Let’s start out by saying that when we talk about same-sex attraction, what’s important is acceptance and tolerance. We aren’t talking about “tolerating” others as if there was a fundamental distinction between them and us. We are only talking about us.
For those who have same sex attractions, we don’t tolerate you, we don’t accept you. You belong. You belong to the Catholic Church. There is only us (Fr. Schmitz).
Today we are sharing Fr. Mike Schmitz’s talk given at a Steubenville Conference in 2016. As you can see, the topic is “Love and Same-Sex Attraction.” We recommend watching the video, but will also try to summarize some of the main ideas below.
**Remember that with the summary I am paraphrasing Fr. Schmitz’s talk. Before you pose any questions/critiques, please watch the entire video as he does a better job than I. This summary is just an attempt at providing a helpful tool.
1. Life is difficult.
If we refuse difficulty, we refuse life. Life is difficult. That’s it! We can’t fall into the trap of thinking that life is like being on an all-inclusive cruise. Life is not supposed to be like that. Imagine the disappointment you would feel if you thought you were on a cruise ship but you discovered you were really on a war ship. Life is a battle.
2. You are your body, and what you do with your body matters.
As Christians, we believe that our bodies are an essential part of who we are (cfr. Resurrection of the body). A human being is a body and soul. You are your body. We are known through our bodies. We learn everything through our bodies. If you are your body, then what you do with your body matters.
3. Everything has a purpose, and through our free will we can either fulfill or violate that purpose.
Everything has a nature, has a purpose. Sometimes we can use it for our own purposes and that’s ok. Other times we can use it for our own purposes, but we end up disintegrating the thing. How we use our body either fulfills its purposes or violates its purposes.
4. What is the purpose of eating?
Why do we eat? What is the purpose of eating? Pleasure and nutrients. There are times when we eat only for nourishment and there are other times when we are eating only for pleasure. Is there any problem with these two? No, of course not (in moderation, of course, concerning pleasure).
However, what about someone who eats and then throws up, i.e. bullemia? Wouldn’t that violate the very nature of eating? Yes (and we all acknowledge such as reality). Those who go through this not only feel that they violate the nature of eating, but they feel torn up inside.
5. Whats the purpose of sex?
What is the sexual act for? What is its purpose? Babies and bonding, in other words, procreation and unity.
Sex to have a child is fine (procreation); there is just more emphasis on one than the other. Sex without the primary goal of having children but bonding is fine (unity). (All within the bonds of marriage!)
But what if they were to try to intentionally stop the possibility of pregnancy? They would be violating one of the ends of sex. What about those who want the procreative act without the unity? That could be rape, prostitution, surrogacy, etc. These too would be a violation of the integrity of sex, but also of the human being.
If we want to keep the integrity of human life, we need to retain human acts.
The rate of divorce for Catholic couples who do not practice contraception is 2%. The birth rate for those who practice contraception is 50%. When we violate the dignity of the acts, we end up harming ourselves and there are consequences. Let’s advocate for self-control, not birth control.
6. All sexual acts must be open to possibility of life.
If they aren’t, I am violating the integrity of sex and I find myself being disintegrated. This applies to EVERYONE. Now we have to ask: are there any homosexual sex acts that are open to life? No, there are none.
7. Your experience is not your identity.
We all have different experiences, attractions. The Church doesn’t teach that any attraction is sin. One may have a tendency to get angry, another to be arrogant, one may be attracted to the same sex.
The world today says that “your experience is your identity.” But the Church says that your identity goes beyond, thus the Church says, “Ok, that’s your experience, what are you going to do with that?”
Everyone of us is attracted to stuff that we probably shouldn’t be attracted to. If it’s not an attraction to the same sex, it’s something else (pornography, drugs, over-indulgence in food, greed, etc.). The question isn’t whether we will have to face the difficulties of dealing with these desires, the question is how to accept this challenge.
8. We have to learn to walk with Christ and discover His love with the difficulties that we have.
There is a temptation to identify our wounds with ourselves. So we go and pray saying: Jesus, fix me so that you can love me. But it doesn’t work like that.
We are not the sum of our wounds, weaknesses, or failures. We are so much more. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our capacity to be the image of Christ in the world.
Our experience is not our identity. Just because we have broken experiences doesn’t mean we have a broken identity.
The goal is to accept our broken experiences, but to accept that our identity is much greater, and accept that God’s love for us – as we are – is real.
9. The call to chastity.
In the case of people attracted to the same sex, the call is to live with that desire while following Christ in a chaste lifestyle.
Does that mean they have to be alone for the rest of their life? No!
Christ teaches us that man can’t live without love. But today’s world has reduced love to romance, and then it has further reduced romance to sex. So the world says man cannot live without sex.
The call to a chaste lifestyle is not a call to loneliness, or to simply say no to everything. It is a “no” in order to say “yes” to something greater, to a true and concrete love.
Love has to be bigger than sex and romance. The highest form of love isn’t just romance, it’s friendship. Even engaged couples brag saying that the other is their best friend.
Real friendship, companionship, and true love are all possible. All theses can indeed be had between two people of the same sex.
The Church says yes to all of that. But She cannot affirm a genital-sexual expression of such a friendship. And why not marriage and children for same-sex couples? Because sex, marriage and children are all connected.
10. What about discrimination? What does the Church say?
CCC 2358: This inclination, which is objectively disordered, 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, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
11. If members who experience these attractions feel that they don’t belong, it’s our fault.
It’s not enough to say “you are loved.” There are so many with these attractions that who do not feel loved. On the contrary, they feel like they don’t belong. Fr. Mike Schmitz shares an experience he had with this younger brother who experiences same-sex attraction. That is our fault, not theirs.
We can’t always do what we want, but we do belong.
12. You experience this? You are called to be a saint.
CCC 2359: Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection (sainthood!).
What does this mean? If you experience this, do you know what’s awaiting you? A life of loneliness? No! Agony? Not really. A life of holiness, sainthood.
The day will come when the Church says, “This man, that woman, a chaste, celibate, homosexual man, a chaste, celibate, “SSA” woman – one of our own – is a saint in heaven now. Saint so-and-so.”
That person could be here right now. It could be you. If you have these attractions, you are called to love. You could be the saint that the world is dying to see because you belong here.
Photo credit: Jake Sloop / Unsplash.com