“HOME WITHIN A HOME”–An LGBT Catholic’s journey to an Episcopal Parish

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I have two amazing cousins who have been together as a couple for many years, and in the last several were finally allowed to make their union as two LGBT males legal and public—I am proud to have them in my diverse family, and have written this especially for them, but the sentiments are for any out there who are wondering what my views are regarding same-sex marriage. I am for it. It is equally for those who believe I have left the traditions of my Catholic Faith by joining an extremely wonderful Episcopal parish recently—I have not. In short, I am a gay-affirming Catholic Christian who has found a home within a home. And glad I have.

Hey, my cousins and comrades 🙂 

I wanted to share something with both of you, as people I deeply love and care about and who deserve to hear this from me directly. Lately I migrated from Roman Catholic to an affirming Episcopal parish where I can live my life out more freely as an LGBTQ person. Strange to have been “out” for 15 years, then eventually drawn back into Catholicism again after many years away, and during that time endeavoring to live out the many beautiful traditions of the Faith, ultimately realizing that many of the otherwise beautiful and powerful customs there have at the same time held me back from that other side of myself which is equally a part of who I am as a gay man. I feel like I am nearing 62 and just starting over in so many ways, this certainly being one of them. But that is the case it seems.
My journey, unlike many, has always been public, whether by blogging, Facebook, or other social media, and for that very reason I wish to share this leg of that journey in an equally public way. That openness has no doubt at times confused and even exasperated others, some who think I am too conservative overall and others who no doubt think the opposite. I am never going to please everyone, and I do not here attempt to, but I believe I owe a deep apology to you personally as a result. I realize my self-conflicting views were not in the end being true to myself, and likely very unclear to my LGBTQ sisters and brothers on more than one occasion. For that I am truly sorry.
For the record I have always believed in the rights of all, certainly including (though not limited to) my own LGBTQ community, but honestly felt that the redefinition of marriage was not the only way for us to have or achieve equality. I still find it messy at times due to the very real conflicts between two groups of people who are both important to me, that is to my community of Faith as a Catholic Christian and my equally important community of being part of a sexual minority who has been deeply oppressed by the other. That conflict is still very real, and will require yet much dialogue and even legal measures to protect both sides. The battle is far from over.
The bottom line however is that I can no longer quietly stand by and watch people I care about, myself included, be hurt or devastated by even well-meaning Christian people who would shove us all back into the closet or worse. In saying this I am in no way impugning my very dear Roman Catholic friends and family, who are very good people overall and who hopefully will understand my evolution as time goes on, and at very least who still care about me in any case. And thankfully that is most people I know. I mean primarily the overall institution of the Church, the hierarchy as well as others, who have hurt our community over and over with no signs of stopping anytime soon. I will no longer sit back quietly about that injustice, for that is what it is.
I am deeply sorry for any offense that my seemingly contradictory views have caused to either side, but particularly to my LGBTQ loved ones. I hope to spend the rest of my life making up for my own publicly confusing statements on the topic. And, also for the record, I am very, very glad that there is marriage equality. One day I may even meet someone yet who I can share my life with, and I want to truthfully be able to say to that person that I stand fully with my LGBTQ sisters and brothers on the matter and always have. No questions, no compromise.

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I recently came across a statement, not mine, but from a Facebook group of Anglo-Catholics who, like me, believe in the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church and probably 95% of the traditions I have become graced by over the last 12 years since my return to Catholicism. While not original to me it reflects my understanding of the Faith very closely, and I currently would see myself as both Episcopal/Anglican and Catholic in my faith journey going forward—and only the richer for it.

The statement follows, and is “borrowed” from a FB group by the name of the Anglo-Catholic Resistance:
“We are a group of churchmen, clergy and laity, who, in love and zeal for God’s Church, and in charity for our neighbors, strive to bring about the increase and perpetuation of the Faith.
We affirm the historic doctrines of the English Church, as are encompassed in the Catechism and the Lambeth Quadrilateral. In particular, we affirm the truth of the three historic Creeds of the Church.
We affirm nothing less than the literal, bodily death and literal, bodily resurrection of Christ.
We hold that the Sacraments are central to the right and proper worship of Almighty God.
We believe the consecrated Bread and Cup to be the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, and therefore strive to treat the Mass with the utmost dignity and reverence according to the traditions of the Church.
We hold that no person ought to be denied admission to Holy Communion except that he or she has not been duly baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
We hold, likewise, that there is no reason not to admit to Holy Orders or extend the rights of Holy Matrimony to all persons so called, regardless of sex or sexual orientation.
We believe the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, and continually ask her intercession and the intercession of all the faithful departed upon us and upon the Church.
We affirm head-covering by laywomen in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament to be a vocation rather than a mandate.
We hope for a revival within the Church of love for tradition in liturgy and doctrine, proper formation of both clergy and laity, and zeal for the Gospel.
Ultimately, our hope is in Christ, who died and rose again that we might one day also rise triumphant with all the Saints on the Last Day and enter into His presence where death shall be no more.”

