I'm realizing more and more these days that most people go through life with a central theme, or a summarizing raison d'être which affects all they do. This theme doesn't always dictate a career path, but it remains present in the workplace in little things like your email signature or the toys on top of your monitor.
Take me, for example. The central theme of my life is my love for Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church. I have several sub-themes as well, such as husband and father, sonnet lover, Star Trek devotee, and pun appreciator. But the single most defining aspect of my existence is that of a Catholic committed to absolute truth.
At times, when my curtain of pride parts for a moment, it dawns on me that I'm not as mature or fully developed as I should be. I don't claim for an instant to be the best example of a Catholic out there. That honour probably belongs to withered Chinese widow who pours all her time, money, and heart into catechizing the offspring of her fellow underground Catholics.
But I try, albeit imperfectly, and I strive for perfection.
Other people, by contrast, have quite different priorities. I once asked a co-worker in the oil mining industry what his ultimate goal was; what did he want to do with the time he was given before it expired? His response was, "I want to drink all the beer in the world."
Beer is morally neutral, of course, like a Ford Escort, or a sharp stick. But neutral things require very little effort to produce unfortunate results.
I also wish to mention homosexuality here. Most openly gay men and women live their orientation as their central theme.
A homosexual orientation is also a morally neutral thing. Having an inclination or desire (some may call it temptation) for sexual relations with somebody who shares the same genitalia is not a sin.
Acting on it is. Of course, calling an action a sin has little meaning for those who refuse to believe in sin. But I digress.
Sin can be forgiven. Christ, with the appropriate prompting, will forget one's sexual misdeeds as easily as he forgets murder or shoplifting. Consequences may still apply, but the sin can be forgotten by the Ultimate Judge - a remarkable thing.
Anytime somebody makes a statement like this, it can easily be misconstrued as intolerance. In Canada, having written what I just did, I could arrested and imprisoned under the Criminal Code of Canada's Hate Propaganda section.
But I have a secret immunity to this charge: I, too, have an inclination or desire (some may call it temptation) for sexual relations with somebody who shares the same genitalia.
That's right - I'm what some would call a homosexual. As with most sin, my temptations are not constant, and neither are they overwhelming. But they are there.
I have never committed a homosexual act. A few years ago, I confessed my little secret anonymously in an internet chat room that was debating something to do with homosexual rights. One of the chatters asked how I could be sure that I was (by worldly definitions) a homosexual, having had no "practical experience."
Simple answer: I know my mind and my heart.
I fully intend to remain married, and I plan to have more children with my wife. My temptation will not control my life. I proudly close the closet door and leave a sign on it saying "Skeleton within." And I'm not alone.
Some may wonder how I would feel about homosexuals who have given in to temptation. I can clearly state that I know exactly what drove them to it. I can identify, I can relate, I can understand. Even if I haven't done it. I can respond to them with the love of Christ, longing for any lost sheep to rejoin the fold.
From what I have experienced in my life to date, my message to them would be this: Life without Christ's truth is empty. If you deny yourself his love, you may be able to drown out your soul's pleading for him with a legion of devices. But you will eventually run out of ways to lie to yourself. Eventually you'll exhaust your legion. Even then, in the hour of panicked despair, know that he still longs for you; his patience is never-ending. The devil's most effective lie is that God eventually stops caring. It is a lie. And I will say the same to anybody caught up in sin of any kind.
You may note that when I have referred to what passes in the common lexicon as "gay" that I am always qualifying the descriptor with somewhat of a disclaimer. I heartily refuse to assume the title as my own. As Fr. Jim Lloyd notes on his site, he prefers to use the term "a managed SSA [Same Sex Attraction] quality. The distinction is essential. Gay is a life criterion. It is a lens through which all things are measured and is a form of political activism."
Scripture tells us that someday all secrets will be shouted from the rooftops (Luke 12:3). So I'm not afraid to let the internet know this. Hopefully it'll help somebody, somewhere, sometime.