Wednesday

ATTRACTION: Ordered and Disordered

By Lenora Grimaud

Introduction

The following essay is based on my own personal observations, study, experience, knowledge, and reflections. I am a committed Catholic, and so what I write is from a Christian prospective. I am not a Theologian or a Psychologist, so I do not make an authoritative claim for what I have written. It is merely theoretical, and not intended to be a scientific research paper. Those with more knowledge and experience than I may have many valid objections to some or all of what I have written. My purpose for sharing my reflections and insights is not to impose my views on anyone else, but to challenge those who think they know the truth in regards to the issues I touch upon. I hope to challenge the reader to be open to other possibilities and to, perhaps, take a new direction in their search for truth and understanding. I don’t pretend to have the answers or solutions to the problems of human development, and I am still searching.

The Mystery of Attraction:

The power of attraction is a mystery. All humans are drawn to mystery—that which is above and beyond the mind and control of human nature. “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” (CCC-27).

Humans are born with a quest for union with God within their souls—a yearning and longing for union with God and all creation; a longing for the lost “Goodness, Beauty, and Truth” (Gregory of Nyssa). All humans are born with an innate desire and need to love and to be loved; a quest for integration and completion through self-transcending knowledge, freedom, and love (Karl Rahner). Since all humans are created with these needs and desires—longings—they are predisposed for attraction. This desire or longing is internal, so that without understanding how or why, we are continually being drawn out of ourselves in search of the “other.” This desire is a need that ultimately only finds its fulfillment in God—in a type of mystical marriage. The union of a man and woman in marriage is symbolic of the union our soul seeks with God.

The attractions in life that humans experience are meant to be stepping stones in their search for the ultimate attraction—to God. However, the need and longing for God, and for integration and completion, becomes obscured by the choices and preferences we make in life due to our sociological, spiritual, and psychological development. This can result in humans becoming fixated on illusory attractions and desires that lead away from God, instead of to God. Since these attractions are illusory and cannot fulfill our basic need, humans sometimes develop an array of false or abnormal needs. We become attracted to whatever appears to be able to fill our need. These attractions can become obstacles to the soul seeking its fulfillment in God and in loving relationships with others, especially if they become sexualized—except in the case of a love that leads to a healthy, sacramental marriage.

Unfortunately, our disorientations have clouded our perception of what goodness, beauty, and truth are, and so we become orientated towards counterfeits of goodness, beauty, and truth—counterfeits that can lead to abnormal attractions. Many people develop attachment disorders in childhood which affect all their attractions throughout life. This is not an exhaustive list, but some of these abnormal attractions are:

  • Some young women are only sexually attracted to much older men; some older women are only sexually attracted to very young men.
  • Some older men are only sexually attracted to very young women; some young men are only sexually attracted to much older women.
  • Some men and women are only sexually attracted to small children (pedophilia).
  • Some men and women are only sexually attracted to teenagers—same sex or opposite sex.
  • Some men and women are sexually attracted to their same sex.
  • Some men and women are sexually attracted to both, their same sex and the opposite sex.
  • Some men and women are sexually attracted to animals.
  • Some men and women are sexually attracted to virgins—same sex or the opposite sex.
  • Some people are specifically sexually attracted to persons within particular roles or professions—Priests, Doctors, Lawyers, Sports Jocks, etc.
  • Some men and women are only attracted to those who are “unavailable” for a committed relationship, such as: married persons; people in religious vows; and unrequited love.

All of the above relationships appear to be “object” relationships—not based on the real person. They are attempts to compensate for some need. For instance, a person who is guilt-ridden or anxious because they believe they have lost their innocence may be attracted to a small child, priest, religious, or a virgin who represents innocence. The hidden desire for union with God and for integration and completion may cause them to sexualize the attraction.


What we hold to be of great value has a great influence on what we are attracted to. Jesus said: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Mat. 6:21). Whatever our heart is attached too, has an affect on our attractions. If physical appearance and beauty are of greatest importance to us, we will be attracted to people who are exceptionally beautiful; if money is our god, we will be attracted to people with money; the same is true with power, intelligence, education, eloquence or charisma. We may be attracted to people who like the same things we do; who share our weaknesses or our strengths; who have the same addictions as we do. Co-dependency is a powerful trigger for attraction. If our greatest treasure is goodness, truth, virtue, creativity, wisdom, or compassion, we will be attracted to people who manifest those qualities. Whatever qualities we value the most in ourselves, as well as the qualities we most desire that we do not possess, becomes the impetus for our attractions. If these qualities are temporal, our attractions will either be disordered or fleeting. Only eternal values lead to authentic love and commitment.

From the time we are born, and continuing throughout our life, we choose and develop various preferences and aversions, likes and dislikes. These preferences and aversions become the catalyst for our attractions. We experience these likes and dislikes in the people we encounter throughout life, as well as people that we read and hear about—or see on the screen. Our preferences and aversions often come in the form of attributes, strengths, weaknesses, values, traits, mannerisms, outward appearances, characteristics, and experiences—either, shared, feared, valued, or desired (positive and negative). These preferences and aversions can lead to an attraction to good ((virtue and morality) and an aversion to evil (vice and immorality) or they can lead to an attraction to evil and an aversion to good. A denial of our natural attraction to good and to truth can result in an aversion to good and an attraction to evil.

