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Made for Love: Same-Sex Attractions and the Catholic Church - Introduction

  • FATHER MICHAEL SCHMITZ

"So . . . I'm gay."


schmitz4The most important person in my life had called me the day before and told me that he wanted to drive up to Duluth, Minnesota, to talk.  There we were, the next day, walking along the north shore of Lake Superior, and he was sharing one of the most personal details of his entire life with me.

What does a person say at a moment like that?  What would you say or do if the person you loved most in the world bared his heart to you?

"Man...you know I love you."  I hugged him, and he hugged me back.  I was the third person he had ever told, and my very first instinct was to let him know that this new piece of information had changed nothing.  We kept on walking, and he began to share his experience with me.  He had always felt different.  He had always had these stirrings, but he just did his best to ignore them or avoid thinking about them.  But twenty-seven years is a long time to carry a secret that weighs so much, and he needed to let it out.

"Do you, um . . . do you have any questions?"

I thought it was really thoughtful of him to ask.  I only had one question: "What are you going to do now?"

"What do you mean?  I'm gay. . . . I didn't choose to feel this way."

"I know.  I know you didn't choose that...but what are you going to choose now?"

He wasn't sure, and I still don't know if he is sure, but this is "The Question" faced by every man or woman who experiences same-sex attractions.

I wrote this book for anyone who has been touched by the reality of same-sex attractions.  If you have gone through life and have always felt different, if you are a parent of a child who has same-sex attractions, or if you love someone who experiences same-sex attractions, I wrote this book for you.

You do not have to be afraid of anything that you will find in this book, even if you have wrestled and struggled and fallen in the area of sexuality.  The words of Jesus, spoken to a woman after she had been exposed for having fallen in the area of sexuality, are the underlying thread of this entire book.  The scribes and Pharisees, wanting to entrap Jesus, asked if she should be stoned as commanded by the Law of Moses.  Jesus replied, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her" (Jn 8:7).  After the scribes and Pharisees had left, Jesus looked at the woman and said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again" (Jn 8:11; emphasis added).  This encounter is great news for all of us.  None of us is without sin, me definitely included.  As John's Gospel says a few chapters earlier, "God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (Jn 3:17).  Jesus came not to condemn, but to save, to heal, to set right, to bring life.  Even when he calls us to change, he does it so that we can be healed.

"I know.  I know you didn't choose that...but what are you going to choose now?"

So you will find nothing in this book that is a personal condemnation.  But that does not mean that this book will not be challenging.  Following Christ is always challenging, but it is always possible and worth the effort.  I have wrestled with the topic of same-sex attractions and the effects of this struggle on people close to me for over twenty-five years.  I was very young when I realized that the experience of being attracted to the members of one's own sex would be a reality for many people I love.  I was a committed Catholic Christian, and I knew that the Catholic Church had what some people would find to be challenging teachings in the area of sexuality.  But I also knew that I might be called upon, one day, to offer a message of hope in the middle of what could seem to be a forest of no's and don'ts.  From my personal experience, I knew that there would be a need for Catholics to understand where people who experience same-sex attractions were coming from.  I knew that there would be guilt and shame and suspicion around the topic and that the Church would need many people to speak with a voice of compassion.  And that is what I want this book to be.

This book is meant to explain what the Church teaches about same-sex attractions.  It is also meant to explain why the Church teaches it.  This book is for people who are affected by the experience of same-sex attractions.  Above all, I want all those who read this book to know that same-sex attracted people do not have to make a "fool's choice" — a choice between two options, when both of them mean losing.

The fool's choice would be this: either you follow your heart, or you will be miserable.  Either you indulge in what you desire, or you will be lonely.  Either you accept and embrace everything that someone else chooses to do, or you hate and fear him.  These are false options.  Isn't there another way?  Aren't there other choices?  Isn't it possible to live out the teachings of Christianity and still be happy?  Isn't it possible to love your neighbor and not agree with everything he chooses?  I think there is a third choice.  I think there is another way. 

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Acknowledgement

smithmikeFather Michael Schmitz  "Introduction." from  Made for Love: Same-Sex Attractions and the Catholic Church - Introduction   © 2017 by Ignatius Press, San Francisco, and the Augustine Institute, Greenwood Village, CO. xi-xiv.  All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of the publishers.  

The Author

schmitz16Father Michael Schmitz was ordained for the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota in 2003, Fr. Mike is currently the Director of the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the diocese and is known nationally for his inspiring homilies, his presentations and talks to university students, and his tremendous sense of humor. Find more about Father Schmitz here. He is the author of Made for Love Same-Sex Attraction and the Catholic Church.

Copyright © 2017 Ignatius Press and Augustine Institute
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