Courage and the Faithful Homosexual Catholic

Jesus is a love story. It begins with His love for us, and then, as we accept Him as our Savior and begin to become conformed to His teaching, it is also about our love for Him.

Conversion begins by falling in love with Christ. Like all love stories, it’s unalloyed joy at the beginning. Jesus is gentle with those who are babes in Him. He gives a lot and doesn’t ask much. But as time goes on, the Holy Spirit leads us to a deepened awareness of our own sinfulness. We realize that we have to change.

Early in our Christian life, conversion may mean giving up some cherished little sins. It does mean backing off from the sins that were eating at us and that drove us to our knees in the first place. But there are other sins that we have either hidden from ourselves or just won’t see. Legal abortion was one of those sins for me.

I came to Christ deeply repentant over something I had done. But I had neither shame nor guilt about my years advocating for legal abortion. I thought that was a positive good, a way of saving women’s lives. No one could have been more convinced of their pro choice convictions than I was.

The interesting thing is that God didn’t confront me with this at first. It took about a year and a half before that inner voice that is the Holy Spirit began to say, “This is wrong, and you’ve got to change.”

It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was so difficult that I made a mess of it. I tried, against all reason, to hang on to the relationships and the people I had been close to in my pro choice life. I dipped and dodged, stuttered and hid, trying to be two people at once.

I spent tortured hours wondering about all the questions that people raise on this blog: What about rape victims? What about women with severe diabetes or who are undergoing cancer treatment?

It was tough, miserable and painful. I would not have made the transition so fully if God had not pushed me.

I write this to tell you why I have such sympathy for gay people who experience the same longing for the Divine that everyone else does. “You have made us for yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” St Augustine said.

God calls homosexuals to Himself, just as He does all people. He uses them as priests and laypeople throughout His Church.

In this day and age, when so many of their friends attack the Church because it refuses to bend on matters of human sexuality, Catholic gay people often find themselves in situations similar to the one I encountered when God asked me to step out and proclaim that abortion killed a living a child.

They will lose the people they love if they go forward in a Church so many of their friends think of as the enemy. They will be challenged if they try to follow the Church’s teaching that they are called to celibate lives.

This is a hard teaching, a difficult way of living. Those who follow it with integrity of purpose are doing something heroic for Christ. Make no mistake about it: Faithful gay people who eschew the wide road of gay culture to pick up their cross and follow the narrow road of faithful Christian living are earning stars in their eternal crowns. Their reward will be great.

The Catholic Church is almost unique in that it does not condemn or revile gay people. At the same time, it does not re-write 2,000 years of Christian teaching to suit the demands of the gay rights movement. So many Churches fall into one error or the other regarding homosexuality. But the Catholic Church hews to the straight line of loving and empowering gay people, while refusing to tell them that sinful behavior is ok.

“The Church finds herself in the unhappy situation of having to say ‘no’ to things she knows are contrary to the human good,” Father Paul Check says.

The Church is charged with the care of their immortal souls. As such, it can do no less. It would be clerical malpractice of the worst sort to do anything other than tell people the truth about their sinful state.

All people, including homosexual people, need the support and comfort of human contact. We all need community, and those of us who are wounded in various ways need the community of people who are like us. Gay people need the friendships of other gay people. Christians need the friendship of other Christians.

Do you see where I’m going with this? It follows, doesn’t it, that gay Christians need the friendship and fellowship of other gay Christians. Courage, the well-named organization for Catholics who experience same-sex attraction, provides ministries, as well as opportunities to build social relationships for gay Catholics.

Courage will hold the 2013 Courage/Encourage Conference Thursday, July 25 – 28, at the University of Mary of the Lake, Munelein, IL. Cardinal Francis George will be the main celebrant for mass on Friday, July 26, at 11:30 am. Bishop John M. LeVoir will also celebrate mass.