It is not so much our preferences, but our aversions that become obstacles to growth, wholeness, and transformation. Today, it is easy to develop aversions to such things as: God, Church, community, authority, relationship, prayer, holiness, and virtue—all in the name of love—while believing that we are attracted to love and unity. The most classic line I ever heard Mother Angelica say was when she asked a man why he didn’t go to Church. He responded, “Because they are all hypocrites.” She responded, “Well, there is always room for one more.”

Aversions, as well as excessive desires, have a lot of energy and can become major obstacles in all of our relationships, especially marriage. They have to be acknowledged through self-discovery and healed, or transformed. Aversions make “mountains out of molehills” and distort our perception. If they go undetected, they get projected onto someone else—such as one’s spouse. Our preferences can also get projected onto others.

Attraction and Marriage:

The experience of “falling in love” is both, natural and a mystery. It is fired by the same desire for union with God, integration, and completion. The state of being in love is very different than actual love. It is somewhat illusory and doesn’t usually last more than three years. Falling in love is not something we choose, or something that we do with volition. We can’t make ourselves fall in love, or resist it. Like feelings and emotions, we can only control how we act upon them. Falling in love can lead a couple to marriage—most people would not marry, otherwise—but it must eventually be replaced by a deeper, committed love of the person—not their reflection. Otherwise, the relationship ends and the partners go in search of another love.

When we are attracted to someone and fall in love, it is to someone who embodies the positive preferences we have formed. If this person embodies qualities of people we have loved and been loved by in the past, the attraction is even stronger. When a person is in love, they are focused on the positive qualities and do not give much attention to the negative qualities. The power behind this love is often intensified when a person believes that they are loved by the one they love, as well. When marriages fail, you often hear one saying, “I just don’t love you anymore—and I don’t think I ever did.” Often, what they are really saying is, “I don’t believe that you love me anymore—and I don’t think you ever did.” Women often say, “I love him because he loved me.” We love God because he first loved us—we experience his love for us in some way. We are attracted to those who love us, or at least, to those we believe love us. When two people fall in love, this experience is mutual. We are attracted to those who draw out, or want our love. Of course, the opposite can also be true; the power behind a person’s love for another person can be intensified when the person they love does not love them—when they are rejected by the other. This can become a challenge for them that they are unwilling to let go of.

Although a newly married couple is in love—an ecstatic state, divine madness, or obsession—they really don’t begin to actually love each other until later, usually after a child is born. They love only a part of each other—the part of each other that they see and are attracted to. Gradually, both begin to show their negative qualities—which may be strong aversions for the other. The power of the attraction begins to diminish. Now they are given the task of really loving one another—the whole person—with both, negative and positive qualities. If they are truly committed and persevere in the will to love, expressing acts of love despite their feelings, they will empower each other to become what God has created them to be. They will sanctify each other— helping each other to develop the positive and overcome the negative. They will learn to love each other for who they really are—seeing and loving the whole person— instead of loving each other as the object of their affections and desires. If their marriage is to last, they will have to nurture and keep alive the will to love each other—trusting that they love one another, in spite of their feelings—and trusting that they are loved by the other, even though it does not seem to be apparent.

When our loves and attractions are in conformity with natural law, they are stepping-stones to a relationship with God, ending in union, and full integration and completion of being—through loving relationships with all those who are a part of our lives. We are then able to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul; and our neighbor as ourselves. This can only happen through Jesus Christ. Until we come to know the one true God through Jesus Christ, we will continue to chase after illusions and false gods. Until we become aware of our desire for union with God and others, and that it is spiritual—not sexual—we will be in danger of using sex for the wrong means. Until we become empowered by the Holy Spirit to truly love as God loves, we will only relate to others as objects—not persons. This longing for God never leaves us—never finds its fulfillment in God, completely, during our sojourn on earth. Loving others, through our longing for God, is the journey.


Vocation of Marriage:


The Catholic Church sees marriage as a vocation—a calling to family life—a calling to found a family. Marriage cannot be separated from family life any more than conjugal love can be separated from procreation. In fact a Catholic married couple who has no desire or intention to procreate or propagate family life, is not considered married in the eyes of the Catholic Church—“By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory” (CCC-1652). Even couples who are physically sterile are called to propagate family life through other means—“Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice” (CCC-1654). This includes both the sterile and the aged, and is the fruit of conjugal love. This is what makes marriage a Sacrament. This is not our society’s view of marriage, however. Society sees marriage as guaranteeing people the right to have a sex partner for pleasure and companionship. It is important to remember that for a Catholic, the only valid marriage is a Sacramental Marriage. The Church considers the marriages within other Religions as valid if they are in accordance with the laws and traditions of their Religion. Civil marriages are not considered to be valid marriages.


