UA-49478533-1

Already I’m getting tired of this anonymity thing. I keep wanting to post on facebook to all my friends, about how excited I am about the new blog, about how many good conversations are likely to come from this. Also about how little prepared I feel to be anything like an authority on the subject, and how much prayer I need, not only about the daily, normal things that everybody deals with, but about this new project.

The truth is that I don’t fully understand the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. I understand that biologically, homosexuality doesn’t make any sense. I understand that the Church wouldn’t prohibit something unless it was really and truly bad for us. What I’m still working on understanding is the emotional aspect.

I know that, every time I’ve been in love with a man, it’s been from a place of woundedness. During high school and early college, the guys I fell for all seemed to have something I didn’t, and something I wanted very badly. They were confident, or good looking, or athletic, or they had a tenderness about them that I had never gotten from a man.

I wonder to what extent this sort of love-from-woundedness is intrinsic to homosexual relationships. I say “I wonder” because I don’t know. I do know that, the more secure and at ease I feel in a friendship with another man, the less likely I am to be attracted to him sexually or even romantically. I have a friend Sam who I’m very close to, at least in the sense that I feel totally at ease in his presence, totally free from the need to pretend to be anything I’m not. But I’ve never felt the slightest stirring of anything sexual when I’m with him.1

On the other hand, the guys I am attracted to are the ones who make me feel insecure — the ones I envy. As I grow in gratitude for my own life and acceptance of the gifts I do have, I envy other men less, and am less prone to falling for a man in this way.

I do wish those guys in my apartment complex would quit sunbathing outside my window, though. Geez.

1 In the interests of honesty, it is probably best to admit here that this may have something to do with the fact that Sam has a face like a horse and a body like a giraffe. He’s beautiful on the inside, though.

26 thoughts on “Love-From-Woundedness

  1. mw

    Thank you for your blog. You are in my prayers. I just wanted to point something out to you. Based on something else I read on your blog you talked about the fact that you were attracted to men but didn’t date them or have sexual relationships with them. Anyway, assuming that is the case about the relationships you reference above- could you really call that love in the true sense of the word? Attracted to those types of men, sure. Maybe even infatuated?? But from the other posts it sounds like you know what real love is based on other relationships in your life. Love is not just an emotional connection…and that sort of seems to be what you are describing here. I hope I am not offending you and don’t mean at all to make light of the emotional toll your struggles take.

    Reply
    1. Steve Gershom

      Hello, mw — no, I didn’t find anything offensive about what you said.

      I think that you’re right — “love”, at least in its fullest sense, is not the right word for what I usually feel when I’m attracted to a man. Not that it’s impossible for one man to love another — that would be absurd — but that real love is distinct from infatuation, as you observe.

      Thank you for your comment and your prayers.

      Reply
  2. Matt

    The Church has taught me that love is first and foremost “Wishing the good upon the other”. So what is the good? Simply put, Heaven and adoration of our Lord Christ.

    If we truly love a person, male female, gay or straight, then we must do everything we can to ensure the piety and holiness of that person’s soul. Which ultimately means dieing to ourselves to better become a Christ-like servant to others.

    God Bless you sir and your good works.

    Reply
  3. Kelsey

    HELLO! I don’t have too much to say other than this is simply amazing. You are an inspiration to me (a 21 year old woman, straight, and trying to live the Catholic teachings out) as well as countless others. God bless you for your strength and courage, and you will be in my prayers! Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Lori

    An author posed this question: “What if God’s purpose is not to make us happy, but to make us holy?”

    I ponder this question a lot when I am struggling with things I don’t understand. It came to mind as I read your blog today; maybe it will help give you a little bit of a new perspective, as it has me :)

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

      Lori, God desires your happiness both now and in heaven. The problem is that effects of original sin damaged our will and intellect, and these effects remain even despite Christ’s sacrifice. God continues to allow suffering and evil in the world so that we may actively cooperate with Christ in the work of our salvation. Christ died for us so that we may have the gift of eternal life. Now it’s up to us to accept that gift and show God through our actions by using our free will to imitate Christ even when choosing the good is difficult.

