I am very grateful to a reader of the Bubble, a young woman who wishes to go by the name of "Marie", for writing her personal reflections on the issues of gay marriage and true love.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Whenever I discuss my position on gay marriage with people, I’m usually asked, “Why does it matter as long as they’re happy?”, “What’s wrong with love?” or “What do you have against gay people?” It’s hard to briefly answer these questions without getting into a philosophical and theological discussion, but I’ve come to notice that if you ever have the time and your debater has the patience to listen, do it. It can help.
In answer to the questions, I want people to be happy, and I also don’t see anything wrong with love. More importantly, I don’t think I can hate gays considering that during a very important part of my life I was actively living an “awesome” gay lifestyle. I had a hot girlfriend and partied as if my wallet were a basket of fish and loaves. I loved her endlessly, even if my love confused me and led me to sabotage our relationship. I knew she was the one I would spend my life with. Yet something said no. It was Christ calling my heart. I finally answered and gave in, but it wasn’t easy.
I’ve been asked before why I would pick Catholicism as a convert when there were more “friendly” religions out there. My response: I didn’t choose to become Catholic, Christ told me I was Catholic. “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction."(i) Faith is not about picking and choosing. If that were the case, I’d choose not to believe. But my heart clears up the conflicts that my mind has.
I have a few friends that are gay. I use to have a lot of friends that are gay but I lost most of them when I decided to let go of lady-loving attractions and pursue my real purpose in life, which I felt was more likely connected to my relationship with Christ. They felt I was trying to be something I wasn’t and that I was judging them. Honestly, for a time I was. But I realized that by God’s grace alone I had walked away from where they were. I was not a better, smarter person because I had said yes to God. In fact, I was humbled to realize that more was expected of me now because I was no longer blissfully ignorant. I knew I could never go back, no matter how tempting.
I’ve always been attracted to men, which would label me as bisexual, but I think that sounds selfish. (It kind of says, “I just like everything out there so I’ll take it how I can get it.”) So am I gay? Am I straight? Still don’t know. Do I believe that you can “pray away the gay”? Nope. I believe you can pray to have the humility to handle the desires and behaviors that come with being gay, but it’s hard to stop loving someone just because you’re told that you shouldn’t love them.
Gay people do not choose to whom they are attracted, nor with whom they fall in love. As a heterosexual person, if you looked at your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or fiancé and said that you were just going to stop loving him or her at this exact moment, how successful do you think you would be? Not gonna happen. You'd likely fall into a deep depression and obsessively pine away for your love to come back to you. You’d scream “WHY?” and ask God for strength. As a woman who has fallen in love with another woman, this is a testament to what I dealt with upon finding my faith and relinquishing the evils of my life regardless of how innocent and pleasurable they seemed.
My purpose in writing is not to defend homosexual marriage and acts, because I’d then have to try and persuade myself. Instead, I just want you all to realize that the gay desire for marriage and acceptance is misguided, but it truly stems from love. They carry a cross that you do not know. Please understand that the anger and bitterness that comes from the other side is rooted in suffering. How can suffering be so closely tied to love? Ask Jesus, He suffered because of love. It’s unbearable to be told that you shouldn’t feel what you feel but yet not have the free will to change it. It’s surreal to have the feelings that you do but yet not be able to express them. Who would purposely choose to be gay? Seriously. Being gay may not be a choice, but living the lifestyle is.
The root of this fight is not about sexuality or equality, it’s about love. Everyone wants to be loved, to feel love, to express love and to give love. The difference extends to the origin of that love. As human beings, we love on a physical plane, yet are called to something greater. It can be hard to grasp this if you don’t understand the difference and unity of love – eros, philia and agape.
Eros is the love between man and woman that is neither planned nor willed but somehow imposes itself upon human beings. Philia is the love of friendship, akin to the relationship of Christ and the disciples. Agape is divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional, and thoughtful love. It is the love of God, grounded in and shaped by faith. They all are the essence of God, as He is love. The problem is that man has taken these gifts and has chosen to maintain the separateness of them instead of unifying. “An intoxicated and undisciplined eros is not an ascent in ecstasy…but a fall, a degradation of man.”(ii) The love between a man and a woman has become worldly and broken, creating a disordered union between eros and philia, and a complete division from agape. That is homosexual love. It is still real. It is still love. But it is not love in its full, true being. It is a fascination for the great promise of happiness, but because it has lost its proper unity in the one reality and true nature of love, it is impoverished and loses its truth.
So here is where I ponder: How did we get to this point? How did the beauty of God’s most precious gift become reduced to a mere commodity of sex and pleasure? How did marriage become a debatable issue of rights, desires, and benefits? Why is the societal hot topic “gay marriage” when real marriage has been broken? “To love and to be loved was sweet to me, and all the more when I gained the enjoyment of the body of the person I loved. Thus I polluted the spring of friendship with the filth of concupiscence and I dimmed its luster with the slime of lust.”(iii) Thanks, St. Augustine... 1,600 years later, you took the words out of my mouth. Man, gay and straight, has fallen victim to disordered love. This is why the issue right now may appear to be a fight about sexuality, equality, and freedoms, when truly it’s about love. Until man unifies the fullness of love, there will always remain this struggle between those who know and those who don’t want to know; there will be no purification or healing.
So please, “Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”(iv) However, with this armor please never stop loving and praying for those against you in this battle.
i Pope Benedict XVI, DEUS CARITAS EST, 2006
ii Pope Benedict XVI, DEUS CARITAS EST, 2006
iii The Confessions of St. Augustine
iv Ephesians 6:14-17
Related post: "Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine"