No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?1

It was bad, dear readers, very bad. I spent last night in the lowest parts of the pit, and all day today the black dog gnawed at my leg, and only gnawed harder when I tried to kick his face in. That’ll teach me to boast about how well I’m doing, how fine I am, and how out I’ve got everything figured.2

Crying didn’t help, and neither did yelling. Talking to myself, talking to God; I didn’t have any answers, and neither did he. Came home, cried some more, tried not to punch anything. Finally settled down, after Compline, enough to be able to write something. I won’t even look at it today, just going to delete the whole thing. You think you know maudlin? Baby, you ain’t seen maudlin ’till you’ve seen me blog in the middle of a good old-fashioned funk.

A good night’s sleep didn’t clear it up, so tonight after the gym and a quick dinner, I got out the cigarettes and the kleenex and called Father T. I told him about my frustration, my anger, my depression. My feeling that I had failed, again, to be the man I wanted to be. How I don’t usually feel this bad but I never feel all that good, either; how feeling bad was a kind of relief, because at least I was feeling something, and maybe that something was closer to the truth.

Answer me, tell me I’m doing something wrong; tell me I feel this way because I’m living the wrong way. Tell me that everything is okay, and that I just can’t see it because I’m not wise enough, tell me that everything will be fine, and that I just can’t get there because I’m not strong enough. Tell me, tell me. I can take it.

That wasn’t what he told me.

FT: What you want is something real. We’re all wired for it. It’s just that your wires are pointing in the wrong direction.
SG: Yes…
FT: We’re all meant for love and for fulfillment. It’s the fulfillment that a man finds in marriage.
SG: Yes…
FT: Do you get what I’m saying?
SG: Yes, yes, I get it. Sure. But what I don’t get is why I’m meant for something that I never get to have.
FT: Yes.
SG:
FT: I don’t have an answer. I wish I had an answer. There is no answer.

That was the right answer.

Fr. T, if you had told me that I was wrong to feel how I feel, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me that God was good and the world was beautiful, I might have believed you, but I would have hung up.

Instead, you gave me the truth that so many people think is too hard for me and for those like me. You respected me and trusted me, as they do not. You told me that I am called to a kind of martyrdom. That the world is difficult, and that there is no answer, not here, to the question of man’s woundedness. That my SSA is not fair, any more than Down Syndrome is fair, or poverty is fair.

That those who cry “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace, are lying. I am not okay, the world is not okay, none of us is okay. If you’ve never noticed it, then you’re not paying attention.

Being a secularist means believing that there is nothing wrong with the world or with us — or anyway, nothing that can’t be fixed by politics and technology. Thank God I’m a Christian. We don’t lie to ourselves; we know the world is broken, and all of us are broken with it. We know evil is real. And we know where to take it. We take it to the cross, we take it to the altar.

So I’m not okay, not today. But you’d be surprised how good I feel about it.

1 The whole thing is here.
2 Here in the writing business we call that “parallelism.” Not to be confused with its close cousin, “poor sentence construction.”

80 thoughts on “Answer

  1. Ron

    “That’ll teach me to boast about how well I’m doing, how fine I am, and how out I’ve got everything figured.” Isn’t that the truth? It seems like the better I think I’m doing, the harder I fall. And Father T is absolutely right, there are no easy answers. After all these years living with ssa, I’ve learned to take nothing for granted, including my ability to handle life’s challenges. The source of my strength? Prayer (often dark), learning to accept life’s joys and struggles, and the support of others (helps me feel less alone).

    Know that others support you and are praying for you, Steve.

    Reply
  2. albert

    Hank you steve, this is one of your best pieces in my opinion. It captures my life. I pray you come out of this funk ASAP

    Reply
  3. Murb

    Steve, I don’t understand: this world isn’t fair, but it gets a lot more unfair if we close our eyes. God gave us desires for a reason.
    Look, I’m not trying to tempt you, I’m not trying to make this any harder for you, but none of this makes any sense to me. Kids with down syndrome aren’t like homosexuals: one doesn’t desire something, he’s merely stunted, while the other truly wants to love, wants to fill a need in his soul.
    The argument always ends with Catholics saying “I don’t know.” I don’t think that’s good enough. There are a lot of things we can’t do anything about in this world and it’s just going to be hard and we have to soldier through. But there are some things that we’re making harder for ourselves than they have to be.
    I was raised Catholic, I was home schooled, I went to a tiny Catholic college and majored in Theology. I don’t see anything wrong with homosexuality, acted through the same chastity as heterosexuality. God gave you something and cutting it out of your life is possible, sometimes admirable, but it’s going to wound you badly.
    But that’s not what the Church says. I don’t get it.

    Reply
  4. Lori

    Once again … though exteriorly we are so different, you have deeply expressed a Truth that is universal. Thank you … I am thanking God for you, and for Father T, and praying for us all.

    Reply
  5. Dan S

    “There is no answer”. Sometimes there really is relief in that realization because, in a real way, that is the answer. A strange irony, but it helps us get through the day.

