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Spiritual Friendship—Some Observations

January 24, AD2016

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Lately, within the last 2-3 years especially, a grassroots movement has been quietly taking hold within certain circles of Catholicism. There is a group of people who, like me, have same-sex attractions (SSA) and are looking for legitimate ways to cope with their feelings while remaining true to Church teaching.  So far so good. Their umbrella name? Spiritual Friendship.

It is not my goal here to fully determine, nor am I at this point qualified to do so, if each or any of those individuals are within Catholic orthodoxy or not. As with any grassroots group, I am sure some within their ranks are closer than others. In any case, others have written on this topic extensively and I frankly think that the near-war of words within the celibate SSA community is far over the top on both sides of the subject. Instead I wish to address a number of the issues at hand and let the reader ponder and pray with me on it.

Who are they?

Names are not at issue here and this post is not directly aimed at individuals on either spectrum of this religious battleground. I wish instead to discuss, perhaps in more broad-brush terms, those within the Church who would seem to fit this category of individuals.  And my first and most salient point is that they are our brothers and sisters in Christ and the Church. If that point is forgotten or even de-emphasized the battle for any kind of sane dialogue is lost—and, sadly, that has very nearly happened on several occasions.

But who else are they? As I mentioned, most of them deal with SSA in their daily lives. Unlike officially-sanctioned apostolates such as Courage, and numerous other Roman Catholics with SSA who quietly live out the teachings of the Church, some over-identify with their sexual desires. Many such people would not, in fact, even refer to SSA as a “cross” or disordered passion, although the Church clearly does so both in various Vatican documents and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Why is this a problem? Not a few of those espousing this understanding of SSA insist on referring to themselves as “gay,” “LGBT,” or even “queer.” Something unsettling happens when this occurs. For that very reason, Courage stays away from this terminology in order to assist same sex-attracted Catholics focus on being strong believers and part of the larger Catholic Christian community. For example, I am not, in the eyes of the Church, a “gay” person at my core, but rather I have SSA. I live with something but it does not define me at my core. Though celibate, those within this movement have seemingly embraced themselves as part of the struggle itself, and the subtle danger with this thinking is in allowing it to become who we are instead of what we have. I am not a “queer Catholic.” I am a Catholic Christian man who happens to deal with SSA. I am not my condition.

We are all Disordered

I wholly agree with my Spiritual Friendship sisters and brothers that we should not vilify the SSA condition itself. In regards to sin, it is in fact neutral. The Church in numerous documents refers to it as “intrinsically disordered,” and that can sound at first glance as if we who carry it are somehow more disordered than others. I get that. At this point it is worth noting, though, that the Church began using that particular term centuries before Freud or other modern psychiatrists did. In this context, it does not mean psychological disorder as one may think of in today’s terms. This is a hugely important point in that those of us with SSA, even those who are celibate, can all too easily be over-scrutinized by those who consider themselves “normal.”  Further, it should be noted that every individual has disordered passions. For instance, a person who happily believes he or she is normal may secretly be interested in child porn or serial adultery.  All disorder comes from original sin and the Fall of humankind. But that is not the same as suggesting that passion is in itself a sin, unless it is given in to or acted.  Instead of embracing one’s disordered desires, however, St. Thomas Aquinas tells us how to build opposite and positive qualities—virtues—from them. And they are for all of us.

I concede too that some aspects of who I am have been shaped by this particular struggle in my life, and in a positive way. An example would be, hopefully, a deeper understanding of the pain and isolation that so many from the actively “LGBT” world experience.  However, I can either use that potentially positive outcome to help those with similar wounds; or I can remain stuck in it, making it a permanent part of me. On this I differ from those in the SF movement. I agree that there is positive meaning in my struggle. So do most of them.  However, just because God brings order from chaos does not make it any less disordered, and unfortunately many SF folks think otherwise.

Accepting not Reveling

To scream (or type) loudly that I am “gay and it’s okay,” while at the same moment rejecting the lifestyle or activities that generally go with it, unwittingly glorifies something that is not God’s first intention for my life nor ever was. It also plants a deep and abiding contradiction within. God did not “make me” this way. He allowed it. There is a fine but crucial line between accepting oneself and embracing our darker tendencies. Again, that may seem like spliting linguistic hairs, but I would ask the reader to ponder this a step further. Those of us with SSA are in no way second-class believers, and our very struggles do indeed enable us to help others. But never should we ignore the fact that “gayness” was not God’s original plan for us. Accepting our struggles does not necessitate that we revel in them. That, in essence, is the difference in understanding between the two sides of celibate Catholic Christians with SSA.  One leans dangerously close to such embracing, while the other is sometimes far less than charitable with those who do so. Neither represents Catholicism at her best, in my opinion. Whatever the view, I am mortified at the anger and the stone throwing of some within the Church.  I can only imagine a seeking but actively “LGBT” person who reads and watches this ongoing debacle (and that would have certainly included me a decade ago) and frankly being convinced that few from either camp are aware of the pain that person is facing daily—or worse, that they do not care. I hope and pray that is not the case. The loss of the individuals who are seeking Truth, not which terminology one does or does not use, is the real and deepest tragedy here. Winning arguments and losing souls is never God’s way.

The Answer is…

I only wish I fully knew. I will just say that two camps who have so much in common, sisters and brothers in Christ who each desire to obey His Church, ought to be more able to work through the thorniness here. There are ways to do so but that is not happening at the moment. I pray that changes. Otherwise no one wins the long race ahead. And right now no one is even close to the finish line.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Away from Rome for 35 years, Richard ran the gamut from married Assemblies of God minister to 15 years as an “LGBT” activist before seeing the non-gaiety of his former lifestyle and religious choices. He reconnected with the Church in 2005 and was confirmed at age 50 during the 2006 Easter Vigil. His story was first featured in This Rock/Catholic Answers magazine during 2008 and nationally shared on Gus Lloyd’s “Seize the Day” radio broadcast in 2009. Richard’s journey was later posted on the “Why I’m Catholic” website and remains one of their most visited conversion essays, and presented on Patrick Madrid's daily radio program in 2015. Besides Catholic Stand, he shares occasional pieces for Public Discourse, ChurchPOP, and manages his own blog to boot. His studies include 8 years of theology, divided evenly between Protestant and Catholic perspectives. Music is another of his passions, particularly classic jazz, blues early rock—and Gregorian Chant. He has worked in various facets of healthcare for nearly 40 years and is a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus. Richard resides in Minneapolis, MN and is a member of All Saints Catholic Church.

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  • Jim Russell
  • adam aquinas

    Golly gee whiz,,,,this is perhaps the most bizarre confusing series of comments I have ever read.
    (1) Can anyone tell me what Jesus specifically said about SSA, where dis HE address the issue? And please no OT or Pauline obfuscations. What did Jesus say if this is such a burning issue? Nothing, I surmise.
    (2) SSA is not the norm, that’s for sure; but neither is an 8 foot man, a three legged woman or a two headed frog. Not the norm does not mean disordered and it is an insult to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters?
    (3) I though Jesus came to consort with the marginalized not the ignorant masses,
    (4) Spiritual friendships, platonic friendships, Jesus and John, Josephite marriages…all not the norm, but then so what?
    (5) Can’t we simply live as brothers and sisters in Christ…ain’t too complicated without throwing stone….just love one another as I loved you….Too many words leading nowhere!

    • Hey Adam–some painful but accurate assessments of this set of comments and for that I apologize for any confusion. If you are seriously interested in some of those answers, or at least in what reason a person, former “LGBT” activist for 15 years and before that evangelical minister all would ever find myself at this place of life and believing what the Church teaches, before you dismiss it as the insanity it appears to be at first reading, I want to make you a cordial invitation to speak to me in private. Yours are important questions and you deserve some answers whether you end up agreeing or not ultimately. Are you game? If so let me know. I truly mean it BTW. And I promise not to preach, just to share. God bless you and thanks for sharing. I truly mean that.

    • TomD

      “. . . just love one another as I loved you . . .”

      What does it REALLY mean to love, as in love God and love your neighbor? What are we to believe? What are we to do?

      The answers are not within our selves, they have been revealed to us, if we love God, and our neighbor, enough to seek the answers.

    • adam aquinas

      Simple…John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Kind of black and white, not mamby-pamby neutral, is it?

