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Learning to Live Chastely With Same-Sex Attractions

1/10/2004 - 6:00 AM PST

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David Morrison Tells How He Ordered His Passions With a Life in Christ

ARLINGTON, Virginia, JAN. 9, 2003 (Zenit) - Many people with same-sex attractions believe that they must be defined by their homosexual behavior.

But one man who grew up acting on his same-sex attractions has learned to embrace chastity as a Catholic convert. Journalist David Morrison, a former activist, is author of the book "Beyond Gay" (Our Sunday Visitor) and founder and moderator of Courage Online, an online support community.

He shared how living chastely helped diminish the degree of his same-sex attractions.

Q: What do you think contributed to your same-sex attractions?

Morrison: Whether same-sex attractions have a genetic origin or component, or stems from relationship problems during early life provides one of the more energetic contemporary scientific debates.

Unfortunately, the discussion has a tendency to slosh out from the purely scientific and into the headlines, but given the broader culture I suppose it's probably inevitable that it do so.

In my own case, I believe significant relationship problems with both of my parents, as well as with my peers, contributed to the development of same-sex attractions in my life and personality. I don't blame my parents at all; they became the people they were because of the upbringing they had and they tried to do the best they could rearing me. But my father was very emotionally distant throughout my childhood, while my mother was likely too emotionally available.

In addition, my parent's marriage was strained in many ways and that cannot help but have been felt by a child. If pressed on the matter I guess I would say it was possible that I might have had a sort of personality that might have been vulnerable to the development of same-sex attractions. But at the bottom line I think certain relationship and environmental factors needed to be in place for it to flourish.

Q: Did outside sources, such as the media culture, influence your ideas about same-sex attractions? How?

Morrison: I was born in 1963 and probably the key time for the culture to have a big influence on me was in the period from 1976 to 1986.

It was around 1976 that I became sexually aware -- I began to have sexual desires and began acting out sexually, initially with myself though masturbation but also with other, older, boys whose bodies, experience and authority I tended to idolize. Looking back on it I can say that they, to some extent, took advantage of having a younger boy around with whom they could satisfy some fundamental lusts.

I don't recall too many explicit "fag" jokes. As the homosexual liberation or gay movement drew more attention nationwide I remember there being jokes about that and about AIDS. But I was always able to hide my same-sex attractions, and the older boys with whom I sometimes acted out sexually did not seem to associate my willingness to have some forms of sex with them with definitive homosexuality on my part.

Probably the biggest cultural influence on my same-sex attractions came when I was around 19 or so and it was more or less inevitable that, if you lived with any same-sex attractions, you would have sex and define yourself as gay. The only alternative the culture provided -- simply not telling anyone that you lived with same-sex attractions -- was unacceptable since that was a ticket to a truly miserable and fearful life.

In retrospect I would have appreciated a cultural alternative to the extremes of either walking around afraid of anyone finding out that I lived with same-sex attractions or defining myself as gay and hitting the party scene.

Q: At what point did you discover a way to counteract your same-sex attractions?

Morrison: I am not sure I have discovered a way to "counteract" same-sex attractions. Rather, I think I discovered some of the same things that anyone who moves from a life defined by a temporal desire to one defined by seeking Christ also discovers.

The degrees of temptations we face often fade when we stop indulging them; seeking chastity and reigning in one's passions weakens them and, in the case of same-sex attractions, I believe living chastely helped diminish the degree of same-sex attractions that I experienced.

For the record, I believe men and women can diminish same-sex attractions over time and to varying degrees. In my own life that has been my experience, even though I have never sought therapy to diminish those same-sex attractions.

Even though I still live with a degree of same-sex attractions, that degree is less now than it was three years ago and I expect I will experience it even less strongly three years from now.

I haven't sought therapy to diminish the ...

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