The Church has always taught that sex is a gift, given by God to those who are married—and only to them—for the purpose of procreation and conjugal love. Sexual intimacy between a couple who are committed to each other and to family life serves to nourish their love and union. Sexual intimacy outside of marriage—having no life-giving purpose—separates people, diminishes love, and leads to hedonism. Once society succeeded in separating sex from marriage and the life-giving purpose of procreation, sex became only a means of pleasure, self-gratification, addiction, and hedonism. This is a danger even with married couples if they lose the connection between sex and self-giving—self donation—life-giving. This is the primary concern of the Church’s opposition to contraception—which opened the door to self-indulgence, sexual immorality, and abortion:


“The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity; it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life” (Vademecum For Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life, Pontifical Council for the Family; Humanae Vitae)


The Church is not opposed to Natural Family Planning—responsible spacing and limiting of the number of children a couple have. Contraception separates sex from procreation and conjugal love, and makes it only an act of pleasure or sexual gratification. Natural Family Planning calls a couple to use self-discipline and abstinence—for a good purpose and not selfish reasons. It is a constant reminder to couples that the purpose of sex is conjugal love and procreation—love is life-giving. Because it is natural, Natural Family Planning leaves God the option to intervene. Our souls are not hereditary—they come from God, not from humans. Procreation always involves God. Every human being is acted upon by God—infusing them with a unique soul. A couple needs to be open to the will and action of God, even when they are attempting to space or limit the number of children they have (CCC-2368-2372). God hasn’t taken a holiday from creation. Men and women are only co-creators with God. This is not acceptable to most people. We have been conditioned by society to embrace an old heresy that sex is a basic necessity of life—necessary to become a whole person. The very idea of using self-discipline or abstinence in a marriage is an aversion for many people. They believe that there can never be too much sex in a marriage. This is because we have become a sex-oriented culture that has separated sex from procreation—from life and from love.


Unless we understand the Christian meaning of marriage, we will not understand why the Church is opposed to contraception. The Church is the guardian of natural law as established by God. Contraception interferes with and defies natural law. God established marriage from the beginning, making the man and the woman “one” (married) and commanding them to multiply—to procreate. Society has convinced us that the answer to the plight of the poor is contraception, abortion, and sterilization. This is false, and will only serve to rob us of the freedom to procreate. The real answer lies in teaching the poor the value of chastity and self-denial, and insuring them the right and freedom to feed and raise the children they have. The goods of the earth are not evenly distributed. There is enough wealth in the world to guarantee the basic needs of every child born into it. In some countries, family planning is no longer the right of a couple, but enforced by their Government. They no longer have the right to have as many children as they want. Americans are also losing their freedoms, because we have sold our freedom for self-indulgence.


Atheistic humanism has brought about a distortion in the meaning of love, life, marriage, freedom, sacrifice, relationship, hope, faith, humility, and much more. These distortions have left many Christians, bewildered and confused. Society has convinced people that the purpose of marriage is to bring “soul mates” together to live out a state of eternal “bliss,” sharing a union that is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. This is not the Christian understanding of marriage. The purpose of marriage is love and life—family. The meaning of love and life is not “to find one’s bliss.” Marriage is not for the purpose of avoiding loneliness—people can be lonely in a crowd. It is not for the purpose of companionship—friendship is sufficient to fill that purpose. It is not for the purpose of pleasure—chastity, virtue, and wholesome pleasures can fulfill that need. However, marriage does require a union that is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.


The sexual revolution—initiated by atheism and humanism—has not only brought about an increase in adultery, promiscuity, and homosexuality, but it has also brought about the breakdown of marriage and family through divorce and separation. Divorce is a desecration of something holy—a tearing apart, or dismembering, of something that was whole or one—an adulteration of what marriage should be. The consequences of divorce are devastating for everyone, even in marriages that never should have taken place—especially for the children. Even when a person is not at fault, or when divorce is the only solution, the psychological and emotional wounds are so severe that they can affect people spiritually and prevent them from being able to trust or love God and others. Divorce is a serious crisis in the Church, today.


Sex outside of marriage has resulted in unwanted babies, abortion, rejection, fear, shame, guilt, suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, addiction, sexual perversion, pornography, adultery, divorce, incest, pedophilia, homosexuality, prostitution, promiscuous children, slavery of women and children, etc. Have we gone mad? What possible good from sex outside of marriage can justify all these evils? We let it happen—we let ourselves be seduced by lies and self indulgence.


It is impossible for a Christian marriage to last or to be holy without faith in God, a relationship with Jesus and his Church, prayer, and commitment to the Gospel. Many people are surprised when their marriages fall apart, even though they quit praying, quit receiving the Sacraments and attending Church, and quit their commitment to the Church and its apostolic mission—years before. Even among faithful and committed Christians, marriages fail because one or both of the spouses become careless in at least one area. St. Paul warns us:


"Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his power. Put God’s armor on so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics. For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the Sovereignties and the Powers who originate the darkness in this world, the spiritual army of evil in the heavens. That is why you must rely on God’s armor, or you will not be able to put up any resistance when the worst happens, or have resources to hold your ground." (Eph.6:10-13).

