Monday, October 13, 2008

SSA, Courtship, and Marriage

Sometimes a counselor learns that an engaged person has homosexual tendencies. One should seek to discover how deeply seated is this condition. Sometimes it turns out to be a fear of homosexuality due to some incident in the past, and then the person should be advised not to worry. As for telling the future spouse, one should seek counsel from a spiritual director; in general, the future spouse should be told. If, as in one actual case, a person had been judged capable of marriage after psychiatric guidance but feared blackmail because of a situation some years before, he would be wise to reveal it to his future spouse.

If homosexual activity has been chronic in the past, it is necessary to avoid marriage unless one has lived chastely for a very long time and has consulted with professional counselors. Before entering marriage one should have substantial evidence that one can live as a heterosexual person. If this is lacking, it is a grave injustice to the other party to enter into marriage. It makes little difference that the other party has been informed and is willing to take a chance, because usually the other person (man or woman) labors under the illusion that he or she is just what the person with SSA needs. Sometimes it is the person with SSA who enters into marriage with the hope that in this way he or she will overcome one's tendencies. Diocesan tribunals continue to record the tragic annulments which eventually flow from such illusions. Therefore, before marriage, substantial evidence that the person deals with very strong same-sex attractions should lead the counselor to dissuade the person from marriage. The same principle applies to one who has a history of overt activity with both sexes, commonly called "bisexual."

Those Alread Married

For the person with SSA who is already married, the question must be approached from another angle, particularly if there are children in the family. The first point to be determined is the depth of same-sex attraction: is the person primarily attracted to the same sex, attracted to both sexes, or basically heterosexual with occasional homosexual relapses? Usually it takes some time before this is determined, and sometimes only after consultation with a therapist. If it is clear that the person has dealt with same-sex attractions for a long time, and has not controlled his or her tendencies, it may be better for him or her to inform the other spouse rather than to stay in a union which is not only doubtfully valid but psychologically harmful to both persons. In general, older and adult children should be told, while young children should not be told until they reach a certain age. Once the other spouse finds out, he or she may want to take the case to the diocesan marriage tribunal. Of course, if this information came through the confessional, it may not be revealed without the penitent's consent, and then the patient should do it.

If, however, as is often the case, the person has demonstrated the capacity to be husband or wife, despite relapses into homosexual activities on certain occasions, and if the person wants to save his or her marriage, the confessor should encourage him or her to do so, provided the individual is willing to seek regular spiritual guidance and to make use of the various means already mentioned. Whenever a person has seriously fallen against his marriage vows, he or she should inform the other spouse after consultation with a clinical psychologist who may be able to help both the husband and the wife. When the person's behavior seems compulsive, it is necessary that the other spouse be told, and his or her help sought. It seems that secrecy itself increases the tensions which lead to compulsive activity.

Advice to Spouse

Usually in such marital situations there are other factors present which will give the counselor good reason to speak with the other spouse without revealing the counselee's homosexual tendencies. In this way he may reduce tensions between the husband and the wife, and indirectly help the person with homosexual tendencies, who, incidentally, may have very good relationships with the children in the family.

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

1 comment:

burnz said...

hey there!

this article is really interesting. i personally know someone who is into a same-sex relationship with someone who has a wife and a kid. perhaps this entry could help him sort out his life, or the life of his boyfriend / somebody else's husband and father.