    Reply
  6. Dante

    One of the blessings of ssa/gay that most often do not htink about – and which I find helps somewhat to have that love connection – is that we ssa/gay MEN can really enter into a love affair with Christ the God-MAN and we can better understand than other men the concept of spousal/nuptial union with another MAN. None of this is meant or carried out disrecpectfully of course but I imagine only another ssa/gay guy can kinda get what I am trying to say. And it makes it easier to reply to some gay-inquiring minds who want to know our social staus” Oh I’m in a relationship with this totally awesome Jewish guy. Sweet as can be, muscle-built to suit his construction job, and he loves me so much he said he would die for me.” :)

    Reply
  7. Daria Sockey

    I guess the only answer is Jesus. He couldn’t or wouldn’t tell us why in so many words. What He did instead was voluntarily undergo the worst mental and physical misery possible, so we can’t say He doesn’t “know what it’s like” to be miserable. And, as you know, Steve, with that whole mystical body thing, our misery is His misery. Hope that doesn’t sound facile. Will remember you in my rosary and Vespers tonight.

    Reply
  8. Peter M

    There’s strange comfort in acknowledging that we will never be perfectly happy this side of death. Only on the other side will we finally have what (or rather, who) we’re meant to have.

    Murb, I can’t speak for Steve, but I can tell you that I do consider myself stunted. At some point in my growing up, something made me miss a step, and I probably won’t ever fully catch up. I don’t say this in despair, and I don’t hate myself, it’s just the truth. I suppose the clinical term would be “developmental disorder”. I don’t try to cut it out of my life, I just try to endure it with grace. Anyway, my two cents.

    Reply
  9. j

    Oh my goodness my friend…I had this SAME evening on Saturday…I am a woman, in my 30s and single…and don’t want to be (single that is)…and I was doing good or so I thought with being happy with what God has given me and not asking for more than He is willing to give…but boy oh boy did I throw a tantrum when the slightest hiccup came into play. Although I do not share your exact struggle I know EXACTLY where you are. I let myself dwell in it for about 2 days and then my usually self, coupled with the more likely fix a trip to Adoration where I did my best to just be quiet and stare at the Eucharist, I was able with God’s help to pull myself out it. I don’t have the answers for you either but I’ll tell you this….the more I try to live as God has called me the harder it gets…the more suffering I have endured and the more lonely I have felt. BUT remember that you can offer up this suffering for those less fortunate, for the souls in purgatory, or the souls that need God. Keep fighting the good fight and remember that people are praying for you and that above all God loves you and he will always be there.

    Reply
  10. Tammy

    Steve,

    I don’t have SSA. What I do have is a cross which is at times very, very heavy. There is never going to be a time when I do not have it. Sometimes it is so overwhelming, that I have nights just like the one you describe. Your blog is a journey that is very familiar in many ways. It’s about struggle. It’s about trying to do God’s will and not always being successful. It’s about trying to find you way. Your insights are profound….thank you.

    Reply
  11. ARM

    Murb – Aren’t you expressing just the everything-is-fixable view Steve so eloquently refutes here? E.g., your dismissal of people with Down Syndrome as “merely stunted” and not as suffering human beings. Have you ever seen a child with Down Syndrome struggling to learn to walk? Or talk? Do you think they never notice others can do things they can’t, and never aspire to being anything but happy grocery baggers? If so, I think you’re kidding yourself about the human condition – real human beings have real sufferings that can’t be avoided, and aspirations that can’t be fulfilled. Dehumanizing those whose sufferings can’t be fixed doesn’t change that reality.

    Reply
  12. Ron

    It’s OK not to have all the answers. It reminds me of the dialogue betwen Job and God:

    God: “Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its size; do you know?…Will we have arguing with God by the critic? Let him who would correct God give answer!” (Job 38:4-5,40:2).

    Job’s reply: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. I have dealt with things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know” (Job 42:2-3).

    Reply
  13. Christine

    I have a Fr. T myself, without whom I might not be alive today. One of he best things he did was admit that he didn’t have an answer for me, either his own answer or an answer revealed through prayer. So many other people tried to give an explanation of my suffering, but their explanations always left me dissatisfied. My Fr. T admitted that he wanted to try to give me answers, and that it was hard for him not to be able to say something to help me, but he was always wise enough not to give into the temptation to offer an answer when there wasn’t one. He was okay with being uncomfortable in the face of a mystery. His willingness to admit to not having an answer was the most helpful, and the most sane, response to my suffering that I ever received.

    What we have in Christ, as a previous poster said, is not an answer. It’s a response. I don’t know the reason for my suffering, but I do know that He must think there’s a good enough reason for suffering that He chose to endure it Himself rather than just take it away. Ultimately, I think answers to life’s great mysteries always fail to satisfy. What really helps is to have someone who is willing to live the mystery with us. Fr. T did that for me. More importantly, Christ did that for me.

    Reply
  14. Murb

    @Peter – Please don’t get me wrong: I admire your heroism in keeping with Church teachings; it’s a beautiful sacrifice and selfless. But a sacrifice, while it may be beautiful, is always still painful and if it could be avoided, ideally we would. (Very generally speaking; obviously there are a lot of caveats to that statement.) I don’t think you are stunted, any more than a left handed person trying to write with their right hand is stunted. You have a perfectly beautiful desire to love and be loved, and you are told that desire is an evil. God bless you for avoiding what you’re told is evil, even when that makes your life fantastically difficult! But I don’t see how it can be evil or stunted to love (chastely) in a homosexual way; I think it’s a far cry. The feeling of being stunted is from living wholly surrounded by people who tell you you are.

