More than Sex: Solidarity
My experience last night has prompted me to pen this response. I will not get it perfectly right, but I have to try because I am deeply saddened.
As a Black American I am particularly sensitive to language that alienates, that judges, that is insensitive. As a Catholic I firmly believe that all truth is found in Christ and His Church. Therefore when the Catholic college campus ministry that I serve proposed holding a night of dialogue between Catholic students and gay students, some Catholic, some not, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to discuss the nature of love in light of the Gospel.
We showed the documentary Desire of the Everlasting Hills. We then opened up a dialogue with a guest speaker. And then I witnessed a train wreck.
The documentary tells the story of three gay Catholics who find peace in embracing a life of chastity, without rejecting the reality of their same sex attraction. When we advertised the event, members of the LGBTQI community approached us fearful that the movie was a threat to their community. We invited them to the event to open up a dialogue.
After the documentary concluded, a local psychologist, who was involved in its production, opened up the floor for questions. A young man stood up and politely and intelligently inquired, "What does the church have to offer me if I want to have a physical homosexual relationship? What if I want to express my love to another person and find a healthy way to do so?" What a powerful question. It was the perfect question. It went unanswered.
The psychologist was not able to address the question so he danced around it like an awkward politician. In his defense it was THE question. The hardest question to answer but the most relevant, honest question to open up a true dialogue.
The following is my response to that most important question.
Human love is real and we all experience it no matter our sexual orientation. And our experiences are valid. But not all of our experiences are true. For instance when I was a teenager and I fell in love, I made out with my boyfriend in the hallways of our high school. My experience was valid, but it was not true love. It was valid because I sincerely cared for the boy and my desire to express my feelings was natural and healthy. It was not true love because I was not seeking what was best for me or for my boyfriend.
That is the answer we receive from revelation. True love is seeking what is best for your lover. A sexual union between two people of the same sex is not what is best for either person, because it is not true to the form of the human body. As revealed in Genesis, the human body is made male and female because men and women complement each other. The sexual union enables men and women to unite, face to face, to acknowledge the mystery of another person, equal in dignity yet distinct and different from me.
Pope St. John Paul II taught the Catholic Church, and the world at large, in his Theology of the Body catechesis, that even the human body is a gift of God's revelation, because we find in the very design of our bodies, God's design and goal for our happiness as well as how we in our limited way reflect God's goodness.
It is not a mere coincidence that a man's sexual organ fits perfectly inside that of a woman's. A man may unite with another man, but not with another man's sexual organ. A woman may stimulate another woman's sexual organs, but she cannot unite her organ to that of another woman. The perfect union of male and female bodies is small expression of how all human persons are called to an intimate union with God. And this union mysteriously brings forth a NEW creation. That is why childbirth is so beautiful and miraculous and biblical. Childbirth demonstrates how two become one, while remaining distinct. And that is why childbirth can only be the result of union between complementary genders.
This saying is hard, who can accept it?
What about marriage equality? What about human rights? What about true love? There are answers to all these concerns that cannot be addressed here. Nonetheless, those who uphold traditional marriage as revealed in sacred scripture would do better to try to understand the challenges of being gay. To be gay in America is to be misunderstood. To be judged. To be attacked. To live in fear. What can homosexual persons teach heterosexual persons about love and commitment and friendship? There is a societal crisis in traditional marriage, therefore all Christians would do well to reconsider the nature of true love no matter their sexual orientation. Does any human being have a right to marriage- heterosexual or homosexual? Why should the government be judicious in the types of relationships it endorses? We need to be asking ourselves more hard questions.
The answers are not easy.
"What does the church have to offer me if I want to have a physical homosexual relationship?
Solidarity in the Christian virtue of chastity.
What if I want to express my love to another person and find a healthy way to do so?"
If you feel deeply called to be physically affectionate to another person, the church invites you to consider how the human body is designed to find its most perfect biological and spiritual union in the opposite gender.
I firmly believe that if we dialogue and seek to know the person of Christ and beg Him to show us the truth, we cannot go wrong. We have to be humble enough for true dialogue. To hear the valid experience of our gay friends, to listen to their concerns that are not often heard. We have to allow them to challenge our traditional world view that is often blind to the diversity and complexity of lived human experience.