According to Father Check, who is the national Director of Courage, the conference will feature workshops, personal testimonies, and opportunities for confession and Eucharistic adoration.

If there is not a Courage affiliate in your diocese, it might be a good idea to work toward starting one. For more information about the conference, go here.


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  • demathis

    Part of the problem is that homosexuality is not being presented as a sin but rather a “condition” .

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Celibate Catholic homosexuals are not in a sinful state. They are living in the Holy Virtue of Chastity.

    • pagansister

      A question, Theodore, Does the Church condemn a homosexual male or female for not remaining “celibate” more so than a heterosexual male or female who doesn’t remain “celibate” until marriage? I think, and may be wrong, but I feel that by just being a homosexual a person is thought of differently than a heterosexual person. Advise me if I’m wrong. I know that the Church says everyone is loved as a child of God, but are they always accepted for who they are?

      • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

        My understanding is that the sin of lust is the sin of lust, period. I can tell you this from my historical studies: the first tracts of codified penances for confessed sins were set down in the British Isles from the sixth century onwards. I have read the oldest, intended mainly for monks, which are ascribed to St.Gildas and to St.David – that is, to two Church parties that were severely opposed and almost incompatible. And both of them prescribed exactly the same penance for unchastity, although the penances were different in the two penitentials. That is, the two penitentials prescribed different penances, but both showed that the penance for homosexual fornication was exactly the same as that for heterosexual fornication.

        • pagansister

          Thank you, Fabio. Very interesting indeed.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        The two are equal in EVERY respect. Which is why I’m for civil unions. I just don’t want the government interfering in families anymore at all.

        • pagansister

          Civil unions, if I understand correctly, do not give the same legal status to a partner—-now with the last ruling, same gender couples can leave money to their spouse without the spouse having to pay inheritance taxes—just one advantage. They can now have the same legal status as heterosexuals.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            “Civil unions, if I understand correctly, do not give the same legal status to a partner”

            You don’t understand correctly. Civil unions do provide exactly the same legal status to a partner as a marriage, the only difference is the sacrament.

            • pagansister

              Duly noted, Theodore. Marriage is a more “romantic” word when 2 people vow to stay together until death parts them. Have no problem with anyone who does so using that word—whether in a secular ceremony or religious.

              • TheodoreSeeber

                Civil marriage already isn’t that, thanks to no-fault divorce. We need the separation between civil unions and sacramental marriage to be complete.

                And after seeing the litany from the homosexual side, what they want is material rights, not spiritual.

                • pagansister

                  Marriage is marriage—no matter the combination of genders. Some will make it and some won’t

                  • TheodoreSeeber

                    Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? Aside from parthenogenesis, which requires a uterus, and gynogenesis, which requires heterosexuality, there are no other natural ways for the species to reproduce itself, and that’s the ONLY reason why we care about why two consenting adults do anything at all.

                    I don’t see why I have to, through the government, be involved in any other form of family than that.

            • pagansister

              I think there are perks to marriage from the Federal government that are different than what civil unions offer, if I understood from what I heard on NPR this morning.

              • TheodoreSeeber

                Yes, there are- all designed to help the country continue in the future. I’m not even sure we should be providing those benefits to heterosexual DINKS let alone homosexuals.

  • Manny

    I’ve been pretty hard on the SSM issue, but I do want to take the opportunity to say I am not for keeping gays in a closet or ostracized. If they don’t follow Catholic teaching, I don’t even care what their life style choices are. Hey, I’m not even sure that to Christ love trumps sin. And Catholics and other Christians who maintain their celebacy in accordance to church treaching are noble and dear to me. I don’t support SSM not just because my church tells me so, but because the arguments my church and western tradition has put out are convincing. In past debates I’ve supported gay adoptions because the choice of two imperfect parents trumps no parents. I wished we could have reached a social resolution where homosexuals are included in our religious embrace while homosexuals temper their striving for acceptance by stopping short of marriage. Unfortunately now it won’t happen, unless by some miracle states don’t go forward with SSM laws. But I think the dominoes have been set and the first couple have fallen. Wherever this leads I will still try to love my neighbors as myself, including gays.

