Arleen Spenceley, who to judge by her writing appears to be some sort of human Catholic firecracker, is working on a book about love, chastity, and sex. She gave me a mini-email-interview to get a few words from my particular quadrant of that universe, and has agreed to let me stick ’em here, because that way I get an extra post practically for free, and so do you! I wrote this fast, and have done a little light editing since the email.
What does it mean to be chaste when one is attracted to the same sex?
Speaking broadly, it means the same thing for me as it does for anyone else: integrating my sexuality into the rest of myself. More specifically, it means celibacy, since there’s no way for me to be morally consistent and be in a sexual relationship with a man, and I don’t believe I’m called to marry a woman, although some in my situation may be.
The celibacy part is actually easier than is widely believed. What’s harder, for me, is what my spiritual director refers to as “emotional chastity”. There are times when I feel drawn to a man, emotionally above all, but I have to accept that the sort of emotional bond I’m looking for with him isn’t actually appropriate. It would be appropriate if he were a woman, or if I were a woman. So my heart reaches out for this kind of deep connection which either can’t or shouldn’t exist — whether “can’t” or “shouldn’t” is a more appropriate word is still an open question for me.
That’s not to say that I can’t or shouldn’t develop deep relationships with other men, and in fact these relationships are some of my greatest sources of joy. But I’m coming to understand that there’s a line that can’t be crossed even with my closest male friends — not a physical line (which is obvious), but an interior, emotional line. That’s emotional chastity, and that’s hard.
This segues into the next question:
Do you believe you’re missing out because you don’t date men or have sex with them?
Oh, absolutely. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t missing out. The fact of the matter is that celibacy is profoundly unnatural — which is to say that a human being is built, emotionally and spiritually and physically, for union with another human being. There are a lot of good reasons why that might never happen with individual people, but the fact remains that, on the natural level, there is something in our makeup that is frustrated by celibacy. It is not good for man to be alone. But there it is: this is a broken world, and good things come at a price. For me, the price for living in the truth is that I remain without a mate. It’s a price I am willing to pay.