    @ARM – I do know quite personally how difficult it can be for people- children especially- with mental and physical disabilities. I also know that while we do not live in an everything-is-fixable society, we try our damnedest to fix everything that we can for those children, from occupational therapy to emotional support to getting them those bagging jobs because it gives them a happy sense of sufficiency. We can’t fix their whole lives, but we fix as much as we can. When I say, “merely stunted,” I mean it’s something that they were born with, which hardly dehumanizes them, but it’s not a malady imposed upon them externally.

    Suffering is not the worst evil by far, but we weren’t put here just to suffer.

    Reply
    1. Steve Gershom

      Hello Murb,

      I can see you’re speaking from a place of compassion, and I appreciate it.

      I appreciated ARM’s answer, but I think (s)he missed the point you were making: those who are physically disabled are limited because some things are just physically impossible for them; whereas those with SSA have no such physical limitation. There’s nothing stopping me from getting a boyfriend and doing whatever I like with him.

      I don’t think you’re arguing with the correct definition of chastity, though. Some people confuse chastity with celibacy — i.e. abstaining from sex — but I don’t think you’ve done that. You’re saying, if I understand you correctly, that homosexual sex is morally okay, and can be done in a chaste way. If that’s the case, what do you mean by chastity? Do you mean “not having sex until you get married?” That’s a very limited view of chastity — it’s possible for two married people to act in an unchaste way, too.

      Or if you didn’t mean that by “chastity”, what did you mean?

      Reply
  15. Liz

    “The common view is that sacrifice has something to do with destruction. It means handing over to God a reality that is in some way precious to man…True surrender to God looks very different…Belonging to God has nothing to do with destruction or non-being: it is rather a way of being…It means losing oneself as the only possible way of finding oneself…That is why St. Augustine could say that the true ‘sacrifice’ is the civitas Dei, that is, love-transformed mankind…the surrender of all things to God…” – Pope Benedict XVI, “The Spirit of the Liturgy”

    Reply
  16. viego pobre

    i am not judging anyone or trying to debate, just some reactions from the post and reactions from above. so please do not personalize them, i am just throwing them out there and if they do not stick….let them fly by!

    #1. i was struck by the sub title of the blog (catholic, gay and feeling fine) and the post right below it. this is a certain “SSA bi polar dynamic” that many of us go through. “once i find the solution, all will be well.” it sets us up for a certain emotional yo-yo, that just wears us down. and then enter the “maudlin-pity party” that starts all the drama. in all this it is not the SSA that is the problem but the dynamic of the back and forth.

    #2. i agree with murb that i always wince when someone compares SSA to a mental or physical handicap. i am sorry, but there is no way the comparison can work. it is just a set up for more pity party (woe is me).
    wake up people, the call to chastity, no matter how it comes is not a life sentence, chastity is not a handicap, it does not stop one from engaging life in a full and fruitful way. again it seems to be turning chastity into another reason for a pity party.

    #3. i disagree with Murb that just because we have a strong desire that means we must act on it (of course in a way no one gets hurt). there are many who find themselves single, yet remain chaste and still have a fruitful life. how many remain faithful to their vows of marriage, even when they ‘feel’ no love and find someone who will satisfy their longings? just because we have a strong desire, it does not mean we do not discern if it is appropriate for us. if i turns out to be lust and we just give in, we can loose our soul.
    #4. the challenge of chastity is to grow out of certain adolescent romantic aspects of love (and i know that is not an easy challenge but it is a necessary one) and to engage ourselves in life. when we are feeling lonely, angry, unloved, and emotional needy….the cure is not to seek some psuedo romantic relationship or to act out sexually but to realize i am not facing my life issues honestly and am not engaging my life with real meaning and conviction. chastity is always a call to engage my whole self in my life for the good of others.
    just some observations from someone who has bee around a long time …take them for what they are worth!

    Reply
    1. Steve Gershom

      “Not trying to debate,” viego, but you still wrote four paragraphs, so what are we supposed to think? :) I mean to debate, a little, but only in the sense of discussing thorny questions in such a way that we might both discover more truth.

      #1: “in all this it is not the SSA that is the problem but the dynamic of the back and forth.” I agree, partly. Self-pity is a trap, and will suck the life right out of you. I think it’s helpful to realize, though, in an objective way, that the celibate life is hard, and however you slice it, it means missing an important part of life. That’s the truth of it.

      I can choose to accept that truth unsentimentally and without self-pity — in which case it will hurt, but not suck me dry — or I can choose to dwell on it and make myself miserable. But whichever I do, I think it’s important to realize that the difficulty of this life is not all in my head, and not something that one ever fully gets over.

      I’m better this year than I was last year, and next year I plan to be better still. But what hurts the most is when I start to suppose that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, and should just “get over it.” It ain’t true. It’s a mountain. Maybe not bigger than anybody else’s mountain, but a mountain just the same. And it helps to realize it.