      Think of it this way: an athlete must train hard and suffer but maintains his focus on his ultimate goal. In keeping focus on the end goal, sometimes the athlete even finds joy in the process of suffering knowing that his training is good for him and is helping him to perform better daily both in practice and in his final race. The same is true for us. The sufferings in your life are opportunities for you to grow and be more and more transformed and closely united to God by the way you respond in those situations. This is what some saints mean when they speak of finding “joy” in suffering.

      God gives you all that you need every moment to be joyful. Even if you are not shouting from rooftops, He still gives you everything you need to “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, and persevere in prayer” (Romans 12:12). It’s merely a matter of us being willing to be transformed in our attitudes and training hard.

      Reply
  5. Claudia

    YUP, I am a celibate “older” female. Not married any longer and now understanding the Church’s teachings on chastity according to one’s status in life. And since marriage, EVERY guy i have slept with outside of marriage was for the wrong reasons. In reality even in my marriage – altho it was “OK” with the Church.

    and yeah i guess it makes me holier, altho being intimate might make me happier – in the MOMENT.

    Reply
  6. Lee

    So … what do you have against horse faces and giraffe bodies? j/k

    It is so difficult to live one’s life in accordance with what God wants for us – we so struggle against what is good and right. At least I do – I mean, I would rather fast food than fruits and vegetables any day of the week and any time of the day.

    Out of our woundedness comes our struggles – but ever mindful that God, who loves us so, also understands us more than we can ever understand ourselves. To fully understand that concept will take me the rest of my life, but I love that He gives us the grace to try!

    God Bless you on your journey, Steve.

    Reply
  7. Bill Burns (AKA Theocoid)

    Hi, Steve. Welcome to the blogosphere. Perhaps something to consider is that there’s emotional complementarity you’re experiencing. You mentioned that you felt this attraction toward men who had something you felt you lacked, and I think that recognition of something in another that one needs or lacks is common to all of us–SS attracted or not. Just a thought. God bless you in your journey.

    Reply
  8. jt

    You may have SSA, but it sounds like you have your head on straight. I admire you greatly. I’m straight but have been pondering homosexuality lately, trying to understand it after reading an article about Freddie Mercury and his issues. Our sexuality is no one elses business, it is private and personal. I admire your refusal to be defined by your sexuality. I’d stay anonymous. Todays cultural preoccupation with sex is unhealthy and engineered, it’s wise to keep it all in perspective. We all have crosses to bear, trite but true. I have to wonder about the “common sense” of militant homosexuals who insist that the behavior is just a harmless variation of sexuality. It doesn’t make sense.

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    It takes real courage to do what you’re doing. Although I cannot understand your situation from inside of the experience, I can imagine how difficult what you’re doing is, because you have desires which are running contrary to what you know to be true (because most people, even without SSA, have desires which run contrary to the teaching of the Gospel – e.g. cohabitation is readily practiced, but not exactly part of the plan either!). There’s certainly pressure on all of us (even if we do not share this particular burden with you) to do sexually irresponsible things; this creates desires in us which are also contrary to the Gospel – just in a different mode. But like you said, this is not how it’s supposed to be, and we’ll end up drawing water from an empty well if we go there. No matter if its SSA or improper heterosexual attraction – it’s ultimately a path to unhappiness if we pursue either.

    May I suggest two websites for information: the first is a Catholic ministry specifically for people with SSA who are trying to live according to the Gospel:

    http://couragerc.net/

    The second site is a group who is actually doing research into SSA to more fully understand its genesis and the psychological triggers which result in SSA symptoms:

    http://narth.com/

    I hope this is helpful for you!

    Reply
    1. Steve Gershom

      Thanks, Anonymous. I agree with what you say — that although I experience temptation in a different “mode” than you, the temptations I face are essentially the same as any human being.

      I’m familiar with both Courage and NARTH, and have found help from both at various times. Although the organization that’s helped me the most is People Can Change.

      Reply
  10. Anonymous

    Another thing about Church teaching:

    The Church’s teaching about homosexuality comes from its teaching on Christian Anthropology (a fancy word for how we study the human person, using the “lens” of Christianity to better understand the human person).