In marriage, we are challenged to grow in the image and likeness of God. We are challenged daily, to love more deeply, more purely. We are challenged to let go of all that we cling to as individuals. We are challenged to put another person’s welfare before our own. We are challenged to become one, to live in communion and union with another. We are challenged to love unconditionally, accepting another person with all their limitations and weaknesses, and even their sinfulness. We are challenged to humbly receive from another—with gratitude. We are challenged to give to another—generously and wholeheartedly. For further information, I recommend reading: The Role of the Christian Family In The Modern World and The Gospel of Life by Pope John Paul II; and The Pastoral Care Of The Divorced And Remarried And Vademecum For Confessors Concerning Some Aspects Of The Morality Of Conjugal Life, by the Pontifical Council for the Family.


Homosexuality:


Homosexuality is not a third sex—it is a behavior, and sometimes an orientation, that people either choose or compulsively act out. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no valid proof that people are born homosexual. A homosexual orientation should not label a person as a homosexual, as though he was a different species from any other man or woman. Many authorities believe that a homosexual orientation begins in early childhood and is formed from the various preferences and needs that a person experiences as he grows and matures. These preferences and needs—likes and dislikes—become determining factors in the attractions we experience throughout life. Biology confirms that there are only two sexes—male and female. There are no sex chromosomes for homosexuality. There is no homosexual gene that has been discovered. Heterosexuality is based on natural law. Hormones can affect sexual drive, but they don’t affect sexual preference. Chemicals in the brain affect sexual drives and appetites, (pornography and visual representations can also stimulate sexual appetite) and may even dispose a person for an addiction to sex, but they don’t affect attraction.

The things that attract us are not innate—except for our attraction to God and our quest for self-transcendent knowledge, freedom, and loving relationships. We develop our preferences through interaction with our environment. Attraction is based on preference and choice. After all, a heterosexual is not sexually attracted to every person of the opposite sex simply because they are heterosexual—unless they are suffering from some sexual disorder like nymphomania. Women go through menopause, but they don’t change their sexual preference when they do. Many homosexuals and heterosexuals engage in masturbation. There is no object of attraction involved. The desire is solely for sexual gratification and satisfaction, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. Sometimes this is carried over into relationships with other people—the sex partner is only an object for self gratification, and it doesn’t really matter who they are; they are faceless. Frequent masturbation can cause these people to become more and more self-centered, and may even make them incapable of experiencing the exchange of love and true intimacy in a marital sexual relationship. The belief that masturbation is morally acceptable has opened the door to all kinds of illicit sexual relationships—based on self gratification.

By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.”


To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety, or other psychological or social factors that can lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability. (CCC-2352)


In every aspect of the human person, research has been done to determine the cause of homosexual orientation. So far, science has not been able to determine the cause, and can only say that several factors are involved. Until science can prove otherwise, Christians must hold fast to what the Church and natural law tell us—that homosexual orientation is not natural and everything should be done to change it; and that homosexual behavior is immoral. The Catholic Church has never taught that a homosexual orientation is sinful. It is a disordered sexual drive in some males that calls for our compassion and understanding; and calls us to continue to seek means for healing. Homosexuality is unnatural because it goes against natural law. I know many homosexual men who are very compassionate and good—even holy. They believe that their condition is natural and acceptable. But, I think that many—or most—of them would not be homosexual today if they had been given the truth. They would have looked for healing and possibly, would have found it—if they looked in the right place. Homosexuality is not a free choice, in many cases. But, neither is it God’s choice. The Church sees homosexuality as a disorder that may be a person’s “cross” in life.


Psychology used to tell us that there was such a thing as an “alcoholic personality.” This theory, however, is rejected by most authorities, today. Presently, Psychology tells us that heredity may be a factor; some people may be born with predispositions towards alcoholism; certain personality traits may make some people more susceptible to alcoholism than others; chemical balance may also be a factor; and social development and environment are most probably, primary factors. One thing is for sure—the only way a person can become an alcoholic is by consuming alcohol. Likewise, a person may have a predisposition towards homosexuality—hormones and chemical balance may be factors; personality traits may be factors; environment, emotional and psychological adjustment, are certainly factors—nevertheless, it is homosexual behavior that, in actuality, makes a person a homosexual. Initially, homosexuality is an unconscious choice or compulsion, often triggered by an experience of same sex, sexual abuse. After repeated sexual experiences, homosexual behavior becomes “no choice,” because it becomes a personality or character disorder—like an addiction.


People often equate eroticism with “love.” Christians believe that God is love, love comes from God, and love is gender free—love makes no distinction between male and female. Eroticism involves attraction, but not necessarily love. There needs to be a distinction made between erotic attraction and authentic love. Erotic attraction seeks its end in sexual gratification. Authentic love seeks its end in the giving of oneself to another through commitment. Both, homosexual and heterosexual oriented men and women are capable of having an authentic love—that is deeply emotional, intimate, and committed—for another person of the same sex. This is the love of true friendship. The exclusivity of the love is dependent upon the type of commitment that is shared. Married love is an erotic, exclusive and mutual self-giving between a man and a woman—committed to each other for life—leading to conjugal love and procreation.


