“As someone who has personally struggled with, and overcome, unwanted homosexual attractions, I could resonate with the hunger I saw in [Brokeback Mountain's] characters, Jack and Ennis. They knew they were missing something, and they each thought it was the other.

To understand fully the dynamics of the struggle, one must realize that homosexuality isn’t really a sexual issue. Becoming sexually attracted to someone of the same gender is just the symptom of a much deeper emotional need. It is the symptom of a need for healthy, non-sexual intimacy with one’s own gender—a legitimate need that went unchecked during the childhoods of so many pre-homosexual boys and girls.

Communicator Sinclair Rogers once said, ‘Temptation is the exploitation of a real need.’ And so it is with homosexuality.”

— Chad W. Thompson, Breathing Humanity into Brokeback

"When Gay Pride Meets Christian Humility" by Chad W. Thompson

excerpts:

“‘What did I say?’

The look on my friend Nick’s face was one of pure confusion. Nick, the leader of a campus ministry in my home state of Iowa, had been trying to share the gospel with a young man from the school’s gay and lesbian community group, but all this kid wanted to talk about was gay marriage. As soon as he found out that Nick opposed his right to get married, the young man walked away. The conversation was over, and Nick was left wondering what he said that had so abruptly ended his attempt at outreach.

This is just one example of the break down in communication that has taken place between the evangelical world and the gay and lesbian community. As Christians, we want to love homosexuals as Jesus would, but knowing how to show love begins with knowing how to communicate. Trying to have a discussion about gay marriage with someone who is lesbian or gay is often like trying to play a game of baseball while the opposing team is on a soccer field. Each side is basing their arguments on completely different assumptions about homosexuality.

Another example: Christians consider homosexuality a behavior, but homosexuals consider it an identity. Many Christians like to use the phrase ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ to describe their attitude towards homosexual people, but again, communication completely breaks down because if gay and lesbian folks consider their orientation an identity, is it really possible to ‘hate the sin’ without also hating the sinner?

Not in their eyes.”

———————

“Ministry leaders all across the country are discovering that effective ministry requires not just welcoming gay and lesbian people into our churches and campus ministries, but embracing an entirely new way of communicating the church’s stance on homosexuality. Instead of looking at lesbian and gay people through the world’s eyes, we need to look at the world through their eyes. This means that, when discussing the subject of homosexuality with people, we must use words that are inclusive, not divisive. While homosexuals use words like ‘love’ and ‘relationship’ to describe homosexual behavior, Christians use words like ‘sin’ and ‘abomination.’

We must put aside this kind of language if we want our ministries to be a safe place for students to talk openly about their sexuality. For those who have already made up their minds that they are gay, this will mean ‘coming out’ to their friends and leaders at church. But for those who have not yet embraced the gay identity, there will likely be a thousand questions about where their homosexual feelings came from, what they mean, how they can be altered, and of course: ‘Does God still love me?’

My generation is doing a much better job answering these questions than my parents’ generation. But there are still many who cower or condemn when faced with questions like these, and when the church neglects to provide support, sexually struggling youth are forced to search elsewhere.”

———————

“Using language that is insensitive will not only keep those who are outside the church from coming in, but will also make homosexual strugglers who are inside the church want to leave. Randy Newman of Campus Crusade for Christ tells the story of a young man named Jim who was struggling with homosexuality. Jim was debating whether or not he should tell members of his campus fellowship about his struggle, but when another student in the group requested prayer for his gay roommate, the groups’ director offered condemnation of homosexuality, instead of offering prayer for the roommate. ‘Jim told us he decided, then and there, that this was not a safe place to talk about his homosexuality.’

Many of the gay and lesbian students that I speak to on college campuses are already on the defensive. They are fragile people who have been hurt deeply by the rhetoric of insensitive Christians.”

———————

“One of the best ways to show God’s grace to the gay and lesbian community is by looking for practical ways to show love. The gay community is used to hearing Christians say we love them, but such love has historically produced very little humanitarianism. It’s time that we started to show love in tangible ways.”

