? It seems like these atractions are just a part of them that they can’t really explain. And gay and lesbian and transgendered persons seem to be about the same as other people, they need to eat sleep and have jobs and relationships just like everyone else, they certainly don’t seem demon possessed. The more I read, the more stuff like this disgusts me.

I’ve started to see just how tight a box Christians squeeze themselves into. To be a “real” christian, or a “real” man or woman, there are certain expectations that have to be fulfilled if you want to be socially accepted. It bothers me that a guy who is interested in fashion isn’t considered as much of a man as the guy interested in engineering. A mother who wants to work out of the home is labeled as “feminist” and certainly isn’t following God’s plan for all women.

I’ve become so frustrated by all the judgment and stereotyping. I’ve started to cringe when Christians say things like “I’m a sinner too”. Well isn’t it nice for you that your sin is more socially acceptable or more private than the person with a homosexual struggle. There is nothing wrong with being a more flamboyant male, or a more “butch” female. Gays are people too. There is nothing sinful about being attracted to people of the same sex. If we are Catholic, then we believe that acting on those temptations is a sin. And here is where my revelation from the catechism came in.

Like I said in Part one, I didn’t understand why the catechism had the list of boundaries it did for sexuality, I was kind of under the impression that as long as you are married, then anything you wanted to do as husband and wife was fine. Now suddenly I saw the hypocrisy of it all. The Catholic Church judges and defines sexuality as a whole, not by individual groups. They teach the same sexual boundaries to every person. Sex is always tied to procreation and confined to marriage. Sexual sin is all the same, it is all disordered. Every person has to deal with the repercussions of their own sexual sin. In the Protestant world, we teach the biblical texts against homosexuality, but do not hold heterosexual couples to the same standard. Evangelical Protestants see sexuality as a gay or straight thing. If you are lucky enough to be straight, then sex is good. If you are gay, then you are evil. As I read the Catholic Catechism on Sexuality again, I was stunned to see the difference in approach.

The Catholic Church defines sexuality by the actions, not the orientation. Natural sexual acts are defined as open to life (ie. The completion of the sex act occurs with the ejaculation of the penis inside the vagina) Unnatural (disordered) sexual acts are any sexual act that is not open to life. Disordered sex acts (including contraceptives or any sexual act that involves ejaculation outside of the vagina) are sin and are to be avoided. This was a stark contrast from the “anything goes as long as you are married” viewpoint.

Every Catholic is called to live chastely, whether single or married, heterosexual or homosexual. This is a hard teaching and a high calling. A married person is called to preserve a relationship with one person for a lifetime, and they must remain open to life, which can result in birthing and supporting many more children than the societal norm. A single person is called to live without that type of relationship, it can be a very lonely road. Both involve sacrifices.

The homosexual person is the next notch again, while a single person always has the option of marriage if they eventually meet the “right” person, a gay person will be unable to marry someone of the same sex in the eyes of the Catholic Church. For those dealing with same-sex attraction, this is not an easy reality.

I feel as though God asks alot of the person with same-sex attraction. In the face of this tough dilemma, I think that the Catholic Catechism hits the mark:

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

The Church teaches compassion towards homosexuals. They acknowledge that this is not as simple as choosing or not choosing to be gay. Discrimination is to be avoided. They are to be treated with respect and sensitivity and love. In the eyes of the Catholic church, gay sexual conduct is just as disordered as use of contraceptives or sexual actions that are not open to life by heterosexuals, married or not. When I suggested this way of thinking to evangelical family members, I was surprised by the reactions of rage. How dare I compare gay sex to any heterosexual activity!? To suggest that completed oral sex, or masturbation or the use of condoms constitute unnatural sex acts and therefore are the same as homosexual sex acts did not even compute.

In the Evangelical world I have found that same-sex attraction itself is considered a sin. After all, if this is 100% your choice, than having homosexual temptation or longing is sinful. There is no such thing as a gay christian in this mindset. If you really were Christian, you would be set free and choose to be heterosexual, and then marry. (And consequently be able to perform any sex act you want!)

To struggle with same-sex attraction is not acceptable, a point that John Kippley in his book “Sex and the Marriage Covenant” hits on so well:

“Unfortunately, these words (abusive names for homosexually active people) are sometimes (and quite hypocritically) used by heterosexually immoral persons, who may be engaged in identical perversities, to ridicule chaste homosexual persons or even certain persons with no same -sex attraction whatsoever.”

It has gotten so bad that if you dress or act differently from “the norm” you are vulnerable to attack from homophobic people. In their mentality, there is no such thing as a chaste gay person. And if there was such a thing, if that chaste gay person ever slipped up and gave into their temptation, that would invalidate that persons faith-walk. After all, they couldn’t possibly be a “real” christian if they sinned homosexually.

By contrast, in the Catholic Church, sexual sin is sexual sin (for example, completed oral sex with someone of the same or opposite sex). And the sinful actions can be forgiven even if they continue to be a struggle for the rest of that person’s life.

The Catholic Church is the only church with a leg to stand on when it comes to doctrinal teaching on sexuality.

But I still wonder if this teaching of compassion and forgiveness and love translates from paper to the life of the Church?

Edited to add: I continue to wrestle with the teachings of christianity on homosexuality. Over the last year and a half my perception on these issues has continued to develope and change. I’ve written more about GLBTQ questions and issues here. And I always love it when people email me to continue the discussion.

Children of an Atheist talk about God
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Re-Post: Lies we tell ourselves about abuse
Rather Dead Than Queer
  • Michelle

    I love what you have explored here. You have hit upon a most beautiful aspect of the CAtholic church. I"m interested to read more.

    As far as translating from paper to life…as with everything, it depends on things. For my husband an me, we are on our faith journey together and came to the same realization as you have written about here, together. When our marriage began, we were under the impression that "anything goes" since we were married. However, we learned through reading (and our fabulous NFP classes through Couple to Couple league) the grave and mortal implications of sexual sin for all of us, homosexual or heterosexual.

    What I find sad is the number of CAtholics…well the number of people in general who will not hear the CAtechism quotes you have in your post and listen to the Church's beautiful teaching on this topic. They are stuck in the mindset that since the Church calls those acts "disordered" that the Church is not compassionate. I pray the Holy Spirit opens their hearts.

    Thank you for these posts…you write so well and I love watching you come at this from your unique point of view.

  • Joy

    Very interesting, I am really appreciating your thorough and gentle approach to this delicate topic.

    Another common misunderstanding is that sex is only permissible if conception is likely, not true. We are only called to be open even if past menopause, or told by the medical community that conception is unlikely to impossible ~ as Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth of Scripture shows~ God can create amazing gifts if we are but open.

  • Maurisa

    You nailed it! Several years ago this same thought occurred to me and I was thrilled to realize the consistency across the board in Catholic teaching.

    This can be taken a step further to cover why the Church is opposed to certain fertility pursuits, like IVF. Anything that separates the procreative from the unitive aspect of sexual relations( or the means from the ends) is inherently evil. It is a connected teaching that make absolute sense when seen in the light of the entire teaching on human sexuality.

    To answer your question, for the most part, yes, the teaching does translate from paper to life. In my experience I have seen the tendency toward homosexuality treated with compassion and Truth within the Church.

  • Jenelle

    Great post. It is a touchy subject that is hard to discuss but the quotes do show how welcoming the Church can be. As for relating to life I had a friend in highschool that fell in the group with same-sex attractions and, while he knew it would be a cross he had to bear, he felt welcomed an understood by the Church. He believes in the sacredness of the marital act and knows he will never experience it.

    He doesn't want people to A- think it's a choice he is making and therefore he is awful for making it or B – think there is no problem with him dating even though the relationship can never be fruitful. Most people I know had no problem with him being active in church, but some Protestant Christians thought I was being a bad friend allowing his attractions to continue without argument. Even with the beautiful teaching of the Church, it is a hard situation for sure

  • Claire

    Lots of good thoughts here! I agree that the consistency and compassion with which the Catholic Church teaches on sexuality is very affirming.

