Believe it or not, some people with the desires of homosexuality do not want them. This is called unwanted SSA, where SSA stands for same-sex attraction.
In my prior post we discussed a document released in 1986 by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), called “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.”
In that prior post we saw how the CDF correctly labeled same-sex attraction as inherently disordered. The procreative powers of the human race are designed to be complementary between the two sexes. The entire sexual arena of humanity is primarily ordered toward procreation.
Thus, those who frustrate or make impossible the complementarity and/or the procreative powers of the conjugal act pervert sexuality.
Within their Letter, the CDF rightly said the homosexual lifestyle “threatens to destroy” those caught in it.
The remedy the CDF recommends for those caught up in unwanted SSA and the homosexual lifestyle altogether remains the virtue of chastity.
THE VIRTUE OF CHASTITY
The CDF implores, “Christians who are homosexual are called, as all of us are, to a chaste life” (section #12).
To those aiding people with unwanted SSA, the CDF offers encouragement. “Such devoted ministers should have the confidence that they are faithfully following the will of the Lord by encouraging the homosexual person to lead a chaste life and by affirming that person’s God-given dignity and worth” (#13).
Fr. Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary defines chastity this way:
“The virtue that moderates the desire for sexual pleasure according to the principles of faith and right reason. In married people, chastity moderates the desire in conformity with their state of life; in unmarried people who wish to marry, the desire is moderated by abstention until (or unless) they get married; in those who resolve not to marry, the desire is sacrificed entirely.
“Chastity and purity, modesty and decency are comparable in that they have the basic meaning of freedom from whatever is lewd or salacious. Yet they also differ. Chastity implies an opposition to the immoral in the sense of lustful or licentious.
“It suggests refraining from all acts or thoughts that are not in accordance with the Church’s teaching about the use of one’s reproductive powers. It particularly stresses restraint and an avoidance of anything that might defile or make unclean the soul because the body has not been controlled in the exercise of its most imperious passion” (emphasis added).
THE VIRTUE OF CHASTITY INCLUDES THE CALL TO “CHASTISE” ONE’S DESIRES
St. Thomas Aquinas makes a remarkable observation, in my estimation. He sees the virtue of chastity as a sort of antithesis to our concupiscence.
You see, by being members of the fallen human race, we all suffer from a desire toward sin. The fancy word for this is concupiscence.
In his Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas states, “I answer that, Chastity takes its name from the fact that reason ‘chastises’ concupiscence, which, like a child, needs curbing, as the Philosopher [Aristote] states (Ethic. iii, 12). Now the essence of human virtue consists in being something moderated by reason, as shown above (Summa I-II, 64, 1). Therefore it is evident that chastity is a virtue” (II-II, 151, 1, co.).
All humans have disordered appetites. For some these can include a physical attraction to the same sex. St. Thomas Aquinas shows that the virtue of chastity can help “chastise” this inordinate desire.
As both St. Thomas and the CDF make clear, it is our faculty of reason that needs to subdue our passions.
The use of reason is what separates us humans from the animals. Where the animals act by instinct, according to their nature, we can rise above our animal nature. We were given by God our ability to reason.
We are meant to make use of reason to moderate our behavior. Anyone who gives into the unreasonable desire for homosexual activity, thus, has reduced himself or herself to the level of the animals. Such activity demeans the dignity of the human person.
TURNS OUT THERE EXIST PEOPLE WITH UNWANTED SSA LIVING CHASTELY
The CDF may seem to be calling those with gay attractions to an undue burden. Can homosexuals really be expected to practice chastity, self-control, moderation, purity, abstinence, and so forth?
Why yes, yes, they can. In fact, there are many folks out there doing exactly that.
Examples abound, but let me highlight a couple.
One is a chaste, Catholic man, who blogs by the pen-name Steve Gershom, and who happens to have same-sex attraction. You can read his work here.
Another is Eve Tushnet, a chaste, Catholic woman, who has written for First Things, Crisis Magazine, and many other publications. She has also written her own autobiography of her journey to faith. Her book is called Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith.
Please leave your thoughts below on unwanted SSA and the call to live chastely.