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My Religion And My Sexuality

Question:

I know this is an awkward way for me to start a question, please help me. I’ve never kissed a girl, though I used to get crushes on them, and I’ve had my heart broken time and time again….for a long time I have not have a crush on any girls…but for a long time I’ve been PHYSICALLY attracted to other males…I received alot of support from friends and even some family. However, now I’m finding myself depressed because of the religious background my family has. We’re catholic and that spells nothing but damnation for homosexuals. I feel so trapped. I want to do what would make God happy…but I want to be happy too…is there anyway that I could NOT be gay?

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Answer:

To my mind, anyway, being gay is defined by what your biologically based sexual urges are; to whom you end up attracted to sexually, more often than not. People do not get to choose what their urges are, unfortunately. They appear to be set in motion by either genetic forces (contributed by both parents), or the mother’s hormonal variation affecting development of the fetus prior to birth. By my definition, if you are sexually attracted to men primarily, and you are yourself a man, you are pretty likely to be a gay man.

My own preferred definition is not universally shared, however. There are other people out there who contend that being gay is a matter of choosing to adopt a particular “gay” lifestyle which involves choosing to have sex with same-sex partners and identifying yourself as gay. By that definition, people’s urges do not define them as gay or not gay; only their behaviors do. People are not gay until they act gay.

My own definition is based on what I would call a biological argument that your biology controls your desire, and you don’t get to choose your biology. The other way of seeing things regards the matter as more of a social phenomena that people can resist or embrace as they see fit. I don’t think most gay people (or straight people or bisexual people either) have a choice in the matter of who they desire. Advocates of a social explaination would disagree with me.

As a thinking and feeling person old enough to have sexual urges, it is both your responsibilty and your right to decide for yourself whether or not you are gay. You have to evaluate the evidence for either answer to your question, and live with the consequences. No one else can decide this important matter for you, really.

I’m afraid that the real issue here isn’t whether you are gay or not (by anyone’s definition) but rather that you fear your family’s disapproval and the disapproval of your faith community if you reveal what your inner desires are. The larger issue is how you personally will come to terms with knowing that a vital part of yourself is likely not acceptable to your family and community. You have a range of options available to you as to how you may respond to this seeming incompatibility ranging from complete self-rejection (refusing to act on your desires at all in any way), incomplete self-rejection (e.g., going the “Ted Haggard” route of public denial but clandistine gay behavior) and all the way to complete self-acceptance (e.g, acting on your desires and being okay with that even when it becomes public knowledge that you are “acting gay”). You may not want to make this choice, but you are forced to do so by circumstance, and so might as well make it as gracefully and with as much courage as you can muster. Talking with or reading about people who are gay about their coming out process may be instructive, as similarly, it may be helpful to you to get advice from religious leaders who are not homophobic.

There is no right answer here. Whatever you chose should fit your larger goals for how you want to live your life. If you decide to keep selective secrets and that makes sense in the larger context of your social life, that is okay. The only thing to make sure of is that you find a way to have some measure of self-respect and self-acceptance with regard to your decisions.

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Comments
  • Guy

    I invite your reader to look up information about being gay and Catholic. Though the prevaling opinion in catholicism is that the two do not belong together, there are many people who live proudly with both identities. There are many gay support organizations/groups within the more liberal Catholic congregations. One website (at least) also offers support and a forum for people with both identities: www.gaycatholicforum.org

  • Stand Up!

    It is increasingly sad that so many people would like to view the idea of homosexuality as something you have no control over. There is *no* religion that advocates homosexuality as a "normal" way of life. That being the case, is it possible that God did not intend homosexuality to become accepted as normal by humans? Being drug and alcohol addictied is not normal. Pedophilia is not normal. Bestiality is not normal. There are so many things that we humans do that is not "normal" in a spiritual sense that it astounds the mind--and soul. However, what if these "lifestyles" are simply tests from an all-Loving Creator? What if, in reality, we bring these issues on ourselves just by improper parenting? fixations? fantisizing and indulging our imaginings? lack of spiritual guidance? And what if the whole issue of homosexuality is nothing more or less than the same concept as any other affliction such as drug addiction or alcoholism? And it's just a matter of us doing the hard work and trusting in God that we can and will overcome them? Or should all drunks and druggies just keep on keeping on and accept that their chosen lifestyle is normal and acceptable? Where do we draw the lines?

