One of the most controversial teachings of Catholicism is its teaching on homosexuality. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (2357)
For most of us, this teaching is challenging, especially if someone we love is gay or lesbian. But what if you are the Catholic struggling with these desires? Is it possible to be faithful to the Church’s teachings and still be happy?
Yes, it is.
I am a 37-year-old Catholic woman who has been happily married for nearly 15 years. We have five children that I homeschool. I also struggle daily with same-sex attraction.
Most gays and lesbians will tell you they “knew” they were homosexual from a young age. I didn’t. I had the usual crushes on boys growing up and like most heterosexual women, envisoned myself getting married and having children with a great man.
Then I met Nora. Nora lived in my freshman dorm and we had several classes together, so we began spending a lot of time together. My boyfriend encouraged the friendship because it gave me a buddy when he was working. Nora and I had many of the same interests and were quickly “BFFs.”
One day a few months later, however, a startling thought crossed my mind: “I’m in love with Nora.” It frightened me badly to have that thought. I cried for hours, trying to figure a way out of the conundrum of being in love with a woman. It was all there, just as it had been with men: the emotional and yes, even the physical attraction.
I avoided Nora, but she insisted on knowing what was wrong. I finally told her how I felt, almost hoping she’d recoil in horror. Instead, she confessed she felt the same about me. And no, neither of us had ever been attracted to a woman before.
I know some of you may be thinking, “What do you mean, you just ‘woke up’ one day and fell in love with a woman? Can that really happen??” Not really. There were many factors in both our pasts that made us vulnerable to same-sex attraction. Nora had been repeatedly molested by a male cousin as a child. I was abandoned by my birth mother and grew up being physically abused by my mentally-ill adoptive mother. For Nora, I was safe. For me, Nora offered the nurturing bond with a female I’d never had. Neither of us had had any guidance about sexuality other than “don’t get pregnant.” Nor did we have any faith in God, which made it easier to ignore our consciences when tempted to become involved.
That summer, we began what turned out to be a three-year affair. Nora and I chose to be roommates for my remaining two years of college. Bizarrely enough, we periodically dated men while together. In the days before same-sex “marriage” and Cat Cora’s embryo exchanges, neither of us could imagine giving up our dream of a “real” family. I realize now that despite our attraction to one another, God’s call to union through marriage was still written on our hearts. We cared deeply for one another, but we still wanted the fairy tale wedding, the marriage, the children, the white picket fence. And in our mind, none of that was possible as a lesbian couple.
Perhaps that’s why we went to great pains to hide our relationship from friends and family. Though we couldn’t imagine life without one another, we couldn’t imagine a future together, either. We both felt an enormous sense of shame about our behavior, though most of our friends were liberal and would never have judged us. Half our friends were even gay or lesbian themselves. Yet we instinctively protected our images as heterosexual women.
A few months before graduation, I met a young man whose brilliant mind and sense of humor ended my relationship with Nora. Though I didn’t marry him, he nonetheless offered me the sense of normalcy I’d craved since becoming involved with a woman. Nora didn’t take it well and decided to come out as a lesbian to her family. She exposed our secret to anyone who would listen. Her family, which had warmly welcomed me into their home for three years, completely shunned me. In their eyes, I had corrupted their daughter and was a sexual deviant.
I never dated another woman after Nora, mostly because I never met another to whom I felt such a strong emotional attraction. The sexual attraction to women, however, never went away. I discovered that while I was still attracted to individual men, I was primarily attracted to women as a whole both sexually and emotionally.
Two years later, I met my husband, a man I felt all those things for and more. I went into marriage happy I’d finally achieved a “normal” life. Yet even then, same-sex attraction insidiously inserted itself. When I traveled out of town for work, I struggled not to go to lesbian bars. But I had promised fidelity and I had to honor that. I somehow knew if I cheated on my husband, I would be truly lost as a person. I thank God every day for helping me fight down those temptations.
Then we became Catholic. If our vows were sacred before, now they were sacramental. And while I was obedient to the Church, I did not fully understand its teachings on sexuality until I studied the “theology of the body” by John Paul II. Finally, I understood my body’s purpose and why marriage was so sacred. I understood why I’d never been satisfied with Nora and why I’d yearned to unite myself to a man and have a family.
But understanding my sexuality did not make the temptations go away. I could not just turn off the habit of being sexually aroused by women. For a while, I convinced myself that as long as I wasn’t actually engaging in homosexual acts, I wasn’t sinning (i.e., fantasy is okay). The more I understood authentic chastity, however, the flimsier this excluse became. Am I “pure of heart” when indulging in sinful fantasies during the most intimate act of my marriage? How is imagining another person during that time respectful to my beloved? I knew that real chastity required something more than simply following the letter of the law; it required a conversion of heart.
I am happy to say that the battle today is easier than in the early years of marriage. I remain faithful to God and my husband because I work hard to avoid near occasions of sin. For instance, I avoid deeply emotional friendships with women that eclipse the one with my husband. I don’t watch gay- and lesbian-themed movies. I also have trained my imagination to avoid impure fantasies. It can be tempting to fall into old thought patterns, especially if I’m tired. But if necessary, I’ll shut down physically and emotionally to avoid offending God. No fleeting sensual pleasure is worth offending Jesus, who suffered so much to save me.
It helps, too, to know that what I have with my husband trumps anything I could have had in a homosexual relationship. The most amazing quality of our union is God’s gift of cooperating with him in creating a unique person who possesses an immortal soul. It’s a transcendent, awesome spiritual privilege I would have missed as a lesbian.