I would only add that I see my current self as a “progressive Anglo-Catholic Christian” who has chosen freely to hang my hat and be part of  St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, MN, and am finding, at least thus far, that we meet each other’s needs phenomenally. As to the above Statement of Faith, I find that it too meets my overall needs for purposes of this blog, but in the wonderful Episcopal Church tradition I find myself a part of, reserve my right as a believer to investigate, question, and occasionally change my mind on some individual points as listed here or elsewhere. That is called freedom of conscience, and is a very Catholic idea, by the way.  In that light, below is a further explanation I recently posted on my FB page and add here as well–

I would clarify that I am not “exactly” Anglo-Catholic but my beliefs are closely aligned with many of those who are. I love and connect with the 2000 year tradition of the Church, as well as the earliest 3 Creeds (Apostle’s, Athanasian and Nicene) and see Sacred Scripture (Bible), particularly the 66 books accepted by virtually all Christians, but also the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books, as the final rule of faith and practice for believers. I also see the Bible and tradition, as well as prayerful human reason, working together to provide the 3 main ways (3 legged stool) in which God has revealed, and continues to reveal, Christianity to us. I also highly respect the leadership of the Church, beginning but not ending with Pope Francis, as “first among equals.” Finally, I believe in the freedom of an informed conscience within the individual believer, which in reality most if not all Roman, Anglican, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians each accept on one level or another. In short I am a baptized and believing member of the Church Universal. To me that is what Catholic Christianity is all about.

 

 

 

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NOTORIOUS? That would be me–

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Bishop Robert Morlino

 

http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2017/10/22/bishop-morlino-on-funerals-involving-a-notorious-homosexual-union/

 

TO FRIENDS, FAMILY AND OTHERS READING THIS–Yet another American bishop has gone “ISIS” on the LGBT community by now suggesting that even the names of the loved ones of a dead parishioner be stricken from the funeral notices and funeral cards and not be acknowledged, as well as even supporters of all things “gay.” Hmmm I wonder if wearing pink counts, Bishop? Just asking. For the public record I am not struggling over this. I have for years though. The struggle is done. PLEASE resist the temptation to write me publicly or privately in an effort to reform me or woo me back. I am nearing 62, in my right mind, and my decision is based upon much study, tears, thoughts, prayer and dialogue with those who both agree and disagree with my position as stated in this post.

Whatever you may think of it please know this. I will always be a Catholic Christian in my heart and am not “leaving the Church.” However I will not be worshipping within Rome going forward, at least in the foreseeable future. I simply cannot do so in good conscience. I am very aware that this will deeply upset some of you and I am sincerely sorry for that, as there are many Catholics of good will out there, many who are close to me and even on this FB page or blog. This is not about any of you, believe me. It is not even about those who may disagree vehemently with me on this or other major issues. Some of you will note I went through something similar to this in the past (around 4-6 years ago to be exact), but this time there is one major difference–I am not initiating this, nor acting or reacting from anger or hurt, although I have to admit some of both here. But that is not my main motivation. I have realized that the anger I have often confessed towards the Church and even God which I have fought with over the years is in trying to retro-fit my most deeply held convictions, which are those of justice, respect, and genuinely reaching out to others in a Christ like manner whether one agrees or not with the other, into a rigid religious system who officially states this as her position but allows bishops to make such demands as Morlino does upon their local clergy and faithful. This is in my opinion twisted and broken.

I believe this is utterly wrong and I am not able to support it, nor will I do so going forward. Truth be told I am not wanted by Rome, nor are some of the precious people I love most in this world, and I am simply accepting that unfortunate fact and moving forward to a faith community where I will be–and already am. Archbishops Paprocki, Salvatore Cordileone, Nienstedt, formerly of MN and far too many others who practice bigotry in the name of God, just to name a few. Father Donald Calloway, who has written extensively on the Divine Mercy after nearly losing his life to in-depth drug addiction and stating that he has pretty much committed “every sin there is” during his journey towards Christ, publicly stated a few years ago on his FB page that seeing two men kiss would cause him to “spiritually vomit.” His reaction towards my then-suggestion that he consider reaching out more gently to those with that particular struggle was to block me immediately from his page. So much for mercy, Divine or otherwise. That bigotedness in the name of religion is what ISIS does and why the comparison. The Church does what she often does too well here–kills her wounded. So consider me to be “notorious.” For that is what Morlino has called “my kind.”

