Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Sonja Corbitt

11/9/2011 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

What is same sex attraction and how should it be approached?

The persecution and bigotry from both sides of the issue proceed, partly, from misunderstanding. Steve Gershom's simultaneous Catholicity and SSA are what is so compelling about his message. Ultimately he beautifully illustrates the tension between the beauty of faith and honest acknowledgment of the frail, wounded humanity in which we all live without pretending it does not exist or giving it sway over him.

Highlights

By Sonja Corbitt

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/9/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: gay, Catholic, same-sex attraction, gender identity, celibacy, purity, gay activism, persecution, bigotry, Steve Gershom, Sonja Corbitt


NASHVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - What does it really mean to be "gay"? I read a science article this week that proposed two African penguins were gay because they had formed a close male-to-male bond, but I have several questions about what some call "gay" animals.

Have the animals actually attempted to have sex? Do they habitually attempt to have same-gender sex? Are these penguins "attracted" to one another sexually, is theirs simply a particularly close filial bond, or are they routinely attracted to other male penguins?

Such questions about same-sex attraction and its implications for human life are at the heart of a wonderful new-ish blog by Steve Gershom, "Catholic, Gay, and Feeling Fine, Thanks." He blogs under a pseudonym about his personal conviction and experience as a deeply Catholic man who struggles with same sex attraction (SSA). A twenty-something from New England, "Steve" graduated from a Catholic liberal arts college an intellectual with a literature degree, but now works in internet technology.

A Holy Contradiction

He uses the terms "gay" and "Catholic" in the title of his blog to quickly communicate the main issue without wholly identifying with the "gay" moniker. Instead, Steve says he prefers "same sex attraction" as the more useful term.

He details the choice of designation in the Q&A section of his blog where he shares the difficulties of living out his Catholicity in a modern world, but it all comes down to the controversy dividing the openly gay and the Church - that of identity. More on that in a moment, but Steve prefers to say "he has SSA" rather than "he is SSA."

This is because Steve is celibate, and has always chosen to be so. I know because he was kind enough to grant me an interview recently. Although a young male with a virile baritone, he was never in the gay lifestyle and has never had a boyfriend or relationship with a man, a fact even he finds "almost literally incredible."

"I feel as if God has kept me protected," he says with a thankful wonder that I share, though this protection is not particularly surprising. Purity seems to be the priceless, fertile foundation from which God prefers to launch his message of love into a longing world.

The Human Struggle

"I used to think being gay meant being a different kind of person altogether -- like a third gender. These days I think that it's something I have, not something I am," he says, but it would be a mistake to think he says this out of a belief in the superficiality of "having" same sex attraction. It is a profound, ongoing, personal conflict he no doubt shares with those within the gay lifestyle who know no other way to articulate the absolute depth of "being gay" than by equating it with "who they are."

But this is part of what makes Steve's struggle so poignant, because although with the Church he refuses to take on the identity of "being gay" as though it could completely define him (and his   freedom to choose celibacy proves it does not), he does so while maintaining that his SSA is so deeply rooted as to be an integral part of his personality.

"Obviously from the inside it's something very strong. I don't know if it's possible to change it, because in most cases it's extremely deeply rooted. I don't think it's any easier for a straight guy to imagine being attracted to men than it is for me to be attracted to women."

Steve believes part of the reason gay activists talk and behave so militantly, sometimes violently, and most often flamboyantly toward Christians is because most Christians fail to understand that "it goes down into the core of you. To speak of SSA as though it were not deeply rooted is almost comical."

Reaching Beyond Bigotry

The persecution and bigotry from both sides of the issue proceed, partly, from this misunderstanding. "Gay people who make it their whole identity do so because of the actual persecution they experience. They're gay and proud of it; they're being flamboyant to show all the bigots. Frankly, I even respect that. It's incredibly wrongheaded, but starting from the axioms that they start from, it seems the appropriate thing to do. On the one hand discrimination [against gays] is not the same as [racial] discrimination against blacks, but I can see why gay people feel that way." Indeed.

But the militancy and bigotry inherent on both sides also stems from the reluctance of Christians with SSA to talk freely and honestly about it, and Christians without SSA to acknowledge the prevalence of SSA in both Christian and secular society. It is a prevalence Steve calls an epidemic:

"In a sense the knowledge is improving tremendously, but religious people still talk about people with SSA as though they don't know anyone or that there aren't people around them or in their families with it. It shatters people who want to open up and find support but realize they don't really have the support of others."

Steve's simultaneous Catholicity and SSA are what is so compelling about his message. Speaking transparently and intuitively to both sides of the issue, he offers a window through which to safely "see" the other side while preserving one's own position. Ultimately he beautifully illustrates the tension between the beauty of faith and honest acknowledgment of the frail, wounded humanity in which we all live without pretending it does not exist or giving it sway over him.

