Some Awesome People

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Same-Sex Attractions (Part 4)

Part 4
Fidelity to both love and truth

The Courage apostolate, a support group for those with same-sex attractions, has a corresponding support group called Encourage — for the parents, siblings, children, and other relatives and friends of persons who have same-sex attractions. People with relatives and friends in the homosexual lifestyle find themselves trapped between two extremes: on one side, those who insist on fidelity to Church teaching – to the exclusion or condemnation of persons in the lifestyle; on the other side, those who insist on "compassion" or "love" for persons in the lifestyle – to the exclusion or condemnation of the truth. They sacrifice either truth out of love for a person, or the person out of love for the truth.

Encourage seeks to help people live between these extremes – that is, to maintain love for both the truth and the person. Indeed, it would be better to say that they live both extremes – holding both complete fidelity to the truth about sexuality and uncompromising love for the person. This image of holding both extremes brings out starkly what a difficult place it is to be. Those who find themselves there will feel like Our Lord, whose hands were stretched to two extremes. Encourage provides the support needed to live both extremes without growing discouraged, despondent, bitter or hardened.

This brings up in a more general way the issue of how to respond to those who "come out of the closet" and desire our approval of the lifestyle they have chosen. How do we continue to love them without approving their lifestyle? Do we still welcome the person home? What if they have a partner? Can the partner stay with us? Do we meet their partner? Do we go to the wedding? Do we celebrate their adoption of children? And so on.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions. As is always the case in moral acting, we must begin from first principles and proceed according to prudence. In this case, the most important principles are the truth about human sexuality and the truth about the person. We want to avoid any words or actions that can be reasonably construed as giving approval to the homosexual lifestyle by treating the persons as a couple (therefore having a partner visit overnight, or going to a wedding or celebrating an adoption is ill advised). At the same time, we want to make every effort to communicate our love for the person (so we keep contact and open lines of communication and welcome them home).

The greatest difficulty arises from the fact that those in the homosexual lifestyle have chosen to equate themselves with their sexual attractions – and insist that we do the same. But we cannot. To accept a person's self-identification as homosexual does a disservice to that person, whether he realizes it or not. To approve a person's embrace of the homosexual lifestyle in fact hurts the person because the lifestyle does grave harm to him both spiritually and physically.

At the heart of all these issues is the unity of truth and love. In a fallen world, we find these two set at odds. But they need not be. They should not be. Truth without love can be hostility, and love without the truth is sentimentality. We must in all things – and especially in this most controversial issue – maintain fidelity to the truth and love for the person. Be confident that truth finds its most accurate expression in love – and the best way to love is in the truth.

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Fr. Paul Scalia is Pastor at Saint John the Beloved Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia and chaplain of Courage, a support group for those with same-sex attractions. He received a Master of Arts degree from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum, in Rome in 1996, and was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Arlington the same year. Fr. Scalia has published articles in various periodicals including This Rock, First Things, Religion and Liberty, Adoremus Bulletin, and Human Life Review, and is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Fenwick Review.


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