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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Comiskey

Language of Love: A Letter to My Kids

After I spoke to one of my children about why I take pains (and risk causing pain) to not use LGBTQ+ language in defining people, I wrote down my thoughts, cheered on by St. John Paul II: ‘Let us not lose sight of the essential bond between truth and freedom. To defend universal and unchanging normal norms is not to demean anyone but rather to serve humanity’s true freedom.’

Language that defines people and their sexuality matters. Proper description of who humanity is as male and female, made in His image, honors the Creator (Genesis 1 and 2) and those He created. Karl Barth upholds the ‘radical duality of male and female as the root of all other fellowship…the command of God shows us irrefutably that man can only be genuinely human with woman, and woman with man’ (Doctrine of Creation); similarly, St. John Paul II unites humanity in one sexual nature and goal: that ‘deep orientation to personally dignify what is intrinsic to his masculinity and her femininity’ (Theology of the Body 131:4).

We are designed to grow in dynamic reliance with this other who is utterly like us and different to such a degree that we are roused, challenged and called to transcend ourselves as to forge a union capable of creating and tending new life. We are all sexually disintegrated; God always seeks to redeem our sorry ‘gift-giving’ from the catastrophe of sin (Genesis 3 to the end of Scripture). Brokenness is sourced in misogyny and misandry (opposite-sex wounds and retaliations) and fans out to include LGBTQ+ identification. The good news? Jesus invites all sinners to own their divides and entrust themselves wholly to Himself. Only Jesus through His Church can restore the broken image in humanity: the entire spectrum of sexual and relational sin.

We Christians have a responsibility to cooperate with Jesus in helping people to know His way for our sexual humanity. We can do so well or poorly. If we want to please Him, we will love people by getting to know the whole of them in which frank conversations can occur that highlight the truth of their authentic personhood. As Spirit leads, we invite them to heed Jesus and the echoes of Eden that still resound in their image-bearing humanity.

Each one is simply a man or woman in whom God delights, designed to love well!

It does no-one any good to adopt the language of disorder through which people identify with their fallen tendencies. We confirm and empower ‘false selves’ by using the language of ‘gay’, ‘trans’, ‘they and them’, adulterer, sex addict, abuser or abused, etc. Though each identity describes disorder, fashioning a self on those desires confuses and frustrates redemption.

God always summons the man or woman of His design. And so should we! Our friends don’t like this. In their fragility, many are insulted that we will not embrace their new identifications. We navigate this carefully, acknowledging the painful difference in how both parties understand and define sexual humanity while assuring them we wholly love the man or woman before us and don’t want to reduce them to a wound or tendency!

We can be respectful and truthful. We can see everyone we meet as men and women created to dignify others, especially the opposite sex, through their gifts of self. That may be far from their self-image and practice; still, God’s heart for each one shines through our proper seeing and saying. After all, He is the One in whose image they were made, beloved ones that He is always seeking to redeem.

You, Christian, may be the only person in their universe who possesses this true vision and who dares, as the Spirit leads, to express it.

The language of truth regarding what it means to be sexually human matters more than ever. I just introduced myself to a ‘gay-identified’ neighbor (notice the reference? I acknowledge his self-identification without agreeing with it) who had just unfurled a huge rainbow flag for Pride Month. I told him that I came over to know him more because he had made himself known to us all in a very vulnerable area of his life. I urged him to consider how our bodies already possess the good news of our gift-giving; ‘Maybe if we lived that truth well we wouldn’t need flags.’ He looked puzzled but intrigued. Another conversation…

‘To deprive a young person of clear and firm guidance towards responsible manhood or womanhood that is based on evident physical reality, namely the sexual complementarity of men and women, is careless.’ R. R. Reno


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