Friday, June 20, 2008

Same Sex Attraction: What and Why?

I am going to start a series of articles here pertaining to the topic of same-sex attraction (SSA). All the materials will be lifted out from a booklet entitled Same Sex Attraction: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Practice by John F. Harvey, O.S.F.S. Although it is expressly stated in the booklet that it is forbidden to reproduce any part of the booklet by any means, I feel that the truth about this very sensitive issue needs to be known by all thus this SSA online series. Rest assured that the source will always be properly documented and mentioned everytime an article is posted here.


It becomes increasingly difficult to pick up a newspaper or watch television without being faced with the fact of homosexuality. Yet as the "gay" lifestyle and the demand for "gay rights" become more prominent, intelligent discussions of the relevant moral and psychological issues seem to be growing scarce - as if no decent person could possibly see anything wrong with homosexual acts or anything distorted in the phenomenon of same-sex attraction.

Amid gay advocacy and political claims about science and ethics, confusion about the nature, origins, dynamics, and morality of homosexual activity is widespread. For this reason I should like to present some basic notions of a psychological and moral nature in this booklet. I shall conclude with a spiritual plan of life for those who deal with same-sex attractions and wish to live chastely.

Definitions and Divisions

Literally, homosexual means "sexual proclivities toward those the same as oneself," while homosexuality refers to "an adult adaptation characterized by sexual behavior between members of the same sex." The emphasis on adult is extremely important. Much of today's rhetoric does not allow for the fact that adolescence is often accompanied by a period of transitional anxiety or confusion about sexual identity. "To lump discussion of homosexual phenomena in teenagers with those occurring in adults is such an appropriate confusion of disparate categories as to render meaningful discourse virtually impossible" (Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse, Homosexuality: A Symbolic Confusion, New York Seabury, 1977, 21-22)

The time has come, however, to refine our use of the term homosexual. A much better term than "homosexual person" is the following: a person with same-sex attractions. The distinction is not merely academic. Instead of referring to "homosexual persons," which implicitly makes homosexuality the defining quality of the people in question, we can put things in clearer perspective by referring to men and women with same-sex attraction. A person, after all, is more than a bundle of sexual inclinations, and our thinking about same-sex attraction (hereafter SSA) is clouded when we start to think of "homosexuals" as a separate kind of human being. "The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation...every person has a fundamental identity: the creature of God and by grace, His child and heir to eternal life" (Letter to Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, " 1986, section 16).

Thus, I avoid the terms gay and lesbian, which make SSA a person's defining trait. These terms, gay and lesbian, are part of a socio-political movement or ideology. Personally, I have come to avoid the term "homosexual person" as well: again, the term labels people according to a sub-rational tendency. Finally, the term orientation should not be used in reference to SSA, since the only genuinely sexual orientation is heterosexual. As Joseph Nicolosi says, there are no homosexuals but only heterosexuals with a homosexual problem.

(Source: Same Sex Attraction: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Practice by Fr. John Harvey, O.S.F.S. )


Bingles said...


I just came across your blog, and like you, I am a gay Catholic. I have to say though that it saddens me to see individuals like yourself who are struggling to "overcome" your sexuality, and or "become straight". I can share in your spiritual and mental anguish over being gay, but I don't share you belief that it is something that is "fixable".

In a nut shell, I believe that we are all created in the image and likeness of God, as His children, and that God cannot create evil. If we are made in His image and likeness, then how can being gay, and acting upon that attraction which we have been born with be sinful? To agree with that would be to agree that God made a mistake.

Since you enjoy reading about this topic, might I suggest the following: "The Church and the Homosexual" by John J. McNeill It has helped me quite a bit over the years help come to terms with who I am after many years of praying it would "go away".

Take the book and my comment as you like. I just wanted to share my feelings with you - someone else who knows the struggle. God Bless!

GoingStraight said...

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment on my blog. I appreciate it very much.

I don't know if you have already come across Courage, an apostolate of the Catholic Church that ministers to persons struggling with SSA. I belong to that group here in the Philippines and you have it there in your country as well. You can visit for more info.

I respect your opinion regarding the topic of homosexuality. First and foremost I view my struggle as a cross - a heavy one - but not without purpose. My main concern and mission is to live a chaste life because it is the kind of life in accordance with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and I assume you know that for a fact as well.

If I succeed in living this chaste life even if I still feel attracted to guys, I would consider all my efforts worthwhile. The Church teaches that having homosexual orientation is not a sin but the homosexual act is. That distinction is as clear to me as black and white. Yes I feel attracted to guys, but I strive hard not to give "in" to that desire because it contradicts my moral conviction and spirituality.

Again my friend thank you for your comment. You are most welcome here. We're all in our own journey and should you wish to find out more about Courage, please do visit their website.

God bless.

P.S. Thanks for that John McNeill book...I will definitely look into that. =)