Homosexuality/My Relationships/Sex and Chastity 7 Ways To Love Our Brothers And Sisters Who Experience Same-Sex Attraction by Daniel Glaze The “Catholic Church hates gay people” is a misconception floating around society. I’m sure Catholics have heard it many times. I don’t know about you, but I always wonder why people believe this misconception. My guess? Many Catholic individuals don’t know how to properly express love. When the Church’s individuals fail to express love, the Church loses its identity. As a Church we hold a unique power to bring people into the fullness of truth and witness Christ in the Eucharist. But, how do we, as individuals of the Church, bring our brothers and sisters in Christ who experience same-sex attraction into the loving arms of the Church? How can we prove to the world that Catholics do NOT hate gay people, and that we actually LOVE them? Answer: Build relationships based on love and truth. It’s honestly that simple. Okay, getting to that certain point might be a little harder in real life then reading it on this blog. After praying, reading Scripture and the Catechism, talking with my close Catholic friends who experience same-sex attraction and are living their faith, I’ve come up with a few ways we could foster those relationships. 1. Pray I know almost every single Christian faith blog about starts with prayer, but that’s because it’s the most important thing we can do. Everything you do to build these relationships starts with prayer. If you’ve never prayed for a person’s soul – you have no business talking to them about it. The world thinks we try to “pray away the gay.” Obviously, that’s not true. We pray that God will soften hardened hearts. We pray that everyone will be open to the truth. We pray and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in difficult conversation. We pray that everyone finds their love fulfilled by Christ. We pray that people with same-sex attraction will find their identity in Christ and not their sexual orientation. We pray for everyone, especially Christians, who unjustly discriminate. Just pray. 2. Recognize When building these relationships the worst thing you could do is act as if a person’s sexual orientation is their identity. Everyone is a child of God before they are anything else. That being said, denying that same-sex attraction exists only makes you look naïve. Just as a person who watches porn isn’t identified by the desire to watch porn, a person who is attracted to someone of the same sex isn’t identified by that desire. If we look at a person and recognize their dignity and find Christ in their heart, the Gospel will bring healing, fulfillment and truth. Which brings me to my next point. 3. Dialogue The Catholic Church has the truth. You can explain it and it can even make sense, but sometimes people aren’t ready or in the right state to hear the truth. The key is to meet people where they are. Tell your testimony and how God changed your heart. Talk about how you felt God’s love healing your wounds and how you were able to accept His love. Once the truth of the Gospel is shared, every truth will come to light. You should talk to any person with SSA the SAME WAY YOU WOULD TALK TO ANYONE ELSE. There should be no “them” and “us.” We are all sinners and are all in need of God’s mercy. The best way to make someone feel like a “them” is to act as if you have to approach them differently. If you plan on dialoguing with someone with SSA or with someone who wants to know about what the Catholic Church teaches, make sure you’ve studied and understand what the Church actually teaches; CCC 2357-2359, to be more exact. Also, this shouldn’t need to be stated, but make sure your words are kind and understanding. If you want a reference point, read this article. 4. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable Building the foundation in these relationships is going to be uncomfortable. Remember when Christ first revealed His truth and changed your heart? It was uncomfortable, right? Inviting them into a Church that enters into a personal struggle with Her people and attempts to show the light of Christ is uncomfortable – at first. If you continually trust God with the comfort barrier, trust can be earned and graced can be poured. 5. Practice Chastity The first sentence of CCC 2359 is, “Homosexual persons are called to chastity.” The first sentence of CCC 2348 is, “All the baptized are called to chastity.” If the Church expects people with SSA to live chastely and the baptized people of that Church aren’t practicing chastity — we lose the right to speak. 6. Defend. The Catholic Church actually wants our brothers and sisters with SSA to be a part of the Church. The Catechism says that they should be, “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity… every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided (CCC 2358).” We need to stand up when we see any sort of discrimination. People with SSA, “have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church” (Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination, pg 2). In short, ensure you stand up for the dignity of people with SSA with your actions and words. 7. Build the friendship If we want to build relationships with those who have same-sex attraction, we need to actively and intentionally build friendships. What I mean is, show the world that loving someone in a non-sexualized way is possible. Take intentional time to build friendships with your brothers and sisters who experience SSA. Invite them to hang out with your friends. Invite them to a sporting event. Invite them to a Life Night. Invite them like you would any other friend. Pray with them. Love them. Imagine how many people with same-sex attraction will feel welcomed by Catholics if we actually put in the effort to be a part of their lives. Now, I’m not saying building a friendship means letting anyone do whatever they want. True friendship is in rooted in honesty, so make sure you are still a pillar of truth. Once a friendship is founded on love and respect, expressing and accepting Christ’s healing truth will be easier. If you notice, this blog just gave you advice on how to build relationships with anyone – not just people with SSA. There is no magic formula that will automatically help you relate to someone and build a better relationship — there is no formula for loving someone. These 7 ways are meant to help you understand that you should treat our brothers and sisters with SSA with the same respect and dignity that you would anyone else. St. Thomas Aquinas says, “to love is to will the good of another” a.k.a. love means you want the greatest good for a fellow human. The ultimate good is to reach heaven. The goal of every relationship you have should be to love someone to heaven. So, let’s help ALL of our brothers and sisters get to heaven.