    • TomD

      “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.” (1 Jn 5:2.4, RSV-CE)

      Rather than simply quoting a few verses of scripture, which runs the risk of misrepresenting the full context of the meaning, the entire First Letter of John is a summary of the what and how of Christian love:

      https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20John%201&version=RSVCE

      Love of our neighbor is not the accommodation of worldly inclinations, desires and tendencies; love is overcoming the world by keeping God’s commandments, when we “lay down our life,” turn from the world, and embrace God’s will.

    • It has not been a burning issue among those not afflicted until they are touched by it. Attempted changes to the sacrament of marriage and it’s forced acceptance by law is one example, there are others. I am afraid that the rules you insist we adopt in this matter ignore the rightful authority of our Church. The Church need not show you a statute enacted by Jesus. She was given the authority to teach you and I what is true and right. Insult is not intended, learning is.

    • adam aquinas

      “The rightful authority of the Church”….spend some time studying the Catholic Doctrine of Discovery and understand how the “rightful authority of the Church” undermined the dignity of humans….not something Jesus would have approved up. Or would HE? Yes, it is time to learn, Howard!

    • Adam I will offer again to discuss this further in private if you want a discourse on this. The many questions you asked all at once tend to override the intent of my article but there are reasons worth pondering together if you like. Let me know and God bless.

    • You have trouble understanding how this issue has become an issue at all and has affected other people. Given the tiny number of persons afflicted with SSA it is not normally a burning issue except to them and those close to them. The intensity of the burn increases and spreads to others when the manic desire to impose this affliction on society becomes obsessive, as it has in recent times.

      As you reject the Church and Her teachings and relegate “mere mortals” to an abandoned state without the benefit of the Holy Spirit free to “conflate” and construe as we will, you present us with only another series of conclusions and a personal doctrine – are you not a mere mortal as well, subject to the same forces you detest? .

    • adam aquinas

      Yes, I consider myself the “merest of mortals.”You did not address my issue about Church authority and the Catholic Doctrine of Discovery…just searching for rational answers from those who claim to speak for the Lord. BTW, burning issues do effect the marginalized, those tiny numbers of people whom Christ came for.

    • Good heavens…I don’t speak for the Lord at all. I speak to my understanding. The papal bull Dum Diversas as you know was issued at a time in history more than similar to our own with Extreme Muslims rampaging the known world. This subject is beyond the scope of the above essay and I suspect is interjected here as a church bashing issue. I would suggest you accept Richard’s offer if you are truly interested in rational answers.

    • adam aquinas

      An anti-Catholic conspiracy does not bode behind every tree….just questions…..and your suspicion is plain wrong.

  • Richard,

    A very good article stating your view of what concerns you as a Catholic man. To be comprehensive discussing the SSA difficulty would go waaay beyond our word limit for writing here. You are a man with struggles different from mine in some ways. Maybe different in intensity, maybe not. One struggle of yours unhappily happens to be very political and public right now. But a Catholic man you are for certain.

  • markiemarie

    Outstanding ! I always say ,” I don’t want a ‘GLUTTON PRIDE PARADE ” to celebrate my sin ! Excellent Article ! THANKS FOR PUTING THIS OUT THERE 🙂

  • With regard to the article, posted above–I am not somehow secretly “siding” with my Spiritual Friendship brothers and sisters in their understanding of theology or sexual issues. Most of my article in fact actually critiques those views and I said so more than once in that piece. But in my personal opinion I think that there is a certain harshness among some rather powerful bloggers towards the SF folks overall. I find that both unfortunate and unhealthy, and no less dangerous than the opposite extreme. That too is my personal opinion, not a judgment of anyone’s soul on either side, nor is my article a Magisterial document or meant to be.

    Frankly the article is pretty much self-explanatory if you read it from that understanding and context I think. If you however attempt to put words in my mouth or to read between the lines you may find something else of course, and some seem to be attempting to do so, but I did not say something else. I am not going to further publicly post or hash it out here or elsewhere, again no matter which view you may have. My real point is that I believe there is an unwitting, or possibly even deliberate at times, witch-hunt mentality going on towards those of other understandings (and that is with all parties concerned) and it disturbs me greatly. I was well aware that neither side would agree with me fully but have to admit some surprise that most of the SF folks have said nothing to attack me here, while certain of those opposed to them have felt the need to take aim and start shooting.

