Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

A Call Misunderstood

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 21, 2010

Although I had many positive responses to my recent In Depth Analysis on the spiritual mission of those with homosexual inclinations (Homosexuality: A Special Call to the Love of God and Man), there were a few very puzzling reactions as well, of two types. The first puzzling group read me as approving homosexual “couples” as long as they did not engage in homosexual acts. The second group read me as suggesting what they deemed a lie, that God created homosexual inclinations in some persons as a special gift for His Kingdom.

Even rereading the piece, I cannot understand how these misunderstandings arose. Still, lest I mislead anyone, I want to take a moment to make both matters clear.

First, a word to those who are engaged in what we might call a “limited” gay lifestyle. My treatment of the special kind of chastity to which persons with homosexual inclinations are called cannot be used to approve same-sex romantic relationships, even highly committed ones, in which the “couple” refrains from sexual acts. The whole point of the essay was that the homosexual inclination itself is disordered or, to put it another way, homosexual affectivity is disordered and so must be rechanneled and reformed, if possible, or otherwise consistently denied. Any same-sex relationship beyond ordinary friendship, any relationship which includes an element of romance or the tendency to take on the character of “a couple”, is intrinsically disordered and must be avoided. It is precisely this which makes the cross of homosexual inclinations so unusually heavy, and which demands heroic virtue in a life which, as I put it, witnesses to the triumph of love over feeling. Is it this phrase that has been misunderstood? What I mean is that to truly love as God loves, the human feelings, which in this case counterfeit love, must be denied.

Second, a word to those who seem to become deeply suspicious whenever anything spiritually positive is written about those who suffer from homosexual inclinations. The idea that those with homosexual inclinations are called to chastity is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2359). That any sinner, filled with disordered passions of whatever kind, is called by God to attain holiness by cultivating the specific virtue which opposes his passions is axiomatic in the spiritual life. It does not mean that God creates certain kinds of disorders because they are to be construed as gifts to build up His Kingdom. It means that, through His permissive will, God allows the consequences of the Fall to play themselves out, so that where sin abounds grace may abound still more (Rom 5:20). To be called by God to exemplify a specific virtue is a consequence of the condition in which we each find ourselves; He calls each of us to accept and act on the grace we need to overcome the ways in which we are disordered. And that grace, along with the response it engenders, is indeed a gift in the building of His kingdom.

There is no virtue in doing what comes easy. And there is no virtue in half measures and compromise. We are all sinners and worthy of condemnation. There is no limit to what may be said about us that is negative. But we are also, every one, called to new life in Christ, each of us to be clothed in the virtues which will make us whole. Where sin increases, grace increases even more. And when it increases in us, we become new gifts of grace to others. That is how the economy of salvation works, beginning with Christ the first fruits, but extending down to the lowliest sinner whom Christ redeems. So let us not quench the smoldering wick, or crush the bruised reed (Is 42:3; Mt 12:20). To refrain from doing so is the mark of the One who saves.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: annedanielson4099 - Sep. 23, 2010 9:46 AM ET USA

    To say that "It follows that those who must suffer this disorder throughout their lives have been chosen by God to give a particular and exalted witness to the virtue of Chastity", is to say that God desires that there are some who must suffer this disorder when we know that what God desires is that we come to know His Love for us through The Truth of Love. It is not God's desire that we suffer which is why He sent His only Son to redeem us and show us The Way To Love.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 22, 2010 8:52 PM ET USA

    Catholics are supposed to think in centuries, and not be reactionary. Thus, when we see that those who call for social justice are often heretics, it does NOT follow that we should be for social injustice--just that we might disagree about what constitutes "justice." Likewise, I know that homosexuality is a fad issue which gets tiresome: but we are called to love all nonetheless. But never to love sin.

  • Posted by: annedanielson4099 - Sep. 22, 2010 6:36 PM ET USA

    Identifying oneself as a "homosexual" person is not the same as identifying oneself as a man or a woman with a homosexual inclination. We are men and women and we should respect our complementary nature as male and female endowed to us from God. God would never use such terms as "homosexual" heterosexual"..., because defining ourselves or someone else as an object of sexual desire demeans our Dignity as Human Beings and is in direct conflict with His Commandment regarding the sin of adultery.

  • Posted by: Jeff Mirus - Sep. 22, 2010 6:05 PM ET USA

    Sigh. I've decided it is writers who bear the heaviest cross! The article makes exactly the same point as annedanielson4099. By the very nature of the disorder, the homosexual person is called by God to be a witness to the triumph of Divine love over human feelings.

  • Posted by: annedanielson4099 - Sep. 22, 2010 2:50 PM ET USA

    With all due respect, Dr. Mirus, homosexuality is not a special call to the Love of God and of man because it is in direct conflict with the call of the Love of God. The Dignity of the Human Person exists within our complementary nature as male and female that is endowed to us from God in Whose Image we have been created. To deny this Gift from God is to create a counterfeit love that must not only be denied but rather transformed, for to be called by God is to be transformed by Perfect Love.

  • Posted by: brenda22890 - Sep. 22, 2010 11:36 AM ET USA

    Once again, a considered, well-balanced understanding of social issues facing all of us as we live our Catholic faith.