    I was thinking about the sentence where you said:

    "There is nothing sinful about being attracted to people of the same sex."

    While you are correct in clarifying that the attraction itself is not a sin, it is "disordered" (CCC 2358), and needs to be recognized as such. Because homosexual actions are inherently destructive, the desire cannot ever be looked as "normal". For example, if I struggled with an ever-present desire to go out and shoot someone, no one should say, "Oh, that's fine for you to want to do that, as long as you don't go out and do it." We'd all recognize that inclination as unhealthy, and I should seek to be freed of the disordered desire by prayer, counseling, or whatever the healing may be.

    Male-female attraction (not talking lust here, just attraction) is fundamentally a good thing because it is in accord with the natural law. Same-sex attraction is not. But that doesn't mean we condemn those individuals any more than we'd condemn someone who struggles with a different disordered desire.

    We are even called to love (without condoning) those who choose to live according to their homosexual desires. It become a very relevant and also delicate case of "love the sinner, yet hate the sin." Our Lord exemplefies this to perfection, and we can never stop being His students in the school of love.

  • Maggie

    What a great post! You are such a great writer and explain your beliefs so well!

  • Katherine

    Very good post! It is a shame so few people not only struggle to implement the Church's teachings towards homosexuals but also that so many homosexuals fail to understand the Church's teachings and view her as an enemy.

  • Young Mom

    Claire- I think I made the point pretty clearly that the Catholic Church teaches that there is a difference between natural and unnatural sexual acts. I'm not sure what "normal" has to do with that.
    While I agree that we should all unite ourselves to Christ and seek to be freed from temptation and burdens, some of us will never be freed on this earth. But those temptation and burdens are not sin.
    I have heard "love the sinner, yet hate the sin" used to legitamize hatred or hateful behavior for too many times. I wish that more people had the approach of "hate your own sin, love everyone".

  • Rebecca

    What a great, well-thought and stated post! I pray often that people would be more kind and forgiving of others, did Jesus not teach "he is without sin…"

    Our priest once gave a homily on this very subject, and while he didn't quote the CCC, he did address that our job as Catholic Christians is not to judge, it is to be loving and understanding, it's so nice to read the reason behind his homily.

  • That Married Couple

    Excellent post. It's amazing to me how the Church's teachings on sexuality and marriage are the only ones (that I'm aware of) that are completely consistent.

  • Claire

    Yes, you did clearly and well communicate your point on sinful actions vs. non-sinful temptations. Just in case I came across wrong, I was attempting to offer an addendum or clarification to your thoughts (not at all a criticism of them). :)

    My choice of the words may have been poor: I think should have said "okay" instead of "normal" (wasn't sure what word to put). I was trying to point out that if we truly love our brothers and sisters stuggling with homosexual attraction, we should support and pray for them to be freed from that.

    The thing that often gets very challenging is that few of us nowadays understand what it really means to love another…in our relativistic society, many people say "Love one another" and really mean "Be fine with whatever anyone chooses to do". As any good parent knows, loving someone does not mean permitting them to do anything they want! (i.e. a toddler who wants to touch the stove thinks Dad is really mean for taking her away, because she doesn't understand the danger). Of course Dad is acting out of love, but in a "tough love" sort of way. :)

    You're so right: we can never excuse hateful behavior towards individuals by saying "Love the sinner, hate the sin." Loving that sinner means sincerely desiring their true good…so the whole reason we should despise the sin is because it degrades and destroys that person. Loving an individual without seeming approving of their sin is usually a very fine line to straddle, though!

  • Kacie

    Ah, the evangelical church gets it right in some areas, and in others not. Because it doesn't have ONE central teaching, it's impossible to say it's right or wrong on an issue, since there is variety on most issues.

    This is one of them. It's a struggle in the entire Christian world – knowing how to deal with the rise of homosexuality. In my freshman year of Bible College I was in an evangelism class, and they asked us to get into small groups and share our testimonies with those around us. The guy next to me turned out to be an Asian American who had turned to a life of national drug-dealing and a gay lifestyle. He was eventually given life in prison, which is where he became a believer. He was let out and is HIV positive.