    Why it bothers me is simply this–people, good people, are being immensely hurt by all of this, and as stated in the article this type of infighting would not ever have won me back to the Church when I was struggling to sort it all out a few years back. It would have in fact, and nearly has at times even since my return, caused me to say to hell with Rome at times. That is why I wrote what I did and why the stakes are so high. Souls are at stake here and this isn’t winning them.

    No more, no less, nothing between the lines or between the sheets for that matter. I believe, along with our Holy Father, that there is room for disagreement or, more concisely, for being willing to temporarily agree to disagree and then let Jesus and the Church sort out any confusion as we each grow into the Faith by diligent study of the Bible and Catechism (as well as other Church documents) arm in arm together, as one body in Christ. For some of us that takes lots of time and deep struggle, as well as huge patience. And occasional detours. I have certainly had my share of those.
    In our zeal to help souls, which is of course a good thing, we sometimes actually drive them away by the harshness of our vitriolic words–even if it is ultimately true doctrinally and otherwise. I believe that was one of the complaints of Jesus against the religious leaders of His day. That in essence is what I said towards the end of article and I stand with it. I will leave it there. .God bless.

    • Jim Russell

      Honestly, Richard, the problem with a post like this is that it makes only vague accusations without substantive evidence. You write of “harshness” that is “unfortunate and unhealthy, and no less dangerous than the opposite extreme.” You write of a “witch-hunt mentality” and of those (presumably like me) opposed to the SF errors as having “felt the need to take aim and start shooting.” You speak of the “harshness of our vitriolic words.”

      You simply *cannot* make such accusations as though they are self-evident. They are not. For example, no one in this combox has felt the need to “take aim and start shooting,” and there is zero evidence in this combox of anyone doing that.

      Please don’t make such assertions without backing them up with evidence. Perhaps you suppose it is more charitable not to name names and cite quotes, but the opposite is true. Once you engage a subject like this in public, you need to be willing to back your claims with evidence. If you do not, then all your assertions will remain gratuitous, and can be gratuitously denied.

      Just as claims of doctrinal error are serious, so are claims of uncharity–even vague ones. They should not be made without evidence.

    • Thanks, Richard. I had no difficulty understanding the balance you were trying to achieve.

    • Jim Russell

      Scott–I’d be very interested in your view–what balance do you believe the author was trying to achieve?

    • I marvel at how it is so difficult to figure out.

      Richard says, criticizing the SF movement: “To scream (or type) loudly that I am “gay and it’s okay,” while at the same moment rejecting the lifestyle or activities that generally go with it, unwittingly glorifies something that is not God’s first intention for my life nor ever was. It also plants a deep and abiding contradiction within. God did not “make me” this way. He allowed it. There is a fine but crucial line between accepting oneself and embracing our darker tendencies. Again, that may seem like spliting linguistic hairs, but I would ask the reader to ponder this a step further. Those of us with SSA are in no way second-class believers, and our very struggles do indeed enable us to help others. But never should we ignore the fact that “gayness” was not God’s original plan for us. Accepting our struggles does not necessitate that we revel in them.”

      He also says, near the beginning, that those in the SF movement “over-identify with their sexual desires.”

      At the same time he says: “they are our brothers and sisters in Christ and the Church. If that point is forgotten or even de-emphasized the battle for any kind of sane dialogue is lost.” They are, even if from a wrong premise, trying to be faithful to Church teaching. The Church teaching in question is, Do not have homosexual sex. Where they go wrong is, as the article states, in “embracing their gayness.”

      I don’t find this incredibly difficult to figure out. It involves reading the actual words.

    • Jim Russell

      This may surprise you, perhaps, but I actually know how to read actual words, and I actually read the actual words you cite. And, actually, I *agree* with those actual words, insofar as we’re actually talking about never forgetting that those we disagree with are are actually “our brothers and sisters in Christ and the Church.”

