When it comes to ethics and church teaching in the public sphere, our posts tend to focus on the need for the Church to reform itself, to offer better catechism and so forth. To an extent we write as outsiders to the thorny problems raised in these debates. If I write on the need for us to petition our MPs to outlaw abortion, I do not write from the perspective of someone who was tempted to carry one out. However, when it comes to the Irish referendum, I can write as someone who has some kind of stake in the matter.
So, what is it like to be a Christian with homosexual leanings? It is an unpleasant path. If you focus on the matter, then daily you will feel torn in half between what society and the flesh tells you is permissible and what your conscience and Holy Scripture tell you – namely that homosexual acts are sinful. To find oneself noticing men more than women is upsetting and disturbing, and to remind oneself that sex is not the be-all-and-end-all is counter-cultural.
We are more than sexual. We create art, music, literature. We appreciate these things. We enjoy nature. We express compassion and feel awe in the presence of God. To live only for sex is to live a narrow existence. To live in license only, and to deny oneself nothing, is to live in a manner contrary to Christ’s famous dictum: “If any man would follow me, let him take up his cross and deny himself.”
It is one thing to have private thoughts about these matters. It is quite another to talk about them. Inwardly one can feel such a range of emotions: lust, shame, anger, grief, self-hatred, desperation. It is not easy to pluck up the courage simply to ask a friend to pray for you that you will not fall into temptation. Because this so often is an identity issue it seems hard to overcome. One almost inevitably falls into the following destructive thought-pattern: “If this is who I am, and who I am is offensive, how can God love me, and how can I love myself?”
And this is the point of the matter – society tells us that this is all we are, all we ever can be. If you believe this lie, you will find yourself disappearing. “Love your neighbour as yourself.” When you don’t love yourself, how can you really love your neighbour?
Some people pray merely that they will find the grace to give things up. I find myself longing for something deeper than that. I am praying for the grace to be transformed, to become a well-ordered being, an emotionally-stable being, whose security is rooted in the Father’s love, never to be destroyed by betrayal or rejection. I don’t know why God loves me…I don’t know.