Society condemns the Church for its position on homosexuality—that it is unjust. Many people believe that homosexuals should be allowed to marry and to have as many partners as they choose because this is how God made them—so they believe. Society has even managed to convince the Institute of Psychology that homosexuals are born homosexuals and that it is normal—even though it is against Natural Law and no evidence can support it—and therefore, they cannot change and must be true to their own selves. Many psychologists, today, and Gay activists— having seemingly won the homosexual debate—are now intent on convincing society that pedophilia, pornography, and sexual abuse are normal, natural, and even beneficial to society. They are attempting to show that these acts do not cause any psychological damage to the victims, and that the perpetrators are compassionate and loving models of humanity. They believe society’s reaction, and inability to accept these behaviors as good, cause the real psychological damage.


On the other hand, some psychologists who specialize in treating homosexuals, have reported that great numbers of clients have managed to lead celibate lives, and many more have been able to change their homosexual orientation to a heterosexual orientation—through counseling and prayer. This is, in itself, evidence that people are not born homosexual. In spite of this, some psychologists would have us believe that it would be impossible to change the sexual orientation of a homosexual, and harmful to even attempt it.


The active homosexual is a product of our society—a society that has exchanged the truth for a lie—all sin begins with a lie. If a person believes that they were born this way—that this is how God created them—and that it is impossible for them to change, they only have two choices: they either live a life of bondage to sin and guilt, or they accept their behavior as natural and good. Who will deliver them? Christians believe that Jesus Christ can and will deliver them (Rom.7:18-25). Homosexuality will not diminish until we return to the truth—distinguishing between good and evil according to natural and divine law. The truth is often very painful, but it sets us free. Denial of the truth is consistent with fallen nature. Whatever we can’t change in ourselves, we deny. We deny evil because we cannot conquer it, but there is one who can—Jesus Christ. The early Christians had to cope with the same kind of problems as we are facing today. St. Paul tells us:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.


Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.


For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct
. (Rom. 1:18-27).


This is not a condemnation of individuals—of persons—of individual homosexuals—it is a condemnation of a society that has allowed itself to become paganized. It is a condemnation of a philosophy—of the false teachings that have taken control of our society and our people. It is a condemnation of those who accept, embrace, and teach these false teachings. Homosexuals are victims of our society. The divorced and separated are victims of society. The emotionally and mentally ill are victims of our society. Pedophiles and sexual abusers are victims of our society—of false teaching. Alcoholics and drug addicts are victims of society. All of these victims make others victims. But, it all begins with the mind—with what we choose to believe—God and truth, or Satan and lies. In the last analysis, in a culture that has already separated sex from marriage, making sex a form of entertainment and self gratification, what difference does it make if someone chooses to live a homosexual lifestyle? Morally, there is no difference between an active homosexual and a heterosexual who is promiscuous. Our society has chosen a culture of death. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:


"Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. 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." (CCC-2357)


"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition." (CCC-2358)


"Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection." (CCC-2359)


Sexual Development in Children:


Small children do not have a sexual preference because they have not developed sexually, as yet. At various stages of growth, children have strong emotional and psychological preferences towards one or the other sex. There are times when girls hate boys and only want to be around girls—and when boys hate girls and only want to be around other boys. They want to be with those who are like themselves because they are seeking their identity—they want to be around their own sex. Children can develop strong emotional bonds with the same sex and seek same sex heroes. This has nothing to do with sex preference or homosexuality.


During adolescence, as children begin to develop sexually, they are attracted to the opposite sex and the emotional bonds or attraction towards the same sex begins to separate or diminish, somewhat. Some children may have unfulfilled needs for bonding with the same sex, and when they begin to develop sexually they are very vulnerable to sexualizing their attraction to the same sex—especially, if they have been sexually abused by someone of the same sex. If a child is denied an emotional bonding with a parent or friend of the same sex, the need and attraction becomes much stronger, and later when he/she begins to develop sexually, the need and attraction becomes fixated on sexual desire. He/she is still seeking his/her identity with the same sex, and tries to get it through sexual intimacy. If the emotional bonding with the opposite sex, as a child, is negative and painful, or if one is sexually abused—causing an aversion to the opposite sex—the person may not experience a sexual attraction for the opposite sex when he/she begins to develop sexually. Sex is symbolic of union and oneness between two parties. Healthy emotional and psychological bonding—not sexual experience—needs to take place with other persons of both sexes in order for us to mature and become wholly integrated.


