Courage to Be Chaste

20 Oct

This week the National Catholic Register published an informative interview with Fr. Paul Check, the executive director of Courage, an organization that ministers to people with same-sex attractions. Check out the entire interview here.

I thought Fr. Check provided an especially clear, down-to-earth summary of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality:

“There’s a distinction we always make among the person, the inclination and  the action. The person is always good: a child of God, redeemed in Christ and  invited to grace and glory. As for the inclination, the Church teaches that it’s  disordered when put alongside our understanding of what it means to live and act  in a way consistent with our human nature, in this case, in the realm of human  intimacy and love.

“It’s the ultimately procreative power of sexual activity that tells us why  the world is divided into two sexes. Therefore, the same-sex inclination is  described by the Church as disordered because it’s at variance with that design  and order in nature. That inclination takes a person’s deepest aspirations and  desires and confuses them by layering on top of them an erotic same-sex  attraction. Underneath that layer, however, there is the fullness of human nature to include authentic desires relating to human intimacy. And although the  inclination is disordered, we stress that this is absolutely no basis for a  personal moral condemnation.

“But the action–the deliberate choice to engage in homosexual activity–that action is gravely immoral.”

Archbishop Naumann has noted that we cannot credibly oppose same-sex “marriage” without at the same time providing a compassionate pastoral response to those with same-sex attractions. Fr. Check puts it this way:

“The Church’s ‘no’ to same-sex unions and ‘marriages’ is very evident and firm, as it must be. We have a role to be a strong voice in  furtherance of the truth, both in nature and grace, in the public square. But wherever there is a ‘No,’ there must also be a ‘Yes,’ because the ‘No’ is one part of the much larger ‘Yes’ of God’s invitation to man and man’s response.

“Consider this analogy: When you and I get in a car to drive somewhere, our  first thought is not to avoid an accident, but to reach our destination. We set out because we have a place to go. In the same way, when we sit down to table, we eat not to avoid getting sick, but because we want to live. These are simple  analogies with regard to our purpose in life.

“Why are we here? Our Church as mother has an important responsibility, a sacred obligation to protect her children from harm. The Church has to say ‘No’ when an evident harm is present. But that maternal solicitude of the Church is expressed most fully in the ‘Yes’ that she’s trying to inspire in the children of God.

“Now the virtue of chastity is, like all the virtues, an expression and perfection of man’s nature. And it helps him not only to avoid harmful things, but it more fully helps to fulfill one’s purpose in life: the generous self-gift that will bring one joy and peace.”

The struggle to live chaste lives is especially difficult for those with predominant same-sex attractions at a time when the “gay rights” movement militates against any self-restraint. But Fr. Check also notes that the widespread acceptance of contraception even among married couples makes it more difficult to preach chastity to homosexual men and women.

We are exploring the possibility of starting a Courage chapter in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. If you have a heart for this ministry or would like further information, contact Bill Scholl at (913) 647-0317 or via email at

3 Responses to “Courage to Be Chaste”

  1. Jane Smith Petry October 21, 2011 at 1:12 am #

    This is a wonderful simple explanation of where we all should be. There is no middle ground in the teachings of our Church yet many feel guilty being critical of the new agenda that is so prevelant in our society. Everyone should read this and love the sinner and hate the sin. The courage to express truth as the onslaught of evil is everywhere. Thanks you for the simple explanation.

  2. Nicole October 22, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    There is a sort of epidemic which manifests itself in all sorts of carnal sins. As far as I can see, it is caused mainly by great or total lacking in faith amongst those struck by the epidemic: Most people who identify as “openly homosexual” or “actively homosexual” and “catholic” at the same time justify their behavior as a manifestation of their nature or essential to their being or being substantive. When justification of gravely immoral action enters the picture, in my belief, it’s time to suspect these people immediately of heresy. Weak members of the Mystical Body acknowledge their sicknesses when the passions toward evil have left them and then do what they can to “get right” with God (i.e., having recourse to the sacrament of Penance). They don’t justify gravely evil action. Severed members justify gravely evil action.

    It’s easy to tell these suspect individuals that any sort of unchastity is gravely evil both as regards the natural law and what has been divinely revealed, but not hardly possible to get them to give up their spiritual investments and listen. It has come to be my belief, however, over the past five years, that talking about chastity does not help these people. They need something in the universal language that does not take great spiritual health to see: miracles. Unless these people have an authority (like a priest or Bishop or Catholic spiritual director) pointing them to the finger of God at work by the suspension of the physical laws and the initiation of action that can only be performed by the power of God (whether through a medium or not) these people have no good reason to listen to talk about Catholic morality, much less specifically about chastity. I know by experience. There are a host of miracles pointing to the divine origin of the Catholic Church that are present in and around NO other religion from which to draw (e.g., the readily observable fact of the infallibility of the Church in teaching doctrines concerning faith and morals, the tilma of St. Juan Diego, the miracle of the sun at Fatima, the incorruptible Saints, the many Eucharistic miracles).

    As regards those who fight same sex attraction, don’t justify their evil desires, and remain within the Mystical Body even as weak members, talk on the natural order of the faculties for fecundity, as well as their place within the divinely revealed economy of salvation is most helpful. I am not trying to include myself by presumption in the ranks of those weak members, but I know that the Church’s teachings have greatly illumined my judgments of my own desires in this regard.

  3. Leon Suprenant October 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    You’re right Nicole. Even the Catechism (no. 2087) affirms that our moral life has its source in faith in God, and that (following Romans 1) ignorance of God is the principle and explanation of all moral deviations.

    At the same time, there is an “addictive” component that works hand in hand with human fraility and concupiscence. This addiction affects a broad cross-section of our culture and impairs our ability to uphold moral norms when it comes to human sexuality. I think many who have undergone an adult conversion and have sought to break free of this addictive tendency experience something along the lines of what St. Paul describes: “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but what I hate” (Romans 7:15). So much patience and pastoral understanding is very important–something Courage brings to the table when it comes specifically to homosexuality.

    Here’s an interesting article that was just posted today at the NCRegister site:

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