Letters to a Struggling Young Friend - Second Question
Brother R asks:
2. Why are all homosexual acts wrong? I can understand no gay sex. But what's wrong with kissing, making out, or holding hands. How can I witness to a gay atheist? How can I use natural law to argue against homosexuality? Also if all acts have to work towards procreation, then can impotent couples kiss, hold hands, make out? Aren't we applying a double standard. (I also want to witness at a gay pride parade with Church, any suggestions? I find it interesting how we pray in front of abortion clinics but not gay pride parades, I think we need to start doing that and spread it across the Church.)
A PRECURSER OR INTRODUCTION
Before we dive into the issue of homosexuality, I think it is important to establish some details. First, the Church is not against sex. Sexual differentiation, the sexual urge, and sexual desires are all a part of what it means to be human, what it means to have a body. That is why the Sistine Chapel is adorned with nudes- because the body is lovely and expresses something lovely about human nature and about God.
St. Pope John Paul II spoke for 5 years, more or less, at his Wednesday Audiences about the topic of human love in the divine plan. It is a theological look at the body and what the body can tell us about ourselves and about the God. It is known as "The Theology of the Body" and there are numerous resources out there that can break this stuff down. St John Paul II also wrote a philosophical treatment before he became Pope, when he was a professor of Philosophy in Poland, and that work is called "Love and Responsibility." There are numerous resources on that as well (this is a great one for download).
I want in this post to give you some resources that have answered this question and can answer a whole host of related questions for you. I figure I can give you an answer on this blog and you'll end up with some further questions, challenges and objections, but will have to wait for me to respond to your response. Rather, these resources are good starting points and can give you some elbow room to dig into the issues at hand.
RESOURCES FOR RESEARCH
First, this video. It is 38 minutes long and is rather beautiful. It is called "The Third Way" and features real men and women and their struggles as persons with same-sex attraction. I think this sets the tone in a better way when we talk about the Church and same-sex attraction (SSA).
Here's an article by a Catholic man with same-sex attraction. Here's a quote:
Would I trade in my Catholicism for a worldview where I get to marry a man? Would I trade in the Eucharist and the Mass and the rest of it? Being a Catholic means believing in a God who literally waits in the chapel for me, hoping I’ll stop by just for ten minutes so he can pour out love and healing on my heart. Which is worth more — all this, or getting to have sex with who I want? I wish everybody, straight or gay, had as beautiful a life as I have.
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 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?
There is another great website that treats all sorts of chastity issues, such as pornography and same-sex attraction. It is www.chastityproject.com and is filled with great articles and videos explaining Church teaching and pastoral practice.
Clarifying the relationshiop between Marriage, Infertility and Homosexuality from Catholic Answers radio show by philosophy professor Jennifer Morse.
Here is a talk by Chris Stephanick answering the question put to him, Why Does the Church discriminate against gays?
WITNESSING AT A GAY PRIDE PARADE
When it comes to witnessing at a Gay Pride parade, I heard of a Church that held up signs that said, "We're sorry for the way Christians have treated you." Dozens of gay men came up to this group and embraced them crying, saying "Thank you." And the Christians hugged them back and prayed with them. To me, this is the type of witness we ought to be giving, because when those with same-sex attraction were no allowed to come out of the closet, it was easy to persecute them or ignore them. We cannot keep doing this. We need to apologize for this. We need to love them and embrace them. That doesn't mean we accept everything that person does. It simply means that Jesus Christ died for that person, rose for that person, and desires that person to be forever united to them in Heaven. If that's Jesus' desires, then it should be mine as well.
MY QUICK ANSWERS
I do not think it is evil or immoral for a man to receive affection from another man. I don't think hand-holding is equivalent to sex. I would even say that kissing is not. However, I would say that two men/women with same-sex attraction should probably steer clear of making out, because making out is meant to cause arousal for sexual intimacy.
If you watched the video from Catholic Answers you'll see the distinction the Church makes between infertility vs. physical impossibility. A couple where the sexual act itself is impossible cannot enter into a valid sacramental marriage (though perhaps a spiritual one called a Josephite Marriage). It is the sexual act itself that ratifies the marital vows "till death do you part." If you cannot complete the sexual act physically, then you cannot have a ratified marriage.
Now, a couple that is infertile, but still able to physically have sex, are in a valid marriage. Infertility does not cease or hinder the sacramentality of a marital union. Infertile sex is not evil or wrong. (Note that I'm not refering to contraceptive sex, just infertility naturally caused.) Thus, infertile sex cannot be equated with homosexual sex because homosexual sex is not really even sex. The lack of sexual complementarity prevents true intercourse from ever taking place. There is arousal, even love, but not sexual union, which I briefly discuss in an earlier post.