      So, what Richard appears to be saying, then, is that even those who hold erroneous views should be treated respectfully. I agree fully. I would defy anyone to cite anything I’ve written about Spiritual Friendship and its writers that would be disrespectful or lacking in charity. Further, I know for a fact what efforts I’ve made to reach out personally to my brothers and sisters in Christ who believe and teach the errors of SF. Thus the issue I’m raising with Richard is that his *facts* are wrong and that he provides *zero* evidence for claims that the contra-SF “camp” is an “extreme” and a “witch-hunt mentality”. I deny and repudiate that claim.

      But for a moment, let’s shift the framework, then: there are those who fully embrace both Church teaching and a deep respect for the Holy Father. And *then* there are those who show disrespect to the Holy Father and are put under the rubric of “Pope Francis Derangement Syndrome.” Are both of these “camps” merely “extremes” featuring a “witch-hunt mentality” regarding those who label their brothers and sisters in Christ under the term “Pope Francis Derangement Syndrome”? I mean, sure, disrespecting the Pope is not good, but if one follows Richard’s logic, then publicly accusing folks of PFDS leads *neither* side any closer to the finish line….

      Thoughts?

    • None of the quotations from Richard you provide are from the actual article. They are from the comments, which he did not write until *after* you stopped by to object to an article whose substance, you say, you agree with. I don’t think he is obligated to cite examples in a combox, particularly when he is not making an accusation so much as stating his own impressions. If people have that impression, something must be creating it. Richard is not the only one who has it.

      So I am not clear what the original objection was to. Your original comment was that the SF movement is “deeply dangerous and misleading,” a point which Richard actually made, and which you say now that you read and agree with.

      The subject here, of course, is not my writing.

    • Jim Russell

      I said I agree with *that* aspect of what he wrote. Namely, that no public discourse should be attempted without due respect for the dignity of the human person and especially those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

      What I say I deny and repudiate *is* present in the original post as well as the combox–namely:

      ****That, in essence, is the difference in understanding between the two sides of celibate Catholic Christians with SSA. One leans dangerously close to such embracing, while the other is sometimes far less than charitable with those who do so. Neither represents Catholicism at her best, in my opinion. Whatever the view, I am mortified at the anger and the stone throwing of some within the Church.****

      The vague broad-brushing of this piece suggests to readers that there really *is* a group opposed to the “SF folks” who respond from uncharity and anger, and are “stone-throwing.” Yet no examples are given.

      This broad-brushed “impression” deserves to be gratuitously denied, especially by anyone, like me, who has written contra SF. It’s merely another form of the assertion “have you stopped beating your wife?”

      As to your writing–your comment was that you “marvel at how it is so difficult to figure out.” Yet, when applied to your own writing, I suppose I’m left to marvel as to how you can marvel when I ask for you to clarify what you meant by “balance” when I can cite examples from your work that do not themselves display the “balance” you would seem to suggest is so simple to understand. I can pretty well guarantee that the writers whom I know who have written contra SF have never approached their opponents in a manner similar to how you have approached the “PFDS” folks. At least that is my “impression,” and it’s the impression of other people, too. If people have that impression, something must be creating it…..

    • Jim Russell

      And, finally, after all the prose about desiring unity through respectful dialogue, now it seems both you and Richard have unfriended and blocked me on good ole Facebook? Perhaps that’s what you mean by “balance”???

  • Joseph Sciambra

    God bless you my friend. You are a charitable man, but some of the issues that I have with the SF group you seem to take up here, namely this one: “I wholly agree with my Spiritual Friendship sisters and brothers that we should not vilify the SSA condition itself. In regards to sin, it is in fact neutral.”

    In the 1986 Vatican document it clearly states: “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”

    That is absolutely not a statement of neutrality; for, there is a strong tendency within the desire and the orientation itself which predisposes the person, especially as long as they hold onto the orientation and the “gay” identifier, towards an “intrinsic moral evil.”

    Blessings to you always.

    I have written several times about the SF group at my blog, especially in this article:
    http://www.josephsciambra.com/2016/01/this-desire-was-good-confusion-and.html

    • Jim Russell

      Yes and amen! This is what I mean by getting the anthropology right. If we claim “neutrality” for SSA, then we are not stating clearly what the magisterium really has to tell us.God bless and thanks for this comment.