    WHEW! What an introduction to a sheltered little missionary kid like me. Actually, Chris Yuan went on to be a leader on campus, he's now a professor himself, and he speaks at all sorts of events about his testimony. He doesn't define homosexual attraction as wrong and he remains single himself. He encourages accountability and honesty and confession… and it's quite beautiful to see what this freedom does.

    People like Chris are certainly present in the evangelical world – and that is the message that has mostly been presented to me.

  • Farmer’s City Wife

    Wow… this was so insightful, and very helpful! It's so hard to explain this, but you've done a wonderful job!

  • Claire

    I just stumbled across this inspiring LifeSiteNews story about a bishop in Canada reaching out to a homosexual man with a loving balance of compassion and firmness. It's an encouraging read!

  • Young Mom

    Interesting link Claire.

  • Anonymous

    Well done, Young Mom. I think you are presenting one aspect of what I love about the Catholic Church: her totally integrated body of beliefs. I have yet to find any internal conflict in what the CC teaches – everything just meshes together. (Not sure I explained that very well. Wish we could just chat over a cup of coffee! :) )

    Are you familiar with John Paul II's Theology of the Body? It is a beautiful body of work (although hard to read) that looks at what it means to be human and then looks at how people live lives of self-giving love through marriage and celibacy for the kingdom. There are books available that make the writings of JPII easier for non-theologians like me to understand. I could give you the names of a few books and links to sites that discuss his work if you are interested.

    I am new to your blog, so perhaps you've already talked about TOB and I've missed it. In that case, oops! Sorry!


  • Young Mom

    I've read Humane Vitae (Its amazing!) and almost all of the Catechism. But I haven't read the Theology of the Body yet. I really should get to it, since I keep hearing such wonderful things about it.

  • CM

    Great post! And I agree with Sue, Theology of the Body is AMAZING. You don't have to start with anything too big, though. Introduction to Theology of the Body by Christopher West is a good short read for an introduction. It truly has changed my life and the way that I see and value people.

    Again, thanks for your thoughtful and loving treatment of a difficult topic.

  • Claire

    I chime in AMAZING again to ToB (Theology of the Body). Such a rich gift of understanding for our generation. You will love it, Young Mom! ;)

    For an easy dip into it, I highly recommend Jason Evert's book "Theology of His Body/Theology of Her Body". It's not long, but is beautifully laid out and a good segue into deeper material!

  • Melanie B

    Well said! It has been my experience that converts often are able to offer he best explanations for the Church's "hard teachings" because they have struggled to accept them, they really understand them from the inside out. Thank you for sharing this. I'm definitely filing it away for future reference.

  • Brian Killian

    Hello young mom,

    What you have written is pretty much why some homosexual groups and individuals are wrong to claim that they are being singled out in the Church. The Church doesn't single people out when it puts boundaries around sexual activity; it applies to everybody.

    But what they want is either to have a double standard created for them that would allow them to do things that married heterosexual couples aren't allowed to do; or else the implication of their philosophy is that anything goes sexually whether you are married or not, hetero or not.

    Also, I would just like to add that its possible to take a legalistic/protestant approach to Catholic teaching as well. Even when the husband 'finishes' in his wife, their preceding actions can still be wrong and immoral.

    We have to be concerned not just with acts, but with the spirit with which we perform those acts, and the purity of our intentions. It is never good to let lust creep into our sex life; and lust is never justified by a 'finishing act' that is open to life. (I don't think you're arguing this; I'm just saying :))

  • Brian Killian

    I'm also curious about something. Do other married couples ever feel isolated when they have issues or questions about their sex life?

    Would it be good if there were more of this type of discussion among married Christians? I sometimes think that married couples could just benefit more from learning about other couples' experience/issues. For example, we would learn what issues are common vs. what are more rare; a couple could get advice; learn from other's mistakes; moral support, etc.

    I know sex is something that needs a lot of privacy, but is there such a thing as too private?