———————

“To the gay and lesbian community, saying that we love gay people, but we oppose their right to get married is like saying, ‘We love you but we hate you.’ As Christians, we know that homosexual feelings can be overcome, but most gay and lesbian people view their attractions as an immutable identity. If I were a homosexual who honestly believed that my orientation was unchangeable I would probably view conservative Christians as bigots just as many of them do. If you put yourself in their shoes, you can understand why they think we hate them.”

———————

“Many of the men that I counsel are desperate for this kind of healthy male intimacy. They will not share their homosexual struggle with the men in their church because they fear rejection. These men dream of being held in the arms of another man and hearing the words ‘I love you.’ Indeed, some them will literally cry into the phone when I tell them that I love them because they have never heard these words from another man before. One man put it well when he said, ‘As a gay man, I’ve found it’s easier for me to get sex on the streets than to get a hug in church.’

If you’re not sure how to hug someone who is struggling with homosexuality, just open your arms. If they need your touch, they’ll walk right in. Allowing someone who has struggled with homosexuality to get close to you is the greatest gift you can give them. Whether this takes the form of touch, talk, or even something as cliché as going to a movie, learn their love language, and then speak it!

Randy Newman of Campus Crusade for Christ wrote: ‘For far too many [homosexual strugglers], a crucial missing ingredient in the healing process is friendship with a heterosexual Christian who will accept them, pray with them, and embrace them…’

When we learn to do this, we can rest assured that God can use us to set the captives free. I know because I was one of the captives, but God set me free. And it all started because one man loved me enough to open his arms.

And I walked right in.”

“I know this isn’t a satisfactory answer. I don’t think any words could be. I try to make my life a satisfactory answer, to this question [of gay marriage] and to others: What are people for? What is love, and what does it look like? How do we get past our own selfishness so we can love God and our neighbors and ourselves?

It’s a work in progress.”

— Steve Gershom, “Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine”

The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Church (directed by John-Andrew O’Rourke)


excerpts:

“From the church, you hear either nothing [about homosexuality] or ‘That’s gross.’ And from the secular media, you start to feel this embrace, this support, this ‘Let’s go out and find these people and help them.’ Wow. Like, it’s no wonder that so many [homosexual] people leave [the church], right?”

— Joseph Prever

———————

“When everything hit me emotionally and I just was falling apart, and I just needed human caring from somewhere, and the only place that I could see at the time that it was going to come from was back in the gay lifestyle. Because with a man—no way. And friends can only be so close. So I ended up falling back into the gay lifestyle.”

— Julie Sponsler

———————

“I think the bullying really caused me to go deeper into the sexual acting out. Because I needed relief. I really needed to help find some kind of source to help kill the pain, and I wasn’t definitely getting that from people necessarily in the church, because I didn’t feel I can talk to them about that. […] My same-sex attractions were definitely hidden from almost everyone in my life. I really couldn’t talk to my family about that, so who would I go to? Well, I would go to the guys that I was having sex with. That was really my only way that I knew to kind of make myself feel better.”

— Christopher Doyle

———————

“Not having anybody to talk that through with was extraordinarily lonely. I remember wanting to talk to somebody about this, but being terrified, obviously. Well, maybe not so obviously. But one of the things I did was to go into a gay chatroom online.”

— Joseph Prever

———————

“The first time I’ve actually told anybody about this [being gay], all of this, was in confession. And instead of just kind of brushing past it, he actually said, ‘Well, do you want to talk about that?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, please, I do.’ I was not in the habit of talking about anything that was important to me. He made himself available to me in a way that nobody else ever has. He was very truly a father to me, and continues to be one. I can’t even… you know, there’s nothing I can ever do to ever repay him for that.”

— Joseph Prever

———————

“I knew that if I became a Catholic, the homosexuality thing was going to have to go, and I told God I was okay with that, because I was falling in love with my Creator, and my identity in relationship to God just seemed more important than my identity in relationship to my girlfriend.”

