The Third Way: Sexuality, happiness and authentic love

by Faith & Life, Love and Relationships, Sexuality and Chastity, Testimonies

The Third Way, made by Blackstone Films, is a clear and sensitive discussion of the Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality, including personal testimonies from Catholics with same sex attraction (sometimes also called ‘homosexual tendencies’). It does contain occasional strong language and frank discussions of adult themes such as sex, drugs and alcohol which should obviously be considered before showing it to a group.

Universal Love

It has been said that ‘love is a four letter word’ and it certainly is a challenge, particularly universal love, which includes the annoying kid that no-one wants to sit next to, the smelly drunk guy who sits next to you on the bus, the flatmate who never washes up, your parents, siblings and friends (whether or not you are speaking to them at the current time) and yes, everyone else. The adventure that is Christian Life is about precisely that: finding out how to love not only the people you like, but also the the people you don’t like and don’t even want to like, not just theoretically, but in practice. The Third Way is for us too. It is the way of self-donation, of discovering happiness in dying to ourselves and living for others. It is a love that goes way beyond any sentimental wave that comes and goes, and offers a happiness that is deeper and more fulfilling than anything that we can immagine or that the world can offer. The way of universal love is the way which Jesus teaches us by his life and death and shows us what love really is: ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ (Jn 15:13).

Love, acceptance and judgement

I think that one of the first things that struck me about this video is that there was no attempt to explain away homosexual attraction with psycho-babble. Some of them had happy childhoods, some of them not so happy. Some got on with their parents, some liked sports, others didn’t. But, like all young people, they wanted to fit in, to belong and to be understood: we all experience this human need for encounter and intimacy. The Third Way, the way of Love, allows authentic acceptance and love for ourselves and others and also allows us be loved and accepted in turn. [pullquote align=”right”]The Third Way, the way of Love, allows authentic acceptance and love for ourselves and others and also allows us be loved and accepted in turn.[/pullquote]

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. 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. (CCC 2358)

A key point in all of this is to keep in mind that we aren’t speaking about or to “homosexuals,” we are speaking to human beings, brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are addressing the label and not the person, we aren’t being Christians, not even human, and when we fail to do so, we must ask for forgiveness… Our first question shouldn’t be how to “fix a problem” or “deal with a situation,” rather how to love, how to help, how to accompany our friends with their cross, just as we need their help with our own. I repeat, we can not reduce this to a mere political issue, a sociological issue, or even a moral issue. Because it is not an issue. He or she is a person, a person to whom we must do apostolate and be alter Christus. This implies that it be done with charity and prayer.

Recently it has seemed that if we openly express disagreement with same-sex marriage, homosexual adoption, or homosexuality in general, we are going to be labelled as homophobic bigots, found guilty of hate speech, discrimination, and possibly lose our jobs, our friends and the right to work in any field from relationship counselling to confectionary. Accusations that Christians ‘should not judge’ are flung around and the Church is very clearly against unjust discrimination of all kind. But judgement and mercy are also part of God’s merciful love. Jesus indeed ate with tax collectors and prostitutes, but it’s also very clear that he gave it to them straight: ‘go, and do not sin again’ (Jn 8:11) – not ‘carry on as you were’. Authentic self-love and acceptance must always bring about a change in our actions, whatever our personal sins, as in recognising God’s love for us despite our many shortcomings, we grow in the desire to overcome them and draw closer to Him. In the same way, authentic love for others means that we also try to encourage a turning away from sin in them: ‘Friends don’t let friends…’

Love and Chastity

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. (CCC 2359)

Chastity is also a challenge for each and every one of us: whether we are married, single or celibate, we are called to live this virtue. Sometimes it may seem frustrating and even lonely, but we recognise that God has a plan for our happiness, and that chastity enables us to live out our sexuality according to his plan. We also recognise that while there is such a thing as sexual love, that sex, love and intimacy are not the same thing, and that our true happiness and fulfilment is not found purely through expressing our sexuality and trying to sate our sexual appetites.

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