In order to understand what the Church truly has to say about same sex attraction (commonly known as “homosexuality”) and what the Church truly says on related topics such as same sex marriage and also to be truly sensitive and compassionate about these issues it will be necessary first to understand what the Church is and secondly to step into what I call the “H-Zone”—the Honesty zone.
In a certain sense the Church is the “Press Secretary” for God. The Church simply looks at the entire created order, most especially the human person, and reports on what God has said and done in that order. Then the Church advises us to step into the “H-Zone;” in other words, to be honest to that order. The H-Zone works like this: If we are Honest to the create order, especially to the theology and language of our human body-persons we will be Holy. Holiness is the only ticket to real Happiness and that happiness will last forever in Heaven. Conversely if we “dis”-honesty we will end up with another “H” word—Hurt. Enough hurt can end us up in the other big “H”—Hell.
So, now let us enter the H-Zone. It will be necessary to stay with me the whole way because you are probably going to hear something very different on this topic of same sex attraction. But in the end I think you will better understand what the Church really has to say and more importantly why the Church says what it does on these issues. You will definitely hear true compassion and sensitivity precisely because our goal is honesty, and true compassion comes by way of that which is honest.
We are living in times where words do not mean anything and the venerable meaning of words can be arbitrarily changed. The truth is words do mean things because they are expressions of concepts, principles and truths. In all honesty, the word “homosexual” does not exist. This word is of recent usage and it is self-nullifying. Something cannot be “sexual” unless it involves both complimentary genders. Having to do with complimentary genders is what the word “sexual” actually means. Therefore to translate “homosexual” honestly we come up with the self nullifying, self-contradictory: “same” (homo)-complimentary genders” (involving male and female.) If there is no such word as “homosexual” then there is also no such thing as a “homosexual.” Now stay calm! Stay with me. Remember, you are wandering in the H-Zone and you are about to hear real compassion.
To size someone up, label them and dismiss them (even if they insist on being labeled) is never compassionate, sensitive nor honest. No, in truth, there are no “homosexuals.” There are only persons who through no fault of their own have developed what they believe to be a sexual attraction to their same gender. Notice how I qualified the words “believe” and “sexual.” We will come back to this
The word person has its meaning in God. A person is a being of will and intellect made for his or her own sake and worthy of respect, dignity and love. Notice how the supposedly insensitive, archaic, homophobic Church does not use the word, “homosexual.” Rather the Church refers to persons. It is the supposedly “sensitive” secular world that insists on labeling and categorizing people in the false presumption of being “sensitive” and compassionate.
The theology of the body is especially helpful here because the body does not lie. We all have bodies and they are either masculine or feminine. In the Creation story in the Bible we see that gender is part of the very definition of being human. Gender is not arbitrary. Gender is not a preference. Gender is not God’s practical joke. Gender defines our humaneness. It is through gender that we can enter into a union and communion of persons, that we can love spousally in the way that God loves. This is a love that both unites and is fruitful. The truth of the matter is that in the order of creation love and fruitfulness are inseparable. Life and love go together. Our human sexuality is an icon of the very interior life of the Holy Trinity.
But we are also a “package deal.” The physical makes visible what is invisible. Our bodies reveal our persons. God is the perfect artist, designer and creator. This means He creates things that are integrated. The human person is a composite of body-mindsoul-spirit which is designed to be completely integrated. We cannot say that my body is male but my mind says I should have really been a female and this is the way that God made me. God only makes integrated persons; otherwise God would be a bad artist, creator and designer. God has nothing to do with the creation of that which is disintegrated, disordered, deformed, etc. Disintegration comes about through the effects of original sin and disintegration is not something to be celebrated. This is what is meant by “dis”-order. It simply means something is not according to the created order of things. The word “dis”-order is not a comment on the person.
Like all physical things in the created order our bodies speak a language. They point to something beyond themselves. There are no such things as “homosexuals” because God does not make homosexual bodies. The male body, for instance, only makes sense in relation to the female body. The male body says: “I am designed to fit in her” (physically, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically.) Even if a male feels differently about this it does not change the reality that is spoken in the very theology of his male body-person. (At this point the example of persons born with the sex organs of both genders is often brought up. But rare aberrations to the created order do not change the fundamental created order which throughout creation is expressed in terms of complementarity. Even the sun and the moon are often metaphorically referred to in terms of man and woman.) So what does explain same sex attraction and how do we respond to this honestly?
First of all, persons who believe they have a sexual attraction to the same gender are not born that way. Repeat: persons who believe they have a sexual attraction to the same gender are not born that way. Studies that supposedly proved this were done by “homosexual” activists and the findings were skewed to serve an agenda. Besides, what if it were true? How does that change anything? What if we discovered that rapists and child molesters were born that way? Would we celebrate those disordered conditions and demand that their condition be given legal status and that they be allowed to live that lifestyle because it “makes them happy?”
Now, back to why I qualified the words believe and sexual in regard to the same gender. The attraction that the insensitive secular world refers to as “homosexual” is actually an attraction that comes out of a developmental need and is only translated as sexual. The person believes they have a sexual attraction to the same gender. This is because in our culture we erroneously translate any type of intense attraction as sexual. But this attraction is not sexual. Now we get into the honest meaning of words. “Sexual” can only mean involving complimentary genders. If it does not involve complimentary genders or complimentary body parts than the attraction or actions are in fact not sexual. There is definitely an attraction and indeed a strongly felt one. But if it is not sexual what is it?