A Question of Language: ‘Same-Sex Attraction’ vs. ‘Gay or Lesbian’

I respect the work of New Ways Ministry. I do not always find myself on the same theological page as them. I agree though with the idea that we are more than our sexuality and are people of dignity in the eyes of God, whatever our orientation. And that is not the center of our lives. He is.

Bondings 2.0

The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) recently featured an interview with Fr. Philip Bochanski, the new director of Courage, a ministry which promotes celibacy as the only path for gay and lesbian Catholics.  The article states that the priest reported that “the organization feels supported by Pope Francis’ encouragement to accompany those ‘with same-sex attraction’ on their spiritual journeys.”  Bochanski is quoted as saying that Francis’ language of accompaniment, “is very useful for us. It recognizes the approach we take.”

Fr. Philip Bochanski

It is noteworthy that Courage is taking direction in their pastoral work from Pope Francis, who is seen by many as having initiated on new openness on LGBT issues in the Church.  But, as the NCR article points out, the leadership of Courage does not follow Pope Francis when it comes to language about LGBT issues. The reporter stated:

“[The Courage] approach includes using a language that some might…

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From Public Discourse–“There Must be a Reason”

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/05/15022/

I was extremely privileged to have this article used in one of my favorite online journals, Public Discourse. If you are not familiar with them, they are an outreach of The Witherspoon Institute, and an outreach of my good friend Ryan T Anderson, PhD, who has been on every media venue from CNN to FOX to NBC and who has written for National Review, as well as The Heritage Foundation, plus who co-authored the book What is Marriage? Man & Woman: A Defense with Sherif Girgis and… Robert P George. And the list goes on, with yet another book coming out this summer. Why did I do this article and why now? Simply put, it is a tribute to my recently late father, Donald Leroy Evans, and a tribute to traditional marriage, quite frankly something that is becoming an endangered species in the United States as well as the world in our society today. Some of you will likely disagree with my conclusions regarding the future of marriage, but I think we all can agree that real love and acceptance is what every person, whether actively LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), or those such as myself with SSA (same-sex attraction), but who have chosen not to act upon those desires at this time in my life, both want and need. And we desire it most from our family and particularly our parents. My dad gifted me with that. Profoundly. And, in doing so, gave me a sense of manhood that no other human, living or dead, could have done. Please read, enjoy, and know that what I share here is deeply personal and from my heart. God bless!

Why I No Longer Identify As a “Gay Catholic Christian”

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There have been a deluge of articles on homosexuality of late within the Catholic and other Christian faith communities, many which seem to center around “what to call” those of us from homosexual backgrounds who are now celibate.  This is obviously of great importance to many people, and there is certainly some validity to the desire on the parts of those who, whether from homosexual or heterosexual backgrounds, wish to clearly define “what” those of us who have dabbled in erotic thoughts or behavior with people of our own gender should be termed as. To be honest that is the least of my problems when I get up in the morning and drag my ever-older body to work each day or go to Mass on Sundays or weekdays. It seems to matter not at all to our Lord Jesus Christ or to the Blessed Mother when I pray my Rosary at night either.  But it matters to society, and I get that point.  And that is why I write this essay.

Let me start out by saying that I am not writing this to attack those who may disagree or may find fault with my views here—I get, very much first-hand in fact, the reasons for using terms such as “celibate gay,” as well as those who may refer to themselves as “ex-gays” (mostly within evangelical Protestant circles).  I have also noticed that the term SSA (which I prefer, and which means “same-sex attracted” ) is becoming increasingly hijacked by many who do not understand its current connotations in the first place but who choose to use it in some cases against those of us who have come to a decision of celibacy and are aiming for ever-increasing chastity. I will add that I have noticed this trend to constantly redefine terminology among both “pro-gay” and “anti-gay” people, which is what makes it increasingly ironic and baffling to me.

Metamorphosis and Phraseology

But that in itself does not make one set of terms wrong at all times, nor the other one always correct.  I will deal with each of these semantics then, share my own observations on why they seem to be increasingly used, abused and misused, and finally give some concluding thoughts, and I do so fully respecting those who may disagree with my pre or post-suppositions. I think that words can create a metamorphosis, and I am noticing a whole lot of folks who are using them incorrectly while feverishly trying to explain me to myself. This then is my first point—please do not tell me who I am. Let me explain myself to you instead, just as I would hope you choose to do with me, and let me use the terms and understandings I have come to accept as a Catholic Christian.  That is called mutual respect. Is there room for dialogue and discussion?  Absolutely. But in the final analysis how I define myself is up to me. And ultimately God.