    The important thing is to look at Genesis 1:27. It notes that the human person was made in the image of God. However, it is not male nor female alone which is the image of God – it is both of them together! You don’t have the fullness of the human person unless you have male AND female (the full mystery humanity is found between the complementarity of the sexes). The two of them become one flesh – and it is only from this union wherein the image of God in the human person is made fully manifest; it is here that God has chosen to place the cradle of new human life.

    Check out John Paul II’s “Love and Responsibility” and the “Theology of the Body” for a deeper understanding on this.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2357 and following also give the official Church’s teaching on the subject.

    Reply
  11. LeAnn

    Hi Steve! I really love your blog. I keep telling people that all single men and women are called to chastity regardless if they are hetero- or homo- sexual.

    God Bless you in your journey and I look forward to reading your blog in days to come.

    So about love from woundedness…this happens to everyone. Especially teenagers and college students and I always felt uneasy around some guy that was hot. I was afraid of being stupid or being ugly.

    Reply
    1. Steve Gershom

      Thanks LeAnn! I hope you don’t mind that your comment made me laugh, maybe just because of its frankness — but yes, I definitely identify with this, and you’re right that it’s something everyone goes through.

      Reply
  12. Cassius

    Steve,

    You’re a man of great grace. Thanks for your witness. I’m afflicted with this cross as well and hope, someday, to carry it as virtuously as you. Two things I find most onerous in this quest are, first, the lack of vocation it presents and, second, and most painfully, the inability to live in any kind of community.

    Clearly, you have answered the vocation question for me by this blog. You have humanized this burden and offer a greater understanding and insight to all, not to mention being a heroic example for those burdened with the same affliction.

    I wonder if you have any thoughts on the living in community issue? I don’t have the same courage you do regarding discussing this with my family. I live alone and don’t have many friends. I suppose I’m afraid of the visceral disgust it produces for many people and don’t want to impose it on them. This is a great source of shame for me so, largely, I suppose outside of church and my job I mostly live in a kind of self imposed exile.

    I hope you continue in this vein, I love your writing style and openness of spirit. You even manage to make me laugh. Well done good and faithful servant.

    Sincerely,
    Cassius

    Reply
  13. Steve Gershom

    Dear Cassius,

    Thanks for writing. My heart goes out to you. I live alone too, and recently moved to a new area.

    I’ve thought some about living in community. I’m not sure whether you’re talking about a religious community, some sort of Christian lay community, or just the general need for a circle of people to depend on. That last one is super important.

    “I suppose I’m afraid of the visceral disgust it produces for many people and don’t want to impose it on them.”

    Actually, this reminds me of the way I felt before I ever told anybody. I told myself, “Well, this is such a *terrible thing* that I wouldn’t want to burden anybody else with it…so, I’ll just keep it to myself.”

    Oh, that was hard! So much harder than it would have been to tell someone and be rejected for it…although, to be quite honest, that has never happened. All of the friends I’ve told have been so supportive. So I’m really extremely blessed in that way.

    Not only that, but when I *did* tell people, they were happy that I had — happy that I trusted them enough. They felt honored.

    Oh boy, my friend, we can *not* do this by ourselves. I really think I’d be dead by now if I hadn’t had a spiritual director to talk to, and later on, when I gained courage, friends too.

    I’d be so very happy to continue this conversation, whether here or by email (steve[dot]gershom[at]gmail[dot]com).

    One thing that helped me a ton, just as a good starting place, is http://www.peoplecanchange.com. Check them out…such a great place, such clear thought on the issue, and the weekend I went on with them was literally life-changing.

    Peace,
    SG

    Reply
  14. Theophilus

    Hello Steve,

    This blog is an amazing endeavor. I’m also gay, and have been blessed to have grown and learned a lot from courageous (and ambitious!) men like yourself who have shared their triumphs and struggles online. (I’m thinking of the Dreadnought in particular; johnheard.blogspot.com.)

