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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fr Sam Talks about Same-Sex Attraction in Soho, London when the UK Government is Considering Redefining Marriage

The following is an excerpt of a talk given by Fr Samuel Medley SOLT, "Healing our Relationships through Graced Friendships" (Click here for full transcript and video) and is part of a 4 part series on the Theology of the Body.  This excerpt deals with same-sex attraction at a very key time when the UK government is talking about redefining marriage and the bishops have just read a pastoral letter encouraging the faithful to oppose it.  It is significant that this talk was given in Soho, London, the heart of the sex industry for 200 years, where most of the sex shops are and the heart of the gay pride movement.  You can see more of this talk on Fr Sam's blog, LoveAndResponsibility.Org

SAME-SEX ATTRACTION



The way this topic must be addressed is in the context of REDEMPTION.

Every single human person has a grave disorder.  It's called sin.  Each of us can say "There is a war in my members."  The best way we can describe it is with St Paul's words.
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good.  So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.  So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self,  but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.  (Romans 7:15-25)
This is not only the interior experience of every sinner, but also  of those who suffers same-sex attraction.  Some people would like to affirm people in a gay identity, but this cannot be the Christian response, because the act itself, not the person, is intrinsically disordered, and if we love someone, we would not want them to be in habitual grave sin.  What then?  Do we try to fix them or change them?  With this idea I would be careful of attempting to try to fix a person.  They are a person who needs to be loved not necessarily a problem to be solved and sometimes God might permit them to suffer this in some way for the rest of their life.  What they do need is the same as everyone else - Redemption!  Let's look at the causes of same-sex attraction to try to seek a path of redemption.

