This was a talk given at the Life Teen Leadership Conference for Catholic teens to help them understand the depth and the beauty of the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality.
So you've met a guy. What do you do next? Act interested? But you don't want to come on too strong. Ignore him? But then he won't know you're alive. Knock him to the ground? No, that only works in first grade. Though I've landed quite a catch now (shout out to my wonderful husband, Brian!), I remember it all too well . . . trying to get the attention of a guy you're interested in without making a fool of yourself.
Ah, flirting. That ancient art of trying to get the attention of someone you're attracted to while trying to prevent oneself from looking like a complete tool. I'll never forget my friend from kindergarten who thought he would win a girl's heart by putting all of his toy cars in envelopes and giving them to her each morning as gifts. By third grade we had matured and moved on to advanced techniques like ignoring or teasing the girls that we liked.
Words and definitions are important. We can't really describe and understand the reality that surrounds us without them. So what happens when a higher power- say, the United States judicial system – tries to redefine words? Can that change our reality?
The Church is clear on her definition of marriage: it's a lifelong, exclusive union between one man and one woman that must be open to the creation of new life. That's not the same definition our culture is embracing, although that's nothing new. It's not even a definition that all American Catholics embrace . . . although that's nothing new, either.
And, as of June 26th, it's not a definition supported by the Supreme Court of the United States.
But, yes, I am getting older, and with that age has come a realization of things I took for granted when I was in high school.
As an adult, and even more as a parent of a little boy who is just over a year old, I have come to appreciate all that my parents went through. So, as we sit in between Mother's Day and Father's Day, here's a list of a few things you may not recognize that your parents have done for you:
One day, a handsome, mysterious stranger walked into the shop where I work and I gave him a job. I had no idea where he had come from or how he found me, but we needed the help and he was willing to work. Over time, despite many obstacles, we fell in love…
The chair had a problem though. While I could sit in it, drink coffee, talk on the phone, and do homework unaffected, I was the only one. For everyone else, it was the 'crying chair.' Girls that had been frolicking through the hallway singing N'Sync (which was our One Direction) would see that my door was open and, upon entering and sitting down, would burst into tears. I would sit on my standard-issue desk chair and nod, sympathetically, while they poured out their hearts.
In about three weeks, my wife is going to give birth to our first child. This is beautiful, overwhelming, humbling, and more than anything, exciting.
But the battle isn't over.
I have to recognize my humanness and be vigilant. There's a spiritual battlefield happening around me (and a selfishness in my own heart still) with an enemy wanting to tear me down, especially in this time of engagement and preparation for marriage. I'm thankful that the Lord rooted this out of me; I would never want to bring this evil into my marriage. But I also understand the struggle and the humility I've learned in passing through what will likely be the major battle of our generation, and the battle our sons and daughters will all have to face.
For a while, though, I lost hope in a happy ending to my story. I thought I was 'tainted' or 'damaged goods.' I didn't know Jackie was coming (if I had, I would never have left my room!). She's been saving herself for marriage, and I had to confess to her that I didn't. I messed up. But the way that Jackie loves me ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù in such a pure, disinterested, and benevolent way ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù has brought so much healing. She told me one night that she doesn't want the 'Bobby of 2007' or the 'Bobby of 2010;' she wants the 'Bobby of now.'
I'm 29 and a virgin.
No, I don't have some incurable alien disease that causes people to shutter at the sight of me. No, I don't have the sex drive of a grandma (unless it's my grandma who had 11 kids). And, no, I'm not Tim Tebow's girlfriend.
Warning: first I'm going to rant, then I shall apologize, and then I will offer a solution for you because I'm nice like that. And because I like you and want you to be happier than you look in your #foreveralone selfie and sound in your #foreveralone tweet.
So in an attempt to redeem myself (because apparently 'Just deal with it' doesn't cut it) here are some of the ways I've learned I can change my bad day into a day in which I feel blessed.
I’ve experienced life without my fiancÌÄ®ÕÌâå©e Jackie and I want no more of it. After years of discernment and three years in seminary formation, I've been graced with clarity and peace over this decision. I want to soak up as much Jackie Francois as I can in the time I have been given in this life. Her love has already broken me free of so many stubborn memories and unnecessary fear, giving me courage to become the man God needs me to be, a man that will do his best to lead her to Heaven.
I want a love that's strong enough to wait for marriage and commitment. Someone who wants what's best for me and my body. I'm not looking for someone who's okay with me chemically altering my body for the sake of pleasure without consequences.
I want the consequences – but I want them in marriage where they're supposed to be. I want to feel bonded to another person, body and soul (Genesis 2:24). I want to be faithful to one person and give myself fully, freely, and allow that to bear the fruit of children.
Women, you deserve so much better. You deserve to be honored and treasured as living, breathing miracles that reveal God to the world in a way that men never could. Scripture says that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and your bodies reflect God's glory and his life-giving power in such an amazing way (1 Corinthians 6:19).
The day I saw those two lines indicating a positive result, my whole world completely turned upside down. I was living every young girl's worst nightmare. I was pregnant. At the time I found out I was pregnant, I was single, alone, and afraid. I literally felt I had no one to turn to. The weight of my own embarrassment, shame, self-hatred, and loss of self-worth was too much to bear and I never told a single soul I was pregnant and scheduled an abortion even though I knew to my very core it was wrong.
It's common knowledge that hormonal contraception is detrimental to a woman's physical health, but there's little discussion regarding how the same drugs affect the health of her romantic relationships. Hormonal contraception changes a woman's romantic chemistry. How?
Sitting in the college dorm my sophomore year, I heard the words I never thought I would hear: 'I'm Pregnant.' Tears started falling down Jessica's cheeks as she told me the news.