Daniel Mattson lives in the midwest, where he has a career in music. He is featured in the Courage Apostolate’s documentary Desire of the Everlasting Hills and is often invited to share his testimony to clergy, schools and parishes. He blogs at Letters To Christopher. Other writings may be found at Joyful Pilgrims. He is currently writing a book for Ignatius Press about his conversion and the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.
All Saints Day found me in the Diocese of Pittsburgh in a little town, north of the city. I was there to do a presentation to a parish youth group about my conversion, and how I found peace and joy in the teachings of the Catholic Church on homosexuality.
In my ministry, I’m most passionate about reaching young people. I remember growing up in an evangelical church with attractions to boys instead of girls. I didn’t know what to do about it, or if there was anyone I could talk with about it. I was horribly ashamed, since I knew instinctively that these desires weren’t the sort of desires that reflected the way God had created me, or how he had created sex to be used.
Now that I’ve come back to my Father’s house, after living the life of the Prodigal Son, I long to share the good news of the Church’s teaching to as many young people as I can, especially boys and girls like me who might be wondering what to do about their attractions to the same sex. I want to give them hope and to let them know they are not alone.
After my talks I have the youth pastor hand out index cards for questions—everyone is required to write something, so no one is singled out for asking a question that might be assumed to be personal.
One question from that day has haunted me ever since. I took that index card home with me and I’ve often picked it up, looked at it, and then prayed for the person who asked it.
It is in my hands now.
It starts with “if,” followed by “you”: the beginning of a question. But the “you” is scratched out in a flourish of circles, replaced by “I”.
This question isn’t hypothetical. It’s personal. It’s about him—or her. I don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl.
The question goes, “If I feel attracted to the same sex, does that mean I’m gay?”
I thank God I was there.
“No,” I said. “No! Despite what you may see on TV, or hear at school, feeling attracted to the same sex doesn’t mean you’re gay. In fact, it doesn’t mean anything at all about who you are!”
I then shared the story of a woman I once met who is now in her seventies. She has been happily married for years and has many children and grandchildren.
“When she was a teenager,” I told them, “she had a crush on one of the girls in her class. They became quite good friends, and even for a time ‘messed around’ together. As a good Catholic, she confessed and was forgiven. But she had the good fortune to grow up in an age which didn’t trap her into thinking those feelings defined her in anyway. She never once asked the question, ‘does this mean I’m gay?’, because she grew up never having heard of any sort of sexuality other than being a girl.”
I told them, “Though today’s culture tells us that our feelings are what define our sexuality most reliably, the Church wisely tells us that the truth of our sexuality is revealed to us by God, through our bodies.”
Quoting the Church’s thinking on the subject I asked them, “Did you know that the Church ‘refuses to consider the person as a "heterosexual" or a "homosexual" and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life’? I have found great freedom in this truth of who I am as a sexual being. Even though I might feel attracted to the same sex, it doesn’t mean I’m a different sort of man than every other man who has ever lived.”
This question and the plight of the children who might ask it weigh heavily on me.
The wisdom of Proverbs shows us how we need to respond:
Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse;
he who guards himself will keep far from them.
Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Children today are filled with the “thorns and snares” of the world’s view of human sexuality, “the way of the perverse.”
But we are far past thorns and snares. When a confused boy who thinks he’s a girl can force a school to allow him to use a girl’s locker room, or a man named Bruce thinks that he’s become a woman named Caitlyn, our young people are bombarded by landmines of confusion.
To save them, they need the truth that only comes from Jesus.
While he was yet among us, incarnate on earth—as a man—he said, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female?”
We must proclaim this truth from the mountaintops of the world. But we must first begin at home, in our pulpits and in our youth ministries and in our schools. There are thousands of kids who silently ask the same question as the question I hold in my hands: If I have feelings for the same sex, does it mean I’m gay?
The world whispers to them, “Yes, it does. Trust your feelings—they speak truth to you.”
In the face of these lies, we cannot be silent, if we love them and desire to train them up in the way they should go.
Let’s speak words of truth to them.