First off I resisted the term “SSA” for a long time, even after returning to the Church after 15 years of “gay activism.” It still seems clumsy to me at best, and like a clinical disease at worst. I would prefer to say I am “same gender attracted,” but even that was suggested to me by a fellow blogger to cause its own confusion since not all agree on what gender even is in these days. Yikes!  Besides if I started calling myself SGA then absolutely no one will know what I am referring to—not the least because it sounds more like a supermarket than a condition.  So, SSA will need to do for now.  But why use it in preference to “gay,” or LGBT, or (and I truly hate this one), LGBTQ? The last one should be a no-brainer in any case. I am not a “queer Catholic” or “queer” anything else. I am a human made in the image of an infinite God. And so are you.

What says the “LGBT community?”

To understand the connotations of “gay” as opposed to SSA, we need look no further than leading experts within the actively LGBT world. The explanation and definitions below are from http://www.pridenet.com/history.html, and not much could better show the ever-changing meaning of words than what is written on their site. An excerpt is below as well:

“The word (gay) started to acquire sexual connotations in the late 17th century,   being used with meaning “addicted to pleasures and dissipations”.   This was by extension from the primary meaning of “carefree”:   implying “uninhibited by moral constraints”. By the late nineteenth   century the term “gay life” was a well-established euphemism for   prostitution and other forms of extramarital sexual behavior that were perceived as immoral.

The use of the term gay, as it relates to homosexuality, arises from an extension of the sexualized connotation of “carefree and   uninhibited”, implying a willingness to disregard conventional or   respectable sexual mores. Such usage is documented as early as the 1920′s. It   was initially more commonly used to imply heterosexually unconstrained   lifestyles, as for example in the once-common phrase “gay   Lothario”, or in the title of the book and film The Gay Falcon (1941),   which concerns a womanizing detective whose first name is “Gay”.   Well into the mid-20th century a middle-aged bachelor could be described as   “gay” without prejudice.

By the mid-century “gay” was well-established as an antonym for “straight” (respectable sexual behavior), and to refer to the lifestyles of unmarried and or unattached people. Other connotations of frivolousness and showiness in dress (“gay attire“) led to association with camp and effeminacy. This range of connotation probably   affected the gradual movement of the term towards its current dominant meaning, which was at first confined to subcultures. The subcultural usage started to become main-stream in the 1960′s, when gay became the term predominantly preferred by homosexual men to describe themselves. Gay was the preferred term since other terms, such as “queer”   were felt to be derogatory. “Homosexual” was perceived as   excessively clinical: especially since homosexuality was at that time designated as a mental illness, and “homosexual” was used by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to denote men affected by this “mental illness”. Homosexuality was no longer classified as an illness in the DSM by 1973, but the clinical connotation of the word was already embedded in society. By 1963, the word “gay” was known well enough by the straight community to be used fluently.”

“Not so gay” these days

When you read the above history and definition, given to us from the best research within the actively LGBT communities, the realization is apparent that the term pretty much assumes active involvement in the lifestyle and support of the overall homosexual community.  Since I am celibate, and I have withdrawn my support for such things as unconditional “marriage equality” and the like, dropped my memberships from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and OUTFRONT Minnesota, no longer attend or participate in Pride parades, and relinquished my position where at my place of employment I had been the lead “LGBT” spokesperson for several years,  all of which were only parts of activism activities I was involved with over the course of 15 years, I am not acting, by the actively LGBT’s own definition, particularly “gay” these days.  So there is not much of that lifestyle left in my life other than a still definite attraction to members of my gender. And I am definitely a man, despite the screen/blogger name “Catholicboyrichard.” But I will admit to being little more than a child when it comes to the Faith. In fact, none of us are. If St Paul called himself “chief of sinners” then what am I? Or any of us?

My point—I do not live as a “gay person” and yet I would be lying to deny the existence of those attractions.  So what am I?  I no longer identify with a community I was bound integrally to for 15 years, however nor am I suddenly “macho man” plus. Plus, yes, macho no.  The most macho thing I probably have learned over the years was how to become a couch potato, and my doctor is not putting up with that these days anyway. Oh well. So back to the definitions—I am someone with something.  I am a person, in the image of God my Maker, marred yes by sin, but in His Image nevertheless. I have leanings towards and see the beauty in other males more quickly than I do with females.  That is it. I am “same-sex attracted.”  SSA. The term fits and makes sense to me.  But I am not “gay,” which implies an innate make-up in my being that I am powerless to do anything about other than to but accept.  There is an old commercial (for Oil of Olay—or “Oil of Delay” as a friend of mine used to call it) which says “I do not intend to age gracefully—I’ll fight it every step of the way.”

