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    An Argument about Homosexuality


Friday, September 29 1995 by Henri J. M. Nouwen

     Andrew Sullivan’s new book, Virtually Normal: An Argument about Homosexuality, is one of the most intelligent and convincing pleas for complete social acceptance of homosexuality I have ever read.

Andrew Sullivan is a Catholic. He is just as open about being a Catholic as about being a homosexual. From his writing it becomes clear that he is not only a Catholic but also a deeply committed Catholic who takes his Church’s teachings quite seriously. That makes his discussion of the Church’s attitude toward homosexuality very compelling.

     My own thoughts and emotions around this subject are very conflicted. Years of Catholic education and seminary training have caused me to internalize the Catholic Church’s position. Still, my emotional development and my friendships with many homosexual people, as well as the recent literature on the subject, have raised many questions for me. . . . . Andrew Sullivan is raring to help me bridge this gap.  (Sabbatical Journey, 36)



January 9, 1967 by Thomas Merton

     First let me try to answer your question as it was put: the first name that occurs to me offhand of a “proven homosexual” who probably saved his soul, is Oscar Wilde. The poor man suffered greatly and was certainly sincere. I don’t know all the details of his later years but the impression I have is that he went through them with a martyr’s nobility. I can think of others who I think did the same though I am not sure if they were Christians so I won’t go into that.

     In other words, the pitch is this. Homosexuality is not a more “unforgivable” sin than any other and the rules are the same. You do the best you can, you honestly try to fight it, be sorry, try to avoid occasions, all the usual things. You may not always succeed but in this as in anything else, God sees your good will and takes it into account. Trust His mercy and keep trying. And have recourse to all the spiritual aids available. Maybe psychiatric help would be of use.

     As I see it, there is a special sort of masochism that gets built into this pattern of inversion. A sort of despair that robs you of any urge to fight back. I’d say that was probably the problem and it is probably psychological in its root. That is what has to be handled, that need to fold up and give up resistance. But why? That is for you to find out. I am not a psychiatric counsellor. All I can say is that God will surely understand your good intentions as well as your weakness, and He is on your side. So have courage and don’t give up. And don’t waste energy hating yourself. You need that energy for better purposes. (The Road to Joy, 344-345)


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