  • Dave

    Dominated is going way too far. Having more representation than their overall numbers….certainly.

    i think the recent prohibition on gays being priests went a little too far. Certainly you don’t want people going into the priesthood just because they don’t want to get married anyway. But if they have integrated their sexuality and they have a true love for the Church and the Lord Jesus Christ, then I don’t see why they shouldn’t be allowed. I do think that the Church needs to be very careful, though. Hanging around with brother priests shouldn’t be an occasion of sin.

    • Sus_1

      Gay people hanging around together is not an occasion of sin. People can be around people without being tempted to have sex.

      • Dave

        Personally, if I try to imagine myself as a man vowed to celibacy and my compatriots that I hung out with, went to retreats with, etc. were all women, I think it would be a temptation for me. For some, maybe it wouldn’t be. The important thing is to be honest with oneself.

        • TheodoreSeeber

          All the priests I’ve known who have left the priesthood have been in all-female offices. I think there’s something to that.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        I thought the whole argument for gay marriage is that gays can’t be around other gays without being tempted to have sex, and thus adding the vows would at least bring them to monogamy.

        • Sus_1

          So everyone is constantly thinking about sex and being tempted by anyone they come into contact with?

          Geeze, I’m must not be living right. I’m too busy carting kids around and keeping the bills paid. I think about sex in my bedroom with my husband.

          Tempted by being around people? Ridiculous!

          The person being tempted has the issue. Not the person they are tempted by.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Completely agreed that the person being tempted has the issue.

            But if the gay people want to be married just because they want the legal benefits and protection that married people have, then a separation of marriage into civil unions and church marriages should be enough.

            It isn’t for some reason. Why?

            • Sus_1

              I don’t know why. Maybe they are worried that if it’s called a “civil union” and not marriage that there would be some loophole that people who don’t believe gay people should be together in relationships would take advantage of it and deny their benefits.

              Thank you for your agreement about temptation.

            • pagansister

              The law now will allow married SS couples benefits that were not accorded to same gender couples before, one being that inheritance taxes will not be charged (under certain amounts as in heterosexual married couples). The woman who brought this about is now 84, when her partner of many, many years died and left her her money the government wanted to charge her $350,000 or so on the inherited money. IF their relationship had been a marriage, she wouldn’t have been charged. She didn’t pay, she brought the case to court and won! Other rights will also be accorded same gender married couples which heterosexual married couples have had all along. Also what would be the point of separating marriage into civil unions and church marriages? Marriages can occur anywhere—in a building of faith, in a place of outdoor beauty, in a house, in the backyard of a house (my son and his wife) etc. Marriage is marriage, whether done in a religious way or not—the same.

        • Sus_1

          The gay people I know want to be married because they want the legal benefits and protection that married people have.

          It has nothing to do with being tempted to sleep around. It has nothing to do with sex.

          Gay people are just like everyone else.

          • zmayhem

            Not to mention that many of them want the legal benefits and protection ensured by being part of a government-acknowledged family for their children as well.

            • TheodoreSeeber

              I don’t think the government should be recognizing families at all.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            Then civil unions for all should be sufficient.

        • pagansister

          Theodore, is the only reason for heterosexuals to marry the attempt to put them in a monogamous relationship? We all know that heterosexuals can’t be around other heterosexuals without being tempted to have sex!

          • TheodoreSeeber

            “Theodore, is the only reason for heterosexuals to marry the attempt to put them in a monogamous relationship? ”

            Yes. Have you not read 1 Corinthians Chapter 7? Monogamous relationships are better for the community and better for raising children, and while celibacy is the better part, better to marry than to burn.

            • pagansister

              I suspect I have read 1 Corinthians Chapter 7 somewhere in my past.