The measure of a man?

That is how I view my SSA tendencies.  And when I say “fight it,” I do not mean I must become a boxing fan, watch excessively violent TV or movies, or start passing gas or burping in public places.  I am still allowed to be a fairly sensitive, kind-hearted person and to prefer cooking or reading to football.  It may surprise the straight men reading this that Jesus Himself was pretty “not-so-macho.” Let’s see—He wore a robe all the time, hung around with men constantly, loved women but never made passes at them or checked out their rears, secretly or otherwise, cooked for the 12 Apostles on occasion (fish for breakfast, anyone?), and shared parables and stories based on His own hours of prayer and studies.  In short He was strong but knew when to be tender.  And in His day and age, the societal standards of what made men “manly” were in any case somewhat different from ours today. This is exactly my point in fact. He showed us that the “measure of a man” consisted of very different things than what Americanized John Wayne types of guys currently look for.  And since the sports of choice in His day involved such things as throwing people to the lions for lunch, using them as human torches, and earning their freedom from noxious slavery by “killing their way to the top” via gladiator activities, I doubt He was particularly an athletics aficionado either.  He loved worshipful music and knew Sacred Scripture as if He wrote it—oh wait, He did! He could be tough as nails (not only such as the ones used to torture Him on the cross but the type apparently used in His carpentry work) and yet gentle towards women who would gladly have had Him for their pleasure, and simply told them “Go and sin no more.”  He was the quintessential man of men. We need to look no further for what makes one manly. And the same may be said for our Blessed Mother in regard to womanhood. Mary was the original authentic feminist—and the only person to ever get by with telling Jesus when to begin His miracle ministry at the wedding in Cana. She followed Him but never doted. She submitted to St Joseph but never backed down from her high calling or “fiat” even when he was ready to divorce her for becoming pregnant outside of wedlock while engaged to him. And she worked and travelled all through her pregnancy until the very day our Lord and Savior was born. “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy could have easily been her theme song too, not just the famous feminism theme of the 1970s. She truly was and is womanhood personified.

One of the best lists of “manly” characteristics in the New Testament is in 1st Timothy 3:1-3. I am quoting from the RSV (Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition) here:

1 The saying is sure: If anyone aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. 2 Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3 no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money.

That is what being a “real man” is all about and nothing else. My point is this—neither our King of Kings nor His and our Queen Mother followed social norms, even of their own days, as to what being “manly” or “womanly” supposedly meant then or now.  The asexual parts therefore of my nature, which may or may not have indirectly contributed to my SSA leanings in some way, are not in themselves sinful, and do not need surgical removal. In fact there are a few of them I would prefer to keep intact. That is part of what scares me about some aspects of so-called reparative therapy, but that is for another time and post.

Label or description?

In any case this is why I believe we sell our actively LGBT sisters and brothers short when we do not call ourselves by the correct terminology. If we use inane expressions such as “that’s so gay” or, worse yet, call ourselves “queer Christians,” we are telling them essentially that we are at no different place in our journey than they are.  Such self-identification may get our foot in the door occasionally, witness-wise, but it makes it overall at least more difficult to differentiate between our experiences and theirs. St Paul was a God-loving and strict Pharisee fundamentalist—but a Christ-hater. He called all of those involvements and accolades for being one of the elite religious of the day “dung.” My good friend Chris Kluwe of MN Vikings/NFL fame would likely have had an even more clear term for that, I am sure. I will refrain from printing it here though. Just as an aside, Kluwe by the way still has my utmost respect for standing in solidarity with the LGBT/SSA community, even though I now clearly disagree with some of his conclusions regarding so-called “marriage equality.” Nevertheless I call my years of “gay pride” exactly the same thing–dung.  And no, I do not call actively LGBT people by such a term.  They, like me, are precious people in the image of a wondrous and holy God.  But, as in the beautiful (unfortunately out-of-print) book by David Morrison, Beyond Gay, I am at least, step by slow step, moving beyond that familiar world.  And I want to take my actively LGBT/”gay” friends and family with me on that journey.

Thus here is where I differ from those who wish to be called “gay Christians” or “queer Catholics”—I do not think referring to myself as a “celibate gay Christian” is particularly accurate or truthful. I think it automatically transports me into a corner of the world I no longer belong to. It seems to me a lot like calling myself, as a close friend of mine who happens to have epilepsy, an “epileptic.” Clinically, both terms are accurate. But one says I am something. The other says I am a human person with something. And, again, words matter.  One is a label, and the other is a description of an imperfect but real creation of God. One makes me sound like an “ex-con” and the other like a current and present member of the family of our Lord Jesus and His Church.  Which would you like better if you were in my shoes?

Disorder or condition?

Lastly, I have heard the ghastly use of the term SSA of late by someone referring to same-sex attraction as the “SSA disorder.”  Whether involved in the community or not, whether celibate or not, or even whether I term myself as “LGBTQ,” I might happen to be a doctor, lawyer, priest, minister, married or single, well-adjusted or poorly so.  I get very disturbed when I hear or read such things as “for we know that the gay lifestyle leads to a higher risk of HIV, depression, substance abuse, and a generally lower life expectancy. To oppose the normalization of a lifestyle that leads to this degradation of the human person — specifically the same-sex attracted person — is no hate at all, but a love. Not a love most people want, but a desire for the good of the beloved nonetheless.” If by that statement you are referring to same-sex “marriage,” I would clearly agree. But if by it you mean let us go backwards a bit further as a society and, for “their own good,” let’s get those anti-sodomy laws back on the books and start screaming “faggot” to the next homosexually inclined person we meet, then I would just say hold up. Now. 50 years ago, or less, it was commonly considered “acceptable” to beat up “queers” or at least bully them mercilessly. I was there and lived it. Less than 30 years ago it was a very real question within the health care industry as to whether we should even treat those with HIV, since they “brought it upon themselves.” I can only say then, please quit treating diabetes or heart disease, which are often direct results of obesity, or cancer, particularly if caused by smoking, and a host of other diseases or conditions which are preventable but deadly. And for God’s sake do not waste our tax dollars on preventative health education. Let them read it on their own via the ever-reliable information superhighway. And if they fail to do so, slam the hospital door in their faces. Just don’t miss Mass on Sunday

So how does this fit with the misleading term “SSA disorder?”  Quite easily in fact. If I as a human being am disordered, and I will concede that the wound of having SSA does include a “disordered passion,” so too are my non-SSA friends who undress every woman that they see while sitting by their wives in Mass or church, as well as the pastors (some statistics would say 50% or upwards) who have their occasional slippage into the world of pornography.  And “porn” is not what it was when I was 14 and sneaked a look at some old Playboys found in the neighbor’s dumpster by my friend Marty.  The most I ever saw at that time was the human body, but never in action as such. The fact that 10 year olds can now see actual sexual intercourse, neither hinted at nor suggestive of, but the real thing, including the climax, by the click of a button, should alarm us drastically. Do not call me “disordered” and then forget to include yourselves as part of the photo-op. We are all disordered in some way or another, and when the term was originally used in the Church it was quite clear that this was the case. When St Thomas Aquinas and Rome included that term, it was the overall passions of humans gone awry which they were referring to, not the modern Freudian or clinical definition of the word,  used primarily in our day and age to mean that SSA is somehow just a bit more disordered than what the average person deals with.  We already know we are a fallen people—so perhaps just look in the mirror if you think you are less “disordered” than I am.

So those are just some of the many reasons I am not defining myself as “gay” anymore. It does not mean I have been instantly or miraculously delivered from the “demon of homosexuality” or that I now can throw a football 100 yards.  It indicates I am not demarcated by anything I was, or even still struggle with—whether weight, sexual lust towards either gender, gossip, or slandering of others.  It states that, instead of being born a Capricorn, I was born again through baptism under the sign of the Cross. It means I am, and will be, a Catholic Christian. No more, and nothing less.

Below are some links which directly or indirectly relate to the article above:

http://www.blackstonefilms.org/

http://tonylayne.blogspot.com/2012/05/queer-reflection.html

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/2012/05/4-ways-the-gay-marriage-debate-has-been-rigged.html

http://www.pridenet.com/history.html

http://sexualauthenticity.blogspot.com/

More related articles:

The following are two very much opposing views on the topic by two NFL players, both whom I have met and happen to deeply respect, Chris Kluwe and Matt Birk. Beware of the rather “colorful” (but hilarious) language from Kluwe, and at the same time note the very respectful response from his friend and fellow former MN Viking Matt Birk.