Anyone who has identified within himself what the saints call the "predominant fault" and the source of it, and has begun to allow God to uproot it, will understand exactly what Steve means. The difficulty of refusing one's flesh any deeply rooted and/or habitual action or reaction to painful stimuli is the lifelong struggle every serious Christian undergoes.

One of the most poignant things Steve said to me when speaking of himself as a younger man with SSA was, "I would have loved it if I had felt people wouldn't be disgusted with me." I will leave you, noble reader, with the implications of that raw statement, while mentioning that it led to a compelling discussion about how best to effectively reach out and relate to the numbers of those around us with SSA.

Due to the length of that recount, however, the stunning point we finally came to while wrestling with that question will have to be addressed in another article. Until then, you should visit his blog.

-----

Sonja Corbitt is a Catholic speaker, Scripture study author, and a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit pursuingthesummit.com to view a personal message from Sonja or to order her 10-week, DVD-driven Bible study Soul of the World, The Heart as God's Dwelling Place.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

We can all be philanthropists! Giving back to those in need has never been so simple. Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you:" Deuteronomy 16:17. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Giving back to others is an amazing feeling. Your heart expands and your mind is put to ease knowing you ... continue reading


A giant turtle in grave danger finds hope in an extraordinary savior Watch

Image of Turtles can be in grave danger if they remain flipped over for too long of a time period.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A turtle flipping onto its back, while appearing silly to viewers, can be a fatal event. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to animalquestions.org, if a turtle is unable to turn over and right themselves, they can die of starvation. A young girl from Taiwan ... continue reading


Why Catholics should think twice about the 'Elf on the Shelf' Watch

Image of The Elf on the Shelf has become a Christmas tradition for many families.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Over the last few years, a Christmas tradition has emerged in American households. Known as "The Elf on the Shelf" families set out a plush doll in their home and tell children that the doll reports to Santa Claus nightly. Now at least one professor has questioned if ... continue reading


An amazing voice in the middle of the night: A sleepy mother sings to her daughter and goes viral Watch

Image of Mother sings to her daughter in the middle of the night and becomes social media sensation.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

When a baby wakes up in the middle of the night crying there are a few things that can be done to put the baby back to sleep. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - You can rock the baby, you can feed the baby or you can sing to the baby.Kimberly Henderson of Sumter, ... continue reading


Aren't women human? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights continues to use male-dominated language when outlining human rights Watch

Image of Women's rights continued to be fought for everyday.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United Nations has four main purposes. The first one is maintaining worldwide peace and security. The United Nations' most prestigious document is The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is one of the most translated and printed documents in the world.In the ... continue reading


LOL, (L)MIRL! Do you know the meaning of popular acronyms used by kids today? The reality will shock you. Watch

Image of The amount of acronyms used in text messages continues to grow at an alarming rate.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With technology becoming easily accessible to all ages, methods to good parenting are not as black and white as they used to be. Upon opening a young adult's text message today, you might find something like, "OMG, ILY LOL. WYD?" What is that? Did they sit on their ... continue reading


Make your marriage last forever with two little words Watch

Image of Being grateful in a relationship is one of the most important factors in a successful marriage.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While there's no set in stone definition on how to have a successful marriage and every marriage is different, a new study suggests couples who encompass a specific trait have more success with a happy marriage. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - These couples are ... continue reading


What place do divorcees have in the Catholic Church? Pope Francis suggests lifting bans that target divorcees and those who've remarried Watch

Image of Pope Francis criticized the way the Catholic Church views those who have divorced and remarried during a recent interview with La Nacion, an Argentine daily paper.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During a recent interview with La Nacion, an Argentine daily paper, Pope Francis spoke on the challenges of his papacy, reform in the Roman Curia, and the unique pastoral challenges that both divorced and re-married couples face within the Church. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Is there a new mom in your life? Help to reduce the stress with these 10 great ideas Watch

Image of These are 10 great ways to help a new mom.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Becoming a new mother is an exciting time full of laughs and tears of joy. Becoming a new mother is also a scary time full of stress and many new worries. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Things like, are my dishes done, do I have food for dinner or did I catch the ... continue reading


Black, Hispanic HOLOCAUST: Sixty percent in top ten abortions states were of Black and Hispanic children Watch

Image of According to a new study, 60 percent of the abortions came from a combined 28.74 percent of the population: black and Hispanic women.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the top ten states that report their abortion statistics to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, figures say that 60.48 percent of the babies killed in those states were black and Hispanic, a total of 201,744 abortions out of 333,560. LOS ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 18th, 2014 Image

St. Rufus
December 18: Rufus and Zosimus were citizens of Antioch (or perhaps Philippi) ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter