November 10, 2006

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

As Popeye says, ‘I yam what I yam’

Cynthia DewesFrom the time we first discover our anatomies through the time when we wonder where babies come from—and on throughout life—we are sexual beings.

That’s what human animals are. Some more than others, but that’s another story.

Now, sexual identity is just one of the many parts that compose our humanity. But, considering it’s also the biological means with which we reproduce our species, it’s pretty important. In fact, it grabs our attention.

God made us male and female as suitable companions for each other so that in love we can join God in producing new life. Not just the life of babies, but also life-affirming relationships and service to others. Contrary to much popular culture, sex implies a lot more than recreational chance encounters, and always involves openness to human life.

Not only are we made male and female, but also heterosexual and homosexual. Some people would argue that there are no born homosexuals, while others think their number is greater than it probably is. Whatever. The fact remains that homosexuals exist and, although they are not the norm in nature despite what gay activists claim, they’re here among us.

So, while listening recently to a

so-called “Fresh Air” segment on National Public Radio, I learned about a Christian group that tries to “convert” homosexuals back to heterosexuality. They treat attraction to the same sex as a moral failure rather than a physical determination.

The spokesperson for this idea said that they offer programs of information and moral support for homosexuals seeking to escape their sexual identity. They advise them on such problems as how to give up pornography, how to deal with lust and how to avoid occasions of temptation. In short, they teach homosexuals how to pray and will their way into regular marriage and family life.

Then they interviewed a homosexual man who spoke of his 15-year attempt to change his sexual orientation to heterosexuality. Despite his earnest efforts, he failed, so he went back to a homosexual lifestyle.

While the program was respectful of all opinions, it still created the impression that such a result is inevitable, and that homosexuals must give in to their sexual desires, just as heterosexuals do, anywhere, anytime, with anybody.

Well, no. The fact is, all of us—heterosexual, homosexual, single or married—must live according to God’s desires, which invariably include love. Anywhere, anytime, with anybody does not include love because it is selfish and manipulative. To Christians, sexual desire is natural, but how we express it is a matter of free will aided by God’s grace.

So, promiscuous heterosexual or homosexual behaviors outside of marriage are always wrong, no matter what our culture says. But marriage is not the magic answer to problems of homosexual desire or heterosexual temptations, either. That’s because chastity, the bane of modern existence if you believe the talk shows, applies to everyone. It simply means lovingly using, not abusing, and sometimes denying ourselves, genital sexual expression.

With that in mind, we can handle whatever sexual dilemmas come up in life.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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