KNOWING THE CONTRARY “ME”– A challenge to any and all who love the non-straight neighbor among you…

witherI was utterly privileged this last week to have an article published in the Public Discourse page of the Witherspoon Institute. I was approached regarding this by Sherif Girgis and Ryan T Anderson, who, along with Dr Robert P George, last year authored an amazing, accurate, and concise study of the marriage controversy facing our nation and beyond, its relationship to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights and needs, and if what is commonly called “marriage equality” is indeed the answer or not. A link to this book is located at the end of this page, and I would highly recommend it to any who may not have read it or wish to learn more on the topic. Having said that…

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/04/13097/

The timeliness of their use of this article amazed me totally, as this very same week a potent new video, while not directly dealing with the marriage issue, was released which delivers a powerful punch in regard to the ever more visible need for the Church to effectively assist those of us from SSA (same-sex attraction) backgrounds to live our Christian (in my case Catholic Christian) Faith more effectively. Among other things, this video touches on many of the ways to reach out with realistic compassion towards those of us who at times have greatly struggled in integrating the Faith with our inner scuffles and sometimes severely wounded pasts, or even presents.

To me the two are one. They each represent the puzzlement and seeming contradiction that is me. In the article I attempt to present some practical ways to connect with SSA persons, and the video does the same thing but in different but complementary ways. Together, read and watched with care, they will show you who I am. This is the “me” you could not figure out before, and who at times has frustrated or disappointed many of you with my moments of anger towards the Church I love while yet wishing to follow her now and always. And I would point out that it is some of you on each side of this timely, thorn covered issue who have felt both the disappointment and even at times a betrayal as you observed my inner and outer tussles over the past few years. These two together will clarify much of that if you allow them to. I hope that you will.

http://www.blackstonefilms.org/films/the-third-way/index.html

I do not ask you to necessarily agree with the concept of a “Third Way.” In fact we may or may not ever see eye to eye on it and that is okay. But I have found it to be based upon what I believe is objective Truth, and the one perfect balance between the late Fred Phelps’ idea of railing against both the sinner and the sin, and the opposite extreme of promoting and imposing upon society the radicalism of the very real actively LGBT agenda which does not plan to stop until same-sex marriage is not only legal but promoted in every church, classroom, and nation. I believe that both extremes are real, and that each are impoverished in that they miss the very real concerns, fears and pains of the other “side.”

So, if you have ever wished to understand your brother, your cousin, your uncle, your friend, your co-worker, and your neighbor, all of who happen to be me, this is that most excellent opportunity to do so. The video is around 30 minutes, so get a soda or cup of coffee and take your time to absorb the many pieces of a story you may have never heard before. The article may take you 15 minutes, especially if you read it without skimming and I would implore you to do so rather than grabbing a sentence here or there away from the context of the rest. Too often today we do this in our blog-infested world, and sound-byte past the most important points in a story or article. Please do not do so this time around.

Thus I am asking for 45 minutes of your time. It is the only time I will ever do so, but I pray that every person I know and who claims to care about me will decide to do so. Your understanding of me would mean the world to me, even if we never agree on the topic. And your dialogue would be so very, very welcome. Please then grant me 45 minutes of your life—you may be surprised at what you learn, not just about me but about yourself, if you do. Thanks so much and God bless.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Is-Marriage-Woman-Defense/dp/1594036225

what-is-marriage-man-woman-defense-sherif-girgis-paperback-cover-art

“Why I’m Catholic” And Why I Plan to Stay…Catholic

In case you do not know it, there is a great internet site out there by the name of “Why I’m Catholic.” It is a conglomeration of stories of those who either converted to the Church, in many cases quite unexpectedly even to them, or who returned after long or intense journeys away. Or in my case re-returned. And re-returned. And re-returned yet again. Essentially I have been converted, reverted, and rediscovered. Okay you get it. My walk has not been in all cases exactly perfect or consistent.

After I came back to Rome in the fall of 2005, my story was eventually (in the  September 2008 issue) published nationally on the website www.catholic.com  and in their tremendous print magazine, at that time called “This Rock” and now simply “Catholic Answers.” What some of you well know, but not all do, is that even after my “20 minutes of religious fame and flame” from then I went through a period of significant doubts and questions during the 3 year period from late 2010 to early/middle 2013, resulting all told in approximately 12 months outside the Church as such. It was not all at once, but mostly a few weeks or months here or there, and I believe that the longest period “outside the gates of the Eternal  City” was 4.5 months. Each time I would rather (and increasingly so each time) sheepishly came back and each time planned to stay. But then further questions would arise and off I would go again, questing and questioning. And never quietly either.

I believe that now, by God’s grace, that period of doubt and second-guessing God’s work in my life is finally passed. Never perfectly, obviously, but I think I have profoundly realized that God’s purpose in bringing me back after 35 years was not my plan, but His. Period. The late great Etta James tells it far better than I can:

And at least a few of my friends, really several of you, have been extremely patient with me during that rather frightening and confusing period. One who has been so is Steven Lawson, a tremendous young man who has had his own times of confusion, and who began the website “Why I’m Catholic” in early 2011, on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul. My original story, although updated from when it had been in “This Rock,” was graciously picked up by his site and published there. And at least 21,000 folks have checked it out worldwide, besides the original thousands who had seen it on www.catholic.com.