— Melinda Selmys

———————

“The one unmistakable source of Christ’s love that came to me, the one unmistakable source of acceptance and healing, has always been through the Church and her ministers.”

— Joseph Prever

———————

“There was never peace, there was never true joy, there was never happiness anywhere that I went in the world, until I came to the Catholic Church.”

— Julie Sponsler

———————

“We… need to understand that for [homosexual] people who have chosen to live chastity, one of the biggest obstacles is isolation and loneliness. The Church has to function as family and as community [to these people], and it has to do so in a way that is more powerful and more real than the family and community that people find in the gay scene. At the moment, we’re not anywhere near that. […] Unfortunately, there are a number of [homosexual] people who’ve had negative experiences, usually it’s with people who have grasped the law but who have not grasped the teaching that a homosexual is a person.”

— Melinda Selmys

———————

“Christianity in general is in a position where we need to start asking forgiveness, for those people who’ve been bigoted to those who have these [same-sex] attractions, whether be their own family members, whether be their pastors, kids in their youth groups. We need to say ‘I’m sorry.’ Some of these people suffered a lot, and that’s their notion of the Catholic Church. Maybe that’s all they know of the Church.”

— Jason Evert

(Source: vimeo.com)

Katelyn Beaty: What does friendship reveal about the gospel and redeemed humanity that marriage cannot?

Wesley Hill: There’s a great line in one of Oliver O’Donovan’s books [Resurrection and Moral Order: An Outline for Evangelical Ethics (Eerdmans, 1994)], where he’s talking about the future resurrection and kingdom of Christ. He says: “Humanity in the presence of God will know a community in which the fidelity of love which marriage makes possible will be extended beyond the limits of marriage.” In other words, one of the good things about marriage now is that it enables two people to make promises to each other and practice the kind of love that doesn’t give up when the going gets tough. It enables fidelity. But, you can’t practice that kind of faithful love with everyone. You’re bound to your spouse, and you don’t love anyone else with the same kind of fidelity. That’s where things will change in the eschatological kingdom of God. Marriage as we know it will fade away, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 22. But the kind of love that marriage pointed to will be the experience of everyone in God’s new creation. And that, it seems to me, is what friendship reminds us of here and now.

In friendship, we can make promises and pursue intimate fellowship with many people, not just one. And in that sense, friendship provides a foretaste of the universal community we’ll enjoy in God’s kingdom. Roman Catholic writer Ronald Rolheiser says that in friendship the central organ of love is the human heart, not the genitals — which means that friendship is a form of love that’s open to all of us, married or single.

Friendship in God’s Kingdom (an interview with Wesley Hill by Katelyn Beaty) (via wesleyhill)

“It may come as some surprise to find that Freud’s own views on what he called ‘sublimation’ (or unfulfilled and redirected sexual desire) were not only malleable over time, but that he moved distinctly away from his early, and purely biological, account of ‘Eros’ (sexual desire) and its power for redirection.

At no time, in fact, does Freud’s position provide a mandate for the view that ‘sublimation’ is harmful — or, at any rate, that it is any more harmful than the psychological repressions we necessarily negotiate all the time, according to Freud. On the contrary, the later view of Freud is that we all necessarily must be engaged in forms of sublimation, if civilization is to endure, and that celibacy has always been the choice of a minority who interpret this pressure religiously. Indeed, there seems to be in Freud a strand of thought on sublimation that does not involve sexual repression, but rather a more straightforward transference of aggressive energy to a good, ‘erotic’ end.

Thus, in a striking correspondence of 1933 initiated by Albert Einstein, Freud expressed the astonishingly optimistic view, as war-clouds gathered in Europe, that ‘Erotism’ (the love instinct) could finally triumph over hate and war and aggression, by means of a sort of direct transference of the energies of hate. As he put it to Einstein, love and hate must always go together, so that one — namely, love — can modify or redirect the energies of the other — hate. And so, Freud concludes, ‘complete suppression of man’s aggressive tendencies is not in issue; what we try is to divert it into a channel other than that of warfare.’

Notice that the concept of ‘sublimation’ that started in Freud’s early work as related to mere biological drive, has now become a theory of a positive, and seemingly non-repressive, ‘rechanneling’ of psychic energy. It is also important to observe that, when Freud speaks specifically about Christian celibacy in his famous book Civilization and Its Discontents, it is not to attack it as such, nor to deride it as psychically dangerous or impossible (though he does say that it is only a ‘small minority’ who are ‘enabled by their constitution to find happiness, in spite of everything’ according to this path). Rather, he says that celibates have managed to direct their love to ‘all men alike’ rather than simply to one chosen sexual ‘love-object.’

It is precisely ‘religion’ that helps them to do this, he admits; and, as we might expect from Freud, this causes him to inject a sneer: it is not that he thinks celibacy is intrinsically damaging, but rather that he has moral objections to the ‘religious’ idea that one should love everyone equally: ‘A love [first] that does not discriminate seems to me to forfeit a part of its own value … and secondly, not all men are worthy of love.’ Thus, while celibacy remains both possible, and even undamaging, for the later Freud, he cannot accept its moral goals, and nor can he give it ultimate theological meaning. And therein lies the true rub.”

— Sarah Coakley, Love in time of infidelity: Rethinking sex and celibacy

“A third, and final, ‘cultural contradiction’ that I want to propose hovers over the common assumption that celibacy and marriage are somehow opposites: one involving no sex at all, and the other supposedly involving as much sex as one or both partners might like at any given time. But this, on reflection, is also a perplexing cultural fantasy that does not stand up to scrutiny.

The evidence provided by Richard Sipe’s book, Celibacy in Crisis, is revealing here. Not only does faithful celibacy generally involve a greater consciousness of sexual desire and its frustration than a life lived with regular sexual satisfaction, but married sexuality is rarely as care-free and mutually satisfied as this third ‘cultural contradiction’ might presume.

Indeed, a realistic reflection on long and faithful marriages (now almost in the minority) will surely reveal periods of enforced ‘celibacy’ even within marriages: during periods of delicate pregnancy, parturition, illness, physical separation, or impotence, which are simply the lot of the marital ‘long haul.’ And if this is so, then the generally-assumed disjunction between celibacy and marriage will turn out not to be as profound as it seems. Rather, the reflective, faithful celibate and the reflective, faithful married person may have more in common than the unreflective or faithless celibate, or the carelessly happy, or indeed unhappily careless, married person.”

— Sarah Coakley, Love in time of infidelity: Rethinking sex and celibacy

"Love in time of infidelity: Rethinking sex and celibacy" by Sarah Coakley

excerpts:

“A third, and final, ‘cultural contradiction’ that I want to propose hovers over the common assumption that celibacy and marriage are somehow opposites: one involving no sex at all, and the other supposedly involving as much sex as one or both partners might like at any given time. But this, on reflection, is also a perplexing cultural fantasy that does not stand up to scrutiny.

The evidence provided by Richard Sipe’s book, Celibacy in Crisis, is revealing here. Not only does faithful celibacy generally involve a greater consciousness of sexual desire and its frustration than a life lived with regular sexual satisfaction, but married sexuality is rarely as care-free and mutually satisfied as this third ‘cultural contradiction’ might presume.

Indeed, a realistic reflection on long and faithful marriages (now almost in the minority) will surely reveal periods of enforced ‘celibacy’ even within marriages: during periods of delicate pregnancy, parturition, illness, physical separation, or impotence, which are simply the lot of the marital ‘long haul.’ And if this is so, then the generally-assumed disjunction between celibacy and marriage will turn out not to be as profound as it seems. Rather, the reflective, faithful celibate and the reflective, faithful married person may have more in common than the unreflective or faithless celibate, or the carelessly happy, or indeed unhappily careless, married person.”

———————

“It may come as some surprise to find that Freud’s own views on what he called ‘sublimation’ (or unfulfilled and redirected sexual desire) were not only malleable over time, but that he moved distinctly away from his early, and purely biological, account of ‘Eros’ (sexual desire) and its power for redirection.

At no time, in fact, does Freud’s position provide a mandate for the view that ‘sublimation’ is harmful — or, at any rate, that it is any more harmful than the psychological repressions we necessarily negotiate all the time, according to Freud. On the contrary, the later view of Freud is that we all necessarily must be engaged in forms of sublimation, if civilization is to endure, and that celibacy has always been the choice of a minority who interpret this pressure religiously. Indeed, there seems to be in Freud a strand of thought on sublimation that does not involve sexual repression, but rather a more straightforward transference of aggressive energy to a good, ‘erotic’ end.

Thus, in a striking correspondence of 1933 initiated by Albert Einstein, Freud expressed the astonishingly optimistic view, as war-clouds gathered in Europe, that ‘Erotism’ (the love instinct) could finally triumph over hate and war and aggression, by means of a sort of direct transference of the energies of hate. As he put it to Einstein, love and hate must always go together, so that one — namely, love — can modify or redirect the energies of the other — hate. And so, Freud concludes, ‘complete suppression of man’s aggressive tendencies is not in issue; what we try is to divert it into a channel other than that of warfare.’

Notice that the concept of ‘sublimation’ that started in Freud’s early work as related to mere biological drive, has now become a theory of a positive, and seemingly non-repressive, ‘rechanneling’ of psychic energy. It is also important to observe that, when Freud speaks specifically about Christian celibacy in his famous book Civilization and Its Discontents, it is not to attack it as such, nor to deride it as psychically dangerous or impossible (though he does say that it is only a ‘small minority’ who are ‘enabled by their constitution to find happiness, in spite of everything’ according to this path). Rather, he says that celibates have managed to direct their love to ‘all men alike’ rather than simply to one chosen sexual ‘love-object.’

It is precisely ‘religion’ that helps them to do this, he admits; and, as we might expect from Freud, this causes him to inject a sneer: it is not that he thinks celibacy is intrinsically damaging, but rather that he has moral objections to the ‘religious’ idea that one should love everyone equally: ‘A love [first] that does not discriminate seems to me to forfeit a part of its own value … and secondly, not all men are worthy of love.’ Thus, while celibacy remains both possible, and even undamaging, for the later Freud, he cannot accept its moral goals, and nor can he give it ultimate theological meaning. And therein lies the true rub.”

“Is it hard to be gay and Catholic? Yes, because like everybody, I sometimes want things that are not good for me. The Church doesn’t let me have those things, not because she’s mean, but because she’s a good mother. If my son or daughter wanted to eat sand I’d tell them: that’s not what eating is for; it won’t nourish you; it will hurt you. Maybe my daughter has some kind of condition that makes her like sand better than food, but I still wouldn’t let her eat it. Actually, if she was young or stubborn enough, I might not be able to reason with her — I might just have to make a rule against eating sand. Even if she thought I was mean.

So the Church doesn’t oppose gay marriage because it’s wrong; she opposes it because it’s impossible, just as impossible as living on sand. The Church believes, and I believe, in a universe that means something, and in a God who made the universe — made men and women, designed sex and marriage from the ground up. In that universe, gay marriage doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the picture, and we’re not about to throw out the rest of the picture.

If you don’t believe in these things, if you believe that men and women and sex and marriage are pretty much whatever we say they are, then okay: we don’t have much left to talk about. That’s not the world I live in.

So, yes, it’s hard to be gay and Catholic — it’s hard to be anything and Catholic — because I don’t always get to do what I want. Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want and I’ll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion. Something not worth living or dying for, or even getting up in the morning for.”

— Steve Gershom, “Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine”

“I don’t believe that ‘gay’ is a valid category, the way ‘male’ and ‘female’ are. I used to think being gay meant being a different kind of person altogether—like a third gender. These days I think that it’s something I have, not something I am.