    Maybe fixating on the same sex during youth is normal curiosity, but if we don't open a good and healthy dialog with our children and walk them through the realities and pitfalls of what it means to be spiritual beings having a human experience, we do them and ourselves no justice at all. We need a new dialog that involves Spiritual Reality very early in life in order to sort it all out. Maybe now is a good time to start?

  • Anonymous-1

    Not every religion is against homosexuality. The only opposition against homosexuality is so called tradition irrespective of the form it comes in, religious or otherwise. Religion has a lot to do with rules than with God and most Christians refer to parts of the bible that does not refer to them. Afterall, many pasors commit adultery or are divorced. I doubt God will be against any for of love, homo or hetero so its up to you to believe in either God or Religion.

  • Anonymous-2

    I personally have had a very similar battle in my life, I do believe that God did not intend for same sex sexual relationships. I just want you to understand one thing when it comes to God, He sent His son and as a result saved us from the legality of religion, we (the church) are not under the law anymore but rather His amazing grace. This does not mean we should do what we want when we want, it simply allows for mistakes, as we all make them. What I am trying to say is stop beating yourself up about this - you know what is right in God's eyes and what is wrong - the very reason you feel unhappy about this shows your closeness to God - the Holy Spirit is guiding you. Look to Him for the answer, He is the only one who can give you the answer. No man, educated or not has the right to say whether it is OK to be gay or not, only God has this right. So ask Him and He will help you whether it is to accept this or to reject it. I am still battling but have realised the more I seek advice from others the further I get from the truth, read the bible for yourself and find out for yourself by talking to God - He IS Love. Hell is the absence of Him - therefore hell is without love. Always question the manwoman who does not help you with love for it clearly indicates heshe has not been guided by the Lord. I must say though there is a trick to making things a lot easier, and even get rid of the sexual urges, simply bounce your eyes and turn away - it's dificult in the beginning when you are constantly bombarded with sexual images of masculine men - I do understand how difficult it is - but the more you try the more easier it gets and I honestly can say I am starting to see a man in me who I really want to be and believe I can be - a man free of lust. I believe He is helping me the more I try myself - and He is always there with loving help to pick me up when I fall (and I promise you I fall a lot - but I try again)- I love my Lord even more each day.

  • lance

    i am a bisexual guy. i am also an athiest. i only want to help. i am being proven again and again that there might not be a god. but dont believe me if you dont want to. i only believe that there is a scientific reason behind everything.

    you should not be afraid to be gay or bisexual (what ever you have settled upon)and believe in your religion. if god is the forgiving person everybody says he is then why should he have any exceptions (gays or bis)?

    so you live your life how it fels natural. and be open too every opportunuties.

    p.s. thats all i have too say that is not offensive towards religions.

  • Anonymous-3

    I have read thru each comment posted and still don't see it any different than I have before. I am also a homosexual male whose involved in the church as most others, I also have a boyfriend who is also in the church. We love each other dearly and unconditionally. It is to my belief that GOD is love and if we are loving the way GOD loves, the only possible sin would be the act...us two coming together as man and woman...u agree? So in conclusion, I have let go and allowed myself to fully love in this lifestyle and if or when GOD is ready to deliver me and move me on to the next phrase.....I will go at that time.

  • JakeH

    Simply asserting gays with pedophiles or druggies isn't a valid argument ... any more than associating Christians with pedophiles or druggies (statistically, probably a more valid assertion ... but I digress). Also, religion, even Christianity, has been dead wrong about so many things (and not just slavery and womens oppression) that I would find it difficult to assert that their traditional opposition to this is much of a valid argument. In a historical sense, I would probably argue just the opposite.

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