Dignity of Choice
‘Fatalism is resigning ourselves to the inevitable; faith is entrusting ourselves to the One who is worthy of our trust.’ Richard John Neuhaus
A prevailing assumption today: homosexuality is a genetic, inborn condition that requires us to defend ‘gay’ persons and ‘gay marriage’ because persons with such inclinations just cannot help it. Parents who confirm ‘gay-identified’ children seem especially intent on perpetuating such a fatalistic view of homosexuality; they lead the way in reducing their offspring (and others) to faulty notions of morality and identity.
In a front page article of the NY Times last week, Methodist Pastor Frank Schaefer offered this counsel to his ‘gay-identified’ son: ‘It’s so obvious that you did not choose this for yourself. This is who you are and this is how God created you to be.’ On those assumptions about his son’s inclinations (and the nature of God), the pastor determined to officiate at his son’s ‘gay wedding’ and lead the charge in promoting ‘gay marriage’ in his denomination.
Wow. Popular, superficial, utterly deceptive thinking with devastating consequences for everyone.
Think about it. Isn’t it obvious that our bodies are designed for fruitful communion with the opposite gender? If that is so, then any feelings to the contrary must be understood as some kind of frustration to the normal progression unto wholeness.
In other words, biology determines the direction of our sexual development but still requires a process of becoming reconciled to our gender selves, a process marked by fits and starts and subject to a variety of variables that impede that process. For some, fixating on the same gender represents a kind of ‘stuckness’ en route to the goal of human sexual relating—the freedom to commit one’s body and soul to another for the purpose of creating new life.
For many persons with SSA, such impediments are deep, unconscious and include temperament, which becomes the grid through which (s)he responds to formative relationships and social cues. Even the APA acknowledges this interplay between personality and social learning in sexual formation. What we all agree on: NO EVIDENCE EXISTS FOR A ‘BORN THIS WAY’ BASIS FOR HOMOSEXUALITY.
While we who struggle with SSA do not choose our inclinations, we also must accept the fact that from the start we choose how we respond to the sins of omission and commission that shape our lives. Painful, confusing, and shameful experiences influence our view of self and other: in the wondrous, woeful mix, we make decisions about the kind of person we want to be and how we are going to steward our bodily desires to love and beloved.
Our Designer and our Redeemer gives us the dignity of choice. We with SSA can courageously choose to entrust ourselves wholly to Himself and His way, including resuming the journey to sexual wholeness.
We begin by forsaking fatalism, and the passivity and self-pity it engenders.
1. Then, we line up with the truth of our destiny: ‘I am created to be a good gift. I refuse to construct a social identity around my SSA.’ All persons have the right to choose whether or not they will create a ‘self’ based on unwanted attractions.
2. We can choose to participate in any number of healing opportunities that identify obstacles to growth and support us in making good decisions that line up with our goals. Maximize healthy church involvement and a host of therapeutic and group options. (NARTH, RHN, TOB, MPC, Courage, DSM/LW)
3.‘Feeling and dealing:’ Let your SSA become a window to the good hard work you can do to understand what these desires mean–to connect the dots between emotional needs and feelings, and to transform the threat of falling back into the grace needed to press forward onto truer ground.
Change is hard. That’s why we settle on fatalism. ‘Born this way’ gives us a ‘pass’ but fails to meet the deepest desires of our heart. We were born to become who we are, men and women whose very bodies testify of the truth and beauty for which we ache and can aspire.