The surprising thing is that gay men are gay because they are masculine, not because they are feminine. What I mean is this: men, gay and straight, want to know they’re real men. If something stops them from believing that, then they’ll go looking for that manhood for the rest of their lives.

Some men look for it by finding a man who will give them acceptance and affection—or at least sex. These are the men we call ‘gay.’ Some men look for it by sleeping with a lot of women and picking a lot of fights. These are the men we call, well, ‘jerks.’ But both of them are the way they are, and want the things they want, because of the specifically masculine traits they started out with.

The best way to sum it up is something a very good priest once said to me in confession. He said, ‘You’re not a homosexual. You’re a man.’”

— Steve Gershom, ‘I’m a Man’ (interview by Simcha Fisher)

“[E]ven coming out to oneself and abstaining from sex with those to whom one is attracted may be just as important to achieving a sense of wholeness and integration as other potential paths one might take. Naming desire—understanding the rationale for seemingly random, inchoate thoughts and feelings—may be one of the first necessary steps on a journey towards peace and an acceptance of one’s calling and place in the church. Or, putting it less grandly, it can just reassure you that you aren’t crazy and you aren’t alone. And that can be a very powerful reassurance indeed.”

— Wesley Hill, The Healing Moment of Coming Out (via wesleyhill)

“Christian writers drew on Scripture to argue that conversion is a feature of life, a complex movement from love for this to love for that.

Augustine differentiated between charity and cupidity on the basis of the objects embraced, not the internal dynamics. Both represent movements of love outside of the self into the arms of another. Changing beliefs, then, is akin to changing lovers, and most humans have many lovers. Human desire launches out into the expanse of creation in a frenzy of wonder and delectation. Like a bee ranging over a garden of delights, people sip nectar from the many varieties of earthly life and, in the process, take on the shape of their loves.

Everyone converts because everyone loves. If all reasoning about life occurs amidst love for life, then claims to rationality are also claims of attraction to a perceived beauty. As Augustine reminds us, the so-called clash of orthodoxies is a clash of loves in the end, and what kinds of love destroy since it is clear to everyone that some do.”

— Dale M. Coulter, We Convert Because We Love

“No one knew of [Henri Nouwen’s] same-sex attraction, but some of us felt that he suffered from some wound that, coupled with his holiness and insight, expressed itself in his marvelous tenderness. So his grief, handled with maturity, became a light to us—a model for us all.”

— A reader of Wesley Hill’s book Washed and Waiting, quoted in “His Grief Became a Light to Us” by Wesley Hill

“The key question we should be asking in determining the morality of homosexual behavior is not how we will be viewed by future generations but whether or not the Bible warns us against it. If it is sin, it will lead to death. If it is sin, then encouraging someone with homosexual inclinations to embrace them should be as reprehensible to us as encouraging a cancer survivor to smoke.”

— Betsy Childs, Rightly Dividing the Wrong Side of History

“The majority of white Christians in the South did not adequately apply the implications of the Cross to their relations with African-Americans. They didn’t affirm the good news that the Cross tore down the dividing wall of hostility not only between Jew and Gentile, but between black and white as well. They did not repudiate the sin of racism; they reveled in it. They failed not because they resisted liberal progressivism, but because they didn’t look back at the Cross and apply its implications.

Christians today could fail similarly by ignoring the Cross in our eagerness to be on the socially acceptable side of history. Jesus died to set us free from the guilt and power of sin. If we seek and celebrate sin, we are pursuing the very thing Jesus died to save us from. The key question we should be asking in determining the morality of homosexual behavior is not how we will be viewed by future generations but whether or not the Bible warns us against it. If it is sin, it will lead to death. If it is sin, then encouraging someone with homosexual inclinations to embrace them should be as reprehensible to us as encouraging a cancer survivor to smoke.”

— Betsy Childs, Rightly Dividing the Wrong Side of History