Naturally, I have profound compassion for those who struggle as I do. But I don’t believe we must indulge same-sex attraction if we experience it. I’m really no different than a straight man who struggles not to objectify women. Or a straight woman who is tempted to fornicate. We’re all broken people, which is why we all need Christ.
I’m not capable of re-ordering my broken sexuality, but as I’ve witnessed in the past decade, it can be reordered with grace and trust in Jesus. It just takes time and a desire to be healed. Sanctification, after all, is a lifelong process. I take comfort in the fact that slowly but surely, God is healing the wounds in my soul from the sexual sins that marred it.
Does God love His children who struggle with same-sex attraction? Yes, of course. But He loves us too much to leave us that way.
8 Replies to “Confessions of a Recovering Lesbian”
Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing from the heart. I hope and pray that this touches those who may need to hear these truths. Indeed, we are ALL broken. I recently had to reinforce some of this to my daughter. The Church doesn’t hate gays, people who have abortions or are promiscuous…its just adamant in upholding the values that Christ left the Church. Unfortunately, some of us do not practice with love and charity, leaving ourselves open to judging and ‘hating’. Let’s pray that more of the flock will practice love and charity the way Jesus would want us to.
God bless and keep you as you continue to struggle to live a life that is pleasing to Him…we are all on the same journey.
I read this article and feel nothing but sadness. Sadness for you. Sadness for your husband. Just so very sad.
One of the things I love so dearly about our Mother Church is that we use our God-given brains and we trust our scientists and researchers. One lesbian experience does not a lesbian make. Study after study after study shows that molestation and abuse have little bearing on the orientation of an individual, and more and more evidence shows that it is inherent from birth.
The Catechism calls for celibacy, not living a false life. And the fact that this woman dated men while she “was a lesbian,” that she dated men before, and that she dated and married a man after all indicate that she’s just a little closer to the center of the Kinsey scale than entirely straight – which is completely normal.
I’m glad that she has come to Jesus and is living a happy fulfilled life according to God’s plan – but when you promulgate this as the story of a “recovering lesbian” you drive ACTUAL homosexuals looking for love and acceptance for who they ACTUALLY are further away from the church. This piece is well written and thoughtful, but it does a disservice to evangelization and to the homosexual sons and daughters of God who are yearning to seek Him.
This testimony is beautifully and courageously written.
Courage is a Roman Catholic Apostolate with a mission to help persons live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality.
The only way I know to respond to your comments is to address them one by one.
1. Secular research has so far failed to plumb the depths of what causes homosexuality. After having been friends with dozens upon dozens of gays and lesbians, I’m convinced it is a complex pathology. For some, it is born of sexual abuse, which radically distort’s ones sexual orientation. For some, it can be rooted in a hormonal imbalance; I didn’t go into this in the article, but Nora was essentially born with traits of both sexes. In fact, she had to take hormonal supplements her entire life because she could not produce adequate estrogen on her own. The other factor I’ve seen repeatedly (almost exclusively) is a dysfunctional relationship between the person and their parents, usually the father. These are factors, not direct causes. And NO ONE has definitely discovered the “cause” of homosexuality. For me and my friends, it was a combination of factors.
2. I think you missed the part where I said that though I am attracted to individual men (for their personalities), I am now primarily attracted to WOMEN. Without the grace of God, I would not hesitate to align myself exclusively with women. It is a constant temptation for me. I am not in any way tempted to cheat on my husband with other men. If it would make you happier, I’d call myself a “recovering bisexual,” but given my overwhelming attraction to women, that’s not really accurate either. I put the title just because it was cheeky. But this is really about MY experience and I don’t appreciate being told who and what I am by someone who is not me. I also don’t understand why a lesbian who chooses to leave that lifestyle and live a chaste one must be called bisexual. If I have to identify myself, the label I’d use is CATHOLIC.
3. You mention Alfred Kinsey. You need to read The Kinsey Corruption by Susan Brinkmann. Much of what passes for “research” and “truth” about homosexuality today was fabricated by this fraud. He admitted to directly making up the “1 in 10” figures for homosexuality. He also obtained part of his “evidence” that children are sexual beings from pedophiles who were sexually abusing children as young as a few months old. This man ought to have been jailed, but instead we now have even Catholics believing that the lies he promulgated are fact. Please read the book and others if you want the secular media’s “facts” about sexuality (including homosexuality) debunked.
4. And finally, I could NOT disagree with you more that we are called to live a celibate life if we are gays or lesbians who wish to be faithful to Jesus. Celibacy is a discipline, but CHASTITY is the right ordering of our sexuality and THAT is what we are called to. Perhaps you have not read books like Beyond Gay or any of the testimonies of those who have been helped by Courage, the ministry for Catholics who struggle with same-sex attraction. If you had, you’d know that God’s call is more than just being celibate or following the rules about sex. It is about changing your heart and soul and reordering those desires that have become so distorted. You sorely underestimate God if you imagine that the best we can do with His grace is celibacy.
Thank you for sharing this. What a beautiful testament to God’s unwaivering love and His desire to bring us all into His arms. I am proud of you for telling your story. I know that there will be those who are against what you have written but many times the truth is hard to understand and accept. You are a courageous woman and I admire you!
You have been given a cross which you carry with dignity and grace. Thank you for having the courage to share your personal testimony. May God bless you and continue to give you the grace to live your life according to His will.
I know three gay Catholics who have ended their lives (one was 14) .. After reading this . Now I know why. Not everyone can live with this kind of self hate and denial. SmH. I find it unbelievable that any church saying they believe in a loving god would push this kind of sick, self loathing.
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