    • Joseph I don’t think there is anything I disagree with you about here. Even in the statement you quoted from the article, I simply said “in regards to sin” that the SSA condition was neutral. What I maybe need to clarify is that I mean it is not a sin in and of itself to feel homosexual inclinations. I never even hinted that those feelings were not disordered passions, and in fact one entire section of the article above deals with this point. I was also very clear in the article that I believe, as the Church teaches, that it is a dangerous thing to cling to those feelings or somehow make them a part of us.In case it was somehow not clear however I will rephrase and reiterate that the feelings themselves are not sinful, unless we encourage them or try to make them part of ourselves. Disordered feelings lead to disordered behavior and I believe I was clear in the article that I did not believe that was okay. God bless.

    • Joseph Sciambra

      I am confused; because you must remember that most in the SF group come from a
      place where they seek to find the “good” in “gay;” Tushnet in “Living the Truth
      in Love” stated that “I’ve always acknowledged my attractions to women and
      sought to find the good fruit that they could bear.” In an interview she said,
      when questioned about the “gay” self-identifier: “Partly that’s because I am so
      grateful for my experiences in gay communities. I talk quite a bit in the book
      about how gay and lesbian communities were places where I learned to care for
      others and listen to others, to be less of a privileged jack*** and less of an
      adolescent narcissist. Gay communities made me a better person and I want it to
      be clear that you can accept Catholic teaching and still have strongly positive
      associations with the term ‘gay.’” So, they see many aspects of homosexuality –
      even, the desires, as “neutral;” but, they go even further – as seen here, and
      see them as “good.”

      Here, this is where the SF group becomes very insular, “narcissistic” and detached from reality, as most of them are from rather academic circles; and, are slightly experienced or even virginal in their sexual backgrounds; they completely fail to understand, specifically in their reaction to me and my writings, that some (many) have not had these types of “neutral” or even “good” experiences in the gay community;
      for me, it was a horror, and, although I cannot speak for them, as I am sure it
      was for the many friends that I knew who died in agony because of AIDS.

      Therefore, I think it is best to avoid this entire group – as, in my estimation, they are
      somewhat naive and have yet to get “gay” out of their system; I let go of “gay”
      when the whole homosexual experiment nearly killed me. There are no illusions left
      in that place for me.

    • If you re-read the article it should clear up the confusion. I did not defend the teachings of most of the SF people, in fact I did quite the opposite. I said that I felt there needed to be more honest dialogue between the SF folks and those who disagree. I think that is the only point of disagreement we are having here. So in any case God bless you in your reaching out. Thanks so much.

    • Jim Russell

      More appropriately stated: There needs to be more honest dialogue between the SF folks that those who uphold Catholic teaching. Not just “those who disagree.” SF writers are the ones in disagreement with Catholic teaching. Yet, the SF folks do not take seriously the challenges to their erroneous views.

    • tj.nelson

      Joseph and Deacon Jim – awesome responses.

      The idea of two camps is indeed erroneous. I think of the letter to the Hebrews when Paul says – “Let’s go to Him outside the camp, sharing his shame.”

      We can’t live with one foot planted in that camp and another planted outside the camp.

      I kept trying – but it doesn’t work. That’s the double life – that’s fence sitting – it’s another closet. It’s using God for our own purposes as the Pope stated recently when citing David’s repentance – that he didn’t use God in that way.

      Been there done that.

      It is extremely difficult to admit that, don’t be fooled.

    • Jim Russell

      One more observation, Richard–the point here is that saying “In regards to sin, it [SSA] is in fact neutral” is incorrect. The CDF notes that SSA “is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.”

      So, even in regard to sin, SSA is definitely *not* neutral but rather is a more or less strong tendency to sin. True, what you seem to want to assert is that SSA is not *itself* sin, which is quite accurate, but we cannot claim that SSA is “neutral” with regard to sin itself.

      Indeed, this is one of the key elements many of the SF writers have gotten wrong–namely, they will assert that some homosexual inclinations are *not* objectively disordered…..but that is not what the Church teaches.

    • I have already explained what I meant by that statement in the comment just above yours. In the context I used it I stand with that statement. Thanks for reading.

