Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Disordered? Or Specifically Designed to Carry the Cross?

I read this conversation on a CatholicVote.org article:

First, Davide:
Tom, if I told you I was not sexually attracted to you am I disordered? You are mistaken no where absolutely no where does the Church say the attraction is disordered. I encourage you to read the CCC 2357-2359. It says our attraction is a 'trail'. I am willing to go further and say it is not normal or natural. But I don;t need anyone reminding me of this. Imagine a 15 year old Catholic boy who is confused about his sexuality and he is told his attraction is disordered even though he is a virgin. Right out of the gate he feels lost and condemn. His straight buddies are disinterested in his sexuality. So he goes to the 'gay' kids who are disinterested in his faith. But not one of them considered him disordered. So he struggles between faith and what the world wants him to do. More than likely where do you think he will end up? Its no wonder most hetero folks don't understand homosexual advocacy, cause they don't undertand SSA. So I think we should limit the 'disordered' comments to the actual sin.
The response by Tom:
Davide--- Again, I didn't say you or anyone dealing with SSA *is* disordered. And as I read CCC 2358 I see it say of the homosexual attraction, "This inclination, which is objectively disordered...." Am I wrong in interpreting that to refer to the attraction, regardless of the action? If so, how? But again, in no way am I condemning anyone. As I imagine that 15 year old boy confused about his sexuality, telling him that his attraction is disordered isn't telling him that *he* is bad or condemned, but that he has a disordered inclination. Yes, it'll be a tough pill to swallow, but it's not incorrect. The next step, of course, is to help him on the path of living chastely, which, incidentally, is what 15 year olds who don't experience SSA need to be taught also. Perhaps steps can be taken to prevent the feeling of being lost and condemned through proper compassion at that tender age. I do not dispute that the compassion has been lacking far too frequently, but that does not mean the truth is not the truth. ------------ And I do not take any offense to your responses. I have appreciated your contributions and appreciate that you have a personal stake in this topic.
And a welcome clarification from Andy:
Again, "disordered" is not to be thought of in the psychological sense.
I'm glad these respectful conversations are happening. For more on SSA and the Church, the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops put out the excellent read, "Pastoral Ministry to Young People with Same-Sex Attraction." The Church respects and defends the dignity of all people carrying this cross; let us Catholics do the same, without compromising the Church's teachings.

I think this is a tough issue for the Church, especially since it has become subjective in the sense that people hear "gay" and immediately think of their friend or relative. The teaching of homosexuality is aligned tightly with the Church's teachings of heterosexuality sexuality. They are one in the same; they are concerned primarily to the whole dignity of each person and faithfulness to the Lord's commandments.

Two slim books I really recommend are "Set Free to Love: Lives Changed by Theology of the Body" by Marcel LeJuene and "Washed and Waiting" by Wesley Hill. The former is from a Roman Catholic perspective (he works at Texas A&M and runs the Aggie Catholics blog) and the latter is Evangelical Christian (the author is a graduate of Wheaton College). Another excellent person to read on this subject is Eve Tushnet; she is a Catholic convert, lesbian and single (ergo, celibate). I first heard about her from a NYT article and enjoy her blog. OH! And Steve Gershom - a must-read blog by a "Catholic, Gay, and Feeling Fine, Thanks" man.

I reviewed LeJeune's book this past January; he writes on "sex, chastity, married life, celibacy, Trinitarian love, human dignity, the differences between men and women, and our ultimate purpose in life."

The story by the young man who struggles with same-sex attraction was phenomenal. When he asked Christopher West (renowned TOB author and speaker) how best to "deal" with it, West said, "First and foremost, you are a man."

This young man would later find further grace through the sacraments of the Church: "I started attending daily Mass and receiving the Eucharist day in and day out. I realized this was what I had been looking for all along! If I really wanted to learn what it meant to be a man, how much further did I need to look than the Sacrament of the greatest man who ever lived?"

Please pray with me for further understanding, contentment, respect and joy for all affected in this growing dialogue!


  1. have you read or heard of the blog stevegershom.com? he is a Catholic man with SSA and blogs about his journey and what it all means. he has also recently done some interviews and an article for our sunday visitor.

  2. Whoop! for Marcel, our campus minister here at Texas A&M!

  3. Theresa- I have! Adding him into the post now. Thanks so much for the great reminder! He is a wonderful witness; do you have any thoughts on his need to have a pseudonym, though? I think that says a lot.

    Patrick-- Whoop! Whoop!

  4. Julie, I have been missing your voice. I'm not sure what happened to my subscription to your blog, but I came hear to tune in again today and find this post on SSA, (put up on my birthday, thank you very much! :-)) as I contemplate a post of my own on this topic, but sharing my own story. It's good to see such a litany of resources for people to read up on the topic, as they weigh their relationships and faith.

    Peace! blessings,

  5. Thanks for sharing this. This is one of the hardest things for me to defend about the faith because, as you said, it always goes to 'my friend or relative.'

    Also, I love how civil those exchanges were. That is so uncommon in forums or comboxes, unfortunately.