  • Young Mom

    Brian- It was not my intention to justify abusive sexual behavior "as long as" everything finishes correctly.
    I do think that lust is a tricky topic, lust can mean different things for each person. I think it's is very important that you have an open dialogue going with your spouse on sex.

  • C.L. Dyck

    Hey, I'm here off Twitter. I think you've pegged a major point of hypocrisy in mainstream evangelicalism's public presentation, in the USA at least. As mentioned by others, there's a wide spectrum under that umbrella identifier, but that does seem to be what the public message distills down to.

    Brian, among married couples (the ones we know, at least), there's a lot of support, but it's not really a discussion topic that makes it outside of those married circles to the singles. It's my experience, though, that where there's no open dialogue between spouses, there's not going to be room for truly healthy dialogue among friends.

  • Emily

    Thank you for posting this! I was trying to grapple with what I originally thought were the judgmental views of the Catholic Church. When really, I was misunderstanding. This really helped me in a time of spiritual direction. Thank you thank you thank you!

  • Angela M.

    Skip Christopher West.

  • Anonymous

    My wife spotted this after reading your section on NFP and suggested I comment  To be brief although we are not Catholic's the consistency of the Catholic approach is what attracts me particularly and it has lead us gradually to adopt it as a guide for sexuality in our marriage. 

    As a result we have 100% ruled out contraception and despite the physical  frustration which is to an extent an inevitable consequence of effective NFP I believe it would be wrong for me to climax other than within my wife her during full open to life intercourse. So we remain fully abstinent unless we feel able to commit totally. It is difficult but if contraception is wrong so is masturbation in whatever form. 

  • Erin

    Maybe I am the only one commenting here who doesn't follow the Catholic teaching on sex. I see how it seems consistent on paper. Is the point that sex is created for the sole purpose of procreation, so anything outside of that is disordered?
    Can I ask where that comes from in the Bible? I don't see anything inconsistent or hypocritical about the view that sex is created for man & wife to be a mutually enjoyed & unifying.
    I was formally of the QF type thinking, but now see that the Bible doesn't address birth control.
    It seems like the catholic teaching is just a new set of extra-biblical rules?

  • Young Mom

    Erin- I still have questions about it too. What appeals to me is that the Catholic church seeks to address all sexuality, not just married relationships. They also no longer teach that sex is solely for procreation, it is also for enjoyment and unification. But the difference in Catholic thought vs Protestant thought, is that the Catholic believes that the purposes of sex cannot be separated from each other. So sex while being enjoyable and unifying, should also be procreative, meaning open to life.

  • Erin

    Thanks Young Mom!
    Here's a question. Not meaning to be judgmental to anyone here. This is something I am honestly wondering, as we delve into some sort of family planning soon.
    If a couple uses a condom during the fertile period of the women's cycle, are they less "open to life" than the couple who only has sex during her non-fertile period? Condom failure rate is fairly high. So, it seems a couple is still pretty open life at that point! It seems they are more open to life than the couple who only has sex during the non-fertile period. Right?

    I personally don't want to do anything to surgically cut off the option to have kids. I want to remain open to life in that way. But, I am also not confident to say that it would be sin for a woman to have a tubal ligation. A huge decision, which she may regret. Yes.
    But, there is so much in life that requires discernment for each situation, and cannot be called so black & white.
    Even with the Catholic stance of only avoiding pregnancy for "just reasons" is something that bugs me. I know so many people who feel the need to give me their "sob" story of why they have just reasons for only having (x) amount of kids. I know people do have reasons for why they decided to stop having kids & it is not for me to know whether they did it for a good reason or not. I don't need a woman to create a story about how should "could've died" if she had another child. (I know that sounds mean. But, I have, on a number of occasions, questioned further on such stories & there was no real reason for why she thought she was in physical danger. She just didn't like bedrest, didn't like the pain, didn't like the varicose veins, etc.) Most of us have had hard things in pregnancy. Can't we just teach to use wisdom & discernment & teach that children are indeed a blessing, as well as a huge responsibility?
    (Although, I do wish more would be said about the "pill" & other hormonal bc within the protestant church. It can be an abortificant. They are really just a lesser dose of the "morning after pill". That is an issue of right & wrong.)