      Reply
  17. Justin

    I am so sorry to hear, Steve. I am not going to say I know how you feel. I can’t be sure of that. But I’ve had my share of depression. I am listening now to a favorite song of mine about suicide — an anti-suicide Christian song — that I often listen to when I’m depressed (although tonight it’s coincidence). I can hear your anguish. I asked some of those very same questions the other day, frustrated that my dreams of marriage are dashed. Why me? The answer came for me that this is a sacrifice I can offer for my own sanctification and for the conversion of souls, if I humbly accepted it. Rarely have I felt more peace at an answer, even though I have heard this before to the point that at any other moment it would have sounded trite. I think Satan is very unhappy and quite thwarted when we accept an injustice lovingly. The worst thing we can do is become bitter. You have to find your own meaning, or find no meaning, in your own suffering, but that was what I experienced. I take consolation in the idea that some day on the other side, the Father will show me the plan for my life and why I went through all the apparently senseless things I went through and I’ll see how they fit into the big picture and marvel at the genius of it all. I encourage you to love God in the midst of your sufferings, and if possible, because of them.

    Reply
  18. viego pobre

    steve, i just meant to throw some ideas into the discussion, because of the nature of comboxes it is not possible to really share or debate. so i am sorry for the intrusion and wont jump in again.

    i can see from your response that i did not express myself well. we see the call to chastity in totally different ways.

    i wish you well on your journey and that you find the peace you long for.
    warm regards and adios! patrick

    Reply
  19. liz

    You are welcome, Steve. And while I don’t struggle with SSA, I also struggle with some of those dark nights and I know how discouraging it can feel (at least for me) sometimes.

    But He is here, He is here. And sometimes that is all I can cling to.

    BTW, I have found great healing in Adoration. I spend lots of hours there, sometimes sitting, sometimes praying, sometimes weeping. He takes it all and we continue to be the apple of His eye.

    Reply
  20. Donald

    I’ve blown off the pc for awhile and just happened to read this tonight. You’ve got it exactly right Steve in a voice I just don’t have.

    Prayers,

    Donald

    Reply
  21. Mary

    I think we all feel like Steve whenever we expect to be perfectly loved in this world. God is perfect, and He is not loved. How can we, imperfect creatures, expect perfect love from our fellow creatures? Only God can love us perfectly; no spouse can ever do that. “We are looking for love in all the wrong places,” including in marriage. As St. Francis implied, it is more imitative of God for us “to love,” than “to be loved.” Yet we must connect with God, Fount of Love, through a life of ongoing prayer and trust. I hope this helps, and His Peace and Love enfolds you.

    Reply
  22. Charlie

    Blah, blah, blah, [consoling words of sympathy], blah, blah, blah. It’s that time of year again, anyway.

    Catholic? Gay? Me too.

    It’s shit, isn’t it?

    Well, apart from the Catholic part.

    I’m a tad younger than you, though I’ve spent much of the last 4 years on welfare benefits (for no reason other than the fact I can’t be bothered to work), so I’ve had plenty of time to think about the answers.

    I still haven’t found them.

    But I’m sure you’ll be feeling much better soon. For a while, until the next time…

    “To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
    to thee do we send up our sighs,
    mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.”

    Reply
  23. Charlie

    Wait – that sounded a bit more pessimistic than I intended.

    I caught leprosy about the time you caught the Black Death, and I’ve just had my dose of antibiotics, but the tone of my comment betrays how shit I’ve been feeling physically.

    Still, there’s gonna be loadsa fanta-fucking-tastic times ahead, dude, trust me. So be strong, man.

    Your blog is awesome. Very candid and relatable. All the best

    Reply
  24. Blessed

    Oh my goodness…. this post was so encouraging. The Holy Spirit really has used you in my early twenties/college/white/heterosexual/female life… We are one family – one Body – and, no matter what we struggle with, we are in this together. Thanks for letting me share in your burden.

    While God doesn’t want us to suffer, sometimes its necessary to mold us into the saint that we’re called to be. Therefore, suffering can be redemptive… as the Corpus shows us.

    God bless you, brother. Pax Christi.

    Reply
  25. Nick

    Steve,
    I’ll be praying for you. I think you’re blessed with a great (if painful) “balance”, because you’re feeling what you’re feeling, not repressing it, (so it comes out later in any of a myriad, often sinful and very confusing ways) nor accepting intellectualizations, (which satisfy us for a few days, and then we realize it wasn’t an “answer” we wanted, it was love…) You’re an inspiration to me. I always try to intellectualize it and figure out some new theory for “why”, but it eats away at me underneath, and within a couple of days, I’m a mess again. The humility you show in just feeling it, and accepting the Mystery is breathtaking, even if feelings are messy. In spite of all my efforts to make sense, the only thing which ever works for me is to meditate (like with imagination) that I’m living in Nazareth with Jesus and Mary and Joseph, or occasionally, at other points in the life of Jesus. A lot of things get solved there just being together with them, but there isn’t a lot of “deep conversations”. You show me that I ought to go there more and stop BS-ing myself with intellectual games. I’ll be praying for you, like I said, and a lot of it will be giving thanks for your witness.
    Nick

    Reply
  26. Ben

    Dear Steve,

    I am truly and deeply sorry for the pain that you endure for the sake of holiness. Jesus loves you, Steve. He will walk this road with you until the end. You’ll never be alone, even if you feel like you are.

    I’m a convert, and the greatest joy of my life has been the Eucharist since that night. It’s the greatest source of consolation that I have. When I feel alone and like I’m being crushed under some gigantic heel being alone in front of the tabernacle is just so right. That’s what I do.