  • FW Ken

    I don’t know these things, and need not concern myself with them . On the other hand, if the fellow in front of me is wearing a rainbow sash, or passing out Gay Pride leaflets, that’s another matter.

  • uncorrectedvision

    Thank you for a good article. I am married and have raised three fine Catholic men. I am proud that they have hearts so full of the love Jesus asks from us for each other that they accept all people. We all have a fallen and sinful nature, it is what we do in the face of that knowledge that matters most.

    If one is homosexual the temptation to sin is no less than if one is heterosexual, the difference is the societal pressures on homosexuals to revel in sin is greater than ever. We must pray for our homosexual brothers and sisters that they stay strong. Why would anyone expect perfect sinless conduct from anyone, ever. We all fail, we all fall short and when it is our turn to forgive we need to be loving and giving with our forgiveness, regardless of the sin.

    It is ironic that some find it easier to forgive the sin of murder than the sins of homosexual sex, abortion or adultery. Aren’t all sins damaging to our relationship with God? The society wide pressure to encourage sin, of all kinds, is growing and for this reason our homosexual brothers and sister need our loving support, now more than ever.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      Why the separation between abortion and murder?

      • uncorrectedvision

        Simple logic, one can say, “all abortion is murder,” but one cannot say, “all murder is abortion.” Each of these sins carries its own complications, implications and definitions. Not all victims of murder are women and babies, though murder always has two victims. The murderer is a victim of his sin and the murdered is a victim of that sin, as well. Isn’t this the entire idea of sin. That is is so damaging to our relationship with God and therefore damages ourselves that it is always best avoided. Yet sin is so much a part of what we are, a flawed and imperfect creature, that we must always pursue God’s will and Jesus’s love. And we will always fail.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Acts vs Tendencies.

    If it’s a sin, then you can separate the acts from the tendencies. If it is a “condition” then there is no person, that human is but a slave to their lust and is not responsible for their actions.

    The oddest part of all of this to me is the insistence on the gay community to see homosexuals as less than human- unable to control their own behavior, unable to choose who to be attracted to or love.

    It’s a part of rape culture as well with heterosexual men blaming the victims of the sex trafficking for their own sins.

    • Irksome1

      I’m still not sure you’ve identified a true distinction, since the concepts of “sin” and “condition” do not neatly map to the concepts of “inclination” and “act.” A condition might incline an individual to a particular sin, sure, but that doesn’t imply a compulsion towards that sin. So, it’s still not clear to me how eradicating the concept of “condition” and replacing it with “sin” does us any good. In fact, it appears to do an injustice to those who struggle not to act on their inclinations, as they can no longer describe their “condition,” but only their “sin,” based based on an innate proclivity which remains a “sin” even in the absence of an act. That’s Calvinistic determinism.

      An alcoholic wouldn’t shy away from describing his problems as a “condition” at an AA meeting, and neither should someone with same-sex attraction be coerced into yet another linguistic circumlocution to assuage the scrupulous sensibilities of those who will never know about his challenges. I don’t see any problem in describing same-sex attraction as a condition. Neither does Courage, NARTH or the Church. That it is a condition does not, in and of itself, mean that to act on it isn’t sinful.

  • Gregory Peterson

    Condescending and pathetic propaganda. Defaming the people a world wide minority group of three hundred million or so by calling every one on them “intrinsically disordered” is inexcusable. Trying to forbid law abiding adults from what you allow for others is racist-like. I think it was Bayard Rustin who observed: “Racism isn’t just about black and white.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      If you have nothing to contribute but the condescending dismissal of the whole argument (“pathetic propaganda”) and a pathetically inflated estimate of the number of homosexuals around the world, what the devil are you doing here at all? You have nothing to teach us – if you imagine we did not know there are people such as you in the world, you are grossly wrong – and you are far too ignorant and arrogant to learn anything.