BY TYSON MURPHY
It is commonly accepted that one’s identity is defined by whom one is sexually attracted to. Yet that is not the summation of who a person is, said David Prosen, LMCH, in his talk, “Understanding Same-Sex Attraction: A Catholic Perspective.” On Sept. 3 in the Gentile Gallery of the JC Williams Center, Prosen discussed with Franciscan University students what the Catholic Church truly teaches about same-sex attraction.
“People with unwanted same-sex attraction need to get hope from those in the Church, because they’re not getting it anywhere else,” said Prosen, who received his MA in counseling from Franciscan University.
The answer to the commonly posed questions, “Are people born gay or do they choose to be gay?” is no to both, said Prosen. A person living the gay lifestyle is not “gay”; he is acting on his same-sex attraction. This may prompt a genetic predisposition toward increased femininity or masculinity. Also with certain life events this may lead people to a sexualizing of their attractions toward the same sex. But that does not mean that a person can be defined by sexual attractions alone.
Genetics facilitate a behavior but do not determine it, said Prosen. While one does not choose if he experiences same-sex attraction, he can choose to act on it or not. It may seem impossible for a person with same-sex attraction who is actively living that lifestyle to cease acting upon his sexual attraction, but nothing is impossible with God.
Prosen offered a personal testimony of his own struggle with same-sex attraction and journey of healing. “I am no longer a slave to sin; I am a child of the Truth, and the Truth has set me free,” he said. “I am thankful to God that there is no shame.”
There are various methods and avenues of healing for those who struggle with same-sex attraction: Reparative therapy provides an opportunity to work through wounds of the past, and prayer and the sacraments offer another means of healing. Also, Courage, a Catholic apostolate founded to assist those within the church with same-sex attraction to live out chastity, can provide a support system.
While in the midst of a discussion with a loved one with same-sex attraction, Prosen recommends calmly and charitably stating one’s points and taking advantage of prayer.
There is hope that through the sanctifying grace of the sacraments, prayer and solid friendships, those who struggle with living a sinful lifestyle can be converted, said Prosen. Love, truth and hope are three words that summarize what the Catholic Church teaches in regards to same-sex attraction in her Catechism paragraphs 2357 – 2359.
When asked what she was expecting before Prosen’s talk, student Kaitlyn Hoffman said, “I want more compassion, to love better and to better understand.” At the end of Prosen’s informative testimony, Hoffman affirmed that she had received all she had hoped for and more.
Prosen’s talk is part of the fall 2013 series of speakers sponsored by Veritas.