    You are not alone in having to work out your salvation or having to deal with SSA. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone either. Thank you for this blog. Thank you for your witness in Christ. I love you, my brother, and I promise that I’ll pray for you.
    Ben

    Reply
  27. Anthony

    Greetings from Singapore. Someone forwarded a post of yours to me. Just want you to know your words touched me and gave me a bit of light. Keep being a blessing to others, Steve. Thank you.

    Reply
  28. WSquared

    Steve, you are in my prayers. Thank you for this post. Chastity is indeed difficult. For all of us. And I can see what you mean that sometimes, the most honest and satisfying answer is not having an answer. Probably because having an answer means that we can quantify what’s going on. If the breadth and depth of God is a mystery, then it’s a sign that we’re doing it wrong. Fr. Barron often discusses that the sinful person tries to do one of two things when it comes to God– 1) grasp him, and thus attempt to domesticate him or 2) run and hide from him.

    For those of you who have pointed out that you can act unchastely in marriage, and that chastity in marriage is hard, too, you’re absolutely correct. It is. Particularly if part of your conversion involves coming out of a contraceptive mentality and/or the mentality that once you’re married, anything goes. Er, no. So I have to thank Simcha Fisher for one of her recent posts on how the grass is more complicated on the other side, too.

    Reply
  29. Patric

    Steve, this was absolutely beautiful. You have a very poetic way of expressing yourself. Just the way the post was written was awesome in itself.

    I feel stuck in this situation often, with my SSA and all. And it feels really good to cry. The next time you need to cry, listen to “Only Time” by Enya—it really helps! The emotion just flows coherently…

    Let’s struggle and carry our crosses and pray together.

    Thank you for the post.

    Reply
  30. Murb

    Sorry for the delay; I was pondering an answer and then swept away in life outside the glowing rectangles.

    A definition of chastity: (I’m still hammering it out, so don’t expect a genus/specific difference sort of construction, but bear with me) I don’t think chastity is just having sex within marriage, though that’s the simplest, most obvious element of it. I think it’s the desire to love something other than yourself, with your whole person; to give yourself as a gift, to use sexuality as an image of what Christ did on the Cross. If we want to make another happy, what could be more beautiful than using every part of yourself, soul and body, to please them? So no, it’s not an, “I’m married so everything goes” mentality. It’s a, “We’re giving ourselves to each other, out of love for one another, as reflection of the love of God for each other.” That’s why the Church doesn’t lay down hard and fast lists of rules for what goes and what doesn’t in marital sex: because perfectly bland sex can be narcissistic use of the other person, while the wildest crazy kinky stuff can be a chaste gift. (Again, caveat laden statement there: some things are always devastating to the human person, like cutting)

    Point being: people desire to love and give themselves almost as much as the desire to be loved. For someone to give up that natural desire requires a supernatural replacement (the priesthood is a perpetuation of love and eternality on the supernatural level, so giving it up naturally is ordered accordingly). Homosexuals have that same desire to give and receive physical, emotional, spiritual love. Their love can be practiced chastely.

    Reply
    1. Steve Gershom

      “The Church doesn’t lay down hard and fast lists of rules for what goes and what doesn’t in marital sex.”

      What about this?

      Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is “on the side of life,” teaches that “it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life.” “This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.

      Paragraph 2366, CCC. The key sentence: “It is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life.” Sex that has no chance of procreation per se — by its very nature — doesn’t fulfill this hard, fast rule.

      Maybe you disagree with official Church teaching on the matter. That is fine. But that is what you are doing, even if you are doing it out of a sense of compassion.

      Reply
      1. Carla

        Help me here, at age 17 my daughter learned that she would never be able to bear a child…..unless of course God chooses to give her some missing organs, does this mean, according to Catholic doctrine, that she should not marry since procreation is an impossibility?

        Reply
  31. gaby

    Steve, have you tried medication? You’d take antibiotics if you had a bacterial infection. If you have a chemical imbalance in your brain -and speaking as someone with first-hand experience, I’d say that’s what you’ve got- there’s medication for that. It might not always be your SSA… You have nothing to loose by trying, and any doctor who hears your symptoms will whisk out the script pad, pronto.

    Reply
  32. Murb

    I guess my main disagreement is whether procreation is the natural and primary end of sex. I don’t think homosexual marriage is similar to the marriage of sterile persons (there’s a difference in potency), but I do think that it shares an end with heterosexual marriage: the end of union, which I highly doubt exists for the sake of procreation. (Otherwise what would be wrong with the notion of raising children and divorcing shortly afterwards? Oh right, because then we’d be depressed Frenchmen with bad philosophy. And also, it rends something which has become whole, whether or not children are still involved or ever were.) Honestly, I think procreation and children (viewed with charity as a lot of sleep) aid the unitive end, and you could make a strong argument that children are subordinate to the end of union. (I’m not sure I actually believe that, but it attests to my point; they are two distinct ends that can go hand in hand, but neither requires the other.) I think heterosexual unity has another, beautiful end that homosexual unity physically cannot. Perhaps that makes it more appealing and gives another aspect of life and love to the relationship, but just because one relation is elevated, that does not cause another to be less perfect in itself.

    I don’t understand the Church’s reason for it’s official teaching. “Just because God says so” seems like crap because faith and reason and nature are not opposed: if something is part of faith, it must at least be able to be understood, or not contradict reason. The argument from “nature” frustrates me: God made them male and female, great, but he also made them heterosexual and homosexual. Just because only one of those unions contributes to the furthering of the species, I don’t see how that makes the other union an evil.