    In response to this post:
    I also find that nearly all of my really “passionate” attractions have been to men whom I have envied. Confidence, physical beauty, blistering wit… all those things that deep down I want *more* of, that’s what draws me. Sometimes I think it’s envy, or love-from-woundedness as you call it, but I wonder–with LeAnn–whether attraction is always somehow grounded in attaining what you don’t have.

    Think of the Church’s defenses of marriage: its symbolism, yes; its procreative funtion, yes; but also the fundamental complementarity of the man and the woman. More profoundly than in homosexual attraction, there seems to be an inherent recognition of the fact that each member “completes” the other; which–to me at least–seems to suggest that “something is missing.”

    Reading it this way, maybe what’s “wrong” with homosexual attraction is not so much it’s starting from a lack (why, after all, do we love God?), but the fact that it can’t look beyond the “lesser” complementarity that exists between fellow men to the “greater” complementarity between the two sexes.

    Anywho, thanks! And I’ll be checking the blog often :)

    -Theo

    Reply
    1. Steve Gershom

      Welcome, Theo! Thanks for writing. Plenty for me to chew on in what you said. Definitely reminds me of what Fr. S said to me. I’m familiar with John Heard, too. Wish he hadn’t stopped blogging — I only discovered him after he shut up shop there — but then there are tons of archives to be read.

      Reply
  15. Theophilus

    Ugh, I apologize for the incorrect “it’s” in there. I just can’t hold back the apostrophes when I get excited.

    O, punctuation!

    -Theo’

    Reply
  16. Hannah C.

    I suppose you could theoretically let your Real Life People know about your blog, but keep it anonymous for Everyone Else? It depends on if you want Real Life People knowing all this stuff or not. It makes perfect sense that you wouldn’t necessarily want Everyone Else knowing who you Really Are…

    Personally, my blog is semi-anonymous, but I haven’t brought myself to actually let Real Life People know about it yet. Not sure why. And of course, I don’t have any Grand Secrets on there (at the moment – if I did I wouldn’t want to share it – then again, my mother knows about it and has read it, so if I share any Grand Secrets she will be Surprised. Maybe.).

    Reply
  17. Aggie

    This question of community is very interesting. I wonder what the possibilities of living in come type of honest, informal community with men who have and do not have SSA, and for whom this is NOT the main question. Each holding one another accountable to the other before God to live his love in freedom with regular commitment to prayer, the Sacraments, etc.

    Has anyone ever heard about that in the Church? Or anything like it? I would imagine it would have to be discrete, but not impossible.

    Reply
  18. Justin

    Steve,

    You’ve got it right on the nose. As a 41 year-old man with SSA, watching how it developed (I wasn’t always this way), I can affirm for me I am attracted to men I’m jealous of in some way. I can see very clearly that the desire is a disordered way of expressing my woundedness; “reparative” in Dr. Nicolosi’s words. I can remember fantasizing about having sex with a woman as a teen. Then the idea came into my mind, why would a woman have sex with me? Then I fantasized about her having sex with a desirable man. That made me jealous, and I sexualized the jealousy and found myself more interested in having sex with the man I was fantasizing about, a pathetic attempt to acquire his characteristics, like a cannibal eats someone whose characteristics he wants.

    Being bi-sexual in this way, I can compare the feelings; my feelings toward women (when I have them) make me feel whole, peaceful, well-adjusted, positive, and masculine, my feelings toward men make me feel inadequate, effeminate, degraded, empty, and overall negative.

    I’ve also experienced the ogle-a-man-become-friends-lose-interest cycle. I have one very close friend that I’m only friends with BECAUSE I was attracted to him, and now I have zero interest in him. (It’s not 100% though; I still have at least one good friend I totally have the hots for.)

    Reply
  19. JAY

    Hey Steven,

    Great blog – found out about it through your interview on Catholic Answers.

    I just want to expand on Justin’s comment and was wondering if your familiar with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. He’s also a guest on Catholic Answers and has appeared on the show several times. He also believes people can change.

    Here’s a link of one of his videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0f54H_iH0k&feature=player_embedded

    His website is http://www.josephnicolosi.com

    Cheers!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>