Sharing the truth with others requires love, compassion

| Father James Liekhus | October 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

There is a debate taking place in our society over the very nature of the human person. This debate manifests itself in many ways, most recently in the definition of marriage and in our sexual identity as male and female. As Catholics, it is important that we understand the truth that the Church teaches about our human nature so that we can share this truth with others, doing so always with love and compassion.

“God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). It is an awesome thing to consider that in our very nature, we are made in God’s image and likeness. Our maleness and femaleness are intrinsic to that, to our being created in God’s image. Perfect unto himself, the triune God is in an eternal, divine relationship of mutual, complementary self-giving within himself. With our limited human language, we profess that the father begets, the son is begotten, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from both. The distinction of the three persons is in their relationship with one another — not all three beget, not all three are begotten, not all three proceed. They are complementary to each other.

In creating us in his image, he created us so that we could reflect the mysterious self-giving nature of the triune God. Thus, our sexual identities — the mutual, complementary, self-giving relationship that occurs between a male and female in marriage — is a reflection of the mutual, complementary, self-giving relationship between the three persons. This complementarity is not only physically with our bodies, but spiritually as well, as the entire human person is joined to the other in marriage.

Courage Apostolate

For more information about the spiritual support system that assists men and women with same-sex attractions in living chaste lives in fellowship, truth and love, visit couragerc.org.

This is how God created us — then enter original sin. Among the consequences of original sin are that the sexes are divided against each other, and persons are divided within themselves. Our wounded human nature manifests itself in countless ways, among them same-sex attraction and gender identity disorder.

We all suffer from original sin, but those who suffer from these particular manifestations of it deserve profound sympathy and compassion, because it is truly a heavy cross to carry.

I have had the privilege of serving for the last six years as a chaplain for the local Courage apostolate, called Faith in Action. These are men and women who have same-sex attraction but who are committed to living chaste, holy lives in accordance with the truth. A common observation that I hear is that it is nearly impossible to communicate to those who do not have SSA just how much it affects every aspect of the person’s life.

The Church agrees.

“Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2332).

It is hard to put yourself in the shoes of someone who suffers from these conditions that attack specifically one’s sexuality, but everyone with a heart can imagine just how difficult and painful it must be.

And so our response must be one of compassion, born out of the truth of our human nature and our creation in God’s image. The temptation is to deny this truth and go along with those who suggest that the complementarity of our male and female sexual identities, or the identities themselves as they are indicated by our bodies, is not part of what makes us in God’s image. The fear is that we will be labeled a bigot or worse if we speak the truth. We must overcome both of these. Our interactions with others must be rooted in the truth, whatever the consequences might be.

Father Liekhus is pastor of St. Gabriel the Archangel in Hopkins.

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