    Maybe I am disagreeing with official Church teaching. But I don’t see how it’s sound teaching. Maybe that’s pride to trust my reason over the Church. But what if the Church is wrong?

    Reply
    1. Steve Gershom

      Murb,

      I’m at work so I can’t respond fully, though I’m turning over what you’ve said in my mind.

      In the meantime, I’m wondering (very relatedly) whether you also disagree with the Church’s repeated assertion that the use of contraception is immoral.

      SG

      Reply
  33. Murb

    Contraception is immoral because it prevents something natural. That argument pertains to the difference in potencies between heterosexual and homosexual sex. The acts are fundamentally different; different participants, different ends.

    (In other news, as delighted as I am about Tom Waits, my OCD is writhing over incorrect grammar. Bad as I. BAD AS I. Sigh. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.)

    Reply
    1. Steve Gershom

      Why is it immoral to prevent something natural? If “naturalness” is one of the requisites of morality, doesn’t that let homosexual sex out right at the beginning? If you saw an animal trying to mate with another animal of its own gender, you would wonder if something was wrong with it.

      I look at sex and food similarly. It’s arguable whether pleasure or nutrition is the primary end of food, but it’s a perversion of eating to try to separate the two. God was kind to attach pleasure to things that are necessary, like nutrition and procreation. But trying to get the one without the other is like stealing.

      I think the only argument that can be made for the validity of homosexual relations is an emotional one. You said earlier that “God made them male and female, great, but he also made them heterosexual and homosexual.” You seem to assume that homosexuality was part of the original plan. That’s a big assumption, and a groundless one. You also seem to assume that having the desire for a thing is sufficient grounds for believing that the thing is good. My experience as a human being tells me otherwise.

      So my question is: why should homosexuality be considered any differently from any other illicit desire? Is it because it’s such a strong desire? Is it because it’s a desire for something very important? Or what?

      Reply
  34. liz

    Steve,

    :-)

    I’m not very good at these kinds of conversations…I just get tongue-tied and all.

    So, I will just continue to pray for clarity for you as you take and defend this very brave stance.

    ((((Steve))))

    Liz

    Reply
  35. Peter M.

    @Murb: A busy weekend and a black period of my own kept me from responding, and it almost seems not worth it, seeing how fast the conversation moves in the blogosphere; anything I have to say is sooooo last week by now. Anyway, in reply to what you said way back up the thread:

    I’m truly touched by your concern for me, and I’m sorry that you feel pain on my behalf. Perhaps I should reiterate that I do not hate myself and I do not think that I am evil or depraved. You are right to say that I have a desire to love and be loved, as every human does.

    I don’t really see a problem with calling a spade a spade, though; love is not the same as sex, and I acknowledge that my sexual attraction to other men constitutes an objective disorder; and I believe that to act on it would only lead to a worse place than I am now. Thus, from my point of view, you offer a strange kind of comfort by urging me to a path (same-sex “romance”) that I know from theory and experience cannot bring me happiness or fulfillment.

    In truth, I don’t think there’s anything particularly noble about the “sacrifice” of celibate life, seeing as I know the alternative would be ruinous for me. I don’t deny that I hunger for physical and sexual intimacy, but I know on a deeper level that no amount would ever satisfy me. What I seek, I will never find in another man’s arms, be he ne’er so attractive, humble, compassionate, and tender.

    For the record, I came to this conclusion about myself over years of prayer and reflection; I have never had a single person tell me I am evil, and I have many friends and family who think as you do, that I would be so much happier pursuing a romantic relationship with another man. They think I have chained myself to an oppressive ideal. I’m at a loss as to how to explain myself, other than to say that the emperor should be the first to admit he has no clothes, even if everyone around him tries to convince him that he does.

    Reply
  36. Murb

    You guys are arguing well; I’m enjoying this, sort of, in a wish-I-didn’t-have-to-do-this kind of way.

    This is just a note to say I’m not pouting, or storming off, or denouncing you as self-flagellating monsters of the Dark Ages. I’m working and thinking and praying. Will touch base soon.

    Reply
  37. Peter M

    @Steve: Thanks, I have thought about it. I’m pretty lazy, though; it’s a lot less commitment to just clutter up your combox. :)

    @Liz: Thanks!

    @Murb: I totally understand, and I’m (kind of) sorry for opening up a “second front” for you. I’m currently in an open debate on facebook with two total strangers about same-sex marriage, and I’ve been struggling to drag myself to answer their points; it takes a lot of effort to just respond to one person, let alone two who agree with each other. And then there’s that whole “work” thing. So, no pressure.

    Reply
  38. jason taylor

    “So my question is: why should homosexuality be considered any differently from any other illicit desire? Is it because it’s such a strong desire? Is it because it’s a desire for something very important? Or what?”

    About the only difference I can see is that I can theoretically subliminate it by reading Jane Austen or whatever and you can’t. But that is a practical not a moral difference.

    Being an involuntary celibate carries similar temptations whether it is straight or gay.

    I admire you Steve, for the same reason I admire C.S. Lewis. You are not afraid to say hard things out loud. That is really what it feels like to be depressed because one is deprived of something everyone else seems to be allowed.