    Sorry for such a long comment. Wow! For shame!

  • Young Mom

    Erin- I have a lot of the same questions you do. The Catechism explains contraceptive use as contradictory to being able to give yourself completely to your spouse. I think it is also related to the idea of “separating for a time of prayer and fasting” that Paul mentions. Seen in that light, NFP and the periods of absence it requires becomes a sort of spiritual discipline. So it’s not the reliability of the method used that makes birth control “less open to life” in the teachings of the church, it is how contraception inhibits the act of giving yourself completely to the other in the sexual union. Here is what the Catechism summarizes:

    "2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:

    Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality."

    I still wonder about severe health cases where a woman may need to make pregnancy impossible, and I also feel that there is a lot of black and white talk that can get out of hand. But I have found the Catholic Church the most consistent in their teachings, and despite myself I am still drawn to them for that reason.

    I also cringed at the “just causes” thing, but I’ve found that was more my background understanding of there being no just cause to delay or prevent pregnancy. As I’ve gotten to know more and more Catholics that use NFP, I’ve found that while there are still fundamentalist minded Catholic’s that will ridicule any reason for preventing pregnancy, there are also many others that have spaced their children, had few children, or even decided that they are not called to have children at all. The Catechism also encourages responsible parenting:

    "2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception)."

    I also feel that no one should have to make up stories to justify their reasons for having or not having a child. It’s sad that there is so much meddling between people, whether it is prejudice against large families, closely spaced or wide spaced children, or small families, the whole thing bugs me.
    Feel free to email me! : )

  • Anonymous

    As a Catholic I grew up and got married convinced that contraception was wrong and that if we did want to plan we would only ever use NFP. But 3 small children and 2 miscarriages one using NFP all in 7 years of marriage I have changed my perspective. I think the Church is wrong I don’t see how it can be wrong for a married couple who have been open to life by already having had children to use NFP or even contraception to avoid continual pregnancies and a larger family which they would struggle to support. Surely what is wrong is for couples to use contraception for sex which is wrong – as a way of avoiding the consequences or for married couples to reject children as an option.

    I would also think it was wrong for one partner in a marriage to use contraception in whatever form, maybe avoiding sex in the fertile time for a man to withdraw or a woman to take anything unless both were agreed on the principle and as we both have strong reservations about sterilisation (a step too far in closing your mind to children) and hormonal birth control I think that really does only leaves condoms which is why we use them. But I don’t consider myself inside Church teaching when we do, just because they can fail doesn’t mean we are open to life in the way an non-contraceptive NFP couple are.

  • Anonymous

    I stumbled across your blog looking for solidarity on my own journey out of abusive Catholic fundamentalism. I know this is an old post, but as a queer woman engaged to someone who stood by me, supported me as I was disowned, cared for me, and to whom I intend to be faithful for the rest of my life, your words cut like a knife.

    It is a simple things for people to say that gays and lesbians should "bear their cross" and "strive for perfection" when they are not gay themselves. We do not tell you to live out your life never knowing the touch of your husband, never knowing the joy and unity that comes from intimate love, and yet you feel free to tell it to us, insisting that this decree is absolute truth without a shred of empirical evidence to support it.

    Shame on you. Shame on you for being one of the thousands of voices that continue to cause me such pain. Shame on you for reinforcing among your peers the unsubstantiated claim that my love for my fiancee is not as pure as yours for your husband.

    Christianity says to "love the sinner, hate the sin." If my devotion to my future wife is a sin, then may I burn in Hell, to be tortured for all eternity for the crime of love. It would be a far greater mercy than living my life without my beloved.