  • Jim Russell

    The ideologies and false anthropology expressed at the SF blog site are deeply dangerous and misleading, and need to be identified as such. Perhaps, Richard, if you had gone to the great lengths I’ve gone to in hopes of first building bridges with these writers, only to see these efforts rebuffed, you would come to understand why several writers like me have challenged these views quite directly. As it is, every Catholic–including you–will have to decide whether your actions will be part of the problem or part of the solution regarding addressing the falsehoods found in the SF mindset.

    • Deacon Jim–As I said in the article I was careful to critique issues on both sides of the ongoing concerns between the two camps. I also happen to believe that Catholic Christian adults are able to read and make up their own minds, as they pray, study, and attempt to follow the Church and Magisterium, and that would include me, you, and those of the SF persuasion. If you will take full note of what I wrote here it was far more critical of the SF mentality than your view or others who have written regarding those who see it sincerely differently than you do but are still attempting to follow Church teaching. I also was very careful not to point fingers at individuals on either side and hope that you will not do so either with me, even if my views do not include yours in every single way. I do not consider that being a part of the problem. God bless.

    • Jim Russell

      The problem, Richard, is that there are not actually just “two camps.” There is that which is in *accord* with Church teaching and that which is *not* in accord with Church teaching. We cannot relativize this into “camps” but must articulate the *truth* in charity. If your view is that it’s appropriate to criticize “both sides” as though the truth really *is* somewhere in between, then you’re taking a view that is part of the problem and not part of the solution, in my view. This isn’t merely the realm of prudential judgment in which differing views can represent a faithfully “Catholic” understanding. This is the realm of truth regarding the human person. SF writers get a lot wrong about that truth. And they stubbornly refuse to take any correctives seriously or engage in serious respectful dialogue.

    • tj.nelson

      Absolutely – learned that very recently – and I’m old! There is not two camps – there can’t be.

  • Thank you for this article! It expressed much of what I have defended in the past against some Catholics who have the horrendous attitude of often condemning as evil people with SSA who are celibate and living the Church’s teaching, The lack of Christian mercy is sad and frustrating. And as you pointed out, I think about the souls who are looking for Christ’s mercy and a way to live His commands and are met with people who simply say, You’re going to hell.

    And I’m a happily married woman with 2 kids, but Christ died on the cross for ALL our sins, not just some and He holds out the grace of salvation to all, not just to some.

    • Thanks so very much! And I surely understand and agree. Totally.

  • enness

    Thank you for the insightful piece.

    FWIW: I am a Catholic woman with a marked and persistent tendency to be attracted to unavailable men. If I were to follow through, it would often be adultery. I can rightly say that it is not all within my control, but it is still not “ordered” toward the good end of marriage with a man who is free to give himself 100%. When I finally had enough grief I started seeing a Catholic therapist to try to take responsibility and get on the right track.

    I care about my friends with SSA, but boy are things awkward…and I don’t know what, if anything, I should do about it. 🙁

    • Thanks for your thoughts and also sharing a bit about your own journey. I recall a wise pastor I once had when still a Protestant Christian, very orthodox on the topic of marriage and SSA issues. I was present when he was asked “what to do” about actively “LGBT” persons within the Church and his simple answer was “Take them to lunch.” Point being, that would help immensely in ending the awkwardness, and you do not have to agree on the issues in order to be friends. And might even lead to a conversion at some point. God bless!

    • Elijah fan

      enness….I will put you in my large “ship” of people I pray for through the years. Pray for me also and my wife.

    • Thanks so much and you are in my prayers as well. God bless.

    • Elijah fan

      And you in my ship also.

  • Elijah fan

    An excellent piece. You’d like the Von Hildebrand quote, ” The truth is between the two extremes and above them.”

  • Andrés Castañeda

    It is such a blessing to read all your articles, all of them are full of comprehension about SSA and social issues around them, I’m a linguistic lover and I liked how you show the differences in all this terminology. The Truth is one and step by step we go discovering it…

    • I could ask no more than to have the endorsement of one of the Courage leaders in Mexico and beyond, to say nothing of your kind friendship. There is such a thing as “spiritual friendship” and we have it, my friend and brother. The biggest concern to me other than terminology is the idea of caring for someone to the exclusion of others, and not centered on Christ. That is when something very good and that can be a huge gift becomes codependence instead.