    Reply
  39. jason taylor

    “I’m married so everything goes” mentality. It’s a, “We’re giving ourselves to each other, out of love for one another, as reflection of the love of God for each other.”

    The problem I have with that is not the principle of this, it’s the subtlety. Somehow the picture in my mind comes of good Christian couples who might feel guilty about performing The Act simply because they are not consciously thinking about love at a given moment because they are to busy thinking about how hot each other are. And torturing themselves with unnecessary guilt.

    I think the best one can do about that is simply say “be considerate of each other’s feelings, don’t regard each other as slaves, and all the other common sense stuff and trust God to take care of the rest.” A feeling of false righteousness can make a person his or her own tyrant.

    Reply
  40. WSquared

    “That is really what it feels like to be depressed because one is deprived of something everyone else seems to be allowed.”

    …Jason Taylor, who says “everyone else seems to be allowed”? This is not the way that the teaching of the Church understands sex.

    “I think the best one can do about that is simply say “be considerate of each other’s feelings, don’t regard each other as slaves, and all the other common sense stuff and trust God to take care of the rest.””

    Er, that’s all I meant by that. But having observed relationships where either or both parties feel entitled to sex, to say nothing of sex at any time they want (given that our larger culture assumes that procreation is separate from sex, wherein “unprotected sex makes babies,” and not that sex makes babies), I think it’s only fair to point that out. That is not false righteousness at all.

    Furthermore, the Catholic Church does not teach that sex is bad or that sexuality is anything to be ashamed of, only that it be exercised with responsibility. For example, if you both prayerfully discern that you are unable to have a child at the moment, then there’s such a thing as abstaining from sex.

    Reply
  41. Murb

    Sigh. This is a big piece of humble pie for me right here: I’ve also been discussing the matter with my pastor on a regular basis and he recommends, at least for now, not engaging in this debate both to avoid scandal to others and occasions of sin for myself. So for the time being I’m on intellectual sabbatical. But I really appreciate your taking the time to argue this with me! Who knows, I may come back with a vengeance. Except I sort of hope I don’t…

    God bless. I’m still praying for you Steve, and I still wildly enjoy reading what you write.

    Reply
  42. brozzerb

    Dear Steve, I listened to the CA podcast that you did recently, and thought I’d check out your website. I am so happy to know that there is someone like you who can talk about the stuff that every person, gay, straight, SSA, or whatever, has to learn to deal with.

    I am extremely touched by your conversation with Father T. It reminds me of a conversation which I had with a priest a few years back, when I was struggling heavily with anguish due to the sexual abuse that I underwent at the hand of my father. Here is what he told me, and maybe it will help you or others who have a life-long cross to carry:

    God had the opportunity to create an infinite number of souls when He created yours, but He chose YOU. He chose you because He choses some souls to be more conformed to the image of His crucified son, the innocent Lamb who suffers for the world. He gave YOU the strength necessary to carry Christ’s cross, to be more and more conformed to His image, so that His Son will continue to be present in the world.

    If we suffer innocently and for a long time, maybe even for a lifetime, I truly believe that it is because God has seen the strength in us to carry such a cross, because He sees we are “closer” to His Son than others who are maybe more “normal” and “perfect”.

    So, okay, I don’t have all the answers. And it still really, really sucks sometimes to have to suffer for what I didn’t in any way cause. But it helps to know that I do it with, for, through, and because of Christ.

    God bless you, and keep the faith!
    Brother B+

    Reply
  43. liz

    Brother B,

    That is beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing. I think there are many who can benefit from the words of your priest.

    Reply
  44. G

    There are two very short answers to your dark trials, the salvation of your soul Steve and those of others. I learned not to long ago to embrace our suffering because it is essential to our salvation.

    On another note I have friend who recently decided to live out a homosexual lifestyle and I just don’t know where to start. No one is calling him on this and I would love to send him to this blog.I haven’t spoke to him about it at all. I guess I’m avoiding the suffering so I don’t have to embrace it :) Any suggestions how to approach this more directly besides praying for him all the time. Thanks.

    Reply
  45. Pingback: Kicking and Screaming | Contemplative in the Mud

  46. Pingback: Catholics and the Marriage Debate | Light of Life

  47. Jenny

    Steve… I am really glad I stumbled across your blog. Your words are encouraging and make complete sense….. my cross is different in that I am a single, heterosexual woman, but I have sexual urges too. As you said, it isn’t easy being Catholic and anything else. I am divorced, and do not yet have the benefit of an annulment, and I realize that even when I petition, I may be denied…. yet I still have urges and desires to marry. According to our faith, where I stand today, I cannot fulfill either one. I understand the frustration, the periodic fear, anger, depression…. I really do. I admire you for sharing these things with others, for giving us all hope…. no matter the reason we have need for hope. God bless you, Steve… I’ll keep you in my prayers, and I hope you will keep me in yours as well.