  • Melissa

    Anonymous from October 19- Your comment jumped off the page at me, because the issues and questions of the "morality" of LGBTQ persons has been one of the big reasons that I have moved out of the christian faith. I am Bi-sexual myself, and tried for a long time to explain that part of myself away. In the last 18 months I have come a long way from where I was at when writing this post. I'm so sorry to have caused you pain, or triggered shame for you and your fiance. I would love to communicate further if you want to email me @

  • Anonymous

    Personally, I don't see a big difference between man made rules in the Catholic church (CC)or the man made rules in the Fundamental belief (FB). The rules themselves may be different between the two belief systems but a number of them are man made and not according to the Bible. The CC has written them down in an orderly concise way and the FB depends more on the oral tradition passing from the biological father in the family, it appears. To me, the man made rules are when a human being is deciding what is and isn't sin. Why isn't the Bible, God's word, sufficient in itself, when it comes to naming sin? An example of my view, of a man made rule from each group would be: CC–(not word for word) if a husband ejaculates outside his wife's vagina during lovemaking, it would be considered sin. FB–A girl's father arranges the courtship for marriage, dating would be considered sin ( as I have read on several blogs). 

  • Chantal

    A great article. I've recently returned to the Catholic Church and found it healing. Regarding sexuality, I find it teachings to be centered about respecting the gift of sexuality since it is powerful and brings life.
    Regarding being Gay, I find this blog by a gay catholic accepting the Catholic teachings on homosexuality very interesting.

  • Lauren

    Homosexuals view Christianity as an enemy because it is often Christians who are terrorizing them. They are human beings who want to be able to have a fulfilling relationship, get married, and have children (perhaps not all, but surely many do, as they are fighting for the rights to do so). Not to mention it is incredibly unfair that married couples receive benefits for being married, such as tax cuts. How is that fair?

    The Bible supposedly teaches that all are equal under God's love. Treat others as you want to be treated. So you claim to love your neighborhood gay- but you certainly don't treat them equally. Maybe face to face, you do, but as a religion, and subsequently as many nations (this problem persists worldwide), Christians do not treat homosexuals as their equals.

  • Practicing Mammal

    Pope John Paul's book "Love and Responsibility" was written before he became pope, a beautiful book on sexuality and relationships, and the one that taught me (along with the catechism) the language in which we can discuss any topic of sexuality with any person in a manner with all respect due to it.

    You are doing an excellent job, by the way, using language that is so appropriate to discuss a delicate topic. Praying for you.

  • Practicing Mammal

    An addendum to my comment, after I read the following comments. Using JPII's sources on sexuality are more difficult, but so, so much more valuable and maintain his authenticity and clear teaching. Clearly you are a deep enough thinker to appreciate all JPII has to say. Blessings, PM

  • Practicing Mammal

    Although the question is addressed to you, young mom, there is a pithy definition of the difference that I have always turned to when I felt confused about this. In Janet Smith's tape, "Contraception, Why Not?" (which is also amazing) she says the difference between contraceptive intercourse and choosing to abstain is analogous to not inviting God to the party, and choosing to not have the party, (or to wait to have the party). Although a comical comment, it really is the life and breath of the difference between these two.

  • Anonymous

    I have been enjoying your writing and the insights it gives me into religious perspectives I was not familiar with and how you have struggles with the beliefs you grew up with. I admire your courage in continually questioning received wisdom and following where the answers lead you.

    Having been raised in the Catholic church though I can't say that I have found it's teachings about sex and sexuality to be loving and supportive. Most of what I gleaned from my Catholic upbringing is that sex is bad. Yes, they talked of sex within marriage as being holy and life-giving, but the subtext always came across as more sex being a necessary evil. Mary, the virgin mother was held up an ideal. Joseph, I was told, never had sex with her even after Jesus was born as that would have made her 'less' somehow.

    This sex negative message laid deep tracks in my psyche. For years after leaving Catholicism behind I struggled to become comfortable with myself as a sexual being.

    And revelations of wide-spread sexual abuse of children carried out by many Catholic clergy the world over and covered up at all levels of the church hierarchy certainly has not lead me to trust the church. In fact it makes me wonder how people can still take the Catholic church seriously in regards to any moral teachings, but in particular those around sex.

  • Melissa

    I have also come to much of the same conclusion over time, but at the time I wrote this I felt that the church was compassionate for even recognizing that people do not choose to be LGBTQ,something I had just recently realized myself.