Steven recently revived and re-launched this site, and I must say it is looking better than ever. The fact that this accomplished young man is the webmaster for one Matthew Kelly (yes, that Matthew Kelly!!!) should tell you something about his skill level, and the fact that he is using those great talents for God should speak to his character.

"Rediscover Catholicism" Matthew Kelly
“Rediscover Catholicism” Matthew Kelly

But just as St Paul needed a “St Barnabas” to bring help build his trust and credibility in the book of Acts, I too needed one to help at least begin rebuilding after my very public (and often contradictory) battles with the Faith I had never ceased to love. Steve has been that person to me in many more ways than one, and recently on his site began a series entitled simply “Struggles.” I was more than privileged to return to his site, this time as a “struggler,” and to present what the late Paul Harvey might call “the rest of the story” since my original journey back across the Tiber in 2005.

My biggest prayer for this article is that it may help heal some wounds which may still exist between myself and some of my very beloved Catholic friends who likely felt I betrayed (and perhaps I did but never intentionally so) the Faith, and to let you know I am not going anywhere again. Very simply put, as St Peter once said to our Lord, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Whatever fights or battles I have had or will yet have with my walk, the answer is in Christ and His Church. It is as simple–and difficult–as that.

So, if you have not checked out the “Why I’m Catholic” site, you are in for a blessing. And I have the somewhat dubious distinction of being the only person featured there twice, once with my original story and secondly with my “yes he finally came back to his senses” story!!! Perhaps it will be 25 minutes of fame after all. But far more importantly, I pray it will help some of you who, perhaps less loudly, have had some of the same internal battles as me, whether specifically the same or just doubts or questions in general. If you allow Him to, I can only say God will bring you through. He has done so for me. And is still doing so.

Please read and share both with whoever you wish, and, while numbers do not tell the whole tale, the recent “Struggles” story has, in less than 3 weeks, had over 1200 hits as well. I would love to say I am proud, but mostly I am just very, very humbled. And so very glad that God can take the rubble of our confused thinking and anger once laid at His feet and under His lovely yet blood-stained Cross, making sense of it once again even when I (or you) sometimes cannot.

HERE is the link to the original story:

http://whyimcatholic.com/index.php/conversion-stories/catholic-reverts/item/60-catholic-revert-richard-evans

AND here is the link to the “struggles” section which tells the newer phase in my walk with our Lord Jesus Christ and Holy Mother Church:

http://whyimcatholic.com/index.php/struggle-catholic-same-sex-attraction

One other person I would like to publicly thank as well is one Joe Heschmeyer, who is the primary writer of a tremendously successful Catholic blog by the name of “Shameless Popery” ( http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/). Joe is a unique young man in that he was a successful Washington DC attorney, pretty much brilliant intellectually, and one of the most authentic examples of Christian kindness I have experienced during my own idiocies and fallacious thinking. He is currently a seminarian besides, and I for one look forward to “Father Heschmeyer” when he emerges in a few short years to come. I in fact hope to be his first confession (you are truly in for it Joe lol!!!). Recently he wrote the following article on the issue of same-sex attraction, and quotes a “friend” in it–that friend was me. He did not know then that our mutual brother Steve Lawson was in process of using my story to launch “Struggles,” but he did know of, and offered to help with, my own battles as they were happening. And it was an offer that meant more to me than he will ever know. And he was not by any means the only one. The link to his site and that article are just below:

http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2014/01/taking-people-first-approach-to.html

Even if he had not quoted me, I would surely have recommended this article as it is one of the kindest and most balanced on the topic out there. But the fact that, in one month, God gave me not one, but two “St Barnabas” figures is almost overwhelming to me. Actually it is. Totally. Why these young men would welcome me as a friend is actually beyond me, and those are not just words.  It also restores my faith in God as well as His people, and reminds me not to give up on others who I too may be temporarily disappointed in, just as many were disappointed in me for a time.

I would love nothing more, at this juncture of life, than to sit back, quietly live my Faith, and never write or share about the ensuing battles again–but I cannot. Jesus once said we were not meant to “hide under a bushel basket” and He meant what He said. St Peter knew what it was to deny our Lord during a time of intense pressure and internal conflict, and I have to believe my battles, although certainly to a large extent my fault, happened for a reason too. If one person reading this finds out that they are not alone, and not beyond the doors of an ever-welcoming, however imperfectly, Church, then it will indeed be worth each one.

Maybe that person will be you, who knows?