UNLOVED, UNAFFIRMED, AND IN NEED OF REDEMPTION

A person finds themselves sexually attracted to the same sex usually because of an unmet need for affirmation, love, and affection they had as a child from the same-sex parent or also as a result to the abuse or hurt received from the opposite sex parent, or differing variables of abuse and neglect from either parent.  In fact, many psychologists and counselors have had great success with those who have unwanted same-sex attractions in helping to heal this as one would do with a disordered affection in the passive will of the person.  This will undoubtedly upset many people who do not have a catholic vision of man and his anthropology found in the theology of the body, who attempt a kind of gay-affirmation therapy, focussing on depression or stress as results of social resistance to the gay lifestyle rather than something much deeper in the human heart.  These people say that would be unfair to ask a person to change something so deep in his heart.  Remember, that 80% of our sexual identity is formed before the age of 5 and therefore one could claim that he was always that way.
We must be clear that this kind of healing or change is not to be considered as a 
categorical view of change, grounded in an essentialist view of homosexual sexual orientation that assumes same-sex attractions are the natural and immutable essence of a person,” but “it is far more helpful and accurate to conceptualize such change as occurring on a continuum.  This is in fact how sexual orientation is defined in most modern research, starting with the well known Kinsey scales, even as subsequent findings pertinent to change are often described in categorical terms.” (NARTH Statement on Sexual Orientation Change) emphasis added
Order today!
 One of the most honest and realistic looks at same-sex attraction comes from Melinda Selyms, who wrote, “Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism.”
“It's my suspicion that in a lot of cases, people who struggle for years with same-sex attraction are struggling because there are other factors driving their attractions, and these factors are not being addressed. For some people, it seems, the issues are rooted in psychological wounds received in their family of origin, and for those people reparative therapy seems to do a lot of good. Resolve the psychological substrata of sexual orientation, and the attractions sort themselves out of their own accord.” 
Especially for men, who are often more sensual, same-sex attraction is more of a matter of a libinistic sexual attraction, for women, who are often more sentimental, it  tends toward an attraction of the whole of the person to the whole of the other person.  For both of these it is still a need for love and affirmation.  Again here it is necessary to stress that one does not change their passive will overnight or categorically or by an act of the active will.  It happens when the person gifts their inmost being freely and consciously to the desire for Redemption.  This voluntary desire is key.  You know the joke, how many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?  It doesn’t matter.  The light bulb has to want to change.  For those who don’t want this, it is not an option and often by these people it is seen as an attack on their lifestyle.  From my experience in living in Christian mens’ households where a few of the men professed to experience an unwanted same-sex attraction, the two things they needed from me were:
1.  Brotherhood.  Healthy male “disinterested friendship” (Words of the Catechism)  supplied positive and chaste affirmation of them as men in a masculine identity.
2.  A condemnation of the “homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity” (Words of the Catechism)
I suspect this is because that it is an affirmation of them as a man but also a support to their choice of trying to live a chaste life through a reinforcement of the negative choice involved, like the positive and negative poles necessary for electric power.  The deeper changes in us are much more slow and permanent, yet also some may experience that they will have to suffer some degree of temptation the rest of their lives.  The courage apostolate has the appropriate quote of St Frances de Sales on their website:
"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew."
This apostolate has been most effective at least with helping many men and women come to terms with same sex attraction.  Their 5 goals are:
1.  Live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality. (Chastity)
2.  Dedicate ones life to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, prayer, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and the frequent reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. (Prayer and Dedication)
3.  Foster a spirit of fellowship in which all may share thoughts and experiences, and so ensure that no one will have to face the problems of homosexuality alone. (Fellowship)
4.  Be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in a chaste Christian life and in doing so provide encouragement to one another in forming and sustaining them. (Support)
5.  Live lives that may serve as good examples to others. (Good Example/Role Model)
Yet some people have no intention of wanting or believing that a change in their sexual orientation is possible.  The media often reinforces this with a subtle kind of brainwashing by a constant propaganda line that “I was born this way” It is clear now that, even as Dean Hammer, who who supposedly coined the phrase of the “gay gene”  himself has said, “there is no gay gene” and therefore is not an variant of human nature or a genetic thing.  THERE IS NO STUDY THAT CLAIMS HOMOSEXUALITY IS SIMPLY GENETIC.  It is shown from studies of twins that it is not inherited, even though studies may show that it may be heritable or traced to certain biological traits.  It also therefore cannot be considered on par with other aspects of human nature such as age, race, gender, and ought not to be described as a “right” or encoded into discrimination laws as a variant.
Also it must be said very clearly that it is not a good thing even though it may be socially acceptable and legal, for two men or two women to claim to have the same “right” or capacity to raise a child in a healthy environment.  Dr Dean Byrd, a psychologist and counselor, who was a consultant for an adoption agency on this matter reveals that in many cases it may greatly harm the emotional and personal well being of the child:
“How healthy is the rejection of gender roles? What is more alarming is that both historical and current research provides significant concerns about the medical and mental health consequences of homosexual practices, as well as the stability of homosexual relationships. Medical health, mental health, longevity and relationship stability are essential issues to be addressed when considering the placement of children.” Gender Complementarity and Child-rearing: Where Tradition and Science Agree
Through analysing different studies he concludes that child rearing in a same sex home will:
-teach by example the rejection of our sexual differences that are inscribed in our nature
-teach children that sex is for pleasure and doesn’t have to include procreation
-due to the very high rate, even majority of couples that are not monogamous, even saying it is better to let their partner freely have sex with others to remain monogamous, the child will not learn stability that comes from monogamy
-the child will have a high rate of confusion of gender identity, a much higher tendency toward depression, emotional imbalance, and promiscuity
NO ONE IS A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE OR DOOMED BY HISTORY
Because of the identification that we have with the way we grew up and because so much of who we are depends on the formation we receive as tiny children, it is easy for a person to feel condemned to simply be the outcome of their past, marked forever by a distant mother or absent father or whatever kind of childhood.  You hear it all the time in popular culture, songs, and movies - almost like an excuse for self-pity or a definition of who a person is based solely on what has happened to them.  Yet what is most wounding in our lives is not what has or hasn’t happened to us, it is our own reaction to it.  However, we know that God is a Good Father, and his plan is for freedom and healing.
What is the healing of someone who has been wounded by their fundamental relationships in life: graced friendships.
Read more at Fr Sam's blog, LoveAndResponsibility.Org