Friday, November 04, 2005

Closets Have Doors for a Reason

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.

7 comments:

  1. How would you explain the occurrence of SSA combined with absolute live for that individual. Should I "manage" my SSA and be physically intimate with someone I don't love? For many of us, there is deep connection and love in addition to the physical attraction and to separate them or act upon them individually certainly can't be God's intention. @jasonsdisaster

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  2. It's not my place to tell you how to live your life Jason. I'm simply telling how I live mine, in keeping with my conscience, formed by the teachings of my faith.

    I've always been impressed by what the Church actually says regarding those who have a homosexual attraction (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 2357-2359):

    "This inclination... constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and... are called to chastity."

    Every time I read that I am relieved and comforted. The Church, contrary to what the world tells me, does understand my struggle and instead of being permissive, challenges me with a call to rise above my physical desires.

    I truly hope I haven't offended you with this post or these comments. I value the budding friendship we've started on Twitter and I wouldn't want it to be lost over this.

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  3. I'm not offended, but deeply interested in the dialogue. Your post, and subsequent comment seem to address, from your perspective, a response to physical desire. My challenge to you is this, and it may be different for you than it is from me: are our "trials" different? You speak of physical desire, I speak of love so true and pure that in my heart I don't believe it to be anything other than a beautiful gift from God. I believe fully that He blesses my relationship and every way that Matt and I choose to express our love. And for us our physicality is an expression of something beautiful, pure & in our souls.

    Why would God give me such a beautiful thing in my heart to test me?

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  4. I have no doubt that were I to submit to my "temptation" that I could find what I would believe to be a fulfilling & loving relationship.

    But in the light of absolute truth, which I believe to be revealed by God to his Church with infallible teaching authority, I would clearly be deceiving myself. I believe that my temptation is a manifestation of a deeply rooted desire for male intimacy due to having a physically present yet emotionally distant father for most of my young years (he has since opened up and our relationship is much better now). I fully believe - by conscious choice - that God's plan for sexual complementarity by definition requires opposite sexes.

    I do not intent to belittle the affection and bond you and Matt have. I know that to you it's real and profound, and as the saying goes, our perception determines our reality.

    I think one of the difference between our perspectives, and this goes to the root of why I became Catholic, is the authority we each answer to. I used to believe that as long as my conscience was clear, that I was not sinning. Catholicism has introduced me to the concept of forming my conscience in the light of revealed Truth, and I find this exceptionally liberating. I now answer to an authority beyond my own heart & soul, as I learned long ago that my own heart & soul are easily fooled.

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  5. I find it interesting that you claim no intention to belittle the "affection and bond," when I spoke directly and specifically of love. I'm not sure if it's simply a case of semantics, or if you specifically made the decision to use those words instead of love, but I find it interesting none the less.

    The moral of this story, I suppose is that we're both happy with the truths we each live and that we're both confident in spirituality and beliefs, and if we can both go to bed each night at peace with ourselves, those around us and God- well then that truly IS a blessing, isn't it?

    Thank you for indulging me in this dialogue. I look forward to many more on a variety of subjects. Today on a day about gratitude, I'm thankful you're one of the folks that Twitter has introduced to me. God bless you and yours.

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  6. Thank you for your openness to this discussion Jason. I know this is a touchy subject, and I truly appreciate your rational, objective, & reasoned mindset. There's a paradox in our friendship: we're on opposite sides and yet on the same side. This broadens my horizons, and I too count myself fortunate to have you in my social circle. Have a wonderful Yankee Turkey Day!

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Comments are welcome, but must be on topic. Spam, hateful/obscene remarks, and shameless self-promotion will be unceremoniously deleted. Well, OK, I might put on a little ceremony when I delete them.