Our culture has adopted a stereotype of men that is represented by “Superman” or “Tarzan”—someone who is strong, powerful, aggressive, athletic, and always in control—especially emotionally. Many men, however, have developed traits that make them gentle, intuitive, compassionate, understanding, submissive and obedient, emotional, deeply feeling, nurturing, kind, artistic and creative, reflective, and good listeners. These traits have been adopted by our culture as a stereotype of women. Men with these traits were often rejected by their male peers when they were young, and labeled as feminine and unmanly because they didn’t fit in with the rest. Ironically, these are the qualities we would like to see in our priests. St. Paul often referred to himself as a mother—giving birth, and feeding and nurturing her children. Unfortunately, for many of these men, their childhood experience resulted in a deeply wounded and underdeveloped masculinity, which later affected their sexual orientation. The confusion and ambiguity concerning gender brought about an identity crisis that many of these children/adults were never able to resolve.


Psychology and Human Sexuality:


Psychology and Human Sexuality are required courses in most colleges today. The morality and ethics that are taught in these courses are not Christian morality and ethics. There are vast differences. Within the Catholic Church, priests and religious were exposed to these courses before they even entered Religious Life. Even priests long ordained were expected to “update” and take these secular courses in the 70’s and 80’s. The result is that Catholics have become “double-minded”—no longer possessing the “mind of Christ.” We opened ourselves to the philosophy of humanism without even stopping to discern the differences or the consequences. We assumed that the “experts” were right and knew what they were talking about. Now, we are suffering the consequences.


Some Human Sexuality courses use what can only be described as pornography, as teaching aides—videos showing the stages and physiological affects of masturbation, as well as the sexual practices of single and married couples, and elderly couples. These videos are a violation of the human dignity of the persons viewed, but were acceptable because they were dubbed as “research” and “academics.” Secular humanism does not teach people how to abstain from sexual gratification because they do not believe this is normal or healthy—it is repression. Instead, they teach people techniques and practices—even advocating the use of pornography—for “legitimate sexual gratification”—between partners with mutual consent, or for masturbation. They also cover such issues as contraception, abortion, homosexuality, feminism, and social justice—from a humanistic and atheistic perspective. Education should be a primary concern of all Christian families.


Psychology has made some major contributions to the study of the human being in the past century. We need to keep in mind, however, that psychology is a relatively new science—and is for many, a new religion. Psychology, as a science, is only a little over a hundred years old. However, the seeds of psychology are very old—found in different world philosophies, religions, and especially, in Theosophy and Metaphysics. The fathers of the different schools of psychology were almost all, atheists or agnostics. Psychology is based on the philosophy of Humanism, a flowering of the “Great Enlightenment” that resulted from the French Revolution. Christians need to be aware that many teachings and theories of psychology are in direct conflict with Christian beliefs and teachings—especially, “pop psychology.” The majority of the self-help books, in light of Christian teachings, are “false teachings.” Both, scientific theories and psychological theories are continually subject to change—based on ever-new factors and findings. We used to accept all the findings of science as “infallible,” but have discovered that time has proved many discoveries to be false. Christians need to be grounded in the teachings of Scripture and the Church or they won’t be able to discern the true from the false.


Science and psychology have no control over the soul. The soul comes from God, and is spiritual; it is enfleshed, but not flesh. It cannot be diagnosed, observed under a microscope, tested or examined. Science and psychology does not have power over the human will—they cannot forgive sins or deliver people from demons. They have no power over the intellect—the reason or understanding of humans. They cannot empower a person to love. They cannot give people faith and hope, or eternal life. They cannot deliver people from fear, shame, or guilt (even though at times it appears that they can because they dull the conscience). And, they cannot raise the dead to life. Only God has the power to do these things, through the power of the Holy Spirit and those he has “called” to be his disciples. Psychology is the study of human development— the study of the soul is beyond the expertise of psychology.


I am not opposed to psychology; in fact, I consider it to be a great gift to humanity and society. More good has come from the study and practice of psychology than bad. Self-knowledge and an understanding of human nature are necessary for authentic spiritual growth and for healthy human development. Some people see psychology as a science—others see it as a new spirituality. Perhaps, it is both. But, if psychology is not grounded in the principles of scientific research and Natural Law, and becomes contaminated by a false spirituality—a pagan spirituality—it will become the “opium of the people.”


Longing for Union:


God is a relationship of three persons, and created humans to be in relationship. He created humans for an ordered, interdependent relationship with himself and with all of creation. Humans were created for union with God; not to become God, or to dissolve into God, but to enter into an interdependent relationship with him that leads to spiritual consummation. From the time of Adam and Eve, humans have been internally driven by two interdependent longings—for union with God and union with a mate. Being created in the image and likeness of God, humans were created for a covenant relationship with God, and a covenant relationship of marriage with one spouse of the opposite sex. In his wisdom, God ordered different kinds of relationships: husband and wife, parent and child, family, community, nation, world, as well as relationship with all of nature—animals, plants, elements, constellations, etc. There are diverse kinds of relationships, and each relationship is ordered in a different way, but the relationship that most resembles the relationship we are called to have with God, allegorically, is the covenant relationship of marriage between a man and a woman, which leads to procreation.