    Reply
  48. xen

    When I was younger I would have advocated what Murb said. Let it all out, so to speak. Be young! Have fun! Give in to desires! Make mistakes! etc…
    Now at my age, I know how stupid I was to go all out with some of my choices. I’m not the sort to say I regret anything, cause that’s a cop out. My choices make me who I am today. But I would have made a lot less mistakes if I had the benefit of spiritual guidance that Steve has.
    So Steve, what you’re doing, following a moral code instead of your urges, that’s great. You may have avoided some pitfalls by now because of your fine inner strength. That’s the reason why we have God’s code. It will prevent us from experiencing lots of pain. Why? Does anyone think that pleasure is not followed by pain? Of course it is. These things come together. So for anyone to encourage a person not to follow his moral code, I don’t think you’d want to take responsibility if it causes that person even more pain than if he DID follow the code.
    That’s why God allows us to do what we want. He allows the rebels, the stubborn folk, and the neer do wells, to enjoy the God given earth. But take note, He won’t be responsible if we suffer for our choices.
    Now the question is, why do we suffer even when we make the right choices? Because those who follow the path of God will be forever a choice target for temptation by the devil. Nothing makes the devil more gleeful than turning a holy person from the right path. Score one for the devil! He is able to deviate a person with a holy conscience from the right path! That is far more of a challenge that the host of us lost souls who don’t even need prodding from demons and do whatever we like. So Steve, buck up. You are favored of God. It won’t be easy. But I’ll bet you’ll be badass at it.

    Reply
    1. Emily

      I couldn’t tell if you were agreeing with His word in that it is not okay on God’s terms to be homosexual. I appreciate your honesty. I agree with you in that this sin is no different from others, but it is not okay to indulge in this sin. Homosexuality is a sin, and I believe, as stated before, that our God is a God of miracles. Whether than worrying about what you’re going to do with your life with such a struggle, pray that God will change you. He changes murderers, liars, adulterers. To say He cannot and will not change your sinful desire is just as wrong as continuing to “be okay” with your sin. He is not, therefore we should not. Be imitators of Christ.

      Reply
  49. Libby

    Wow, Steve, you’re good for my heart. You described so perfectly that point I have to come to, kicking and screaming, in every suffering. And then it’s sweet relief to know there’s no answer… but Christ still answers – with Himself.

    Reply
  50. Teresa

    An encouraging verse about our anguish turning from anguish to joy. For a while it’s like all we have is anguish, then God comes in and allows us to have joy. Then for a while we have joy and then anguish, like a roller coaster; but if we follow God our anguish will become joy and he will heal our hearts:

    John 16:20+
    I tell you the truth, (this is Jesus speaking) you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

    Anguish is meant to give birth to joy. We have hope in a God who desires to know us and desires for us to have joy in all circumstance, to be fully dependent on him, to love him will all our heart, to have our hope set in him!

    Praying for you brother, and praying that your joy would be in God alone and not in your circumstances. We’re made for love and fulfillment in our relationship with God. Put your hope in God!

    Reply
  51. Mary

    I’m not gay, but i’m catholic. This post of yours made me realize that I’m in the middle of this broken world too, we just don’t have the same broke thing. I’ve always understood that everyone has to endure their own hardships and I thought that some people being gay actually was just one of these “personal hardship” cases, but no, it’s something from your own nature, and everyone has this broken nature, in some aspect or the other. Made me feel more humble about what I’ve always thought of my person and to strive to do better on my own inner matters. I also have a broken nature, and God wants me to be more aware and take better care of it. Thank you!

    Reply
  52. Jon Bryant

    I resonate with this my friend. I am glad you are a voice for those in the same spot. A close relative is SSA and has the same struggles and questions im sure as you do. Anyways. dont know exactly why im writing but just wanted to encourage you to keep writing. Thats all. You are inspiration.

    Jb

    Reply
  53. graceshaker

    theres so many things i dont understand about this broken world. but knowing its broken and is not meant to be this way is a strange sort of comfort as i face each broken day. good post.

    Reply
  54. Pat

    I admire your courage but disagree with your conclusions.

    Have you ever considered that perhaps the real “lie” is simply the belief that SSA itself is “not okay?” That it’s a “lie” to conclude that somehow SSA is a call to “a kind of martyrdom” that is as unfair “as Down Syndrome or poverty?” That Saints Sergius and Bacchus were martyrs not b/c they were gay, but b/c they tried to live free from the chains of over peoples ideas? Have you considered that perhaps SSA is perfectly “okay” with God in every way, and that all those who feel “not okay” do so b/c they have been lead to believe they suffer from some horrible affliction that should be equated with Down Syndrome? Have you ever considered that perhaps the only thing wrong with being gay is the “belief” that there is something wrong with being gay? Have you considered that perhaps the only “lie” is believing “there is no answer” or that you were “meant for something you can never get to have?”

    And if disagree, and say that none of that is a lie, then this surely is – “Being a secularist means believing that there is nothing wrong with the world or with us — or anyway, nothing that can’t be fixed by politics and technology.”
    - Secularists certianly know there’s plenty wrong with the world. And plenty of it, perhaps most of it, can’t be fixed by politics or technology. In fact, a good example of what’s wrong with the world, that certianly can’t be fixed by politics or technology, is the “belief” that “secularists think there is nothing wrong with the world… that can’t be fixed by politics or technology.”

    You may “Thank God” you’re a Christian, and you may not lie to yourself, but on that point, someone has certianly lied to you.

    Reply
  55. Carla

    this is a wonderful post and I’m grateful I found it…brother, I feel you 100% and I’m not gay, just human, and catholic, and so grateful that God gives us these crosses to bear and each other…keep on keepin’ on…love you ♥

    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>