“So, why aren’t you married?”
I asked the question last month, and I’m going to ask it again this month. Well, sort of.
month I dealt with some of the “garden variety” reasons – some of the
issues that a lot of us probably face in one way or another. I talked
about the difficulty a faithful Catholic has in finding someone who
shares that faith. I talked about the excess pickiness (ie “man hands”,
“big head” etc.) that we can sometimes hide behind to avoid commitment.
then it occurred to me. You know how annoying it is for us as singles
to live in a world where people assume that everyone our age is
married? Well, I don’t want to make the same mistake and assume that all single Catholics fit the same mold.
everyone has their own story, and the answers to the question “why
aren’t you married?” are as varied as the members who attempt to answer
it. I don’t know why you’re not married. Heck, I don’t even know you. I
know that, for many of you, the “garden variety” reasons apply. For
others, there are other reasons – more serious and difficult to
overcome than “I haven’t found the right person yet.”
you may not be married because you can’t be married. Maybe you’re
waiting for a Church tribunal to rule on the validity of a previous
marriage. Maybe you’re divorced, but haven’t pursued an annulment
because you believe that marriage was sacramentally valid. If that’s
the case, you’re not free to marry, which makes it easy to answer the
question but not necessarily so easy to walk the walk to which you’ve
For others, the issues may run deeper still. I
suspect there are more than a few single Catholics who remain
unmarried because they are struggling with same-sex attraction.
been wanting to discuss this issue here for some time, for several
reasons. One, I’ve had several requests from other single Catholics to
do so, which tells me that at least some are facing this.
Second, although this is not an issue that most of us deal with
directly, we all deal with it indirectly via friends, family members,
co-workers – both those who have identified themselves as “gay” and
those who live quiet, faithful Catholic lives despite experiencing
sexual attraction predominantly to their own gender.
It is not
my intent here to write a long article about “why the Church teaches
homosexual activity is immoral.” I’ve done that more than once, and if
you poke around my web site at www.reallove.net , you can probably learn
everything you ever wanted to know about the subject. I want to talk
instead about the flesh-and-blood human persons dealing with the
reality of homosexual orientation. They want to experience real love in
their lives. Where will they find it? Where should they turn? To the
Church? To their friends? Will they find love in “gay” relationships?
have turned to an organization called Courage. Courage, for those of
you who are unfamiliar, is an organization dedicated to providing
spiritual support for Catholics with a homosexual orientation who wish
to live chastity according to the teachings of the Church.
I’ve been speaking at Courage conference for years. In fact, those conferences are among my very favorite speaking “gigs.”
So what would a single, heterosexually-oriented person like myself get out of a conference like that? Plenty.
of all, the members of Courage are really a sub-set of “us”, the single
Catholics. The reasons for the singleness may be different, but the
practical fact remains the same – we are moving solo through a
“coupled” world. Because of that, we have a lot in common.
the members of Courage are frequently a little “further down the road”
than we are in facing their singleness. So many of us don’t really deal
with our singleness. We think “Oh, well, maybe I won’t be single any
more by next year anyway.” But we’re single now, and we need community
now. Courage members get that. They realize that the only way to live
true chastity is to live lives of real love, and that involves
community. And they’ve created that community. They pray together. They
love, encourage and support each other. And they have a lot of fun.
my friends in Courage teach me so much about sin, redemption and God’s
love for each one of us. Look, we’re all tempted to sin of one sort or
another. And we all have our moments when we try to convince ourselves
that giving in to our particular brand of temptation would lead to love
and happiness in our lives. Courage is full of people who know better.
has been a lot of “heat” in the press lately about evangelical
Christian organizations dedicated to helping people “change” their
orientation. I don’t have much of an opinion about groups like that
because I have no real familiarity with any of them. Courage is not
that type of group. They take no official stand on the subject of
orientation change. Courage is about one thing, and one thing only –
providing a spiritual home for homosexually oriented Catholics who wish
to grow in the love of Christ.
love Courage because it is made up of men and women who believe that
the only lasting happiness and fulfillment in life is found in a deep
and all-encompassing relationship with Christ, and that relationship is
radically incompatible with sexual immorality.
That’s the truth – for all of us.