A brother deacon yesterday afternoon as the retreat was winding down and we were sitting at lunch, reminded me of something I had said to him weeks ago but never finished explaining. I had commented that the current effort to change the definition of marriage to include relationships between two men or two women would be damaging to our brothers and sisters with same-sex attractions.
Read carefully, I don’t want to be misquoted. I believe the effort to redefine marriage, if successful, will be damaging to our same-sex attracted brothers and sisters.
I have not heard anyone talk about this in any of the discussions about marriage. Let me try to explain my thinking. It is based on:
1. Respect of the human person as known by God.
2. Self-awareness and self-respect.
3. Respect for the language of the body.
As Scripture says, each of us was born male or female. Each of us is a unique human person. Each of us seeks relationship as part of our very nature. Scripture also says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” In this seeking of relationship, we seek spiritual relationship in the depth of our being by reaching out to God and desiring union with Him as we have come to know Him, and seek physical relationship with others driven by our maleness or femaleness. Our self-knowledge as male or female is comprised of three things: our physical gender, our identification as man or woman, and our sexual orientation. All of this is constituitive of a profound longing for an “other”, a longing that is definitive of who we are and who we were created to become.
God creates us and knows us. He creates us male or female. This is how He knows us. With this knowledge He lavishes His love upon us. To know us is to love us, as the Christian spiritual writers attest. Upon this foundational activity of God, we develop our moral awareness and our individual psychological makeup; in other words, we develop our sense of what is good and desirable for happiness and we develop self-understanding. Knowledge of what is good (what brings happiness), self-acceptance (healthy psychology), and being known by another (relationship) are necessary for living a happy life.
A psychologically, spiritually and morally healthy person, then, grows into an awareness that I am loved by God as a man or as a woman who seeks out an other who will know me and love me.
What happens when society begins redefine marriage to include a relationship between two men or two women?
The homosexual person is damaged. He or she is led into a certain self-disrespect. Why and how?
Firstly, the claim that the good of marriage can be obtained in the context of a sexually active same-sex relationship is misleading and false, for such a good does not exist in these unions, and thus morally damaging to the individual. This becomes evident to individuals in due course of time. Our bodies speak a language inherent to their function and purpose. When we express ourselves physically, those physical expressions must be in accord with the natural function and ends of the body if they are to be morally good. This is true with regard to our sexual organs and indeed to all our body functions and parts.
Secondly, it is psychologically damaging because it suggests that chaste same-sex friendships are deficient, limited, impossible or unhealthy. For psychological health most people with same-sex attractions must come to an acceptance of these attractions and an awareness of how they are then drawn into chaste and deep friendships. As is true for all of us, erotic interests can be directed in a way that brings about true happiness. For the same-sex attracted person, this leads them into a gifted way of life, a life of celibate deep friendships that deserve our respect and support.
Thirdly, it is spiritually damaging because defining as marital relationships between two men or two women is a rejection God’s knowledge of us as he made us and called us to be in relationship. It is a denial of the nature and purpose of human sexual activity.
My friends, let us pray that marriage be protected as a union of one man and one woman. Let us also pray for greater respect and support of our same-sex attracted brothers and sisters. Ministries such as Courage and Encourage are available in our diocese for this very purpose.