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. )