Males receive critical developmental messages from outside of themselves, first of all from their fathers and then from the male world and lastly from the woman in their life. If a male does not receive this message or if he has received a very confusing and injurious message through sexual, verbal or psychological abuse, he can often retreat from the male world and identify with the feminine. However, his body-person has not changed and the hunger he has for what he needs from the male world stays with him. Consequently his deep body-person is going to be strongly attracted to males. This attraction, because it is so strong, will be translated and attempted to be lived out sexually. But this is not really possible. Male bodies do not “fit” together and therefore on the sexual level their persons do not fit together as do the body-persons of complimentary genders. The fact that sexual organs may be involved and even stimulated does not make the action honestly sexual; it cannot be sexual if it does not involve complimentary genders.
So as you can see, it is impossible to speak honestly about “homo-sexuals,” and the Church is being compassionate by pointing this out to persons with same-sex attractions. Remember, we find the key to this question and all issues of morality by going to the “H-zone
When it comes to same-sex marriage, we often hear it asked today: “What if two men really love each other? Why can’t the Church let them be married so they can be happy? If it is meaningful to them who are we to judge?” To understand the Church’s answer to this question we must once again head into the “H-zone:” the Honesty Zone. Let’s see how the H-zone gives us the most compassionate answer to these questions.
The answer to the above statement lies in being honest to the meaning of the words set in italics:
Love: Can two men really love each other? Absolutely and they should! All men should and there is a unique love that exists between men. Two men can even live together as friends and offer to one another the gift of their masculinity which they both need to develop into authentic men. But this not sexual nor in truth can it ever be sexual. Love means this: an act of the will that seeks what is good for the other person for his or her own sake regardless of the cost to oneself. If this is not happening, it is not really love. Love by its nature is outward-oriented. The supposed love of same sex attraction is actually not love but need. By its nature neediness is inward oriented in the direction of the same person not the other person. Remember we are making a distinction here between two men who truly love each other in the order of philos, brotherly love, unique between men. This is of course valid but it is not to be confused with the supposed love that presumes to be sexual between two men. If two men who claim to be homosexual say they have been “together” for so many years it is not the supposed “sexual” dimension that binds them because, as we have said, it is not sexual if it is between the same gender. Rather, there are broader qualities of masculinity that each one may be providing for the other that are contributing to their well being as men. With this in mind I must invite any male who believes he is “gay” to accord himself the possibility that in fact he is not “gay.” Attraction between males can have a valid basis, especially if the males involved have had some deprivation in their development. But in truth, this attraction is not sexual.
Married: Like the word “sexual,” marriage can only mean that which requires complimentary genders. “Matri”-mony makes reference to woman and mother within the word itself which consequently implies the presence of husband and father. People of the same gender cannot be married. It is impossible given the honest meaning of the word marriage. As we said earlier in our discussion of the H-Zone, dis-honesty will hurt. Being dishonest to the definition of marriage opens the door to a whole world of hurt for society because anything can be called marriage as long as two entities are “attracted” to each other or “love” each other: marrying our sibling, marrying our dog, marrying multiple partners, our children, etc., etc.
Happiness: True happiness only comes about through honesty. If two men go down the path of a supposed same sex attraction and marriage it will be a path of an underlying, simmering frustration because what they seek is in truth simply not possible to achieve in this way. It is an illusion, a dishonest way to deal with deep hurts. Among people who live the so-called homosexual lifestyle there are higher rates of depression and suicide,not to mention HIV and colon cancer, than in the other sectors of the population. If we were really being “compassionate” would we encourage people to go down this path? We do so not because we care about them. Rather we care about ourselves. We do not want to deal with them. We do not want them to be angry with us. We want them to like us and see as compassionate. We don’t want to be called names by them and pressured or hated by them. It is so much easier just to hide behind the false PC compassion of “who are we to judge? If that’s what makes them happy who am I to disagree?” Translated: I don’t want to bother with you and walk with you through the HZone toward what is a more honest and therefore happier life. Admittedly this can be a long hard journey. But it is the only honest and therefore only truly compassionate journey.
Although we have used the example of men in terms of same sex attraction, the principle of honesty applies to women also. The fact of the matter is that for women same sex attraction is a different phenomenon than for men. For men same sex attraction is a developmental issue. For women it is an issue of intimacy. It is not sexual. This is why most women who are in supposed “lesbian” relationships either have been in or are simultaneously in, or who in the future will be involved in relationships with men. Women who are involved with other women have been hurt in some way in the area of intimacy. The language of the female body says that womanhood is made for intimacy and women will seek intimacy one way or the other. Men will seek maleness one way or the other.
For those who struggle with same sex attraction, it is the Church and she alone who most sympathizes with you, who is in your corner, and who will walk with you every step of the way. And no matter how angry people might get at the Church, no matter how badly the Church is maligned, the Church will never change on these issues for two reasons. First, as we said earlier, the Church simply points to the created order and tells us about it. She is God’s “press secretary.” Since God has not changed the created order the Church is not free to change its teachings on matters pertaining to the created order. Secondly, the Church and God love us all too much to agree to that which is less than honest, because in the end only that which is honest to God’s created order will bring about the happiness for which we all so deeply long. I suspect the message from the Church to anyone who believes they have a sexual attraction to the same gender is that if you will persevere to live according to God’s created order that you will be in Heaven before any of us. It is the Church who is truly compassionate, who truly loves anyone who believes they have a sexual attraction to the same gender. True compassion is based on an uncompromising honesty to the created order. That is often the road less traveled. But it is the Church and She alone who will walk that road with anyone every step of the way.
–Fr. Thomas J. Loya, STB.,MA.