The intrinsic longing to find a mate, to enter into a covenant relationship with them, and to procreate—be fruitful and multiply (Gen.1:27)—can lead us to authentic conjugal love, false love, or sacrificial love (higher love). A higher love is the surrender of our human longing for a mate (celibacy) for the fulfillment of our spiritual longing—the longing for union with God and the desire to build the kingdom of God. Authentic conjugal love leads to a valid marriage. It requires mutual consent; and spiritual, moral, and physical freedom of both parties to enter into a covenant relationship that is permanent, exclusive, and open to procreation. Marriage is ordered for the good of both spouses. Authentic conjugal love is the total and free gift of oneself to one’s spouse. False love is disordered. It leads to adultery, fornication, polygamy, homosexuality, abuse and control, contraception, and abortion. False love is self-indulgence and possession by the ego.


Because of sin, and our human dysfunctions due to “original sin,” we are frequently deceived by false love, while believing that it is true love. Some people “fall in love” over and over again, with persons who are unavailable (someone who is not free for a valid marriage because they are married to another; someone who is vowed to celibacy; someone who does not love them; someone who is physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually incapable of marriage; someone of the same sex; or someone with impediments due to age, culture, beliefs, etc.). These same people are usually not free, themselves, for a valid marriage. This is a dysfunctional love—a disordered love. It is often the cause of infidelity in marriage, divorce, homosexuality, and promiscuity. Over-coming false love requires healing, and sometimes deliverance from an evil spirit. This false love can be very powerful and overwhelming, which makes it difficult for the person to really believe that it is not true love. True love is always rooted in the truth—in God. False love is rooted in wounds or unfulfilled needs from the past. It is especially difficult for those who are “romantics.” There is so much attention given to “romance” in our present culture that it is easy for people to become addicted to romance, which is illusionary.


The intrinsic longing for God (goodness, beauty and truth), the desire to enter into a covenant relationship with God, and the desire to regenerate the spirit by building the kingdom of God (knowledge, freedom, and love), is part of our spiritual nature. This spiritual longing can lead to divine love, to idolatry, or to spiritual death. Divine love leads to union with God—conversion, covenant relationship with God through Jesus, and to the mission of building the kingdom of God on earth. Divine love is ordered for the salvation and transformation of everyone. Divine love is sacrificial—laying down one’s life for another. Idolatry is disordered. It leads to the worship of many gods, to sorcery and divination, Satanism, narcissism, and ultimately, irreligion—the total rejection of God and death of the soul (hell).


Because of personal sin and “original sin,” all humans are under the dominion of Satan: “We know that we belong to God, but the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One” (1John 5:19). Because of this our quest for God has become disordered. We are blind and mistake false gods for the One True God. We mistake lies for the truth and embrace false doctrines. This leads to false spiritualities, and away from the God that our souls are restless for. Over-coming idolatry—salvation from sin and the dominion of Satan—requires conversion. It requires that we receive Jesus Christ and the truth (Gospel) that he gave us. It requires repentance—turning away from idolatry and false teaching and receiving the forgiveness of sins. It requires that we be born again, of water and the Holy Spirit. It requires that we have an intimate, on-going, relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It requires that we receive the power of the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Truth, the Advocate; the power that will transform us into the image and likeness of Jesus. Finally, it requires that we be active and committed members of the Church—the Body of Christ on earth—and that we help to build the kingdom of God on earth and in heaven.


Jesus came to restore our disordered longing for God through forgiveness and healing; through the power of the Holy Spirit. He came to let us “taste and see how Good is the Lord;” to bring us into the kingdom of God and the kingdom into us. The fullness of his kingdom will come with the Beatific Vision—when Jesus comes again in all his glory. Jesus admonished his followers to “ask, search, and knock;” to open themselves to the gift of new life—the kingdom of God.


The “Creation Story” in Genesis gives us a hint of the kind of relationship God ordered for humans, as well as his relationship with humans. It also shows the consequences of sin upon the relationship between the man and the woman, and at the same time, their relationship with God. The two relationships are interdependent and inter-related. The break in the relationship between God and humans caused a break in human relationships, as well.


Yahweh God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it. Then Yahweh God gave the man this admonition, ‘You may eat indeed of all the trees in the garden. Nevertheless of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat, for on the day you eat of it you shall most surely die.’


Yahweh God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’ So from the soil Yahweh God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beasts. But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him. So Yahweh God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. Yahweh God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed: ‘This at last is bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh! This is to be called woman, for this was taken from man.

This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body. Now both of them were naked, the man and his wife, but they felt no shame in front of each other.


The serpent was the most subtle of all the wild beasts that Yahweh God had made. It asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’ The woman answered the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden. But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death”. Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good from evil.’ The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed fig-leaves together to make themselves loin-cloths.


The man and his wife heard the sound of Yahweh God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from Yahweh God among the trees of the garden. But Yahweh God called to the man. ‘Where are you?’ he asked. ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden;’ he replied ‘I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’ Who told you that you were naked?’ he asked ‘Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?’ The man replied, ‘It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it.’ Then Yahweh God asked the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman replied, ‘The serpent tempted me and I ate.’


