To read “Ten Reasons Why I’m Not a ‘Straight’ Catholic (Part One), click here.
6. Even before I was married, I wasn’t “straight.”
In Part One, I mentioned that being a man is at the core of my being human—being “straight” is not. Indeed, as my friend Austin Ruse wrote last year in Crisis magazine, “I’ve never met a heterosexual” (http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/ive-never-met-heterosexual ). True enough! Precisely because the designation “straight” draws our attention away from “the one” and toward the “group,” it can’t describe anything meaningful about my sexual attractions even as they existed before marriage. It’s not useful because, before marriage, the purpose of experiencing these attractions is to draw us into relationship, more and more closely, with someone of the other sex who may well be “the one” we marry. In this light, “straight” is not helpful. Rather, I’ve still got to discern what is the properly chaste manner in which to respond to sexual attraction toward my beloved whom I have not yet married. Similarly, I should be saying no to any attractions I may still experience toward others who are not my beloved.
7. Avoiding the label “straight” minimizes my being subjected to discrimination and prejudice.
I’ve learned that people who publicly identify as “straight” are being exposed to ridicule and discrimination. Labels like “hetero” and “cis-gendered” and “heterosexist” are being thrown around pejoratively. Why would I want to be known by a label that can be so misunderstood? It’s not that I’m afraid of such persecution, but it seems so pointless to assert that “straight” is such an important part of who I am when, in fact, it doesn’t define me at all. Why open myself to the risk of unjust discrimination solely because of the way the culture thinks I should classify my sexual attractions?
8. My sexual attractions don’t make me especially “gifted” at building relationships—rather, they help me become a gift.
Some have said that being “straight” somehow makes it easier to enter into meaningful friendships with those of the other sex, because my attractions to them make me feel more comfortable around them. That is, with me being married, I’m obviously prohibited from pursuing anything but a chaste (or non-romantic, non-sexual) relationship with other women, but doesn’t my experience of being attracted to women make it easier to become their friends? Isn’t being “straight” a form of giftedness that suits me toward such friendships with women?
How about a definitive NO to that line of thinking! If there is one thing that God’s plan for sexuality makes abundantly clear, it’s this: the only chaste friendship that is supposed to arise from the experience of sexual attraction is spousal. That is, my sexual attractions don’t comprise a “gift” that’s there to enable me to become friends with an unspecified number of women—it’s there to enable me to personally become the “gift” to be given to one woman—my spouse.
9. The Catholic faith doesn’t come in a “straight” version.
One reason I’d never admit to being a “‘straight’ Catholic” is because such a phrase relativizes what it really means to be Catholic. True, I’m a “Catholic” of the Roman Rite in the particular church that is the Latin Church of the Catholic Church. But when I say I’m “Catholic” it’s usually not in that context; it’s in the context of faith. I am Catholic because of what I believe. And there is no “straight” Gospel and then other Gospels for those who aren’t “straight.” And there are four—not five—Marks of the Church. The words “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic” (no fifth “straight” mark here!) all describe the Church, not me.
When I say I am Catholic, it’s first and foremost a statement about the Church and not about me. It’s primarily about something so much bigger than I am—the Mystical Body of Christ, the Bride of the Bridegroom Messiah. It’s an acknowledgment not of what I have assimilated into myself, but rather what I myself have been assimilated into.
10. Being Catholic is actually supposed to “erase” me.
Knowing this about the word “Catholic,” wouldn’t it seem to be a profound mistake for me to put the vacuous and self-referential descriptor “straight” (which remains all about meeee) right in front of that word, which aptly describes that which I have been drawn up into—the Church that is the Bride of Christ? If I am not my own, if I have been purchased at a price, if it’s Christ living in me, Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ above me, Christ below me, Christ all around me, as attested by the great prayer “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”…. If I’m to be clothed in Christ and am to put on the very armor of Christ and am to put on the very mind of Christ—how much of meeee does that leave?
No, being Catholic means being joyfully willing to experience the kind of “erasure” of self that others might seem to fear. He must increase, meeee must decrease!
O, Lord God, please erase me utterly so that only You remain, “Christ in me”! Let me be poured out completely, like a libation, so that my self-gift is exhausted, perfected, and complete, as You did for me! Let this be the measure and the mark of my faith, not as a “straight” Catholic, but as one erased, drawn up into Your Mystical Body in eternal communion with Christ the Head of the Church! Amen.