MADE FOR LOVE
Same-Sex Attractions and the Catholic Church
By Father Michael Schmitz
Ignatius Press, 2017
208 pages, $16.95
To order: ignatius.com or (800) 651-1531
Father Mike Schmitz has done the Church a great service by writing his new book, Made for Love: Same-Sex Attractions and the Catholic Church, which was released last November. I wish I had this book when I was an adolescent young man, trying to navigate my life of faith with my attractions to men, for I think if I had encountered it when I was a teenager, my life would have been very different. I would have finally found something that made sense of my experience and, more importantly, found a path forward that could help me find the happiness I desired in my life.
The key to Father Schmitz’s success is that he follows the model of Jesus. Father Schmitz is clear that the Church has no condemnation for men and women with same-sex attractions, but rather views men like me with “sensitivity, compassion and respect.” Thankfully, Father Schmitz doesn’t ignore the call to conversion, which is one of the most important parts of genuine sensitivity, compassion and respect for people with same-sex attractions. Christ himself modeled this when he said to the woman caught in adultery, “Now go and sin no more.” Thankfully, Father Schmitz recognizes that we can’t be more compassionate than Jesus!
Father Schmitz’s Christlike compassion, which combines both truth and love, comes from a heart shaped by his personal life. This is not a dispassionate look at the subject of same-sex attractions and the Catholic Church. No, Father Mike’s own brother not long ago came out to him as gay, which gives the book a poignancy and urgency motivated with the love that only a brother can have for another brother. He truly wants his brother to be happy.
In this, I recall the role of my own brother, who is also a priest — he never compromised the truth either, even when it was difficult for me to hear. This book, then, is the result of a costly love for Father Schmitz, which, because it is so costly, reflects the love of Christ. This, I’m convinced, is the reason this book is so good and why I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Father Schmitz begins, aptly enough, “in the beginning.” “What does it mean to be human?” he asks the reader, as he engages us with questions about sexual identity, sexual desire and the search for human happiness.
His answers are rooted solidly in Genesis 1:26-27, the bedrock of the Church’s anthropology: We are created by God as male and female, made for each other. This complementarity is beautiful, and it is from our created design that the Church’s “No” to same-sex sexual intimacy becomes a great “Yes” to embracing our human dignity.
He covers this ground not with philosophical jargon that might leave younger readers feeling cold, but instead introduces concepts like the natural law by speaking of the “what-is-it-for-ness” of human sexuality. He explains in very simple (but not simplistic) ways the constant teaching of the Church on the importance of the procreative and unitive aspects of human sexuality, while ably explaining why the Church reserves sexual expression for lifelong marriage. Along the way he discusses an issue very important to me in my own ministry: Feelings, though important, don’t define us or give us our identity. “If we allow ourselves to be defined by our sexual attractions,” he says, “we are reducing and defining ourselves by something far too small.”
He comes full circle by telling us that how we were created “in the beginning” was to find our happiness in God himself. God, who is Love, made us for himself, which is thus the inspiration for Father Schmitz’s title.
As we enter “back-to-school” season, I’m convinced this book needs to be front and center in every Catholic high-school class for any discussions on human sexuality. Parents who are concerned that their children might be falling for a sentimental support of the “LGBT” movement will find it beneficial to read through this book with their children. Young-adult groups, in college and beyond, should make it a point to read through Father Schmitz’s book for two reasons. First, to understand the beauty of the Church’s teaching for themselves and, secondly, to know how to propose the Church’s teaching as an invitation to human flourishing to their contemporaries who believe the unfortunate propaganda that the Church “hates gay people.” But most of all, I commend this book to any who find themselves wondering how to reconcile their own same-sex attractions with their faith. Father Mike Schmitz truly loves us and shows us how loved we are by God, too. And in the process, he helps us find happiness in the only place we can find it, by claiming our true identity as children of God, made for him, made for happiness — and love! — in this life, and the next.