The Yahweh God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, be accursed beyond all cattle, all wild beasts. You shall crawl on your belly and eat dust every day of your life. I will make you enemies of each other: you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. It will crush your head and you will strike its heel.’


To the woman, he said: ‘I will multiply your pains in childbearing, you shall give birth to your children in pain. Your yearning shall be for your husband, yet he will lord it over you.’


To the man he said, ‘Because you listened to the voice of your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat, accursed be the soil because of you. With suffering shall you get your food from it every day of your life. It shall yield you brambles and thistles, and you shall eat wild plants. With sweat on your brow shall you eat your bread, until you return to the soil, as you were taken from it.. For dust you are and to dust you shall return.’


The man named his wife ‘Eve’ because she was mother of all those who live. Yahweh God made clothes out of skins for the man and his wife, and they put them on. Then Yahweh God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, with his knowledge of good and evil. He must not be allowed to stretch his hand out next and pick from the tree of life also, and eat some and live for ever. So Yahweh God expelled him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he had been taken. He banished the man, and in front of the garden of Eden he posted the cherubs, and the flame of a flashing sword, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen. 2:15-3:24).


A Personal Interpretation of the Creation Story:

God created the earth to prepare a place for his beloved children, his heart’s desire. When everything was ready, he gave birth to his dream and created man and woman. They enjoyed an interdependent ordered relationship with each-other and with God. The “garden of Eden” represented the kingdom of God within them. They were in union with God, with his will, and desired only goodness, beauty, and truth. This was the longing of their heart. They saw God as infinite goodness, infinite beauty, and infinite truth, and wanted only to love God and each-other. They were in right relationship with God, with each-other, and with all of nature. This longing for God was a longing to propagate love. It reached out for more goodness, truth, and beauty from the love of the infinite God of their experience. They were completely free. They wanted to care for the earth the way God cared for them. Nature responded to their love and everything was good—ordered, and in balance and harmony.


Adam and Eve knew instinctively what was good and what was not good, because the truth was in them. There was one tree that they knew was not good; that it would lead away from authentic love; away from God; away from goodness, truth, and beauty. This was a great temptation for them, because the fruit appealed to their lower nature—their senses, and sensual nature. They resisted the temptation, however, until Satan came with the lie. Satan accused God of lying to them, telling them that the fruit was actually good, not bad. He appealed to their intellect and presented them with a false knowledge, freedom, love, and equality. He presented them with the ego—a false self—that would elevate the self above God. Adam and Eve went against the truth that was within them; they went against their reason and conscience, and believed the lie. When they denied the truth within them and believed the lie, they lost their integrity, and their sensual nature took control of their spiritual nature and gave birth to sin—to shame, guilt, and fear. They could no longer face God because of their shame and fear.


The consequence of sin was a rupture in their relationship with each other and with God. Their longing for each other became that of “unrequited love.” They turned in on themselves and lost their relationship with God, as well. Another consequence of their sin was separation from God and from the garden of Eden, and the loss of the gift of eternal life. They lost the kingdom of God within them. Their desire and longing for goodness, truth, and beauty became distorted because they could no longer see or hear God. God became a memory of the past. Their ego (a distorted illusion of goodness, truth, and beauty), fired by their sensual nature, became their god. The universal moral law, divine law—the law of love—was instilled within their hearts from the beginning of creation. It is evidenced in all of nature, as well. But, the ego blinded their understanding and reason, and their conscience was dulled. Their love for nature and mission to nurture and care for nature turned into domination and control. Nature rebelled against them and the earth became disordered, losing its harmony and balance.


In spite of their shame, darkness, and blindness to God, God broke into their consciousness and gave them a promise; a promise of deliverance and reconciliation; a promise of transformation and reunion with God and creation. Though they were unfaithful, God would always be faithful to them. They were not ready for a relationship with God, however. They were not free for a marriage with God, or for the gift of eternal life—permanent interdependent relationship with God. God would have to lead them into the desert and speak to their heart. They would have to be purified before they could be a faithful wife to Yahweh (Hosea Ch. 2:14-21). Humans could not reach God, but God could reach them. The promise was fulfilled when God became human in the person of Jesus Christ—“the Way, the Truth, and the Life”—who would lead them back into the kingdom of God, and relationship with God. (John 14:6). The original sin of Adam and Eve was the birth of the ego who took control of their lives. Jesus gave humans the power of the Holy Spirit to dispel the ego and to break its power over them. The Father sent the Son, and the Son sent the Holy Spirit, to renew the face of the earth.


Humanity inherited original sin and its consequences from Adam and Eve. The Good News is that humanity also inherited the experience of God that Adam and Eve had before they fell, as well as the promise of salvation and reconciliation. Deep within the heart of every human is the knowledge of God, who spoke face to face with Adam and Eve. Because of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, our longing for God need no longer be that of “unrequited love,” but the joyful longing of a bride for her husband. We look forward with longing and hope for the Lord’s return and the full manifestation of the kingdom of God. We look forward with longing and hope for the “Beatific Vision.”

1 comment:

Betty Moore said...

Thank you for a wonderful reflection. God bless you.