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The 'Courage' to go 'Beyond Gay'

By Matt C. Abbott
Op/Ed

I'd like to put in a good word about Courage (www.couragerc.net), "a spiritual support system which would assist men and women with same-sex attractions in living chaste lives in fellowship, truth and love."

Developed by Father John Harvey, with the assistance of Father Benedict Groeschel, Courage held "its first meeting in September, 1980 at the Shrine of Mother Seton in South Ferry.

"With the endorsement of the Holy See, Courage now has more than 110 Chapters and contact people world-wide, over 1500 persons participating in its ListServs, and hundreds of persons per week receiving assistance from the main office and website. It has become a mainstream Catholic Apostolate helping thousands of men and women find peace through fellowship, prayer, and the Sacraments."

David Morrison is a Catholic writer and promoter of the apostolate. He authored the book "Beyond Gay," from which the following excerpt comes (Chap. 15, 244-245):

"So much confusion reigns about what the Church teaches about same-sex attraction that I urge every homosexually attracted person to forget what they think the Church teaches or what they have heard she teaches and learn instead what she really teaches. Just a couple of weeks ago I got a letter from a twenty-eight year old man who felt strongly his love for his same-sex partner with whom he was sexually active. Why, he wanted to know, couldn't the Church recognize he and his partner's love for one another and bless it? I answered that the Church already recognizes the parts of our relationships and friendships that truly love, and are truly wholesome and life giving. All those things are counted among the virtues to which all Christians are called. There is nothing wrong with them. The Church and the Saints celebrate them. But that's not the same as sex, he said, why can't the Church celebrate the sexual side of their love since he and his partner would 'never' give up having sex. Heaven is lost in that word 'never.'

"I don't believe love sets limits on the lover or on the beloved. I came to realize that I couldn't claim to love my partner only as long as he had sex with me. Real love seeks what is best for the beloved, and respects them fully and loves them fully. What did Jesus say about love so memorably? No greater love has any man than he lay down his life for his friends. I think people living with same sex attraction were created to love and to be loved without limits, loved for who they are and not what they can or will do.
I don't think it's helpful to fall into the trap of saying 'guy-guy bad, girl-guy good.' I don't think it matters nearly as much who one loves as how one loves. I suspect it's much more fruitful to look what is being called Love in whatever relationship being discussed, no matter the sexual attractions of the people involved. Heterosexual people don't necessarily get it right either.

"Most people don't recognize, or want to recognize, the aspect of Love that is least like a Hallmark Card. Love can be awful. Love can be self-sacrifice and pain on the part of the Lover for the Beloved's good. After all, the greatest symbol of love on earth is not the Valentines Day heart, but Good Friday's Cross. God, who is Infinite and Mighty, before whom every knee will bend one day and every tongue confess, and in whose presence the very stones of Jerusalem would have cried out if no one else had - that God crossed eternity to let himself be beaten, spit upon, nailed to a Cross and tortured to death so that men and women, no matter their sexual temptations or inclinations, could one day stand before Him face to face. That's Love.

"Christ's ennobling and terrifying message for people living with same sex attraction is that we are created, loved and responsible. It ennobles us because it sees in us the reality of our Creation as human beings in God's image. It terrifies us because it puts the ball firmly into our court. Christians who may not know the Gospel might try to tell us that God doesn't love us because of our same-sex attraction, but we know that's not true. God doesn't base his love on what temptations we have or don't have. Others might try to tell us that acting out our sexual desires, particularly with someone we feel we love, is also not wrong, but we know that's not true either. Love doesn't give itself away in half-measures or objectify its subjects. No, the hard truth is that love dies to self and gives itself away. Love is the Cross.

"So if you get nothing else from this book at all, I firmly hope that you pull from it this one two-fold lesson: that you are loved and that you can surely be one with that number when the Saints come marching in. Don't let anyone dissuade you or feed you a watered down Gospel. Don't accept any version of what Bonhoeffer called Cheap Grace. Whatever you have done matters nothing. Nor, even, does anything you are doing now. All that matters is that you come. In the words of Lewis' Angel, 'this moment contains all moments' and everything that has happened in your life so far, all that is good and bad, all that you have done and has been done to you, prepares you for this moment of decision. Christ is calling. Will you come? Until, God willing, we meet one day face to face I wish you peace. And freedom.'"

Related link:

http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1998/9801trch.asp


(Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He is the former director of public affairs for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League and the former executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee. He was a contributor to The Wanderer Catholic newspaper and had numerous letters to the editor published in major newspapers, including the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com)

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