Thursday, August 14, 2014

But Father, They Love Each Other

Homosexuality, Celibacy and Marriage

by Father Chris Pietraszko: If two people love each other, and the Church doesn’t allow them to get married, is this wrong?
You know what is wrong with this question? “Love” is used without a definition and without proper understanding. I love my friends, I love my parents, I love my sisters, I love my brother priests. I have no desire to marry them. What we actually mean when we ask the question is:
If two people have erotic (eros) love for each other, is it wrong if the Church doesn’t allow them to get married.
What this tells us is that married love has a sexual component to it as part of its definition. And so sexuality has to be examined as well. Does sexual love have a definition beyond mere attraction and consent?

The view for same-sex marriage really is not intellectual . .

Let’s examine the biology of the human body, the spirituality of being feminine and masculine. You see, at this point most people check out. The view for same-sex marriage really is not intellectual, it is about stubbornly adhering to leaving things general and vague so that one can fulfill the profoundly deep desire for sexual union.
One can love someone you do not marry, and so we get into the trickery of language when the term “love” is so generally used. One does not need to get married to another to prove their love for that person, otherwise, we would all hate our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and friends.

 We do need to be sensitive . . .

However we do need to be sensitive to the fact that asking a person to not have sexual expression with another whom they find attraction to is undoubtedly not an easy burden to carry. We cannot be flippant about the self-denial that such an individual has to make. Nor can we simply demand that such individuals find their way through life without any sort of friendship or support from a community.
This is why the Catechism insists that those struggling with same-sex attractions should have “disinterested friendships.” This doesn’t mean friendships lacking deep love, but rather friendships that are not expressed through erotic love.
Furthermore the issue goes beyond same-sex relationships because some are also called by God to live a celibate life for the sake of the Kingdom of God. In this case, men or women attracted to the opposite sex are called to sacrifice marriage. This is a challenging calling as well, and it really involves a life of grace, unity with a community, and support from others.
Recently I attended a wedding, and I watched the joy experienced by so many members of the family. Many celebrated their own marriage, and danced, demonstrating intimacy. My heart was pierced by this joy, not in an envious way, but in a way that reminded me that this was a type of love my own flesh and blood has been denied by virtue of my priestly-calling.

See the Church/God oppresses you  . . .

Now to many, they would stop here, and think: “See the Church/God oppresses you. It doesn’t allow you to be happy.” But this is a spiritually immature and telling statement from such an individual. The mystics, such as St. Theresa of Avila often speak of a wounding type of love that comes from God, where we experience a deep longing in the heart. When we do not have God or the Church as the groom of our soul, this longing cannot be sustained and is crushing.
But with God it becomes an utterly joyful pain to bear, because it bears such an incredible fruit within our spiritual lives. My guardian angel and my own spirit responded to this wound of longing by simply saying, “The Church is worth the sacrifice.” Meaning that I am incredibly blessed to be exclusively married to the Church, and to devote my life to serve her as my wife. This is a blessing, and incredible gift, and while it stings the sting becomes a tremendous way to enter into the sacrificial love that Christ has for His Church.
If married couples cannot understand the deep and profound gift of celibacy, they will likely not understand the deep and profound gift of marriage. Because to understand them both, we must understand the meaning of sacrificial love, love that is willing to commit in both good-times and bad. Without this married life is nothing more than a fleeting, superficial choice based upon emotions, arousal and some vague terminology: “love.”

When I hear priests resentfully criticize unmarried clergy, I consider them spiritually sick. How can they resent their own call so boldly to offer up their lives for the Church? The Bride should be insulted by this. Of course, I do not regard this an unchangeable reality in the Church nor do I imply that clergy who are justifiably married in the Church to have any hatred towards their wife. But to seek to obliterate that call of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom in general, and not recognize its value especially in the priesthood is to deny your own vocation, your own wife.